druidry and drugs

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druidinthemist
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druidry and drugs

Postby druidinthemist » 14 Nov 2014, 11:04

hi, i am aware that shaman in the southwest use peyote to achieve a union with the spiritul. other cultures use opium. i have used marijuana a few times. anyone have any knowledge of this. thanks, jim

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby MountainGnome » 15 Nov 2014, 07:16

Yes, I can share a few things.

First of all, ingesting anything in any way is not necessarily going to be any kind of fuel for the spiritual path. A shaman like you're talking about could probably get more out of a sober contemplation in the rainforest than the stereotypical college frat boy would get out of eating the plant teachers that are sacred to the shaman. In fact, people who take the kinds of things shamans do, and think they're just going to have a "good time" with friends out drinking in town or something, can really scare the hell out of themselves fairly easily and run into some tight situations pretty quickly.

Having said that, plants are sacred for many reasons. They not only provide food, directly or indirectly, for every human being and other mammal on Earth, and also ropes and paper and aesthetic beauty, but they can also be used as teachers and have been used as teachers by humans even before writing was developed. If someone were to sincerely combine a spiritual practice with approaching plants as teachers and taking advantage of the wisdom being offered by them, then it could be beneficial for everyone.

When we ingest a plant, especially certain kinds of plants that have chemicals that behave perfectly like neurotransmitters in the human brain, I really believe we are tapping into something essential to the consciousness of that particular plant, that can open up different ways of interpreting reality for the human being. I'm sure it's not exactly as if we are experiencing the universe in the same way as the plant does, but maybe more like taking some large steps in the direction of the way it experiences reality. Then again, maybe these chemicals behave as neurotransmitters for us but serve some completely unrelated and unequivalent role in the plant. I'm not an expert on that -- yet -- though I am currently studying some aspects of plant biology and the ways in which they experience reality (there is a free Coursera course open right now to this extent btw, and it's excellent). But either way something important can be shared.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby DaRC » 18 Nov 2014, 14:53

There is no direct evidence that Druids used any form of drugs as far as I know.
However, it has been suggested that some of the bog bodies (these are murdered individuals placed in bogs across North Western Europe during the Iron Age) may have ingested Ergot, a fungus that grows on damp wheat and is hallucinogenic, as part of a ritual porridge before their execution. In Ireland these executions are almost certainly ritual and probably of a Tribal KIng sacrificed to the Gods.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergot

If this was the case then whether its ingestion was deliberate (i.e. they were in an intoxicated state to take a message to the Gods) or accidental (e.g. poor wet weather affected the harvest which led to the ritual murder) is unknown.

Certainly mushrooms, the liberty cap or 'magic' mushroom grows across North Western Europe and is hallucinogenic also the Toadstool (Amanita Muscaria) used in many fairy pictures was processed and used by Saami Shamans. The key is in the processing; as Amanita Muscaria can be very poisonous.

With all Fungi you really need to know what you're doing! For every edible mushroom, or relatively unpoisonous Liberty Cap, you will find it growing amongst much more poisonous neighbours who look very similar.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby PeteBranduir » 18 Nov 2014, 18:48

To expand a bit on Ergot, it's chemical structure which causes the hallucinogenic effect is what was replicated in the creation of LSD. Furthermore it seems it only effects grass based grains, so sedges are immune. Just in case you were planning to farm in a high risk area. It's a fascinating fungus.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Explorer » 14 Dec 2014, 11:06

hi, i am aware that shaman in the southwest use peyote to achieve a union with the spiritul. other cultures use opium. i have used marijuana a few times. anyone have any knowledge of this. thanks, jim
Regardless of the legal and moral issues of the country you live in (overhere it is legal), spiritual-wise it seems a logical because you are expanding your mind and awareness with both spirituality and certain drugs.

