Part 2: Groomed by Planetary Intelligence…
Niles: What are the various modalities of shamanism? You mention medicines, why do you call these things medicines and what are the different ways that shamans work?
Rak: This is it. See, indigenous cultures around the world have understood that the earth secretes these many substances and food is a medicine and these psychoactive plants are a medicine because they connect us to a deeper understanding of what reality really is.
It’s only from the 19th century or so that we’ve started to commodify and have an understanding of ‘drugs’ and this comes from pharmaceuticals that are more of an assembly line sort of paradigm which is separate from the natural environment.
If you plant something or something is growing naturally and it has a relationship with the Earth or a relationship with you as you pick or harvest or interact with it, there is a sustainability and a balance in that relationship.
In modern times it comes back to this idea of dominator culture, imperial Western culture, a value system that has been inherited in the last thousand years or so.
The West came from this idea when Constantinople [Instanbul in modern Turkey] and the Roman Catholic church moved west and into Europe along with this idea that drugs are something which are produced separate from a relationship with them. And the earth has a relationship with the medicine plants it secretes.
There are many different aspects of shamanism and pathways to the divine, whether you use trance or dance or tantra, etc. There are many different organic pathways that can be developed. But primarily, many different tribes around the world have used psychoactive sacraments.
When shamanism was first being coined in the West in the ’40s and ’50s, Mircea Eliade, the famous anthropologist who wrote the book Shamanism, in his anthropological research he discounted all the psychoactive plant medicines because his generation of anthropologists had a cultural prejudice which he inherited from the Western-dominated Catholic traditions which dominated these cultures for hundreds of years. Such as those that went into South America and colonized and “saved the savages” from their version of spirituality.
They saw the San Pedro cactus as the work of the devil and the magic mushroom as the work of the devil. They tried to disconnect and kill off the cultural connections to these substances, which had such a pronounced effect on the psyche and the soul and the mind, which these Western colonial powers were terrified of. It was outside the bounds of their more narrow spectrum of spirituality.
The legacy of that in the 1950s with anthropology was that they didn’t see the forest for the trees, so they discounted a lot of these power plants and these psychoactive substances. They only concentrated on trance, dance or drumming, things like that which are all very valid but they’re components of a larger spiritual pathway which included a direct gnosis from the planet.
The magic mushrooms in the Mesoamerican description, the proper word for it is Teonanácatl, it means “the flesh of the Gods”.
The Latin term “entheogen” means to “invoke the divine within”. This is what they do. They reveal within us when we consume them, a relationship with them, that we are part of a larger ecology. They reveal that the individual “I” and the ego which has been out of control in the industrialized first world has been a driving force in dominator culture which has been attacking the earth.
The individual ego is released and subsumed back into the Gaian or planetary ego or intelligence and we “come back home.” This has been a real threat to many power structures but the role of medicine people and shamans has been that of gate keepers of these sacred substances.
Terence McKenna actually believed that psychoactives were exo-pheromones or substances which were secreted by the planet to be “species mediators”, to actually control the evolution or the awareness of species like humans on the earth and to bring them back into the fold. It’s a complicated and a large conversation around these different pathways that different shamans use.
But all around the world, psychoactive plants and sometimes animal secretions have been used for millennia and they are some of the most powerful pathways, and the most sacred pathways to connect to this planetary intelligence.
To be continued…
JOIN US next week for Part III: Emergency from Emergency…
Catch up on the Article Series: Read Part I
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