- Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth - September 11, 2020
- Sacred Mushrooms of the Mazatec Tradition: Transforming the Inner Landscape of the Human Psyche - April 5, 2019
These entheogens, which have been considered as medicines in indigenous traditions, are still an immensely potent resource for our planet and our humane existence, which is in dire need of help, both socially and ecologically.
When I first sat down with my teacher Julieta in Huautla de Jiménez in Mexico, after having explored entheogens for some time in various sets and settings before, I knew right away that I was in the presence of a skillful master, worthy of listening to; one who retained in her soul and voice the roots of an ancient wisdom and tradition. So, I did listen. I heard songs, prayers, and connection with the divine, and witnessed extractions and healing techniques, and, most of all, I experienced silence as a place of connecting with deep layers of my soul. For 20 years, I have stayed present to what was offered to me, to what I was able to receive, and also to what I was given permission to share. Throughout the ages, tribes in many parts of the worlds have used mind-expanding plants and fungi for their healing, enhancing community harmony and attuning with Earth’s seasons. These entheogens, which have been considered as medicines in indigenous traditions, are still an immensely potent resource for our planet and our humane existence, which is in dire need of help, both socially and ecologically.
As a therapist, I have wanted to support people’s path toward manifestation of their potential. As an explorer of expanded states of consciousness states induced by entheogens, I have been passionate about the radical and mysterious ways that plants, fungi, and substances expand and transform the inner landscape of the human psyche. By learning with indigenous healers, I have realized how important it is for all of us to diligently prepare ourselves for the ceremonies of expanded states of consciousness, and how to support our re-entry into everyday lives.
While we are fortunate, these days, to be welcomed into the experience of indigenous wisdom and practices through the sacred use of these entheogens, we also have acquired in the last 70 years a detailed roadmap through Western psychology of expanded states of consciousness.
While we are fortunate, these days, to be welcomed into the experience of indigenous wisdom and practices through the sacred use of these entheogens, we also have acquired in the last 70 years a detailed roadmap through Western psychology of expanded states of consciousness. We can now bridge the two schools of wisdom with mutual respect and efficiency.
This path is about community, it is about the children and an entire family living in a large compound where people laugh, cry, argue, and stay together.
As an avid explorer of the next levels of expansion of consciousness, and with the hope of alleviating suffering, I was told by my teacher to listen, to wait, to feel, and to hear from the heart. During my years with Julieta, I witnessed her gratitude for all the flowers and herbs that heal as we walked the trails of her mountains in Southern Mexico, for the bees she kept in the forest near her village; the bees who gave her the honey she served with the sacred mushrooms in her ceremonies, as well as the wax for the candles that would light her altar at night where she had served for over 50 years, providing a space of mystery and hope for whomever was called to her home to participate in her ceremony. She used to say that the divine worked through her, and that people’s gratitude was not for her, since it was the mushrooms that were doing the diagnosis and healing. She also said that the way of learning the use of sacred substances is through service and humility. She emphasized that this path is not only about how many mushrooms are in the plate and what songs are sung during the hours of ceremony. What I have learned from Julieta, beyond her words, is that this path of healing is about an intimate relationship with the Earth; it is about people walking on the mountain trails with awe and of seeing the fog filling the valley in the evening. This path is about community, it is about the children and an entire family living in a large compound where people laugh, cry, argue, and stay together. It is about how the marketplace is the heart of a town where people meet and interact. This path of healing is made of these many aspects, creating a life of wholeness and connectedness.
Our challenge is to translate and adapt this ancient indigenous wisdom to modern life, to integrate their teaching and techniques using sacred plants in the most effective way, including the use of new substances that have been developed in the Western culture like MDMA, Ketamine, 5-MeO-DMT, etc. MAPS has committed to direct its efforts toward the worthy goal of legalization of these potent substances, and we are now at the threshold of this meaningful moment after such a long time of restrictions and ignorance.
A few years before, I was shot while traveling in Northern Thailand, and my traveling companion was killed in front of me.
Synchronically, when MDMA was still legal in the USA, and I was just newly arrived in California, I had the luck of having therapeutic experiences ingesting this substance in order to heal a devastating trauma. A few years before, I was shot while traveling in Northern Thailand, and my traveling companion was killed in front of me. This trauma had debilitated me beyond my own awareness. Then, MDMA therapy changed my life. I was able to soothe the fear in my gut and change my inability to trust people.
Many people like myself have now been healed through MDMA-assisted therapy with MAPS research, and my hope is that we will soon be able to create a new protocol based on the legalization of sacred substances for therapeutic purposes. We currently find ourselves in a time of a psychedelic renaissance that offers much hope for the healing of great numbers of people. I believe that, together with this hope, we are faced with a double challenge: to lean on the fascinating medical research and explorations that were made available through new legal regulations and, together with it, to turn our attention to the lands and people who have kept these sacred medicine ways alive for centuries.
In my upcoming book, Consciousness Medicine (coming out June 25 from North Atlantic Books, Berkeley), I speak of the respectful bridge we all need to establish between indigenous traditions and our urban culture in regard to our wise use of entheogens. I believe that it is crucial for our modern industrialized world to remember how theses indigenous ways have sustained cultures such as Julieta’s for thousands of years, and to implement this wisdom for future generations. I hope that we will find more healing possibilities with these medicines that, after all, have been the original healing tools for the sick.
Art by Karina Alvarez.
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