I am a bit of a control freak who values his personal experiences and insights above everything else. So I was very careful when I started to 'expand my mind' through druid training. I was very worried about the cultish aspects of OBOD and tried to keep my feet firmly on the ground. That only worked partly, because I ran into the spiritual dilemma of 'surrender' when the inevitable sh*t hit the fan when I underwent my 'transformation'. After 7 years I came out of the training with a deeply rooted and thoroughly experienced concept of my spiritual landscape, my reality, even my form of religion...

..only then I started to experiment with drugs, magic mushrooms, with spiritual intentions. It was another sort of 'surrender', and although the experiences where very different from what I had experienced before, they also became grounded and rooted in that spiritual framework that had grown, or had become visible, around me. Sometimes totally unrelated and seemingly random, but sometimes it opened up gateways to what I regard as the deepest mysteries.

But I wouldn't recommend it before the ovate grade, and I don't think it is for everybody.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Hennie » 14 Dec 2014, 13:14

I wouldn't recommend it to anybody, like I wouldn't recommend to drink mead or burn Verbena. But... these substances can open doors, which perhaps in another way wouldn't have opened. Perhaps, because perhaps the open just through meditation- and visualisation techniques.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Green Raven » 19 Dec 2014, 21:22

Although (reportedly) pleasant and exiting, psychoactives would not really provide “inspired illumination” for divine guidance, probably the opposite effect, totally confusing any perceptions. The ancient Bards might have found that mild hallucinogens inspired music or verse compositions. Historical Druids may have used them to give “glimpses of the Otherworld/ Spirit Realm” to doubtful clients, much as the Old Man of the Mountains used his hashish and opium mix to show “a glimpse of Paradise” to Hashishin (Assassin) acolytes in ancient Lebanon.

Ergot might have been forced on sacrificial victims in rye bread as the ancient druids sometimes foretold by watching the convulsions of the dying (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, c 50 BC). Ergot would certainly have that effect and be very nasty. The fungus has been found in the gut of some bog bodies but not that of the Lindow Man, who went willingly to his death (Stead, Bourke and Brothwell, Lindow Man – The Body in the Bog, 1986).

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is reputed to ‘release dreams’ in many herbal traditions (Grieve, A Modern Herbal, 1931 + others). It has an active compound that mildly has the opposite effects of alcohol and was used to flavour ales before the introduction of hops. The tomb of a priest-surgeon (druid?) was discovered in Stanway near Colchester, Essex, dated to 40-60 A.D. With him was a bowl used for brewing and straining mugwort (saps and pollen identified) (P Crummy et al, Stanway: an Elite Burial Site at Camulodunum, 2007).

The use of deep dark pools for bringing on trances by staring into their featureless blackness for several hours seems to have been widely prevalent in the Iron Age and thereafter. The Ganzfeld effect (from the German for “complete field”) is perceptual deprivation that results in hallucinatory visions in many people, in addition to an altered state of consciousness (Dunning, Alan, and Woodrow, Paul, Colour-Blind: Machine Imagination, Closed Eye Hallucination and the Ganzfeld Effect, 2010). Vision-giving sites were Dublin; the Lindow Moss; Poldhu Point and Cove, Cornwall; the River Blackwater, Hampshire; the River Douglas, Lancashire (scene of four of King Arthur’s great battles); Blackpool and Blackburn, Lancashire; the city of Lincoln; Dowling, Doolin, Ballindoolin and the 8 Devlins in Ireland are all named for their deep black pools - doorways to the Realms or Otherworlds - and most significant archaeological sites.

So anyway, try black pool gazing / black mirror scrying rather than substances for freeing your unconscious mind to receive the Awen.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Sciethe » 20 Dec 2014, 00:21

If you can't hear the voices of the air people in the branches
If you can't see the orange people living their short lives in the fire
Can't taste the salty earth folk on your tongue
And see the star stuff in your lover's eyes

Then whacking yourself out with drugs is unlikely to be much help.
S
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Alwin » 20 Dec 2014, 21:02

