Discusses the dangers of limitting psychedelic use to only clinical and research settings.
Discusses the dangers of limitting psychedelic use to only clinical and research settings.
In simplest terms, drug prohibition is an attempt by the state to place limitations on both the neurological states and corresponding psychological states or its citizenry.
By a remarkable coincidence, some of these drugs (the psychedelics) are the same drugs which allow users access to profound spiritual experiences, insights and personal transformations. Most users of psychedelics report these effects, most users feel they were benefitted by the experience.
By controlling the substances that produce these states of mind, the government is, in effect, controlling the spiritual lives of its population.
Since it is pretty irrefutable and simple logic to assert that drug prohibition is a form of mind control, the real question we need to answer is ‘why?’
When we ask ‘Why?’ we are asking ‘For what reason?’
The idea that psychedelics are unsafe and the state is ‘protecting its citizens’ is demonstrably false. LSD, for example, is far safer than most other recreational drugs, far safer than many of the drugs the NHS currently deals (and sometimes forcibly injects into its mentally ill patients) and safer than many other forms of legal recreational activity (e.g. extreme sports), or non-recreational activity.
Isn’t it strange how the state feels it must protect its citizens mental health when it comes to drugs like LSD, but is perfectly happy to see new-born babies raised in-front of an unending stream of corporate brainwashing in the form of adverts?
It claims to be worried that LSD will ’cause suicide’ – and yet it seems remarkably unconcerned by those other factors which actually cause suicide: debts, stress, unrewarding jobs, the resentment of being at the losing end of vast economic inequality, the squalor of our urban environments, the decay of spirituality.
The state’s only interest is economic. It only cares about the moral and spiritual wellbeing of its citizens as long as that wellbeing coheres with its own economic interests. Religions that ensure people will keep being exploited through their mundane jobs, pay their taxes, and keep consuming: they’re ok, any other forms of spirituality that threaten the interests of the capitalist elite are persecuted and criminalised.
When the so-called ‘hippies’ of the 1960s/70s used LSD they ‘turned on, tuned in, and dropped out‘, the meaning of this ‘dropping out’ is a key issue here. Essentially, LSD helps individuals to deconstruct the conditioning they have been raised on, it reminds people of who they were before society’s consumer-capitalist-military-industrial brainwashing.
What can we learn about mass-LSD consumption from the hippies? What was it that terrified the state so much when large swathes of the population began to use LSD? It certainly didn’t seem to harm the individuals themselves, they seemed to be preoccupied with ‘peace’, ‘love’, ‘harmony’, ‘going with the flow’, music and art, and, perhaps most importantly, reforming the corrupt political machine they felt they were at the mercy of.
There is no aspect of humanity more personal, more intimate, more sacred, than our capacity to transcend and commune with the divine aspect of life: it says a great deal about our culture that such an innate capacity is forbidden.
Our economy (and therefore our society) is not driven by spiritually wholesome values. It is driven by greed, it is driven by selfishness. It depends on exploitation of humans, animals, and nature, on every level. It is based on manufacturing discontent so as to enslave the population. It is based on raising children to be killers so that they can go to other countries and steal their resources.
These values run contrary to the teachings of all the world’s major religions: religions which have long become compliant with and corrupted by the ways of consumer-capitalism.
Could it be that LSD and other psychedelics show people spiritual truths that the status quo would rather remained forgotten? Spiritual truths that threaten the delusions, the greed, and the selfishness, upon which our economy is based?
The war on psychedelics is precisely a war on spiritual consciousness. A war motivated by the politics of dominant-culture vs counter-culture: not health, as is pretended.
For the un-initiated: when it comes to the personal choice to take LSD, read the scientifc research for yourself and then make up your own mind about whether it is in your interests to take it or not and read the reports of people who have actually used it.
