If you wanted to make any change to your thoughts and emotions, start with the things that you put in to your body. Have you looked inside your refrigerator? Did you actually taste your last meal? What is your relationship with food?
Regarding the energetics of eating, food corresponds with information entering your physical and non-physical bodies. You are allowing information to enter your body and your body is breaking down or digesting that information. Therefore, it is also useful to be selective with what information you allow your body to digest. Some foods provide information that is not “bad” information, but information that can create chaos and confusion in the mind. Other foods provide clarifying information or nourishment and energy in the body and mind.
Create a food ritual by first choosing one meal of your day that you can perform at a similar time every day and choose a location to sit and eat that you can perform with consistency. Next select a physical or virtual food journal to take down observations with each meal. Select your favorite plate, light a candle, or sit in front of a window. Turn off and remove all distractions. Sit down and take in the sensations of the meal, the smell, the taste, the way the food looks.
Next close your eyes and observe the state of your body and mind. What is happening with your thoughts and emotions? Do you experience feelings of guilt or shame during or after eating? Do you have positive feelings of pleasure and joy while engaging in a meal? Do you feel neutral, empty? Neutral, full? Can you become aware of thoughts that best serve your relationship with food? Your thoughts influence your body’s ability to absorb nourishment. If you think of your physical body as sacred and food as a sacred offering, you can choose an interaction with food that is energizing, not depleting.
Once you have observed your state physically and mentally, bring your hands above the food and visualize a current of light entering the top of your head, through your body, and out of your hands. Say “for my highest good, I bless this food.” As you consume the meal, continue this observational state of mind. What is occurring as you chew? What occurs as you swallow? What does full feel like? Notice and write down any changes in your state, even up to an hour after the meal. Complete this ritual for 3 days.
After you establish awareness of what occurs during and after eating, you may notice some foods create an adverse reaction. If this is the case, eliminate an inflammatory food or drink for the following 7 days (you can go as long as a month). Every person has different needs and intolerances, but I find it is not so difficult to know which foods are draining you of energy versus those that provide you with energy. Common culprits are large quantities of sugar, processed foods, gluten, dairy products, meat, and plant-based anti-nutrients (nutrients that inhibit absorption of vitamins or minerals) that can be found in nuts, seeds and nightshades. If you find yourself bloated, constipated, or not digesting properly, it is a sign to explore your relationship with certain foods. If you find you have low energy, moodiness, brain fog, or you’re constantly getting sick, you may also want to look at what you are putting in to your system. Again no particular foods are “bad” or “good”. This is simply a process of finding the ratio of foods that create balance in your specific digestive system without inflammation or sickness. If you find that you cannot stop eating a certain food and you do it in excess, it may also be a sign that a change in that relationship would be beneficial. I should note that with the process of observation and elimination, I highly recommend working with a doctor, professional nutritionist or dietitian.
During the cleanse, choose one food that creates a reaction and remove that food from your home completely. I recommend starting with sugar including natural sweeteners like honey and agave as well as sugar from fruit. Next fill your refrigerator with options so that you can easily satiate hunger or cravings. Select foods that are nutrient dense, unprocessed, and create a pleasurable experience. This process can be enjoyable. Shame, an all or nothing attitude, or a lack mentality create fear-driven beliefs surrounding food. This can make it difficult to create sustainably healthy decisions surrounding nutrition.
If you can tolerate fibrous vegetables, replace at least half your plate with leafy greens or a quantity the size of your outstretched hand. Drink plenty of water, teas, and broths. Additionally seek out fermented foods or probiotic-rich yogurt or kefir. Rest as much as possible, especially during the first couple of days and I recommend timing it so day 2 and 3 fall on the weekend (or during times when you don’t have other responsibilities). Clearing old energy can be very taxing on the body, so allow your self to focus only on the cleanse, especially when your body is initially detoxing. Write your thoughts and feelings throughout. Understand that parasitic energies of your mind and gut will make you think that you want certain foods. Trust that these aspects are not actually You. You will be shocked as the thoughts start to disappear and the mind gets very quiet. When the 7 days are completed, do not go immediately back to the way you were eating. Reintroduce the food or foods you eliminated, slowly if you desire to eat them again (one item per week).
