What Else is Happening?

“I had a mystical experience but still re-emerged a naturalist because what else was happening but the drug beautifully interacting with my brain?”

Someone tweeted this in response to my response to the Vice interview with Chris Letheby, Do Psychedelics Just Provide Comforting Delusions?

I replied, “Yes, that’s a common problem” and she came back with, “I don’t see it as a problem.”

Stale mate.

Is there a problem? Well, only if you want to be a mystic, that is, only if you want to continue having mystical experiences. Especially if you want to have them while sober.

But being a mystic requires hard work and commitment. It’s a perilous path. It could mess up your life. At any rate, it will turn it upside down.

Where does this path lead? It leads to a certain state of intimate connection with Reality, with the world and God. This state is precisely the mystical state, of which mystical experiences are brief glimpses. It is blissful, peaceful, blessed. It is like being in paradise.

The spiritual path, if followed faithfully to the end, leads back to that state of lost connection we seem to have lost somewhere along the way.

My Twitter friend was in Paradise during the time of her psychedelic-induced mystical experience. Then she was back in hard “reality”, the reality of hard soil and hard labour (in both senses of the word). Did she, like Eve, eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge? One bite is all it takes to be banished from the Garden of Eden, and the simple thought, “it’s just a drug” is a pretty good bite.

But she doesn’t see it as a problem. Presumably she’s fine not living in Paradise. But there are those who do see it as a problem. The writers of Genesis, for example.

Personally, I have dedicated my life to trying to solve this problem and to finding my way back to the Garden. Why do some people long for this return? Some people listen out for the clock to strike thirteen, like Tom in Tom’s Midnight Garden. And some people refuse to count beyond twelve. Why?

Who knows? It’s a mystery. It seems that not many are called, and even fewer are chosen. And there is absolutely nothing I can say to convince those who still re-emerge as naturalists that what they experienced is in any way real, that mystical experiences are more than just “comforting delusions”.

The testimony of the saints and mystics throughout the ages won’t do it. Jesus won’t do it. Buddha won’t do it. Rabbis, priests and imams won’t do it. Sadhus and bhikkhus won’t do it. Without metanoia, without a change of heart, there is no God, Nirvana, or Enlightenment, no Garden of Eden, Kingdom of Heaven or Pure Land. There is only, occasionally, “drugs beautifully interacting with the brain”.

Religious people don’t need drugs though. They seem to get their mystical experiences through prayer, meditation, fasting and engagement with the powerful symbols and artifacts of their religion, with poetry and music, sacred spaces and magical rites, smells and bells and stained glass windows. A naturalist would say, “what else is happening but religion beautifully interacting with the brain?”

For naturalists, religion itself is one great “comforting delusion”. The mystical psychedelic experience is just an extension of the general delusion. From a purely metaphysical point of view, however, the naturalist “God Delusion” claim is unverifiable and unfalsifiable. It isn’t a scientific claim, but a philosophical one. And, as I pointed out in my previous blog, Comforting Delusions, naturalism is far from a philosophically unassailable position. In fact, it has run into a whole host of internal contradictions and logical inconsistencies, making it currently the weakest metaphysical option on offer. David Bentley Hart even goes so far as to call it a “philosophy of the absurd”:

“Naturalism, as I have said repeatedly, is a philosophy of the absurd, of the just-there-ness of what is certainly by its nature a contingent reality; is it, simply enough, an absurd philosophy. As I have also said, however, there is a certain circularity in that claim, inasmuch as naturalism, if it is true, renders all reason debile; so it is possible to believe that what has the appearance of absurdity may in fact be the reality of things, even if one cannot consistently act upon that belief, or even conceive  what it would mean. I at least, am willing to grant naturalism its proper dignity as a kind of pure, unreasoning faith: absolute fidelity to an absolute paradox. Theism has nothing magnificently wild and rhapsodically anarchic to offer; the faith it supports depends at some point upon a consistent set of logical intuitions, and so lacks the sheer intellectual brio of that sort of madly, romantically adventurous absurdism. In a few of my more purely passionate moments I find myself a little envious of materialism’s casual audacity and happy barbarism.”

