“What blinds us, or what makes historical progress very difficult, is our lack of awareness of our ignorance. And [I think] that beliefs should be put aside, and that a psychedelic society would abandon belief systems [in favor of] direct experience and this is, I think much, of the problem of the modern dilemma, is that direct experience has been discounted and in its place all kind of belief systems have been erected…” Terence McKenna on a psychedelic society in 1984.
Belief systems have been losing ground in this new hyper connected reality we are currently in, as if we collectively have rejected the old ways of existing and began to search the deepest recesses of our inner experience.
Psychedelics have been proposed as a catalyst against belief systems in underground scenes for over 60 years. Within most psychedelic philosophy is a rejection of the dogma, linguistic trappings and the ideologies of civilization. Tim Leary’s famous “turn on, tune in and drop out” quote has been demonized to the extent we lost the wisdom within it. The great promise within the mythology of psychedelics is ego loss, cosmic consciousness and divine love but rarely do we get an actual blueprint on integrating these experiences into daily life.
The big unknown factor, that is rarely talked about in the Psychedelic worlds, is that the experience is vastly different for everyone. Yet, those early pioneers out on the forefront of consciousness research came away with certain profound ideas that have reshaped our world. Follow the trails of computers, internet, fractals, DNA, social activism, quantum mechanics and more back to their source moment of creation and you will often find yourself on a psychedelic trip with a key Innovator reworking our cultural institutions.
Terence McKenna was there in the early days, a rebel activist at Berkeley, a hippie idealist trying to save the world and he grew into a unique philosopher merging all these quaint “out there” psychedelic ideas into a cohesive story of our collective evolution. He says he never liked acid much, but that first DMT blast into the Hyper Spacial Worlds, were not only richer but more vivid and earthshaking as anything imagined in Science Fiction novels. Yet somehow it existed within our own brains or somewhere else depending on who you ask. That inner-space was now on the forefront of human exploration according to Terence, and the proto-typical Psychonaut as an archetype is embodied by Terence McKenna’s work and life.
Somewhere in the middle of the 1980s he used the phrase “Psychedelic Society” in a workshop and it rolled around in his head until a philosophy was formed. It was his notion of what a society would look like after the use of a psychedelic and how it lingered on a collective level to help create a future of survival for our species. McKenna’s speech was wonderful and inspiring for us Psychheads who still listen to his speeches on podcasts. It was also revolutionary.
We know that we wouldn’t be who we are today without the aid of these chemical experiences. Maybe we could have gotten here without them, but this was the path, the journey we took and we are grateful.
Here is the entire point!!
Based on this philosophy, which is built on decades of unusual experience and obscure references: We of the Psychonautical variety surmise a Psychedelic society is not only here, it is at the doorstep of the mainstream and the true question of our age is…..
What does that mean?
Somewhere in our little corner of human history, we turned and made a 45 degree into a new reality. As if something vital is on the line and or survival depends on new ways of experiencing Human-ness. Ram Dass, one of the great psychedelic heroes said we (the human) are collectively the “frontal lobe” of the Gaia Eco system. Maybe he’s right and all the weirdness that has played out is for a reason. One could say the Great Soup maker is filling out a recipe and we are simply fulfilling a cosmic duty that’s part of a plan.
History seems to be mostly be a threading of stories from the chaos that was before. Yet here we are as a human species staring at Marijuana legalization, Magic mushroom decriminalization and Psychedelic research. What percentage of the population is now in the grips of a Psychedelic Renaissance is anyone’s guess but let’s look some details.
Mary Jane is a Psychedelic, let’s get that straight first, always has been, always will be. Whatever strange human rewiring goes down from the use of “blunts” “dabs” “tokes” and “rips”, it is fairly saturated on a cultural level and if modern music, advertising and movies stopped making sense years ago, it’s likely because your not High enough. Cause all those Mother Earthing Smokers are high as fuck when they create these avenues of cultural expression.
