Let’s Talk About the Role of Psychedelics in a Sane Society

Let's Talk About the Role of Psychedelics in a Sane Society

6th July 2016

By Julian Palmer

Guest writer for Wake Up World

In terms of how we are using psychedelics as a society, we need to ask: Where is all this going? For those of us who take psychedelics seriously, those who see them only as a potential treatment for medical or serious psychological conditions are truly missing the point of what psychedelics can offer. The psychological, visionary and emotional doors that psychedelics open up, innately require profound shifts in awareness and often lifestyle.

This was the revelation of the late 1960’s, when thousands of young people in the west decided war was a bad idea, and that loving each other might be a wiser option than simply becoming another mechanically-minded consumer in the style so common of the previous decade.  These incursions of thinking were apparently so dangerous to the establishment, that LSD was banned and all research on psychedelics was stopped. Only now are we seeing the beginnings of new psychedelic research since that time.

Some today firmly point the finger at Tim Leary and the like, for encouraging young people to ‘drop out’. But LSD and other psychedelics encourage people to see the raw and organic truth. It pushes us to see another way might be possible, and encourages people to see with fresh eyes, so that they can see the issues in society and also in themselves. And for us to solve the problems that are facing us collectively, it is exactly these sort of insights that are required.

Psychedelics exposes capitalistic society as a society based upon the trading of goods and services of the marketplace, putting human values far behind this effort. For the young people of the 60’s, LSD opened the possibility of there being some sort of authentic spirituality in life. For people in 2016, the effect is the same, but perhaps the difference is, young people no longer so often naively seek to completely ‘drop out of the system’ Another difference today, is that many people can see that society itself is not just psychologically unhealthy, it is completely unsustainable, with many analysts seeing no future at all for the human species within only a few decades.

In the midst of all the upheaval almost 50 years ago, in 1966, Timothy Leary suggested at a hearing, chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy, that psychedelic licences be given to people, such as the license governments provide to people to drive a car. The rule should be, he suggested, that in order to take LSD you should carry out training and have to pass a test in order to be able to take LSD and other substances safely. At the time, the hearing did not take Tim Leary seriously. Yet Leary obviously knew the profound value of LSD and psychedelics, just as many people in our day still do. At that time, Senator Ted Kennedy could only see kids ‘turning on’, eating tree bark, jumping off buildings and ‘dropping out’.

Tim Leary actually had a very good idea, and perhaps only now can many more of us really understand what he was trying to say back then. Just like there are driver training centres, perhaps there could be places where people could go and take psychedelics and be supervised by trainers, to make sure they are safe and learn how to navigate what is often very tricky territory. As psychedelics are not prescription medications, then their distribution must be perceived as a service, more than a product.

We need to look at models in which people can ingest psychedelics, and what the intention is for these ingestions. As an example, parties where everyone takes the same dose of the same compound are remarkably effective, especially when people know the other participants. Let’s not forgot the value of dancing, of being together, of talking, of playing together. That is what a party is. Let’s celebrate this and the ability to play and have fun in a mature and conscious manner. These sort of environments should be a necessary part of the fabric of society if we are at all truly serious in treating issues like, anxiety and depression — or underlying endemic issues like alienation, lack of belonging or not having a clear sense of meaning or purpose.

In posing these possibilities, we have to ask, what is the place of psychedelics in a sane society?

What we are seeing now as the predominant paradigm, is high priced Ayahuasca groups, all over the world, a completely unregulated market, beset by (among others) charlatans and shysters. But of course, this is just one model of ingesting psychoactive plants. We need to ask, what is the bridge to creating a culture where these compounds can be used to treat psychological disorders? But not just psychological disorders, but the common maladies of the mind; those that are not so much labelled but more endemic to our culture, which have put human values far behind that of monetary values.

The epidemic of mental illnesses such as depression, chronic anxiety and more debilitating versions of these disorders such as PTSD in western society, serves to highlight our aggressive, collective, psychological and psychosocial downward spiral. One report from 2012 shows a virtual epidemic of psychological and emotional abuse in intimate relationships.

Psychoactive plants and compounds can be used to bring people together. They represent food for the mind, or at least the states they provide, give the mind much food for thought. Just as people come together for a meal or to drink alcohol together at night, these compounds and plants can also be used to bring people together and help them to realise their issues with themselves and their relationships to others. And there is a certain purity in that, and freedom to explore.