“I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about.”
— Terence McKenna
Magic mushrooms. Shrooms. Mushies. Music festivals. College dorm rooms. A young person who reads astrology, travels to South America and refuses to wear deodorant. Psilocybin mushrooms have gotten a bad rep. In the United States, they are not accepted in the mainstream culture, legally or socially, and when surveyed, only 0.1 percent of Americans report using psychedelics (this includes LSD, MDMA, mescaline, and peyote).
Psilocybin, the psychoactive component in magic mushrooms, is a psychedelic fungus that can be found in the wild or can be easily grown in sterile, high humidity conditions. There are over 200 species but the most commonly consumed are Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe subcubensis, and Psilocybe semilanceata. Psychedelics are defined as hallucinogens, which alter states of consciousness by influencing the serotonin 2A receptor agonism in the brain. As a whole they are known to cause changes to cognition and sensory or auditory hallucinations. The word psychedelic, coined by British psychologist Humphry Osmond in 1956, comes from the Greek word psyche which means “soul” and dēloun which means “to make visible or reveal”. The name itself reveals the deeper, spiritual implications of these substances, the extra-ordinary states that they provoke, and the notion that they can access parts of the mind that are typically unused. But it is no coincidence that they are not accepted in mainstream cultures around the world, particularly in the United States.
In 1960, the psychedelic mushroom became associated with antiauthoritarian counterculture as musicians, filmmakers and visual artists began to promote its use. Simultaneously, research was being done on psychedelics, with great publicity and often with poor understanding and regulation. The youth had an emerging distrust for the United States government, disillusionment regarding the American Dream, and a desire for social justice. There was an increased desire to disrupt institutions or the “old” way of doing things, and the call for freedom of speech and expression. All of this was offset by inter-generational trauma caused by World War II and the divisiveness and intense costs of the Vietnam War occurring during that time period. In an effort to preserve order and control, Nixon passed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, making psilocybin (and other psychedelics) illegal. Any and all academic or government research on psilocybin ceased and the public was warned to beware the dangers of psychedelia. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, psilocybin is a Schedule 1 Drug and it “has a high potential for abuse”, “has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.”, and “has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”. In other words, psilocybin is dangerous, addictive, and has no benefits.
But these claims are flimsy on only a brief examination of the scientific research. In the past 20 years, well-reputed research institutes such as John Hopkins and Heffter are using organizations such as MAPS (The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) to fund private research, despite intense regulations and lack of government funding. These studies are enabling huge leaps forward in understanding psychedelics and the brain and are revealing the profound benefits psilocybin has on the psyche. There is already repeated evidence to suggest that psilocybin offers minimal risk of abuse and side effects are not significant. Some findings suggest that psilocybin can benefit conditions, such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and addictions, that don’t respond to typical therapies or drugs prescribed for mental illnesses. And studies on healthy participants suggest increased well-being, connectedness, and divergent thinking (i.e. creativity) up to one-month after ingestion. Unlike most prescribed medications, psilocybin may have the remarkable ability to work with the neuroplastic nature of the brain, creating beneficial and lasting changes in the brain structure that evolve even after taking the psychedelic. The implication would be that the benefits gained by using psilocybin therapeutically could have permanent effects on the brain structure through repetition and treatment that enables the experience to be integrated.
