The human ego is a fantastic tool, but conversely it also filters and separates us from the more extensive web of life and the intelligence in nature. The ego will also adapt and commodify anything that comes at it, including the ancient art of shamanism and the plant and earth medicines – the entheogens – which have now returned into the Western mind frame in the last few decades. The danger is the ego will adapt to psychedelics and entheogens and use them as psychic armoring or posturing without really changing. So how can we open to the more profound potential of these substances to heal our hearts and minds?
The World is Changing and We Need to Change With It
As the climate changes, extreme weather becomes commonplace, and civilization itself seems to be fraying at the edges. There is this great rebalancing going on, and we're all learning how to re-engineer our consciousness to be sustainable again and to remember why we’re here! We have to come out of the “dominator culture” mindset that sees ourselves as separate from the planetary ecology.
We have to come back into a heart space and what entheogens (substances which reveal the “divine within”) like the great vegetal medicine ayahuasca are helping us to do – not just intellectually explore inner dimensions and the shamanic paradigm – they're really assisting our own healing and reconnection to our own heart space.
So much of the modern world is disconnected or connected through a screen. Humans need to relate to people. We need to relate to our needs and to our families needs, then on up to the tribe/society's needs and then the planet's needs. It’s all connected.
And so the great thing I think we need healing in the West is our hearts, not just our minds. We have a heartache that many of us are recognizing but to a large degree, the powers that be still refuse to acknowledge. The simulation of civilization is part of the ecology of nature but has set itself apart. Yet our relationship with mother earth – Gaia – is fundamental. As the earth changes, we too are forced to change.
Entheogens like ayahuasca can help us remember how to heal our heart. They can show us how to connect with each other, and that is part of the great healing which I think is underway in the world at the moment.
Entheogens: Revealing the Divine Within
“Entheogens” is a term coined in the 1980s to distance them from the controversy of psychedelics but also to bring more focus on the natural psychoactive substances made by the earth. The term comes from Greek, meaning to “invoke the divine within”.
And that can be a contentious term in the West because people don't believe in God or a divine presence, to a large degree. Or some people do, but they have a “brand recognition” over whose divinity, who’s God according to their cultural filter. But what many indigenous and ancient cultures say is that the divine is in everything – including us – we have just forgotten how to see it and feel it. There is a divine spark within us that these entheogenic substances can reveal.
The Psychedelic Renaissance
Now, where does this leave psychedelics? Entheogens and psychedelics are terms that are often interchangeable these days, and in general, a well-reported Psychedelic Renaissance is occurring as psychoactives are legally tested and show amazing results for helping heal trauma, PTSD, anxiety and a raft of mental illnesses.
Within the global push for the medicalization of psychedelics, they essentially refer to man-made chemicals like LSD and MDMA, which pioneering organizations like MAPS (the Multi-Disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies) have fought for years to show their healing potentials. From helping Iraqi war veterans who have PTSD with MDMA or using LSD for crippling cluster headaches alleviation, psychedelics are proving their worth. Studies have used psilocybin (the active chemical in magic mushrooms) to alleviate the fear of death and anxiety in late-stage cancer patients and much more.
So when “psychedelics” was coined in the 1950s, it intended to mean substances that help “open the mind”. And yet, the plants and the earth-based entheogens are asking us to go deeper: they're asking us to go down to a heart-based level and to understand that there is this divine spark of life within us, something more than just the mind. These relationships are part of nature and what we are invited back to.
Entheogens heal the heart, our disconnect, by revealing that divine spark within and in everything. There’s a place for both medical psychedelics and spiritual entheogens in our consciousness and beings.
Ayahuasca as the Mother Avatar
The indigenous tribes of the Amazon that work with the plant medicine ayahuasca believe that there is a spirit in it: they call her Madre, or the Mother. In their worldview, everything has a spirit in it. And this sense of connecting with spirit and the ecology of spirits in nature and the higher dimensions is being incorporated back into the West through our relationships with planetary entheogens like ayahuasca.
When we lived on the land and relied on it for our food, medicines and wellbeing, these spirits were in a relationship with us. Now it might be a placebo effect or a synergy between our unconscious and conscious minds, but for many Westerners who have drunk ayahuasca, they agree: Madre is present. And she works to know us, to help heal us, and to bring us back to the consciousness garden. It seems in some sense that the spirit of ayahuasca is an avatar for the earth herself as we renew our distanced relationship with her.
The earth makes all the species and beings, and they are designed to work together as part of a larger whole.
The entheogens are working to heal – they're healing plants and substances, they're not just random psychoactives which are used recreationally. They are specifically designed to reconnect us to the web of life and in doing so they heal the spiritual lack or the disconnect that we have been feeling.
Remembering, Re-weaving, Rebirthing
The original Latin for ‘religion’ is to re-weave or to reconnect. And it makes us ask the question: what are we reconnecting to? The original matrix is the planetary matrix of Mother Earth, which both feeds and creates and destroys.
When we clear our filters and blockages through modalities like ayahuasca, it connects us to our innate ability, our bodies and chakras, and our energy systems to plug back into the planetary matrix to be whole.
That is what being healed means in the larger context.
Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism
Read the book that started the journey of discovery
- This great rebalancing is going on, and we're all learning how to re-engineer our consciousness to be sustainable again and remember why we’re here!
- We need to relate to our needs and to our families' needs, then on up to the tribe/society's needs and then the planet's needs. It’s all connected.
- The indigenous tribes of the Amazon that work with the plant medicine ayahuasca believe that there is a spirit in it: they call her Madre, or the Mother.
- When we clear our filters and blockages through modalities like ayahuasca, we can truly connect with who we are at our core.