July 12, 2022
On June 1, 2022, I reached one of the most important conclusions and subsequently made one of the most important decisions of my life.
I decided to completely stop using, endorsing, encouraging, extolling, promoting, praising, or otherwise having any involvement with so-called “plant medicines” – specifically when it comes to their use in an unsupervised, recreational setting or their use for getting “divinations”, “downloads”, “God experiences”, or anything else that involves intentionally using drugs to alter your consciousness with the goal of having some kind of contact with the spiritual world.
Now, before you roll your eyes and stop reading because perhaps you were never interested in plant medicines in the first place, or you think I must have had some kind of a “bad trip” on shrooms, or you're convinced that plant medicines play a vastly important role in your own personal, spiritual, or professional development and there's no way you'd ever come to the same conclusion I recently have…
…I beg of you: please stick with me here.
Please hear me out. I am not throwing the entire plant medicine industry under the bus. As my friend Tucker Max recently wrote about, and as I'll detail later, there is a time and a place for the use of certain plant and synthetic compounds for healing trauma (therapy) and for mind expansion (which some call spiritual enlightenment, but as you'll learn later, I'd be a bit careful with the whole spiritual part of things , and would personally stick with “mind expansion” as a more appropriate term).
However, when it comes to the use, and specifically the abuse or misuse of psychedelics, hallucinogens and entheogens, I have some very important things to say that I think the world desperately needs to hear right now. After a great deal of studying up on the topic (and, over the past decade, experimenting with nearly every plant medicine substance known to humankind) I strongly feel that it is now my responsibility and God-given calling to share my newest thoughts with you on this matter. Frankly, there is absolutely no way I want to go to the grave without speaking my mind on this topic.
Furthermore, this information is going to be important for you to know because, if you've glanced around you lately, you may have realized that plant medicines seem to be taking the world by storm. Folks are now performing ayahuasca ceremonies in their New York City apartment loft and strolling through town with a DMT pen in their back pocket; you can't swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting some self-proclaimed or otherwise certified “shaman”; half the people you know are likely already experimenting with microdoses of LSD, psilocybin, huachuma, and beyond; ketamine clinics are popping up right and left, and often frequented by folks simply using this substance for escapism and recreation, and not true “trauma” or addiction problems; gym junkies and health enthusiasts are sneaking off on the weekend to explore themselves with iboga, often with some kind of self-labeled “shaman bro”; MDMA therapy is lauded as the final, close-to-legalized solution for everything from PTSD to romantic couples therapy; there's a shockingly high likelihood the person standing next to you at the museum or passing by you on a nature hike is dosed up on psilocybin or san pedro; cannabis so potent in THC content that it can knock you on your ass with one pull on a vape pen can be found on nearly every street corner in most states; and even modern-day evangelical Christians are now considering the fact that, as Brian Muraresku writes about in his book The Immortality Key, that the early church growth was fueled by psychedelic spiced wines, mind-bending fungus, and drug-induced heavily altered states of consciousness, and that we should consider a return to these practices so that we can finally commune with the divine and grow closer to God.
And yes – I realize that a few of you might be cringing because, deep down inside, you suspect that I'm about to expose the “noble and laudable” excuse of “healing yourself” with plant medicines that a shockingly high number of health enthusiasts and spiritual warriors and shaman-bro's and sis's engage in on a frequent basis…
…as just an excuse to get high and do drugs without feeling like an addict.
You'd be right if that's your suspicion.
Admittedly, I'm partially responsible for fueling this entire movement.
I've podcasted and written multiple times on the benefits of journeying with plant medicines.
I've heavily promoted microdosing with plant medicines for focus, creativity, productivity, and social outings.
I've equated cannabis and shrooms with coffee and wine (trust me, they're a bit different).
I have owned multiple investments in ketamine clinics, cannabis companies, and psilocybin research laboratories.
I've encouraged couples—in the same way that my wife and I have done—to consider compounds like sassafras, MDMA, ketamine, lysergamides, and beyond for enhancing sex or having highly bonding weekend getaways.
Perhaps most interestingly, I have derived a great deal of benefit and personal insight and relationship enhancement and creative ideas from “journeying” with plant medicine, which made what I am about to share with you very difficult to write. Frankly, I thought because all the fruits of my use of plant medicines were nothing but good, that the ends justified the means.
But I was wrong.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
I am sorry.
I am ashamed.
I have severely missed the mark.
I was playing with fire, and you might be too. There should be a much bigger red warning flag on plant medicines.
And I am about to tell you why.
What I Mean When I Say “Plant Medicines”
Before I delve into the nitty-gritty details as to why I am “done” with plant medicines – specifically when it comes to seeking spiritual wisdom or “divining” with the spirit world – I think it's going to be important to establish what exactly I mean when I say “plant medicines.”
