Tag Archives: persecution

Why psychedelics are illegal

Many people crudely think that all illegal drugs are illegal because they are physically dangerous to the user. That is not the case. Different substances have been made illegal at different times and for different reasons.

Some substances are rightly illegal because they are physically dangerous. Heroin, crack and GHB are examples of dangerous substances that pose a very real risk to the user. Ironically though the two most dangerous drugs – alcohol and tobacco – are not illegal.

Other substances are however illegal for very different reasons. Two reasons are very prominent: because they are perceived as dangerous to the status quo and to target and persecute specific groups.

Just the other day I was asked why psychedelics are illegal. They are obviously extremely useful medicines and also very safe when used correctly. Well, there are several reasons for them being illegal and most of them have nothing to do with health, but let us begin with the health issue.

Psychedelics are commonly non-toxic and pose no physical threat even at extreme doses. Most of these substances are not even possible to overdose to the degree that they would be life threatening. But there is one real health risk and that is to the user’s mental health. Psychedelics have the unique capacity of unlocking the doors of the unconscious mind. They can release what has been carefully locked away and repressed. This is of course what makes them such powerful therapeutic tools, but if the person isn’t open to taking care of what comes up the experience can be quite traumatic. The same goes for other kinds of therapy, meditation and contemplation. If you aren’t ready to meet what you have repressed you shouldn’t do or take anything that will uncover what you have buried.

nixon_militaryBut besides this, what were the perceived dangers that made psychedelics illegal? To grasp this one must look at the historical setting. Where did the push to criminalize come from and what is the backdrop? To understand this we need to go back to the USA in the mid 1960’s. Government at all levels were in a cold war state of mind trying to root out possible dissidents within. The Vietnam war had dragged on for ten years, US involvement was sharply rising, as was the death toll. It was a time for hardliners and hawks. JFK had been murdered and the much less diplomatic Lyndon B Johnson took his place. He was then followed by one of the fathers of the War on Drugs – Richard Nixon.

At the same time a very vocal and at times even revolutionary opposition was forming at home. There were many different movements with many different objectives, but when talking about psychedelics the hippies are of course at the focal point. What were they up to? They protested, burnt draft cards, let their hair grow, dressed strangely and promoted free sex, just to name a few things. In the eyes of a person like Nixon, and there were many like him at the time, they were trouble makers who were upsetting the status quo. They were anti-establishment peacemongerers and as such perceived as threatening by the establishment.

At the very core of that opposition was the experimentation with drugs and the one that has forever been associated with the hippie movement is of course the psychedelic LSD. So what was it about LSD that sparked this opposition and backlash towards the establishment? I think the ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna was spot on when he said that “they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr
Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr

What LSD did was to awaken people from their cultural programming and indoctrination and let them see the world with other eyes. When they did so they could not accept what they had been taught, so they rebelled. They rebelled against violence, militarism and domination and instead sought “peace, love and understanding”.

On a side note both the CIA the American military had experimented heavily with LSD before it found its way to the hippies. One notable side effect was that quite a few soldiers that had been given it laid down their guns and refused to pick them up again.

For a person like Nixon this was all extremely threatening. To him America was losing its youth to a drug culture that was in direct opposition to the establishment. And he certainly had a point. If you want people to follow orders, be aggressive towards one another, go to war and kill people you will not want to give them LSD, because they will start thinking for themselves, refuse to follow orders and will refuse violence.

LSD was not made illegal because it is physically harmful to the person taking it. It was made illegal because it makes people question authority and social injustices and prompts them to do something about it. LSD and psychedelics threatened and still threatens the fabric of domination culture by showing people that another world is possible.

While many believe that our drug laws are there to protect us we have in fact inherited most of them from a time when domination culture was scared of losing control. Our drug laws are in many cases in place to hinder mind expansion and rebellion against the violent domination culture and the status quo, and most certainly so when it comes to psychedelics.

This is a pattern of dominance which is repeating itself.

Today the political establishment are the ones oppressing and persecuting the users of psychedelics. Yesterday it was the church. The brutal persecution of witches, witchdoctors, healers, shamans and anyone seeking other modalities of healing or other ways of reaching the divine was the church’s version of the War on Drugs. The vocabulary surrounding it all was different but still quite similar. Instead of safety and health concerns the church would talk about being in contact with or possessed by the devil or evil spirits.

