n recent years, we've witnessed a significant surge in psychedelic research and a growing acceptance of plant medicine. There has also been a gradual decriminalization of personal psychedelic use, with exemptions in the US and certain Health Canada allowances for religious use, such as in the Santo Daime Church in Canada.
While these changes have brought positive outcomes, including the recognition of the healing potential of psychedelics and ongoing discussions about individual freedom to explore altered states of consciousness, there's a concerning trend of medicalizing the use of sacred plants and commodifying these practices.
Frequently, we now encounter terms like "psilocybin therapy" instead of acknowledging the sacredness of a mushroom ceremony, or the reduction of ayahuasca to just DMT. This process risks erasing the deep indigenous knowledge associated with these plants and neglecting the sacred aspects of working with mind-altering substances.
Indigenous and tradition-based cultures have developed intricate ceremonial frameworks for their interactions with these plants, rooted in wisdom, knowledge, and profound understanding. To those less familiar with this tradition, it might appear unnecessary or outdated, but it holds immense significance.
It's crucial that we don't stray too far from the traditional path that has been safeguarded for generations. Let's remember and honour those who came before us on this sacred journey.
What is Spirit Plant Shamanism? Shamanism is fundamentally rooted in the belief that Nature is alive, and we can establish connections with it, fostering relationships with the Earth, its plants, and their spirits.
Within the realm of Sacred Plant Medicines, such as ayahuasca, sacred mushrooms, huachuma, peyotl, coca, tobacco, and numerous others, it's acknowledged that each of these plant spirits possesses unique characteristics, preferences, and aversions. There exists a hierarchy among these plants, often determined by their benevolence toward humans and the mutually respectful relationship they are willing to engage in. (It's important to note that not all psychoactive plants are inherently friendly or benevolent.)
Every culture that has chosen to coexist with these living entities has developed distinct ways of communicating with them. In my view, it's impossible to conduct an authentic ayahuasca ceremony while taking a pill designed to prevent purging (yes, such pills exist) or to combine a substantial dose of sacred mushrooms with MDMA (commonly known as an old-school "hippie flip") solely to avoid experiencing a challenging emotional journey.
These challenging aspects, as illustrated above, are integral parts of working with these plants. They represent the essential inner work we must undertake—confronting discomfort, facing ourselves, and cultivating humility in the presence of the Great Mystery.
While it's true that, in our current society, a session in a psychedelic therapist's office may be the only legally sanctioned means of engaging with these plants, which represents a significant step forward from the ongoing "War on Drugs." However, our journey doesn't end here.
As a close friend of mine recently emphasized, our goal isn't to medicalize psychedelics; rather, we must infuse medicine with the sacred psychedelic experience.
What can you do?
Remember, research and don't look for the easy path.
Speak about your own experiences.
Honour your teachers and their lineages.
Advocate for shamanic plant use and the pathways to their legal status.
But most importantly - Listen to Nature.
If you have read everything written above, perhaps we should talk?
Remember, your subconsciousness is involved in all that you do, and learning how to communicate with it and enlist its collaboration will greatly improve your overall quality of life.