The reality is this entheogen is not new–it grows on every continent of the world and has been intertwined with human history as a medicine and guide for thousands of years. Evidence reveals that psychedelic mushrooms have appeared as far back as Aztec, Mayan, and Mesopotamian cultures. A prehistoric mural found in Spain (2.5 million years ago) suggests the ritualistic use of fungus and the ancient Egyptians adorned Temple walls with hieroglyphic depictions of mushrooms as food for royalty and “a gift from the God Osiris”. Even the Rigveda one of the four vedas and one of the oldest yogic texts, repeatedly mention a substance consumed to achieve eternal life called Soma. Remarkably researchers believe Soma was a psychedelic mushroom that may have influenced the creation of yoga 3,500 years ago. To this day, innumerable cultures around the world utilize psychedelic plants and fungi as medicine with the guidance of a Shaman or Elder to achieve higher states of consciousness and to release diseases of the mind and body. In ritualistic settings, psilocybin has been known to induce intense experiences such as birth, death, meeting God, personal knowing or gnosis, connection to all people and things, and the disintegration of time and space. Many report that psychedelics invoke a state not unlike those achieved by deep meditation.
So then the question must be asked…
Why the stigma?
Why is psilocybin, this ancient and naturally growing entheogen, still illegal on a global scale if both modern science and ancient cultures are revealing over and over again that it is not only not dangerous but it offers extensive benefits to the mind, body, and spirit? Why is it taking us so long to return to this viable tool for self-healing?
As one would expect the answer is multi-faceted and complex, particularly since the global criminalization of psilocybin cannot be traced to any single event and there does not see to be a universal, legal consensus that the substance offers scientific or religious benefits. But the timeline below offers a brief picture of why and how psilocybin and psychedelics as a whole became stigmatized through the progression and overlapping interactions of science, government regulation, and public opinion.
1943 – Pioneering Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
Five years after unintentionally synthesizing LSD from ergot, the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman accidentally dosed himself while synthesizing a batch. While handling the drug, he had to stop work to lie down:
“[I] sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors”
(1980, Hoffman, LSD–My Problem Child).
1939-1945 – World War II
1947-1991 – The Cold War
1947 – Delysid, the first (and last?) commercial, psychedelic medication
Sandoz Laboratories, where Hoffman first synthesized LSD, released the psychedelic as a commercially available medication called Delysid for a range of psychiatric conditions. Shortly after, United States researchers began to study the substance, believing it had clinical applications.
1950 – The Birth of the Beatnik
The Beat Generation was a movement and counterculture credited multiple 1950s authors including Burroughs, Lucien Carr, Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, and Kerouac. Primary features of the movement were spiritual quests, American and Eastern religions explored together, psychedelic experimentation, sexual freedom, and a refusal to participate in mainstream consumerism. Many connect this movement directly to the Hippie Movement that came in the 60s.
1950-1965 – The Golden Age of Psychedelic Research
Time magazine published six positive reports on LSD as the American fascination with psychedelics entered the mainstream. Over 40,000 subjects were given LSD and over 1,000 scientific papers were published.
1955-1975 – The Vietnam War
1955, December – The Inception of Civil Rights
Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus and was arrested. Major institutions began to be challenged by the public, particularly those connected to the oppression of black Americans. There was increasing interest in human rights.
1957 – Gallup, a U.S. analytic company found 69% of Americans had an interest in spirituality.
Curiosity took hold of the cultural movement and challenged traditional American values while placing emphasis on spiritual explorations through yoga, the occult, expanded consciousness, and accessing the full human potential.
1959-1963 – The Harvard Psilocybin Project
Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert infamously conducted the first research on the effects of psilocybin on human consciousness. They were both eventually fired from the university as they lost credibility by administering the mushrooms while under its influence, not following research controls or following general research guidelines, and disobeying the university’s policy of not administering the drug on undergraduates.
1960, May – Eisenhower and the U-2 plane incident
An American U2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, while President Dwight D. Eisenhower and leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev had an important summit that same month. The American public was informed a weather plane had crashed, however when the spy plane was discovered in the Soviet mostly intact, Eisenhower had to publicly admit to the lie. This further catalyzed government distrust.
1963 – Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Kennedy was widely loved and his premature death shattered the public. Dissatisfaction with the government explanation (that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone) and conspiracy theories proposing the CIA had been involved in the assassination, further increased divisions and distrust amongst the American people.
