Shamans are Sexy & Drugs are Drugs.

Via Lily Kay Ross
on May 14, 2014
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Lily Kay Ross (author submitted)

Observations on recreational drug use and the rockstar-shaman in festival culture.

Years ago I was at a pizza party where I met a man who looked like a pirate. His black clothes were marked with rivets, leather, and amulets, his well tended dreadlocks hung below his waist, his beard was thick, and his face was marked with many piercings. I was surprised that when I asked him, playfully, “sir, are you a pirate?” he didn’t play back. Instead, he pssssht-ed me and said, “I like to think of myself as more of a nomad shaman.”

I said nothing and wondered silently. I wondered if he was a drug dealer. And I wondered if, like so many before him, he used his claim to shamanic power to charm and seduce women.

For a time, my interests in marginalized religious groups and harm reduction had me attending music festivals for research, networking or, occasionally, to speak.

I saw a lot.

One consistent observation had to do with how participants spoke about drugs and drug use. Often, festival participants didn’t call psychedelics “drugs.” They called them “medicines.” “Sacred medicines.” Participants didn’t say, “hey man, I’m gonna get high and have a great time,” preferring, instead, to jive with the subculture’s lingo and say, “I’m gonna take an intentional sacred medicine healing journey.”

Once I asked someone what this meant. “Well,” they replied, “I took two hits of acid earlier and smoked some ganja, now I’m gonna take a dose of Molly and go catch an epic music set.”

Ummm… Sacred medicine journey? Really?

It appears related to the desire for socially acceptable manner to engage in illegal behavior. It also seems to create spaces for anyone in a festival or party setting, regardless of background, to supply drugs and facilitate their use under the sanction of sacredness. Gone are the days of sketchy dudes known as dealers. Now they call themselves shamans and act like gurus. It’s “sacred” washing. And it’s dangerous.

To claim the power that comes with being a shaman can lead to inappropriate sexual conduct. People claim that power for a reason. And remember that sexual acts in non-ordinary states of consciousness—known for dissolving one’s sense of self and boundaries—is a few shades beyond blurry consent. Legally and morally it’s not a grey area. Few people want to talk about it, but it’s something I have heard tell of far too many times.

One is one too many.

Calling someone a shaman isn’t just a nod to the cool factor, it’s a claim to significant spiritual power—and in too many cases, claiming the title “shaman” has more to do with the sex appeal and social clout that comes with that power than with the training and responsibility which underscore being a healer of any kind. This is something to be mindful of; even wary of.

In other words: yes, shamanism is trendy, but that guy smoking whatever is in that pipe in front of the main stage at sunset is not a shaman. Yes, he might like drugs, he might sell drugs, but he’s not a shaman. If he calls himself one, it’s probably because it charms the ladies. That’s bad news all around.

Of course, sacred contexts for use do exist, even legal contexts. As do shamans. And the propensity for abuse of power exists among highly trained shamans, too—just as it exists among doctors in allopathic medicine. It’s why there are established ethical standards.

Maybe this whole article is actually about power—the power of substances, and the power of the people who carry them. Power which, I would argue, can be used or abused. Power which can be dangerous.

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About Lily Kay Ross

Lily Ross is in her final year at Harvard Divinity School where she is getting her MDiv, a degree oriented toward ministry. She believes in art as ministry and language as a tool for cultivating compassion and empathy. She is a writer, poet, performer, scholar, post-colonial feminist, lover of humanity, and confessed beauty junkie. Her current focuses are on Sex, Drugs and Power. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

 

Comments

43 Responses to “Shamans are Sexy & Drugs are Drugs.”

  1. Patrick says:

    "Shamanism is like sacred knowledge—those who speak don’t know, and those who know don’t speak."

    Bingo. Yes indeed.

    If you look at Mestizo culture, 'shamanism' is often synonymous with charlatanism, or even worse sorcery. The fact of the matter is that role of the shaman has not been accurately appropriated since we left the tribal societal framework. Besides that, many of the true 'shamen' (and women) weren't to keen on being one in the first place. Many of these people went through a whole lot of suffering before being acknowledged as such, AKA an initiatory sickness. Perhaps whats missing are the proper initiatory processes to separate the hedonistic ravers from the authentic and true maestros of the medicine.

  2. Pete says:

    Good for you Lily – you'll have a great ministry if you are so clearly and engagingly honest!

  3. Well said. It's gotten to the point that when someone says they're a "shaman," that I automatically file them in the fraud category and ignore everything they say.

