There are seasons of consciousness and there are reasons why things happen at certain times. The times we're living in now appear to be coming full circle back towards some type of “five-bar galactic-godhead” consciousness or an enhanced ability to receive more broadcast signal. The old ways are breaking down and a new paradigm is emerging in the post-industrial, information era. This new world age that we're coming into is a fresh start, which needs a new mythology (which is also developing rapidly around us). And to understand how psychedelics have shaped culture to be able to birth this new paradigm, we need to look at psychedelic history and what’s really going on in a larger holistic perspective.
In the 1950s and 60s, LSD opened the mind. In the 80s and through the 90s, Ecstasy opened the heart. And into the 21st century, we're now seeing this burgeoning and really rapidly developing culture around shamanic plant medicines and entheogens that are opening the soul...
Culture Absorbs Everything – Including Psychedelics
What Western culture has done for at least the last five hundred years of recorded history is to take the sacred of the old world and make it profane. The trading empires were built on commodities and when they re-discovered the old world with their “savage” indigenous tribes, they saw their sacred psychoactive plants as things to be destroyed. Every plant entheogen (substances that “reveal the Divine within”) that wasn't suppressed was culturally absorbed, but diluted, taking the sacred out of it–tobacco is the prime example.
The West subjugated the old world and made their sacraments into substances. So the danger we're facing in the 21st century with psychedelics (“mind-manifesting” drugs) across the board – from gifts like ayahuasca, or even with psilocybin, is spirituality the same as the empires before: we treat these substances as products, packaged lifestyle choices. We’ve seen the same with the emergence of meditation and yoga from the East and a dilution in the fullness of the old teachings.
Psychedelics could be viewed as man-made chemicals from a lab, and entheogens as nature-made plants and fungi, etc. But all of them are in danger at the moment as psychedelics, in general, are getting massive positive media attention and millions more people are looking to switch on. The planet herself and the psychoactive substances she secretes simply cannot scale enough to match the appetite of Big Pharma.
You know the saying: first they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win. But the thing is… who is the “we” who wins when it comes to psychedelics and entheogens? How can we change the cultural narrative in the West that encourages the commodification of these powerful ego transformers? You know what they say – the system will absorb everything. And with psychedelics in the media and venture capital now investing in them in a big way, they promise to either transform the culture, or be swallowed by it.
We need to embrace both hemispheres, both paradigms of the mechanical/ the science and the spiritual/sacred, but the question is will science and will the Western materialist viewpoint even acknowledge spirit and the sacred?
LSD and the 1960s
LSD rocked the world back in the 1960s. It’s still around today, but it’s not having a big effect in the way other psychedelics like ayahuasca, the Bufo toad or psilocybin are in research and the underground shamanic healing network.
This may be because LSD did what it was meant to do culturally at the time. We had the acid revolution, and it totally obliterated the white picket fence mentality of 1950s Americana and the Western world. It shifted things. It paralleled many social movements around civil rights and gender, identity, sexuality. Those things were already happening. We can't say that acid per se instigated those things, but what it did was it changed the consciousness of people. It was like a virus. It was a cultural virus of consciousness that was instigated by LSD.
I think what they were doing is …they were stretching the envelope of our consciousness back in the 1960s. They knew it was all a big experiment, but what it did it was _ it’s almost like LSD was a psychic lubricant – and what it allowed, what it brought through, was what we have now. A more distributed consciousness.
So basically, the psychic lubricant of LSD generated a collective awakening. Now we understand and embody many computing and information terms, like cloud computing, distributed consciousness across many screens and devices, social networks, all the many ways we digitally come together that would not have been possible or even comprehensible to a 1950s consciousness. The modern era has been shaped by its technology into a non-linear consciousness that I think was partially broken in by the LSD and experiencing altered states
Ecstasy in the 1980s
After that, we had the ecstasy boom a generation later in the 1980s. We know that even though MDMA had been around since the 1930s, chemist Sasha Shulgin helped popularize it in the late 1970s when it took off. There was a cultural vector of where that came through in dance club culture, and yet as an empathogen, MDMA is currently being used to heal PTSD and trauma in the medical psychedelic therapist model. On a heart level though, after LSD modulated the mind, why did MDMA come through in the late 1970s and create in the late 1980s in the UK a youth revolution equal to the disruptions of a generation before?
Well, this is what I'm saying. If you look at four-dimensional space-time and step up and look at the dominoes falling and see the patterns, you will see why I believe that our culture gets the catalysts – and the entheogens, the drugs or the consciousness browsers, it deserves. There’s a larger patterning and softening or modulation of consciousness that occurs across the generations. And it’s still happening now with plant medicines and entheogens.
We're being sculpted to play a larger role, and this is what they believe in shamanism – that the humans are here on the earth to be a bridge between heaven and earth, and we're basically like energy transformers, and we're transforming energy and all the species.