In any case, the typical naturalist claim that psychedelic mystical experiences don’t count because they are nothing but “the drug beautifully interacting with the brain” is also unverifiable and unfalsifiable. An equally possible explanation is that the drug opens a channel whereby some portion of the “divine” beautifully interacts with the brain. And this is much closer to how it actually feels.

The same can be said of all spiritual disciplines and techniques. Prayer doesn’t “beautifully interact with the brain”, but opens a space within which the devotee can commune with their God, with the transpersonal “spirit” beyond the usual limits of the mind. Psychedelics, like prayer, meditation or yoga, especially when taken in a spirit of piety and devotion, are about opening channels of communication between worlds:

“Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Isaiah 40:3

If you think it’s more like creating beautiful colours by mixing reactive chemicals in a test tube, you have a severely limited understanding of the extraordinary potential of these sacred plant medicines. You will be unlikely to make straight a highway for God, and your naturalist worldview will end up being self-confirming. This is why, as I argue in a previous blog, naturalists don’t get high.

Remember God

Remember God.

Not just the Sky God,

The Otherworldly God,

The Transcendent God,

The “Christian” God.

Remember God.

Remember the One,

All and Everything;

Not just Parashiva,

But Shiva and Shakti also;

Not just the Father,

But the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Remember God.

Practice the presence of God;

Practice Self remembering;

Practice mindfulness,

Practice Zen.

A theory of God is next to useless –

It’s the practice that matters.

Remember God.

Remember the One God,

The Lord Almighty;

Remember the Threefold God,

Parashiva, Shiva, Shakti;

Remember the Sevenfold God,

Amun, Ra, Atum, Ka, Ba, Gaia, Jah.

Remember God.

All the time.

Open Individualism

Open individualism is the view in the philosophy of self, according to which there exists only one numerically identical subject, who is everyone at all times.

The theory has been rigorously tested using the DMT vape method and confirmed to be true beyond all reasonable doubt.

Why Naturalists Don’t Get High

In the recent Vice interview with the naturalist Australian philosopher Chris Letheby, Do Psychedelic Just Provide Comforting Delusions?, Dr Letheby wonders whether a better predictor for the benefits of psychedelics is not the much-touted mystical experiences that commonly accompany high dosage trips, but the psychological insights:

“These [studies] find another construct predicting the lasting benefits more strongly than the construct of a mystical type experience—and this is the construct of psychological insight. When you look at it, it is all about changes to what they call the narrative self, changes to people’s self conception, the autobiographical sense of who they are and what matters to them and what’s happening in their life.”

From a naturalist point of view, the only real value in introspection is to adjust out inner “predictive models” of the world so that they more accurately reflect “objective reality”. The most realistic and effective psychotherapeutic approach is therefore naturally considered to be some form of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Unhelpful and unhealthy self-beliefs are challenged and replaced with more positive and pro-social ones. CBT psychotherapists basically help us challenge our limiting beliefs and destructive behaviours and re-write our badly written life-scripts.

This will necessarily involve compelling psychological insights that are felt to be meaningful and factually true. As Letheby says, “some of these psychological insights definitely do have the appearance of learning new facts. “I learned that my depression is due to these unhealthy emotional habits that resulted from this experience in my childhood.” Or, “I realized that the reason I keep failing in my relationships is because I’m self sabotaging myself because of this deep seated belief about who I am.””

It seems that these insights arise spontaneously under the influence of psychedelics. But where do they come from? One intriguing hypothesis put forward by the neuroscientist Andrew Smith is that it is on the return to our normal base level from a higher state of consciousness that we gain these insights and information, which are somehow associated with the release of accumulated mental energy. He discusses this phenomenon in the context of meditation, but it clearly also applies to the psychedelic experience. The prediction is that the higher you go, the “deeper” your meditation, the more powerful the insights will be on your return. Whatever the reason for this is, the fact is easily verifiable through personal experiment.