Witch BurningWhile they might well have believed their own story, just as many do with the story of domineering culture of today, it was ultimately based in a fear of losing control over people. As many, perhaps even most, who work with psychedelics will attest to, psychedelics are often a door to the divine. They break down the limitations of our cultural programming. When it comes to the church there has often been an idea that certain people should act as intermediaries for the rest of us, thus the control over the contact with the divine and the divine will has been hijacked by priests and such. What psychedelics often do in that case is give the user his/her own personal contact with the divine, making the intermediary superfluous. For someone who wants to maintain control over other people this is of course extremely threatening and also provocative to the point where the church would be willing to kill people.

One needs to remember that the greatest threat to the church is that each and every one of us would be able to have our own contact with the divine. If we did have that contact the church would soon be redundant, at least as an interpreter of God’s will,  so it lies in the interest of the individual career makers within and also in the organisations themselves to see to it that people do not have their own contact with the divine.

And that is of course the pattern of domineering that is repeating itself today. A lot of people, organisations and companies stand to lose a lot of money and power when psychedelics are let free. It is in their interest to keep them illegal. If you could solve addiction, PTSD, depression and such with one or a few psychedelic trips the medical and pharmaceutical industry would take a huge dive. If people would stop tolerating violence that would mean the end of the military and the industries that profit from war. If each and every one would be given the tools for connecting with the divine themselves the world religions would lose their strangle hold on the minds of people.

It is in the interest of anyone who wants to dominate someone else that psychedelics are kept illegal and are continually persecuted.

That is why psychedelics are illegal.

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I do not promote the use of drugs

I have on a few occasions been accused of promoting drugs.

I want to be crystal clear about this.

I DO NOT PROMOTE THE USE OF DRUGS.

By drugs I mean something one uses to flee from or numb oneself, without there being a good reason for doing so. For example, I have nothing against the use of reasonable amounts of painkillers to temporarily deal with pain. But if you start popping painkillers to get high or numb emotional pain that you should be dealing with, then I am against it.

Being against it does not however mean that I think it should be illegal. I do not think anyone should be persecuted or punished for using a plant or substance to flee from or numb themselves. People do so for a reason. They don’t have the tools to deal with pain in life. They are traumatized and hurting. They suffer from addiction, which they have often inherited. People should not be punished for trying to deal with their pain, even if they do so in ways that aren’t good.

All the effort that we are putting into stigmatizing, persecuting and punishing people should be re-directed to helping them heal. We should be giving them the best help we can and nobody should be afraid to ask for help, as people are under the current drug laws. Therefore I promote changing the drug laws radically, since they are causing enormous harm to individuals and to society as a whole.

I do promote the use of PSYCHEDELIC MEDICINE.

I am forever grateful for the healing and guidance that psychedelics have given me. And I have seen so much healing with such medicines. I have seen many breakthroughs that modern medicine could not describe in any other term than miraculous. But having worked with psychedelic medicine in the shamanic tradition I know that it would only be called so for lack of understanding.

Psychedelic medicines aren’t miraculous. They just provide healing that is beyond what many people can comprehend. That people can’t comprehend it doesn’t make it less real. It just means that they do not understand.

Our society is in desperate need of such medicine. We have so much healing that needs to be done. We need to reconnect with our roots, with all living beings, with mother Earth and with the Universe. We desperately need the guidance of the divine within ourselves.

That is what psychedelic medicine can do for us. Is doing for us.

I also promote every persons inherent right to THEIR OWN PATH.

People have free will. We all have a choice to make in every situation. Our choices, good or bad, create our life path and provide us with the lessons we need to learn in life. Trying to strip people of their inherent right to their own bodies, their own life, is the nastiest oppression. Trying to strip people of their free will is as evil as any Auschwitz, Gulag or Killing Fields have ever been. The fact that people try to do so under the pretense that they want to do good, that they want to help, and that they do so using law and state force does not make it any better. In fact it makes it so much worse, because they are unwilling to face and take responsibility for the pain and evil they are inflicting onto others. It is a crime against humanity.

Anyone with a kind heart and a sound mind should be disgusted and outraged by such laws.