    There's part of me that says, "Hey wait, you might miss something valuable," but on those occasions where I have actually bothered to tune in to the blather, there's nothing there. I have not yet met a single "shaman" who was worth listening to, and I have stopped trying.

  4. Appreciate this perspective. I do think we can find the sacred in the profane and the profane in the sacred (not a big fan of dualisms) but I think in our culture it is important right now to make the case for both intentional, medicinal/spiritual use AND the right to recreational use, as you say – and that it's counterproductive to try to legitimize use at parties by justifying it as "sacred".

    On a side note, I want to make a point about the word "shaman", a word that is problematic. It is actually a Tungus word for a specific role played in that Siberian tribal culture. A Tungus shaman and a South American curandero and a Bwiti nganga would not generally agree that they are all doing the same thing (even though in the West we'd refer to them all as "shamans"), this is a very Western (colonial) perspective, to group together these practices loosely and then give it a name, "shamanism" that appropriates someone else's existing culture and heritage.

    I'm not calling anyone out here – Lily I thought this article was great and the use of the world "shaman" is almost entirely ubiquitous. But I thought since you seem to be one of the more open and critical minds I've read of late that I'd share these thoughts. I had to be taught myself that the way we use "shaman" in the West is both offensive to the Tungus peoples, and to other cultures who are having the word imposed on them. It's a difficult habit to drop though, I'm still working on it myself – but words like healer, etc. are preferable.

  5. Brett Greene says:

    In my opinion, the sacred can be stumbled upon in the unlikeliest of places, when least expected, whether it be sober in line at the grocery or high at a festival. Sacred, for me, is a word that has come to describe the quality in an experience or act or object that connects us to the universal. We all know people who've eaten psychedelics without ever seemingly achieving a mystical experience (ie, knowledge of the sacred), and we can speculate as to whether different sets and settings informed by trial and error could be more successful in inducing such states. We've also known people who've eaten psychedelics expecting to get high and received far more than they bargained for in terms of mystic, healing experiences. I agree that it's more radical to admit, in our tiny mystic psychedelic subculture, that one is doing drugs to have fun, but imo the "recreational" vs. "medicinal" vs. "shamanic" trichomotomy is false and in spite of set and setting these agents can have minds of there own (many would argue they do). The Neoshamanism scene should not be written off entirely in light of the appearance of festies living up to the stereotypes you expose in your piece. Indeed, I believe the creation of our own shamanic traditions in the west, informed by our particular cultural context of use, is essential for the future of Western use of psychedelics. I'd never argue that a music festival is an appropriate set and setting conducive to inducing a mystical, healing experience in most participants (whereas the method employed by the Hopkins team is more reliable as is various indigenous shamanic ceremonial sets and settings). People can and do have mystical psychedelic experiences at festivals, and I would not presume to decide whether someone's experience is mystical and healing or not. Regardless, there are plenty charlatans wearing the garb of the shaman, handing out pills irresponsibly. As your work has indicated, there are plenty indigenous shaman equally if not more so irresponsible. In exposing the misuse of the shaman label for its manipulative and exploitative value for the charlatan, we need not exclude the possibility of those untrained in shamanism from experiencing a shamanic, and sacred experience even in the unlikeliest of sets and settings.

  6. Lily: you write, "To call recreational use [of psychedelics] sacred or medicinal, actually detracts from the sacred and medicinal use of these materials. … It oversimplifies the complex relationships individuals have to these materials and narrows the framework of what we understand to be legitimate contexts of use … [thus desecrating] genuinely sacred contexts for taking psychedelics." As someone with a lifelong appreciation for the transcendent and healing potentials of psychedelics, I'm happy to read your reminder (directed mainly to your generation's festival-goers) that psychedelics are so much more than a party drug (even a communal ecstasy drug); that a distinction should be made between the hedonistic and the sacramental use of these substances; and 3) that people ought not use psychedelics to dress up their egos and manipulate others. I totally and enthusiastically agree, but I would add this nuance: perhaps we shouldn't draw too rigid a line between the hedonistic and the sacramental use of psychedelics, if only for the reason that for many, one happily leads to the other (or they overlap in complex ways). Let them come for the party, but stay for the genuine consciousness expansion, the profound spiritual insight, the soulful healing. Many (perhaps most) people who use psychedelics sacramentally started out with a vague hunger for ecstasy or community, or even just an intense mind-blowing experience. To construct too firm a definitional barrier between hedonistic and sacramental tripping can sometimes result (I've seen this) in a kind of elitist religious piety on the part of the sacramentalists, if not an attempt to actually create and impose dogma. To me, entheogens (psychedelics) move people in mysterious ways that can't be so easily pinned down.