In this view, psychological insight is clearly correlated with mystical experience, whether accessed through meditation, prayer, psychedelics or any other introspective “spiritual” practice. Which is not to say that it is not possible to have psychological insights without mystical experiences, of course, as CBT attests. However, the quality and “noetic force” (truth value) of these non-mystical insights appears to be inferior and weaker than those arising from mystical experiences. So there seems to be something of vital importance about “getting high”.

In the interview, Dr Letheby also discusses the possibility of extracting the non-psychedelic ingredients from compounds such as psilocybin, which might somehow cure mental health conditions such as depression without any experiential element whatsoever. “It certainly is conceivable that out of these experiments, lo and behold, someone will come up with a molecular variant of psilocybin that has exactly the same therapeutic potential, but none of the altered state of consciousness.”

Naturalists welcome the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. But imagine if we could produce the psychological insights without the mystical experiences! Wouldn’t that be great? But wait, imagine if we could get the therapeutic effects without the psychological insights! Wouldn’t that be even better? In other words, if only we could find the right mechanism, we could fix broken people like we fix broken machines. This is the logic of Naturalism, which is suspicious of messy, unquantifiable, airy-fairy mental phenomena and would rather stick within the materialist, mechanistic frame of reference. In terms of the traditional “Great Chain of Being”, Naturalism naturally gravitates to the lowest links of the chain.

The famous line in the Catholic Mass, “hosanna in excelsis”, means something like “praise to the highest” or alternatively, “I believe in the highest”. This exclamatory phrase is actually short for “praise to the highest heaven”. What is “the highest heaven”? If we’re talking mysticism, this must mean something like “the highest state of consciousness”. Surely everyone (including naturalists) know by now that “the kingdom of heaven is within”. When Saint Paul was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12), for example, he was talking about an inner state of consciousness, not first century space travel.

There is unsurprisingly no clear consensus in any spiritual tradition, East or West, about which is the “highest heaven”. It is often referred to as the seventh heaven, but that may just be convention (seven is considered to be a magic number plus seven rhymes with heaven!) Andrés Gómez identifies six levels of the DMT experience, the highest of which is “Amnesia”. Usually, however, the highest heaven is characterised by an essential unity. In the West, this is expressed as “One God” or “One Love”. All other “heavens” are considered to flow down from the One. (If you are at all familiar with ancient philosophy, you will recognise that this vision is at the heart of Neoplatonism).

However much DMT you smoke, you cannot go higher than “the highest”, the One. If you do reach the One, however, you will no longer be able to call yourself a naturalist, because you will have “seen God”. But can naturalists even get that high? Can they reach “the highest”? Without “hosanna”? That is, without belief? Without faith? It may happen on occasion, but even if it does, it is easily rationalised away, especially be trained philosophers.

Naturalists don’t generally get very high on psychedelics, however much they take. Some of them, the psychedelic hedonists (the William Burroughs and Hunter S. Thomson types) will get royally “loaded”, but not really “high”. Other, more sober types, may get some visuals and some useful psychological insights into their childhoods or their emotional habits or limiting self-beliefs, but that’s probably about it. Once the limiting belief of naturalism itself is questioned and abandoned, however, then, and only then, will the gates of heaven be opened unto them.

Comforting Delusions

In a new book, Philosophy of Psychedelics, philosopher Chris Letheby explores the possibility that the mystical experiences reported by people on psychedelics are simply “comforting delusions”. Just because they are strongly correlated with improvements in mental health conditions doesn’t make them true. The same can be said for people who hold religious beliefs. The fact that they are generally happier and healthier doesn’t mean that God exists, although it might suggest that belief in God has some evolutionary survival value.

