Humankind is of the Earth, and the integrity of our physiological and psychological systems rely on maintaining constructive relationships to it—though in the modern world it seems as if we have forgotten this. The manner in which we have chosen to operate within our societies is degrading these relationships, and thus jeopardizing the integrity of our physiological and psychological systems. The evidence for this degradation is clear if we choose to look for it, as are the means by which we can learn to reverse it.
A great example of the mass scale deterioration of a vital relationship to the earth is that of food and water. In order to be healthy in the body and mind we need to eat quality food and drink clean water. Without these things the body degenerates, as does the functioning of the mind; we become sick and stupid. Yet for some reason we continue to allow massive organizations working for the intention of profit to continually jeopardize humanity’s relationship to quality food, and pollute drinking water through a variety of means. We can see this happening in the human macrocosm through industrial norms such the proliferation of GMO crops, on-going soil degradation through mono-cropping, the mass use of agricultural pesticides, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, deep water oil drilling, open pit mining such as the Alberta oil sands, and the widespread economic disparity that forces a majority of the globe to starve in poverty.
On a smaller societal scale, we can also see examples of this deteriorating relationship in local governments shutting down or preventing sustainable food source and grey water recycling projects—like in September of 2012 when the City of Toronto, Canada ordered the destruction of a free public food garden the night before their harvest celebration, sending countless pounds of produce to the landfill in response to what they deemed unwelcomed public rebellion[i]. These are just a few examples of the destruction of our relationship to food and water, but this societal deterioration goes far deeper. There is a constantly growing body of evidence that exposes the manner in which we are destroying vital relationships to the Earth.
On a personal scale, the manner in which we are allowing society to be operated is cultivating an increasing disconnect from each other, the planet, and from an awareness of self. We are destroying the relationship to the very essence of human life; the sense of being loved. We can see this in the increasing rates of divorce, depression among adults and children, teenage suicide, and the dissolution of togetherness among people in general. The growing disconnection from a sense of being loved further perpetuates the personal and societal problems associated to it and this vicious circle continues to drill away at us. This is a problem within each of us, born of a degrading relationship to the intelligence of that which sustains us, best described at this time as spirit. It is a problem we need to face if we are to maintain the integrity of this planet for the generations to follow. Something inside of us needs to change.
We have got ourselves into quite a pickle here on planet Earth and each of us hold partial responsibility for the situation we are in. It may seem heavy for those who haven’t already come to realize this, and the impending emotions that come with holding ourselves accountable to this responsibility can be very uncomfortable at first. It is these uncomfortable emotions that will play a vital role in regenerating the integrity of relationships to each other, ourselves, and to the planet. In learning to face these uncomfortable emotions, we learn a courage within, unmatched by any challenge from without. The general reluctance to face this accountability stems from a damaged relationship to spirit—the essence of life that connects all things. This connection may be the most vital for us to address at this time, as without it, we cannot cultivate the self-awareness and discover the courage needed to create lasting positive change. We have unconsciously allowed this damage to the integrity of our relationships over the generations and it is time we take the responsibility to heal them through reconnecting with spirit. But how do we learn to connect with something intangible, especially with generations of psychoemotional wounds that hinder us from doing so?
Across most cultures that have existed since the dawn of humankind, there has been the means to connect with spirit, and many used that connection to maintain the integrity of their relationships. The most historically common and generally effective means to cultivating this connection was through the ritualistic use of psychoactive plants or fungi as tools to reveal spirit directly, a means today that many refer to as shamanism. Loosely defined, shamanism is the practice of entering an altered state of consciousness for divination or healing. It has the potential to be extremely beneficial to us as individuals and as a society. Unfortunately, with shamanism often comes religious belief systems that one may be encouraged to subscribe to in order to gain its benefit. But it is the unchecked subscription to cultural belief systems that has placed us into the current problems we face. Without navigating these belief systems with a psychological model founded on a contemporary understanding, buying into shamanism may actually hold people back from the self-awareness needed to create lasting positive change, just as much as the detrimental belief systems of current society. So how do we make use of this valuable age-old practice without losing ourselves to incomplete cultural belief systems?
If we choose to look at shamanism as a means by which we enable an alternative perspective on self and the world, without fully buying into the cultural belief systems that may surround the practice, we can learn from altered states of consciousness without losing sight of the updated human knowledge base. This isn’t to say we disregard these belief systems, as within them are many valuable tools for personal development and healing. I am suggesting we build new, more integral models on the use of psychoactive techniques, be they ancient or modern, which incorporate information from all ages and places. When we build these models, they can work like conceptual frameworks for navigating the experience of psychoactive substances more effectively. This enables us to integrate the alternative perspective they offer us more efficiently. In the time of great disconnect we are living in, I believe this alternative perspective could enable an understanding of how to heal damaged relationships, cultivate an honest connection with spirit, and create the lasting positive change we need to live abundant and healthy lives as individuals and as a global community.
I don’t feel as though using psychoactive substances is for everybody, but the message they reveal within their use can be. Decomposing The Shadow is the presentation of an integral model for the experience of a powerful psychoactive fungus—Teonanacatl; the psilocybin mushroom. This book communicates the broadly applicable lessons revealed within the psilocybin experience in a way that is accessible, with or without having experienced these mushrooms directly. It offers those who have not explored the mushroom, and may never choose to, the opportunity to peek at the lessons it can offer us as a species. This book also offers a means for those who choose to explore the psilocybin mushroom to do so with a broader perspective of the psychology of the experience and how to navigate it in a manner that allows the experiences to be directly applicable to daily life.
Truly, the greatest risk of this mushroom is ignorant use, the exact type of use official drug education programs perpetuate through fear-mongering. It is my hope that this book offers the means for this ignorance to be dissolved, thus reducing the potential harm these powerful mushrooms can present. It is also my hope that this book offers a fuller picture on the sacredness of these mushrooms, so the trivialization they have suffered is removed from the cultural ethos. In doing so, I offer a map for personally regenerating one’s relationship to spirit through psilocybin mushrooms, which in turn, may enable freedom from the conditioned societal belief systems destroying this relationship.
This is an excerpt from Decomposing The Shadow: Lessons From The Psilocybin Mushroom.
Learn more about the book here.
[i] TheCanadianDaily.ca, Toronto destroys free community garden