A keynote lecture originally delivered at the 2014 EntheoGenesis Australis conference
As psychedelics are cautiously re-embraced back into the medical fold, what of their other social, spiritual and consciousness potentials? Are the man-made psychedelics psychic lubricants that have made possible the distributed consciousness of 21st century life? Are these substances meant to reconnect us to nature at a time when material-based consciousness has ecologically devastated the environment? Can strategic immersion into multi-dimensional hyperspace help change the world? Can we use altered states as a form of psychedelic activism? Is enhanced consciousness a political act? Can we achieve Full Spectrum Consciousness in the face of the military-industrial-entertainment complex's attempt to subjugate life as we know it? How can we not?
It may seem strange to start a discussion about the potentials of psychedelics by discussing the military, but in a holistic sense I believe there is a counterpoint between the two. Essentially the military is the inheritor of the dominator hierarchy that has suppressed the natural plant psychoactives for many centuries now and the earth-based cultures, which have worshiped the earth as the mother as an alive, animus sort of being.
1. The Military-Industrial-Entertainment Complex and Psychedelics
It is this the same mechanistic consciousness that has seen the planet plundered and poisoned and treated as a resource to be used and taken from as all species are subjugated to the artificial drives of the economy. That's the bad news.
Basically, the Joint Vision 2020 program is something the American military has been running with for the past decade or so; it's a doctrine under which the military is looking to inhabit different areas of being: whether that's land, sea space, cyberspace/ information space, or I would posit shamanic space or consciousness itself. As each platform or medium of existence comes into being, the military's response to it is to dominate it. And to dominate it to control the objectives of its empire.
As you would know, the medicalization of psychedelics is also back on the agenda. Mainstream news sources all across the world have been very eager to jump onto the bandwagon in a sense, and to report on some of the medical breakthroughs and legal scientific tests that are being done all around the world. There are organizations like MAPS, which have been pioneering these legal studies, and with the multitude of psychedelic substances to treat things like anxiety with late stage cancer patients; cluster headaches with LSD and MTMA to cure PTSD amongst other things.
Now, the medicalization of psychedelics is much needed. It's something which was originally happening in the 1960s before LSD was banned. And it is something which is really necessary in our culture; but it's one component, one frequency within a larger spectrum of consciousness itself.
And I believe that the reason why the permissibility is happening in our culture to have these tests happen again with organizations like MAPS is basically because the top of the hierarchy needs it to happen. There's a release valve in these things, which is necessary for their control of the culture and of the dominant paradigm.
The U.S. government acknowledges there's a crisis with over 22 veterans a day committing suicide often because of war-related PTSD. And MAPS's studies have shown that MDMA in particular is proven up to 83% effective to help cure treatment resistant PTSD. So, just on that level alone, we can see that the absorption of psychedelics and some of the shamanic sacraments is happening again in our culture, but you've got to ask the deeper questions.
The shadow side, I would say, is that the Pentagon and the military-industrial-entertainment complex can only be trusted to turn everything it touches into a tool or a weapon for its own ego-driven ends. The military in synergy with the corporations and the elites that own them, see the subjugation of nature herself as a resource and inevitability. As with the current global political situation, as it turns decidedly Orwellian, can we really trust Big Brother to do the right thing and only use medical psychedelics for the power of good? I would doubt that.
2. Entheogenic Healing or a "Soma" for the Masses?
With the zeitgeist now hungry for planetary revolution, are the powers that be now ready for a psychedelic Soma for the masses? Are the soldiers of tomorrow about to expand their full spectrum dominance campaign into the realm of consciousness itself? And if so, what might the gamut of full consciousness do to this ego-action-control bandwidth of the military paradigm? The answer to that depends on what you believe the full potential of psychedelics and earth-based entheogens really is.
They're not just medicines for the physical body. They are also medicines for the emotional body and for the soul–as the shamanic and indigenous peoples tell us. For instance, if you look at studies by Dr. Charles Grob, he found that psilocybin reduces anxiety in terminal cancer patients. There's been also separate studies and followed up the infamous Good Friday Experiment in 1962, which was looking at divinity students at Harvard and showing that psilocybin can engender a mystical experience and a sense of oneness.