Chris Letheby is a naturalist, and he is arguing from a position where naturalism is taken for granted. What is “naturalism”? It’s really just another word for materialism:

“It’s a view that says the natural world, the world studied by the sciences, is the only world there is. …

… reality is made of ultimately “non-minded” things like atoms and subatomic particles, and minds are something relatively recent and complex that gets built out of stuff that is ultimately non-minded.”

(From a recent interview with Shayla Love, Do Psychedelics Just Provide Comforting Delusions?)

In the Vice interview from which these quotes are taken, he mentions some alternative philosophical positions to the naturalist/materialist one, such as panpsychism and idealism, but doesn’t seem to allow for the possibility that they might actually be right. Apparently, the issue is pretty much settled:

“I think it’s probably true that most philosophers today consider themselves naturalists in this sense—and I think there are good arguments in support of this kind of view of the world.”

Naturally, there are good arguments in support of naturalism. But there are also good arguments against it. One perennial problem is precisely the problem of consciousness and minds. How can minds be “built out of stuff that is ultimately non-minded”? The only two options open to materialists are “emergentism” and “eliminativism”: either consciousness is somehow an emergent property of matter, or it doesn’t actually exist at all – it’s just an “illusion” created by the brain.

Letheby says that “naturalism, like everything in philosophy, is hard to define precisely, but it’s very easy to get an intuitive grasp on.” Once you see the philosophical implications of naturalism, however, it’s also very easy to intuitively grasp that it doesn’t make sense. Intuitively, it is clear that eliminativism is probably “the silliest claim ever made”, as philosopher Galen Strawson put it. And it doesn’t take much thought to see how the emergentist claim is just as philosophically problematic. How could any amount of complexly arranged non-minded stuff magically produce consciousness (unless you believe in magic)?

It may be true that most philosophers consider themselves naturalists. Does this mean naturalism is true though? Letheby is arguing that just because most psychonauts consider some form of mysticism to be true, it could be just a “comforting delusion”. But the same could be said of philosophical naturalists. Maybe they find naturalism comforting. After all, an indifferent universe that doesn’t care two hoots what you get up to is in itself quite comforting. There will be no final reckoning and no divine judgment – just cool nothingness. In any case, philosophical trends and fashions change all the time. There are philosophical golden ages and philosophical dark ages. And who’s to say that contemporary philosophy isn’t at a particularly low nadir of scientistic ignorance?

Be that as it may, there are important contemporary philosophers who make strong arguments against the materialist “consensus”. You will find a smattering of these here (as you may have noticed, I’m a sucker for the number seven!):

The Waning of Materialism by Robert Coons and George Bealer, ed.;

Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False by Thomas Nagel;

The Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind behind the Universe by Stephen Meyer;

Why Materialism Is Baloney: How True Skeptics Know There Is No Death and Fathom Answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything by Bernardo Kastrup;

Knowledge of God by Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley;

The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by David Bentley Hart;

Consciousness and Fundamental Reality by Philip Goff.

A crucial internal contraction reductive materialists (or “radical emergentists”) must grapple with is the contradiction between the two statements, “the natural world, the world studied by the sciences, is the only world there is” and “minds are something relatively recent and complex that gets built out of stuff that is ultimately non-minded”. How can minds be admitted to be real (even if they ultimately derive from non-minded particles) if they cannot be studied by the sciences?

Minds obviously can’t be studied by the natural sciences (you can’t see a mind with a microscope) but they can be studied by the phenomenological sciences, including psychedelic-assisted phenomenology. As Stanislav Grof said, “the potential significance of LSD and other psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology are comparable to the value the microscope has for biology or the telescope has for astronomy.”

If this is the case, then the mystical claims of people undergoing psychedelic experiences should be taken seriously. Once we admit that minds and consciousness are ontologically real, we are no longer tied to the scientistic worldview which insists that the world studied by the physical sciences is the only world there is. Hopefully, psychedelics can begin to loosen the stranglehold of this limiting materialist ideology on the minds of the mind-deniers and mind-skeptics, including the minds of philosophers like Chris Letheby.

