The Great Revival: It's Time for Psychedelics Pt.1
By: Tiyana Matliovski
Hailed as the psychedelic renaissance, this past decade we’ve seen a surging interest in plant medicines and ‘alternative therapies’ for everything from the evolution of consciousness to cancer inhibition.
As in the case of cannabis, prohibition has obstructed the speed at which psychedelics and other alternative therapies have been adopted by the mainstream. Alas, the effective propaganda machine of the analogue era makes small ripples in a digital one, and so the power of collective action, and the uniting of voices has prevailed, because in a world so connected, you cannot hide the truth.
Psychedelics, plant medicines, natural and alternative therapies, are in.
The word psychedelic is derived from the ancient greek words, psyche + dēlos. Psyche, of course meaning mind, and dēlos meaning to reveal or manifest - translation; mind-manifesting. The term was coined by British born, Canadian psychotherapist Humphry Osmand, in a couplet sent to famed psychonaut Aldous Huxley. It read; "To fathom hell or soar angelic/Just take a pinch of psychedelic."
Psychedelics made their way into modern history some time before they were popularised by the 1960's counterculture movement, having been used by groups of therapists, doctors and researchers to treat and explore a range of mental health issues in the 1950’s. Stanislav Grof, psychiatrist, author and pioneer of the therapeutic use of psychedelics, famously said that these drugs would be to the mind what the microscope was to biology or the telescope for astronomy - revolutionary.
Long story short, eventually these drugs leaked out of the clinical setting and made their way into the hands of the youth of the day, and were thusly pivotal in redirecting mass culture away from the spiritually devoid industrial complex, instead inspiring a shared sense of belief in oneness. A belief in love triumphing over hatred, and peace over war.
The ripples of that era’s revolutionary, anti-establishment and progressive perspectives are felt even today as we further explore issues of sexuality, feminism, environmental care, and the right to self determination and exploration.
The care-free, libertarian, peace-loving character of the 1960’s counterculture movement would ultimately be the cause of swift and severe action by authorities. And so it goes, President Nixon promptly launched his ‘war on drugs’ in 1971 - a war more accurately described as a war on the people - banning a slew of substances with little regard to their true value to society. Shortly thereafter, like dominoes, the rest followed suit, and soon the whole world had criminalised these substances we’d only just begun to explore.
Today you’ll find listed, alongside heroin, crack and meth, the schedule 1 drugs, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis - and many others.
While it remains true that we've only scratched the surface of how these mind altering substances work scientifically, humans have been altering their consciousness for thousands of years. Notable examples of course includes cannabis use in China and India at least 2500 years ago, Peyote in North and South American civilizations, and Iboga with the Bwiti peoples of West Africa.
Terrance McKenna, ethnobotanist and arguably one of the world's most famous psychonauts postulated that the evolution of the human brain could be attributed to our ancestors consumption of psilocybin mushrooms. Known as the ‘Stoned Ape Theory’, McKenna explores the idea that this may have ignited the evolutionary change that would transform the Homo erectus into its future self, the Homo sapien.
As with anything of great power, psychedelics must be treated with equally great respect. While many before me - myself included - have used psychedelics without intention, and have lived to tell glorious tales of otherworldly encounters, there is more to be gained from the purposeful and measured use of these mind-manifesting substances.
the gates to altered consciousness have been unlocked
The natural world has always provided us that which we require, and as we embark on our own cultural evolutions of the digital age, perhaps the universe is indeed making an offering. Today we’re amidst the greatest paradigm shift of our lifetime, one where the gates to altered consciousness have been unlocked, where microdosing in silicon valley is socially acceptable, where MDMA assisted therapy is on the path to approval, where the first psilocybin mushroom dispensary has been opened, and where cannabis has been legalised.
In the words of lifelong psychedelic devotee Rick Doblin, “Humanity is now in a race between catastrophe and consciousness. The psychedelic renaissance is here to help consciousness triumph.”
Stay tuned for upcoming articles in The Great Revival series, an introduction to psychedelic medicines, featuring some of the most commonly used psychedelics today, including mushrooms, MDMA, salvia, peyote, ketamine, iboga, ayahuasca, DMT & kambo.