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Plants of Power : Revival / Rośliny Mocy : Odrodzenie

real business is coming

June 10th, 2020

There is this recurring voice of armchair experts about ayahuasca tourism being cultural appropriation. We listen to it mostly when we make mistake of distracting ourselves from 7 days a week hard work, in a place where we live as the locals, off grid, drawing water from the well, consuming basic necessities available in local market, and that is year after year, serving all kind of intense energies people bring with them for treatment. We learn from the indigenous elders, provide them with constant job paid way above local standards. You can say we can simply stop making that stupid mistake and engaging with those voices, regardless if they come from anthropologist pushing his agenda or just “I know it all” internauts. And yes, that is the best answer. However polemic devil inside just needs to add his pinch of salt : when authors of these voices succeed with their negativity, and combined forces of decline of global tourism, legalization globally, need for easier life ( and actually, contrary to the myth about fortunes in ayahuasca tourism, need for stable economic situation ) will drive this adventure in Amazon to the end, then you will see true appropriation. Instead of artisanal heart driven enterprises, you will see proper business, psychedelic franchise clinics, retreats twice as expensive popping up in Europe or USA, done without any need for indigenous guides, you will see ayahuasca turned into another commodity – raw resource just like cacao or coffee, bought from lowest bidder, or even worse – just like in the story of collapse of rubber – planted where labour costs and effectiveness of exploitation of global capitalism is at its best, probably in South East Asia. And so your precious Amazon will be free from evil exploitation of ayahuasca business, free for cattle ranchers and oil extractors, to provide fuel for your comfortable, daily lifestyle in the global centre, away from this annoying poverty, as some would be yoga student deciding against learning in India put it.

 

 

 

The photo above is ironic illustration for this story. It is my own image, which in times while I was still hoping to be able to continue making honest living from photography I uploaded to Alamy, and now, that I sacrificed to the Amazon not only my time but also some hard drives devoured by humidity, this corporate vendor, that pays pennies and charges giant percentage of commission on the sales is the only place I can access the image, but if I want it watermark free, I would have to buy it myself.

 

 

It is perhaps one of many paradoxes of psychedelic use, that what conservative majority within our societies considers as drug escapism into hedonism, and away from duties and commitments of the world, can often lead – and it has led in my experience, to quite conservative view of life and values. It is not angry fanaticism however, rather is accompanied by acceptance of other paths and options – while pursuing simplified, quieter version of previous, greedy life. In my case, a trade off from solitary adventures, devouring the world in form of exotic, extravagant adventure and millions of pixels accumulated in my memory and camera, being everywhere, and wanting ever more, and yet not fulfilled, now left behind and exchanged for simplicity of family life, modest nest, in very rustic conditions of a backward middle-of-nowhere corner of Amazon forest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would lie if I said that looking through years worth of accumulation of stories and photos on this blog does not evoke some kind of nostalgia for the road, other lands where grass is if not greener, at least different. But one enduring lesson from the vine of death, even if at times we try to suppress it, is about mortality. I see clearly that greed of the world, no matter whether consumed in form of material goods or experiences, is a manifestation of underlying deeper anxiety about inevitable end of it all being quite near. The solution, again and again life shows to us, is never forward, faster, more, but actually less. We can not have all the women of the world, all the money, all alternative career paths. We may as well learn as soon as possible, that it applies to all aspect of life, and just we find happiness with that particular person, so let’s try to find peace in that particular place, ability and flaw we are given. Surrender, hardest of victories, to be gained daily, isn’t that the teaching of Christ refusing temptation of the world in his 40 days retreat to the desert?

To me, it does not mean that the world is evil, and that Satan is its owner, it means that unreined desire for it is hell in itself.

 

 

road

December 15th, 2019

Focus and intention can overcome obstacles of long road ahead.

 

 

 

cycle

November 11th, 2019

 

I started my adventure with ayahuasca not by any kind of extraordinary psychedelic, visionary experience, but as concrete physical healing, one not separable however from intellectual and emotional understanding. I had stones in my kidneys and associated pain while pissing, during nearly whole winter, in period that separated two first ceremonies and then until I went to Brasil. Finally, there in the jungle, standing in toilet, watching rain pouring outside, I realized that I am urinating without any problem, just as the rain in front of me.

