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Re-enchanting the Western Mind

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1 Re-enchanting the Western Mind on Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:01 am


Re-enchanting the Western Mind

by Julian Palmer  

Psychedelics can quite commonly reveal that life is enchanting, magical and Disney beyond Disney. In fact, it has been said that Walt Disney gave his animators Peyote button containing Mescaline to inspire them whilst making the animated movie ‘Fantasia’.

Our cultural ideas as to what counts as fantasy may in fact reflect deeper realities – the creative dimensions of multidimensional life, which is an enchanted world full of richness, depth and complexity that the conditioned human mind may not easily understand. Perhaps it is true that fantasy itself is only ever a simulacrum of an understanding that most people have of a more expanded and enchanted world, which they rarely, if ever, touch. Why then do so few in our day and age essentially ‘touch’ this enchanted world?

Most are very obviously drawn into the world of survival, of work, of obligation, of responsibility, and never give the time or space necessary to realise that there is more. And of course, those people who do explore outside the box often do find out that there is a vaster and expanded reality, which the present day paradigm cannot completely account for. This is the world that traditional people have traditionally lived, where shamans speak to spirits and plants, and where so much of life is acknowledged to be truly beyond the horizon, forever unknown.

It is the Western people – with their maths, science, religions, jet airplanes and the Internet – that have removed a sense of this enchantment and intrigue. Life is then no longer a mystery – and the machine, the religion, the science – has apparently got it all figured out. Although it is true, on a functional level, that modern science understands the basis of many physical processes in the human body and the natural world, true scientists who are specialised in particular areas commonly understand how much there is yet to know and understand.

Reductionism is only the process of reducing elements to their most basic components in order to understand their functionality. Many uninformed people believe the reductionist descriptions represent a total or complete understanding, and believing these descriptions of reality to be reality is to live with no surprises, no possibility for understanding the expanded and more accurate and detailed complexities of living processes. Everything is then presumably mapped out and is known – people even say everything has been done. This is the ennui of the 21st century modern mind, which often wants to have everything figured out, which is an inclination that arises largely because of fear.

If reality is not understood, if we are not certain and directed, then we are like fish, swimming in uncertainty and liable to be eaten by predators. However, underneath the masks of individuals, an uncertain fish is exactly how many feel. This is called insecurity and we live in an unacknowledged pandemic of insecurity. Perhaps this insecurity and fear is why many are reluctant to take psychedelics, and to set aside time and space for an expanded and enchanted reality to be revealed.

When people take psychedelics, like high dose mushrooms, Changa, DMT or Ayahuasca, they are often exposed to a reality, where the rules are different than what they have learnt, where enchantment is the norm. The un-enchanted description or prescription is that life is a random affair – we are only meat, and that consciousness is only meaningless matter. There is no enchantment, no magic, no meaning, no expansive joie de vivre easily extracted from strict adherence to this mechanical world view. For those who refuse to believe in the possibility that there is anything else but the meat/mind are missing the point entirely – of the nature of the expansive and immense nature of the universe, and how human beings evolve a deeper understanding of the universe over time.

‘Scientism’ is defined as the over reliance or over belief in science, whereby all phenomena must firstly be understood by science, in which science then becomes something of a religion. When looked at closely, the scientific argument that some implicitly propose – that its present description of reality and rules IS reality – are patently absurd and imbecilic. Consider if humanity evolves into say 2515, what do you think they will think about our worldview? They will likely think about our worldview in a similar way to how we think about the Western worldview of 1615. In other words, they will understand more of what we have not yet understood, just as we understand a much greater, complex and sophisticated reality than the people of 1615.

Because of a kind of ontological insecurity and fear, it is a human predilection to try and fill in the gaps of what is presently unknown with known information. I call this inclination to overestimate understanding and information about a particular subject “the mammoth theory”. Our ancient forebears had to presume to know much about a mammoth – its anatomy, its behaviour, and its very nature in order to kill it. Therefore, because of this survival instinct, human beings will typically avoid any form of uncertainty, as it implies a lack of being able to dominate and survive in the natural world.

To presume uncertainty is to be subject to inaction, and so any action is innately deemed to be better than no action. Uncertainty is often the truth, one that religion and science will tend to fill in with their (often absurd) versions of reality, decreasing the mystery and thus the ability to be enchanted and feel like there is something more. The feeling – that the universe is more complex, deeper and more mysterious than we have known – is like a teleological attractor, inspiring us to explore and understand.

