druidry and drugs

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Sciethe
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Sciethe » 09 Feb 2015, 15:39

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?


Yes. This is what I was alluding to above. I don't do drugs or alcohol because I'm the wrong sort of person. I found that out the very hard way. On the journey I found out a great deal about the subject. Intent is indeed the issue, but my experience and first hand observation of others has shown me that no-one truly knows their intent until they've already done the drug. Then if it's found to be wrong it's too late.

The personality problem issue that DaRC brings up is a very acute observation.

So it's always a gamble, and one which has very few upsides and very many downsides. Again my personal experience: The potential downsides vastly outweigh the possible goods. Not that there is no possible good, just that overall that the whole thing is not worth getting into. If it is tried - I repeat- an experienced mentor is essential for these reasons and reasons above, no matter what this may do by way of "contaminating" one's personal journey.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby MountainGnome » 09 Feb 2015, 22:53

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?
All of these make a difference and other factors as well.

For example, if meth was legal, there would be no money in random people selling it on the streets, because you would have businesses with more quality control running the street dealers out of business. And then the government could do what Portugal has done, and turn all of the money spent for police to hunt down the illegal dealers and put them all through the courts and then in prison, into money used to send them to rehab and/or therapy instead.

Like you guys are suggesting, there really are underlying emotional or other psychological issues behind most people turning to habitual use of something like meth or heroin in the first place. Even if you send them to prison to physically deprive them of the drug (ignoring the fact that they can still get drugs in prisons for the moment), they still will have the underlying issues that will just find other ways to manifest if not treated with some form of therapy.

But in general meth and heroin and cocaine are a different set of drugs that have real risk for physical addiction and can result in death from overdose. Marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, ayahuasca, etc., are not physically addictive and are non-toxic, meaning there is no realistic risk of overdose. Some people argue that people can become "psychologically" addicted to something like marijuana, but using the same argument one could say that television or the Internet or anything else is also psychologically addictive. The difference is that if you smoke marijuana for a long time, for example, and then suddenly stop, you're not going to go into withdrawals and have to be sent to a hospital like you would if you suddenly stopped doing heroin or maybe in some extreme cases even stopped smoking tobacco.


Society would benefit from a more unbiased education in drugs, both legal and illegal. We would then benefit even more from more rational government policies to address these things, instead of the system we have now.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Green Raven » 09 Feb 2015, 23:56

But also, as has been mentioned before, the problem with taking any mind-altering chemical – plant extract or chemist’s patent formula – is that the world seen through that filter is false, bogus, a deception.

The majority of natural ‘entheogens’ available in the British Isles produce violent convulsions, the sensation of biting insects crawling all over the body, foaming at the mouth during the tetanic spasms. Others, “feelings of impending death with panic, delirium, visual and/or auditory hallucinations often involving animals. If they are able to sleep, patients classically report terrifying nightmares,” (clinicians’ report). Yes, true, that some see, “mischievous shapeshifting elves, praying mantis alien brain surgeons and jewel-encrusted reptilian beings,” but these are illusions and not bona fide experiences of the Otherworld.

Real ‘inspired illumination’ takes time, practice, hard work, diligent study and a series of gradual, expertly guided steps to the spiritual realms and gently is revealed the awareness of the deities and nature spirits.

There are no short cuts. The druids’ path is cultivation of the mind through spiritual exercises, the production of divinely inspired verse – after learning the technical skills, understanding of the natural world and our place in it, instilling the discipline of coherent argument, the natural laws and the higher ethics.

You can’t get that in a plastic bag of herbs or pills.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Sciethe » 10 Feb 2015, 01:15

But also, as has been mentioned before, the problem with taking any mind-altering chemical – plant extract or chemist’s patent formula – is that the world seen through that filter is false, bogus, a deception. [...] Real ‘inspired illumination’ takes time, practice, hard work, diligent study and a series of gradual, expertly guided steps to the spiritual realms and gently is revealed the awareness of the deities and nature spirits.

