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.
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.
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.
There are mainly two kinds of drug use discussed in the public discourse, and they are often connected. It’s ABUSE and RECREATIONAL USE. Since we are basically only talking about those two, it is easy for the uninitiated to believe that these are the only uses that drugs have. This view is reinforced by the fact that the primary legal drug – alcohol – has few other uses than partying. But there are at least a couple of other, far more important uses for psychedelics. Here are the four main uses that I have identified:
1. Recreational use. The substance is used as a social lubricant and to have fun.
2. Medical use. The substance is used to cure or relieve a condition, or to find an acceptance for what is. Psychedelics have been used successfully to cure such things as substance abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress and fear of death. Psychedelics are especially valuable for working with psychosomatic conditions, where the disease wholly or partly stems from mental or emotional imbalances.
3. Spiritual use. The substance is used with spiritual purpose, in ritual or to get in direct contact with higher or other dimensions. Psychedelics have been used for this purpose for many thousands of years, often under the guidance of a shaman, medicine man, witch, or other spiritual guides. Some examples of common experiences are getting in direct contact with God / Mother Earth / the Universe, communication with angels / spirits / the dead / past lives, contact with other dimensions, contact with plants and animals, telepathy, the experience that all is one and that we all belong together.
The substance is used to flee reality. Abuse is charactarized by obsessive craving and unconscious behaviour.
Of course it is extremely difficult to have a sensible discussion about drugs and legislation with someone who does not have this basic understanding, that substances can serve more than one purpose. Writing laws with the misconception that there is only recreational use and abuse is extremely problematic, because it is at the same time criminalizing people’s inherent rights to heal and have their own spiritual practice.
Main photo: Tian Tan Buddha at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, China by R Barraez D´Lucca on Flickr
The attack on psychedelics began long ago and was led by the church. The mushroom, the cactus, the vine, the bushes and seeds that gave access to the wisdom of natures kingdom, that opened doors to communicating with spirits and gods, healed and helped – was the tool of the witch, the shaman and the medicine wo/man.
Wherever the church came they executed everyone who had the knowledge. Inquisition and violent proselytizing destroyed entire populations, to prevent that more people would get to know. Today, the state, as the church’s extended arm, continues the war against the imaginary devil.
Thou shalt have no other notions than mine, the Christian un-God seems to hiss. Kill the witch, imprison the shaman and hunt the medicine wo/man to the edge of the world and throw her/him over it. Do not let the plants speak to anyone, do not let anyone be healed by them, do not let anyone gain access to God through them. Forbid what is natural, destroy everything they think they know and sedate them with alcohol and synthetic drugs. Taunt them, persecute them and stone them. One God, one way, one law, one way of seeing reality. Accept it or become our enemy.
Do you honestly trust these people and systems that try to fool you that plants need to be banned and that the devil lives in plants used by indigenous healers for many thousands of years?