 

That flow, circulating movement, is life. When it is broken for some reason, when the circle is not complete, when our blockages, stiffness, our lifestyle choices affect it, decay and degeneration begins. There is no flow in death, no juices running in dry stick.

 

Same thing applies to any nature, the one in us and the one “on the outside¨ alike, this is for example why often great wave of purge runs through the ceremony, pushing people down to their buckets, right when long accumulating throughout the evening clouds finally burst with tropical rain.

 

We go through same circular journey, harvesting, smashing, cooking hundreds of liters of murky brew, then concentrating it, drinking in the night and puking it out with what needs to be purged, emptying those buckets afterwards under trees where new vine grows.

 

Some have it hard. Having read a lot before coming here, they are suprised to have several ceremonies without vomiting, without visions appearing. The block is strong in a culture so focused on strenghth and fixed truths rather than surrender and flexibility.

 

Now the dry season should already be over. And yet our tanks are empty, water shortage, distruption in the cycle. We have giant pots of ayahuasca drying out, waiting to be cooked, and no water coming. In the time of climate change, the ones to first feel its effects are those who live like us, in tune with elements, not sheltered from them by brute force of money and machinery, petrol and pumps, able to postpone the direct consequences.

 

This happening in the very same period in which we are supporting indigenous Achuar communities fighting consequences of petrol contaminating their waters ( https://web.facebook.com/notes/psychonauta-foundation/to-give-back-petrol-contamination-in-amazon/2451079018477235/ ) shows us clearly, Standing Rock is here too, and it is coming to you. It also shows again the meaning of the medicine work.

If you are able to see that and do the work in the internal universe within you, you will have no doubt what matters in the world out there.

 

highest

November 10th, 2019

 

 

“highest inna di kingdom trees balancing over we.

humble within wrong is good spirit.

that is good spirit”

 

Often when I look at this king of trees towering above our horizon, I recall the song by Midnite, ¨Kingdom Trees¨. A lot of rasta metaphors are about plant world, and it was through rastafarianism I started my spiritual explorations outside of Europe. This syncretic mysticism, especially its ¨roots¨organic form, grounded in basic of nature, helped form part, to use again rasta figure, of my foundation, and until today remains a source of in-spiration, even if other plants now are fuel for my reasoning.

So to the roots I bow and today pay the homage for wise person that has just passed, Vaughn Benjamin, lead singer of Midnite.

 

Within being wronged, I found my home, in the shade of highest of trees. Now the tough part, while abundance and strength rises, to stay humble.

 

 

light fantastic

November 7th, 2019

 

It requires no great futuristic abilities to say that very soon enabling your child to experience magic away from tablet or smartphone screen will be both a rare luxury and an act of social rebellion. Do the move first, without worrying about the others. It is the same as any other step out of cultural trance, like giving up socializing with alcohol or rat race for the best school. The benefits can be only truly seen once you make the jump.

riding the broom

November 7th, 2019

 

 

Art of healing can be compared to art of carving, in this aspect of removal of excess as a way to reveal hidden beauty. It is not so much by adding something – like a magic pill that makes you full – but by getting rid, purging, removing obstacles that block one from understanding and his body from healthy growth and flourishing, we are allowing patient ( the one who is patient ) to heal.

We are talking of course about so called “alternative” or holistic healing, not paradigm of broken machine, that cares not much what made it broken. This holistic approach does not simply respect spirituality, as some helpful gimmick for aiding proper, biological course of treatment with improvements in psychological well being. Here, spirituality is essential, and what we are personally interested in, is not superficial layer, which god you worship or what colour of robes put on, but what is under the Mask, and what is in common. So if you look at actual practice of many serious spiritual traditions, you will see that activity of cleansing of physical environment is very common one. It may be symbolic, like sage or palo santo smoke to ward negative energies, but very often it is literal, as first step given to apprentice, here is your broom. Remember that quote from Terence Mc Kenna, comparing psychedelics and eastern traditions with their meditation, when admitting his lack of patience, he said that you can either spend 15 years sweeping floor of ashram to get a glimpse of something, or just take psychedelics. Well, maybe that is where his main mistake lied, and why he never was able to connect deeper with Amazonian shamanism with its discipline, but chose rather to experiment with his DMT pipe and mushroom megadoses, blazing trails for legions of current psychonauts, who often also have trouble with sweeping their filthy yard, but no trouble at all breaking next boundary of high.

