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A Healers Approach To Plant Medicine
“God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my path violently and recklessly, all things which alter my plans and intentions, and change the course of my life, for better or for worse.” -- Carl Gustav Jung
Without a doubt, plant medicine is a popular topic amongst those interested in both Shamanism and healing. Entheogenic Plant Medicine has been with us throughout the eons serving various purposes that align with various intentions. One of the widely popular reasons that makes plant medicine so revered today is healing. On one hand, this is wonderful that people are taking the responsibility of healing into their own hands, but without proper care, healing is often not gone about with a clear mind.
Before I get into what I feel plant medicine is capable of and how to maximize your experience (if that is what you’re pursuing) I feel a bit of clarity as it pertains to the word “healing” can help. To start with, I’ll keep it simple - What is healing? In other words, if you’re thinking of integrating plant medicine into one of your journeys, what specifically are you expecting it to do for you?
The reports of what plant medicine can do, or seems to have done for others are bountiful, plentiful and sometimes embellished. Before wondering why on God’s green Earth would someone embellish an account of what happened to them whilst participating in plant medicine, one could think of “old fishing tales.” The kind where a fisherman may have a few unsubstantial guppies in his catch bucket, but proceed to deliver animated accounts of “the one that got away” and how it “almost as big as the boat” - believing it to be a clever diversion from the reality of what’s in the bucket. Or more simply stated, human ego is a perfectly valid reason to embellish a healing story.
Some of the more outlandish reports I have personally heard about plant medicine range from “it cured my cancer” to little men from another dimension were tearing my face off” to “I demanded to be shown only love and light then I became an angel.” While I will not pass judgment in terms of right of wrong - or even truth or not true, I will ask a question I feel is both relevant as well as important.
“How was the experience useful to your development as a human being?”
Not only does that question merit gathering more information about some of the bold statements people sometimes make when it comes to plant medicine, it also sets the stage for a more specific approach to healing with plant medicine. Take for example, “it cured my cancer.” While any cure to cancer that works without killing the host is wonderful, the curiosity I had when I was told the story was “How, specifically, do you feel that plant medicine, not something else, cured the cancer that was once in you body?”
With that person in particular, the answer became a bit more informative. The essence of the story for that person was that plant medicine provided new understandings of various sorts which allowed choice to take place in many life areas that change was possible. As a result of making a series of small changes dealing with mentality, emotion and spirituality the internal part of this person’s being simply didn’t align with what was needed for cancer to take a stronger hold and the condition was released. So to me, the real reason the cancer diminished was not because the plant medicine was a miracle cure by itself, but because the plant medicine gave the gift of new understanding (of the powers of mind) and choice - and that became the healing element that person was searching for.
I encourage any reader who is thinking about turning to plant medicine as a means of attaining higher understanding, even healing - to take into serious consideration the following FIVE areas. To me, the one who enters into an experience having done both groundwork and homework is often gifted with an experience that delivers clarity, new understanding and new life! The ones whom choose to throw caution to the wind are sometimes in for a bumpy ride. Is one better than the other? Maybe, but that’s for you to decide.
How you approach plant medicine often has a direct and immediate correlation with the outcome. An overall attitude of respect and honor goes a lot further than blindly, even chaotically going into an experience. Plant Medicines are often powerful, unpredictable and random. An approach of acceptance of the unknown, curiosity and preparedness is likely to seed a more mystical experience than that of a rushed and unprepared approach.
What do you expect plant medicine to do for you that you have not or cannot do for yourself? What one expects compared to what actually happens during the course of an experience with plant (entheogenic) medicine can be worlds apart. Plant medicine, in various ways is completely unpredictable. When dealing with certain types of mescaline containing cactus, for example, potency varies widely, cacti to cacti - and if you are not in the presence of a someone who has legitimately built a powerful relationship with that plant, what you’re getting remains unclear until you experience it. While the potential is there for even out-of-body experiences, the possibility is also very real that the medicine won’t even noticeably affect you. When you allow the plant to reveal what it chooses to reveal you will get more gratification and understanding from the experience than you would if you were seeking something that failed to happen, and blamed it on the plant.
