Psychedelics can work as a great tool for growth and development, however like most tools if used irresponsibly you can end up in a worse position than when you started. I recently visited Iquitos (Peru), and I am writing this article from Cuzco (Peru). Walking around these areas you see lots of casualties of the psychedelic culture, on the opposite of that you see people who have been clearly helped, who are doing amazing work. I would say the former outweighs the latter and there is a feeling of desperation in the air here, but perhaps more education on responsible use from both participants and facilitators could lead to less lost souls. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before taking psychedelics:
Where You Called?
If you have ever had a calling you will know what this means- it is not exclusive to the use of psychedelic substances, you can be called to a line of work, a person or a hobby. This is when you get an overwhelming intuitive inclination to do something.
Doing something out of desperation will usually lead to more desperation, so it is important that you know you are doing something for the right reasons, this is not just for psychedelics, but for any big decision you make. If you are being pressured, or doing it because everyone else is doing it, stop and think are you being called by the medicine?
Have You Communicated With The Medicine?
Plants hold spirit or at least this has been my experience and understanding. It is respectful to communicate with the medicine before you take them. You can ask for the spirit to communicate with you, this can come in the form of dreams, feelings or during meditation. If you don’t get anything back maybe it is not your time to work with the medicine.
Are You Ready?
Everyone’s experience is different and it is best to go into a ceremony without any big expectations, however journeying with plant spirits can open a box very quickly, if you are not in some way prepared for this it can lead to psychosis and there is often a fine line between getting what you were looking for and completely losing your mind. Make sure you are ready to go down the rabbit hole should you decide to take this path.
Did You Prepare Correctly?
Different Shaman have different guidelines on what to do before ceremony, and different medicine have different guidelines, this is why it is so important to have a shaman you trust. However I think avoiding meat, caffeine, drugs, sex and alcohol anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before and after is a good start.
Also having intentions if you are looking for specific answers, again this depends on the person- some like to allow the medicine to guide or have vague intentions like “show me what I need to see”.
Is The Shaman Competent?
When you work with medicine that puts you into an altered state you are literally opening your soul, if you have a shaman that is incompetent they could really leave you in a bad way. Best case scenario the shaman may give bad advice, be in it for the money or close ceremony while you are still in a vulnerable state. Worse case you could end up with entities (either put there intentionally or by mistake), irreversible mental health problems or in some of the most irresponsible cases death.
Ask your shaman questions, trust your intuition and if you ever feel like it is not right for you walk away. You don’t need to work with a shaman for all medicines, however for many you do and for all it is good to seek some kind of guidance before you enter the spirit realm.
Psychedelics when used responsibly can be a great tool for growth, with that being said, even if you follow the guidelines here you can still end up with some undesirable side effects. When you work with anything that alters your state (through the use of a substance or not) you need to do so with respect. My understanding is that the spirit realm is very real and allows you to access things that you cannot in the physical, but in the same way many would become spooked should a ghost show up in your bedroom, the same could be said for the spirits. Be mindful of what you are doing and always trust your intuition.
I am Luke Miller the author of this article and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here