I am specifically referring to chemical compounds—both synthetic and plant-derived—that have the capability, even in relatively small dosages, to induce a rapid and dramatic altered state of consciousness (or gnosis or metacognition or hallucinogenesis or any other similar term bandied about these days) and that have or are chemically related to compounds that have a tradition of use for spiritual divination, “journeying,” witchcraft, sorcery, shamanism, the occult, white magic, black magic and any other forms of “pharmakia” (more on what that term means later). This includes nearly all psychedelics (also known as entheogens, hallucinogens or psychotropics), which are a class of psychoactive substances that are capable of producing significant changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes.
- LSD, LSA and most other “lysergamides”
- Psilocybin (magic mushrooms, shrooms, etc.)
- Wachuma, huachuma, peyote, san pedro, mescaline, and other such amines typically found in cacti
- Ketamine (used recreationally, not medically, of course)
- Cannabis (recreationally, not medically—e.g. pain, cancer, insomnia, etc.)
- MDMA, MDA, Molly, Ecstacy, etc.
- DMT, 5-MEO-DMT, etc.
- Ibogaine, Iboga, etc.
Please note that the substances I have listed above have both the capability to alter one's state of consciousness in a dramatic and undeniable fashion and a tradition of use across many cultures both ancient and modern for spiritual divination, sorcery, magic, witchcraft, shamanism, etc. That doesn't mean the list above is exhaustive: there are dozens and dozens of other compounds—both synthetic and natural—that have similar consciousness-altering effects. Rather, the list above mostly includes the plant medicines that seem most culturally pervasive these days, and are most capable of shifting one's state of consciousness quite rapidly and dramatically.
There are three important caveats here, however.
First, I am aware of a few, little-known synthetic compounds without a history of dark spiritual practices that do shift the brain in a way that merges left and right brain hemispheric activity in a mind expanding manner while allowing one to remain in a fully lucid state (so-called “clarogenic” substances), and I don't currently consider those to fall under the same category as anything else I describe in this article (divination, escapism, addiction, etc.), but those substances are few and far between, and discussion of them would best be saved for a future article or podcast, because at the time of this writing I'm still researching the history and potential efficacy or benefits of such compounds, which at this time I do not consider to fall under the category of pharmakia-like substances. When it comes to mind expansion with plant medicines such as psilocybin or ayahuasca, however, you must be very, very careful – not only because “nature” (e.g. plant compounds) is traditionally a medium via which dark elements of the spirit world prefer to interact with the human flesh world, but also because the folks who administer these type of compounds are often either not out for your best interests or influenced by spirits, demons, entities, etc. that – trust me – you probably don't want to be possessed by for the rest of your life.
Second, I have seen substances such as ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, iboga, etc. offer significant healing benefits for people with addiction, PTSD, trauma, TBI, concussions, and even bacterial or microbiome based gut issues, most likely due to the neurochemical and neural rewiring effects of such compounds. So I will not deny that there may be a specific time and place for targeted use of such compounds in a very precisely controlled medical set and setting—although, as I will write about later, there is still great potential for these substances to be abused and for them to serve as a replacement for trust in God and the simplicity of salvation of sin and shame and freedom from all burdens and past history of shame and trauma through a belief in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, I do think we need to draw the line between someone toying around with a music playlist, an eyemask and some self-dosed MDMA and psilocybin in their basement for a DIY trauma relief session vs. a medically supervised, safe, controlled and accountable scenario.
Three, many hallucinogenic or psychedelic plant medicines (for example, cannabis, quite notably) can have a potent analgesic effect, and I suspect that in addition to some of the microdosing benefits for creativity, productivity, focus, etc. one of the reasons God would have sprinkled such plants across the face of the planet was so that both ancient and modern medicine would have access to highly effective pain-killing compounds. So nothing I say in this article or Part 2 would really apply to medical analgesia, a field in which it's quite rare that anyone reports “tripping out” during surgery anyways.
“Wait, wait, wait!”, you—the educated plant-medicine enthusiast or educated chemist might say—“What about stuff in the average Westernized pantry that could get you high if you consume enough of it, like nutmeg (psychoactive “prison drug”), coffee (yeah that's a big one!), kratom, kava, the St. John's wort growing in my backyard, etc., etc.”.
Yep, stuff like that can certainly get you high.
But you have to use a crap-ton of it. It's not the same as, for example, LSD or psilocybin, for which just the tiniest dosage calculation error can send you to the moon and beyond. And with these common household “plant medicines,” you'll usually get nauseous and horribly sick before you get remotely close to an altered state of consciousness, which is also why most of these compounds have very little history of being used for spiritual divination, sorcery, witchcraft, etc. They have built-in mechanisms that keep them largely fenced into the boundaries of, say, culinary use, energy increases, sleep enhancement, or otherwise non-psychoactive medicinal usage.
