Archive

Tag Archives: drug

The Psychedelic Community as a New Religious Movement:

The word psychedelic was coined by Humphry Osmond in 1957, its etymological root is meant to indicate the ‘spirit-revealing’ or ‘soul-manifesting’ nature of the chemicals concerned.

We know, beyond all doubt, that many of the users of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, DMT, Mescaline and Psilocin Mushrooms claim that these chemicals cause them to have experiences they describe as spiritually significant: usually in terms of allowing new spiritual insights about the nature of their being and its relationship to experience and the world, or in terms of some kind of spiritual healing effect.

Many, if not most, individuals who repeatedly use psychedelics do so with a primary motivation to explore the spiritual benefits of psychedelics: it is therefore, a part of their spiritual lives. Many of those individuals feel that the drugs themselves are sacred gifts, they use drugs like LSD to bring about experiences and states of being that are somehow “spiritual”,  “mystical” and “divine”.

All around the world, right now, there are individuals who are using psychedelic drugs. Not just individuals though, there is an increasingly cohesive and open community of psychedelic users: all united by the shared belief that they have been benefited by, and will continue to benefit from, psychedelic drugs.

Is it not conceivable that this community of individuals, who use the same sacraments, share similar spiritual motivations, and hold similar core beliefs represent a new religious or spiritual movement? 

Illustrating the unique aesthetic of psychedelic art.

It is, essentially, a ‘New Religious Movement’ (NRM) that is not allowed to become an organised religion. It cannot be given a name, nor can its places of communal gathering be made to explicit. It includes a great variety of belief and practice: but then the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, even Christianity all show a great variety of forms and expressions also. It has it’s own set of texts, but none are adopted as dogma, there is no cannon: but then many of the historical forms of human spirituality did not have a cannon either. It even has its own unique forms of artistic expression and aesthetic style, rife with themes of transcendence and spiritual discovery.

In Europe, especially in the summer, there are certain festivals attended primarily by the psychedelic community. At these festivals, an obvious form of neo-shamanism manifests itself: complete with music, dancing, and mind-altering chemicals, components of many shamanic traditions from all over the world. In fact, these festivals are becoming increasingly popular all over the world.

One of the implications of the continued growth of psychedelic festival culture is that the community of psychedelic users is becoming, with the help of the internet, more organised and more cohesive. Furthermore, now this ‘spiritual movement’ has community meeting spaces, with their own rituals, traditions, codes and conventions. At these gatherings there is a very strong sense of this community – people care for one another and help one another to have an enjoyable time, there is a sense of shared purpose and unity that is enjoyed by many when the psychedelic community meet.

Some might say “this isn’t spirituality, it is just hedonism’. Verily there are some who attend psychedelic festivals ‘just to have fun’, but there are others who feel, nonetheless, that psychedelic chemicals are an important aspect of their spiritual lives. Furthermore, who is to say that spirituality cannot be fun? Mystical texts from all world religions, including the bible, speak of ecstatic and joyous experiences that are encountered on the spiritual path: the Old Testament even describes singing and dancing as a result of spiritual attainment.

The Psychedelic Community has its own Places of Worship

When I walk down the street of Oxford on a Saturday night I see fighting, I see people throwing up, I hear glass smashing: people become rude, inconsiderate, violent. I have never seen a fight at a psychedelic music festival, I don’t see people stumbling around and throwing up, what I do see is people having the time of their lives and forming lasting bonds with people in the process.

Returning to the issue though, the psychedelic community needs to consider how it can go about becoming recognised for the legitimate spiritual movement that it is so that it can enjoy the same acceptance and according protections that are afforded to other religious communities.

In the mean time, psychedelic spiritualists will continue to be a persecuted and oppressed minority religious group. For walking their spiritual path, they face imprisonment, with all the hardships and consequences-on-life that are entailed by it. Let’s have a brief look at how this persecution came about.

Christian Puritanism & Moral Panics: ‘The War on Drugs’ as Hysteria

We must recognise that for the last thousand years (and then some) the population of Europe has had its native religious/spiritual practices oppressed by the ‘dominator religion’ that is Christianity. Wherever Christianity went it systematically destroyed any competing forms of spirituality: often through violence. In the background, that force is still an undercurrent of our society.