  7. Kye says:

    you so cool 🙂 -Kye

  8. Anon says:

    It is entirely true that many of these festival goers are throwing the word "sacred, shaman and healing" around without having being the slightest genuine about it. I agree that shamanism is "in" and that many people are doing it completely wrong and are just an average joe looking for a high so that he can pretend to be enlightened. These so called enlightened people are a present problem, but they aren't the only part of festival culture.

    But I'd disagree with the fact that medicinal clinics and actual shaman's huts are the only place to experience these things in a truly spiritual and transformative manner. The environment of a festival is no less an amazing place to do so if the one taking the substance is mindful. Trance dancing is one of the oldest techniques used in conjunction with psychedelics used by actual shamans and genuine mystics for a very long time- festivals are a great place to achieve that state as the music has its roots in the very idea. Drugs are always what one makes them with the actions he does with them (not what one says, as one can say he's a shaman when he is simply into it because it's "in" and cool with the ladies) and that any environment will do for a person who is mindful and psychologically mature enough to take these substances as means to experience personality healing effects.

    But it has always been like this. When something powerful comes along one half will get into it in a very superficial manner, whilst the other part will find themselves in it.

  9. Alex says:

    You NAILED it. As someone who has been studying and following the "internal" path for as long as I can remember (also, scientifically may I add), I was both pleasantly surprised and shocked at how big the culture is becoming. I absolutely loved every bit of the experience…but the "hierarchy" of self-proclaimed "spiritual gurus" and suddenly enlightened "DMTers" was off-putting, especially because a great deal of the thing kinda revolved around more of an image (showing off your body) and sex kind of thing. The metatrons cube shirts became more of a way of a person needing acceptance from the "gurus" than it is about what the actual symbols represent and the VAST amount of wealth of mathematics, geometry, and knowledge that is encrypted within them.

    Still, it is an amazing experience and the positive energy and community that stems from it is bar none. These are the things that need to be embraced- and you guessed it- as it gets BIGGER it will become more ego-driven and superficial, where "sacred" gets "desecrated."

  10. Lily: You write, "To call recreational use [of psychedelics] sacred or medicinal, actually detracts from the sacred and medicinal use of these materials. … It oversimplifies the complex relationships individuals have to these materials and narrows the framework of what we understand to be legitimate contexts of use … [thus desecrating] genuinely sacred contexts for taking psychedelics." As someone with a lifelong appreciation for the transcendent and healing potentials of psychedelics, I'm happy to read your reminder (directed mainly to your generation's festival-goers) that psychedelics are so much more than a party drug (even a communal ecstasy drug); that a distinction should be made between the hedonistic and the sacramental use of these substances; and that people ought not use psychedelics to dress up their egos and manipulate others. I totally and enthusiastically agree, but I would add this nuance: perhaps we shouldn't draw too rigid a line between the hedonistic and the sacramental use of psychedelics, if only for the reason that for many, one happily leads to the other (or they overlap in complex ways). Let them come for the party, but stay for the genuine consciousness expansion, the profound spiritual insight, and the soulful healing. Many (perhaps most) people who use psychedelics sacramentally started out with a vague hunger for ecstasy or community, or even just an intense mind-blowing experience. To construct too firm a definitional barrier between hedonistic and sacramental tripping can sometimes result (I've seen this) in a kind of elitist religious piety on the part of the sacramentalists, if not an attempt to actually create and impose dogma. To me, entheogens (psychedelics) move people in mysterious ways that can't be so easily pinned down.

  11. I once took my children along to a pirate themed role play birthday party for an eight year old, whose father was into Tibetean Dzogchen, playing Magic The Gathering, Alastair Crowley, and the "entheo-delic" experience. Not surprisingly the birthday girl wound up in tears, and too many tripped out adults wound up terrified of how they had lead her into their fears. Me and my children didn't get into it that far, because the mere mention of Crowley was as much reason as I needed for caution, but we all dressed up and got into the party spirit, helping the birthday girl through without the emotional scar she might have had.