The same could be said for “Bible-based” plant medicines, such as saffron, cassia, cinnamon, frankincense, mastic, costus, spikenard, and agarwood. Unless specifically blended, which I have done, as I describe here, to commune with the divine in a notably altered state of consciousness (e.g. hotboxing with the stuff in a charcoal incense burner in the sauna, like I actually did and now don't feel I had any business doing), it's quite difficult to get sufficiently high from such compounds.
“But wait!”, you might also say, “Can't you also get high on your own supply via activities like breath work and orgasm? Isn't that doing the same thing as plant medicine?”
Inducing a state of altered or elevated consciousness by triggering the production of your own endogenous chemicals not only takes lots of dedicated hard work (e.g. 60+ minutes of intense, focused breathing, or hours of tantric sex or a very focused mind-emptying Eastern-style meditation), but comes nowhere near the high or the rapidity of onset induced by the plant medicines listed above. I would, however, for the reasons that I'll state below, avoid using even for such activities as breath work or tantric sex as a sort of spiritual divination (e.g. getting high on holotropic breath work so you can pray better, or “emptying your head” during meditation so that you can hear the voice of God, or attempting to “experience God through sex” or something like that).
Furthermore, just because a compound can induce a mystical experience, which, as defined here by by Peter Bebergal, includes: 1) ineffability (the experience defies expression); 2) noetic quality (the experience offers a new form of knowledge or insight); 3) transiency (the experiences are short-lived and often difficult to recollect in full), and 4) passivity (despite possible preparation, the actual experience is something that happens to a person), this does not mean the possible universality of mystical experience with that compound means it should be had by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. I'll admit that in therapeutic, medical and religious environments – depending on the dose of and intentionality behind the compound used – such mystical experiences can have lasting positive effects, but what we're seeing now in society is a far cry from anything resembling a tightly controlled set and setting, or an absence of seemingly quite dark spiritual activity surrounding the use of such compounds.
Hopefully that's all clear, and now we can proceed.
Why I Am Done With Plant Medicines
OK, now that we've established definitions, I'm going to tell you why I am done with plant medicines.
But I am only going to friggin' scratch the surface of everything you really need to know.
To fully grasp the gravity and seriousness of this matter, the full and shocking history of the evil behind many of these plant medicines, and why the growing popularity of plant medicines likely threatens to be the biggest, most dangerous battle the Christian church in particular is going to face over the next few decades, you must, must, must read the book Pharmakia by author Robert Orem. It's a pretty inexpensive paperback or Kindle, and will take the average reader just a few short days to get through.
Yes, I'm going to try to eventually get Robert on my podcast to discuss his book in great detail, and possibly even get the audio rights from him so I can record his book for you on my podcast, but for now, I'm going to give you the executive summary. However, please read the book when you have a chance.
So here we go…
…I'm a Christian with an extensive history of using and justifying my use of plant medicines for personal, professional, and spiritual exploration, but during a recent Bible reading session, I came across a passage that I'd read many times before. For some reason, however, this time something stirred in my soul and made me pause and re-read it. I then made a mental note to research what it really meant.
The passage was from Galatians 5:16-25, and it goes like this (bolded emphasis mine):
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft [pharmakia]; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
The Greek word pharmakia that I bolded above is a noun. Depending on the context, it can refer to 1) the medicinal use of drugs; 2) the medicinal use of drugs along with magic spells; 3) poisoning someone, or; 4) the use of drugs in sorcery, which is the medieval term for occult magic.
But here's the thing: the only way the word pharmakia is used in the Bible is in reference to occult magic that includes the use of drugs. So when someone proposes that God or any other supernatural beings experienced by people who are under the effect of entheogenic compounds are just a product of the brain's shift in neurotransmitter and neurochemical production, I would say that is not necessarily the case. Spiritual entities can absolutely be experienced when on is immersed in unhindered consciousness. God knew this and so God laid down specific laws protecting us against such states, or at least how we approach, in what setting and what we are seeking when in such states.
If this were all just soups of chemicals being created in one's head, do you think we'd see a large number of religious groups in the United States (such as the Peyote Way of God Church) regularly practicing the ritual ingestion of entheogens as foundational for their tradition? Just because these churches implement entheogens in their worship does not make it right, but does do a good job pointing out the fact that there's just a bit more to plant medicines than, say, a surge of serotonin that changes the way one thinks or interacts with the world.
Throughout the Bible, God repeatedly condemns all idolatry, including all forms of witchcraft and occult magic. Nor does He work through them, as some modern-day practitioners of so-called “white magic” using plant medicines attempt to do, as though they have God at their full disposal on speed-dial and can command or call upon Him whenever they fancy to do so, specifically by using drugs. With regard to drug use specifically, the fact that the Bible flat-out condemns pharmakia in both the Old and New Testaments does not necessarily mean it is not possible for God to communicate through us at any time through any means, including when someone is journeying and divining with plant medicines.