There are no short cuts. The druids’ path is cultivation of the mind through spiritual exercises, the production of divinely inspired verse – after learning the technical skills, understanding of the natural world and our place in it, instilling the discipline of coherent argument, the natural laws and the higher ethics.
This is very cool. I especially like the use of "bogus, a deception." And I'd add that I think the claim that the world seen via an altered mind is "realer" than the world seen with an unaltered or uncontaminated mind is actually ridiculous when you think about it- likewise bogus, a deception. I found it so.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby DaRC » 10 Feb 2015, 12:32

“feelings of impending death with panic, delirium, visual and/or auditory hallucinations often involving animals. If they are able to sleep, patients classically report terrifying nightmares,”
I can honestly say that the worst hallucinations I've had were during the wee hours shift of a 24 hour mountain bike race - most probably because I knew I was sober, although physically exhausted and probably dehydrated. I had all of those mentioned in the quote (to be fair the pink furry elephants might have been the race marshal comedians dressing up) and it all seemed much worse because I knew it wasn't drugs. So I was convinced that my mind's interpretation was correct, under the influence there should be the awareness that you are under the influence.

I digress, however, I too think the concept of a filtered and therefore bogus, delusional experience whilst under the influence is a great analogy.
There is a time and a place for a bit of inebriation though. Maybe it's because I honour a Germanic pantheon, there is a strong theme that rituals need a tipple of some sort :gulp:
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby MountainGnome » 11 Feb 2015, 05:37

But also, as has been mentioned before, the problem with taking any mind-altering chemical – plant extract or chemist’s patent formula – is that the world seen through that filter is false, bogus, a deception.
I have to disagree with this. This is not a simple issue, but just because you ingest a drug does not mean that suddenly reality ceases to be real, and you go off into an Alice-in-Wonderland type of experience where what you see and hear has nothing to do with the outside world at all. In fact the philosophy of modern science would even argue against this for the simple idea that everything has a rational explanation, especially in a fairly well-known science such as human biology/biochemistry/toxicology.

Serotonin, melatonin, other neurotransmitters -- these are in fact drugs in the technical sense (which is the only sense that is not based on subjective politicized reasoning), especially when you put something like melatonin in a drink and then market it to help people relax and fall asleep more easily. The only reason you perceive reality in the way that you do while sober is because of the interaction of natural neurotransmitters. It is not an inherently "real" state of consciousness. The only reason we get used to our sober state of consciousness and assume that it must be what it's like for every other person and every other living being to be conscious, is because it's literally all most of us know. If even the relative balance of our natural neurotransmitters is changed, without adding any other drugs/chemicals, we can be sent on very crazy trips.

DMT is the psychedelic ingredient in ayahuasca, often claimed to be the most potent psychedelic drug known to man, and guess what? It's naturally-produced by your body, especially in children, which has led some to theorize that this is why children are more imaginative than adults: DMT release is curtailed or stopped after puberty, with remaining DMT being secreted during death. If simply the amount of DMT acting as a neurotransmitter was changed, you would be sent on the trip of your life. At what amount of DMT does reality cease to be real? It's like trying to find the starting point on the perimeter of a circle, there is no one correct answer. It's always present in the body, it's considered an extremely potent psychedelic, and yet we must have some standard for what is sober, so a small amount of DMT is actually assumed in that.

The sensations various drugs produce are all based on biological phenomena, meaning that they in fact have a basis in physical reality and are completely "real." Of course when someone ingests sugar, caffeine, nicotine or aspirin no one is going to say that reality is no longer being experienced. When it comes to how an individual's consciousness chooses to describe or portray the sensations caused by drugs, that is the trick. But it really is very tricky, because two people don't have to be on drugs for their levels of consciousness to be different, or to experience the world in fundamentally different ways. If you take a man from the paleolithic era, a man from era of the Old Kingdom in Egypt, a citizen of the Roman Republic, a modern westerner and a life-long Chinese Zen monk, these are all likely to experience reality in fundamentally different ways, to the extent that a modern westerner would probably think that the paleolithic man or Chinese Zen monk are naturally "tripping." Native tribes living in rainforest jungles who are brought out to civilization for the first time reportedly can't even comprehend seeing things at a great distance, as an indication of how differently their awareness has developed in isolation in a dense environment.

