Shamanic medicines and ceremony offer the promise of healing, reconnection and meaning in the modern world by returning us back to the sacred. Even modern science has seen that the ego-dissolving effect of psychedelics engenders what could be called a ‘mystical experience’ and that is what facilitates healing. But there are deeper truths and this is what we're learning: it's not just about the plants and the sacraments or the peak experience of psychedelic or entheogenic medicines. It's really about respect and forming a relationship with what they can reveal.
Sometimes, these substances can help reveal the truth that we are not the dominant species we think we are; we are not the be-all and end-all. We're embedded in a living organism called Gaia – the Mother Earth – which is alive and has birthed us as a species. We're inside the mother, still inside the womb, and we’re one species amongst many. And sometimes they can reveal something so sacred, so enormous, that we can only call it Divine.
This is what the West has done: it's like a virus, like a cancer out of control because it's all feeding the ego. It takes all the power plants, all the way back to tobacco and it either demonizes them or it commodifies them, because Western consciousness has been itself desacralized, i.e., it does not remember the gift of the miracle of life that we inhabit every day.
The Earth Secretes Entheogenic Substances
If we choose to see, to feel, and to remember the intelligence and wisdom in the shamanic plants, we open to new horizons. When you go to indigenous cultures across the world you will see they have caretakers for the plants and medicines. Their medicine people – who we call shamans – safeguard these plant-people relationships.
There's San Pedro Cactus (wachuma) in Peru and elsewhere; there's ayahuasca, all through South America; there’s psilocybin mushrooms all through Mesoamerica; the Bufo alvarius toad which has recently resurfaced as a modern sacrament through Mexico and now around the world and so many more. There’s a very concentrated distribution of these entheogenic medicines in Mesoamerica and South America, which inevitably lead up to North America and out into the West in general, because the spiritual supply chains are all connected.
This whole idea of censorship and the war on drugs is basically trying to control everyone to keep the war machine, the empire, the nine-to-five commodification of our consciousness from collapsing. And yet the old ways are fraying, unsustainable and a product of empire.
The old normal was just a way of being and we’re now in a civilizational collapse and transformation to a new way. And as culture changes at the same time we're seeing this equal and opposite reaction in consciousness itself: a resurgence in interest in shamanism globally, in those same countries of the West which originated this conquest of the old world 500 years ago.
Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism
Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism
The Eagle and the Condor
In Peru, they have this legend called The Eagle and The Condor. It says that in 500 years' time the descendants of the conquerors will be the ones who will be remembering. The eagle and the condor represent the head and the heart, which have been distanced and separated in Western culture. In shamanism, the heart is where you navigate from; that's your center point, your remembrance, and your connection.
In the West, it's usually an ego-driven, mind-driven, consuming-driven consciousness. By the turn of the millennium the crescendo of history brought late-stage capitalism, and ecological societal collapse, because of this wounded consciousness of the West. But you cannot destroy or detourne energy, and now there's this generational impulse, a resurgence of spirit urging us to come back to the center.
What I see happening around the world is a resurgence in shamanism – in the West. The definition of shamanism is essentially “the archaic techniques of ecstasy,” and it's a beautiful phrase. It comes from Mircea Eliade, who wrote the book Shamanism in the 1950s, who was a Western anthropologist and studied all the indigenous cultures of the world and their medicine people and pathways.
Because of his background at the time, he had a bit of a built-in cultural prejudice against psychoactive plants; he doesn't document a lot of plant usage in that book, instead focusing on other techniques like breathwork and trance dance and drumming that are still very essential to indigenous cultures and shamanism around the world.
But overall Eliade found that every indigenous culture has a healer in their midst. They work on behalf of the tribe to keep people healthy, to mediate the relationship with the web of life and nature herself. And to remember our connection. We call them shamans.
Ayahuasca and the Web of Life
During my ayahuasca journeys I could hear the monkeys, the birds, the rain, and the wind – I could hear and feel nature. I could feel that larger presence which is what we're disconnected from. This disconnection from feeling is believed to be at the root cause of the PTSD in modern society.
We are so full of anxiety and trauma because we're stuck in little boxes, separated from each other and from nature, and we're no longer feeling. We're thinking, we're feeding the ego-mind, we're getting our dopamine hits, but it's not enough. It's not real, it's not feeding the soul – and that's why we're experiencing sickness as a global culture.
When entheogens (that “reveal the divine within”) like ayahuasca are used in the right way, in a ceremonial context or a healing or therapeutic context, the potential for these medicines is to reconnect and re-weave us. That's the original translation in Latin of “religion”. To religion is “to reconnect”, and you've got to ask then – to what? To spirit, the soul, the planet, ourselves, and the mystery of creation that wants to be known and felt!
