Tag Archives: Terence McKenna

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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Mixing psychedelics and cannabis

Two of my all-time favourite psychonauts, Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna, were keen on mixing cannabis with psychedelics. While I agree with them on very much, that is one point where I don’t.

I have often mixed them and if you are mainly looking for the wackiness of the psychedelic experience they certainly fit well together. Cannabis jump starts the psychedelics, which understandably makes smoking a favourite past time for psychonauts that don’t want to land from the experience. Instead of a controlled landing they will smoke joint after joint to keep in the buzz.

While in the middle of the trip I find that cannabis very much confuses the situation. It twists things around and makes for trippy effects, but you lose clarity and direction and it severely reduces your ability to communicate with yourself, the plant, the spirit world and others.

If you are working with master plants you should also keep in mind that the spirit of the two plants might not want to meet at all. In fact, they might be quite offended by being ignorantly forced together. If you want to use both, then you should introduce them and ask permission before you mix them. If you have a strong connection and respect for both plants it might work out very well, but most people who mix them seem to be quite clueless and don’t take the time to ask the plants what they want.

While I don’t want to say how other people should conduct their business, I am surprised when I hear about retreats with master plants where guides and participants smoke cannabis. For me that seems as out of place in that setting as if they had served alcohol and pork. I would have a hard time trusting such organisers.

Photo: Lighting Joint by Heath Alseike on Flickr

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Some thoughts on taking mushrooms

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.

● ● ●

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.

Photo: stranger by Vanda Mesiarikova on Flickr

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The aliens are already here

Are there aliens? Are there spirits? Are there intelligent beings in nearby dimensions? Let’s listen in on what ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna has to say on the matter.

DMT is a reliable method for crossing in to a dimension that human beings have debated the existence of for 50.000 years. Is there an invisible nearby world inhabited by active intelligences with which human beings can communicate? You bet. And if you don’t think so, then tell me you don’t think so after you’ve smoked 75mg DMT. Otherwise we just don’t have anything to talk about.
Terence McKenna

∙~●. Terence McKenna at UFO conference .●~∙

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