The Ex-Matrix Psychedelic Training Schedule

In the last blog, I laid out the principles and procedures for Ex-Matrix Psychedelic Training. Here I would like to outline the time schedule. In contrast to commonly practiced psychedelic trips, whether in recreational, clinical or even ceremonial contexts, this approach follows a strict routine, which requires a certain amount of discipline. The idea is not to just go with the flow and see what happens, but to channel the altered psychedelic state in a focused and constructive direction.

A session takes around five hours from start to finish. It proceeds through the following stages, following ingestion:

  1. Meditation (one hour)
  2. Musically Guided Shamanic Journey (one hour)
  3. Movement Meditation (half an hour)
  4. Silent Meditation (half an hour)
  5. Dance Meditation (half an hour)
  6. Devotional Music Meditation (one hour)
  7. Sharing Circle (half an hour)

These seven stages follow the archetype sequence:

  1. Mystic
  2. Shaman
  3. Warrior
  4. Monk
  5. Warrior
  6. Monk
  7. Philosopher

They can be described poetically as follows:

  1. Entering the Cloud of Forgetting
  2. Entering the Dragon
  3. Shadow Sparring
  4. Mountain Sitting
  5. Dancing with the Dead
  6. Soaring Angelic
  7. Walking with Plato

Ex-Matrix Psychedelic Training

We are all in the Matrix. What I mean by this is that we all inhabit a mental world of abstract concepts populated by hundreds of people we know and hundreds if not thousands of people we have never met. When we read or listen to the radio or watch anything on TV or the Internet, we are in the Matrix. When we go for coffee with friends, we are in the Matrix. This is the social-mental air we breathe, the social-mental cappuccinos we drink. This is what human minds do. Some would say, this is what human minds are for. We are enmeshed in social networks, and our individual minds are nodes in the Matrix.

Even when we are moaning about the Matrix, we are still in it. Yesterday I had a good moan about Woke Capitalism on an American podcast called Out of the Blank. Another day I might moan about people who moan about Woke Capitalism. There are real consequences to the ideas thrashed out in the Cultural War of course, but what goes on in the Matrix stays in the Matrix.

There is a way out for those who want a way out, however. It’s deceptively simple: just forget about it!

How do you forget? By entering a “cloud of forgetting”. How do you do that? By meditating and/or by taking a decent dose of any classic psychedelic.

This is “the portal of non-existence”. It leads to a whole other way of being outside the Matrix. If you are fond of cliches, you might say that you “lose your mind and come to your senses”.

So, for brevity’s sake, here is the order of events in Ex-Matrix Psychedelic Training:

  1. Forgetting Everything
  2. Entering the Dragon
  3. Shadow Sparring
  4. Mountain Sitting
  5. Dancing with the Dead
  6. Soaring Angelic
  7. Walking with Plato
  8. Commanding the Seas

These stages are associated with the six archetypes on the six-pointed cross. The first stage is associated with the Mystic. The second stage is associated with the Shaman. With the aid of plant medicines and deep shamanic music, you “enter the dragon” of your own body. If you have been there, you will know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, you will struggle to imagine it, because there is no analogy in non-psychedelic consciousness.

The third stage is associated with the Warrior. Like Bruce Lee, once we have entered the dragon, we can fight with laser-like focus: “the successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus”. In this stage, we perform an improvised Kata, that is, a flowing sequence of martial arts forms. As Bruce Lee said, “water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

The fourth stage is associated with the Monk (or Nun). This is the practice of Shikantaza, or “just sitting”. Ideally in lotus or half-lotus position, you sit quietly as silent and immovable as a mountain. “When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. Above all don’t wobble!”

The fifth stage revisits the Warrior, this time with music and dance. Traditional shamanic dance connects us with our ancestors, so that we are dancing with the dead as well as the living. It is a warrior dance, powerful and grounded. Andean music and Dub Reggae work particularly well for this type of dance.