Fact is, God can commune with anyone at any time through any means.
For example, God can call a drunk to sober up while that drunk is in a state of alcohol-induced stupor, and subsequently call that drunk to repentance. But that doesn’t mean that one should therefore drink in order to communicate with God. It simply means that God can use that sinful situation to reveal Himself to a person, and ultimately lead that person to repentance and salvation. I won’t deny that there are many folks (I know dozens of them!) who have come to know Jesus or throw aside any threads of atheism as a result of experiencing an intense plant medicine trip that showed them our human capabilities of evil, made them feel God's presence heavily, or made them aware of their need for Christ’s love. But in the same way, we should not justify God speaking to someone in a drunk state as a way to recommend one should drink to excess with a goal of connecting to God, we should not justify the use of these “forbidden fruits” of pharmakia, namely plant medicines traditionally used in the occult, witchcraft, pagan rituals, oracle practices, divination and beyond to commune with God.
In other words, God can speak to us at any time, and He doesn’t need us to be in an altered state of consciousness in order to effectively do so, especially if that involves using methods that are strictly forbidden in the Bible, because of their great potential to open the portal of influence from dark and deceptive spirits other than God.
That should be an important news flash for any modern-day Christian or pagan mystic: you don't need drugs to talk to God or hear His voice or seek His direction.
Just imagine if you did.
Billions and billions of people across nearly any third-world country would be banned from communing with their Creator because they just can't afford a shaman session or a heroic dose of psilocybin. Therefore, access to God could only be attained by the select few: those “chosen” to journey into the spiritual world and come back with special messages for all the rest of the people. Though that form of divination may have been a practice in ancient Jewish religion (e.g the Levites going into the holy of holies as I describe here, prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) that's just not how God works anymore. As a matter of fact, books like Rudolf Steiner's The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman: Human Responsibility for the Earth details how the forces called forth via entheogenic medicines actually keep humans asleep and disconnected from God.
The incredibly interesting article “On Psychedelics and/or Entheogens: Drug-Induced Mysticism Revisited” also contains several compelling anecdotes, including:
On the emergence of of psychedelics as a “replacement” for elements of Roman Catholic Christianity:
“It is highly interesting that psychedelic drugs burst upon the scene at precisely the same moment that the Second Vatican Council was abolishing traditional Roman Catholicism and deconstructing the sacramental order. It’s as if the grace of the Roman Catholic sacraments, while they were still intact, overflowed their specifically Catholic context and maintained a certain level of elevation in the “collective unconscious” of the western world, an elevation which was rapidly lost when that grace was cut off. Faced with a sudden unconscious or half-conscious sense of spiritual loss, and the stifling sensation that always results when the psyche is cut off from the plane of the Spirit, the western collectivity became susceptible to the temptation of psychedelics, which at the very least can provide (though not without extremely negative consequences) a horizontal psychic expansiveness which appears to compensate for, and sometimes actually counterfeits, the loss of a vertical spiritual elevation, while at the same time concealing the fact that such a loss ever occurred. Psychedelics, in other words, were a kind of Luciferian “booby prize” offered as compensation for the fall of western Christendom…”
The idea that “finding God” on psychedelics may actually set one up for disappointment during “sober” spiritual experiences in the future:
“…the conclusion that, from the spiritual perspective, no trip is good—especially if one is actually able to access higher consciousness or “see God” by means of it (assuming, of course, that these experiences are not delusions, or so mixed with delusionary elements that the way to the valid experiences and insights they counterfeit is not in fact blocked forever). If you drop acid, see horrible hallucinations and experience excruciating feelings of loneliness, degradation and fear, you may actually be luckier than if you experience “ecstasy” and “profound insight” and “consciousness of God”, if not (momentary) “liberation from the wheel of becoming”. If you break your way into the Inner Chamber on your own initiative, you have committed sacrilege—how can you ever become obedient to and annihilated in God’s will if you think you have the right to break into His house any time the fancy suits you? I am not saying that the higher consciousness that can on certain occasions be experienced through psychedelics may not sometimes have a positive effect on one’s life and outlook—but at what cost? If you find God after being disappointed in love or wounded in war, does this mean you can recommend such experiences to other people as a way of finding God…”
On knowing God truly and following God's law vs. simply experiencing God in some kind of spiritual enlightement path:
“We cannot reach God through the psyche, through experience; the essence of the Spiritual Path is to place ourselves in the presence of God, and let Him reach us. He may do this through experiences, through events, or through a secret action within the soul that we aren’t even aware of. The function of spiritual experiences or states is not to “enrich the soul” with fascinating impressions of the Divine, but to burn out specific aspects of the ego, specific attachments and identifications; this is why the realized Sufi, the one who has transcended himself, died to himself, become objective to himself—or rather to the Absolute Witness within him—is beyond spiritual states entirely…As religion degenerates, the felt sense of the reality of God is progressively replaced by an obsession with morality for its own sake, and with religious fervor considered as an end in itself, both taken out of their own proper context. No longer is moral purity felt to be something we naturally owe to God in view of His love for us and of the fact that He created us, something that prevents us from falling into the ingratitude of worshipping the passions as idols in His place; now morality has become an idol in itself. “
The link between psychedelics and a gradual loss of Christian morality combined with a cultural shift toward apathy (for more on a cultural shift towards apathy, consider the idea of psychoactive compounds designed as “moral enhancement pills” that could even potentially be used to initiate mass formation psychosis, which is discussed in detail here).
