Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca (2017)
Dr. Richard Louis Miller et al
In case you're wondering what is meant by 'psychedelic medicine' or why a growing number of people are advocating for this research, here's the author making a case that's about as good as any I've heard so far:
"When we expand our consciousness we liberate ourselves from the slavery that is inherent in all cultural and institutional systems. The slavery derives from repetition of daily life until the behavior becomes institutionalized, thereby creating culture. Rigidified, institutionalized culture is the ultimate peer pressure, which stifles, dominates, and controls both creativity and consciousness expansion. Once a person ingests a psychedelic medicine and experiences the Deep Within and expanded consciousness, there is no going back to narrow consciousness and constricted thinking. What has been seen cannot be unseen. Once we experience alternate realities we can never again say this is the only one reality. When we experience ourselves as electrochemical beings of light, as molecules stuck together taking material form, our lives take on new meaning. Psychedelic medicine can facilitate our using the power of the mind to change our very genetic structure. We can change the slings and arrows of outrageous genetic misfortune into a Cupid's bow of a sculpted self." --from the Introduction to 'Psychedelic Medicine'Clearly Miller's strong belief in the importance of psychedelics informs his book, a collection of interviews with many of the leading psychedelic researchers of today such as ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna, psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, MAPS founder Rick Doblin and psychedelic advocate Amanda Feilding. In the interviews we hear a bit about the history of earlier research, the nature of consciousness and other interesting asides as each scholars discusses their research and its implications for the future with author Richard Miller, an American clinical psychologist, radio host and founder of the highly regarded Cokenders Alcohol and Drug Program. Recent headlines have been alerting us to the promise of psychedelic medicine for any number of applications - PTSD, mental illness, terminal illness - and this book offers a timely way to get caught up on much of this important research.
Stories Of Awakening With Psychotropics
Having come to my awakening through the use of psilocybin, I’ve had a deep interest in all things psychotropic ever since. Now that I’m wading around in the psychedelic world, I find myself a bit surprised I didn’t end up here earlier, given that psychedelics inspired so many of the artists who produced the sci-fi, gaming, digital art and etc. that I’ve delighted in all my life. But though I enjoyed what altered minds produced, personally I had bought into the cultural message that these drugs were more dangerous than helpful and so I barely explored their use myself. And when it came to stories about spiritual revelations at the hands of these drugs, my lack of firsthand knowledge let me to buy into mainstream skepticism about the ‘real’ nature of these psychedelic encounters. Then I had one – which taught me that psychotropic-induced experiences can feel just as real as sitting on a chair in front of a computer, typing out blog posts (which feels pretty darn real, I assure you). In fact, next to experiencing Source consciousness, I’d say feeling the ‘realness’ of existing outside of form and time while tripping on psilocybin was the most surprising part of awakening. (My consciousness exists apart from my body! Who knew!?)
Given the illegality of psychedelics in this country, I was doubtful I’d find many people in the public space willing to share stories of spiritual encounters while on these substances. Wrong! This doubt might have borne out ten or fifteen years ago but today, the internet is awash in content from people exploring altered states of consciousness – even of people tripping on camera (whoa!). Below are four such films, featuring more of these truly courageous and generous men and women willing to share intimate details about their lives and psychedelic experiences. After watching these films, I was better equipped with the tools to both understand my previous journey and prepare for the next. Perhaps just as importantly, recognizing many of the psychedelic experiences shared in these films gave me a sense of having found a community of fellow travelers – a wonderful gift.
“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.” … <wink>
While pulling together the ayahuasca gallery, I sidetracked numerous times into the vast trove of digital art inspired by psychotropic plants. This short video, in which the ayahuasca serpent theme makes an appearance, is a trippy example. Find more psychedelic clips from TAS Visuals on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.
Experienced psychonauts assert that specific psychotropics (LSD, psilocybin, cannabis, etc.) provide access to specific inner spaces or ‘dimensions’. As odd as the notion may sound, it’s not quite so hard to believe when viewing the work of artists who’ve encountered the ayahuasca brew. Not only do their complex and colorful images give the uninitiated a peek into the ayahuasca experience but they also make clear – in beautiful details! – the striking similarities among the visions of many people. According to these paintings (and numerous verbal accounts), ayahuasca opens the door to a realm of tropical wilderness full of wise serpents, jungle cat guides, sacred plants, ancient trees, vivid colors and – for many – a Mother Gaia archetype. Here are a few examples of ‘ayahuasca art’ from two widely known artists, Pablo Cesar Amaringo and Anderson Debernardi.
A Shamanic Brew From The Amazon
If you haven’t yet heard of ayahuasca (sounds like ‘iowaska’) from your usual sources, give it a minute; I was super-surprised to see a fairly factual article about this psychotropic brew posted by Fox News so word has clearly gone mainstream.
Ayahuasca is a plant medicine, a tea used by Amazonian tribes during shamanic rituals for at least the last 1000 years, possibly much longer. The drink is made by boiling crushed pieces of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with the leaves of one of a handful of DMT-containing plants, usually Psychotria viridis. Over many hours, a big pot of vines and leaves are boiled down into a dark, thick, noxious-tasting potion (or so I’ve heard, I’ve not yet had the pleasure). Fortunately, just a few ounces is usually enough. In addition to the noxious taste, ayahuasca typically produces bouts of vomiting – called ‘the purge’ or la purga – as the ‘Goddess of the Vine’ cleans out the physical and psychic body of the traveler.
And judging by the numerous stories being shared on the net these days, you will be doing some traveling after drinking ayahuasca. Many a book, blog and documentary have popped up recently with accounts of this consciousness-altering experience; it’s interesting that so many people encounter this same ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ or ‘Goddess of the Vine’ entity during their voyage; I’m reminded of comments from Terence McKenna and other widely-traveled psychonauts that each psychotropic plant or substance opens a door to a specific kind of psychedelic space, a unique perspective into the One Mind and the archetypes within just that space.
Another after-effect of the ayahuasca experience seems to be a call to creativity. Explosions of colorful and imaginative ideas and visions, both during and after the ritual, have prompted many to produce stunning works of art when, taken as a group, clearly share a common theme; it’s become known as ‘ayahuasca art’ and I’ll share some gorgeous examples in the next post.