Is it cheating to use psychedelics in the pursuit of personal and spiritual growth?
Plant teachers and psychedelic medicines are part of an especially powerful spiritual path that only few can handle. They aren’t for everyone, just as tantra or vipassana meditation isn’t for everyone. It is a genuine path of healing and spiritual growth that has been around for longer than any religion we have today and that has at some point in time been part of the practice of all of them. They are at the very core of the mystical experience that once upon a time gave birth to religions, although those religions have since fundamentally perverted the insights given. Psychedelics are the tools of healers, shamans, witches, visionaries, psychonauts, spiritual explorers and messengers. They are tools of change and enlightenment, of love and transcendence. They are catalysts of evolution and reconnect people to the source.
The first time I bought magic mushrooms they were still legal in Sweden. After a night of heavy drinking my friend and I came home. We wanted to continue drinking, but there was nothing left. I brought out the small plastic bag of mushrooms. My friend did not want any. On the bag it said “Contains mushrooms for three trips. If you want to become a shaman, eat them all.”
– Why would you not like to be a shaman, I asked myself and proceeded to eat the whole bag.
My friend was a little worried at first, thinking that he would have to save me from jumping out the window, but calmed down when he saw me lying helpless on the floor. I lay there all night, unable to move from the spot. All around little figures were moving.
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Many years later I once again met the mushroom, but this time without alcohol and with a higher purpose. Early on in my exploration I found the humour of Terence McKenna, who was an ethno-botanist, philosopher and influential psychonaut. Five grams of dried cubensis mushroom is the effective dose, he argued, and he advocated meditation to get in contact with other realities.
I am obviously somewhat different than Terence, but on the whole I like his approach to things. He has a playfully irreverent yet respectful approach to the mushroom, paired with an incredible curiosity and the drive to try to describe what he experienced.
When I started working with the mushroom it was in five gram doses and one of the first things that the mushroom told me was that I should meditate with it. I did as it asked, layed flat on the bed and closed my eyes.
– Welcome into my body. I humbly ask you to heal me and help me grow. Please work with my body and show me what you do.
The first thing the mushroom then does is to penetrate the whole body. You don’t get that full body sensation if you focus on doing other things, such as talking or fooling around. That is why meditation and focus are such incredibly important tools for working with the mushroom.
For me the first meditation is a very intense experience, requiring that I am aware, fearless and curious. What comes up from one’s own mind can sometimes be hard to meet, but it is also heavenly to free yourself from it. I always go straight into what feels difficult or uncomfortable, because I know that is how I solve it. But there is another side to the experience that is not from one’s own mind, but from the contact with another entity. The mushroom is clearly a separate entity that one can interact with. It can provide access to unusual abilities, open up ones sight, contribute to healing, help to make contact with the spirit world, teach one about life and about our place in the infinite.
For me the meditation lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes. It is obvious when it is done, because then the flow ceases abruptly. Then I find myself in an alternate reality where there are such things as spirits and magic. There are fairies and angels. I can communicate with trees and feel energies. I can dive into people, channel power, connect with past lives and see across time. My eyes become large and my reaction to the outside world like a child’s; like seeing everything for the very first time.
Terence McKenna speaks warmly of smoking cannabis when taking mushrooms. That is one thing I do not agree with. I feel it is disrespectful to mix the mushrooms with other drugs, at least if one hasn’t explicitly asked to do so in advance and got yes for an answer. I find that cannabis distorts the experience, making it more confusing and often resulting in the loss of the deep psychedelic connection one has with other people. There are those who think that they can dampen the intense effect by using alcohol or other drugs. I believe that you should never mix with such substances, since they are dirty. It is disrespectful to the mushroom and the experience itself. If the trip is very intense I recommend to: 1. challenge yourself to face that which is intensive and potentially frightening, in order to process it and heal. Trust the mushroom, be brave and go with the flow. If you need you can hold someone’s hand. 2. change the surroundings. Put some music on, go to another room or take a walk. When one changes the surrounding, the mood changes. 3. eat. If you really need to land from the experience food is earth and pulls one back to the physical reality. You may find it difficult to eat, but it is a respectful and natural way to land.
After six to ten hours I slowly begin to come back to ordinary reality, even if the spirit world continues to be close by. The time is ripe for conversation and play with fellow travellers, or for contemplation and rest. It is a time for vision, creativity and silence. That is when I begin to integrate the insights that the mushroom has given me, because the real trip is the rest of life, where we live what we have understood. This is a crucial step if the mushroom experience is to be something more than a temporary rush. It is here, in the rest of life, that the healing and growth shows.
Some people are born with the ability to navigate and fully assimilate the psychedelic experience. When I work with psychedelics I usually call in the spirit helpers I want to have with me (angels and such) and ask them to keep me safe and help me. I don’t need the extra protection, but I am happy to have them with me and work with them.
The vast majority of people would probably like to hold somebody’s hand the first times they try mushrooms. With a sensible guide by your side it is easier to dare more and travel further. It is often also good to have someone who can mirror you. I am certain that most people would love the psychedelic experience, and that they would be able to draw positive life-changing lessons from them. Used in this way the risk of injury are negligible, close to none.
It is however important to note that there is a group of people who should absolutely not use psychedelics. Anyone who is trying to escape from him/herself, who is terrified of what’s inside, who wants to continue repressing and living in denial, that does not want to challenge the ego, who does not want to have contact with other realities, that are afraid of the unknown and do not want to see their illusions crushed, should definitely not use psychedelics.