The sixth stage revisits the Monk (or Nun), again with the addition of music, this time devotional or sacred music. Any tradition is fine, although I find that Western Art Music generally, and especially Christian settings and choral works by composers such as Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Faure, etc. reach the highest peaks of sublimity.

The seventh stage is associated with the Philosopher. This involves the practice of “dialogos”, which is all about putting things into words and communicating your experiences and insights with somebody else. This is the essence of the talking therapies, particularly the humanistic and transpersonal psychotherapies. Only by formulating and articulating our inchoate feelings and intuitions can we begin to organise and integrate them. This stage is what is commonly known as the “processing” stage in psychedelic circles.

The final stage is associated with the King (or Queen). This stage is about manifesting your “divinely sanctioned” authority. To truly understand what this means in practice, however, must await mastery of the previous seven stages.

Queering Psychedelics?

The Swinging Sixties was all about sex, drugs and rock and roll. After the horrors of the Second World War and the rationing and dour conservatism of the straight-laced Fifties, it was time to party. And LSD was the heart and soul of the party. It turned the people on and tuned them in to the groovy sounds of the Beatles and the Stones and even got some of them to drop out.

There were casualties of course, as Alan Ginsberg noted in his epic poem Howl:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…”

But there was no stopping the Children of the Revolution. They had seen Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and awakened their Flower Power. They had smashed their Mind-forg’d Manacles and ushered in the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. There would make Love not War and would spread the Free Love to everyone under the California Sun.

Psychedelics do that to people. And now we know how. By inhibiting the Default Mode Network in the brain, they loosen the hold of the ego and allow all sorts of new and novel connections to be made. By deconstructing established patterns and habits, they increase openness and creativity, so that it becomes possible to restructure the personality and even society.

In the Sixties, people in Britain, Europe and America needed to let their hair down. And they needed to get high and get laid. The psychologists, still under the sway of Freud, gave their blessing to the Sexual Revolution and the Summer of Love. And then, with the Stonewall riots of 1969, Gay Pride was born. Now the love that dare not speak its name was shouted from the rooftops, “and [they] saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated, … or purgatoried their torsos night after night / with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls”.

Ginsberg’s poem is anachronistically bleak. Wasn’t the Sixties all Sweetness and Light and Orange Sunshine? Wasn’t it a beautiful dream, rather than a “waking nightmare”? As always, probably a bit of both, probably somewhere in the middle, probably six of one and half a dozen of the other.

In any case, the real or perceived threat of the Sixties Counterculture to the traditional American way of life prompted Nixon to brand LSD Enemy Number One and declare a War on Drugs, which was to last for decades.

Now we are witnessing the dawning of a new Psychedelic Renaissance. So should we expect a rerun of the Swinging Sixties? Do we just carry on from where we left off? Yesterday I was invited to a symposium organised by the Chacruna Institute called Queering Psychedelics. They declared: “We honor Black trans women––revolutionaries like Marsha P. Johnson––and the many queer protestors and advocates who today, continue to fight for our rights. Chacruna is proud to be queer!”

For Chacruna, it would seem that the role of psychedelics is intimately connected with Social Justice and gender fluidity. The Civil Rights activism of the Sixties needs to be taken further so that all oppressive social structures are progressively dismantled. The deconstructive effects of psychedelics can be usefully employed in service of this Progressive Liberationist project. This time around, though, hopefully they will be able to avoid the “waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls”.

The Psychedelic Renaissance of the 2020’s is focused primarily on medical research and clinical trials. The great hope is that psychedelics may be able to successfully treat and perhaps even cure seemingly intractable mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and addiction. Doctors and psychiatrists consider them to be potentially powerful medicines, which if administered carefully and sensibly, could revolutionize our approach to mental health.

