I have been doing a bit more research into groups that already exist in this field, and am excited to share news of a group formed by graduate students from the California Institute of Integral Studies named ERIE, which stands for Entheogenic Research, Integration and Education. Their goal is to help educate people honestly about entheogens, to counter the taboos and myths surrounding these 'spiritual amplifiers' (as they call them) with real information about their potential benefits and their potential harm, and to aid people in the integration of their experiences with these substances. From their web site:
"Entheogen, literally meaning "to generate the divine within," implies a
spiritual or ecstatic
experience and a connection to creative source: a
direct connection to consciousness. Entheogenic
experiences give support
for the fundamental right of each individual for cognitive liberty," which
is defined as "...the right of each individual to think independently
and autonomously, to use the
full spectrum of their mind, and to engage
in multiple modes of thought."(1)
For some reason I am very inspired today to look up and read about the resurgence of research in this area...
And yet I find I don't have a lot to write about. I discovered that there are many websites devoted to documenting psychedelic books, entheogenic plant dictionaries, and lists of researchers and publications; I found my way to the New York college that has been conducting addiction therapy using psilocybin mushrooms; I discovered a list of centers that do similar work with iboga therapy; and I looked into continuing education in psychedelic or entheogenic studies. It was all very interesting... I spent all day reading and taking notes...
...and then I found out that a young man I know, 20 years old, shot himself in the head on this very day. I found out within hours of him doing it, dropping in unexpectedly to visit my daughter at "the Compound" a local homestead where normally somewhere between 20 and 25 people live, most of whom were friends with this young man. I arrived to find my daughter, her boyfriend (one of this guy's best friends), and everyone else in shock. Suddenly everything I have been studying and writing about seems so pointless. "Who cares if people watch 5 hours of TV a day, or if the government has mislabeled these medicines, or how many psychoactive plants there are? A young man just killed himself!"
He did it in part because he was really drunk, and burned out, as he'd been partying for days with alcohol and cocaine. He was confused, and it was also really hot today, a record-breaking 106 degrees. Maybe he did it because it was too hot! According to his friends he was always saying he was going to end himself. No one ever thought he would really do it! Maybe he did it because he had a gun, or he did it because he was in pain and was tired of being in pain. Who knows! Maybe he did it because his mom died when he was young - or because his older brother committed suicide a few years ago. Maybe he did it to remind all of us who are left how precious this life really is.
I am very sad for his family; for his father, for his sister, and for all the friends he had left behind. It is truly a lot harder for the ones who are left to pick up the pieces. My prayers are with them all today and for the days to come.
I wonder if this young man could have been 'saved' if he had chosen to pursue healing with plant medicines instead of his approach, which was to get fucked up and party all the time as a way to escape. We will never know the answer to that. I just pray that his spirit finds peace.