Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Psychedelic HEALING? What's it mean?
Looking at things practically, if say someone wants to take psychedelics for healing, first where would you go? What do we mean by 'healing'? What do you mean by healing? Is your meaning of healing different than mine?
Can we trust ourselves to heal ourselves, or must we depend on a 'professional' to help us? I am exploring this...
I have no idea how much the cost would be for psychedelic psychotherapy. We know that therapists usually charge by the hour, and it aint cheap, so, for example, how much would an eight hour session cost?! Especially if the 'promise' was a swift resolving of a 'mental disorder' one has had for a long time.
I do not trust the business of 'mental health' as those who have read my posts up to now will realize, and if psychedelic therapies are going to expand, and the pharmaceutical companies calculate the revenue they will lose because of 'cures', and people not having to be on their ordinary drugs for long periods, would the 'psychedelic quick cures' cost an arm and a leg to make up for that?
I have researched about psychedelic therapies in the 1960s, but have never come across how much the sessions cost. Though most likely for incarcerated 'patients', in 1950s, and 1960s 'mental hospitals', they would have been 'free'.
Anyway, regardless, the question remains: who is in charge of psychedelic healing? The psychiatrists? And do we, must we, wait with baited breath for this so-called 'resurgence' of psychedelic therapies to hit our neck of the woods, and from there hope it wouldn't put us in lifelong financial debt to have long awaited therapeutic sessions, or do we now explore how we ourselves might create healing possibilities within our communities that are relatively free, and open for all people who are serious?
I am aware, of course, that many people have been so-called recreationally Tripping with psychedelics since the '60s. And some call themselves 'psychonauts'. I have nothing against that. But if recreational, and all of a sudden deep traumatic memories come up, what then? I mean who wants to spoil a party? What if there is no support? I have experienced this:
I remember, a friend and I had picked fresh Liberty Caps in a field, and eat them, and went to my home. He had some music that was a surprise (quite powerful when you don't expect the music), and we had started the psychedelic Trip painting on canvas with oils, careful not to smear it all over the furniture etc!... Painting and drawing and listening to music can really inspire imagination.
When he put this surprise music on, I shut my eyes and I was flying through very dark deepest velvet black space, and round about were massive coils which were like a serpent's body, the skin scales, the colours of which were the deepest changing chthonic hues, constantly alive vibrating colours.
As I flew through these serpent coils, I began to notice little beings in really strange bright-coloured clothes playing hide and seek behind the coils. The faeries, the duende (the 'duende' is a Mazatec term for the spirits of the magic mushrooms and translates into English as "supernatural dwarves"). I sensed they were mischievous, humerous, very intelligent, and were kind of guiding my experience.
All of this was going on during the painting session, having stopped with eyes shut, but when I half opened eyes, I was in the room again, yet if I closed my eyes, I was flying in that amazing vision. Weird!
Anyway, the music changed, and the track was now playing a very eerie-sounding tune. It was electronic music, and part of the sounds were reminiscent of birds singing backwards. Suddenly the vision I am having of flying through these huge coils changes into flying, and being sucked into, engulfed by, a slow dreadful turning, mandala-like, whirlpool that was composed of dead staring-eyed bodies. The kinds of bodies you would see in the awful footage of Nazi concentration camps where they were just a mass of emaciated rotting flesh and bones, where you can not see where one leg or arm begins and ends! And this deeply real feeling of being sucked into this dreadful vision also seemed timeless. Then as this vision began to seemingly engulf me, I started feeling a sensation of cold dead flesh.
This vision was so dreadful,and frightening, that I began to sweat and I opened my eyes wide in shock. I had by now moved from the table we had been painting to sit on the sofa, also feeling nauseous bodily sensations, not letting on to my friend what was going on with me, and that I was actually freaking out. I stood up and quickly turned the music sound right down to the surprise of my friend, saying "It is too sad!"
With my eyes now fully open, the room was alive and particles of different coloured lights seemed to be shooting from the walls, and all the material of the room. I was still kind of freaking, because I was aware of that vision still inside going on inside me, so I managed to get to the front door of the house and opened it, knelt down, and tried to calm myself looking at the evening blue sky through the branches of the tree in the garden. Soon I became calm, and I enjoyed the rest of my Trip though keeping eyes mostly open!