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 Magic 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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
One of the key criticisms of the war on drugs is that, despite all the effort, despite all the money, despite all the resources spent on the cause: if an individual wants to find a drug, any drug, they can get it without too much trouble. I have never met some one who has wanted to do a drug and has been stopped by its illegality.
As long as there is demand there will be supply and the demand for psychedelics is impossible to kill because human curiosity is insatiable. Humanity has used psychedelics for thousands of years, when a government criminalises a psychedelic this curiosity is only heightened by the taboo of the forbidden. It seems that no matter what risks people are informed of with regards to any given substance, whether real or exagerated, people will still do what they want.
Rudgley’s ‘The Alchemy of Culture’, is a fascinating book which documents humanity’s long-standing relationship with mind-altering substances. Since humanity has always used drugs, he asserts that the desire to transcend ordinary experience and push consciousness to new and strange ‘places’ is an inalienable aspect of the human condition. Those wishing to control people’s will to explore psychedelics are, essentially, setting themselves an impossible task: the war on drugs simply cannot be won.
Some critics have argues that this is precisely the point. Considering that wars create jobs and bring with them certain financial perks for those at the top, what better war is there than one that cannot be won? In America we can see this all too clearly: an entire industry based on locking people up for doing something that people have always done and will always continue to do. Tens of thousands of jobs: from police officers, to judges, to prison guards and wardens, and then there’s all the administrative duties to regulate this industry. Then there are the political interests: politicians know that they need to look useful, they need the state to have a clear purpose, they need to make people afraid of ‘all the mad drug users’ just as they need to make people afraid of the terrorists who never seemed to show up.
Hericlitus once remarked that “war is the mother of all things”, an we can possit that if the war on drugs will go on forever, it will encourage progress on both sides of that battle. The aforementioned availablility of drugs suggests that, the ‘side’ of the drug suppliers is keeping up with the enemy.
The clandestine manufacture of psychedelics is easy enough where there is a will. The criminalisation of drugs ensures there will always be plenty of money to be made, for many this is incentive enough.
But sside from the profiteers, there are the devotees: those who have used psychedelics like LSD and DMT and, having felt their power and benefits, feel an almost religious duty to share it with the world. They have a sense that psychedelics are too important to be deprived from humanity: they are willing to help share them at any cost, they are even willing to be martyrs for the cause and go to prison for their beliefs and activitees. To them, the war on drugs is a spiritual war, a battle waged by the state, with its obsession with economic progress at any cost, against the primary religious sensibility and the most basic human freedom.
Organisations like Cognitive Liberty UK, NORML, LEAF, SSDP, and CLEAR are waging a war with words and political activism. But if drug prohibition is to be represented as a war, then the true heros of the war are the brave men and women who use their sophisticated intellects to continue to produce psychedelics in the face of massive opposition and oppression. These individuals pit their wits against a vast machine of surveilance and violent control, and they continue to succeed. Personally, I feel a great sense of gratitude and respect to those who put their lives at risk to make and distribute the world’s LSD.
It is worth considering quite far how the state would have to go to actually “win” the war on drugs (whatever that means). How much surveillence and control would need to be imposed in order to stop it completely? Is this just another one of those state-manufactured security issues that’s used to deprive the populus of their civil liberties and extend the tentacles of state control ever deeper into their lives?
All this ignores the greatest drug dealer of them all: nature. Psychedelic mushrooms grow all over the world, the earth itself offers the experiences to the mind’s of its people. With allies like that, psychonauts have nothing to fear in the long-run.
New research has been published on the benefits of consuming magic mushrooms…
“Prof Nutt and his team scanned the brains of volunteers who had been injected with a moderate dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms.
They had expected higher activity in areas of the brain associated with visual imagery. But in fact they found that the drug switched off a network of interconnected regions of the brain which regulated an individual’s sense of being and integration with their environment.
The researchers say that this alters consciousness because individuals are less in touch with their sensations and normal way of thinking.