  12. All older religious cultures, sustained a base line lower social status for the medicine keepers than seems right, exactly because of the known risk of people learning medicinal secrets just so as to sustain their own credibility, at others expense. Good medicine keepers wear the low social status alongside the bad. Even Jesus taught us this, that as teacher we are the servant. We learn from family how to evaluate others in this respect.

  13. Jeff Bausemer says:

    "I once took my children along to a pirate themed role play birthday party for an eight year old, whose father was into Tibetean Dzogchen, playing Magic The Gathering, Alastair Crowley, and the "entheo-delic" experience. Not surprisingly the birthday girl wound up in tears, and too many tripped out adults wound up terrified of how they had lead her into their fears. Me and my children didn't get into it that far, because the mere mention of Crowley was as much reason as I needed for caution, but we all dressed up and got into the party spirit, helping the birthday girl through without the emotional scar she might have had."

    This comment is so crazy.

  14. Anon says:

    The place at a festival you're most likely to find a real shamen is in the recovery area helping people who are going through difficult psychedelic experiences.

  15. nicole says:

    "The "recreational" vs. "medicinal" vs. "shamanic" trichomotomy is false and in spite of set and setting these agents can have minds of there own; people can and do have mystical psychedelic experiences at festivals, and I would not presume to decide whether someone's experience is mystical and healing or not." Thanks Brett, I definitely agree with that, AND agree that set and setting is the most important piece of healing work with psychedelics, and depending on the medicine, using them in a cultural and respectful context is necessary.

    But be careful saying use at festival culture isn't sacred. That's how thousands of people are beginning to wake up, and hopefully will start to use them in a more ceremonial and sacred way. Of course I would prefer they were done more respectfully and safely, in a sacred container, but I will never argue with this scene- the time to wake up is now, and the festival drug scene is a catalyst for that.

  16. Lily says:

    I've been thinking about this a lot since you said it, Patrick. I love this two sided meaning – charlatan and healer. Reminds me of the Greek word pharmakon – poison and medicine. Crucial idea. Also, initiatory sickness – big yes. I see shaman as open who is addicted to sickness, pulled to it. Not the kind of thing people choose for themselves. Tho, when it's true, they are pulled to it because they can work with it, eat it whole, and remove the ailment from the one who ails. I've seen these people literally eat suffering. A rare breed of human, worthy of respect.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  17. Lily says:

    Thanks Pete.

  18. Lily says:

    Hey there,
    Did you catch Patrick's comment above? He really nails it on the charlatan/healer bit. And that's not to say some don't have valid experiences with these charlatans, or that some don't have valuable experiences on the dance floor, there's just more to the story…

  19. Lily says:

    Yes! The first talk I ever gave called this out, it's very colonial, reductionist, name a dramatic oversimplification. I agree. Thanks for commenting. Shaman is a word I never really use except when talking about its popular use (often calling it out), and when someone legit identifies in that way. There are some well initiated humans out there doing great work who call themselves this. I know one. I also know some talented and trustworthy humans who have studied shamanic practice and use the description "shamanic" to describe their work (and I know more frauds who do the same). The key is that the genuine ones will not call themselves a shaman, they just use the word as an effective descriptor of whew they do.
    Any thoughts on this?

  20. Lily says:

    Brett, I don't disagree here. Not at all. My avoidance of nuancing and qualifying my own commentary, the choice not to get into the potential for these things to overlap and the trichotomy you allude to be slippery at best, was a strategy, the attempt being to stir conversation and dialogue. You've said it well. It's far more complex. That complexity is a whole other article.

    As I have been taught, there is a clear distinction between these contexts, largely to do with what I have been taught respect looks like in working with these materials. That's what I've been taught. There are other perspectives. It's just that there are so many voices for those perspectives, it seemed important to speak to this other perspective that gets so little air time…

  21. Lily says:

    Totally. As I commented to Brett, it is really very nuanced, very complex, and hard to pinpoint because to varies across persons and experiences. Do you have any more to say about these complexities and overlaps and how you understand them? I'd love to grapple with that more.

    The way I see it, all are valid. I do get frustrated with the overuse and misuse of the word sacred. This has to do with what I have been taught by my teachers. And there is no single valid or true way. For me, I am devoted to these teachers and take their teachings seriously, even when they are difficult for me to swallow. That's not everyone's path, and not so something everyone has access to…

  22. Lily says:

    Yes. I tried to make clear that all these experiences are valid. And as has been discussed in some prior comment threads, it is far more nuanced. Frankly, not all "sacred" settings are conducive to healing. And some festival experiences are. Of course. I didn't want to use the word much in the article, but I find the overuse of words like sacred and shamanic to be disrespectful and to loose their meaning a bit.