1965 – Freedom of Speech in Movies
The Hays Code was repealed and the strict censorship on movies ended, allowing filmmakers to break free of traditional sexual and moral conventions of the time.
1966, May – California was the first state to outlaw LSD.
1967 – Hippies and the creation of the commune
The Kaliflower Commune or The Friends of Perfection Commune was created in San Francisco, California as a utopian community that lived together and shared resources. It was one of the first of its kind, exemplifying the changing lifestyles and communal living of the youth that became a fixture in the hippie movement. They supported artistic expression, psychedelic experimentation, service, polyamory, and often limited interactions outside of the community.
1968 – Staggers-Dodd bill was passed, banning possession of psilocybin and psilocin in the US.
1968 – Protests pick up across the country
Building strain between the public and the police meant increased antiauthoritarian sentiment, especially among college students. The Black Power and Black Panther movements took form out of the civil rights movement and diner sit-ins and school walkouts began to occur across the country in response to segregation. Many protests were peaceful, but many were not. In Orangeburg, South Carolina three college students were shot and killed by police during a protest. Later, at Kent State four unarmed students were killed and nine injured by the national guard.
1970 – Congress passed The Controlled Substance Act
This statute was passed by the 91st United States Congress and signed in to law by President Nixon. It created five classifications (schedules) for substances, regulating their distribution, possession, use, and manufacture. Psilocybin was listed as a Schedule I Substance, implying it was among drugs with the highest potential for abuse.
1971 – United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances also lists psilocybin as a Schedule I drug.
1990-1995 Dr. Rick Strassman conducts research on DMT and later publishes “DMT: The Spirit Molecule”.
As DMT did not carry the same stigma as other psychedelics, Strassman was able to successfully test and show measurable benefits of N-dimethyltryptamine. Some argue this was the key factor to spark the current Psychedelic Renaissance in the research community.
2006 – The tides turn.
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that UDV, a Christian religious group that sacramentally uses ayahuasca, could import the drink to the United States.
Dr. Roland Griffith’s landmark paper, “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance” was published in Psychopharmacology.
2009 – Founding of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College in London by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris.
2014 – LSD is shown to be able to treat anxiety experienced in relation to terminal illnesses.
Rick Doblin, an American drug researcher, conducted a study on the therapeutic benefits of LSD in the hope that he would “break these substances out of the mold of the counterculture and bring them back to the lab as part of a psychedelic renaissance.”
Eight subjects received a full 200-microgram dose of LSD while four others received one-tenth as much. Participants then took part in two LSD-assisted therapy sessions two to three weeks apart. Subjects who took the full dose experienced reductions in anxiety averaging 20 per cent while those given the low dose reported becoming more anxious.
2019 May – Denver, CO is the first city to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms
2019June – Oakland, CA follows suit in decriminalizing cultivation and possession of some psychedelics.
2020 January – Santa Cruz, CA decriminalizes adult cultivation and possession of psilocybin mushroom
2020, September – Johns Hopkins’ establishes the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research
With $17 million in private funding and a full panel of planned studies, Johns Hopkins launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in September this year.
The center, believed to be the first such research center in the country and the largest of its kind in the world, will focus on how psychedelics impact brain function and mood in both healthy individuals and those affected by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and anorexia nervosa.