If you can't hear the voices of the air people in the branches
If you can't see the orange people living their short lives in the fire
Can't taste the salty earth folk on your tongue
And see the star stuff in your lover's eyes
Very inspiring, Sciethe! Thanks a lot! :hug:
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby MountainGnome » 22 Dec 2014, 07:09

Although (reportedly) pleasant and exiting, psychoactives would not really provide “inspired illumination” for divine guidance, probably the opposite effect, totally confusing any perceptions. The ancient Bards might have found that mild hallucinogens inspired music or verse compositions. Historical Druids may have used them to give “glimpses of the Otherworld/ Spirit Realm” to doubtful clients, much as the Old Man of the Mountains used his hashish and opium mix to show “a glimpse of Paradise” to Hashishin (Assassin) acolytes in ancient Lebanon.
As little historical record as we have on the Druids it's hard to say what they did or didn't ingest or for what reasons, though there aren't a lot of hallucinogens native to the British Isles or northern Europe compared to other parts of the world. There are fly agaric mushrooms in northern Europe which were eaten by spiritual seekers native to those regions. In fact this is probably where the symbolism of reindeer and Christmas trees at least partially comes from, as well as Santa Claus himself.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/12/16/8 ... nta-story/


The OP also referenced shamans of the SW United States, who use peyote. Shamans native to Latin and South America also honor several plants, sacred to them because of the visions they induce. If you find videos where these shamans are interviewed about these things, or take a trip down there to talk to them yourself, you'll see that the words they use to describe these plants are very respectful and sober-minded. They're regarded as strong medicine and are often given to people with problems so that they can better sort things out. Ayahuasca is a good example of this, and there are plenty of videos online of actual ceremonies, interviews with people conducting the ceremonies, participating in the ceremonies. These are very ancient rituals that are done in a very specific way, under guidance of a shaman, invoking various spirits, invoking the spirits of the plants, etc., and the shamans leading these ceremonies take every bit of it very seriously. They will tell you in all seriousness that they communicate with all number of spirits and nature beings through the ceremonial use of these types of things, and that it's no less real than reality is any less real after you drink a strong cup of coffee or a few shots of bourbon, only with a much different effect than these.


Sometimes I hear the argument that this is a "short cut" to being spiritual, that it's superficial and that it can't produce lasting results, etc. But a shortcut in itself is not necessarily bad. I think it's a peculiar feature of Germanic mentality, that has traveled across to the US as well, that nothing valuable comes except through very hard work. In some cases this can be true but I don't see any reason why it has to be. Some things actually can come very easily, if one simply allows them to. For example if there is a literal shortcut to drive to work, that is faster and has less traffic than on the larger highways, then it would be needless suffering to deal with the longer drive and increased traffic every day, unless the objective was to practice patience and serenity in the face of needlessly spending more money on gas. But nonetheless there is a certain mentality in many areas that if you don't do something the hard way then you're just not doing it correctly. I think spirituality is sometimes an example of this, for some people.

As far as not being long-lasting, there are even scientific studies on the effects of psilocybin mushrooms for example, that show that they have positive psychological effects that last well after the actual chemicals have worn off. Clinical studies often result in participants claiming that their lives have been changed, and this is after the chemical is out of their body.

Johns Hopkins University Psilocybin & Spirituality -- Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance

Here's a video interview with one participant in a clinical study of psilocybin in treating anxiety, etc.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYhtXI4Prpo

And here are a couple of other interesting scientific studies:

Magic Mushrooms Create a Hyperconnected Brain
Your Brain On Magic Mushrooms Is Actually Similar To Dreaming, Brain Scan Study Shows


It's not important to get bogged down into scientific studies though. This is more of a personal and cultural thing to reflect over. All the various plants and fungi have unique chemicals in them. Some of them are very healthy, some of them can kill you. Some of them (like psilocybin and most other hallucinogens historically used by shamans) are relatively or even completely non-toxic (much more so than aspirin or alcohol for example) and have chemicals that mimic neurotransmitters, with which our brains are able to use to create thoughts. These aren't things worth having too strong of feelings about. It's simply how nature has provided a rich chemical diversity.