Plant medicine will not negotiate with you. I feel the more respect you demonstrate towards the medicinal value of the experience, the more specific your understanding can become. I have witnessed tremendous results by approaching plant medicine with the mindset that the plant itself is only a piece of something much more grande. That something is your own process of enlightenment!
Taking at least a full 7 days off (prior to the experience), in relative solitude to contemplate and evaluate the areas of life you seek to understand is not unreasonable. Not even a little bit. In fact, the more devoted you can become to the preparation (mental, emotional, spiritual, even sexual) the greater understanding you will be equipped to take on as a result of the lifting-of-the-veil the plant teacher will sometimes gift you with.
For many of us, living the lifestyle of a monk or monkstress (its time to honor feminine energy more) for a week would be beautifully constructive and useful. There are many ways this valuable incubation time can be structured. One method that works great is to participate in a nutritional cleanse, practice something contemplative and relevant (meditation) twice per day in addition to daily practice with the breath. Bottom line is, the more sludge you can clean out (all levels) before the plant teacher appears, the less you will have to go through during the experience. In turn freedom to explore higher consciousness is right there!
When it’s time for the moment of truth, your preparation can come in useful. How plant medicines integrate into your system once ingested vary widely. One person told me the experience felt like traveling through a womb. The account was that it was uncomfortable at times, tight in various parts of the body, filled with random and illogical emotions...Then there was deliverance (into the plant medicine mind). I feel the use of breathing techniques in the beginning parts of the experience facilitates a smoother transition from one frame-of-mind into another.
Once you’re there, in that space of the plant medicine, you can become seduced by possibilities you hadn’t even considered before. Music can become so sensual, the lighting and auras you never noticed before can become sooooo lively, and you just feel everything... While that stuff may or may not happen, what’s important is to focus your mind on the areas you have been preparing for (intentions) during the previous week (give or take).
A profound experience that delivers great wisdom and understanding often requires great focus and effort. If there is an area within your life you seek to heal, or understand or make peace with, stay with it! The mind without plant medicine can be tricky enough.
Its been said that plant medicines “put lenses on your senses.” You can choose which lense to peer into - and many of them are absolutely fascinating! However, when you remind yourself why you sought plant medicine in the first place and stay focused on those lenses, rather amazing results can transpire. When you become open to observing your inquiries without attachment or aversion, the solution is often right there. In other words, a mystical experience can contain both light and dark. When you observe both, yet judge neither, finding solutions becomes more simplistic.
Remember how I suggested that plant medicine was but a small part in a more grandiose theme? Well it is. Even if you select not to prepare for the experience at all, the experience, by itself has potential to go beyond just about any expectations you could set. You could experience great knowledge while understanding simplistic solutions to complex situations with plant medicine, yet life goes on.
The experience itself can be awe inspiring, beautiful and full of magic - but unless you integrate what you have experienced into your life as you move forward, what use is the medicine? If you had a disease, understood a solution during the experience, yet choose to let resistance confine you further into the same situation afterward, that would be kind of self-defeating, yes? Understand where I’m going with this?
The imprints plant medicine can have on your being often require months of time afterward to integrate and understand. To maximize the healing effects of plant medicine, post-experience devotion is of utmost importance. After the medicine wears off, the pre-experience resistance will be right back. So will the wisdom to counter it, in many cases. From that point forward, how devoted to the process you become has direct correlation to the degree the medicine is “effective.”
So there you have it. I feel that plant medicines are powerful and best handled with delicate care. They are certainly not for everyone. If you’re thinking about experiencing it for the first time, do more homework, read experience reports and ask yourself questions. If you’re going to experience plant medicine, knowing the potential (at least on an intellectual level) before diving into the experience can really help. As the saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” rings true with plant medicine too. When you are prepared, the world is open!
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