Think about it. The American political system is still so obviously fixated on the values of Puritanical Christianity: that kind of ‘good christian wholesomeness’ that is expected of any presidential candidate, the obsession with ‘sexual misconduct’ on the part those in the public sphere, and wariness of the many other things deemed viceful within the puritanical Christian tradition. Is it a coincidence that this moral panic, this ‘war on drugs’, has come from a country whose dominant spiritual power is a form Christian puritanism?

Like the witch-trials, the ‘War on Drugs’ is another hysterical moral panic: something is judged as evil, all ‘the good people’ respond with unspeakable inhumanity.

A moral panic, and not the first. Can we think of some other examples from history where the Christian majority have deemed something to be ‘evil’ or ‘morally wrong’ and responded with unspeakable violence? The witch-hunts, for example, which also took on a distinctive ferocity midst the North American puritans. The Inquisition, a few hundred years of torture, persecution, inhumanity: based on a response to what is perceived to be an evil.

Perhaps you think the comparison extreme? It’s not like we’re burning people at the stake or torturing them, right? But we do lock people up: vast swathes of people (usually the most socially disadvantaged) all in response to the supposed ‘evil’ of drug-use. As in the inquisition, we interrogate people, we use fear and intimidation to make them betrays other human beings: is it not torture to go through a judicial system and be locked away for decades of your life?

The ‘War on Drugs’ is just another inquisition. The ‘Holy/Good people’ exercising hegemonic domination over ‘the evil people’, and in the process performing unspeakable evils themselves.

Is it not an evil thing to do this to an individual? It is a harmful action after all, to lock them in a prison for years on end. Is the act of imprisoning some one for using psychedelics not, in fact, more evil than that individuals ‘offence’ of using psychedelics?

When an activity carries risks only to oneself, does that make it unethical? If so, are horse-riding and mountain climbing unethical to? Clearly then the idea that drug use is morally wrong cannot be based on the risks associated with their use. If it is not a moral wrong, then to punish people for it is not just, and is unethical.

The ‘War on Drugs’ will be viewed by historians as just another silly moral panic, a hysteria that got carried away with itself, but a hysteria like never before. A hysteria fueled by new mass-media technologies, a hysteria on an unprecedented scale, and one which does an unprecedented amount of harm.

It is interesting to consider the extent to which Puritanical Christianity has been embraced by, what some might consider to be ‘the new dominator religion’, Capitalism; and the extent to which spiritual movements which are perceived to be a threat to capitalism are marginalised, and in this case, forbidden.

Conclusion:

The psychedelic community, as it stands, is a new religious/spiritual movement. Its members are subject to persecution and oppression, as they have been for the last fifty years.

Much of modern drug culture is simply an extension of much older spiritual traditions. Modern Britain has new sacraments now, and its tribal dances are to dubstep from massive sound-systems

This ‘war on drugs’ is just a part of a millenia-old pattern of ‘organised religion’ dominating more spontaneous & experiential forms of spirituality. It manifests the values of the puritanical religious fanaticism which has come to dominate American political culture.

If our Right to Religious & Spiritual Freedom is to mean anything, then it must accommodate entheogenic  and psychedelic compounds , which are an important component to many forms of spirituality.

One source of hope is the increasing unity of the psychedelic community around the world.

Fagnan Gallery

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT or N,N-DMT) is a psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. Its presence is widespread throughout the plant kingdom.DMT occurs in trace amounts in mammals, including humans, where it putatively functions as a trace amine neurotransmitter/neuromodulator.[5] It is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT during normal metabolism. The significance of its widespread natural presence remains undetermined. Structurally, DMT is analogous to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT), the hormone melatonin, and other psychedelic tryptamines, such as 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenin, psilocin and psilocybin.