Every fruit or vegetable we eat has chemicals that have effects on different parts of our body. People use tea or coffee to "wake up," and these have effects on the brain and can have some temporary positive effects, focusing concentration or things like this. These are plants that alter consciousness, and it's no problem at all that people use them (even to ill health effects), because their use benefits society in that they help people who are still sleepy to wake up enough to go do their 9 to 5 job. But if a plant alters consciousness too much then people seem to get suspicious of the effects produced, because after all, we all saw how the hippies were behaving in the 1960's. It's obviously not normal.

Anyway, in the spirit of druidic tradition I have to see magic in all aspects of nature. Every plant and animal has some kind of magic to it. Some can slap us in the face harder than others, and some are best respected from a distance (because they really can kill you), and some are very quiet and gentle, or spice up our foods, or make good companions as pets. Just because society encourages certain views on different aspects of nature, doesn't mean we have to limit ourselves in that way.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby DaRC » 22 Dec 2014, 10:26

Bsbray just for info' the Liberty Cap aka THE original Magic Mushroom is native to, and widely distributed across, the British Isles. It prefers cattle fields, something to do with the fertiliser from cow pats. The fly agaric is much more dangerous and I've only read reports of the Saami using them for Shamanistic purposes.

I can state that in my youth I have had powerful & very positive spiritual experiences by taking Liberty cap mushrooms. However, much like the Runes, you do need to know the rules about using them and how to prepare and take them...
otherwise it can all go horribly wrong.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Sciethe » 22 Dec 2014, 12:53

Well OK. My stated semi-poetic reservations aside:
Bsbray just for info' the Liberty Cap aka THE original Magic Mushroom is native to, and widely distributed across, the British Isles. It prefers cattle fields, something to do with the fertiliser from cow pats. The fly agaric is much more dangerous and I've only read reports of the Saami using them for Shamanistic purposes.

I can state that in my youth I have had powerful & very positive spiritual experiences by taking Liberty cap mushrooms. However, much like the Runes, you do need to know the rules about using them and how to prepare and take them...
otherwise it can all go horribly wrong.
I can support this view, and there are a number of related UK native species that do much the same thing. Also there is documentary evidence of the Hellfire Club and others such as Crowley and his acolytes using Fly Agaric. There is one reported death due to accidental overdose in the case of Fly Agaric (the lesson- don't cook stews with them because the dosage will be inexact) and I can offer a first hand account of a friend of my youth jumping down a flight of stairs in the certain (and evidently incorrect) belief that he could fly in the case of psilocybe semilanceata, the Liberty Cap. He was hurt, not badly but the potential for tragedy is pretty obvious. I have to admit that it is very likely that British native spirituality was continually informed from the earliest times by the effects of P.semilanceata because mythology matches the effects exactly and the mushroom is very common. However there is no direct documentary proof of that that I know of.

I think it's worth repeating this beautifully explanatory passage
These are very ancient rituals that are done in a very specific way, under guidance of a shaman, invoking various spirits, invoking the spirits of the plants, etc., and the shamans leading these ceremonies take every bit of it very seriously. They will tell you in all seriousness that they communicate with all number of spirits and nature beings through the ceremonial use of these types of things, and that it's no less real than reality is any less real after you drink a strong cup of coffee or a few shots of bourbon, only with a much different effect than these.
It is an essential point that experimenting by yourself is hazardous and not to be recommended, and it could be argued that it is an inappropriate course for anyone not intending to seriously take the path of the dedicated Shaman (Risk of accidental poisioning, accident while intoxicated, cultural tourism/ cultural vampirism, legal problems). It's my own view that such an action should only be taken under the supervision of an expert mentor. Also:

