I've been sitting here for an hour and a half working on different concepts for today's post and none of them are hitting the mark. Why? Because elaborating on the historical, medicinal, spiritual, psychological significance and efficacy of Psilocybin or any other psychedelic plant for that matter seems utterly void of the passion that I am feeling right now. Of course, I am passionate about all of these elements of ethnobotanical inquiry, however at this given moment, I am lent to anger.
Yes anger. Rarely does my love for sacred mushrooms and the history around them translate into anger but apparently now is the time. As I have sat here peeling through hundreds and hundreds of images of mushrooms encoded in sacred art, alongside an admiration for the sacrament I have developed a deep sense of rage.
I have been using Carl de Borhegyi's fantastic and fascinating website mushroomstone.com, John Rush's text and accompanying CD ROM The Mushroom in Christian Art , and Clark Heinrich's intriguing work, Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy as references and as evidence. At times, even I try to convince myself that somehow I must be deluded, that mushrooms aren't embedded into every single form of spiritual practice. But this has become even harder to self persuade than the alternative. Transversely, it is now more difficult to prove to me that many of the images in these historical works of art and codified language are NOT mushrooms. They are, they simply are mushrooms. So, why would this be a point of anger and contention for me as a lover of all things fungal? Why would this not further solidify my love and passion for 'The Flesh of God'?
Persecuting the Truth Seekers, A Time Honored Display of Faith
I would think that a moment's reflection would provide you with the answer. But please, allow me to explain. You see these mushrooms have often been encoded or 'hidden in plain sight' because their use, their adoration, is historically a cause for persecution. By persecution I don't mean ridicule. I mean persecution. Murder, imprisonment, banishment, torture, you name it and the good 'people of faith' have done it to those who have used sacred mushrooms, the oldest sacrament for self improvement. An even great atrocity is that those who have performed these murderous and torturous acts are descendants of those very religions and institutions that were founded on the use of Amanita and Psilocybin mushrooms.
Make no mistake, modern Christianity, is a descendant of pagan mushroom rituals. The associations with 'Jesus' and these fungi are impossible to ignore once you have been made aware of them. Search for yourself, don't take my word for it. There is ample evidence not to illustrate these facts. The communion wafer said to be the 'body of Christ', the 'holy grail' of 'Christ's blood', the countless esoteric references to manna (which is a Syrian term for mushroom) the innumerable instances of mushrooms in Christian art, many of which posit 'Jesus' as seated on top or among them, all give clue to the origins of one of our most passionately followed religions.
Now, I'm not going to be the one who says the character of Jesus Christ was the personification of the sacred mushroom. But if you come to that conclusion on your own, well, I don't think it is any more unrealistic than believing that he was; a 'god' who was born of a virgin, performed unnatural miracles, was killed by the Roman government, resurrected three days later and then floated body and soul into the skies to sit on a throne and rule the earth, one day to come again in 'clouds of glory'. And yet this supposedly human figure who has had perhaps the greatest cultural impact on modern society, somehow escaped any historical record outside of the institutionally canonized 'Bible'.
Anyway, back to my anger, or did I even make an apparent departure? Yea, so I'm pissed. I could get pissed about this before, thinking about all of the powerful and gifted individuals who have been bludgeoned, burned and skewered by the well intended 'followers of Christ' but only recently has it become personal, truly personal.
I grew up with the knowledge that my family had suffered enormously due to the insane drug laws in the United States. With uncles who were major players in the Cornbread Mafia I have seen personally the familial and financial destruction that has been the overwhelming result of America's 'War on Drugs', yes, Marijuana, another harmless and now proven medicinal plant being the main target. Yet even this connection didn't really 'hit home'. My parents, who were victims to the relentless propaganda of 'Just Say No' and the 'D.A.R.E. program didn't blame the government for the unjust laws that caused their brothers, nephews and friends to go to prison, loose thousands of acres of family land. No, they had, like most Americans, been conditioned to defer the blame to those who grew the harmless plants and to classify them as criminals, plants that are of course now being recognized as powerful medicinals.
After breaking free from the Conservative Republican and dogmatic Catholic upbringing (thanks to ingesting some of these plants) I did begin to develop some animosity towards this system that punished Cannabis growers with a heavy hand and gave corporate and political criminals a slap on the wrist but in 2015 the injustice became personal and immediately relevant. This is when I was arrested.
I have never once in my life been in a police car, I have never been handcuffed or investigated. I haven't even had a speeding ticket in the past seven years. I have a Master's Degree from the University of Louisville in Education and an undergraduate in English Literature. I have taught middle and high school, I am a trained carpenter, and have been in management positions for the last twenty years of my life. I have traveled to six countries, four continents and 40 of the fifty states. I am an artist, musician and I currently manage and design four websites. I taught myself every step of gourmet mushroom cultivation from lab tech to marketing and was on the way to having an extremely successful gourmet mushroom farm. I have a beautiful and talented partner, two children that I love with my whole heart and a canine companion who is often acknowledged as one of the sweetest dogs you'll meet. I am also the first and one of the only Indiana state accredited wild mushroom experts....
And I am a felon. I cannot vote or own a gun. I spent a week in jail with thieves and violent men, I shelled out over $10,000 to stay out of prison, I was kept away from my partner for 8 weeks and lost my business and property. I am also working through two years of probation with random drug testing, not to mention the public shame that myself and my family have gone through. Thanks to my successful mushroom business and the many articles that were written about it, the arrest was pretty highly publicized.
Why was a talented and motivated person such as myself arrested? Because I was working privately to help individuals overcome challenges and seek more fulfilling existences with Psilocybin mushrooms. To make it even more painful one of the individuals who sought me out for a ceremony, a friend of over a year, someone who had been to my house on many occasions, is the one who reported these activities to the authorities.
