December 27, 2010 –
I had some interesting feedback from members of my extended family last night. Part of this project, for me, is a social experiment. I want to bring Ayahuasca and the use of plant medicines, particularly psychedelics, into the mainstream. In order to do that, the mainstream must change its perspective on using psychedelics. Medicinal psychedelics – such as Ayahuasca – should not be lumped together with harmful and addictive street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine. Yet, as our culture has conditioned, the mainstream view is that all drugs are bad, and psychedelic medicines are nothing more than drugs. There are some theories as to why psychedelics have been repressed in Western society. Some suggest that psychedelics could threaten the power elite – the oligarchic card holders of the Western power structure – by opening people’s minds to the futility of consumerism, and exposing the true nature of our existence, which is nature, peace, beauty, and unified consciousness. That would loosen the authoritative grip of religions, governments, and monetary economies, by freeing the consciousness of the masses and, ultimately, resulting in a societal revolution.
Regardless of why, the fact is that psychedelics have been assigned a negative social stigma in the mainstream population. My own extended family is a good example of that. Last night, at our annual Christmas gathering, my aunt said something to me that really provoked me. In reference to this project, she said, rather bitterly “I heard about that! You’re going down to the jungle to get high! Well I think that instead of doing that you should get your act together and get a job.” Due to the fact I hadn’t actually explained this project to my aunt, she must have heard about what I’m doing from somebody else. So, I took what she said as the rumour and opinion that is circulating between my aunts, uncles, and whoever else in the family. Later in the evening, I was smoking a joint with her two sons, and they laughingly rejected the idea that plant medicines are anything more than drugs, to be lumped together with all other drugs. However, countering that, I also had a long conversation with my cousin in law. He understands the premise behind working with psychedelic medicines and found this project quite interesting. Given, of course, that he is a well traveled man from New Zealand, and wasn't indoctrinated from birth into Canadian society as my other relatives were. I’ve also had interesting reactions from other aunts, uncles and cousins. Most don’t really understand what I mean by “plant medicines”, and if they do, some don’t really know how they “should” feel about my open promotion of this project. Therefore, as this project progresses, it will be interesting to keep track of how the opinions of my relatives develop. If I am going to encourage a positive perception of psychedelic plant medicines in the mainstream population, my own extended family would be a good place to start.