The two articles I have written on The Dark Side of Ayahuasca, Part 1 and Part 2, have generated considerably more reaction and gain more attention from readers than perhaps any other article since I first started writing online around 1997. Many people have come to me stating that they have negative effects from their ayahuasca experience, which they didn’t know what to do about or how to relate to. They found my article spoke to that. Then there are those people who, it would seem, had an adverse reaction to me saying negative things about their beloved plant medicine. The typical stance taking by such people has been that of, “Taking ayahuasca really helped me a lot… why are you writing negatively about it? It just shows you your own issues… etc.”
In this much briefer article (part three of the Ayahuasca articles) we’ll take a look at why ayahuasca may seem deceptively attractive to many people, some more of the hidden issues in such practices, how Man degrades such practices, and what the alternatives are [to be added at a later time].
Zeitgeist — The defining spirit of our times
We live in spiritually depraved and degraded times. That is the Zeitgeist of this epoch we are in. The original “tools” (of consciousness) The Divine Mother provided humanity for maintaining spiritual lucidity, clarity, and purity, have been almost entirely forgotten or, at the very least, heavily distorted. The vast majority of human beings are deeply asleep to their Divine Nature, to their timelessly enlightened state of being. This, in simple terms, is the spiritual context in which people are heading in droves to South America to take ayahuasca. I would suggest it is also the spiritual context in which indigenous people in South America started using Ayahuasca themselves. One of the challenges of these times, and the last few thousands years, is that ordinary Man has forgotten her history.
From my perspective, there are significant and revealing parallels between the popularity of ayahuasca, and the popularity of mothers electing to have c-section births, and the popularity of people taking pharmaceutical drugs for their ailing health, along with surgeries to remove cancers, and the like. I shall explain.
One aspect of the present degraded state of human consciousness is that a significant and growing number of women our out of touch with their womanhood. Let’s use this as an example. The natural act of childbirth has for many woman, and men, become an object of fear. Rather than being a spiritually powerful rite of passage in a woman’s life, it is often approached as a disease. The percent of women electing to “birth” their child by c-section operations is astounding. The official statistics for 2010 in the USA is that 32.8% of reported births were by c-section. The vast majority of these surgeries are done by choice, not out of some kind of medical necessity. Australia has a similar rate of c-sections as the USA, and New Zealand has around 23% (2010).
Obviously, expecting-mothers and their doctors make the choice to “deliver” the baby by c-section because on the surface it appears to be beneficial. From an administrative perspective, c-section births can be booked in like any other surgery. This makes for a very efficient use of hospital resources, and the doctor’s busy schedule, and provides a very predictable experience for the mother. Wham, bam, thank-you ma’am. Embracing this mod-CON and its apparent efficiency, we fail to see the energetic costs involved in children not passing through their very first rite of passage. Something I won’t go into here, as it would make for a lengthy article.
Then there’s the case of pharmaceutical drugs. Most people, who can afford it, take them in massive quantities because of the perceived benefits. The average person in the USA takes over 14,000 pharmaceutical tablets in a life-time. Those are statistics from about 10 years ago, so it’s likely increased since then. There are certain known, and unknown side-effects (or, unintended consequences) to taking medications. To take medication without at least some consideration of the side-effects is not advisable. Many people turn a blind-eye to the side-effects of a medication if they really want to reap its reported benefits. The statistics show the dark side of medication (and the medical system as a whole) is a massive problem. In the USA the medical system is (according to official Government statistics) the number 3 cause of death. What does that tell us when we have a society of people willing to turn to medications and medical procedures as their source of “health,” and yet the very practices intended to benefit them are in fact one of the most likely things to kill them?
Both of these examples are indicators of the level of degradation in our society. First and foremost, the degradation of consciousness. Consciousness degradation is the result of spiritual degeneration and depravity.
Path of Freedom
From the perspective of a Path of Freedom, and that of the Original Wisdom of Humanity, the use of psychoactive substances is something man has for the most part taken to as an answer to our spiritual degradation. From one perspective, it is a shortcut many are reaching for out of spiritual desperation. It is only relative to man’s degenerate state of consciousness that psychoactive substances come to have some appeal and possible benefit. But just like the hidden cost of medical interventions, and c-section births, using psychoactive substances also come at a price. It is that price I wanted to shed some light on by writing about the Dark Side of Ayahuasca. A wrote a similar article about the use of cannabis.
Administered at the right time (in a person’s life), in the right way, by the right person, ayahuasca without doubt has beneficial qualities for some people. Yet it would be a grave mistake to not see that what ayahuasca is primarily revealing to us is simply the level of our own spiritual degeneration. It is ultimately the new-found awareness of our degenerate state that sets in motion its remedy. Yet once this is revealed, and some perceptual clarity has been restored, it is up to each of us to bare the process—at times arduous, at times enthralling and exhilarating—of our own awakening and illumination. No plant or substance can do that for us. Ayahuasca can highlight our spiritual/self-ignorance, and that can prove to be transformational. Yet just as the person having their cancer surgically removed without putting in the effort to address the underlying emotional, psychic, and nutritional cause of their disease (which will no doubt require a massive change of life-style) is blind-sided, so too is the person who thinks ingesting a plant can replace the hard work of reclaiming their spiritual dignity.