So no, I definitely do NOT promote the use of drugs.
I especially do NOT promote the use of harmful drugs,
such as alcohol, nicotine, antidepressants and opiates.
I DO promote helping and healing
our fellow human beings who are in pain.
I DO promote the use of medicine,
psychedelic or otherwise,
that helps.
And I most definitely DO promote human free will
and every person’s right
to their own body and path through life.

Photo: Canopy by David Goehring on Flickr

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Don’t confuse what’s legal with what’s moral

Slavery was legal.
Apartheid was legal.
The inquisition was legal.

It is legal to poison children with sugar and fat.
Cutting down vast forests, eradicating whole species and threatening life on earth is legal.
Testing nukes, supplying dictatorships with weapons and bombing the shit out of people seems to be legal.

In some cultures it’s legal to stone homosexuals.
Where I live homosexuality used to be illegal.
Then for a long while it was ‘only’ considered to be a sickness.
Only recently has it become legal for homosexuals to marry here.

It is legal to make laws that discriminate and hinder people from living a full life.
And it is legal to use the laws to harass and persecute groups of people.
We don’t want to admit it, but we have plenty of laws that are racist, sexist and in other ways discriminating.

IMG_8649At the same time it is illegal to heal in ways that aren’t state approved.
It is illegal for you to smoke a joint for your pain or take LSD to release trauma.
And if your spiritual practice involves psychedelics you can still get in trouble in many countries.

The law does not grant you the right to your own body.
It does not grant you the right to your own healing and growth.
Your life is only yours within the limits of the law and if you deviate you can be fined, end up in prison for however long someone else thinks is reasonable or even be killed.

Do not confuse legal with moral. And do not imagine that you can claim a moral high ground because you follow the law. You can be immoral to the core, a liar, a cheat and an oppressor and still be a law abiding citizen. In fact, if you are a law abiding citizen your morals probably have quite a few weak spots. If you are high up enough in the political hierarchy you can legally get away with mass murder. The rest of us can wash our hands of blood and clear our conscience by simply voting for someone else to make the nasty decisions.

This is saying quite a lot about the legal system and our moral obligation to follow the law. If your moral compass is working you have no moral obligation to follow the law. Your obligation is to follow your conscience. The law is primarily for people who do not have a working moral compass.

If you put law before morals you are weak. If you are weak you should not try to claim the moral high ground, because it is not yours to claim. Lions like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr get to claim the moral high ground. You are a sheep. Your place is with the law abiding herd. Baa.

Photo: Bomb by _Gavroche_ on Flickr

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Shamanism in a globalized world

I have encountered a few comments about Jungle Svonnis statement about the persecution shamanism has been subjected to in Sweden. The comments point out that Ayahuasca and San Pedro aren’t indigenous to Scandinavia. The reasoning seems to be that since these plants aren’t indigenous to Scandinavia, they cannot be seen as a valid part of Scandinavian shamanism.

What this line of reasoning is saying is that some tools should or could only be used in certain cultural contexts. In this case that would be in South America, handled by healers indigenous to the area. It does not however take into account that we live in a globalized world where people in ever greater numbers are inspiring each other, learning new techniques from each other and letting their own cultural background be enriched in the meetings with other cultures.

Svonni makes the case that Sami shamanism has been almost wiped out by the brutality of the Swedish government that has persecuted the Sami people for hundreds of years. Svonni comes from a lineage of shamans, but to find his shamanic roots he was forced to go to South America, where shamanism is still alive. There he underwent extensive training, in which he learnt to work with Ayahuasca and San Pedro, among other things. But although his training was in South America, he still considers himself a Sami shaman and has returned home to work in Scandinavia.

These plant medicines are truly fantastic, but they are also only tools for the shaman. Today shamans all over the world are connecting in order to rebuild the knowledge that has been lost under the brutality of the inquisition, through to modern day colonialism and today’s repressive drug laws. While regaining the knowledge that is inherent to all people of the earth, they are naturally also learning each other’s techniques. These techniques have been created in a certain cultural context, but are by no means bound to them. On the contrary, each shaman must collect his or her own tools, and might very well be inspired by whomever or whatever comes in his/her way, just as an artist might.