So you have to distinguish two things here: the biological (very real) effects of drugs, and the very subjective nature of consciousness itself. People can argue over where or not dreams are "real." It's a philosophical question, that has more to do with the nature of consciousness itself. The biological action of drugs that lead to altered states of consciousness are very much rooted in physical reality.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Welsh Mythology » 11 Feb 2015, 09:00

Coming back to the original instigation of this thread, and I know I'm digging a hole here, but once I again I read nothing here that qualifies our opinions.

Perhaps the Zen comparison is apt, as we are (and I do generalise) as conceptually incapable in the West of doing that practice any justice either. The problem isn't necessarily in our intelectual grasp of the subject, we are all obviously clever and articulate people. The problem lies in the cultural foundations that create our intelectual field. The implicit arrogance of Western education is that everything can be understood from the perspective of a victorian schoolmaster's desk (my personification for modern Western education).

As with Zen, we have not inherited the necessary conceptual tools to understand this subject well enough to say anything worthwhile about it, because for many generations now our Western languages and cultures of learning have impoverished that kind of thinking. The very fact that we are confusing drugs and drug abuse with medicine plant traditions is telling in itself. Its a totally different conceptual framework. Believing we can understand and comment on that framework from our own drastically limited backgrounds in this kind of discussion is, I'm afraid, just plain delusional.

Modern druidry doesn't provide the necessary tools for such an understanding because its a new tradition that's evolved in a totally new context. That's not to say it doesn't have its uses and benefits, and won't go someway to aiding an exploration, but to assume it provides us with a universal tool box for understanding everything, particularly something as foreign to it as a very well developed and ancient medicine tradition, just betrays the same Western attitude. Lets come down from our ivory towers for a minute and accept that there are specialists in this field, and that we can learn from them. I would say that it was more critical than ever that we do just that and drop the pretence of an all knowing and enlightened circle of observers. It serves nothing but the furthering of our own ignorance.

Those specialists don't hang around for very long in Western countries because the medicine they work with is almost always illegal (says it all really) and should they hang around long enough they would get arrested and slung in jail. Hence the need to go visit them. At least then we can spend some time getting to know them and begin to learn their way of doing things. We may then form useful opinions and share them.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Hennie » 11 Feb 2015, 09:13

I grew up in a social context where the use of recreational drugs, drugs to offer you insights and using plants for healing were all quite du jour, I know the Spirit of Cannabis, as well as the Spirit of Chamomile, but we in the west don't name these things in this way any more, we call them by their effects, of course in modern words, But we haven't quite forgotten all this, I think.

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Welsh Mythology » 11 Feb 2015, 09:21

Agreed Hennie. This video may help a little:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0c5nIvJH7w
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby ShadowCat » 11 Feb 2015, 09:47

I've been following this topic with great interest. Apart from being blackout-drunk once (not fun although my parents thought it hilarious from an educational point of view) I do not have any experience with full on perception-altering drugs of any kind. That said, I've experienced rather dramatic shifts in perception by wakes/sleepdeprivation and fasting several times. Just as DaRC during his mountainbikerace, knowing that it is just you(r body's chemistry) and the world, it makes for an interesting experience. Experimenting with mind-altering herbs is on my bucketlist, but I'll probably take a leaf out of Explorer's book on this one and do so only when there is a stable foundation and basically good health to begin with.

What I do see in this discussion is that we all come from very different backgrounds and experiences. It's often those experiences that form a filter to our reality (not unlike drugs in that matter) and let us see different things. For instance I never understood why I was looked at funny when buying a whole box with bottles of draincleaner (NaOH) at once for a soapmaking friend, until Breaking Bad. So my reality was one of looking forward to a day of simple homecrafting, the cashiers' reality was one coloured by her awarenesstraining and probably filled with doubt wether or not to sell to the local lawyer. Had Davin Raincloud stood behind me in line, he would have been very worried about a fellow bard going a wrong path.

So, what is reality? Who is right and who is qualified to define reality?
If we can not even determine a singular reality in daily life, why even bother to find some sort of consensus on (chemically) altered realities?