  23. Lily says:

    Thanks Alex, well said.

  24. Lily says:

    Woah. Woah. Sounds wild!

  25. Lily says:

    Well said. And evaluation is hard when people are desperate for healing and connection to the sacred, and when families often don't teach these things…

    I like what you say about lower social status. I've see them as rascals, as likely to make trouble as to bring healing – sometimes stirring to pot for business' sake! In cases where it seems most genuine, shamanic work is seen as a job, and a hard one at that. Not a power play. Not some romantic cool thing. Shaman as outcast is very real.

  26. Lily says:

    Boom. I know many of those people. None of them call themselves shamans. And they are showing up to do some hard and much needed work.

  27. Lily says:

    The way I see it, people are starved for the sacred. And there is a lot of fumbling, a lot of arrogance, a lot of crazy and potential harm in the festival scene. And few people inside it speak to that aspect, which means that issues don't get addressed, and the nuances of it all don't get sussed out as they need to be. I can't say what's sacred and what's not. I can speak to what I've been taught, which is that the sacred is not convenient, it demands respectful approach, and that is doe thing I don't see much in the recreational use world. That said, how I can to study that and arrive at these ideas was knitted by festival experiences. So I get it. It is a broad and complex spectrum, for sure. I wanted to just give voice to less talked about ideas. And, as I said, all these experiences are valid and useful and meaningful to people,regardless of what they are called.

  28. harry says:

    aint that the truth, and a true shaman would never use the tag as a label anyway

  29. Ethan T says:

    I would have to disagree with her premise that getting high and communing with others at a show is not spiritual. I think it's one of the most spiritual things a person can do. I found a tremendously deep spiritual awakening doing so. I find her tone condescending and out of touch with the experience. Of course people can abuse these substances. That abuse is where I believe things get a little dicey but ultimately I find everything awakening, even when I "had too much too fast."

  30. fabiofina says:

    Here is what cultural ecologist, philosopher and overall badass David Abram has to say about shamanism and how the term has been getting used as a buzzword: http://youtu.be/DSoBYIvV0Xg

  31. Magenta says:

    Thank you Lily. I've been wanting to write an essay about not just the word shaman, but magician, wizard, witch, priest, oracle… these words friends of mine use as they try to bring language to the rediscovery of deeper connection with nature and the spirit worlds (or whatever is going on, I don't claim to know). What is the historical and current context of these words, how are they genderized, how have practitioners been persecuted and techniques that bring balance made extinct. And yes, what are the cultural appropriation details to be aware of and sensitive to.

    I think it's a tricky time, where globally the cultures who have sophisticated understanding of greater ecological health and balance, have been wiped out as never before. There aren't enough people who care for the cleansing of place, who understand reciprocity etc. And at the same time you have massive awakening of extrasensory perception happening, and people looking for connection and how to do something about the sickness that abounds.

    Festivals give lip service to these dynamics and use capitalism to sell cures, shallowly use words and sacred patterns and images of deities. Pay $500 for a weekend of trance. How do we provide people with access points at the scale that's needed and being asked for, in a good and responsible way. There need to be more solutions than festivals, it makes me sick to see kids introduced to powerful chemical teachers at a rave, where there is no education of what happens when you pop that pill, how to integrate, how to bring your healing back to your "default world" community and the land that held you, etc etc.

    The closest word I've found to describe what I actually practice is chaos magic, since I do not follow an intact ancient lineage.

    I'm speaking at Lightning in a Bottle this coming weekend about the festival dynamics in particular, and calling for a maturating, evolution, and deeper education amongst that culture. I'll probably put a video up sometime this year. Another thing that irks me is how the scene replicates dominator culture / axes of power across race, gender, and class. Many many people are open to deeper awareness of what's going on, there just aren't yet enough entry points. You speaking forth is one, and thank you!! Working on it along side you in solidarity.

  32. Yogacult says:

    I once met and took a class from a man who worked in Guatemala as an archeologist. While he was there he was "selected" and initiated as a shaman by Mayan elders. He described this as a burden, if one is called, the family mourns. Sacred it may be, but it's difficult and painful work that you cannot resign from. It's not to be desired or feigned. It's not a tool for getting sex and recreational use of sacraments would be considered ridiculous. Party on, festivarians. One day you may realize how ridiculous your pseudo spiritual trip is. Either because you move on to a real job and have a family, or you stumble into true spiritual awakening and gain some humility about the powers you are playing with.

