It is more difficult to work spiritually in a city, because it is harder to connect and to hear the spirit world. I’m not saying that it is impossible, just more difficult. The air in the city is so saturated with information that it is quite deafening. Everywhere the advertisements are screaming at you, cars honking, alarm shrieking, wifi networks are working, phone calls, sirens, talk. Information, information, information.
To hear the waves cluck, don’t sit in a park. To hear the birds sing, don’t sit in traffic. To hear your own thoughts, the other side or the highest divine – get out of the city.
Photo: Tokyo subway at rush hour by Tim Adams on Flickr
In 2015 the Swedish/English blogger and shaman Daniel Wilby will try legal drugs to investigate their therapeutic and spiritual potential. – It is my hope to be able to offer legal psychedelic therapy and healing in the near future, he explains.
Nine years ago he himself recovered from long-term alcohol abuse and a deep depression when he came in contact with the illegal psychedelic substance LSD. Since then he has worked intensely to learn how to use psychedelics for healing and growing, both for himself and with others.
– I see the criminalization of psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as a violation of every person’s inherent right to heal and practice their spiritual beliefs. For me, these substances saved my life and I can never be grateful enough for the help I received through them.
Daniel works in the shamanic tradition, but has also recently begun studying social work at the university of Malmö with the hope of being able to work with legal psychedelic therapy in the future.
– At first I imagined that I would have to open a center abroad to bring clients to, but this fall we had a big discussion in Sweden about the harmful yet legal Spice blends. That made me think of all these substances that are not yet classified as illegal. I want to examine them to see if there are some that are good to work with in the same manner as I have previously worked with LSD and mushrooms.
The Internet-based smartshop Azarius in Holland sponsors Daniel with products from their selection, and he will continuously report his and others’ experiences on his blog.
– Two things have been particularly important when we have selected which substances to try. The first is that the substance must be safe. There cannot be the slightest risk for my health. The second is that the substance must be legal in Sweden.
Psychedelic plants have in shamanic traditions been used for many thousands of years to heal and help people grow, and to get in contact with the spirit world. During a short period leading up to the 1960s, they were used extensively in Western therapeutic contexts and generally showed great results, but all such research was suppressed when the war on drugs began.
– The reason that psychedelics were banned in the 1960s was not that they were dangerous, but because they were perceived as subversive. Suddenly people let their hair grow, they listened to strange music and refused to go to war. For militaristic-minded nations who expected a certain conformity and obedience, this was very scary. Compared to other drugs and medications psychedelics are very safe, but as with anything you obviously need to know what you are doing.
– In a therapeutic context psychedelics allow us to quickly go very deep. They strip away unnecessary walls and help us to dive into the subconscious, which means that we can often go further in one single psychedelic session than you would in months or even several years of regular therapy.
Yesterday I randomly searched YouTube for people’s stories about how they have healed and grown using illegal substances. Despite deep stigma and threats of reprisals these stories are not hard to find.
All these people are someone’s child. They are siblings, parents, friends, colleagues. You probably know several people who have similar stories, even if you haven’t heard them. Each story is about someone’s life, and every life is a universe in itself.
Listen to their stories. If you still think that these substances should be illegal, stigmatized and users hunted by the judicial system – please, explain your reasoning to me. Tell me why Ruth shouldn’t have been given Ibogaine for her crack and heroin addiction, why Rachel who was sexually abused at age four should not have been given MDMA-assisted therapy, why Alex’s parents should not give autistic Alex cannabis and why Deepak Chopra, one of today’s great spiritual inspirators, should not have taken LSD.
Tell me why people should respect the law more than they value their own recovery.
Iboga / Ibogaine
Howard Lotsof accidentally discovers Ibogaines ability to abruptly break heroin addiction.
Ruth Zupan solves a crack and heroin addiction with Ibogaine …
Patrick solve intractable PTSD with Iboga …
Psychedelic mushrooms / Psilocybin
1 grams of psychedelic mushrooms solves Stickys long and complex depression, and his social anxiety.
Annie got terminal cancer and with it very much worry and anxiety, which psychedelic mushrooms solved.
People have always searched for the higher meaning of existence. In their search they have had sensations of the highest divine and tried to name that which cannot be named. They have sacrificed to Zeus, thanked Freya, asked Shiva for focus and God for mercy. They have searched inward and outward with dance, prayer, singing, yoga and meditation.
One of the oldest traditions in order to get in touch with the highest divine, and with the other realities that surround us, has been by using plants. In the beginning humans were very close to nature and talked with the sun and the plants, the wind and stones. Nature was a teacher who shared its wisdom, but who also helped humans to be able to get in contact to other realities.
