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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Church of Nothingness

Listened to a radio doc yesterday that described the ritual use of psychedelic drugs by different Native American tribes in Canada and the US. Psychiatrists who studied the effects of drugs like peyote on natives especially with alcohol or other substance abuse problems found that while taking peyote regularly under ritual circumstances, drug addicts had no need for (nor withdrawal symptoms from) their other drugs of choice (including nicotine). No rigourous long-term clinical trials have been undertaken, but preliminary results do not indicate negative health effects from taking the peyote.

The elders interviewed described the origins of peyote and how it came to be given to humans as a medicine. They said that it was revealed to them hundreds and thousands of years ago by the peyote plant itself, and that upon taking it, a direct connection between the body and the plant world (and by extension, the universe itself) was established. In those who have lost their self-identity through psychological or "cultural" trauma (such as that experienced by many Native Americans since the European colonization of North America), peyote uncovers previously hidden ancestral 'memories' of who they are and where they came from (one hypothesis suggests that peyote unlocks information encoded into the DNA and brings it forward to our conscious awareness). This knowledge that the peyote uncovers helps psychologically wounded and depressed Native Americans to return to themselves and their culture, and generally to attain a sense of peace and well-being.

I don't doubt the positive effects of peyote on those for whom the drug is intended, but I can't imagine it being effective for me (I don't suffer from those particular symptoms anyway). From a purely personal standpoint, I wouldn't be able to support that practice in my own life because it seems to place so much importance on the medicine itself as a means to enlightenment. Sounds too much like a panacea to me; like a cure-all for all of one's psychological and spiritual problems.

I experience the world (even including my own perceptions) through the eyes and psychology of the person in whose body and soul I currently reside. The world exists in its many facets and colours regardless of my own perceptions of it; as such, I can't say that there's ever anything "wrong" with anything: not with me, nor with the world. There's no particular practice or ritual I can ascribe to this understanding or lifestyle, either. The world is, and stuff happens in the world, and none of it affects the "me" except materially. "No thing" affects "me". No thing exists. I am OM. I am.