Several weeks ago, I found myself immersed in a communal psilocybin ceremony. It was my inaugural journey with psychedelics amidst the embrace of a collective. The shared energy crafted a sanctuary, allowing me to delve profoundly into a spiritual communion, to resonate with my inner purpose, and to intertwine with kindred souls in dimensions beyond our tangible existence. The depth of this encounter stirred a metamorphosis within, a transformation that words scarcely capture.
This moment led me to reflect upon the sacred essence of communion.
THE TIES THAT BOUND TRIBES AND FAMILIES
From the dawn of human civilization, the enigmatic, transformative, and potent power of psychedelic substances has intrigued and been embraced by various cultures across the globe. From the Amazonian rainforests to the vast stretches of Eurasia, the use of psychedelic brews in religious and communal rituals has been a constant, pulsating thread woven deep into the tapestry of human evolution. Beyond mere intoxication, these substances were cherished and revered for the gateways of perception they unlocked, often strengthening the bonds of community, tribe, and family.
THE SACRAMENTAL BREWS
One of the most well-known psychedelics, Ayahuasca, is made from the intertwining of two plants: the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis leaf. Indigenous Amazonian tribes have been using Ayahuasca for millennia as a tool for divination, healing, and communion with ancestral spirits.
In Europe, the Eleusinian Mysteries, which spanned nearly two millennia in ancient Greece, centered around the ingestion of a sacred drink called Kykeon. Though the exact ingredients of Kykeon remain a topic of debate, some researchers propose that it might have contained psychoactive substances that induced visionary states among its participants.
In Siberia, the shamanic use of the Amanita muscaria mushroom, commonly known as the fly agaric, was integral to rituals and ceremonies. Shamans would consume the mushroom and enter altered states, communing with spirits to gain wisdom, guidance, or healing powers for their community.
WHY COMMUNION MATTERS
It wasn’t just the experience of altered consciousness that was significant, but the setting and context in which these brews were taken. The communal ingestion of these substances was often framed within the protective embrace of well-defined rituals, fostering unity, shared understanding, and strengthened social bonds.
1. Shared Experience: When a tribe or community partakes in a collective experience, it creates an unspoken bond. Sharing a transformative, often profound, psychedelic journey deepened this bond, creating mutual respect and understanding among participants.
2. Guidance and Structure: The structured setting of these rituals provided safety and guidance. Elders or shamans would supervise these ceremonies, ensuring that participants were cared for and that the experiences were integrated positively into the community's cultural narrative.
3. Reinforcing Cultural and Familial Ties: Communion rituals helped pass down traditions, myths, and legends from one generation to the next. They acted as a rite of passage for many, marking significant life events and transitions.
4. Healing and Restoration: Beyond spiritual enlightenment, many of these rituals served therapeutic purposes. Group sessions could lead to communal catharsis, helping to resolve conflicts, heal old wounds, and rejuvenate the spirit of the tribe.
THE DESIRE FOR SHARED REVELATIONS
As we reflect on our modern world, with its myriad ways of connecting, we might find a yearning for the kind of profound connection our ancestors experienced. The use of psychedelic brews in early pagan religions highlights a universal human desire to understand the deeper facets of existence and to share these revelations with those closest to us.
Today, with the resurgence of interest in psychedelics for therapy and personal growth, it’s vital to remember the importance of set, setting, and community. It reminds us that, often, the journey within is best undertaken with fellow travelers by our side.