This spacious feeling is inspirational; that spirit and life is bigger than us or our descriptions of it, and that we have something to aim for. This feeling, this inspiration, should also be, and often has been, the driving force of science; not negation, not “it aint so”, not “that can’t be real”, which is clearly a nihilistic philosophical stance of skeptics who are in fact denying a natural evolution and progression of science itself. Those who claim, “we have everything figured out” believe in the lie of reductionism – that the description of reality is the thing itself, when in fact reductionism is simply a tool to understand a bewilderingly complex and sophisticated world. Not all scientists are proposing this misperception of course, but many are, especially armchair scientismists, these ideologues who call themselves “skeptics”.

Psychedelics are a good way to become re-enchanted with the world and its greatness, to understand that reality is vast, complex, sophisticated, intelligent and for us human beings, often far beyond comprehension. But also, we can be inspired to comprehend what we CAN comprehend and put effort into understanding what we can understand. To recognise the world of the supernatural – or should I say the truly natural – is also to recognise how out of touch and unnatural humanity has become in the height of a certain industrial age on a certain planet, and to recognise that we are in fact disconnected from a truly interconnected and alive milieu. This appears confronting for the ego and the mind of many, but is a clear message that people commonly encounter when they take psychoactive plants.

Contrary to those who experience these beings in the tryptamine space regularly and communicate with them, people who do not experience such beings could be perceived disconnected from their own ability to perceive. And that is normal. Even when smoking high dose DMT, some people will not experience these beings or be able to capture or remember the experience. I once facilitated some DMT smoking sessions with a hardheaded man, smoking DMT several times over a few hours in two successive sessions a week apart. The individual at hand had never been able to experience anything after taking ayahuasca apart from geometric patterns, even after drinking quite regularly for some years. Initially, he said that nothing happened after smoking DMT, until I amplified the dose, giving him close to around 60-80mg of DMT smoked each time.

Eventually, after asking him pointed questions for an hour after the third smoke, it turned out that each time he smoked, he had experienced a female octopus-like being floating above his body, which was transmitting love and light energy into his chakras through tendrils! But this description or understanding took an hour to get out of him, as his conscious mind could not or did not want to give over its power to the ‘unknown’. The human mind is often like a steel trap, fearful that the world is going to overtake and overcome it. As a presumed predator in the natural and human world we must be attentive, but it is also wise to come to a place of civilised ease, where this sort of fearful attentiveness is perhaps less necessary.

To accept the enchanted world is to accept the apparent “irrationality” that science has not only presumed to defeat, but also precluded from existing. So to see these beings, for many people, equates irrationality. In the reddit group ‘self.rational.psychonaut’, to be “rational” for many of these 20 year old Pennsylvanian bio-chemistry students, means to preclude the existence of strange or unexplainable phenomena, which only talks of their conditioning, not what is actually true or not. Because the fact remains, many do report these beings, and such beings are an expected experience when people smoke enough DMT. It then becomes quite nonsensical to explain this commonly observed phenomena away as the human brain observing itself hyper-narcissistically. There is also the tendency amongst some to completely discredit the unexplainable phenomena, such as these beings, as some kind of anomaly. The epitome of this attitude is an article written by James Kent, which I have deconstructed here.

Strangely enough, Kent believes that these beings he describes as “loopy spirits” who dance around and “machine elves”, are all manifestations of the brain attempting to discern form in random noise. I believe his argument is in fact an irrational argument. Now let’s first define ‘irrational’ with the Oxford dictionary, which states that irrationality is “not endowed with reason”. Kent has attempted to endow the DMT experience with his version of reason, but his reasoning comes out looking irrational and unreasonable. The enchanted world is just the world that lies outside the territory of our known maps. In recognising an enchanted world, you are recognising that humanity circa 2015 has not figured everything out – and to believe THAT would of course be utterly irrational.

The path “back” to an integrated connected and enchanted world can be a long and arduous one. It can take a lot of time, as you really have to face yourself and be prepared to acknowledge a toxic state of being which is out of contact with reality. The process is much like a kind of repentance. It is an admission that your present state of being is out of touch and disconnected from so many aspects of reality. To perceive that perhaps most of your kind are just as disconnected is often too much cognitive dissonance for your regular Western industrialised person to face. The ego wants to believe in a monolithic, normalised, external reality as a standard to abide by, while the “normal” Western human reality is often very unhealthy and living out of integrity. Or as the mystic philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health, to be profoundly normal in a sick society”.

The truth of psychedelic perception is that radical shifts are necessitated by new perceptions of how much bigger the world is, and how little we are embracing our potentials. By surrendering the artifices of culture into the abyss, one can come to a sense of freedom, unencumbered by restrictive memes and modes. Therein lies a more natural, honest, stable, un-neurotic, less schizoid and two faced mode, which is unforced, thoughtful, yet on track and aligned to internal values and intelligence. This is not enlightenment, but the beginnings of sanity, holistic wellbeing and the realisation of true human potential.

Articulations: On The Utilisation and Meanings of Psychedelics

From Graham Hancock @

Thanks to:

  I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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