Chacruna also clearly sees psychedelics as medicine. However, as well as the presenting issues of people’s specific psychological conditions, they also diagnose a deeper sickness in society which may even be the cause of these. This sickness is identified as the same as that social sickness challenged by the Civil Rights Movements in the 1960’s, namely, Institutional Racism, Sexism and Homophobia. Except that now it must extend to all marginal groups, including all those under the LGBT2QIA+ umbrella.

Well, well! It seems that psychedelics have landed bang in the middle of a Culture War! The clinicians will try to steer clear, keep a professional distance and remain scientifically neutral. They will want to dispense the drugs and cure people without having to dirty their hands. They will want to ignore the possible underlying cultural causes and stick to the symptoms. They will want to stay away from “politics”.

In the meantime, the two sides of the Culture War will want to deal with the underlying “social sickness”. Except that they disagree profoundly about what the sickness is. Chacruna seems to think that the social sickness is still some variation of straight-laced Fifties conservatism. The antidote is therefore even more freedom, more fluidity, more “liquid modernity”.

As a rough test of this hypothesis, we might compare the mental health of freedom-loving liberals and freedom-wary conservatives:

“White liberals are more prone to mental health disorders than individuals who identify as conservative or moderates, according to a Pew Research Center survey. 

Sixty-two percent of Whites who classify themselves as “very liberal” or “liberal” have been told by a doctor they have a mental health condition, as compared to 26% of conservatives and 20% of moderates, the study found. 

Young White people who identified as “very liberal” were almost one and a half times more likely to report mental health problems than those who considered themselves “liberal.””

The Washington Times, April 22, 2021

So if “very liberals” are one and a half times more likely to report mental health problems than “liberals”, who are three times more likely to report mental health problems than “moderates”, should we really be pushing hyper-liberal progressivism on the psychedelic community?

What about mental health in the LGBTQ+ community? Well, according to the NHS Foundation Trust,

“It has been consistently reported that in the UK, the LGBTQ+ community may experience increased levels of common mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. According to a research project conducted by Youth Chances, 52% of LGBTQ people reported self-harming, compared to 35% of heterosexual non-trans young people. Furthermore, 44% of the LGBTQ people reported suicidal thoughts, compared to 26% of heterosexual non-trans respondents.  In a study by Stonewall, it was also found that 13% of LGBT people aged 18-24 attempted to take their own life in the past year.”

Social conditions are clearly very different today than they were in the 1950’s and 60’s. Could it really be the case that the higher incidence of mental health problems among liberal and LGBTQ+ people are the result of social disapprobation and persecution? This is not the 50’s. Mental health issues are much more likely to be associated with the inner chaos of people’s lives than any external oppressive social order, particularly in progressive areas such as Buffalo and Portland in the US or Oxford and Brighton in the UK.

When gringos travel to Peru and Brazil for healing, what do the traditional indigenous curanderos make of them I wonder? What does Madre Ayahuasca make of them? And when they purge, what is the psychic poison they are vomiting up composed of? Is it the “phobic sins” (transphobia, homophobia, etc.) or is it the traditional vices (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride)?

Progressives would say the former; conservatives the latter. What would the shamans say?

In shamanic cultures, spiritual healing involves physical, emotional and mental healing. It involves sexual healing and moral healing. And all of this healing requires purification. This has nothing to do with “progress” and everything to do with repentance, contrition and amendment of life. As G.K. Chesterton said, “The false theory of progress maintains that we alter the test instead of trying to pass it.” But there is no fooling Madre Ayahuasca.

Shamanism is no different from major world religions such as Christianity in its emphasis on straightening yourself out and making the crooked straight. As the prophet Isaiah said, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Shamanism isn’t interested in Queer Theory or Kink Theory. And it certainly isn’t interested in “Queering” or “Kinking” psychedelics. In the traditional shamanic worldview, purity and impurity, sanctity and profanity, are not just arbitrary social constructs for the maintenance of hegemonic power structures. They are necessary lines we must draw if we want to get straight with God.

In our post-Christian world, quoting from Scripture can count against you rather than for you. But I’ll do it anyway:

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Corinthians 6 : 18-20