I do have an idea about it though, and it is borne from looking at drugs in our world in the same way as looking at other elements, like nutrition and medicine. There is a principal difference between the natural/organic corner and the allopathic/bigcorp way of looking at things. In the natural corner, one values the life-energy of a food or healing herb, accepting that it can be a different product from one day to another, from one location to another and even in reaction to a different consumer. This relative unpredictiveness is considered of great value. In the other corner, consistency, replicability, uniformity are seen as the key to quality and safety. It's the same difference between a "one size that fits all" garment versus the handknit sweater made by one's own granny. Our own personal comfortzone is somewhere between the two extremes and it is this that makes one person more drawn to chemical (prescription or illegal) drugs and another to fly-ageric-mead or ayuheasca. In druidry, I like that we are turned to looking at our self and our place on these scales.

Discussions like this help our placement and understanding of that place. As such, I think we are all qualified to talk about it. We should only be aware that no one in the world (not us "mailorder druids", but neither that fifth generation shaman who has never left his village somewhere in the jungle of south america) holds the one and only key to reality (and thus, to knowledge). We can not know it all, but we can be wise in our thinking and judgement. Wisdom starts with the awareness that one doesn't know half as much as we think we know. From there, we can learn, exchange and seek extern information to enhance our blind spots.

Sidenote/pet peeve: As long as we all speak from our own perspective and know that the others do that do, exchange is valuable. Discussions on "who's qualified" are a plague in modern society, deadening inspiration and killing progress by looking (again) for this one magical qualifier that guaranties truth and safety for all possible future scenario's. In today's newspaper there was an interesting piece about the norms on old-folks homes. There is a 20 page rulebook about the temperature of the fridges of the residents, but not one rule about the staff actually knowing the names of the residents. We fill our world with forms, norms and institutions issuing labels of any kind, yet we forget to live in this, our reality, however we might experience that reality.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby DJ Droood » 11 Feb 2015, 12:52

I'm pretty sure the Ancients, including Druids, weren't as heavily influenced by British Methodism as today's Druidry...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entheogeni ... f_cannabis

"The Celts may have also used cannabis, as evidence of hashish traces were found in Hallstatt, birthplace of Celtic culture.[35] Also, the Dacians and the Scythians had a tradition where a fire was made in an inclosed space and cannabis seeds were burnt and the resulting smoke ingested.

Hashish is known as the real Dionysos "wine".[36]"

Jean Markale also has a bit to say on this if you flip through his "Celtic Priests of Nature" book.



:shrug: times change....pass the decaf green tea please.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Welsh Mythology » 11 Feb 2015, 15:01

Shadowcat,

My point is not that we can't learn or don't have the tools to do so, neither do I proscribe referring to the fridge manual, but I've heard this very same conversation spin countless times round and round and inevitably reaching the same conclusion, a re-afirming of the same old stereotypes that no longer serve. There are Westerners who are experienced enough (and trained enough) to give sound advice on such matters, but it appears that they are far from this forum. In their absence the fundamentals can still be covered, which I'll restate just in case:

Medicine plants are very powerful teachers and so they can cause havoc if not approached the right way: most people will have a good time, some people can have severe reactions and problems. That being the case, if you are inexperienced in such things, the sensible thing to do would be to go find someone who is. There are well established traditions that use these medicines and they are sometimes willing to work with outsiders, often with startlingly positive results. It seems reasonable to assume that the best general advice would be to approach those spiritual traditions first.

That said, the point I'm more interested in is the following: dismantling the conceptual boxes that we unconsciously and aggressively stuff everything into (such a voracious addiction of the modern mind) should be the primary goal of anybody venturing into a new spiritual tradition, particularly one that is so foreign to our own quite stratified and blinkered cultures.

In a public forum like this, where all that has been done so far is a re-stuffing of said calcified conceptual boxes, the best possible advice I can think of giving is go work in a well established tradition, just to be on the safe side.

I think the apropriate emoticon is :old:
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Green Raven » 11 Feb 2015, 18:25

Not sure I’ve been likened to a ‘Victorian schoolmaster’ before or my thinking to a ‘calcified conceptual box’. I think I like it. :) My oppos from my free festival days would have been most amused. Pity about the three that ended up in psych wards. Did the bad Welsh acid exacerbate pre-existing underlying conditions? Who knows? They were fine until then.