Over time some people have however made the experience more academic than spiritual. While the original spirituality was based on every persons own experience and their own contact with the highest divine, nowadays many people are content to believe in a constructed religion. They do of course overlap, but I’m guessing that most religious people today do not have a personal experience of contact with the highest divine, but are satisfied with believing others’ descriptions of it.
To me there is big group of illegal substances that is intimately connected with spiritual exploration – mostly those we would call natural psychedelics. I’m talking about plants and preparations such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Cannabis (semi-psychedelic), psychedelic mushrooms and Iboga.
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Ayahuasca is a preparation made from a jungle vine and another plant. Shamans have probably used it for more than 6,000 years to have contact with other realities and heal people. It is used almost exclusively in ceremonial contexts, but is banned in Sweden because it contains the natural substance DMT, which is also found in the human brain and appears to be heightened and released by prolonged meditation, sleep, and at the moment of death.
San Pedro and Peyote cacti are used in similar ways and in similar contexts, for deep transformative and spiritual experiences. As far as we know the knowledge to work with them is probably more than 4,000 years old, but as with all these substances it might very well have been used for much longer than that. Today the knowledge is kept alive by South American shamans and North American Indians. While the cacti itself is legal in Sweden, it is illegal to consume it because it contains the natural substance mescaline.
Cannabis is regarded in Hinduism as a gift from the god Shiva to mankind, created from his body. It has been used for more than 4,000 years, both spiritually as medically in Hinduism and Buddhism, but more recently also in religions such as Islam and Rastafarianism. It is celebrated for its spiritual, mystical properties, but also because it allows people to see through illusions and lies. In the drug context cannabis is among the least dangerous substances, much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, but it is being fought with tremendous zeal. The active ingredient THC is easily spotted with a quick urine test.
Psychedelic mushrooms are available in hundreds of varieties and on every continent. The most famous Swedish psychedelic mushrooms are the Liberty caps, used by witches and shamans. In Europe, however, the Christian mass murder of dissidents makes it difficult to track past use. The mushrooms produce similar deep spiritual experiences including contact with other realities, past lives, a connectedness with nature and with the universe. Liberty caps are commonly picked in cow meadows after the first frost, but if you do so you are a criminal. All mushrooms containing the natural ingredient psilocybin are forbidden to handle.
Iboga is a West African shrub that contains the illegal natural substance ibogaine. It is documented to have been used in Africa in a spiritual context since the 19th century, but before that it is difficult to say. It gives deep transformative experiences and having taken Iboga one will often lie down for an entire day. Nowadays Iboga is most famous for its medicinal properties, as it has been proved to be able to break even deep rooted addiction with only one or two trips. But to do so is illegal.
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These are just a few of the illegal substances that have been used in spiritual practice for thousands of years before such recent phenomena as Christianity came along. Natural psychedelics are found on all continents, and maybe even in all countries. The tradition of using them in order to get in contact with other realities and with the highest divine has been preserved in many places in the world – by shamans in South America, witches in Europe, yogis and shamans in Asia and medicine men/women in North America, Africa and possibly Australia. However, they have for long periods been forced to go into hiding, because above all Christianity has violently persecuted them. Today this continues with the help of the disrespectful and discriminatory drug laws.
Drug laws thus not only violate minority rights, but also each person’s inherent right to their own spiritual experience and journey.
There are those who argue that these plants should only be used in their original cultural contexts, that is only the shamans of the Amazon should be working with Ayahuasca, and only the medicine men/women of North America with Peyote. With that logic the Liberty caps should of course be legal in Sweden. But besides that these people seem to overlook that we live in a globalized world and that the spiritual search has never let itself be confined to places or cultural context. Just as religions spread across the world and have borrowed freely from each other’s cultural contexts, shamanism is also worldwide and practitioners are inspired by each other. There have also been new substances used in similar ways, with similar spiritual effects and with similar healing properties – LSD, MDMA and Ketamine, to name a few.
Some people speak of religious freedom. I guess that would be the freedom to settle for believing in other people’s descriptions of the highest divine. I’m not interested in religious freedom. I require spiritual freedom – the freedom to have my own spiritual experience and my own contact with the highest divine. If my spiritual path happens to involve working with plants and in a tradition that is older than any religion, that is my business as long as I do not harm anyone else. A law that tries to stop me from doing so is nothing more than oppression and discrimination institutionalized.
This is a question that I sometimes get from people who do not understand why others want to get involved with “drugs”. The question itself is revealing, because it is obvious that the person has alcohol as a reference, which limits their understanding of other substances. It is rarely clear in everyday conversation that “drugs” can have other uses than intoxication.