They also found that psilocybin also turns off a part of the brain which is overactive in some forms of depression. So Prof Nutt believes that the drug could be used as an antidepressant and has applied to the Medical Research Council to carry out a small patient study to see if this is the case.
“There’s some research from the US which shows that when used in a psycho-therapeutic context it can produce quite long-lasting changes to a person’s sense of well-being – changes that can last for years,” Nutt says.
He also said that there was nothing in the brain scans or follow-up studies which would suggest that if taken in moderate quantities the drug was unsafe.
“People who use them regularly seem to do that. They seem to use them on an annual basis in order to enjoy the experience but also because it has this positive reaffirming effect. And there are certainly examples of people who take magic mushroom tea for obsessive compulsive disorder to keep it under control
So it may be that there are broad utilities of these kind of compounds in terms of mental well-being. I don’t know – I think it’s very much a question to be answered.”
(Quoted from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16678322)
“A second study, to be published on Thursday in the British Journal of Psychiatry, gave volunteers cues to remember positive events in their lives such as their wedding or performance in a play. Their recollection became very vivid. “It was almost as if rather than imagining the memories, they were actually seeing them” said Carhart-Harris. “This could be very useful in psychotherapy, for instance in people with depression who find it very difficult to remember good times and are stuck in the negative.”
The team are now hoping to do a further study which will involve giving psilocybin to depressed people who are undergoing psychotherapy, in the hope that it will allow them to relive times of past happiness.
The studies showed that psilocybin worked on the same areas of the brain as the SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, as well as talking therapies and meditation as carried out by skilled practitioners. But the advantage over pills, the team believes, is that the positive effect could be long-lasting.”
1. I will understand the effects of all recreational drugs I take prior to ingestion, to the best of my ability. I shall research all relevant neurochemical, psychological, physiological, and spiritual effects, the legal issues surrounding the drug and its use, along with other relevant information.
2. When taking a drug I am inexperienced with, I shall begin with a reasonably low dose suggested to be psychoactive by the aforementioned research before progressing to higher dosages. I will measure the drug carefully, with an accurate scale, when possible and applicable.
3. If it is possible that the drug may contain harmful adulterants or in fact be a different drug altogether, I shall have the drug chemically analyzed for purity and content. If this is not possible, I will use caution and/or follow the appropriate course of action.
4. I will learn the overdose limits for my own body weight and adjust them for any possible synergistic effects due to diet, prescription or other drugs. I will also adjust for dangerous side effects and my own health condition. I will also learn of any possible drug interactions and make sure I am not at risk.
5. While under the effects of a drug, I shall not take physical risks such as driving, climbing, swimming, or any other physical activity in which my actions may cause harm to myself or others.
6. When first using a drug I am inexperienced with, I shall take it in the company of an experienced user, also known as a sitter. The sitter will remain sober during this experience, and will also have fully researched the drug. If this is not possible I will make sure there is a responsible way/backup plan to deal with any hazards which may occur during my experience.
7. I shall not attempt to sway, force, trick, or otherwise coerce another person or animal to take any drug; rather, I shall discuss previous drug experiences and research frankly and honestly, allowing all people to make their own personal decisions about drug use.
8. I shall defend the rights of others to make educated, responsible decisions about drug use. I shall not support any person or movement that attempts to remove or abridge said rights.
9. I shall not allow my drug use to overshadow or disrupt the other important aspects of my life, including social interaction, employment or even other personal pursuits.
10. I will also take responsibility for the drug use of friends and relatives, if their drug use becomes dangerous to their health or personal relationships.
11. I will take drugs only in my free time, when I am not answerable to an employer or responsible for another person’s health and well-being.
12. As a drug consumer, I will embrace responsible drug production and distribution methods, such as growing or pharming your own, and shun suppliers who use violence when not necessary for their self-defense. I swear this with the hope of creating a society in which safe, responsible drug use is a personal decision, not a criminal offense.
(Original Source Unknown, Found here)
Wikipedia: hap definition: happening. →