This example here is given, because grandpa Terence was one of great inspirations on my way, and so I feel entitled in a way to give this advice to fellow psychonauts. The idea of our project here, Psychonauta Foundation, is not to abandon exciting journey into one’s soul, but to furnish the voyager with tools and skills, in other words, give him foundation, so that the journey is more productive and one can bring something back to the port. Because after a while, it is being in the port that can become more difficult, and so I believe Mc Kenna was completely wrong in his quote :

“It’s not hard to sweep up around the ashram, but it’s hard to take psychedelics.”

It is opposite, tells you someone who really has been places. You may have encountered elves or angry Somalis, in this realm or another, but does really more and more continue to bring you more meaning? You might have understood this easily about consumerist society and money, when unhappy with it, you set for your psychedelic oddyssey, but can’t the same happen with unquenchable thirst for experience?

When you sweep the floor and enjoy not only the beauty created by act of cleaning, but act itself, as you enjoyed the ceremony last night, that made it filthy, you come closer to balance and peace with this world, that eventually has to be left behind. But I believe the access to eternity lies not in dreaming about its shape and form that is to come, but in firm grasp of your broomstick, now.

al haqq

November 7th, 2019

 

 

It is both sense of great joy and fulfilment for us, who had exchanged stimulation of nomadic life for being settled in this forest, as well as essential part of the therapeutic process, that our camp has become a meeting place for people from so diverse backgrounds, cultures, ages and paths of life. Source of healing is precisely the energy resulting from those encounters, exchange of experiences through conversations, feeling but even more through extraordinary, almost telepathic connection in the ceremonies, and so happens greater understanding of self, own suffering and way out of it, through honest seeing and acknowledging it in other, and so in all, in One. We are willingly laid bare in front of others, as we have maybe never even been in front of ourselves, and we can do it, laughing at the concept of shame, because we have seen that there is no Other. Rastafarian concept of I&I, Christian selfless love for one´s brother, dissolving the drop in the ocean, poetry of mankind has many names for what mystics had glimpsed, and there is no point in waiting who is do first step when effects benefit all. Forgive now, truly love yourself and rest grows from it.

To zarowno zrodlo wielkiej radosci i spelnienia dla tych z nas, ktorzy zamienili stymulacje nomadycznego zycia na osiadly tryb w tym kawalku lasu, jak rowniez niezbedna czesc terapeutycznego procesu, ze nasz oboz stal sie miejscem spotkan ludzi z tak roznorodnych sciezek zyciowych, kultur, grup wiekowych i spolecznych. Zrodlem uzdrawiania jest dokladnie energia wyplywajaca z tych spotkan, wymiany doswiadczen, konwersacji, wspol-czucia czy tym bardziej niezwyklych, niemalze telepatycznych polaczen w ceremoniach, i to tak staje sie wielki cud doglebnego zrozumienia siebie, wlasnego cierpienia i drogi z niego wyjscia, poprzez uczciwe dojrzenie i uznanie go w innym, i tym samym we wszystkich, w Jedni. Swiadomie i chetnie obnazamy sie przed innymi, tak jak nigdy nie uczynilismy tego nawet przed soba samym, i mozemy to robic, smiejac sie z idei wstydu, poniewaz zobaczylismy ze nie ma Innego. Rastafarianski koncept I&I, chrzescijanska bezinteresowna milosc blizniego, rozpuszczenie kropli w oceanie, poezja ludzkosci ma wiele okreslen na ten przeblysk zrozumienia mistykow, i nie ma sensu czekac kto ma uczynic pierwszy krok, jezeli jego owoce beda dla wszystkich. Przebacz juz teraz, kochaj siebie szczerze, a reszta z tego wyrasta.

sweat as medicine

November 7th, 2019

 

 

Foundation myths of a culture tell a lot about its approach to fundamental issues of human life. Eating from Tree of Knowledge being a sin in eyes of jealous god, projection of priestly caste and rulers needing religion as tool of social control is well known example, another is work as punishment.

Judeo-christian perspective of paradise as some distant, lost place before and after, without burden of obligations and work not only can be read as longing of sedentary, agricultural civilization for times of free roaming nomads, gathering what they need from abundant garden of nature, but is also conveniently fitting in modern capitalist economy, with its obsession of mechanization, taking away more and more tasks from human consumer, in theory to make his life easier and happier, in practice fulfilling need only to create another, placing him in constant bipolar struggle between workaholism despite abundance already present, and idle emptiness in wealth and depression. It echoes in Warren Buffet´s saying that if you don’t find a way to earn in your sleep, you will be working until the end of your life.

