Taking psychedelics in a clinical setting is serious. Taking psychedelics in a ceremonial setting is serious. Whether the intention is psychological or spiritual insight or healing, the therapeutic aspect is almost always at the top of people’s wish list. So we proceed cautiously and sensitively. We make sure everyone is safe and comfortable so they can take the inner journey into their troubled psyches in peace.
But sometimes the old skool way is the best. And when I say old skool, I mean old skool: hardcore rave, psy trance, techno, garage, jungle, dub. This is actually closer to the Shamanic Way. Why? Because it’s about energy.
The disease of modern Western civilization can be summed up in three words: TOO MUCH THINKING.
It can also be summed up in just two: INTERMINABLE ANALYSIS.
Or even in one: KNACKERED.
In The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche describes two streams of human engagement with the divine: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Apollonian is ultimately about the mind and the Dionysian about the body and energy.
Shamanic energy accumulates with periods of intense stillness and concentration. Typically this involves playing or listening to music, singing, drumming or chanting. Or just listening to the rain. The Chilean transpersonal psychologist Claudio Naranjo calls this “form meditation”. It often has an intensely aesthetic element and so could also be characterised as “Apollonian meditation”.
The accumulated energy can then be channeled into what Naranjo calls “expressive meditation”. In traditional indigenous shamanic communities, this generally meant either dancing or fighting. The original Bacchanal was not a drunken orgy, but a “Dionysian meditation”.
This is what the early nineties rave scene was really all about, especially for those who knew what they were doing. It’s also what the sixties festivals were all about.
Although hedonistic and commercial forces took over and ultimately prevailed in both cases, this is not hedonism. This is “cutting off the green lion’s head” and “waking the baby dragon”. This is “the way of the peaceful warrior”, the “Mystic Shaman” turned “Warrior Monk”.