I was watching this “Talks with Google” episode titled “How to Change Your Mind | Michael Pollan”. What I love about Michael Pollan is how different he is from me in many ways, yet so similar. He’s a writer/journalist and he’s written many New York Times Bestseller books, about food, nature, plants, and our mind. But he’s much more conservative than me, and that’s a good thing because I think it’s easier to relate to, or have a similar point of view with him, for many people, than they would with me. But we have very similar beliefs, specifically about psychedelics. And he talks about it all over the world, and I feel his message can be better received.
So what I love about this video is that he talks about the psychedelic scene exploding in the west for the first time in the 1950’s and 1960’s. And why it didn’t work. There was no container.
You see, all these other civilizations and indigenous people that work with this kind of medicine, they had ritual. It was a ceremony. They had very strict rules about the use of many substances. They were done communally, with intention and purpose. There was always elders and guides (or shamans) that were proficient in the facilitation of such powerful medicine. They employ music and singing, and smoke, and instruments, and you can feel the energy moving around in the medicine space. It was a safe place with many practices learned over thousands of years, passed down generation to generation.
There was mushroom cults hundreds/thousands of years old. The ancient greek’s had a yearly ceremony with some psycho-active drink that allowed them to see god (or so was written).
We weren’t ready
When LSD and psilocybin mushrooms were dropped onto the west in the 50s and 60s, we had no container. We had no rituals or traditions. We had no rules. No cultural practices. No guides. There was no foundation for how to use these types of drugs.
He mentions maybe the therapeutic setting can be our container, but I don’t think that’s the best way to do it. It’s definitely safer than nothing but I think we need to take some cues from some older cultures that incorporate this type of thing in their community regularly.
We should’ve taken some lessons from our elders
I think one of our problems is that our schools have very curated material, specifically in the history classes. It’s no wonder we don’t know who we are and where we came from. The story they tell in the classroom is more than likely very inaccurate… We can’t pass down our cultural traditions if we don’t know what they were to begin with.
I read that the Native Americans actually started using more peyote after we stole their land and obliterated their people. To try and learn where to go and what to do in such difficult times. Before that, it was much more infrequently used. Less trauma to deal with perhaps?
So because we had no traditional guidelines on how to use the medicine and people were careless and the powers at be were afraid of what they were seeing, so they decided to put into effect, a narrative, that I believe was (and still is) so damaging to all of life. The war on drugs.