Intoxication is only one of several states that alcohol and drugs are used to achieve. To broaden the subject, I would rather use the phrase mind altered states. Why do people want to achieve altered states of mind? By changing the words I hope that it will be clearer that substances may have more to them than only intoxication.
But let’s still begin with the state of intoxication. Alcohol is the typical example of an intoxicating drug, because it has few other purposes. In small or moderate use it can work well as a social lubricant or as relaxation. At high consumption it is an excellent escape drug, which explains its high potential for abuse. There are a large number of drugs with similar characteristics, or that are at least used in similar ways – as intoxication, social lubricant or as an escape. Opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, some prescription drugs and cannabis, to name a few.
But what other altered states of mind are people who take different substances looking for? Speaking of cannabis, there has long been talk about the plants medicinal properties. Some medicinal properties can certainly be isolated so that you can get the medical effect without the altered state of mind, but in other cases the altered state is strongly linked to the medical effect. Cannabis is used to relieve chronic pain and difficulty coping with stress, to name just a couple of uses.
Another group of substances that is much more mind altering is psychedelics, also called hallucinogens or entheogens. With these I have experienced everything from extreme confusion to total clarity, but I have never felt intoxication to be a valid word for my experiences. From a Western medical perspective, these substances can be used as therapeutic tools. They might give me the opportunity to become aware of and release that which is restricting me, help me heal past trauma, give me insight into who I am, give me a sense of purpose and my place in the world. The question of why I choose to intoxicate myself becomes very strange, because I am working therapeutically with the substance in order to heal and grow. The abuse potential of these substances are remarkably low, since they typically raise your awareness in a manner which makes you want to quit any substance abuse.
Another place where virtually all cultures seek altered states of consciousness is in the spiritual. Some achieve it through prolonged meditation, others in intense dance, through drumming, singing, beating themselves, with yoga, in prayer, in ceremonies, sweat lodges, through sex, separated from the world, or in close, intimate contact with it. One of mankind’s oldest ways to connect with the higher divine is by plants, which is a tradition that we know is more than twice as old as the Bible, and probably many times older yet. There are a few scenarios where it might be relevant to talk about intoxication, but in most spiritual contexts the word intoxication is extremely inappropriate, as the goal is rather to open up to other realities, for example so one can be able to speak with nature, spirits, ancestors, angels and the highest divine.
I understand that I have not given an answer to the original question. I have rather tried to explain that there are several other reasons to take drugs than just to get intoxicated. If we seriously want to answer the question of why people want to get intoxicated, we first need to take a step back and make these distinctions. Otherwise there is the risk that we confuse abuse with use, medical use or spiritual exploration. It is not helpful if we actually want to understand why people get intoxicated.
In conclusion I should probably have a go at answering the actual question. I think of the word intoxication as being connected to the word escape, which in turn connects to the word abuse. Intoxication is a very narrow and limited way to use a substance; a way that suggests that the person is out of balance. People are trying to escape themselves for many reasons, but what these people seem to have in common is that they often lack the tools and/or the driving force to handle the situation differently. People who live their lives in a haze do so because they don’t understand how it could be done differently. To unlock the mechanism that makes people want to escape through intoxication, we first need to identify what the person is trying to escape from and then confront and come to terms with it. When the reason we want to escape is healed, we no longer have the urge to do so.
Main photo: Self portrait – Me and my right hand man by MattysFlicks on Flickr
This is a statement by the sami shaman Jungle Svonni that was recently given at a human rights conference in Warsawa.
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My name is Jungle Svonni, and I am a Sami shaman. We Sami are the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula. Currently our land is occupied by Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. My family migrates with our reindeers between Sweden in winter and Norway in summer.
Our ancestral culture and religion is shamanic. However, the colonizing countries, like Sweden and Norway, have for centuries acted to exterminate our religion. By cutting our spiritual connection to nature through shamanism, the connection of all our culture is lost.
Practicing shamanism has been illegal for centuries. Any cultural expressions related to shamanism, such as joik (the sami way of singing) or having a shamanic drum was severely punished, even by death. The heavy persecution resulted in the near extinction of shamanism among us. The persecutions of our roots have created social marginalization, a high rate of suicides and environmental problems, due to a decreased understanding for nature.
My grandfather and great grandfather were all shamans, but without any possibility to know or practice it fully. As a child I realized that this destructive situation must be fixed, if we Sami people are going to have any future. About ten years ago I left on a journey to the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon, to rediscover my shamanic roots. I stayed with the native people for eight years, learning my own culture. In the end I worked as a shaman on a large healing center, where we among other things were curing drug addictions with great success.
