The Mystical, Medicinal Magic of Psychedelic Substances

For all of human time, we’ve been bound to the systems of nature – as it should be, because we are nature. But we are creatures of nature who, by a mixed blessing, have developed an intellect, a sense of our own importance, that makes us imagine that we are separate and function above and apart from the mysterious intelligence of the natural world. Unfortunately, that self-centered illusion and its rigid constructs of "reality" are the very source of our collective and individual woes. "I am separate from this world and its mysteries."

Woe is my idea of me.

Modern medicine, particularly in the field of pharmacology, has grown into a vast industry that services the whole range of human aches and pains – from injuries and diseases, to existential anxiety and despair – by furthering this illusion of separateness with "scientific’ solutions," counterattacks, and means of managing our pain and depression. Yet, even in this misguided scientific sense, our true path to healing is leading us back to our original, magical natural reality; to an intuitive science of mystical dimensions, and a natural recovery that can deliver us from the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that are such a part of being a human being.

LSD for Psychotherapy

When Albert Hofmann, a Swiss research scientist, accidentally discovered the psychoactive effects of LSD in 1943, he didn't discover a popular way for hippies to "tune in, turn on, and drop out." Instead, he rediscovered a means to engage humanity's most enduring and effective "alternative" medical solutions. These were approaches of profound therapeutic potential to a variety of ailments, because they didn't only treat the surface aspects of an illness or condition, but the source of the dysfunction at its deepest—what you may call psychic and spiritual origins.

At that time, there was a great deal of excitement around the discovery of psychoactive compounds, as experimental studies began researching their efficacy as pharmacological tools for analytical psychotherapy. Hofmann (who went on to isolate and name psilocybin), and other pioneers of the field, like the German, Louis Lewin, began 'discovering' naturally occurring entheogenic agents, like mescaline (peyote cactus), "sacred datura" (Jimson weed), Ibogaine (from the iboga plant), and DMT (ayahuasca), and to synthesize other euphoric and empathogenic agents, like MDMA (ecstasy), opening the doors to their possible applications therapeutically.

Naturally Occurring Agents Open the Human Psyche

This was nothing new to the oldest cultures among us. The unique effectiveness of these naturally occurring agents in opening the human psyche to transformation was (and is) appropriately venerated and employed by indigenous shamans ("witch doctors") through the entirety of human history. They are considered to be plant teachers, sacred gifts to humanity from the gods; and human beings are quite literally wired to their use.

When administered judiciously and appropriately, these generally non-toxic, non-addictive agents of change inspire action along neural pathways unique to what are known as "mystic" experiences of profound religious, or spiritual realization, and are almost miraculously effective in the treatment of many of our most painful human conditions – particularly those that engage our feelings or fears (in other words, all of them).

LSD as a Cure for Alcoholism

The English psychiatrist, Humphry Osmond (who even invented the term psychedelic), while seeking to find the link between these new "psychotomimetic" substances and various states of psychosis, began giving experimental dosages of LSD to hopeless alcoholics, but instead of simply showing a similarity between drug-induced psychic states and destructive alcohol psychosis, the experiment produced an entirely unexpected result.

The alcoholics did something they could never do before – they quit drinking.

Through the magic of their therapeutically induced mystical experiences, they had discovered a power in their life that was greater, and more beneficially medicinal, to them than alcohol could ever be. (This is the basic principle behind the 12-Step recovery movement started by Alcoholics Anonymous, whose primary creator, Bill Wilson, was one of Dr. Humphry's patients.)

Humphry had changed the direction of treatment of psychiatric disorders from "aversive counter-conditioning" to psychopharmacological therapeutic mysticism.

Western medicine was being merged back into shamanic healing.

Read Robert’s next article on psychedelics and spiritual therapy

He discusses institutional and government control invading the natural order of the universe in Psychedelics and Spiritual Therapy.

Dive into psychedelic medicine on Gaiam TV

If you’re not yet a member of Gaiam TV, sign up now to explore our original programming on the benefits of psychedelic therapy, and much more. Get started with the following programming:

Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines

Mind Shift – Psychedelic Perspectives

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