These experiments are a bit different from the normal physical medical modalities, and it gets into the realm of the numinous and an edge into spirituality. It seems that the use of things like psilocybin to reduce anxiety in cancer patients is actually because of this spiritual component. It's because it's calming them down and connecting them to a larger facet of their own being and of rediscovering their own spirituality. So, these things are not just physical medicines. They also have larger potentials.
Now, potentials are very important as they come back into the Western understanding at this time. We can all sense that we face a great challenge in the world today, as the climate changes, the seas rise, economies, governments, and whole nation-states are threatening to crumble around us. And the old ways we have governed ourselves with– the hierarchies of power and control that we have war by war and crisis by crisis, given our power away to, no longer serve us as a people.
What we are left with then in the end is what nature first gave us: our minds, our hearts, and our ability to adapt. And that the root of so many of these current global problems lies the issue of consciousness itself.
For too long we've been told to give over our intuition, to sacrifice our feelings and to suppress the pain we feel all around us in the way that we live on this world, the way we treat each other and the way we treat the planet herself, our mother. For too long we've been living in denial, or in grief, or rage and carrying this trauma as this sickness that our consciousness has created in the world. So, this reconnection that is happening at the moment is being directly facilitated by the psychoactive plants, by the entheogens that are booming in the shamanic resurgence around the world.
3. Entheogens – Invoking the Divine Within
"One possibility is that some of these compounds may be "exo-pheromones", chemical messengers that do not act along the members of the single species, but instead act along species lines so that an individual influences members of a different species. Some exo-pheromones act in a way that allows small groups of individuals to affect a community or an entire biome. Nature might be an organism whose interconnected components act upon and communicate with one another through the release of chemical signals in the environment."
McKenna continued to say: "hallucinogens function as interspecies chemical messengers. The dynamic of the close relationship between the primate and hallucinogenic plant is one of information transfer from one species to another. Where plant hallucinogens do not occur, such transfers of information take place with a great slowness. But in the presence of hallucinogens, a culture is quickly introduced to evermore novel information, sensory input, and behaviour, and is bootstrapped to higher levels of self-reflection." He calls this the encounter with the "transcendent other".
And the "Other" is, you know, nothing greater than essentially, nature herself. You know, the greater Other is another aspect of ourselves. Now, I believe that this process of integration with the Other or with nature is something that we have been doing almost for as long as we've been moving away from her, since the industrial revolution and since all these technological breakthroughs, which distance ourselves from the planet, and reduce us down to living in cities and in grids and in boxes and away from the natural flows of energy of the earth.
We've forgotten the mother, and we've forgotten the original primal matrix that we are embedded in.
And now it's recognized us when we're in these experiences as the "Other". But it's never gone away – as we have, you know, climbed the ladder of culture and created the hierarchies that we have, the network of nature itself has remained what we are embedded in. And I believe that as we see what the plants sacraments, with the psychoactives when they engage with us in this inter-species symbiosis, there's not just information transfer going on there's intelligence going on that's independent of us, that points to Gaia as an intelligent organism.
4. From the Lab to the Jungle: LSD, Ayahuasca and Entheogens
And she has been trying, I believe, to get us to come back into right relationship with her. And she's been trying for as long as the plant entheogens have been around. And when we have fallen out of balance with the earth, into the city-hierarchy type modalities, she had to find another way to connect with us. And before we could go back to the garden and the great green web of nature herself, nature had to get past the white picket fence of suburbia.
And so she went to the lab: April 16th, 1943, Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hofmann. LSD. Like wind on water, you can't see the thing itself, but you can see the ways and the patterns that LSD has made in Western culture.
There seems to be a direct relationship between the disassociated or non-linear states that psychoactives can engender and our ability through science and through technology and these creative endeavours to ground that into not just our technologies, but into our new world paradigm. Here's a quote from Jaron Lanier, one of the pioneers of virtual reality, who says: "almost to a person, the founders of the computer industry were psychedelic style hippies. Within the computer science community. There's a very strong connection to this environment."