I mentioned before that Iron Age Celts had available all manner of plant substances – opium, cannabinoids, etc., etc., and, yes, the body can throw some mighty analgesia – I was very grateful for that when a windthrow tree gave me a slap and I made it a mile and a half in a state of numbness with four broken ribs, a greenstick forearm and a broken jaw (my forestry period). Still gives me gyp during damp English winters. But DMT, as present in a not uncommon British plant, is going to have a wildly different effect from naturally secreted tryptamine. ‘St. Anthony’s Fire’ is not a comfy acid trip. Psilocybin is cuddlier but scopolamine is not. Tiny doses of thujone ‘fix’ natural dreams but a full-on thujone hallucination is horrific (yeah, did that too :oops: ). And, frankly, why would I want to smoke opium – I’d end up thinking like Russell Brand - or court cancer with unfiltered spliffs? It did no good to Bob Marley (or my youngest sister).

Yes, we all want adventures, and the pharmacy is an easy one (too easy – where’s the Quest?), but the pure bliss of sitting in a green forest and soaking up the privilege of a nightingale giving you a full concert less than a metre from your face (never seen one before or since) totally outweighs anything in the chemical fog. Or handfeeding slices of apple to a vixen – or being ‘mugged’ by a family of badgers impatient for more honey. Or studying closely the intricate art that is oak bark for an hour to lose 'self'. Or the mental singularity of slow-crafting an englyn, written as a meditation, finally completed – or just a simple rewrite of a popular folksong as a hymn to Brighid and sung with friends at a ritual. Precious points in existence, to be cherished without ego, and recalled as moments truly close to aspects of the divine. No labs involved.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Sciethe » 11 Feb 2015, 19:13

the pure bliss of sitting in a green forest and soaking up the privilege of a nightingale giving you a full concert less than a metre from your face (never seen one before or since) totally outweighs anything in the chemical fog. Or handfeeding slices of apple to a vixen – or being ‘mugged’ by a family of badgers impatient for more honey. Or studying closely the intricate art that is oak bark for an hour to lose 'self'. Or the mental singularity of slow-crafting an englyn, written as a meditation, finally completed – or just a simple rewrite of a popular folksong as a hymn to Brighid and sung with friends at a ritual. Precious points in existence, to be cherished without ego, and recalled as moments truly close to aspects of the divine. No labs involved.
Welsh Mythology has a point that we all filter our experience and have limited viewpoints, and Shadowcat is quite right when she says that we are all entitled to a view on this. We are all well aware of the complexity of the subject and have relevant experience. I don't agree with Welsh Mythology that the topic is going nowhere though! Together we are all making something wonderful that will be referred to by a lot of folk through time interested in what we think about all this, and I also consider that together we just about make one wise expert, at least on the generalities of should I-shouldn't I.

It's telling that the two outdoor and woodland workers (Green Raven and myself) broadly share a perspective, i.e. that although the induced states are fascinating the clear and meditative mind produces the best and deepest experiences. Could it be that living and working in nature is bringing us close enough to the natural world to experience it enough as our ancestors did to share their perceptions? I think maybe yes. There is very little about drug induced spirituality in the literature- could it be that it wasn't considered necessary or relevant to our land working ancestors? It is true to say that I find outdoor work far more spiritual than ritual, or anything else actually; and I wonder how typical that is.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Explorer » 12 Feb 2015, 11:51

Let me speak for myself only (unlike some others here).

I started to experiment with mushrooms after I completed my druid training.
Very carefully, under very controlled circumstances, guarded by another druid who stayed sober.

I decided to encapsulate it into a grove ritual, focusing on certain symbols, tarot cards, the elements, the spirits of nature, broadly to bring in that familiar sense of druidry....
...but that didn't work for a second. It was like I was blasted right through that facade, through the veils, right into the depths of something else. Straight to the core of things it seemed.