And the List Goes On.....
OK, that is a big part of why I am angry. But not all of it, that is just what made it personal. Why I am really, really angry here is because not just me, not just my uncles but millions of people have had their lives ruined. Not only because they have been arrested for PLANTS, but by being denied access to these PLANTS that have THOUSANDS OF YEARS of documented therapeutic use, countless people have suffered.
We have a government that will send teenagers off to die for ideological and political reasons, but if and when those individuals return home, instead of having access to safe plants that can help them deal with this institutionally sanctioned trauma, they are given dangerous pharmaceuticals that either make them addicts or more traumatized then they were before. Of course there is always the option of sourcing some illegal PLANTS and potentially going to jail for it.
If you're not a victim of war or political propaganda, and you're just an average citizen who needs some psychological assistance, you can always go to the psychiatrist and be assured a prescription for some cocktail of minimally tested chemicals that will leave you feeling numb and nullified so that you never have to actually face the internal or external issues that are causing these problematic psychological states. Of, course if you are one of those millions of people who would rather not become addicted to these factory made diversions you can, like the PTSD veteran choose to source some illegal PLANTS and potentially land yourself in prison, which I'm sure will do wonders for your psychological well being.
Or maybe you are a therapist or psychiatrist who by some twist of fate hasn't been brainwashed into believing that the PLANTS are the problem and you would choose to clandestinely offer these therapies to your clients, well you know the potential outcome here I'm sure.
But let's say that you are a person who would like to augment your spirituality with one of the ancient and proven safe and effective PLANTS, plants that have been featured in famous Christian, Buddhist, Islamic or Jewish works of art, Plants that have been around since before the first chapter of the Bible gave us 'permission' to use "EVERY seed bearing plant and every fruit bearing tree". Well, you can surely do this, but do not expect your religious rights to protect your use of PLANTS, even though it does allow you to prevent certain people from using a public restroom or discrimination of other religions . You can CERTAINLY go to jail for using plants 'religiously'.
Of course, you can always conduct some government sanctioned research on these plants to help prove their legitimacy and one day enable sufferers of PTSD, addiction, OCD, Cluster Headaches, Psychosis, Cancers, Depression and Spiritual Malaise, access to such therapies. That is of course if these plants weren't Federally Classified Schedule 1 substances (meaning that they have a high potential for addiction and abuse with NO medical value whatsoever) Though there is always the option of raising $250,000, assembling a team of experts, applying for permits and conducting decades of research, all while witnessing countless individuals escorted off to prison, losing their homes, and lives because these PLANTS aren't yet legal.
What REALLY Gets My Psychedelic Goat
But you know, (if you're still with me, and if so, I give you some major props) what really pisses me off? It's not that these plants are illegal or that myself and countless others have suffered due to antiquated, draconian rules. It's not that these safe and effective PLANTS are illegal or scheduled more harshly than dangerous drugs of addiction such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
What really, really, gets under my skin is that billions of people ALLOW this. Yes, we the people, who govern the governors do not stand up and demand without waiver that these PLANTS be made fully legal and put to their Gaia given use, for the healing of humankind. YOU and I stand back every day and allow this to go on. We voice our opinions about GMO's, about Religious Freedom, about Racism, Sexism, Ecology, and Animal Rights, about Minimum Wage, Refugees, and Gay Rights. (which I do believe all deserve a voice)
And through these efforts we make change. But because the sovereignity over our own consciousness has been made so taboo by the institutions that hand us our list of do's and don'ts we will side with the oppressor and allow our families, friends and neighbors to be carted off to prison, whilst we sit in our comfortable living rooms watching the nightly news or scrolling through Facebook, sharing memes and say to ourselves, "well, if he hadn't grown that, if she didn't eat so many of those" when it is not only the God given rights of the individuals to consume whatever PLANTS they choose, but is nearly mandated by our endocannabanoid and serotonin systems that we do so.
Well then, while I am not any less upset, perhaps even more so than when this blog began, I at least have a clear vision of what I am upset about and through these ramblings I have formulated an even firmer resolve to do whatever I can to contribute to changing the mindset and the perception of safe psychedelic PLANTS. Myco-Medtations is my humble effort to take the tools that I have at hand and submit to my fellow humans that there IS another option. We DO NOT have to lay down and take it. We CAN stand up for our rights. Yes it requires some investment of time, money and motivation. This is also why I have formed PLEDG (Psychedelic Liberation Education Discipline and Guidance) as a non-profit organization in the United States to advocate for legalization, research and development. And while getting arrested for my efforts to assist those in need did end my facilitation of psychedelic therapy in the U.S. it has only fanned the flames of advocacy for much needed and just change.
What to do, What to do?
Remember, you don't have to be gay to support gay rights, you don't have to be a dog to speak out against animal cruelty and you don't have to be a psychedelic consumer to stand up for Ethnobotanical Rights. Growing mushrooms in your closet while remaining silent is not the answer. Perhaps this does help to some degree in spreading the word, making the medicine available, but it is the power of your voice, especially the professional and community leaders (who I know are out there) that will create change. Being nice to 'black' people in the sixties didn't bring on the Civil Rights movement. Standing in front of the fire hoses did, demanding rights did. Hiding in the 'homosexual closet' didn't bring about the Marriage Equality revolution, standing up in the streets and demanding your human rights did.
I hope you will join me if you haven't already. If you're sitting on the fence or just coming into this world of psychedelic liberation then I would encourage you to be courageous and intelligent. We can make a change, but we must speak intelligently and with righteous demand, for this is not only our right, but our birthright. Participating in a retreat, donating to PLEDG, or MAPS, spreading the word with intelligence and dignity of this and other Ethnobotanical endeavors are all part of the movement. I am confident I will meet many of you along the way.