  33. james says:

    This is hipster elitist dribble.

    People are realizing that these drugs can be used to better themselves. That's a good thing. People are trying to scam other people and are confusing legitimate values with cultural motifs. That's very, very normal. All in all, the surge of new awareness about the therapeutic value of psychedelics is a far greater positive than the occasional cynical observation.
    Use common sense. Don't trust someone because they claim to be a shaman. Do your research and seek experiences that are authentic. These basic maxims will insulate you from any dangers that the flawed psychedelic culture present.

    When something becomes popular, it becomes dumbed down. This is happening to mindfulness meditation. It's not a bad thing. It just means that as an idea permeates a culture it takes forms that appeal to the less intellectual spectrum of the population.

    Author is unnecessarily unforgiving of people who are new to the world of using psychedelics to assist in developing spirituality and are perhaps using cultural tropes and memes in lieu of more direct, rigorous knowledge and experience.

    Author should have instead written a piece helping newbies learn how to properly experience the psychedelic and integrate those experiences into positive, healthy personality development.

  34. nicolasisaiah12 says:

    "I’m gonna take an intentional sacred medicine healing journey.”

    Who the F says that? Show me this person.

  35. Lily says:

    I hope you will write said article, I'd been most keen to read your insights and suggestions.

  36. Lily says:

    Funny story. A friend of mine was like, "I don't get it, I don't meet these people your taking about and I'm all up in this world." That night we went to dinner at a hip spot in LA and the people behind us were having just this conversation. She looks at me and says, "is ayahuasca trendy now? Is this for real?" Something clicked.

  37. elaine says:

    I just went to an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum on "Yoga: The Art of Transformation." We see the transformation of yogis and yoginis as someone who were very well respected, worshipped, and revered in the B.C.E's, to the image of yogis being weird circus-like performers lying on a bed of nails or putting themselves in uncomfortable positions as their way of "reaching enlightenment." It wasn't till Swami Vivekananda came into the picture and yoga was saved from its negative connotations. Looks like a similar situation is happening right now to the sacred tradition of Shamanism.

  38. Brian R Gard says:

    I am an avid NON drug user, have been my whole life, but last summer in Central Idaho Wilderness on the 6th day of a 9 day backpack adventure I ate some wild mushrooms, (something I have done for 30 years with no 'ill' effect). Anyway I was incapacitated for 12 hours, convulsive, muscle spasm, terrified my son and back packing partner, was rescued by Army Air National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter, was hallucinating for 2 days, euphoric for 7 more, had many wild thoughts and new ideas, so it profoundly modified my opinion of hallucinogenic drug use, it was a mushroom on the Aminita variety found at 8,500 feet elevation (subalpine area). The problem I see it would be controlling the dose and effect, mostly think it quite risky. The Hospital bill about 7,500 dollars, because US Army rescued me, no charge, the helicopter hoovered 200 feet above the forest floor, a hospital helicopter could not land, had a commerical helicopter came to extract me I imagine the cost would of been an additional 40 – 60 thousand dollars. I am never comfortable around folks on drugs, still not.

  39. Jem says:

    Everything is sacred.
    "If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all"

  40. Chris says:

    I'm really glad you wrote this article. I've felt this same way for the past 5 years or so but I could never really put it into words. As a person who has sold drugs and also lived with a Lakota medicine man (not at the same time though haha) I want to thank you for penning this.

  41. Shamanism is like sacred knowledge—those who speak don’t know, and those who know don’t speak. – What does it say that YOU are speaking about it ? : 0

  42. Brett says:

    What a story! Sorry about the $7500. Did they happen to tell you exactly what you took? I've never heard of a mushroom doing what you describe here.

  43. Blackbeard says:

    This is a great essay, and the point being made is really important, but I have to say I found it hilarious in the opening where casual misuse of the term 'shaman' is rebuked at the same time that casual misuse of the term 'pirate' is cheerfully enjoyed. Last time I checked, a pirate is someone who attacks and robs ships at sea. Just because you're into psychedelics doesn't mean you're a sacred healer, and just because you have tattoos and drink too much rum at parties doesn't mean you're a murderous thief. Perhaps we all share an impulse to take all sorts of real historical professions that carry mystique and soften them into modern, nebulously defined cartoons.