Mind Control

As many of you may know, entheogens are an important part of my practice (well, primarily just a few specific ones that I’ve developed relationships with over time), and I am a strong advocate of their responsible, knowledgeable use in ritual contexts, when appropriate. This stance, however, is very much at odds with the cultural and political climate in this country regarding “drugs.”

I am fortunate that the entheogens I’m most interested in are, for the most part, still under the radar, as they are not exactly “get high for fun” sorts of plants. But I’ve ranted previously about how that is changing, especially in the case of salvia divinorum, which is now being used recreationally by incredibly stupid young people who like to get high and post videos of it online, and have sparked a backlash that has gotten it outlawed in several states now. (My personal experience with salvia leaves me perplexed as to how anyone could do it so casually, as it’s been incredibly powerful and heavy for me in a way that makes me approach it with great care, but then again I know my reactions to entheogens are often significantly shaped by my spirit-work, i.e. they are not always typical physiological reactions.)

I just recently found a clip from the CBS evening news that discusses the proliferation of detailed information on entheogens on the internet, and specifically targets one of my favorite sites, Erowid.org. Those objecting kept remarking on the breadth and depth of information available, as if that were an obviously bad thing. But to my mind, more information about potentially dangerous activities can only be positive, in that it facilitates wiser and more informed choices. One would have to be very ignorant to think that a lack of information will prevent kids from doing drugs. But the information that websites like Erowid provide might very well discourage someone from trying certain things – just read the Experience posts on any of the more dangerous entheogens, and you’ll find a lot of horrifying accounts that serve as warnings to the curious.

And at least if they do go ahead with their experimentation, they’ll have proper dosing information and recipes to avoid a more serious disaster. Considering that many of these plants are readily and legally available (and not just from online botanical supply shops – did you know that morning glory seeds and nutmeg can both give you hallucinations? though I strongly recommend against both of them), it only makes sense to encourage correct information on their usage, effects, dangers, etc.

But all this aside, what makes me so very angry about this kind of thing keeps coming back to mind control. We supposedly live in a free country. We have freedom of speech. But what’s the point of having the freedom to speak your mind if you don’t even have the freedom to control your own mind? To effect changes of consciousness if you so desire? (Well, you can do so if you subscribe to one of the few culturally-approved consciousness-altering substances, such as alcohol, but that’s another rant…)

In fact, this also directly impinges on our freedom of religion, since many spiritual systems (especially but not exclusively polytheistic/animistic ones) have included some form of entheogen use in their rites. This is exemplified by the long battle by the Native American Church to legalize their sacred use of peyote. But what of the rest of us who find spirituality within these plants?

Forget all those crazy conspiracy theories and futuristic scenarios about governmental mind control. It’s happening now. They will never truly be able to stop us from altering our consciousness (after all, besides entheogens, it can be done with sensory deprivation, hyperventilation, meditation, chanting, fasting, along with experiences of beauty, art, sex, pain, etc.), but they do what they can.

I, meanwhile, am happily awaiting the annual return of amanita muscaria mushrooms emerging from the lush soil here in Oregon. I may live in a country with some fucked-up perspectives, but at least I live on land that magically provides spirit-work allies from the ground itself.

~ by Dver on November 4, 2010.

9 Responses to “Mind Control”

  1. I just read in a shamanism email list about a colombian native shaman been arrested in USA for use of ayahuasca.

    About information, I remember the first thing the police officer that gived me instructions about how handle and combat drug abuse, the very first thing was show us every kind of substance, describing how use and all the possible effects. He used to say the only weapon against the abuse was information. I remember too how shocked my teacher colleagues was to admit the prescribed drugs as something bad.

    I bet the same people acting like if entheogens are something evil and barbaric, sleep using some pills.

  2. I couldn’t fucking agree with this post more. It really is mind control. Where is the “freedom”?

    Then you have people like myself, who depend on chemicals such as opioids for chronic pain management. It sucks having to experience extreme anxiety every time I go in for a refill (which isn’t as often as it should be, technically) for fear that they will cut me off. I can thank, in part, to those who use and abuse them far too often recreationally. And I don’t DARE make it too public that I use entheogens in shamanic practice, for fear of what might happen.

    One of the reasons why I am so strongly in the “legalize it” camp with regards to marijuana use.

    At the very least medicinally–this is something that is restricted out the ass, leaving some of us who suffer from severe chronic pain up shit creek without a paddle. And I’m sorry–I don’t even need controlled substances to hallucinate. Sometimes the pain from lack of proper painkillers is enough to make me hallucinate all by my bloody self.

    • “Sometimes the pain from lack of proper painkillers is enough to make me hallucinate all by my bloody self.”

      Which makes a really important point. Our bodies are capable of producing altered states of consciousness (for good or ill) all on their own. In fact, many of the active chemicals in these substances can be found, in some amount, naturally occurring in the body (DMT being a great example). Which just makes it even more ridiculous to outlaw something that we ourselves are born with!

      Don’t even get me started on medical marijuana. The fact that they give highly addictive, often life-destroying drugs to some people, and turn around and deny others an extremely helpful, non-addictive, non-destructive drug that could decrease their suffering… it’s just wrong, plain and simple.

      (And did you know, btw, that there is evidence to suggest that the hallucinogen ibogaine may be able to stop opiate addiction in one dose, and yet isn’t even being officially studied? Grrrr.)

      • YES YES YES. I couldn’t agree with you more, needless to say. And I heard the ibogaine study, too. Absolutely ridiculous this sort of thing isn’t being explored further. I’m willing to bet the drug companies have something to do with this. Keep only the approved addictions that keep people coming back for more and lining the pockets of the fat-cats. Just another form of drug-dealing, only one done with whitecoats in medical offices and labs, and not out on the street.

        With marijuana…I could go on a diatribe lasting hours. Needless to say, if my state suddenly had medicinal use, I’d run out for a prescription that very instant.

        • Oh, I’m sure that it’s not financially desirable to actually get people off opiates. My mom, a social worker, also says there’s a new treatment that is MUCH better than methadone, but it’s almost impossible to get any of her clients set up to take it, while methadone is pretty much just a state-sponsored form of heroin. And I’m willing to bet that if drug companies could make money off of marijuana, they’d be supporting legalization, but unfortunately for them it truly is a weed and able to be grown by anyone.

          As for medical marijuana, that’s still a tricky issue. Even if your state accepts it (as ours does), it’s technically still forbidden federally, so you could be prosecuted even if you had state permission. And our state just shot down a bill that would have set up official dispensaries, so even if you are allowed medical marijuana, you still have to get it, basically, through a drug dealer. It’s messed up.

  3. I don’t use entheogens, but have always been interested in what they could possibly do for me (mind & spirit-wise). The only thing that has kept me from experimenting is the lack of a guide, something I think is very important for myself. I wouldn’t want to do it without somebody experienced and knowledgeable to watch me and coach me through it.

    • That’s very wise, really (and respectful to the plants/spirits themselves). I did several entheogens for the first time without benefit of an experienced guide, but at least I did have someone with me who was experienced in *other* such substances, so there was some frame of reference. And I did a whole lot of research beforehand (which led to me discarding plans to try several others). I personally have been able to be a guide for several people in trying the few entheogens I’m most familiar with, which I find very gratifying.

  4. […] that last part, and the insanity of dictating people’s personal state of consciousness, but I’ve done that elsewhere. What really makes this book special, I think, are the ideas about how usage of plant entheogens […]

  5. […] have one black & white, disconnected official response to a complex situation: drugs are bad. Altering consciousness is dangerous. It might let you in on the fact that this whole way of life they’re pushing on you is empty […]

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