Entheogens and Psychedelics

Dear Molly, 

I have recently been getting into ceremonial use of entheogens and find myself becoming increasingly annoyed with how I see these medicines being used. I am ashamed that I have used them for as anything other than for sacred healing but don’t know how to explain this to my friends who I feel still don’t get it. What should I do? 

-Sacred Medicines

Greetings Sacred, 

I am so glad to hear that you have discovered another way in which to use what you have called entheogens (meaning literally the god within). If we look throughout cultures, time, and different types of life we can see that entheogens or psychedelics are commonplace for ritual, initiation, healing, convening with deities, and for fun. The Achuar of the Amazon use the amazonian brew ayahuasca for initiation into adulthood. When a young boy or girl is around 11, they ingest the brew alone or with a few other kids of the same gender to signify the end of childhood. Dolphins group together and pass around an angry pufferfish that releases a poison that produces a psychedelic effect. Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic from West Africa used for showing a young adult their life’s path and has been known to aid in heroin addiction. So, as you can see there are many ways to utilize psychoactive substances. They can be entheogens for experiencing God, they can be psychedelics for healing trauma, or they can be drugs used for stamina and ecstatic experience at an all night dance party. The thing I have come to see is that there is no right way. However, you bring up a relevant observation on seeing how you have only focused on one way of utilizing entheogens. The overuse of psychedelics as a solely recreational drug has caused detrimental impacts in your time. Research is difficult to get approved and the social perception of psychoactive substances is typically viewed as shameful and bad. Now that you have discovered how healing and sacred these medicines are, it is natural to change your relationship to them. However, dearest writer, do not feel shame around your previous use or externalize your shame by placing judgement on your friends. You are simply learning. Everyone in your generation, in your culture, in your time are finally starting to receive the education they need to make intelligent and conscious choices around these medicines. The greatest thing you can do is to be an ally and support your friends in their choices. You can share with them your knowledge and introduce them to the gamut of possibilities for exploring consciousness with entheogens.  

With love, 

Molly