What we think of as the mind in Western culture is actually like an app, like a program running on the operating system. But we are the full operating system, not just the program, so we're not just our mind, we have a greater capacity than what we think of as the intellectual mind. When we take a psychedelic or an entheogenic plant medicine or do breathwork or tantra or other modalities that tune us into our full operating system, we are engaging with these levels of being.
The Bufo Alvarius Toad
The Bufo alvarius toad lives in the Sonoran desert in Mexico and over into Arizona. It spends nine months of the year hibernating in darkness, aggregating the most powerful psychedelic, 5-MeO-DMT, in it’s paratoid glands. 5-MeO enables full ego dissolution and remembrance of our connection to Source consciousness. It has to be felt to be understood. We have to be re-woven and reconnected to hear the originating signal.
Still, the Bufo medicine can also be an ideological shock to your sense of self and to your sense of what is reality. It's not something you have to dissect intellectually. It's something that bypasses the egoic intellect and is felt in the heart, in the knowing, in the intuition of the direct spiritual experience, just as mystics have connected throughout history.
I think this is one of the greatest takeaways, specifically for something like Bufo: entheogens can engender that same response in most people – a spiritual connection, a dropping of ego, potentially a healing of mental issues. But beware, we can’t attach to outcomes because everyone's different. Everyone has a different ability to let go and surrender to that final dissolution of ego. Integration and preparation are crucial in all shamanic journeying, especially with the Bufo alvarius medicine because it's so powerful.
What psychedelics like the Bufo alvarius (5-MeO-DMT) do when they drop the Default Mode Network (DMN) and the ego is something we are still digesting as a community. I think that it's a revelation and something which we're just on the event horizon of realizing what this really means, beyond the peak experience.
If people have an experience – and no matter how we phrase this, whatever euphemism we give it to make it more politically correct – the Source, God, The Unified Field, divinity, enlightenment, the numinous, etc., – that space within you which is knowable, is us. It’s a miracle. It’s a gift to know it, and it's the beginning of our awakening journey. Once people have had a rebirthing experience whether via psychedelics or more innate pathways, it's the beginning of another kind of relationship with your true nature.
Awakening the Seed of God
After that kind of “full ego release” psychedelic experience, if you understand that the thing you experience – the divine essence – is having a human experience, it can change you. After that, if you keep the temple of your body clean (and it's not just a new age bumper sticker – your body is a vessel and a temple to house the divine within) you can be in an ongoing relationship with what has been revealed. If you are optimized, if your signal processing is clear and clean, then that seed of God can grow in you.
Or at least that’s what implied when I came across a 1913 translation of the Upanishads by Charles Johnson. It explains the Logos (in the original Greek the word of God or presence or God in the creation) is like a frequency, an intelligent entity that is an emanation of the Divine Source, which remains in Source and comes down into creation.
It’s through the word that God vibrationally expresses and creates, and it is the “word that's made flesh.” Now obviously this sounds like old religious dogma and what relevance does it have to you? Forget the words and tune in on the geography it describes. It says the divine is within us all, dormant like a seed. In the Upanishads they have maps of this, and they describe that we have this seed of God within us.
The Mystical Experience is Just Another Lens of Awareness
As you go through the journey of a lifetime(s) and if you listen and nurture or water that seed, it has the potential to grow into the fullness of God in your human experience.
This isn’t just about leaving the body and having a mystical experience or rejoining the Source through Bufo or another ego-dissolving psychedelic from an external catalyst. It’s about, as many people who use psychedelics to reduce the mind and merge back into connection with all nature say, what is revealed. This mystical-type experience of oneness with all things.
And the seed of that oneness is within us all.
So this generation of people working with Bufo alvarius, breathwork, integration, and other plant and earth medicines are doing a great job. We’re healing ourselves individually so the collective shift can occur. And we’re forming relationships with different aspects of our self, and with the Divine within us.
This little phrase came to me that the tree is the dream of the seed, and this generation is currently in the seeding phase. We have it within us to be a spiritual tree and to grow into that awareness, and to support each other in the process. For our root systems are all interconnected and perhaps one day we can join all the other trees and know our place back in the garden.
Maybe this is how the garden comes back full circle to where we began.
There is this holographic sense of reality, this sense that all time is one, all space is one, all space-time is one, but we have to live through it in discrete moments (...) if you tune in, you can feel your past self, you can feel your future self. It's all talking to itself, and there's no rush because we're all in it together. It almost feels as more and more people come online to their own sense of divinity through whatever pathway all the seven and a half billion humans on the planet are actually one mental organism and our baseline consciousness is rising.
- I see a worldwide resurgence in the practice of shamanism – the archaic techniques of ecstasy.
- Psychedelics and entheogens can engender that same response in most people but don’t attach to the outcome because everyone has different make ups.
- Peak experiences are helping you meet your Divine essence.
- As you go through a journey of a lifetime, and if you listen and nurture or water the seed of God within, it has the potential to grow into the fullness of God.