What’s so Religious about Psychedelics?

Religion literally means “re-connection” (from the Latin, re-ligare). Psychedelics also have a mysterious but powerful capacity to reconnect us in all sorts of ways. They reconnect us to ourselves, to our our feelings, hopes and dreams, our imagination and creativity, our senses and bodies, to our shadow side and all the disowned, dissociated parts of our personality. They reconnect us to our spiritual nature, to our soul, to God, to life and the Source of life.

Us moderns are lonely creatures, and never more so than in a crowd. We feel disconnected from the people around us, or at least not fully, deeply connected. Our social and romantic relations are weak and tenuous, superficial and trivial, easily displaced by others, washed away in a “liquid modernity”. We relate to family and friends at levels of intimacy barely above those of colleagues and acquaintances. We are constantly told that “we’re all connected”, but deep down we feel profoundly disconnected from people, from society, from politics, from religion, from nature. The more severely alienated among us feel disconnected from our own bodies and minds, from food, from love, from sex, from gender, from place, from purpose, from meaning, from beauty, from humour, from joy, from the past, from the future, from the present moment.

Of course I am exaggerating to make a point. My point is that ultimately, we are either connected to life, through all the threads of human experience that converge upon it, or else we are disconnected. And that when we are disconnected, we need to reconnect. We need to re-member, to re-join, to re-ligare. We need religio. Traditionally we have done this through rituals, which have been planted in the world to remind us to reconnect to life and the Source of life. We have done this weekly, by attending religious houses of worship, or daily, through morning and evening prayers. Practicing Muslims do this at least five times a day.

Ultimately, we have an existential choice: God or Babylon. Either we stay connected to Babylon, to the “web”, to the “matrix”, through filaments of emaciated desire, or we remember God and reconnect with the living flame of Love at the centre of life, the universe and everything.

Most of us are so lost in Babylon, that we don’t even know we are lost, or else know it, but refuse to be found. We are in unconscious despair, suffering from the “sickness unto death”. We would rather stay disconnected than reconnect.

For many people in the grip of this existential Kierkegaardian despair, the only way out is through contact with the power of psychedelics. For many of us, we are so far gone that the psychedelic experience is the only way we can rediscover the fullness of life. A Hindu might say that in the Kali Yuga, people need strong soma to wake them up. A Christian might say that in deepest, darkest Babylon, we need strong medicine to graft us back into the True Vine.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

John 15: 5-6