The Importance of Ritual
The purpose of this little essay is to explain the importance of ritual in the psychedelic experience, and how to do such rituals. These ideas and suggestions are based on ten years of studying these matters, but by no means do I claim what I am about to say to be the ultimate truth… it is only a distillation of my own experience and wisdom that I have gathered. Also what I will put forth works just as good with non-psychedelic ritual endeavors.
Is it real or not? *
Is the experience with sacred plants real or is it all in the mind? The answer is that it does not matter at all.
For instance in the Shipibo tradition, in the Amazon, the ayahuasquero blows wild tobacco smoke around the initiate in order to protect him/her from “evil” spirits.
Does this imply that evil spirits are real? Or are evil spirits just something that exists in the imagination, and if they do then is not the act of blowing smoke meaningless?
As I mentioned earlier it does not matter if it is real or not real. One thing I hope we can agree upon is that everything is in the mind. If we seem to experience something paranormal, or if we experience something normal, both those experiences are still only within the mind that is experiencing it.
In other words, even if it is completely false that there are evil spirits, by the very act of blowing protective smoke, the initiate will feel protected. And by feeling protected the coming initiatory experience will be much more pleasant. And if it is true that there are in fact evil spirits then the blowing of smoke will actually protect the initiate. So you see it does not matter if it is true or not. The only thing that matters is if it works.
Naturally, if the initiate believes everything to be bullshit then nothing will do any good, but why would such a person even be interested in a bullshit initiation in the first place?
With the above example I hope I have explained that there is no reason to question if the ritual methods I will now explain have “real” magical properties or “imagined” ones since the reason for using them is to put the mind in the right mood… to influence it into a certain space of being and awareness in order to achieve the highest level of beneficial initiation.
There are many ways to use sacred plants, and all of them could demand different methods, but instead of trying to be specific I will try and explain it in fairly general terms.
It is important to have a good intention before partaking of any initiatory experience. In order to keep such intentions firmly in the mind, praying can help, as well as chanting a mantra or other such things. Do not go into it half-assed.
It is significant to be physically clean. The act of washing yourself is symbolic of purification and regeneration like the serpent shedding its skin. It puts the mind in a “blank page” kind of mood.
If possible the best way to do this is to baptize yourself in a river rather than taking a shower, because the experience of standing naked in a forest and entering the river in order to prepare for an initiatory experience is far greater than having a shower. A middle ground path would be to have a bath. Put on some soothing music, light some candles and relax in the tub for an hour.
It is also advisable for the space, where the initiatory experience will take place, to be equally clean.
Again, with the risk of repeating myself, it does not matter if it is mumbo jumbo that the sacred plants care if you are clean or not, but psychologically it does matter.
Treat everything as if sacred. For instance do not come home from work, sit down and ingest whatever sacred plant at your disposal. Instead, decide when is a good time to do it? Perhaps there is a full moon next week. Do it at night when it is dark. The more people in society that are sleeping the less disturbance you will get, as well as the benefit of having it be as dark as possible.
Try and choose a sacred date, because a ritual is usually best performed on certain occasions. And you will create the longing for the date to arrive, and the symbolic concept of the “coming of the dawn” will make your mind more and more ready the closer it gets.
Prepare your internal body by following a certain diet or by fasting. Eating is something we do every day, and by having a strict dietary regime it subconsciously forces the mind to constantly be reminded of the coming initiatory experience.
I have already spoken a bit about protection. For instance you could burn incense or any other material that could aid in giving the initiate a feeling that the space is protected. Crystals, markings on the floor, ornaments or other such things could also be employed.
The important thing to remember is that if a certain scent is used, for example, it should be a scent that is only used for such rituals. If it is not the scent would loose its special initiatory qualities. We do not want anything to be mundane.
Certain sacred music (of personal choice) is also an excellent thing to include in the ritual, as well as the sounds of nature, as we have a deep subconscious connection with it.
I personally prefer to use Icaros (the medicine songs of the Shipibo), but if you do not have any initiatory experience with them it might do more damage than good.
Opening from Philip Glass album Glassworks is a personal favorite of mine if you are more interested in modern music.
If the above steps are employed the initiation with sacred plants, or any initiation really, will become much more potent. Add to this the fact that it is important to keep the mind silent and the heart open and you are sure to have a great experience.
And whenever possible, perform the ritual from beginning to end in nature, at night. It is also always advisable to have someone there that is not taking part for support, preferably someone with experience.
* but of course it's fucking real...
Natural Born Alchemist © 10 March 2016