Are There Right or Wrong Ways to use Psychedelics?
There’s something very special about making time in one’s life to spend a week away on sacred Aboriginal lands, partaking in one of the most potent and archaic forms of self-discovery, healing and transformation available on our Planet.
We were drinking the consciousness altering liquid made from the San Pedro cactus, Huachuma, native to the Andes Mountains of South America; a powerful healing sacrament used in rituals and ceremonies for thousands of years.
People all across the world are using consciousness altering psychedelic substances for many reasons, and viewing them in many different ways; perhaps quite dissimilar to my perspective and the way I choose to speak and write about them.
Tools. Allys. Drugs. Chemicals. Substances. Medicines. Teachers. Sacraments...
Self improvement. Healing. Recreation. Spiritual exploration. Creative insight. Preparation for death. The neurological benefits. Detoxification. Escaping ordinary reality. Connection with nature. Experiencing the oneness of the universe…
Psychedelics, like anything, can be a medicine, or a poison.
They can be beneficial, or they could be harmful.
While I believe that we as adults have the sovereign right to explore our own consciousness, without doing harm to self or others, experiences are going to be drastically different depending on what angle one chooses to approach this conscious altering phenomena:
- Taking psychedelics recreationally at a festival with the intent of fun.
- Taking psychedelics in a therapeutic medical setting with the intent for physical detox.
- Taking psychedelics as a tool to enhance one’s creativity working on a specific project.
- Taking psychedelics as an ally or a sacrament with the intent to connect deeper with self, others, nature, and the universe.
So, are there right or wrong ways to utilize psychedelics?
I’ve pondered this question, which has led to contemplation surrounding culture, society, morals, nature, the universe, and consciousness. While the answer in the grand scheme of things is probably no - there is no right or wrong way to use psychedelics, there are definitely safe and unsafe ways to utilize these substances.
Risk reduction, education, and further research are certainly key elements to a healthy, mature perspective concerning psychedelics; just as personal understanding and intention play a significant role in how one’s journey might unfold, including the outcome and results that follow.
Huachuma, the San Pedro Cactus, is not a Drug.
It is a Sacred Healing Medicine.
While others may view this as a recreational drug, or view it reductionistically in its chemical composition, in which its main psychedelic alkaloid is Mescaline, I give it the meaning of ‘sacred’ due to my understanding of the historical use of this plant, the various phenomena and healing it allows one to experience, my own personal encounters with it, and my subjective perspective of reality.
I resonate with Ross Heaven’s sentiments in his book, ‘The Hummingbird’s Journey to God - Perspectives on San Pedro, the Cactus of Vision’:
“For the people who experience these phenomena… they are often considered ‘more real than real’, and, although they challenge what we ‘Westerners’ think we know about the world, those experiencing these extraordinary events often find it very difficult to reject them as mere hallucinations.
This is because these experiences often have such a depth of meaning and can stimulate such a wealth of personal change and healing that they cannot be ignored…” 1
As I mentioned above, I recently returned from spending time away, working with this magical plant on sacred Aboriginal lands.
It is told that both males and females from the Yuin Tribe would divide and journey across the land and undertake sacred ceremony; boys would become men through traditional initiations and rites of passage, and women would gather for ritual, storytelling and childbirth. 2
Having this knowledge added a richness and depth to the overall experience in multiple ways, some of which just has to be experienced by one’s self, sometimes many times over, to really acknowledge and understand the mysteriousness and magic of the psychedelic non-ordinary state of consciousness phenomena, and the nature of reality itself.
The Cactus of Peace and Vision.
In the first two ceremonies, the cactus guided me through deep states of presence, meditation, and contemplation. They were incredibly peaceful, beautiful journeys.
- To a great degree, I could focus on and separate the various vibrations of sound, like the chime of a bell, into their own separate layers of auditory dimension, as they rippled through the airwaves.
- I felt a deep level of connection to nature through my being-ness amongst the trees, grass, birds, sky, clouds, mountains, and my participation in the ecology. Not merely just observing myself in nature, but being able to feel that my energetic presence was interacting with everything around me, and that nature could sense me as a separate being, amongst an inter-connected web of related energy.
- Their were prolonged states of deeply calm and peaceful meditation, focusing solely on the inhalation and exhalation of breath.
- While my eyes were closed, I saw green and yellow neon-like colours grow and bubble up into the ribs of a cactus while it's spines grew and protruded out, like hundreds of electrified hairs standing up on one's skin.
- Hexagonal honeycomb patterns shifted and rearranged behind my closed eyelids, while lattice tunnel-like spirals emanated in and out of vision.
- I sensed the presence of beings at various stages, both in and out of ceremony, being aware of particular energies in their own separateness surrounding the property. Whether it was merely coincidence or not, it was very interesting to note that others not only sensed similar phenomena, but could see and feel these beings as Aboriginal elders and their community watching over us.
Experiencing the psychedelic state, something far beyond our conception of ordinary waking consciousness, and something far beyond our capacity to accurately articulate in it’s complexity, is truly amazing, and these altered sensory elements give rise to fascinating philosophical and contemplative thoughts about consciousness and the nature of reality.
But the real gifts are how these sacred medicines seem to have the inherent quality of opening us up to want to live better lives.
The insights, the lessons, the teachings, the healing, the wisdom, the reconnection with self, others and nature…
I feel as though these are the pinnacle of benefits receivable for undertaking this line of work.
During my time spent as unified plant-human consciousness, I pondered deeply about meaning, purpose, fulfilment, integrity, my message to the world through the publicity of this path, and the role that I play through steeping myself in the world of shamanic medicine and psychedelics.
I reflected on how these sacred healing plant teachers and shamanic medicines have helped me reclaim my life, allowing me to do some seriously transformative, sometimes confronting, incredibly challenging deep inner work.
They’re now an integral part of my life.
In a sense, to get to know me, is to get to know the medicine.
And the areas of life where that isn’t apparent or applicable, the areas of life which still need deep healing and growth, is where I need to bridge the gap.
To bridge the gap between more of who I want to be, and who I’m already being right now.
The Doors of Perception Expand A Little Further.
I was incredibly blessed in the last journey in this round of ceremonies.
It was actually the most physically uncomfortable and unpleasant experience working with Huachuma I've had so far, however the cactus opened up the doors of perception to a much deeper experience and understanding of what this medicine is capable of. As with most journeys, it felt like living a lifetime in a single day.
This is where my explanation of things start to get a little more out of the ordinary. (As if it wasn't already throughout all my writings!)
Even though I knew it was going to be such a strong experience early on, in my state of plant-human consciousness, it was as though a force beyond myself called me over to drink another cup of medicine; as if the cactus itself knew that I was to be guided into a much deeper journey.
Chiric Sanago is one plant ally that I have come to know through sitting dieta, which was my time in isolation working with both that plant and Ayahuasca. (Read about that here.)
I have a small cutting of it's root that I take with me in all my medicine work, including other talismans, totems and tools. I held it in my hand as I felt the waves of cactus energy intensify, and shortly after, I felt the presence of Chiric Sanango present itself in my body: my lips started to become numb and tingle, and my entire lower body trembled and buzzed – characteristic of the effects when drinking Chiric Sanango.
This lasted for many hours, and the sense was that I was receiving deep cleansing and healing at a cellular level. I felt as though that the spirit, or energy, of both Huachuma and Chiric Sanango were teaming up, shaking my insides down and releasing something through these powerful vibrations.
It sounds very strange, I know.
I like trying to demystify these experiences, so that I can grasp them better with the analytical, rational part of my mind, and so that others can appreciate that I do like to question these experiences and don't necessarily take on everything I experience as ultimate objective truth of what happened.
I understand that the mind/brain/consciousness is very complex, mysterious and can sometimes be undoubtedly deceiving. I also understand that the Western mind can have a hard time acknowledging and accepting concepts that don't adhere to a lot of the materialist, reductionist perspectives of what one may call mainstream science, and that science itself, has been shown to be quite ideological and dogmatic, much to the argument of many scientists! (There's much information through the form of books, articles, media etc on this very notion.)
In my instance:
- Did I recognize the phenomena as real on some level in my moment to moment experience? Yes.
- Was that what was actually happening objectively on a verifiable level? I can't really say for sure!
- Could it actually be deconstructed and explained to make sense in a way that isn't based on a vague seemingly nonsensical description? I think it could, yes. And that would warrant an entirely different post, which perhaps I'll write at some stage in the future.
I purged for the first time on this medicine. Similar to Ayahuasca, it wasn't because of the brew itself, but because I sensed I was releasing darkness within myself to make room for more light.
I spent a considerable amount of time in deep sorrow, sobbing and flooding my cheeks with tears; releasing what felt like years of repressed emotion as we sat gathered around the ceremonial fire.
Some deep healing was done in that release, as was being seen in such a raw state while others held space for me to pass through that powerful catharsis.
There was a sense that this deep healing extended beyond my own sense of self, and on some level, permeated my brothers and sisters that were there.
A new path of healing opened up, or rather, I realized the depth of healing that still needs to take place. While my entire family have varying degrees of understanding when it comes to this path I walk, I'm not entirely sure my dad understands my commitment to this path, how much it means to me, or the deeper implications of what this is even all about.
A great man. With different values, different beliefs, and different perspectives to myself. For the past while, we have shared a roof, and although we've lived in the same house, we live in entirely different worlds.
While we cannot really change anyone, we can change the way we choose to interact with others, and reframe our own perspectives.
There are parts of me that wish he would be more interested, accepting and supportive of this medicine path, which has essentially saved my life.
However I know that for alchemy to occur and relationships to shift, I must accept him for who he is, while trying my best to soften and open more myself, in our interactions. Embodying the medicine, and creating this space, may eventually lead to more subtle shifts. And it's the small things that matter, as they make up the bigger picture.
While it's envitable that he'd see changes to some degree in my external behaviours and the way I choose to live my life, it's challenging to undergo a compete metamorphosis and not have a parent show deeper interest in something that is an integral part to one's life.
In saying that, I'm not sure it entirely matters though. I can still find ways to soften and open, without directly sharing much of this medicine path, and over time, the relationship will continue to evolve as I myself mature and evolve.
On the flip side, my mum has surprised me. My change in character since working with the medicine, has allowed me to open up more and repair our broken relationship, leading to an increased interest on her behalf.
It's pretty neat to have her show interest in my ceremonies and journeys and to be able to talk about this part of my life with her!
Future Insights: How Am I Being of Service?
Somewhere along the 16 hour cactus journey, looking into a mirror presented mind-boggling shifts in appearance, however on a more personal level, I could look into my eyes and see the entirety of my past and future at once. Myself as an innocent little boy, my path up until my current self in the present moment, and myself in the distant future as a wise elder.
I received valuable insights regarding my time spent on this journey of healing and transformation on the medicine path, and where my future is heading.
While there will always be healing and recalibration to be done, I was shown that I'm at a stage of life where it's necessary to step up to the plate and be of higher service to others and community.
There's a few avenues in which I've organically flowed into:
- I've been called to complete my training to become a carrier of the sacred frog medicine Kambo.
- I'm in the process of creating and holding the first Shamanic Medicine and Psychedelic Integration Circle in my hometown.
- Through my study and training as a Psychedelic Integration & Transformational Life Coach.
- And to continue to deepen my relationship with sacred medicines, in particular, with Huachuma. To learn and apprentice from the cactus itself, in which avenues of greater service will be revealed in time, which was a message I received quite clearly during my time away.
Everybody Has A Gift. Everybody Has A Message.
Writing these articles have become an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to my own integration, just as journaling pre, post, and during ceremony plays it part too.
Having to think deeply to try and articulate what I've experienced and the meaning I've derived from these journeys allows me to better understand my own thoughts, my path of healing, my progress, my future, and how to best embody the teachings, insights, lessons and wisdom.
I feel as though it's incredibly important to put these messages out into the world, for many reasons. Everyone has a gift to share. Just as everyone has some sort of message to impart.
For now, this is my message:
These sacred medicines have completely transformed my life for the better, and there's potential for others to experience that too. Although psychedelics can be a profound catalyst for change, and play a significant role in transformation, the real work is in our day to day living.
I found it to be quite challenging reintegrating my experiences and knowing which direction to point the needle of my compass, and would've progressed a lot quicker and smoother if I'd had the frameworks, knowledge, understanding and wisdom that I have now.
This, is why I feel called to help guide others through their own transitions, transformations and self-actualization.
- Resonate with my message and what I'm about.
- Want more clarity, direction, meaning and purpose in your life.
- Want to better connect with your highest self, in alignment to your virtues, values, heart and spirit.
- Need guidance preparing for, or integrating, shamanic medicine or psychedelic experiences.
- Have been doing everything yourself, you're feeling overwhelmed, want to save time, and want better results...
We need to connect!
If you value your own personal transformation and you're interested in long-lasting beneficial life changes, I encourage you to send me a message and get in touch.
If you're looking to create changes and feel like guidance could be beneficial, if not now, when?
If something's resonating within you, let's explore that and see if we'd be the right fit to work together.
As always, I'm incredibly humbled by these sacred healing medicines, and hold an even deeper reverence towards Huachuma, San Pedro, the Cactus of Peace and Vision.
Thank you to all who are walking this path, or solely reading about this path. I get the feeling that having these words enter the stream of other's consciousness is aiding the path of healing, and is powerful medicine in itself.
In gratitude and service,
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LINKS & REFERENCES
. The Hummingbird’s Journey to God: Perspectives on San Pedro, the Cactus of Vision. Ross Heaven