This idea of a larger intelligence, or a natural evolutionary surge in nature herself is not just a romantic one. It seems that there is a whole system sort of dynamic going on in this. I ask you, is this evolutionary surge in nature working behind the scenes, facilitating nonlinear data flows of information that would one day link us together beyond the physical. Data tribes webbed by silicon by that other great alchemical miracle: the internet.
Is the global mind shaping the infrastructure for the global brain, strategically turning on and off species with the psychoactive substances? If you think of it, the modern 21st century has all these amazing technological breakthroughs and what are they doing to our consciousness? We now have things like cloud computing; we have distributed networks. We have social media feeds where all of us on screens, we're all of us occupying our consciousness and it's split. It's no longer in this linear framework of like 1, 2, 3, 4–we're doing a hundred million things at once, and we're connecting to each other in this larger tribal sort of modality through our technology.
And so, it seems to be, we couldn't have done that in the 1950s. We had to go through these successive generations of consciousness expansion for us to actually ground the ability to have distributed consciousness in the 21st century.
5. Are Psychedelics Training Us for "Distributed Consciousness"?
In his book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, author and mycologist Paul Stamets makes a direct allusion between the mushroom mycelium network, the dense network of information sharing systems that form the internet and the neuronal networks in the brain itself. All seem to be forms of nature expressing herself on different levels.
Or as Stamets says:
I believe that the mycelium operates at a level of complexity that exceeds the computational powers of our most advanced supercomputers. I see the mycelium as the earth's natural internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate.
We can see a lot of the potentials in this idea of network-centric organisms evolving on the earth through a technological platform, in the same way we do in nature and the way that the relationships that happen between the plant kingdom, between the fungi kingdom with the mycelium networks.
Now scientists have been looking at psilocybin in use in some of these studies that MAPS and other organizations have been pioneering recently, and the latest functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI tests have shown that psilocybin actually acts as a reducing valve for what Aldous Huxley called the "mind at large".
Amanda Feilding, the director of the Beckley Foundation in the U.K., said that her team "looked at the brains of subjects as they received an intravenous dose of psilocybin. The research showed that it decreased blood flows to specific regions of the brain that act as connector hubs, where information converges and where it is disseminated."
These hubs, these regions of the brain, they're calling the Default Mode Network (DMN) and the Default Mode Network when it's on it actually facilitates the capacity for ego, the capacity for that sense of identity or "I." And so when things like psilocybin–and they've done these tests with Ayahuasca as well–the current theory in neuroscience is that the psychoactives are switching off these network hubs or the Default Mode Network. And then once the Default Mode Network is off, what is being released–it's not the substance itself, but our own mind's ability to connect to these larger reservoirs of consciousness itself, to this "Full Spectrum" idea.
So we currently know the human brain has five different frequencies that it operates at: Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, and Gamma measured in cycles per second, or Hertz, each of which have their own characteristics and produce a specific brain function and type of consciousness. Beta is 14 to 40 Hertz and gives us waking consciousness, reason and logic. Alpha is 7.5 to 14 Hertz and is a state of deep relaxation, light meditation, and intuition. Theta is 4 to 7.5 Hertz and is in the deep REM state, or dream state, or meditation. And interestingly enough, the spiritual and psychoactive states are in Theta as well. Delta is 0.5 to 4 Hertz and has the slowest brain frequency, dreamless sleep egoic meditation and Gamma is above 40 Hertz and has insight, flow and rapid information processing.
There may be deeper aspects to consciousness itself beyond those five frequencies identified; because it's only been with advances in EEG and other technologies we've been able to find even the level of Gamma that's been quite recent.
It's possible that we have deeper reservoirs of consciousness, different frequencies beyond those five known states. We can see this in other organisms like with plants which have a type of consciousness themselves. They've done tests with plants in the modern day, and they've seen that they responded and improve their growth when exposed to signals of consciousness in the zero to 15 Hertz frequency: that's Delta through Alpha. So basically, the meditative states, the intuitive states, those deep ego-less states when the Default Mode Network is off, they're the exact states the plants respond to.
