“You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.”

Terence McKenna

Humanity’s relationship with psychedelics stretches back literally millennia, in contexts as diverse as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, China, India, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Central and Western Europe, West and North Africa, Siberia and Scandinavia to name but a few. One study found that of 488 different cultured surveyed, 90% of them had some ritualistic alteration of consciousness through psychedelics.[1]


Evidence of the use of psychoactive plants draws upon many sources of information, including archaeological data, iconographic evidence, ethnographic accounts, ethnobotany, folk tradition, and chemical analysis[2]. In ‘traditional’ cultures, psychedelic plants fulfilled functions as diverse as healing the sick, resolving disputes, developing symbolic culture, communing with the divine and connecting with the natural world. In many cultures psychoactive plants are treated with the utmost respect and regarded as deities. In Western culture, psychedelics have been successfully applied for purposes such as treatment of alcoholism, addiction, chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety associated with terminal illness and assistance with general psychotherapy[3].


[1] Religion, Altered States of Consciousness and Social Change Edited by Erika Bour guignon. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1973. 389 pp

[2] Guerra-Doce, E. (2015). Psychoactive Substances in Prehistoric Times: Examining the Archaeological Evidence. Time and Mind, 8(1), 91–112. https://doi.org/10.1080/1751696X.2014.993244

[3] https://www.maps.org/news/multimedia-library/5321-using-psychedelic-drugs-to-treat-mental-disorders

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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