As far as not being long-lasting, there are even scientific studies on the effects of psilocybin mushrooms for example, that show that they have positive psychological effects that last well after the actual chemicals have worn off. Clinical studies often result in participants claiming that their lives have been changed, and this is after the chemical is out of their body.
There is indeed good evidence that the changes to brain activity (underlying and aside from the temporary intoxication) are permanent or at least very long lasting, and I suggest that the way that a user is guided is likely to have a profound impact on the way that their experience develops. If a person really wants to try this then they'd better be sure because there's no going back. It is a serious matter with a complex and arcane body of associated knowledge requiring expert guidance.
S
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Green Raven » 22 Dec 2014, 19:27

In a British (Isles) context again… I have often wondered whether the ‘imbas forosnai’ rite included the ingestion of an entheogen but there seems be no finds or traditions to suggest that – more a self-set trance and revelation, channelling the totem of the animal or plant ingested. Other folk rites described suggest sensory deprivation – the wrapping of the head with a heavy cloth and lying in a dark, quiet room to allow the Awen in and the composition of panegyrics and encomiums. Or being encased in a fresh bull’s hide and placed behind a roaring waterfall for spirit guidance – with the subsequent rebirthing as one were pulled from the hot sticky tube, covered in body slimes, brimming with visions and insight.

The reverence for black pools as portals to the Otherworld and the Three Realms has been mentioned and they are a beautiful focus for meditations. Even on a crisp winter’s morning, the tranquillity of a forest pool or the unearthly silence of a well-chosen marsh edge are a zephyr from the Isle of Apples in themselves. Headphones (recorded birdsong) and a black bowl on a black felt square if I can’t make it out to the groves and hollows. The ills of the modern era trickle away to allow communing, composition and appreciations.

On the other hand, collected opium poppy heads from the Iron Age have been excavated at the little village of Fifield Bavant, Wiltshire. The context suggested a medicinal use but once the properties are known, recreational use is probably not far behind. Was opium the fabled Soma? Don’t know and don’t care really. At least forty species of plant and fungi (and a fish!) would have been available to the pre-historic (pre-lab) Briton for mind-bending effect but none seem to have made the folklores bar some fairly lethal ‘flying ointments’ during the witch hysterias and pogroms. Post-invasions, Bald’s Leechbook, The Lacnunga and some other Anglo-Saxon remedy texts tend towards herbal curative usage and the herbed charms therein have a drawing or warding off representational effect rather than being applied for magickal transcendence.

It is my gut feeling that the ancient British ‘shaman’ didn’t need to use entheogens, just well practised melding with the natural world, rich with spiritual and mystical energies. From the glowing of quartz crystals, the fertilising of the land by lightning and the germination of seed to produce plants and food, the world presented enough marvels and mysteries without having to induce them. For communal events then the tools of hyper-ventilation, pain rituals or steam lodges could be used for initiations into the mysteries and tribal bonding. The later historical Druid took possession of this handed-down knowledge, the skills and the tools but used the mindset and emotional responses to various rites and rituals to access the Otherworld and Ancestors. I guess, like them, - on a personal level - we can take what is useful to us and leave the rest behind.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Whitemane » 22 Dec 2014, 22:37

i think we need to try to understand how different daily life in Iron Age Britain was. It was hard, it was in the bone, and the relationship to the land, the water, and the sky, must have been much more intimate and intense than it is in a time when most of us live in cities.

People drank alcohol in the form of mead, but was that because it was safer than water? There really wasn't much room for error, or recreational drug use, and stoners would have winnowed themselves out in double-quick time.

The shamans of the time may have been able to enter altered states solely by their own effort, because of the bond with the rest of the natural world. If they did use anything beyond alcohol, it probably was under controlled or ritual conditions.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby MountainGnome » 22 Dec 2014, 23:23

Thank you DaRC, Sciethe and Green Raven for the info on native entheogens. I only knew that the fly agaric was available in northern Europe and Siberia, but I didn't know whether it spread to the isles or anything about any other plants or fungi. I agree that in the depths of mythology there is probably some role that entheogens played, though I'm not as familiar specifically with the various myths and folklore of the British Isles. There's a similar connection in ancient Eyptian and Greek mythology that I'm a little more familiar with, ie the lotus-eaters and the use of hashish and opium in initiating people into some of the ancient Greek mystery schools.