Two years ago I moved back, to share the shaman knowledge with my people. Swedish authorities arrested and jailed me for 18 days. They confiscated my sacred plant medicine, the San Pedro cactus, and I was accused of smuggling narcotics – mescaline. The San Pedro plant is completely legal and can be bought in any Swedish flower shop. It was only the shamanic context that triggered the judicial to actions and imprisonment.
Media portrayed me as a criminal, fuelled by ignorant and false statements from the prosecutor. Surprisingly it took the judge one and a half year to find that the legal San Pedro has nothing to do with mescaline or the drug market. I became the first Sami shaman ever to win against the Swedish authorities, without denying being a shaman. But the core problem remains. One of the most important shamanic and natural sacraments Ayahuasca, is still not fully legalized.
Today shamanism is supposed to be legal in Sweden and Norway, protected by the fundamental rights. In reality shamanism is still persecuted. It is only accepted as a “play” for eccentric adults. If it is serious, if you gather knowledge from the nature as our forefathers did and use the natural plants sacraments, you can still today get arrested and imprisoned. The Swedish authorities would use the excuse that you allegedly have violated their narcotic law. But the shamanic ceremonies of Sami people have no connection to the drug problems of Swedish society. What about our human rights to search our roots and practice our religion, shamanism?
Today, the Sami people are prevented by law to educate us directly from nature through natural medicine. Plant medicine is a fundamental part of shamanism and to prevent people to practice their traditional religion is a serious violation of human rights and minority rights.
The wounds on my people are so deep after centuries of persecution that we must turn to our shaman brothers in the Amazon for our cultural survival. For centuries we were forced to practice a foreign religion, and speak a foreign language, our own being forbidden. Our mountains are destroyed by foreign mining companies, the lichen necessary for our reindeers are polluted by a foreign society. Our forests are cut down by foreign companies with foreign technology. But WE are NOT allowed to share the shamanic plant knowledge from our shaman brothers and sisters, which we so badly need to recover our own culture.
I was imprisoned and prosecuted. The reason was not the fully legal San Pedro itself. The prosecutor tried to incriminate me because it would be used in my Sami shaman practice. The human rights violations in my case show the arrogance and ignorance of Swedish authorities. Sami shamanism is finally reawakening after centuries of oppression. Sweden and Norway must reconsider how to deal with it, in order to hinder further violations of our fundamental rights!
Main photo: A Sami Lapp family in Norway around 1900 by tonynetone on Flickr
I once had a jade necklace that must have been magical. Every time I put it on I got new friends. I loved it so much that I gave it to the best boss I ever had.
Pretty soon I missed the feeling of making new friends so easily, so I ordered a new jade necklace. I was however a little disappointed when I put on it, because it didn’t give me new friends. But after a while I noticed that the necklace had a very harmonizing effect. When I put on it, I had a loving calm and felt balanced. It was a great necklace for working with others. I loved it so much that I gave it to a refugee child that needed it more than I did.
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If you’re looking for something but are unable to find it, you might be looking for the wrong thing.
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I was enticed to go to God Goes Deep, an electronic meditative experience in Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady) in Copenhagen. Deep House someone whispered to me, but I haven’t a clue. It felt natural to meditate, so I did so with the expectation of finding spiritual activity in the church. But it was dead. The only angel who appeared to be present was made of marble and God did not seem to care for the place.
After a while I accepted that it was not a place for spiritual contact, but wondered to myself what it was. Immediately I felt human emotions. I sat close to the altar and felt so very much love. The love between people who marry. It’s a fantastically joyous love. But gradually two other very strong emotions that were instilled in the room emerged – fear and confusion.
Church is a place for people.
It is not a place for angels, God or Jesus. It is not a place of miracles, for contact with higher realities or even a power spot. It is a place for people and people’s emotions.
Love. Fear. Confusion.
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If you’re not getting the message, you might not be tuned in to the right frequenzy.
My name is Daniel Wilby. I am a 40 year old father of two, a writer and an yoga practitioner. Or as Tommy Lindh at the Swedish police in Värmland called me in the Swedish tabloid Expressen – a “drug liberal youth.”
I’m alive thanks to LSD.
Nine years ago I was literally on the verge of drinking myself to death. By pure chance, at age 31, I tried LSD and the experience was so transformative that I stopped drinking that same evening and started taking responsibility for my life. There began my journey of healing and growing, and vital tools for that were LSD and psychedelic mushrooms.