One of the surprises was that I also ended up in places where I had been before during deeper trance journeys and rituals.
But much sharper, effordless, much more sustained, with all the senses fully engaged, getting profound messages. And I was able to convey what I experienced to my 'sitter' while it happened. But I also kept a full memory of it and was able to write down the experiences. And I was most impressed about how I could interact with certain 'archetypes' in people, deity.
Not all of it was 'philosophical', most of it beautiful visual stuff, halucinations, dreamlike experiences and always with a a great sense of well being. But my broader intent is spiritual and my feeling is that this does open doorways into the Mysteries.

I made 6 of these journeys in roughly 2 years and I never had a single bad experience.
There is no addictive effect. For me the experiences are so intense that I don't feel the urge to make such journey's very often.
And I find it a great way to experience the mystical side of life. Especially because this can be seen a gift from nature itself, the mushrooms are local, and from my druid perspective this is one of the more peculiar and interesting spirits of nature of our woods. No dogma attached.

I must say that where I live it is legal and accepted, both spiritual and recreational.
And I understand that people from countries where their government tells them that it is all very bad for you have different opinions. ;-).
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Heddwen » 12 Feb 2015, 12:04

Your experiences are interesting Explorer. You mentioned that you'd reached that same place previously without taking the mushrooms and by entering a deep trance state. I was wondering how you achieved this. By drumming/ecstatic dance perhaps?

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Explorer » 12 Feb 2015, 12:12

But also, as has been mentioned before, the problem with taking any mind-altering chemical – plant extract or chemist’s patent formula – is that the world seen through that filter is false, bogus, a deception.
This is exactly that my extremist rational friend says about things like meditation, ritual or other spiritual business.
Everything 'seen' thay must be false, bogus and deception, because it is not rational or based on scientific fact.

I then tell him that he doesn't understand that perception is based on experience, and not on scientific fact, unless you are engaging in scientific inquiry at the time. He doesn't understand that you cannot simply call other people's experiences 'false', 'bogus' or 'deception' because they do not apply to your own particular limited frame of reference of the moment.
There are no short cuts. The druids’ path is cultivation of the mind through spiritual exercises, the production of divinely inspired verse – after learning the technical skills, understanding of the natural world and our place in it, instilling the discipline of coherent argument, the natural laws and the higher ethics.
Speak for yourself please? I have not found such dogma in druidry.
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Explorer
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Explorer » 12 Feb 2015, 12:27

Your experiences are interesting Explorer. You mentioned that you'd reached that same place previously without taking the mushrooms and by entering a deep trance state. I was wondering how you achieved this. By drumming/ecstatic dance perhaps?
It happened three times before.
It is a place that I associate with our very distant ancestors. Empty plains roamed by herds of beasts (mammoths? I'm not sure). And the people are short, brownish skin, and dark haired.

- The first time was just by myself doing one of the ovate guided journeys.
- The second time was during an OBOD camp where an experienced shamanist guided me there. It took me by surprise because she did that very fast, without a drum, within a minute or so. I don't even remember what she did, only that I noticed that she looked exactly like one of those people. Short and dark haired.
- The third time was at a nightly wicca ritual at one of our dolmens. There was a lot of chanting and strange words and we were asked to journey outward from the dolmen. I went north and ended up in that landscape...

The fourth time, during my mushroom journey, was different, much clearer. I was in that landscape, near a cave, witnessing the initiation of a boy into manhood. Not very dramatic, but the boy was told some of the male mysteries. Not all in words, also in bright images. I had never heard that particular point of view explained before, although if I go all rational then I could understand how it could have been conjured up by my subconsciousness. But I was in awe by how these idea's surfaced that way and how clearly I could grasp it. And also with a sense of familiarity, like I knew these people and this landscape, I had been there before.
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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Green Raven » 12 Feb 2015, 19:05

Thank you for sharing your experience and understanding, Explorer. I do genuinely appreciate your viewpoint and arguments.

Yes, I was being a little challenging, deliberately so to provoke a broader range of views, but “extremist rationalist” and demanding “scientific fact” are surely exaggerations? My personal practice is to strive for a state of awareness that allows me communion with what I term the ‘universal consciousness’, of which the spiritual world is intrinsically entwined. I do this through meditations, rites and allowing myself to be open to the remarkable, irrational and indefinable.