Rituals and traditions exist for a reason. One should at least be committed to and ready for spiritual contemplation or serious self-inspection. In a clinical environment psilocybin was given to a woman with anxiety as I posted above, and it benefited her greatly. But someone with anxiety taking such a thing on their own really could lead to disastrous consequences, the most obvious of which being panic attacks and an over-all traumatic experience from being unable to control the anxiety and having no professional help available. What some psychologists call "latent schizophrenia" could also become come to the surface, but schizophrenia is such a blanket term that it's hard to tell what that really means.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Welsh Mythology » 05 Feb 2015, 09:57

Go talk to a real medicine man / woman, preferably one who lives in a jungle and who was trained in a trusted lineage. If you can hang out for a few years and get to understand a little of what he / she is talking about, please come back and elucidate us. You will get very little reliable information here; apologies for the crass interjection but none of us here (including me) sound like we have the necessary expertise.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby MountainGnome » 05 Feb 2015, 20:22

If you ask the shamans, they're just going to tell you to experience the plant teachers yourself. It's exactly why they have systematized ways of bringing foreigners into their ceremonies in South America. In this case the shamans themselves are not the source of spiritual awareness or knowledge, they're just an example, not too much different than a Zen master I would say. I'm not aware of any tradition where spiritual awareness is genuinely bestowed onto a person directly by someone else, especially just through verbal discourse. It seems they all require work on behalf of the individual and the teachers are only there to nudge the process along, whether it's Zen Buddhism or ayahuasca shamanism or anything else. In this case if you went to the jungle you would just have to "dive in."

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Explorer » 08 Feb 2015, 17:26

If you ask the shamans, they're just going to tell you to experience the plant teachers yourself. It's exactly why they have systematized ways of bringing foreigners into their ceremonies in South America. In this case the shamans themselves are not the source of spiritual awareness or knowledge, they're just an example, not too much different than a Zen master I would say. I'm not aware of any tradition where spiritual awareness is genuinely bestowed onto a person directly by someone else, especially just through verbal discourse. It seems they all require work on behalf of the individual and the teachers are only there to nudge the process along, whether it's Zen Buddhism or ayahuasca shamanism or anything else. In this case if you went to the jungle you would just have to "dive in."
I agree with this.
The idea behind our druid training is to think and experience for ourselves. From a known and balanced psyche, based on the connections that we build with our nature ourselves, here and now. No Amazon shaman can tell you how you should interprete a psychedelic experience with enthogens from your own landscape with your modern western psyche. There are two ways. Know, minimize and accept the risk and try it, or don't. And both ways are fine, imho.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Davin Raincloud » 09 Feb 2015, 13:03

My Brother is in prison for cooking Meth.
He's 34 this year.
Abandoned his ten year old boy to his ex-wife.

Threatened my Mother this morning that unless she gave him money to live on when he gets out of prison, he was going back to selling drugs for quick cash.


Sooo..... Yay Drugs!!???

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby DaRC » 09 Feb 2015, 14:54

My Brother is in prison for cooking Meth... sooo..... Yay Drugs!!???

Sorry to hear that - I think it highlights part of our society's problem with its approach to drugs.
Sometimes I think it becomes difficult to identify what is the root problem - is it a personality problem that is exacerbated by drug taking or are drugs the cause?

Fortunately (sort of) there is not a great problem with crystal meth in this country - the UK (and Breaking Bad doesn't seem to have encouraged use) - largely due to the cheap cost of heroine and crack (according to gov't sources) which is an irony.

Is there a difference between natural & manufactured drugs - e.g. mushrooms, cannabis and coca leaf against lsd, genetically modded skunk and cocaine?
Is there a difference in intent? e.g. Shamanistic expanding consciousness vs recreational

Does it matter and should we buy into the corporate/governmental line that 'drugs are bad m'kay' or is habitual drug use a sign of other (mental) health issues?
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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