When I had my first experience of LSD, where I over night miraculously recovered from a 13-year long heavy alcohol abuse, I thought that my recovery was unique. When I started to look into it and talk to others who have taken LSD and other psychedelics, I quickly discovered that I was by no means unique. Among people who know psychedelics these kinds of stories are very common. LSD is sometimes likened to ten years of therapy in one night, which I can attest that it is often.
I have worked with these substances for eight years, with myself and with others. I have seen much healing, I have seen many insights that have changed peoples’ lives for the better, I have seen many challenge their fears and overcome obstacles within. For that reason, I have begun to study social work. It is my goal to one day work with legal psychedelic therapy.
But back to Tommy Lindh at the police in Värmland, who today wrote about LSD on the police Facebook page. The post has created some stir, because it’s obvious that the person who wrote it is very ignorant. In it Tommy Lindh writes about internet drugs which claims victims and says that they have discovered LSD which is an “extremely strong drug which in its dangerousness is clearly comparable to heroin.” In an article in the Swedish tabloid Expressen he continues to confuse LSD with research chemicals and says that the young people have died.
I happen to know much more about LSD than Tommy Lindh at the police in Värmland, so I would briefly like to give you a few facts:
∙ It is basically impossible to die of LSD. You need to take more than 1,000 times the dose to stand the slightest risk. No one has ever taken that much LSD.
∙ To risk death with heroin one need to take 5 times the dose and to risk dying from alcohol poisoning one needs to take 10 times the dose. The latter is equivalent to a fourteen year old drinking a full bottle of liquor in 15 minutes.
∙ LSD has with extreme success been used to relieve and cure such things as substance abuse, post traumatic stress, depression, death anxiety, and empathy disorders.
∙ LSD was early on used to treat alcoholics and had much better results than the 12-step program has ever had. Actually one AA’s founder, Bill Wilson, wanted LSD to be step 1 in AA treatment.
∙ Many who use LSD and other psychedelics do it with a spiritual purpose. Psychedelics have been used for more than 6000 years by witches, shamans and medicine men to cure people and to get in contact with the spirit world.
It makes me both sad and upset to see ignorant people like Tommy Lindh at the police in Värmland speak in that manner about healing substances that can help so many people, in a time when more people than ever need the help. It irritates me that people like him are allowed to express their ignorance unchallenged in the media.
But I am not waging a war against Tommy. I think it is a pity that his knowledge is so limited. I think it is a shame that so many in the police, the prison service and in other social sectors are so profoundly ignorant to things that could save so many lives.
There are few who dare to speak as openly as I do about these things, because they fear social reprisals. To be able to take this discussion I stay completely drug-free and have done so for more than a year.
If the police in Värmland want to have a better understanding of psychedelics, they are most welcome to hire me as a speaker.
I was driving out into the Mexican desert with a shaman, and we were on our way to a peyote ceremony. We’d just eaten the peyote, and the shaman turned on the radio, and started playing The Talking Heads. He was this little indigenous dude, just banging on the steering wheel and singing along to The Talking Heads at the top of his lungs. I thought we were supposed to be contemplating life, so I said: ‘Are you sure the radio should be on right now? Is that how the ceremony is supposed to work?’ And he said: ‘This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.’ So I just shut up and rolled with it.
(from Humans of New York 2014-08-05)
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I love the blog Humans of New York, because people have so many wonderful stories. Like this one. One must wonder what kind of shaman this actually is. And am I reading this correctly, that they ate the peyote and THEN drove to the ceremonial place?
I know that there are probably quite a few people that would say that this shaman is not a proper shaman, but I want to disagree. I know nothing about him, but there is something to his style that sparks confidence.
Many think that spiritual experiences must be serious, well structured and to be quite honest, dry. We are expected to bow down and show respect and it should all be very solemn and meaningful.
But I have often found the opposite to be just as true. Spiritual experiences are crazy, out of control, screaming your lungs out, out of wack and utter nonsense. The divine wants me to dance and sweat and hurl and would often that I rather summon the gay rainbow unicorn, than the great Condor from the East.
I have full confidence in this guy’s shaman. He seems to have lost his marbles, just like the rest of the universe.
Photo: Still from the experimental film HWY An American Pastoral, produced by Jim Morrison and Paul Ferrara.
If you see lots of doctors visiting your neighbour’s house, you don’t think “my neighbour must be exceptionally healthy”. Still, that is how many imagine India and Indians. “Oh, see how many spiritual masters they have. Those Indians must be very spiritually advanced.” In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. There are so many spiritual masters in India because people here are so incredibly sick. The Indians are spiritually handicapped. They are in immense need of spiritual help. Otherwise there would be no need for any spiritual masters in India.
Free from memory,
based on a lecture by the Indian guru Osho (in photo).