“…the fact is that LSD initiated a sort of “bardo” or revelatory decay of American culture; all the latent tendencies, good and bad, the dominant belief-systems, conscious or otherwise, were called up in a very short time, laid out for all to see—and much of the social and cultural potential of America and the Western World rapidly exhausted in the process. The family was largely destroyed (not by LSD alone of course); Christian morality (including the concept of human dignity) was undermined; political responsibility was seriously eroded. And the social engineers simply sat back and took notes. They noted the main trends, the major “cultural archetypes” operating in the “collective unconscious” of society, and devised various ways to appropriate, per vert and control every one of them; in so doing they initiated the world we live in today…The hippies naively equated social control with a simplistic authoritarian repression; they rarely awoke to the fact that REAL control is based on co-optation, on the covert implantation of engineered beliefs and attitudes in the mass mind. The powers that be do not want heroes who courageously oppose them and die as martyrs; they would much rather find, or create, dupes who will obey their every command in the firm belief that they are following their own desires, their own creative expressions and “spiritual” intuitions, all in perfect freedom…”
And more related to cultural decline into apathy:
“One other deleterious effect of psychedelics, which has clearly operated on the mass level (though not in every individual case), is that they broke down people’s protection against the surrounding psychic environment; first you “open up” too much, and then compensate by “closing down” so as to protect yourself from the painful influences emanating from your surroundings, including other people. Excess empathy ends in paranoia; the artificial breaking down of what psychologist Wilhelm Reich [1897-1957] called “character armor” often results in a worse case of such armor later on. (Perennialist Titus Burckhardt [1908-1984], in his book Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul , speaks of the close relationship between psycho-physical dissolution and psycho-physical petrification.) As Jesus put it, the demon we have exorcized wanders in waterless places until, returning to the soul from which he has been expelled and finding it swept and adorned, he brings with him seven demons more evil than himself. We probably could never have produced a society where millions spend hours a day alone before computer screens—while imagining that, via Twitter or whatever, they actually have thousands of “friends”!—if LSD hadn’t softened us up first; the isolation and excess introversion produced in part by psychedelics has effectively broken down the kind of social solidarity we need if we are to maintain our political freedoms and human rights; we are all too happy in our cubicles, or at least afraid to leave them. A friend of mine once said to me, back in the 60’s: “Acid would be great if you could have all that incredible imagery without those feelings”. Bill Gates must have heard his plea; cyberspace reproduces in many ways the hallucinatory content of psychedelics without the accompanying insights.”
On “suffering” vs. popping pills for “spiritual purgation”:
“…The use of toxic pharmaceuticals and traumatic interventions is common and sometimes necessary in the practice of medicine, but these things have little or nothing to do with the Spiritual Path per se. Psychedelics—whose toxicity is by and large psychic, not physical—may have a therapeutic effect in cases of alcoholism, heroin addiction etc., but this doesn’t mean that they create no problems of their own; it’s a question of the lesser of two evils. And what may be a lesser evil in psychophysical terms may or may not be a lesser one in Spiritual terms. Our post-Christian secular society obviously does not have the final end and eternal good of the human soul on its radar screen, nor does it hold a very clear idea of human dignity or the intrinsic value of the person; abortion, for example, is not even seen by many people as the taking of human life. Our society has no concept of suffering as spiritual purgation (by which I certainly don’t mean to imply that all suffering is purifying simply because it hurts); its highest good seems to be production, consequently it tends to define healing in terms of making us “productive members of society”. There are even muted but increasingly audible suggestions that non-productive citizens ought to be euthanized; Bill Gates recently stated that a certain degree of medical care ought to be denied the elderly and diverted to the maintenance of productive workers. And now, under the “war on terror”, torture has become acceptable to us for the first time since the passage of the Bill of Rights. How can a society capable of such barbaric actions and sentiments be relied upon to accurately evaluate the effects of psychedelic drugs in either moral or spiritual terms?…”
On religion being “founded” by psychedelics:
“Since religions are founded by Divine action through prophets and avatars (Buddhism possibly excepted yet Gautama Buddha is considered to be the ninth Avatar of Lord Vishnu within the Hindu tradition), to say that they have been initiated by psychedelics is to deny that God can act on His own initiative, and consequently to deny God. It is to make “religion” an entirely human affair, and thus to posit something that does not fit the definition of that word. No religious tradition claims to have been founded on the basis of psychedelic experience; such claims emanate from users of psychedelics who like to project their fantasies upon traditions they in no way intend to follow. Anyone who thinks that Moses met God on Sinai or Jesus became “Christ” after eating some mushroom, because how else could they have done it, has no sense of the sacred whatsoever. Within certain contexts and in certain yugas it might have been spiritually possible to open initiates to the graces of an already established spiritual Way through the use of psychedelics, but such things are certainly not possible to us in our own time, except at great cost—and with what coin could we pay that cost, poor as we are? In any case it is certain that the establishment of a legitimate spiritual Way through the use psychedelics has never been either possible or necessary.”