And WTF is wrong with that?

Isn´t that approach, that work is means to a final end, result, redemption in vacation or wealthy retirement, corresponding with Christian approach to life, that the reward will come when we do the necessary work, some time later, so we have to face that dull hell of the present? Focus on destination, not the way, on prize rather than the game itself, is a source of perpetual unfulfillment and unhappiness. We created that exile ourselves, not angry Jehovah, not by being forced do the work, but by our minds taking over, with their worrying and preoccupation with future, and distorting image of present moment, including possible beauty of effort itself.

When we chop the wood, preparing it for the ceremony that comes in the evening, it is not that this sweating is something to be hated, and state of bliss after drinking ayahuasca something to be waited for and loved, because we fixed ourselves on the idea that this is ceremony, this is celebration time, sacred time, while the preparation, menial work is mundane and necessary. Chopping wood IS the ceremony, as much as burning palo santo or singing icaros.
Same logic can be applied to any activity. When you cook, you should not see that as a chore, necessary to satisfy yourself with gorging later. Etc, etc, but I should conclude with important : we heard the phrase, do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life. But that not only means, find your bliss, and become a windsurfing instructor.

It means : love everything

 

 

From the perspective of working within an old, non Western tradition of healing, what limitation and potential problem can be seen in new, so called “psychedelic renaissance” happening in the West? It is perhaps hard to convey with words, because it is precisely about words and intellect. In our opinion one can not effectively break the prison created in modern society by hegemony of mind, using tools and approach that to such extent favours the mind, the logical and disregards in worst case, or in best, is not very skilled in dealing with emotion, vibration, and much less with what is awkwardly labeled supernatural or spiritual.

 

The very idea that so called psychedelic substances are best ( or only ) to be used in clinical setting, by people with years of intellectual, university preparation, to help “patients” blocked in their development by dominant mind ( which is clear in issues such as depression ) seems only paradox when watched from outside of that paradigm. The mind and its relative, language, creates our world, so it is only natural that one living within it, knows no better. However, when then this way of seeing and working is projected upon the Other, who does have an alternative, which could perhaps be a way of salvation, there is a risk that this very alternative will be disregarded and destroyed.

 

Shaman blowing tobacco smoke on patient’s head can be only accepted as cultural relic, ancient practice that civilized people learned to respect ( very recently actually ) but would rather have delegated to museum unless it can be rationally A) understood B) proven C) explained in words/literature , all requisites of mind paradigm.

 

Of course, value of some non verbal “aides” to healing process slowly starts to be recognized, when intuition is given a bit of humble space, some plants will be placed in clinical setting, sometimes incense lit, young assistant to the professor will be permitted to choose playlist to play through patient’s headphones. These efforts are rather considered secondary improvement to the main structure, which is composed of authority of university degree, therapeutic tool of words and belonging of “clinical setting” to whole modern knowledge edifice.

 

From perspective of organic, traditional plant medicine systems this is kindergarten play. Good that these experiments are taking place, but very arrogant when those who are just beginning to get off their head and stand on their feet are looking down on the very foundation.

 

That foundation is somatic. It is emotional. It is, do not be afraid of this, spiritual. Intellectual understanding is just a cherry on top, it should be the addition, not other way around. But what is the biggest obstacle from being so? Impossibility of standarisation and so commercialization of both that non verbal knowledge and healing styles. Our civilization is, at least since spread of print, so much based on knowledge stadarized into small bits, that can be repeated, passed on a mass scale from mind to mind, that it simply does not want to see alternative, or perhaps sees it as shameful relic of pre-modern past.

This attitude is replicated in ways of modern medicine, if something can not be replicated in standarized bits, be it repeatable dose of chemically verifiable drug ( hence the psychedelic renaissance interest in MDMA rather than rough jungle formulas ) or standarized treatment procedures, to be taught in medical schools and books, it remains on the fringe – rather than essence it truly is :

somatic, sensual, magical experience of here and now, lacking rigidness of both religion it sometimes decays into, or fundamentalism of science, religion of urbanized societies; an ancient ART – art back from being lost in wastelands of ego, back to its primary function of making whole – HEALING.

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