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Entheogenic Medicine - Something To Consider
In the later part of 2009, in Southeast Florida, I had the privilege of participating in three entheogenic medicine ceremonies, each one about a month apart. Since my teenage years, entheogens have captivated to me. While the idea of catching a buzz as a kid fueled a dangerous path of exploration with hallucinogens, the thoughts that flow through my mind now are a bit different. The concept that plants found in nature can be used for healing on a level many would think of as spiritual is amazing to me.
The ceremonial use of entheogenic plants however, is nothing new. There is plenty of evidence that both Aztec and Mayan cultures used various entheogens (as depicted in their artwork) for ceremonial purposes. The tribal use of ibogaine has been practiced in parts of Africa while the Amazon Rain Forest is becoming more and more famous for the ceremonial use of Ayahuasca. The native Americans were also known to use entheogenic cacti (most famously peyote) in ceremonial format as well.
As many of us who reside in the United States are aware, the “counter culture” movement in the 1960’s was laced with powerful lab made hallucinogens such as LSD and many other designer mind altering hallucinogenic substances.
Interestingly, that period of time in the US also marked a massive hungering for spirituality in ways that organized religion could not deliver. Many Eastern philosophies and practices dealing with the mind, breath and thought were introduced and became more popular and understood.
Magazines such as “High Times” (which predominantly feature cannabis) featured editorial content about entheogenic medicines found in other cultures, such as Ayahuasca in Peru. Not only did this type of content fuel more than casual interest, it often doubled as sales copy for trips to Peru (and other Entheogenic friendly countries) for the sole purpose of organized Ayahuasca trips by those who wrote the articles and had contacts with local Shamans.
Entheogenic Medicine is becoming more and more known and sought. While this is something that can be thought of as beautiful, amazing and a sign of change - it can also be dangerous in ways that easily elude the decision making process for those seeking to experience entheogenic medicine.
In order to understand the hidden dangers of entheogenic medicine I feel anyone seeking an experience (with entheogens) should first stop to consider specifically what they are seeking as part of the decision making process. Are you seeking healing and clarity or are you in it for the experience? While I am making neither higher or better than the other - this is an important point to consider when thinking about what format the medicine will be practiced in.
Point being, entheogenic medicine is a powerful mind altering experience that can take years to fully process. With that being stated, what actually occurs in the ceremony or when you are experiencing the medicine becomes highly important - and is often not in your control. Today, the most common way of ingesting plant medicine that I know of is ceremonial or recreational format. While recreational use may be most appealing to younger explorers who are uncertain of exactly what they’re toying with, ceremonial use is most common with adults seeking a spiritual experience. That is where asking the questions you may not have thought to ask becomes of the utmost importance.
When you think about traditional ceremonial use of entheogens - the surface appearance today may seem a lot like how it was when the traditions were started. There is a medicine person (can be female or male) and there is a group that gathers for the sole purpose of ceremoniously taking medicine. The primary difference between the ceremonies of yesterday and those commonly practiced today is vast, yet often grossly overlooked.
In the medicine ceremonies of yesterday the focus was on intimate community. For the most part, those participating were part of the same community and shared many aspects of life together outside of ceremony. It was more tribal. Today, the tribes that congregate for medicinal ceremonies are from a much larger area. In fact, they are pretty much global. Not only do a majority of the participants in entheogenic medicine ceremonies not know each other, they also do not know those who are organizing the “camp” - which are often different than than those administering the medicine.
While this isn’t a judgment, there are some important areas of contemplation that any pragmatic seeker may wish to consider. Starting with; How comfortable do you feel baring your soul to a group of mosty complete strangers?
A lot can happen in a medicine ceremony. You can feel things you would not normally feel. You can see things you would not normally see, and I’m not referring to hallucinations. You can come to realizations that are both awe inspiring and painful at the same time - and you can also feel as though you are losing all sense of self whatsoever. This can be frightening, confusing and deeply disturbing if you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a storm in the “wrong” group.
While group format is perfectly normal for some, others may wish to invest more time effort and care into the process of selection when it comes to plant medicine. Personally, I feel entheogenic medicine should be treated with a high degree of care, reverence and respect. I feel there there are ways that align with higher alignment and ways that don’t. While neither is right or wrong, one may be preferred over the other. All I’m suggesting is that if plant medicine is something you are thinking of doing, please - invest the time to consider that which you have yet to think of.
About the author:
Paul is available for Personal and Corporate Coaching. www.paulbunting.net - Questions and Feedback also welcome