Day 432 365 - It's a small world av Jason Rogers på Flickr
Day 432 365 – It’s a small world by Jason Rogers on Flickr

We wouldn’t dream of saying that only Asians should have the right to draw calligraphy, that only Chinese should train kung fu, that only Sami should be allowed to sing jojk, only Indians should do yoga, only Native Americans should do sweat lodges, only Rastafaris should wear dreadlocks or only Westerners use Viagra. But when it comes to plant medicines someone seems to have the notion that certain things should not be allowed outside their original cultural context, even when it is obvious that such plants are helping people of all backgrounds, successfully spreading to new contexts and have a long history of use all over the world. It seems absurd to single out plant medicines like that and say that they alone should be forced to remain within their original cultural context.

That is not the understanding I have of the human experience. My understanding is that the whole world and all the knowledge belongs to every single human being. All you need to do is to reach out and claim it. There is no copyright on sacred plant medicines or our individual spiritual journeys, and I find it repulsive if someone would suggest that there should be.

The whole world and everything in it belongs to us all.

Photo: Portal by Rory MacLeod on Flickr

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Telling your family about LSD

Not taken LSD– Not even the worst junkies use LSD. It is extremely dangerous! Reality becomes more real.

That last sentence confused her. More real? Well, that explains why junkies stay away. They want anything but reality. She never found out why reality was so dangerous, apart from the risk that you would jump off high-rise buildings in the belief that you can fly. But that thought felt very surreal.

She had been thinking about it for a while and decided that she wanted to try LSD. And who better to talk to about it than her parents, in who she usually always confided? She regretted bringing it up when she realized that, for once, she could not have a rational conversation with them.

There are many who ask themselves if they should tell their family about their psychedelic explorations. On the one hand, it is something that is very important, but on the other hand, there is the concern that they will freak out.

I have asked myself the same question. After just a couple of doses of LSD, I had recovered from my addiction to alcohol and was on my way to overcome my long-term depression. Life finally began to brighten up after seven times two hard years. It felt very important to tell my family what was happening and how miraculous it all was. It was also a challenge for me. When I was an alcoholic I used to lie about everything and especially about how much I drank. But the LSD urged me to speak the truth instead, so I mustered my courage and told my family.

I felt better than I had ever done, but the reaction was extremely negative. It was not only negative, but also in many parts completely absurd. I particularly remember one thing they told me.
– It starts with LSD and ends with heroin.
I had never felt less interested in trying heroin, but apparently that was what I was expected to be heading for. When I drank there were some people smoking heroin in the town where I lived. I remember that I was interested, but I never managed to be in the right place at the right time. I also remember when my friend had tried amphetamines at an after party. When he told me about it I begged him to hook me up. He refused, since he thought that I would become addicted.

In retrospect, I know that I would have been if I had tested it then. I was on the run, fleeing from my life. In the most crucial way, alcohol is much closer related to both amphetamine and heroin than LSD will ever be. They are all drugs on which to escape. It is entirely possible to escape from yourself on alcohol, amphetamines and heroin. One can even say that is their main purpose. With LSD, on the other hand, there’s nowhere to run. LSD will find your most carefully repressed memories, shove them in your face and tell you to shape up. It’s really no wonder that addicts avoid psychedelics.

How the conversation I had with my family went?
Not good. It has been nine years, I have recovered from four addictions and one depression, but my relation to my family is really strained. They’re probably still waiting for me to die of a heroin overdose. But they’re waiting in vain, because since I stopped drinking I have not been the least interested in such substances.

Do I regret telling them?
No. I’m sad that my contact with my family has gone down the drain, but it was a great challenge for me to tell them. I want to live in truth and that was a first step.

Should you tell your family?
What you do is your own responsibility. I do however think that as many as possible should talk openly about their experiences. As far as I can see, there are two important reasons to come forward:
1. As long as you hide and lie about things, you will have discomfort. The chafing feeling can in many cases completely consume you and make you sick. To care for yourself, you should strive to live in truth.
2. The law is moralistic and is used to persecute and oppress people, especially people that think outside the government approved boxes. As long as we hide in the closet, the persecution will continue, because they do not understand that it is their own well tempered, creative and loving children that they are targeting. We need to step forward to break the grip that this offensive and destructive legislation has on our community.

Can it hurt to step forward?
Yes.

Photo: Crazy Sister by joseloya on Flickr

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