It is clear, the narrative is changing. In spite of legality and stigma, psilocybin is gaining traction as studies continue to pile up, documenting the immense benefits of psychedelic therapies. Science, as opposed to opinion, is now shattering the narrative of dangerous psychedelic drugs and it seems that the prospect of legalized, medicinal psychedelics is increasingly likely. Some have even documented a trend in the silicon valley elite using “magic mushrooms” (micro-dosing and medicine ceremonies) as tools for creativity, self-development, and increased energy. With the advent of biohacking and increased performance, psilocybin and other psychedelics fit nicely in this fascination with maximizing physical and mental potential and pursuing expanded states of consciousness. This is not say, however, that these tools should be approached without respect. It could be argued that modern use of psychedelics to improve work performance or to aid in excelling within a consumerism work force is forgetting the tradition and ritual surrounding the psychedelic experience, especially if the user is seeking something or taking from the entheogen to achieve wealth, material success, and greater productivity. Curanderos and shamans have not treated these psychedelic entities as servants, instead they treat them as gods or guides and approach them respectively as both conscious and aware beings. For example, as opposed to many Americans who fly to the Peruvian jungle to drink ayahuasca in the “traditional” ceremony, the tradition was actually that only the healer and not the patient consumed the entheogen–and this was after years of rigorous training and communication with the plants. In this vein, it is important to note that not all should consume entheogens. Not all minds are compatible or at the stage of development to work with a psychedelic because the shattering of ego and identity, although harmless to the physical body, can be intensely traumatizing and damaging if the user already has unprocessed trauma or has never experienced non-identification with Self. It is important to prepare the mind for an experience of surrender and immense discomfort, to know when one is at a place of stability for such an experience, and ideally to work with a professional guide, therapist, or shaman. Approaching the psychedelic experience without expectation, without seeking is key. Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques are helpful and preemptively examining the nature of one’s mind and environment can mitigate the uncomfortable experiences some report during trips (although important to not forget that discomfort is not a bad thing and can yield immense healing and growth and the research supports this notion). Things are looking up for Psilocybin access in modern American culture and psychiatry is finally returning to these highly effective, ancient medicines for their long-term benefits and minimal side effects. But hopefully, as we move in to a world that welcomes psilocybin in to our homes, bodies, and minds, we don’t lose sight of the wisdom these powerful and conscious beings can offer the collective. Psilocybin is not merely a medicine, but a bridge that connects us to our ancestors, nature, and a state of universal oneness.
“The ordinary waking consciousness is very useful and, on most occasions, an indispensable state of mind; but it is by no means the only form of consciousness, nor in all circumstances the best. Insofar as he transcends his ordinary self and his ordinary mode of awareness, the mystic is able to enlarge his vision, to look more deeply into the unfathomable miracle of existence.” ― Aldous Huxley
“We are sneaking psychedelics back into our society through research like the MDMA research that’s going on, through the research for the use of marijuana for pain, through research with the dying [with psilocybin], and ultimately we will do the same kind of stuff about alcoholism, about prison rehabilitation, so on. I mean, its obvious that psychedelics, properly used, have a behavior-change psychotherapeutic value. But from my point of view, that is all underusing the vehicle. The potential of the vehicle is sacramentally to take you out of the cultural constructs which you are part of a conspiracy in maintaining. And giving you a chance to experience once again your innocence.” ― Ram Dass
If you are new to practicing magick (with a k) or are just curious to understand, start here. Before we go further, magick, put simply, is the interaction between the mind, the will, and reality. It is not pulling a rabbit out of a hat or levitating 2 feet off the ground. It is becoming aware of every moment of every day that you impose a belief on to your world and choosing each belief for your highest good. It is highly practical and it can be surprising to realize that all of us practice magick to some degree, on a daily basis. Our minds are constantly projecting on to the people, places, and things before us. But what many of us fail to understand is that we impose our will on to the reality. Our mind, our identities, the sensation that we are all separate beings and things is an illusion. We create the illusion. We create It. Therefore we can decide to stop being victims of reality, but rather creators of our reality.
Here we will be discussing the use of ritual in High Magick as it connects to the emotion anxiety. Ritual is defined as “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.” It involves setting an intention or intended outcome as you perform these acts. When you practice ritual, you repeat an intention with discipline and consistency (daily, weekly, monthly, or any time frame designated). This act of repetition creates a new belief, thought, and behavior pattern that embed themselves in to your conscious and unconscious mind. What happens in the rite corresponds or relates to what happens inside of your psyche. What happens in your psyche relates to what happens outside of your identified persona.