Does this imply the plants have a type of consciousness, albeit smeared out in a vegetal Gnosticism? Are they grokking on the Divine or the "mother matrix most mysterious" as James Joyce called it? Are plants conscious?
Well, you know, if you've been on the inside of the shamanic sort of experience with entheogens, there definitely does seem to be a relationship that is formed with plants, whether they're psychoactive or not. Things like Ayahuasca can also introduce us to the vast reservoir of plants and spirits and entities or intelligences embedded within nature.
6. Mind-Melding Humans with Plants
What happens when plants and humans interface? Plants seem to have a network-centric type of operating system, not a hierarchy like the Western consciousness and ego does. What if these clever plants, themselves deep in the ego-less, meditative frequencies, connected to the broadcast signal, have been grooming us to come back to the garden to balance with nature through their entheogenic brethren?
Isn't that just where this resurgence of global shamanism seems to be heading – a return full circle? These entheogens give us a brief flash of the interconnected web of life embodied in things like the DMT frequency, activating it through the serotonin–tryptamine pathways, this backdoor that nature has installed in many of her species. So why now, why is this a shamanic resurgence happening all across the planet?
Human consciousness is living through what is being called the Sixth Great Extinction event. You know, they estimate up to 70% of species will now be extinct by 2100. This has happened before and each time it has happened, it has resulted in these evolutionary drives because each crisis has an opportunity within it. And nature has, you know, a regulating intelligence that does modulate all the species and it kills off, or it puts to the test each species to get to this tipping point of transformation. And we won't get to that tipping point unless we go right to the edge.
So, here's an analogy. We carry around a hundred trillion microorganisms in our intestines, 10 times the amount of cells in the human body itself. We are essentially a colony organism. We're not this individual, the thing the ego thinks we are; we are a relationship of beings within our bodies itself.
Could it be on a planetary scale that we too, are like micro bacteria that colonize the surface and that our species, once invasive and malignant, is now itself undergoing a viral transmutation? And as we heal as individuals, some type of natural process is underway mediated from the planet, through the plants, to us – to heal the collective. Are we not separate from nature? Indeed. Are we part of a larger organism, a planetary organism in concert with nature herself?
This is why I believe it's so important that this generation of psychospiritual plant explorers, shamanauts, energy workers, healers, deep ecology symbiotes, or whatever we like to call ourselves, are so needed at this time.
As we re-sensitize to nature, we are feeling the destruction on her as a physical attack on our very selves, interdependent with her. And we are becoming warriors for her because her cause is our cause. Many who turn on to Ayahuasca feel the cry of the mother as the jungles are cut down, and the life-giving trees of the Amazon are destroyed.
Other psychoactive plants show us the web of life, this very tangible feeling of cause and effect that the unity consciousness of the plants helps anchor within us.
Ultimately, humanity is just one frequency of a species wide "mesh network". And when we unite with plant consciousness, we are working in a cooperative mould to share energy and resources. We are essentially the entheogenic blossoming of nature's plan as it comes to fruition, her mind made manifest on the macro level. You could call us a "Borganism" of Gaia herself. She is us and we are becoming self-aware.
Listen, can you hear it? Our mother is calling. She's trying to talk to us, through us. And what is she trying to say?
What else is there to say?
There is only love.
Thank you. My name is Rak Razam and this has been Full Spectrum Consciousness.
Q&A with Audience
EGA: You made a presentation starting with an introduction about the military domination, and then how can psychedelics free us from that perspective, if I understood it. So, do you believe that the simple use of psychedelics in general can give us this perspective or it has to be put forward with that type of cultural baggage and how to do it if that's the case?
Rak: Well, you know, we've been here before in the Sixties, when the CIA was one of the chief promulgators of LSD, and they believed that it would be a brainwashing tool and be great for what they wanted it to be. The artists, the hippies, everyone actually found that it was actually a psychic amplifier and it brought out more of what you had within. The interesting thing about the plant psychoactives / entheogens is it's not just about us and what we consider us.