That is a good example of what I am meaning. I was intending to have a 'recreational' Trip with my friend, but the set&setting was wrong for providing the needed support, and inspiration, and encouragement, to explore the dynamic process of flowing emotional energies which included this 'hellish' vision. To allow the flow of its contents. It is allowing the flow of energy, especially blocked energies, that is the major healing potential of psychedelics, and should be encouraged not suppressed. But in recreational tripping this will usually be suppressed because you do not have support, and/or do not want to be exposed to friends, and 'spoil the 'fun'!
This video below is an excellent lesson of what to do if you or a friend are going through a 'bad' psychedelic experience ...!
Working with difficult psychedelic experiences
What do I mean by psychedelic healing?
This is a very big question for me. And the exploration of it involves a deep look at what I mean by freedom. First of all being able to choose psychedelic healing if I so wish, and have support by whomever I choose, and to be the one who chooses what I mean by freedom. I agree with Thomas Szasz that there can be no coercion in a relationship between a therapist/healer/supporter and the person choosing that support, otherwise we are into the same oppression of the mental illness myth 'game', (and the 'holy man/guru' game), where the psychiatrist/therapist/supporter dictates what is acceptable normal behaviour, and that they are a role model for that image of 'normalcy'.
I like to look at the etymology of terms that are very relevant to what I am exploring. Here is etymology of HEALTH: "
O.E. hælþ "wholeness, a being whole, sound or well," from PIE *kailo- "whole, uninjured, of good omen" (cf. O.E. hal "hale, whole;" O.N. heill "healthy;" O.E. halig, O.N. helge "holy, sacred;" O.E. hælan "to heal"). Healthy is first attested 1552.
"Wholeness, a being whole, sound or well"
That is sounding like what I mean. Surely 'whole' means not feeling alienated from how one feels, one's organism, actions, and nature, and animals~~'nature' being the air, trees, soil, water, plants, etc, and other human beings who share your nature.
I remember some years back attending a party. Someone had given a young lad who was about 15 years old a psychedelic. And as his Trip started coming up, this usually shy boy who never really spoke of 'big issues' began asking all these questions such as, "why is there war, and so much destruction and suffering in the world", etc. You could sense he was very upset about it. But yet again, the set&setting was not exceptional -- as it always should be -- so any issues he was exploring would have been suppressed, and the true healing potential, of his first psychedelic experience, lost.
We need space to explore all our feelings, thoughts, emotions, bodily expressions and imagination freely, without any fear of coercion, seeming weird, or being judged
Like indigenous people have known since primordial times, psychedelics are a sacred medicine, and thus the greatest respect is afforded them, and their healing role for the community. We should now realize this, and take responsiblity to not only use psychedelics with the same respect, but also be prepared to be there for those who might need our support when they choose to have psychedelic healing.
Modern westerners do not have to try and pretend to be practitioners of ancient, and indigenous cultures, regarding psychedelic healing rituals. In fact many indigenous people resent the 'plastic shamans'--basically people, usually westerners, not native to their cultures, and traditions, who pretend to know their ways. We need our own ways. And diverse ways, but always mature, and responsible. In order to understand the ultimate serious potential of psychedelic healing.
This next video is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen to do with the huge misunderstanding between the western mindset, and indigenous cultural traditions. The speaker, Jeronimo, explains in depth, how westerners have idealized the indigenous peoples as the 'noble savage', and the 'curanderos' and 'shamans' and 'medicine man', as 'supermen', and in some cases how westerners actually take on the roles they have idealized, pretending to be native American, and/or shamanic pracitioners, medicine men, and so on, not realizing the ignore-ance, and absurdity, they are doing, and the offense they cause to the indigenous peoples, and cultures, they appropriate from.
These mimikers are often known as 'plastic shamans'!
Idealizing indigenous people, and healers, denies them of their humanity, and their sharing same human nature with us.
Jerónimo M. M. who is speaking, from great experience, in the video, says how many westerners' problems is they are empty and want to take what they lack regardless of the consequences, and urges us that when we go into others cultures, and traditions, homes, to 'walk on tiptoe'
Jerónimo M. Munõz
Ayahuasca and the gringos
The Clash between western psychonauts and traditional practitioners
3rd Amazoninian Shamanism
Conference - Iquitos, 2007