“A psychedelic society is one which orients itself and lives in the light of the irreducible Mystery of Being; a society in which problems and solutions are displaced from their traditional central role, and which puts ‘Irreducible mysteries’ in their stead.” McKenna in 1984
History likes to say the psychedelic revolution got started in 1958 with Aldous Huxley and peyote, or maybe it was 1955 with Gordon Wasson taking mushrooms in Mexico. Perhaps it started in Taos, New Mexico in the 1940’s with Mabel Dodge, or those Modern American Indians, who re-adopted older techniques with an interfaith universality towards collective healing. I like to say it started with Jazz and that first generation of rebels who smoked a joint back stage and went into some free-form alternative consciousness.
Can you say the first time you got High… it didn’t shake up your world? Like the first time you successfully masturbated and it dawned on you that was really how sex worked, it wasn’t just theory anymore. The first time I got High, I saw a world behind the curtain and realized this demonized substance was beautiful and not the horror show the 80s era school system taught me. I chilled and blended into a pre-existing condition of awe.
Much of the problem of the modern dilemma is that direct experience has been discounted and in its place all kinds of belief systems have been erected. . . . You see, if you believe something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite. Terence McKenna
If it feels as if collective reality fell apart sometime in the last decade, than you are not alone. Many wonder if “Common Reality” fell apart, but I have honestly come to believe it never actually had structure in the first place. Once you realize that culture is just a construct of words and the old words just didn’t seem like they worked anymore, that the effort to find new MEANING is so vitally important, it borders on madness.
We need new words and ideas to cohesively makes sense of this new existence we find ourselves in.
Psychedelics helped create the first great rebellious movements of the last 50 years, like Beat poetry, Rock and Roll, Merry Pranksters, Hippies and Activist movements. Often at the heart of many cultural frameworks are the re-workings of human existing through the experience of sharing a joint, doing a Be-in or having a psychedelic trip.
Where we have BEEN is a long story that is partly true and all narrative. What matters is where we are now.
It’s wonderful that most people accept the living ecosystem we call Gaia as a true thing. It is also deep within our Ancient faith system that we are a part of forest…. not separate. When we lost superstition, we also lost some valuable ideas. Seeing the whole Earth as a connected microcosmic cycle in which we are a part of, is something valuable and one easily found with the direct experience of ingesting a plant.
McKenna once said, plants live in time and animals live in space!
When the consciousness of our minds becomes dualistic with an induced Typtamine division that comes with a Psychedelic trip, we literally rewire our way of thinking and science has been proving it on a scale that is epic. Don’t even get me started on Quantum mechanics and the idea that a Particle can also be a Wave.
You either get what I am saying, and intuitively understand that something changed in you the first time you took a psychedelic, or perhaps you already walk the archaic ways with drum circles, permaculture, breath-work, and the variety of paths we embrace. Making old ways new and the new ways, sacred.
“What I’m advocating is that we each take responsibility for the cultural transformation by realizing it is not something which will be disseminated from the top down. It is something which each of us can contribute to by attempting to live as far into the future as possible.” McKenna
Yeah, but what does it MEAN?
Full disclosure: I started a Psychedelic Society in 2014. It had a 3 year run in St Louis. We had no membership and it operated like an anarchist collective. How can you quantify and organize random free thinkers into a spearhead of action? Herding cats is easier. However since our goals were to “find the others” and create community, it was an enormous success.
That was over 5 years ago now, and the young people who once came to meetings are now older and creating new lives. The conversation moved on and community started to shift around spiritual needs. The mainstream caught on, and New York Times Best Sellers did indeed influence the newly forming modern Psychedelic Society. While the “objective reality” groups of a Psychedelic Society nature do thrive across the world. Many large ones in London and San Francisco, they are simply forums for psychedelic conversations and the fabric of society seems to move at hyper spacial speed towards cultural symbiosis.
Alan Watts once asked..what is Human? Is it the human from 10,000 years ago? Or the ones from today? Or the human kind that will exist 10,000 years from now. Human is a process, as is the ocean from which we come, moving in waves.
The Psychedelic Wave began sometime in the past and moves on into the future, but never doubt it’s impact on the social fabric. A Psychedelic Society is here in forms we never imagined. and we must face the ramifications of a youth that freely experiences direct knowledge from the use of nervous system overloads of a Psychedelic trip and wonder if indeed, it was simply a part of the “bigger plan”. Then all one has to do…..is find meaning in the direct experience.