The Spaces In BetweenApr 25, 2023
Working deeply with plant medicines takes a certain mix of fearlessness, curiosity, and trust that few other things do. Let's face it, they can be unpredictable even to the most practiced hand, having a consciousness of their own that drives us to extraordinary highs and lows. As a lover of natural medicine and earth-based practices, I am definitely on board with the so-called "psychedelic renaissance" for mental and physical wellness, however, that phrase turns my stomach a bit.
The Renaissance period was an art, cultural, political, and economic time frame in Europe that broke away from the "Dark Ages" that preceded it by reviving certain practices. I definitely see some similarities here that pertain to the current times, but let us not forget that people all around the world have been partaking in earth-based practices, including plant medicines for eons, without the aid of Europeans or Westerners finding them cool. The only difference now is the rise in popularity and thus consumerism that puts it on the map connected to science, technology, and pharmaceutical medicine, that potentially creates new solutions and concerns. There is a stamp of cultural appropriation mixed with a colonialist devil-may-care attitude that is fairly common in Truth Seeking individuals. I am not necessarily against this, but human beings have a knack for short attention spans and an I-want-it-now attitude without slowing down for the process to unfold. Perhaps it's due to our relatively brief lifetimes.
The flashing lights, colors, and peek beyond the veil are indeed fascinating, causing a push towards creating something new by mixing substances, adding in various esoteric practices, and moving from medicine to medicine with audacious abandon. Modern humans, and especially Westerners who are farther away from their indigenous roots, are Seekers by nature pushing the limits in a rebellious and curious fashion in order to find....something...truth, love, spiritual evolution, perhaps a good time? Regardless, this swan dive is often remiss of the consequences and no so more than during this new wave of mind-expanding psychedelic consumption.
Honestly, I am all about humans leveling up their consciousness, but I think it's fairly odious of people to expect popping some psilocybin, smoking DMT, shooting up ketamine (don't even get me started on that one), or guzzling pints of ayahuasca to be an easy answer to "all the things". Having lived in the Sacred Valley of Peru for nearly eight years during the medicine explosion in 2012, I have seen firsthand how blind intake of medicine plants without respect for lineages or the locals, or even considering the growth of the plants, creates chaos, malcontent, and even death.
The reality is that taking plant medicine will not necessarily make you a happier, more creative, and kinder person. In fact, I have witnessed many people become more narcissistic, egotistical, and self-righteous. The warning label should really read "will amplify what needs to be worked on." Sure, most of the time we feel amazing for a few days, that is until the other aspects revealed in the journey come out to play, and sadly this is when people return to more medicine, upping doses, or distracting with some other tool instead of sitting in this next level of ceremony. The fire of your own making.
"When I began doing medicine it didn't occur to me to slow down because I knew I was made for this. That is until I burnt myself out, making myself ill, and needed years to integrate the power of this path."
My dear friend and Medicine Man shared this with me one day as we talked about integration, and I have to say I am so thankful he shared this bit of vulnerable wisdom. The concept of integrating gets thrown around a lot and is honestly not just one thing. Or rather it IS one thing, "the spaces in-between" the medicine where illumination happens. When the flashing lights and harmonious high wears off, that is where the true ceremony takes place, and quite frankly it's not always a fun ride, but completely necessary for the transformational process to transpire. If we are really in a historical time of plant medicines revolutionizing human existence, then we need to look at these in-between spaces where we harvest the intentional seeds placed in ceremony. This is the time to plant foods and more medicines, to clean up our home lives, diet, lifestyle, and relationships. It is also a time to get real about what matters and invite more pleasure and play into our lives.
When we slow down and listen with all of our senses something magical happens! Ah-ha moments become clear and even the challenges don't seem so scary as they did before. It is in these moments that we clear out the old and make way for the new upgrades that come from our next journeys. When this step is missed or ignored altogether then often times the lessons compound until we are forced to stop through illness or breakdown. Integration is not just an intellectual or emotional process sorting out traumas, but rather it has active parts of realization. How do you truly want to live in this gift of life you have been given? How deep do you want to go into your own potential? How intimate would you like to be with the people in your life? What can be changed for a stronger, healthier, and more balanced body? What creative endeavors do you wish to partake in or be the leader of?
When we re-frame integration as an opportunity to mine the gold from the journey into the Medicine Lands, life becomes so much more magical and miraculous! The gifts given to you in these fascinating realms become actual talents and treasures you can embody in everyday life. Being brave during the spaces in-between teaches you who you really are. Now isn't that something to celebrate?
In Wild love,
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