The last thing I would have expected to be doing on Halloween night was standing in a brightly lit room attempting to sing Portuguese hymns of Christian praise. Yet there I was, swaying back and forth, clad in white, leafing through a booklet of verse and mumbling along. I was barely able to stand by the end of it. I hung my head in my hands and endured tidal waves of nausea brought on by the medicinal sacrament that had been periodically served throughout the night. I forced myself to remain upright until the last recitation of the last Hail Mary was complete. The closing of the work initiated a reception of congratulations and gratitude during which I collapsed and recovered. I had survived my first experience with the doctrine of Santo Daime.
The dream of a free society where psychedelic exploration is not prohibited is coming true. Acknowledgment of the medicinal and spiritual benefits of such activity is steadily breaking through to the mainstream. It’s hard to say when this transformation will be complete but that we are headed in that direction is increasingly obvious. Those of us with direct experience of intentional psychedelic therapy have seen that the personal effects that can arise will range from the subtle to the dramatic. Gentle bursts of creativity as well as total emancipation from addiction are not at all uncommon. How these personal breakthroughs will translate into a more generalized social shift is being slowly revealed. The transformation is of course more evident in some areas than in others.
(Read the full article at Psychedelic Press UK: http://psypressuk.com/2014/11/13/lets-be-friends-with-tobacco-by-alex-robertson/)
For most people, the concept of a shamanic healing retreat does not necessarily evoke images of it’s participants smoking big tobacco cigars throughout the course of the day. Yet, judging from my own experience at two separate retreats, that is often what seems to occur. Within the context of the indigenous culture that is providing the seeker with ancient knowledge and wisdom, tobacco is recognized as a sacred plant teacher and as such, it is to be treated with devotion and reverence. Therefore, the cultivation of a mindful relationship with tobacco is generally seen as a positive experience. As far as I can tell, this seems to be a common practice in nearly every indigenous culture throughout the Americas.
I first began to pay close attention to Bitcoin about a year and a half ago during a backpacking trip to Colombia. I had been hanging out with a digital drug dealer who had given me a proper rundown of the online black market and how it worked. He was vacationing on the Caribbean coast to try kick a heroin habit he’d developed while working with the dark markets which gave him unprecedented access to high quality product. Unfortunately, the abundance of cheap cocaine was hindering his attempt at sobriety. It did however make for a lively and detailed lesson on Bitcoin and Silk Road. After returning to Vancouver, I continued to look into Bitcoin which resulted in the purchase of my first coin at the price of $35.
The secrets of the shamanic world of Ayahuasca have been steadily seeping into western awareness since the early part of the twentieth century. Today, in the year of 2014, hundreds of Ayahuasca retreat centres exist with the purpose of providing the spiritual seeker with an authentic taste of the magic potion that has been transforming human consciousness for probably thousands of years.
The verdict is quite clear. Ayahuasca is first and foremost an incredibly effective healing agent. Having already inspired the creation of two federally sanctioned religions as well as a sprawling underground network of outlaw shamanic practice, the sacred medicine is not showing any signs of slowing down. It’s ultimate goal, I would presume, is a world wide reformation of human values; a lofty mission, to be sure. However, if the conditions of our salvation are not set at the level of the miraculous, the environmental and spiritual crisis we collectively face as a species will be impossible to overcome and the level of global destruction—already significant—will increase to a scale few of us dare to imagine.
A common theme linking together many different traditions of spiritual development is the concept of sexual abstinence. From the solemn ashrams of the meditative East to the psychedelic jungle fever of the Amazon, the spiritual seeker is continuously reminded to keep his or her pants on.
The only times in my life when I have made a concerted effort to avoid all sexual activity—including masturbation—was for a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat as well as for a couple of Ayahuasca medicine retreats, the most recent of which was a month long stay at a Shipibo healing centre in Peru. The latter event suggested that I abstain for at least a week before the retreat and for at least a week afterwards. Aside from the occasional flood of sexual imagery that would invade my consciousness during a ceremony (something I’ve also experienced with meditation), I was almost completely successful. However, the night after I had left the centre I was staying in a dormitory room at a hostel in the jungle city of Iquitos when I was awoken in the middle of the night by the force of my own orgasm. I laid there, damp and uncomfortable, wondering whether this unconsciously-willed ejaculation counted as a failure to abide by the time honoured guidelines of the Ayahuasca tradition.