On the modern infatuation with spiritual tourism to places like the Amazon for ayahuasca:
“And spiritual tourism in places like the Amazon damages not only the indigenous cultures but the tourists too. (I recently saw a news item where one village prohibited such tourism; a villager characterized the North American strangers who’d visited them and immediately asked to be told all about the local sacred rituals and beliefs as, in effect, “creepy”.) When well-heeled Norteamericanos and Europeans enter dirt poor villages in the Amazon and elsewhere looking to satisfy their spiritual hunger, a hunger based on their abandonment and betrayal of their own spiritual tradition (usually Christianity), they tempt the village elders to what traditional Catholics call the sin of simony: selling sacred things for money. Spiritual tourists are by and large not pilgrims but thieves, vampires. In most cases they aren’t looking for a spiritual Path to dedicate their lives to, but simply picking up here and there whatever sacred art objects, or psychedelic experiences, or sacred rituals degraded to the level of mere spectacle, might suite their fancy—if, that is, they aren’t actually sorcerers in search of “personal power”. Very often their basic set is psychic rather than spiritual; like most tourists, they are looking for “experiences”, not principles to live by. They leave behind them the destructive influences of their own profane postmodern attitudes, and return home polluted with the toxic psychic residues of the forms of the sacred they have plundered, so as to release them to do their damage within their own cultures.”
On the failures of ancient shamanism vs. modern medical care steeped with roots in the “Golden Rule” of early Christianity:
“Shamanism, even relatively degenerate Shamanism, has a certain practical justification under truly primitive conditions, since it represents a large portion of the technological heritage of the tribe. The Shaman heals disease, finds and attracts game, carries on criminal investigations, influences the weather, protects the tribe in war and guards it against psychological imbalances and/or demonic incursions. But under modern conditions, when at least some of these functions can be fulfilled by other means, Shamanism loses a certain amount of its raison d’être. French poet and cinematographer Jean Cocteau [1889-1963] recounts the story of an anthropologist who was studying native folkways in Haiti, where trees are (or were) used for long-distance communication; when a woman’s husband was away at market, she might send a message to him by speaking to a tree, and receive his answer by the same means. When the anthropologist asked the natives why they spoke to trees, their answer was: “Because we are poor. If we were rich we should have the telephone”.”
In a nutshell, there is nowhere in the Bible that says we must use drugs or “plant medicines” to effectively dialogue with God. Claiming that this is necessary reminds me a bit of John 10:1, which read, “Whoever enters not by the gate to the sheepfold, but comes up from another place, is a thief and a robber.” As Jesus says later in that chapter, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” In other words, the only element necessary for eternal life and constant, daily union with God is a relationship with Jesus Christ achieved through robust prayer, Bible reading, and a life rich in the spiritual disciples of worship, fasting, meditation, silence, etc.,—and not a calendared session for a plant medicine journey so that you can go delve into the depths of your consciousness, dissolve your ego, and divine what “God” has to say to you.
So why the heck would God not want us, his precious human creations, to use such drugs?
Here's why: when we have out-of-body experiences and delve into altered states of consciousness, we are entering a spiritual world—a kind of “fourth dimension”. Anyone who journeys with plant medicine will affirm that this is the case. I've been there many, many times myself. It's totally real. It's not a figment of your imagination or a chemical soup of serotonin and other neurotransmitters tweaking some dials in your brain. You can quite literally see entities, talk to spirits, see with great lucidity ancient “sacred geometrical” forms, relive epigenerational experiences and trauma from your ancestors, and even encounter bright, blinding, lights that many claim is actually God (though, please note, that Lucifer, AKA Satan, literally translates to “light-bearer”…just something to think about!).
