Shamanism — Food for Thought

Shamanism as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary: a religion practiced by indigenous peoples of far northern Europe and Siberia that is characterized by belief in an unseen world of gods, demons, and ancestral spirits responsive only to the shamans.

To me, shamanism suggests an affinity for working with plants and other consumable materials, chemistry. This could be psychoactive substances like alcohol and multivitamins to salads, hamburgers, and Cheerios. Strangely, many people believe that only things labeled as “drugs” are going to have an influence over them and their diet is relatively harmless but these things are certainly being questioned more frequently with many going as far as to make food into a religion, which it is not (sorry not sorry). Once again I will state that restriction is causing us unneccary pain, there must be a steady growth and change, which is not going from eating whatever to an extremely restricted diet at the drop of a hat. The more you find balance in all areas of life, the better off you will be.

So we can consume things, in quite the variety of ways. We have macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins (and alcohol strangely enough)) which have calories and we have micronutrients which are things we still need but lack calories such as vitamins. We have medicines and drugs both from plants and made in labs (the chemicals in labs ultimately came from nature just the same).

Much like in other areas of life a concerningly large number of people are arguing over which chemicals are good and which ones are bad. It’s clear to me that everything has some kind of use though it’s not always known or clear what it is. Tools aren’t good or bad, they are just tools; When used improperly there is a kind of evil but the tool itself is not to be blamed for improper use. Need an example? Hurting someone with a chainsaw (happy Halloween!) is bad, using a chainsaw for trimming a tree you want trimmed is a fairly efficient use of your time, though the tree may disagree.

There’s a trend where the things that have a sympathetic relationship with society’s goals are favored and things that contradict it are demonized. Society has given us many things and it is it an entity in itself, playing the blame game will not be a very productive use of our time. Society isn’t perfect and it’s our responsibility to help it change for the better, so long as the pace doesn’t cause it to crumble from lack of structure (anarchy). You can see this game at play in politics. You have the people resisting change, and the people trying to change too fast and the politicians are more than happy to claim the power of representing them (which explains a lot of their behavior). I see the USA as a large entity and representative of the collective unconscious of the Americans. People would rather point fingers than realize that we are all responsible for what’s happening. Heal yourself to heal the world is what I say.

Anyways, while society has some decent influence over what you can and can’t consume, really, what a person needs is relative to that person. Think of the people with ADD; they can take strong stimulants which has a seemingly opposite effect in a person that does not have that particular imbalance. One person may do well with a high protein-diet, another with a high-fat diet. One person may live off of cheese a month or two out of the year while another is lactose intolerant and keeps eating cheese anyways to their own detriment. Diet is not, eat a,b,c,d and you’re done. It’s more like test how you feel with a,b,c…x,y,z and then periodically alter your diet as needed since it’s subject to change over time.

Chemicals potent enough to be considered a drug should be treated differently (even sugar and caffeine). The more potent a chemical is, the fewer number of people in the world will benefit from it since it lies on the far end of the bell curve. I’m sure meth can be useful for at least a few people in the world but for me, coffee is typically too strong so I wouldn’t even want to try it. Just like with food allergies, the wrong drug with the wrong person is going to have an unfavorable outcome, let’s not blame the tools for our ignorance.

If you consume something, you better believe it’s going to have some kind of effect, even if it’s hard to notice initially (or from a person’s blatant insensitivity). This game we are playing with artificial sweeteners is, therefore, a lie. While I believe that taking an artificial sweetener will not influence blood sugar in the same way as sugar; in my experience, all sweeteners can cause imbalance if used in excess, the area of influence for different sweeteners just shift. There’s a price for the abuse of any substance or food.

The consumption of any kind of matter will alter you in some way but there is a certain religious undertone or spirituality to some of the more potent substances out there and these have earned their own classification: “Entheogens”. While most people will be largely ignorant of the difference between the apple and an orange outside of taste, entheogens can be pretty aggressive in their ability to show you what they are about. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the psychedelic, which can produce full-blown visions in most people ranging from morphing geometries all the way to alien abduction… and more.

The experiences granted by entheogens are lessons, just as anything in life. They speak the language of symbols and are not the most straightforward of things to explain to another person. Just as with any other tool, people who wish to engage with entheogens must keep in mind what each is good for, and not so good for, thus it is important to keep some kind of record to help instill a proper understanding going forward. There are records of our ancestors using all sorts of psychoactive substances and it is only in recent times that all these strange restrictions have been put in place. Even if drugs are not the demons some people make them out to be, if you take drugs often (including prescribed medications), and you are imbalanced, it’s time to take a good hard look at your life. Chemicals are tools for change, not bandages to cover up some problem you don’t want to face, you are only delaying the inevitable and making it more dramatic in the long run (that includes you coffee fanatics and even the humble sugar addict).

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