In some ways using substances like Ayahuasca for spiritual “awakening” is like burning your house down in order to get warm. One throws a can of gasoline on the sofa and sets it alight. The effect is quick and powerful. It’s guaranteed to warm you up. Yet one must ask… Why go for such a violent and dramatic experience when with a little time and discipline you could learn to create a controlled fire? The art of selecting a tree, chopping it down, cutting it into useful lengths, splitting them into useful pieces, stacking them, letting them season, making some kindling, and then building a controlled fire. It takes patience, discipline, and a willingness to actually master the art of Being. I am not saying people who use Ayahuasca, as a generalisation, fail to apply themselves spiritually in other ways. But I have witnessed a tendency toward spiritual rebelliousness, spiritual laziness, confusion, and a desire for quick solutions. There’s nothing inherent ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about any of these motivations or tendencies. It’s really all a question of Intent.
To reiterate an important point made in Part Two: If your Intent it to have a spiritual blast and blow out a few psychic cobwebs, and get some tangible experience of the spiritual realms the Mother is intelligently holding back from your daily experience, then so be it. Ayahuasca is likely a great way to get that. But if your Intent is to deeply learn to master your own spirit (as opposed to the spirit of a plant), then from the perspective of the Original Knowledge, psychoactive substances are, in most circumstances, not the best way to go about fulfilling such an Intent. Basically, you’re in need of spiritual training. Actually, I feel it is safe to say a great many people attracted to Ayahuasca are in need of genuine spiritual training. But for a long list of reasons that’s not on most peoples’ agenda. A spiritual blast on Ayahuasca is seemingly a lot easier, and quicker.
Degradation within the practice itself
Another issue I have had some insight into recently is how many of ancient practices—be they various spiritual practices, or use of entheogenic plants, etc.—have in themselves been degraded by the quality of consciousness (or lack thereof) and degraded intent the people utilising them bring to the situation. Trying to describe that in lucid clarity is not something I feel to attempt in this moment. So I will simply give a very simple metaphor. Imagine a neighbourhood that has been newly built. A new subdivision, for example. It’s a relatively neutral space, in which there is a relatively neutral arrangement of elements (houses, trees, roads, curbs, wind belts, ponds, etc.). Of course, the particular elements that have been naturally and artificially incorporated into this space give it a particular nuance and feeling or atmosphere.
Someone moves into the subdivision and finds it a great change from the New York high-rise apartment tower they lived in previously. So they tell their friends, who also tell their friends, and over time the words gets out, and more and more people move there. As this space (the subdivision) becomes increasingly filled with people, its quality will start to reflect the quality of the people who are there. Whether they are young, retired, working, with families, not with families, drug addicts, heavy drinkers, ecologically minded, or not, etc. The space (referred to as a subdivision) changes over time. It may change for better or for worse. Put another way, the space may become increasingly life-affirming and life-supporting, or it may become increasing life-degrading. It is the people, and what thy carry (mostly in their psychic interiority) that will have the greatest impact on this space. Even if there were nice gardens, trees, safe walk-ways, ponds with ducks, etc., originally incorporated into this space, the consciousness of the people will be superimposed over all of that.
It’s not greatly different when it comes to the “medicine space” (which is a space within the psychic dimension of the Earth and within the collective psyche of Man) we enter into when under the influence of the spirit of Ayahuasca. Originally when Man started entering that space, and familiarised herself with it, and then started to actively work with it, and also manipulate it, it was a relatively “clear” space. It is my understanding that the indigenous cultures who first used these plants to enter into the spaces they open Man up to, would approach the spirit of the plant with a great deal of respect, and would develop a relationship over a considerable period of time. That’s really the wise and respectful way to approach any new relationship. Rather than barging into the private space of a new acquaintance and demanding things from them, we take time to get to know them, in a dignified and respectful way.
That, in my experience and observation, is not the way the vast majority of modern Ayahuasca users are approaching the spirit of this sacred plant. Anyone considering using Ayahuasca would be wise to spiritually investigate what impact this has had on the medicine space of Ayahuasca, and on the spirit of Ayahuasca, in recent years. My observation is that it is degrading and becoming increasingly infiltrated by negative forces. I would say the same for cannabis, alcohol, and other substances people commonly alter their consciousness with. If we use these substances in unconscious and blind-sided ways, over time the substances become the very carriers and propagators of unconsciousness and blind-sidedness. Not because they are “bad,” but just because Man has polluted them, in much the same way we have polluted most of the Earth, the oceans, rivers, lakes, cities, children, people, etc.
Abuse of Power
Another serious issue, arising with concerning regularity within some Ayahuasca circles, is the misuse of power with the aim of taking advantage of women. I’ve come across numerous woman who have had to deal with “shamans” taking advantage of them sexually during, and after ayahuasca ceremonies. There’s an article, and many comments under it, that covers this issue in some detail, available here. If you’re a woman, and you’re considering taken ayahuasca in South America, I strongly advise reading that article.
[I am going to publish Part 3 without completing this section. Mostly to satisfy those people expressing interest in seeing this third article in the series. When I see there’s sufficient interest in Other Options, or I simply just feel moved to write more, I’ll update this section. For now, Other Options is a place-holder of what’s to come.