When ingested, DMT acts as a psychedelic drug. Depending on the dose and method of administration, its subjective effects can range from short-lived milder psychedelic states to powerful immersive experiences; these are often described as a total loss of connection to conventional reality with the encounter of ineffable spiritual/alien realms. Indigenous Amazonian Amerindian cultures consume DMT as the primary psychoactive in ayahuasca, a…

View original post 26 more words

taoism101

Taoists believe that the experience of ego death is evil.

Bliss, love, divine experiences, and visions of angels are carrier waves for sinister psychological forces.

Classic texts like The Philokalia,  The Way of the Bodhisattva, and the current understanding of the Tao Te Ching, all the way to modern books like Shaking Medicine and The Power of Now celebrate ego death but none of these books deliver the actual experience.

Ayahuasca does.

As you read this, Americans are chugging ayahuasca and reporting their experiences on youtube!

Now we can investigate the actual experience of ego death and not the sanitized version discussed by Eckhart Tolle, Bradford Keeney, and other spiritual writers.

Take the example from the video I have posted below… Taylor Marie is an attractive 20 something all American woman who is essentially advocating associating with oozing demons, little dead girls, hellish imagery, and terrifying…

View original post 125 more words

Ayahuasca and Depression

Weaning off of antidepressant medications after taking them for many years is very challenging, both physically and emotionally.  I knew that if I wanted to benefit fully from an ayahuascaceremony I had to clear all traces of SSRI (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors) drugs from my body. However, this was difficult because I had become dependent on them to function in everyday existence. Those that have used these drugs can attest to their power and the surprising nature of their strong withdrawal symptoms and side effects.  It is important not to consume ayahuasca if you are taking any drug that affects your serotonin levels because combining the two can cause serotonin syndrome, a very serious and potentially fatal condition.  Ayahuasca also contains several compounds that are MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitor). MAOI drugs have very strong negative interactions with a wide variety of medications. It is important to understand the potential…

View original post 504 more words

Ayahuasca and Depression

Ayahuasca is the name given to a brew that is usually a combination of two plants.  The first is a large vine, Banisteriopsis caapi.  This vine is also given the name of ayahuasca and it contains harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine, which are all monoamine oxidase inhibitors. The second is a small ground plant, usually a member of the Psychotria genus, which contains the hallucinogenic DMT molecule.  The vine must be combined with the ground plant for the DMT to be absorbed into the bloodstream.  Due to the fact that the vine contains MAOI compounds, there are important dietary regulations that must be followed to avoid negative food-drug interactions.  Any food with high amounts of tyramine should be avoided with ayahuasca.

This plant mixture has been used for thousands of years by the native people of the western Amazon for its divination and healing purposes.  One of the most common themes of…

View original post 290 more words

Spiritual Transformations

Sacred ceremonies are containers within which psychic forces and people are held.  The form of the ceremony might differ, but there are essential elements in all traditions.  Take for example the peyote ceremony of the Native American Church.  nitetipiThe ceremonial space is a circular gathering with an opening in the east where the sun comes up.  This could be out in the open or enclosed within a Tipi or Hogan.  There is an altar, fire, and medicine.  There are sacred symbolic instruments which are used in traditional ways.  The pattern is well known by the participants.  The beginning involves prayers and activities such as making the crescent shaped altar, lighting the fire, placing the instruments and medicines in the right places at the prescribed times.  There will be another prayer with tobacco and/or cedar smoke by the leader(s) and the people, followed by sharing the peyote medicine.  Then the singing…

View original post 910 more words

Ayahuasca and Depression

What does a monkey typing aimlessly on a keyboard on the roof of a house have to do with curing depression?  I had no idea how to answer this question at first.  I was in the middle of my first ayahuasca ceremony and I suddenly was distracted by this typing monkey.  As if the strange physical sensations from the South American plant mixture were not enough to deal with, now I had to entertain this monkey!

After spending a few hours under the healing influence of the plant, I began to recognize that this monkey was certainly there for a reason.  He was trying to teach me something.  Our modern lives are full of distraction.  It often seems that distractions are inevitable and just part of the baggage that we accept with our busy lives, but choosing to focus our energy on distractions like television, negative stories on the news…

View original post 296 more words

%d bloggers like this: