This dance of use and misuse has played itself out over the last number of generations. On one side there is the calling, deep calling, to have ecstatic experiences which connect us to something greater than our limited self… or ego. On the other side is the complete loss of ego such that there is nothing left to return to and all the fears and dangers that go with that potential escape into insanity. Thus we sit on the rope bridge of being over a canyon of problematic issues around entheogenic use and abuse.
What is the real goal of entheogens? First and foremost, they are what they are… plant, fungi or hidden chemistry in the belly of the mother. She brings forth life in all sorts of forms and often for no other reason than she can. The plethora of chemistry is amazing. The even more amazing thing is how humans across time have discovered the efficacy of these allies. It takes quiet the interesting leap to combine two plants in the jungle together for the first time to have an ayahuasca experience. What a vision that must have been for the discoverer and creator of that connection, no less amazing as the bicycle ride of Albert Hofman. Entheogens point to the fact that the world has an amazing way of creating things which inter-react with our own chemistry. And we discovered these gifts probably with a lot of trial and error and certainly death.
Yet what is the real goal of entheogens… is it in the name? “To be united to god-energy within.” I am not sure that is but an egoic extension of our own deepest desires… so even entheogen as a word is a limitation or an agenda. For a while I attempted to change this term to ensophiagen… which would be a connection to the earth – Gaia-Sophia… and/or wisdom – sophia. But the goddites have the upper hand on that historical agenda right now. Besides the drive for freedom from the established god is at least half the enticement to this world of wonder.
We are often driven crazy with the internal push to shift our awareness. Watch a child spin round in circles, a person run a marathon, any extreme sport and you see a drive for altered consciousness. Some are so extreme that they would lay down their lives for this shift of consciousness. This shift that is often not really stable given the lives we live today and what we must return to after the journey. Often some of these journeyers lives have hidden layers of extreme abuse and issues of well being… so the drive needs to be questioned or at least examined before the key turns the engine on in the connection with the chemistry. Yet we have no system or set process to allow such examination and exploration in a healthy and proper manner. We have relegated the ecstatic experience of chemistry to the halls of the profane and the illegal. We have added it to the list of necessary oppression in a culture that gets high on oppression and sublimation rather than true responsibility that comes with freedom.
These gifts from the cornucopia of the mother are there and will never go away unless we drastically shift the environment. And right now, there is a resurgence of wandering with these allies. It may be because we are tempting fate with our technological progress which is putting us in jeopardy of losing our links with the mother. It may be because we are creating more insanity upon insanity and the extreme lengths are the lengths we need to go to find a new vision. In a world truly gone mad with expectation and agenda, is it any wonder the younger generation, to say nothing of many of the elders, are seeking a way back to freedom? The archaic-shaman along side the techno-mage are beating a drum into the future often with these allies as support.
Good information and awareness is thin for this pathway. It is wrought with danger and the pitfalls of self importance as any path is. Yet never before does a path so clearly open us up to hidden potentials deep within the matrix-breaking actions such experiences provide. The elders in this tradition are few and far between. Even though there has been a rapid increase in writings and documentation about these gifts, there is a blissful lack of authentic knowledge and guided sign posts for this path as a discipline. It is easy in this genre to become bogged down in conflict, mired in judgments and vastly differing perceptions, and embattled with even those who you would think shared a similar experience. This blows the socks off of any potential to gain a standardized degree… nothing is stable, nothing is fixed, accept that the experience can’t be completely pinned down.
It takes individual courage to move with these allies. They are access to pathways within and without that are not often seen or incorporated into our daily lives. Those that wander have to have a strong ego to return to just to have an ego to blast off the map. They must have discipline and some form of practice, just so that they don’t dissolve into addiction to all the pretty colors. They must have a sense of self-reflection and questioning so as not to be lost in wonder worlds. There are traps to be avoided, and knowledge to be gained, clarity to be revealed and seeing to be done… but all lies within the unstable matrix of our own well being… a being that for some may not be the most comfortable place to be. It takes as one old master said, the ability to never lie to oneself, this in a culture where lying to the self is rewarded with advancement and adoration.
What is the fundamental goal of the entheogen? To me it is to shift perception… simple and efficient shifts to the way we assemble our world. It is for questioning the assumptions. And it is for rapid, and often unstable, connection to something greater than the limited self, which some call ego. When we are able to step outside our skins, we can look back over the canyon of our lives and choose more wisely what makes up the table we dine at every day.
I decry so often to everyone I meet, where are your elders? Where are those that would aid you in having the best experience, pointing to and punctuating the experience, without the downfall of self importance and ego-ic traps of rationalization and self deception? It is sad that our dominant culture has marginalized this discipline and this necessary pathway such that the elders hide in fear of being noticed by the social immune system. Or worse that the only way to gain acceptance is after a host of useless wandering through the field of psychology or medicine, disciplins with their own problematic paradigms of structure and order. There is no organization of shamans who have these talents and can communicate appropriately. And the attempt to certify shaman in this country turned into a sham of abuse anyway. There is no connective glue for the elders to link arms around the new travelers of this realm of knowledge and experience. No acceptable way to foster and forge a relationship with these allies.
Yet they are there, everywhere, available despite the frustrations of our legal system to eliminate them. And the illogical techniques of suppressing the supply has caused more social evil than a weekend of blissed-out alteration would if everyone was altered once. This disconnect is amazing… and socially dangerous on all levels. “Just say no” is a farce in the face of “just say consume as much as you can for the health of our economy.” We are waking up to the amazing lack of integrity around many issues. And we are waking up to the amazing knowledge available as we sped past the freaky lights of our initial exploration. It’s more than machine elves that makes this option worthwhile.
This declination I raise here is not to advocate nor encourage anyone to do an entheogen, far from it. It is to ask the question, why do we do them at all? Why is the journey worth the leaving home? Because we never come back to the same home no matter how much we think this is just a brief party on a Saturday night. We can plausibly deny the experience and chalk it off as the ravings of temporary lunacy, but come now, does not everything have a source within. If it was easy for us to take and make furniture from wood, just because it was there to be had, then it is all the more so for us to have the entheogenic experience. We must be careful with our intent… especially now… We must take care of our young, even more now… we must take care of our home, the earth… and these gifts are a part of the solution, even when they may also be a symptom of the problem.
I sit carefully downing my caffeine laden cup of hot liquid and realize the absolute relational necessity that I have created with it. This simple morning ritual has become patterned after hundreds of years into our culture, and it is accepted… yet it is the most addictive (all stimulants are) drug out there… and legal. How backwards, I reflect. What if this was a morning cup of peyote tea…. I wonder if I could write as well or what would come up in the day… That is the wonder that many of us have…..