That's what these plant medicines are supposed to do and they do it quite well, hence their strong history in pagan practices for being used for astral travel, shamanic flight, drug-induced out-of-body experiences, calling upon spirits, angels and demons, distance healing, casting magic spells, possessing human bodies with spirits of other creatures and beyond. I know several shamans who have converted to Christianity who describe traditional plant medicines as having a slight “dark” edge to them, as though something lurks in the intelligence of plants that has great potential to open a vulnerable human brain up to intense, potentially negative spiritual influences.
For example, drug-laden balms comprised of compounds such as ergot (an early form of LSD) and hallucinogenic chemicals in Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), Hyoscyamus niger (henbane), Mandragora officinarum (mandrake), and Datura stramonium (jimsonweed) were the original “witch's brews.” To distribute these drugs with maximum effectiveness, witches— from the 1300s to the 1600s—would borrow a handy technology from their home: a broom. They would specifically take the handle of the broom, dip into the salve, and apply the broomstick rectally and/or vaginally for a very fast and effective induction of a plant medicine journey, during which they would be equipped to astral travel, cast spells, possess people, call upon spirits, etc.
Wow. Kinda makes you think a bit differently about a popular Halloween costume, doesn't it (much less taking a weekend heroic dose of LSD as a noble excuse to “find yourself” in an intense act of self-improvement)?
See, all of these methods easily allow Satan or any other demon to imitate God’s very rare practice of taking people out-of-body to deliver to them prophecies, messages, and visions. Unfortunately, the false prophecies, misleading messages, and “visions” such spirits can create are quite convincing deceptions, especially because as you'll find if you ask any 1960s era hippie or modern-day plant medicine enthusiast, the typical “message” one receives when in these states is one of love, light, human connection and all sorts of gooey, feel-good, come-together-ness.
This may all seem mighty fine, but the ultimate end result is a human being getting convinced that we can fix the world all on our own, and that we either don't need God's help to do it, or we are one with God and basically God ourselves, which is a pretty big slap-in-the-face to the Almighty Creator and a pretty big thumbs down to any need for God to have sent his beloved and innocent son Jesus to be beaten, tortured, and brutally murdered on a cross for our sins.
Instead, all we need is love, baby.
We're good enough, all on our own.
We're inherently decent folks capable of choosing our own morality and no death on a cross was necessary, at all.
Heads up: you made a mistake, God. All we need is our own inherent goodness and a bit of magic mushroom to change the world, hold hands, and sing kumbaya around the campfire into all of eternity.
Based on this understanding that all forms of occult magic are demonic and lead us down a path of placing our trust in something much different than God, you can hopefully now better understand why the Bible forbids such plant medicines, like in Deuteronomy 18:10–12, which says, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft [pharmakia], or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”
The early fathers of plant medicine knew all this.
For example, consider this somewhat troubling anecdote from Timothy Leary's autobiography, in which he and Aldous Huxley are having a chat while journeying on psilocybin (Timothy Leary was an American psychologist and author known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD, and Aldous Huxley, Leary's mentor, was a British Novelist who repackaged drugs such as mescaline as a means to spiritual growth and social evolution):
“The question that haunted our work in those early days was: how could we introduce these methods for mind expansion to society? I raised this issue with [Aldous] Huxley one day at the [Harvard] Faculty Club. “Why don’t I come over to your place tonight,” he said. “We’ll take the drug and ask our expanded brains that question.” Around sunset I built a fire while Aldous stacked the books he had brought with him on a coffee table, then stretched himself out on the couch. We each took psilocybin. For the next three hours we listened to music—Bach, Mozart, African drums, Indian chants, Ravi Shankar. Occasionally we waved reassurance to each other or murmured of bliss. Aldous sat up, lanky legs crossed, and looked at me quizzically. “So you don’t know what to do with this bloody philosopher’s stone we have stumbled onto? In the past this powerful knowledge has been guarded in privacy, passed on in the subdued, metaphorical obscurantism of scholars, mystics, and artists. “But society needs this information,” I said passionately. My anti-elitist button had been pushed. “These are evolutionary matters. They cannot be rushed. Work privately. Initiate artists, writers, poets, jazz musicians, elegant courtesans, painters, rich bohemians. And they’ll initiate the intelligent rich. That’s how everything of beauty and culture and philosophic freedom has been passed on.” We fell into silence. The fireplace threw dancing colors around the room, a meadow of serenity. Huxley‘s eyes were closed. A beatific smile played around his thin mouth. Suddenly he clapped his hands against his bony leg. “Your role is quite simple. Become a cheerleader for evolution. That’s what I did and my grandfather before me. These brain-drugs, mass-produced in the laboratories, will bring about vast changes in society. This will happen with or without you or me. All we can do is spread the word. The obstacle to this evolution, Timothy, is the Bible.”
See that, especially my bolded emphasis about the Bible bit?