How do I construct a ritual? It is up to you and your relationship to Self. You can use imagination and any number of social, societal constructs with great success. A father guiding his daughter every morning to ride her bike without training wheels is a ritual. People gathered in a sports bar to cheer on their favorite team is a ritual. The transubstantiation in a Catholic church as the priest recites the words, changing the Eucharist and wine to Jesus’ body and blood, is also ritual. An old man waking up every morning to practice chi gong with the sun rise is ritual. You can practice ritual all day every day. But the gift of magick is that you are empowered in choosing. You are fully open to creative possibility as you choose which rituals you wish to participate in and which you do not.
Now, on the topic of anxiety: It is either defined as an emotion or it is defined as a mental illness, a chronic condition that manifests physically and/or mentally and sometimes with little known cause. From the standpoint of High Magick, anxiety is and will always be a construct of the mind. This is not implying that a construct is not real. It is real, especially if certain beliefs surrounding anxiety are locked in to place for decades of your life. Complex psychosocial constructs can gain incredible influence over your life if you give them that power over and over again. Aristotle said: “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” Some psychologists theorize that the experiences in childhood can determine personality and relationships with Self, people, and your reality as a whole. You establish a reality with limiting belief patterns as a child and you reinforce them repeatedly since they are the foundations of how you understand the world.
Additionally, victims of trauma tend to reenact or re-create what might have been experienced in childhood in to adulthood and much of this is occurring on the subconscious level of the mind. Therefore it does not seem effective to simply try harder to eliminate the anxiety or to just think more positively. It is possible, but difficult to address the unconscious mind with the conscious mind. This is why positive thinking alone does not seem consistently effective at eliminating anxious thought patterns. And it seems that the more you “try” or attach yourself to an outcome, the harder it can become to achieve that outcome. Trying still creates the belief that you will not be successful at doing what you desire… This is where High Magick and ritual come in to play.
Now the next lesson may be difficult to swallow. It is much easier to blame the people in your life for any form of mental anguish that you experience. It is much easier to pray to an externalized God to be saved from sin. But in ritual magick, unlocking your power as a magician requires an awareness that is far less comforting and easy. This awareness, fundamentally, is this: In order to alleviate all suffering (physical, mental, or spiritual) through the tool of High Magick, you must take full responsibility over every aspect of your reality. It is not enough to think, imagine, or even believe that you have the power to change or to banish the past when it no longer serves you. You create everything that You experience. These words are only an approximation of the divinity and wholeness of You because It simply Is. And You are It. All of It. Every man, woman, person, child, animal, plant, object, thought form. You are not your thoughts or emotions. You are the observer. And You have the ability to create, to change, and to evolve in every aspect of your being.
With this understanding of your true sovereignty, I am providing a list of simple, yet powerful examples of ritual that will bring your mind and body in to stasis. The goal is to create awareness and intentional interactions with your reality. I have placed each ritual in an order that I would intuit is most influential when it comes to balancing energy. Treat them as lessons or a series of energetic practices that become more complex or advanced as you progress. Therefore I advise mastering one ritual practice before moving on to the next. I find single pointed focus is highly useful in magickal practices and can allow you to make lasting changes to your routine and your environment. Don’t speed through your process, simply pick one technique and try it for seven days. Eventually, you will naturally create your own rituals which will unlock the unlimited depths of your own potential. Treat your world as an experiment, a discovery of Self.
.: Number 10 :. Every energetic ritual previously discussed, from the most simple to the most elaborate, continues to bring us back to the same place, the same core practice: meditation. This one is number ten because it is probably the most simple and yet requires the utmost self-mastery to maintain. Quite frankly, it is […]
.: Number 9 :. Have you noticed that it is expensive to live near a river, at the top of a mountain, or next to a tree-lined park? Sun bathing, star gazing, even the simple act of planting a seed in a garden. Forests, waterfalls, canyons, the ocean. Earth, Water, Fire, Air. Whether we realize […]