The results of this type of communion are meaningful moments, a feeling of belonging, interconnectedness, an opportunity to work through issues individually and together, and also an opportunity to live, and to feel alive. Whereas, coming together to sing certain songs or perform certain actions such as yoga or the activities of certain religions, are innately limited and exclusive in nature.

What if there was a garden you could go to, with seats and toys, and exercises, where you could take a substance and know you were safe? And you would know that nobody would interfere with your process and that you could not leave once you were inside under the influence of what you took? In such a place you are monitored, and there are people who know what to say to you, are trained to calm you down if need be, guide you through difficult experiences, and help you to debrief and understand what is happening to you.

Perhaps there are animals there in this garden, whose sole purpose is to keep you calm. You can pat a horse or play with a dog. Maybe there are toys, headphones with conducive music coming through them, perhaps the music is binaural beats which help entrain the right and left brain. You would then be in an environment (which is the world, but also not the world) which can allow deeper processing of personal material. For the most part, people are nervous about taking such compounds by themselves, but this is precisely the most valuable thing to do. Simply take the psychedelic and let the therapy proceed. We need to think about how we can support a culture where people actually take these compounds and do the work, and gain the benefits and healing from doing so.

Should there be a law that you can only take psychedelic/hallucinogenic compounds in a designated, monitored ‘safe space’?

I’m not sure that world work, and if psychedelics were suddenly available in the shops, what dangers would this create?

This would create certain problems, but many of these problems could be mitigated by education. Education then creates collective understanding. With experience — individual and collective — people would understand how to best go about things. Perhaps, when you buy a compound, you need to fill out a form. What are you going to do with this compound? Is your use recreational? What are you aiming to get out of it? What is your day/time plan? Where are you taking it? Are you going to have a sitter? Just as when people are hiking alone to a remote area, they let everyone know where they are going and for how long.

Perhaps in a sane society, taking ‘medicine for the mind’ for one’s psychological state of being, would become standard behaviour. This could be a time for amplifying and thinking about oneself. The individual can take time out to look at themselves in an honest manner, consider who they are, what they are ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in their day to day lives and in their relationships. This aspect of the psychedelic experience is one of the most powerful parts – stepping outside of oneself just enough to see how you are being and how you are relating with others.

The use of psychedelics also calls us to live in a sane society, to act in such a way that transformation and realisation is priority. Also, society itself would require an orientation towards actually living in a healthy state of being, and living in alignment with that which is in the overall wellbeing of the people. This is in fact, a sustainable society, as opposed to what we have now — an unsustainable society, which is based on perpetual growth, the creation of waste, excessive and unrestrained use of resources, with little ethical or empathic direction.

The use of plant teachers and healers, where we can open up a dialogue with the plants in order to heal, is necessary for the well being of the people. It is said by some, that those in power do not want us to take psychedelics, because they don’t want us to realise the truth about the nature of their power and our psychological servitude. Such people would have no chance to hold onto their power if humanity fully awoke and began to engage in a truly ‘living democracy’ – which is really our only possible sustainable future.

It is now blatantly obvious that modern day democracy is a sham, the masses are confused and deceived by those in power, and their corporations that only take from the people and the planet. It is easy to see how their monetary system works against the best interest of the our species and the planet as a whole. I would add that these things are obvious and evident to most conscious people, not only those who take psychedelics.

No doubt though, taking psychedelics can make you become more aware of your own psychological issues as well as the collective issues of our world – hopefully inspiring you to do something about them, rather than simply dropping out or become an acid casualty. This is not changing the system from within, it is creating new systems and showing a better way, rather than hiding away from the big, bad wide world.

To conclude, it is my view that the use of these psychedelic medicines in a sustainable society, is inevitable, and if we want to create a sustainable and healthy society, these are matters we need to not just think about, but act upon as we attempt to create and pioneer such spaces where this sort of healing and transformation can occur.

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About the author:


In his early 20’s Australian born Julian Palmer explored many forms of spiritual inquiry, practiced purification of intent and worked in web design and multimedia for companies and as a freelancer. After moving from Victoria to the far north coast of NSW at age 24, he soon got seriously into psychedelics, and since that time hasn’t really stopped exploring and learning about them and the states they can catalyse.

Julian likes traveling, making electronic music, making flower essences, reading and writing, exploring deep nature and communicating. One of his next projects involves exploring indigenous psychoactive plants that are unknown to the western mind.

You can contact Julian at his website www.julianpalmerism.com or follow him on Facebook.


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