I shared with you extraordinary personal experiences (for me) from the seemingly mundane and ordinary – a bird’s song, encounters with common creatures (getting steadily rarer). Might a Zen vocabulary term them ‘little satoris’? That is through experience also, rather than merely taking a book’s word for it. And please don’t dismiss science for its method – controlled investigation can also bring extraordinary revelation.

During my more ‘rational’ studies, I was struck by the similarity of the artwork of our prehistoric ancestors and the shapes seen and drawn by those suffering psychiatric disturbance through illness or chemical adjustment. Have you seen Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’? The clusters of orbs, zigzags, spirals, and yes, even a triple spiral reminiscent of the Newgrange device. Hallucinations can be beautiful and through them one can be inspired to create beauty but they are hallucinations – untrue pictures and thoughts produced by imbalance. Hallucinations can also be caustic and terrifying with only negative outcomes – mentally and spiritually. The substances can be physically destructive to the delicate brain chemistry.

My antipathy stems from having spent hours bringing people down from bad trips or psychotic episodes and backing those instances up with personal care – ensuring medicines are taken, appointments kept and one-to-one time talking through issues. Not as a healthcare professional – I am not – but as a friend, informed by and working with professionals. From experience I know that when someone is locked into a psychotic episode, they are indeed seeing the world outside through a filter of damaged brain chemistry. If it does not pass or frequently recurs, experienced psychiatric professionals will use tiny quantities of other chemicals to rebalance the brain and then, through therapies, over time, reacquaint their patient with the commonly perceived world. Messing with that chemistry is a dangerous game – even a drink or a spliff can set the patient back months. Reason is the most important tool in these matters.

To others who were thinking of trying herbs or formulas: Why not first explore the mind, the Otherworld, the hidden realms using meditations and thought exercises? Wonders will reveal themselves. I use black pool gazing, deep detail visual study and benign ritual as well as exegesis of the ancient and more modern writings to guide the path. Also the concept of the Quest – that the most worthwhile results are attained after taking the most arduous journey. A popular illustration would be that of The Lord of the Rings – wouldn’t it have been a lot quicker to have put Frodo on one of those eagles to get the ring to the mountain of fire? But it was the journey and the encounters that saved Middle Earth (or Olde England from the evils of industrialisation). The development of understanding through the journey works for me.

Just my opposing view.
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)

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Re: druidry and drugs

Postby Explorer » 12 Feb 2015, 20:05

but “extremist rationalist” and demanding “scientific fact” are surely exaggerations?
I didn't mean you with that, but my friend. Who used similar terms to describe perception from mind altering techniques (meditation/ritual) as the terms that you use to describe perception from mind altering substances.
And please don’t dismiss science for its method – controlled investigation can also bring extraordinary revelation.
You are absolutely right, and you don't see me dismiss science and the scientific method. I work in the scientific community myself, in astronomy, and it one of my favorite ways to perceive nature. But it is not the only way, and I don't use the scientific method to judge my spiritual perceptions.
During my more ‘rational’ studies, I was struck by the similarity of the artwork of our prehistoric ancestors and the shapes seen and drawn by those suffering psychiatric disturbance through illness or chemical adjustment. Have you seen Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’? The clusters of orbs, zigzags, spirals, and yes, even a triple spiral reminiscent of the Newgrange device. Hallucinations can be beautiful and through them one can be inspired to create beauty but they are hallucinations – untrue pictures and thoughts produced by imbalance. Hallucinations can also be caustic and terrifying with only negative outcomes – mentally and spiritually. The substances can be physically destructive to the delicate brain chemistry.
Interesting. It was in fact those shapes and drawings that I saw in the caves in southern france and spain that made me curious about how I could access that state of mind. And I wondered if the use of local and natural mind altering plants/mushrooms could be a key to such a common experience with the ancestors.

Yes, I'm sure there is a dangerous side to it also, if one is unprepared, careless or plain stupid. And many people are plain stupid. But should that perse stop people who are serious and careful about it? I've never met anyone with such bad experiences with mushrooms or ayahuasca, perhaps because most people I know do it in groups with guidance.

I guess we agree to disagree
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