The Plant and Earth Medicines in the 21st Century
So far, we’ve considered acid in the 60s, ecstasy in the 80s and then the plant entheogens, predominantly spearheaded in the public consciousness by ayahuasca in the early 21st century. We’ve arrived at this stage by growing through the white-picket-fence consciousness of the 60s, by opening the heart chakra in the 80s, and all of that may have been preparing our sheltered Western egos for the big reveal: plant consciousness and Gaia herself. The same psychoactive plants our forefathers demonized and destroyed when they encountered the indigenous caretakers of the old world.
Even a few generations ago, some psychedelic pioneers weren’t ready to embrace plant consciousness and the larger Gaian mind that it connects to. In his book the Yage Letters, the godfather of the Beat generation, William Burroughs, wrote to poet Allen Ginsberg about his adventures in the jungles of Peru searching for ayahuasca. When he drank the brew, he ran screaming, fleeing from the “cosmic wet vagina” that he experienced on the astral level, perhaps that snapshot of Gaian consciousness.
We’re now ready to go back to the jungle, to the garden, and to engage with the spirits in the plants, the consciousnesses that these entheogenic medicines can reveal.
The idea of nature as a consciousness and as an alive, sentient being that actually we're embedded in is the equivalent of realizing we’re microbes within a larger body – and that we are not the center of things. It totally changes the whole human-centric perspective. (...)
Bio-Remediation: The Planet Controls Us All
It's like we are in Gaia, the Mother Earth, and we are one species amongst many. It's taken until the late 20th century and now into the 21st century where there's been this slow trickle of early adopters going back to the jungles of the old world where the psychoactive plants are because it was the time for it.
Paul Stamets, the famous mycologist, has this whole riff on all this. He says it seems to be that the Earth is “bio-remediating” or repairing itself by secreting certain things, and the entheogens or the psychedelics of nature that change consciousness are part of that. As part of this species remediation, nature is trying to fix the consciousness of the creatures cutting down the forest–us–not just to weave the soil together and bind the soil, which it does with certain plants like lantana and other plants that work really well. As Stamets says, the mushrooms are actually the first line of Gaian defense to change the consciousness of the invasive species. And we are the biggest invader of all.
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This is why we need to step up and look at what's going on from a larger perspective. With this understanding of entheogens and what is happening, and their role in the planetary ecology, we are invited to a new partnership.
In the West, they understand drugs and their neurochemical components. In indigenous cultures' worldview, medicine from plants and the earth has a spirit in it, and the spirit engages with your spirit, and that's where the healing happens. The spirit of ayahuasca, for instance, isn't just healing you on a physical, neurological level. Yes, it’s a purgative, it is cleaning you out, but it also does so with regards to your emotional body and your traumas which get buried in your energetic body. It's asking you to step up and see yourself and revisit your traumas, and then to let go of them.
It's asking you to recognize you are the medicine within as well, so it's a spiritual act.
Because the traditional Western culture has been distanced and devoid of a connection to spirit, it creates an equal and opposite reaction of a hunger for spirit, and so in that hunger, we are engaging with entheogens, the psychedelics of nature, to find ourselves again.
Where is This All Leading?
Just like some babies flailing around in a hyperspatial kindergarten, we need to learn to crawl and then to walk and then to fly or run.
If we see both the Earth as a macro-organism and our human bodies as a microorganism within it, as vessels for containing spirit, then we can see how we are shaped by these larger forces. Our species journey is a bit like baking a cake – eventually, you've got to take it out of the oven. This is the stage we're going through, potentially joining the inter-dimensional ecology where the real action is happening right now, where this reunion with Gaia is leading us.
Eventually, every human has the shamanic ability to traverse the worlds and to engage with the larger reservoir of intelligence and the beings that are just behind the curtain. This interdimensional community is what we dip into on experiences like ayahuasca when the ego is lowered, and we travel into the over and underworlds indigenous shamanism describes. And just imagine those communities – whether they’re plant intelligences or other, have been waiting for us just to evolve to the point of consciousness to recognize they're there.
So let's take on the responsibility of multi-dimensional consciousness as adults and as entheogenic beings to engage with what is there, with what the web of life is – and see how far it extends into the inner space ecology.
This is how we come home. And be whole. And holy.
- There are seasons of consciousness and reasons why things happen at certain times
- In the 50s and 60s, LSD opened the mind. In the 80s and through the 90s, Ecstasy opened the heart, and into the 21st century, we're now seeing this burgeoning and really rapidly developing culture around entheogens and psychedelic plant medicine
- In indigenous cultures, medicine has a spirit in it, and the spirit engages with your spirit, and that's where the healing is – in relationship
- Just like some babies flailing around in a hyperspatial kindergarten, we need to be able to learn to crawl and then to walk and then to fly or run in higher dimensions