The psychedelic revolution of the 1960s is still reverberating over generations as we are groomed by planetary intelligence to come back to the garden, and a relationship with the psychoactive plants' nature secretes to connect with her higher species. Plant and earth medicines have come out of the old world with their indigenous caretakers supporting a shamanic approach to ceremony. Vegetal medicines like ayahuasca have been leading the way, healing and reconnecting us to the web of life and showing a more profound way of being in the modern world.
[Psychedelics], in the right set and setting, with trained practitioners guiding these medicines, can be just that: they can be medicines, not drugs. They can be things which help heal people of the disconnection, of aloneness, of confusion, of separation. They can help heal the traumas of history and civilization and also help us raise our baseline consciousness to become better, and to reach more of our full potential as human beings on our spiritual path.
Every Generation Gets the Medicine It Needs
The 60s were a revolution on many levels: culturally, socially, politically, environmentally, and spiritually. Since then, what has happened is similar to what happens when you drop a stone into the water, and there's that ripple effect. If you think of that ripple effect as time passing over the generations, what we've learned from the 60s onwards is still being absorbed, and the ripples are coming back. Now there's a new wave building in the West, which has reached out to indigenous cultures.
Now we see not just a medicalization of psychedelics made in the lab – but also a greater appreciation of earth-made psychoactives – the planetary activators, which we call “entheogens”.
“Entheogens” is a term coined in the 1980s to distance from the stigma of psychedelics at the time and differentiate the substances. The terms are often used interchangeably, but in essence, psychedelics could be seen as man-made in a lab and entheogens made by Mother Nature.
Psychedelics “open the mind” (from the Greek, Psyche) and entheogens “Reveal the Divine within”. Psychedelics and entheogens can, beyond simply healing our deepest wounds, help us answer the question of what is our best self – and how can we begin to live as our higher selves ourselves at a higher vibrational frequency?
But would you believe that, unlike Western man-made psychedelics, entheogens grown by nature are believed to have a spirit? A soul, if you will? That’s what the indigenous people believe, and many have encountered the spirit in ayahuasca. The spirit in ayahuasca is often called “Madre” or “the Mother”, and in her endless embrace, she can heal, love and reconnect to the web of all life.
Curanderos, or the medicine men and women of the Amazon, see spirits in all nature and higher dimensions. In some ways, you could see how these spirit plants act without ego, helping heal humans as an act of compassion and sacrifice. You could call them vegetal “bodhisattvas” – beings dedicated to raising the consciousness of all life.
Ayahuasca is one of the pre-eminent planetary avatars and catalysts. It has done a lot of great work in this last generation bridging the gap between the shamanic world and Western culture.
Ayahuasca and Indigenous Curanderos
When I first went down to Peru researching what became my book and film, Aya: Awakenings, they told me that the “curanderos” (which is the Spanish word for “to heal” or “to cure”) are what we in the West call, “shamans”. The curanderos work with many different medicinal plants and modalities. There are vegetalistas who work with medicinal plants, including ayahuasca, but who know thousands of plants and their healing properties literally. The “ayahuasqueros” work specifically with ayahuasca as a healing medicine. In many ways, the healing profession of the curanderos is a science, and they are a mash-up of a village doctor, priest, and traveler between worlds.
There are many different varieties of healers in the Amazonian cosmology. The number one thing they said to me is that Westerners are coming in search of ayahuasca healing because they are so disconnected. Some people come with physical illnesses like tumors, cancers, or autoimmune diseases to be healed. Still, the vast majority of Westerners were coming because they felt disconnected, empty, and hungry for meaning.
The ayahuasca medicine has a psychedelic-visionary effect, but that’s considered the show put on inside your being while the deeper healing happens. And yet it’s often these visions that Westerners chase because seeing something seems more real. But ayahuasca is also, fundamentally, a purgative. People usually vomit and purge out impurities in their being, and it's very much connected to the stomach biome and cleaning out the liver.
To work with ayahuasca it’s asked that you do a “dieta”, which also prepares and cleans you out physically and energetically – removing the sugars, salts, meat, alcohol, sex – all the things which energetically build up and affect our natural, pure baseline state of being.
In the indigenous understanding, the curanderos of the Amazon also believe that we have a spiritual or an energetic body and an emotional body, and that illness can start in these more subtle levels and then manifest in the physical form. So, as part of the ayahuasca ceremony, curanderos might be working with ayahuasca, but they will also be calling in the spirits of the other healing plants or the vibrational codes of those plants to work on behalf of their patients. And they do this through their songs.
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Icaros – the Magical Healing Songs of the Amazon
Icaros are the magical healing songs of Amazonian shamanism. They are sung during the ceremony, and they can modulate consciousness and be an anchor point in the multi-dimensional unfolding. The curanderos train for decades from an early age to purify their bodies enough to connect with the vibrational essences of the plants and spirits, and the icaros are themselves vibrational codes.
It’s been explained to me that everything has a vibrational essence or code, and I’ve even had one or two of these icaro codes transmit to me in a ceremony, like a meme that lodges and can be remembered and sung. The icaro IS the vibration of a plant, and all of these vibratory code-songs are sung by the curandero into the ceremony and the people present.
So, there are many aspects to an ayahuasca ceremony that still won’t fit a mechanistic, reductionist point of view. But science has studied ayahuasca and discovered that just as with other psychoactives, it lowers these regions of the brain called the Default Mode Network (DMN) and helps lower the egoic intellectual business of the mind.
It's also calming down other aspects of the mind like the limbic system and the emotional body, and it's also allowing the unconscious to come up into the physical mind and to sort itself out to defrag, repair, and heal. Often, that healing may result in a physical purging, so ayahuasca is working on the physical level and all these other levels at the same time. It’s truly multi-dimensional!
So I think we really need to stop thinking that these [entheogens] are just peak experiences and start to look at the fact that they're actually a Gaian-mediated immune response relationship … We're not just the dominant species – we're embedded in a living organism, and it's all around us, and we've forgotten how to see it…
Plants are Medicines that Can Reconnect to the Planetary Intelligence – Gaia
These sacred medicines are part of a planetary intelligence calling us home to heal and remember. The way they act upon human consciousness is direct and necessary because our situation in the world with all the ecological and sociological problems directly manifests from our consciousness.
We are all connected, and these medicines heal us and the collective subconscious – changing our relationship to the earth and our connection to each other. We are beginning to have a different manifestation, and I really am excited about what's happening here. I feel that these medicines bring new potential for what it is to be human here on Earth.
This idea that arises on ayahuasca is that we're in a living organism; we're in nature – an ecosystem that has created and birthed us, like when the Greeks called the earth the goddes Gaia. And for all the medicalization, healing, and New Age language around all this, ayahuasca is still the greatest gift and the most significant remembrance.
We live one day at a time in this miracle called life, and we forget the preciousness and the holiness of being whole, of coming home, of being connected to something greater than us. We are now remembering the miracle of life: which is intelligent, loving and has never given up on us – despite what we’ve done to this planet.
When you drink the medicine [of ayahuasca], you are working with all the other plant intelligences she brings in and the ancestors. And that feeling of connection and that feeling of the wisdom of the keepers of planetary intelligence – that's what I'm really looking forward to when I drink ayahuasca.
- The 60s were a revolution on many levels: culturally, socially, politically, environmentally, and spiritually.
- What we are living through now is a massive spiritual awakening that started with the 60s movement towards psychedelics. Psychedelics and entheogens, especially ayahuasca, can help us heal not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
- During an ayahuasca ceremony, you may experience the presence of higher beings that are there to guide your experience and help you heal.
- We are all connected, and these medicines are healing us and the collective subconscious.