The powers that be in this country have been battling mind altering substances for quite some time now. Even before publicly declaring war on drugs, the government took plenty of shots at most of the things that fall under that umbrella. Alcohol prohibition was short-lived in America, from most people’s standpoint; but it’s still going on in many parts of the nation, and no one shows any signs of changing things in those areas. Rumors abound concerning the relationships between illegal moonshiners and the local law enforcement, and how they may not have evolved any more than the laws have in those counties; but for the most part, alcohol is legal to purchase and drink in the United States. It has been for some time.
Other drugs have played their own vital role in the country’s history, and most of that use went pretty unchecked for a good while there. Cannabis and opium were available to early settlers in a variety of forms, and there were no rules against alcohol back in those days. In fact, fresh clean water was a precious commodity, and not always easy to get; many people drank some kind of watered down booze just to stay hydrated, or slurped weak beers and wines all day.
Back then, you could distill your own spirits in open daylight. Prohibition put the kibosh on that freedom, and drove home distillers into the darkness of illegality. Like I said before, we’re still in the grips of alcohol prohibition; it has simply changed form over the years. Anyone who wants to practice the same freedom as our founding fathers and distill their own booze today risks heavy fines and jail time.
If we go back even further, to before we took this land and called it a country, alcohol just wasn’t around. Even cannabis came from Europe, and opium from the far east; back in those days, the natives had to choose between what they could pick and eat or brew into a tea. Or smoke, although smoking was not as popular among native americans as Hollywood might lead us to believe. Basically, though…they had to turn to mother nature when it came time to alter their consciousness.
Indigenous people from all over the world have similar stories, and their spiritual traditions are often tightly wound around whatever substance the natural world offered them in the areas they frequented. In times of personal transition or bad hunting or unfavorable weather, the people in need would take these substances. They would have visions that turned them into better people or showed them where to hunt or seek shelter until the season turned. Or they would see fire and snakes, tigers and jaguars when they tripped. It all depends on the trip, and the reason for taking it.
We can laugh at these folks, as we sit on our cushioned couches and eat food harvested for us by someone we will never know; and I have to admit that I like me some civilization, and I can’t imagine shucking its lovely chains for a life of hunting and gathering. But we can’t deny that some people have come from that lifestyle to this one, and from this one to that. The natives that move to cities almost always go back, and assert that their life before was better even if they stay; but the ‘civilized’ people who live with natives for awhile almost never return to the city. They agree that it’s a better way to live, and that they’re happier; the trappings of modern life don’t appeal to them anymore, and they go native. Or they stay native, as the case may be.
I’m sure the lessons these folks learn go way beyond the freedom to use mind-altering substances, but some of those lessons can only be absorbed through that experience. Even if the tribe they are in uses psychedelics sparingly, as most tribes do, it only takes one decent dose of nature’s medicine for most people to see the truth behind this practice.
Psychedelics are a serious threat to a lot of things.
That sounds scary, when you put it that way; but let’s look at some of the things these substances are threatening, before we pass judgement.
They are a threat to post traumatic stress disorder, as they have been identified as a key ingredient in healing these people rapidly. Modern society may have a lot more trauma associated with it than indigenous life, unless the two interact; but life comes with trauma, for any feeling person. Psychedelics have been helping people get through this emotional molasses since the very beginning, without any harmful side effects or injury; the only thing that lasts is the healing.
They are a threat to old and tired thinking, and many people use them to regularly reset their consciousness in a healthy and responsible way. Even when we’re not traumatized, we still aren’t perfect. Nature clearly designed us to continue improving ourselves, since so many of us have a desire to do so. Also…all this stuff grows in the wild, where curious foragers were likely to find it. Either it was put there for a reason, or it wasn’t; but there are clearly reasons for denying access to these substances, even if the only apparent ones are clearly nefarious.
They are a threat to unhappiness. Nearly every person that uses psychedelics reports it changed them for the better, and the few studies allowed by law have proved it repeatedly. Spouses and friends are often shocked at the dramatic change they see in the people that go through these studies, and report that they like the new version of their loved one more than the old. Which is to say psychedelics are not just a threat to the unhappiness of the people using them; they’re also a threat to the unhappiness of those around them. But that’s not all.
They are a threat to racist and bigoted thoughts. Psychedelics bring a heightened perception of others, or at least a different view; and give people the chance to step outside of themselves in a unique and useful way. In short, they make people more compassionate than they were before. It’s kind of the same as the last one, which was pretty similar to the one before it; but by themselves each of these are good reasons to allow safe access. When we put them all together, they might bleed into each other a little; but they also result in individuals that are happy and clear and free of prejudice. Who doesn’t want that?
They are a threat to organized religion. Many users of psychedelics report clear communication with loving and caring entities, and more than a few say they met God. Whether they imagined the experience or stepped through some magic doorway, the lasting effects of even one such experience are measurably genuine. Experiences like this turn ordinary individuals into spiritual people, and give religious folks a more connected relationship with the very thing they’ve been worshipping. They may not leave their church behind; but they are likely to disengage from any practices that violate their new internal compass.
While psychedelics might not be a threat to gathering for spiritual purposes, they do threaten some of the practices we commonly associate with churches in this country; with more compassion for others, the next generation of these institutions could very well become what a lot of people used to think they were. All they have to do is make this ancient sacrament a part of their lives, as mystics in every spiritual tradition have done; and things could really take a good turn, while leaving all that dark baggage in the past for good.
Methylenedioxymethamphetamin, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide, ibogaine, ayahuasca, peyote, cannabis, mescaline, diethlytryptamine, and other completely natural substances are finally being tested in a few places in this country. Studies have shown them to be effective and permanent treatment for PTSD, depression, addiction, and a host of other issues that plague so many Americans. Under proper care, with monitored dosing and accompanying therapy, this could be a permanent solution to many conditions that are being treated rather than cured. If anything, modern society needs these natural solutions even more than indigenous tribes do; it can’t possibly be a coincidence, that we’ve gone to such great lengths to prohibit access by law. At some point, we have to ask…
Why are these substances illegal?
Plenty of people have theorized that a nation at war can not afford to have a strong culture of psychedelic users in its midst. If it can’t be avoided, you have to really go to great lengths to demonize natural substances that make people averse to violence. You’ve got to make sure these people aren’t taken seriously, the very folks that would be seen as the spiritual barometer for other cultures; and if you don’t think this country has spent a lot of money on anti-drug propaganda, you might do just a little research.
Or you could remember that there is an actual war on drugs, in our country; and that it started right around the time we were warned this would happen by a president disillusioned by the time he spent in office.
Any way you look at it, you can’t deny that Americans are not afforded the same access to mind altering substances as most of our civilized counterparts around the world. We might enjoy some wonderful freedoms in this country, but that isn’t one of them. It’s too bad, too; all the things they are a threat to kind of suck, in my opinion.
Thanks for reading!
All the best,