What I'm trying to say in this talk is: We're not what we think we are. Even the military-industrial-complex, which has its agendas, is embedded within this larger intelligence over evolutionary time. So, you know, everyone has an agenda that they want to use these substances for, but there is a larger plan and a larger relationship that we're coming into concert with. And we're slotting into one of the frequencies that the species are occupying.
And it seems to be that psychoactives have a direct relationship with the human species. And, you know, as McKenna even thought, it could have bootstrapped us into higher consciousness itself. But we are being groomed by the plants through the psychoactives? I believe so.
And so, whatever the agendas of different vested interests, I think there is a larger macro-vested interest of Mother Nature herself, and she needs help. She needs help to stop the monkeys out of control, to stop the human dominator culture taking from the planet and to be warriors for spirit and for the planet herself, to go back into right relationship.
EGA: How to deal with this idea of spreading their usage of psychedelics without getting too much into an industrialization process of it? So how to balance that in your opinion?
Rak: Well, you know, we're lucky in some sense that unlike the psychedelic revolution of the Sixties, which didn't have elders, they turned to India and gurus and other spiritual modalities for help and guideposts and to have framework to understand what they were going through. We now have the ability to connect with indigenous peoples across the world who had been caretakers for their land and for their environment and relationships with the sacred plants.
We're finding now in the Western absorption of these shamanic modalities, there's a lot of retrofitting and mutation and necessary sort of figuring out what works, separating dogma from fact, and making it work on the ground and the environments and the pressures that we deal with in the West. So, there is an opportunity to draw upon indigenous wisdom without doing it in a wrong way, with respect, and also to learn from that and to share knowledge about these things.
In some ways I think that Western culture is very rapidly evolving its relationship with the plants. There is the commercialization happening. I see this as like a speed bump on the eventual sort of destination. Once we get through the mercantile sort of commodification level…
People who drink over the longer term with Ayahuasca, for instance, or form communities to have psychoactive substances, it's those communities which stay together and transcend money and can eventually move into cooperative models and can be growing these plants and forming relationships on the land with these psychoactives in the right biosphere regions where they need to be. And they will transcend money, hopefully. But it does need focus and it needs attention. It needs the sharing of this knowledge within communities, within its networks, it's all networks, you know, versus these hierarchies.
So, if you have, you know, this phrase, "rockstar shamans", you know, who travel the world, sometimes they are indigenous curanderos, which is well needed. They're seeding the information, the medicine, turning on different communities as well, but in a sense, it's still centralized and it still hierarchies. And it's the old paradigm. It's the old way. So, all of these things are transitional.
It doesn't mean that they aren't important and that we don't need to put attention to transcending them or to improving these systems. But I do believe they are transitional. And if we focus on these problems and these teething issues, we can, that we can grow as a community and we can improve.
So, we now have a global shamanism that is reciprocal and works for the people who need it.
Thank you very much.
- The militaristic and exploitative approach to natural and psychological resources, should make us question the motives behind the resurgence of interest in the medicalization of psychedelics.
- Psychedelics and entheogens, revered by shamanic and indigenous cultures for their healing effects on mind and soul, could be revolutionary in addressing contemporary global crises by transforming consciousness and societal paradigms.
- Entheogens facilitate a profound communication and information exchange between humans and nature, enhancing cultural development and reconnecting us with the Earth's intelligence.
- The emergence and influence of psychoactive substances and advancements in technology are interconnected, fostering an evolution in collective consciousness and facilitating a non-linear, globally connected state of being.
- Mycelium networks, like the internet and neuronal networks, are nature's complex communication systems, comparable to a natural internet, and substances like psilocybin can alter human consciousness potentially connecting us to broader reservoirs of consciousness.
- The resurgence of global shamanism and the use of entheogens are part of a broader evolutionary push towards human reintegration with nature, with plants acting as mediators in healing both individuals and the collective consciousness.