Both these guys fully realized that plant medicines had great promise to be an incredibly powerful force to take people away from God and to instead place an idolatrous belief in exogenous, mind-altering compounds that were traditionally used to summon spirits and demons. Worse yet, Huxley's original adviser was the evil Aleister Crowley, who is arguably the most famous, and infamous, occult magician of all time. He referred to himself as “The Great Beast—666,” and the media of his day named him “The Wickedest Man in the World.” Crowley's teachings on magic are widely used in modern-day Satanism, and he is venerated by Satanists, witches, occult magicians, and rock musicians to this day.
Huxley’s books even reek eerily of words that Satan himself spoke in the Bible when tempting Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit. For example, in his book The Doors he promoted a view of drug use that is the polar opposite of the Biblical one, literally saying: “Did God really say you must not do drugs?” In his book Heaven and Hell he claimed drugs are a way to experience heaven and that there actually is no real hell, claiming: “You will not surely die.” Both these books argue that partaking of the “forbidden fruit “of pharmakia could result in a personal transformation very much like that promised by the tempter in the Garden of Eden, including the phrase: “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.”
Here's more: if you want to hear a couple of modern leaders in the plant medicine movement discussing their “worldview” so you can better wrap your head around how much we are now placing our faith in drugs vs. God, listen to this recent “Plants Of The Gods” episode, in which a fungi research and plant medicine enthusiast discuss mushrooms, magic and mortality.
Perhaps the demonic origins of these plant medicines are why things can go terribly wrong when people use them. I'll give you a few examples of the extremes of what can go wrong when humans pursue an altered state of consciousness via compounds and chemicals, and though the examples below may seem to directly contradict the relatively innocent and peaceful experience one might have in a “proper set and setting” with precisely controlled doses of, say, psilocybin or ketamine or MDMA, I'd be remiss not to at least point out what the worst of what can eventually happen when humans place their trust and infatuation in drugs and altered states of consciousness rather than God alone. This is not an attempt to be overly dramatic but rather an attempt to point out that these compounds can really, really shift one's decision-making process and psyche in a far more dramatic way than, say, a cup of coffee or chomping on a piece of nicotine gum:
- For example, in the ninth century, the legendary Norse warriors known as the “Berserkers” used either henbane or hallucinogenic mushrooms to drive themselves into a raging, murderous frenzy before their battles. They would then kill everything in sight—men, women, children, and animals, until the drugs wore off.
- In 2014, after taking a “drug cocktail” that included ketamine and cocaine, Swiss art dealer Bennet von Vertes beat his friend Alex Morgan to death with a giant candlestick because he was hallucinating that Morgan was an alien.
- Darla Hise, a mother of three from Virginia, was recently deceived this way while she was high on meth and marijuana. Hise felt aliens invade her body and then became convinced they were going to abduct her six-year-old daughter. Hise shot her own daughter with a shotgun to “send her to heaven” instead.
- One-fourth of those who commit murder, rape, and assault in the US are high at the time, and the violence that drug cartels and trafficking gangs frequently engage in is horrifically barbaric (yes, yes, I doubt these criminals were on MDMA or doing some form of constructive psilocybin therapy, but my point here is that an intense neurochemical shift can occur that changes one's personality and can lead to people making very poor decisions, becoming psychotic, etc.).
- In Mexico, the cartels kill soldiers who fight against them, they kill politicians who oppose them, and they kill journalists who write about them. More than thirty-three thousand people were murdered in Mexico in 2018, and most were killed by the cartels. That’s ninety murders every day!
- Mexico is fast becoming a “narco-state,” and its murder rate is now five times higher than that of the United States. In Brazil, the use of crack cocaine is so widespread that dealers and addicts have taken over large swaths of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. These areas are known as “the cracklands.” There are seven million heroin addicts in Russia. Two hundred and fifty of them will die from overdose today.
- In Yemen, 90 percent of adult men chew the herbal stimulant kaht every day. Khat, hashish, and amphetamines are pouring into Saudi Arabia, of all places, despite the fact that convicted smugglers are publicly beheaded in accordance with Islamic law.
- Australia has the highest per-capita population of drug users in the world, largely due to the use of Ecstasy (MDMA).
- Thailand has been battling an epidemic of yaba (methamphetamine) abuse for decades.
- Meth-related crime is so rife in the Philippines that Filipinos overwhelmingly support President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent killing of thousands of dealers and addicts.
- In 2002, police officers in Los Angeles found a man standing naked in the street, covered in blood, staring up into the sky. They soon discovered that he had brutally murdered his female roommate after they had taken PCP together. She had teeth marks on her face, her chest was torn open, her internal organs were exposed, one of her shoulder blades was torn off, and her lungs had been chewed on. Medical examiners found pieces of the girl’s flesh in the man’s stomach.
- Less related to the “drug war” and more related to the sexy world of plant medicines, New Yorker Cover Story has a recent multi-episode podcast story on shamanic sex scandals, sexual abuse within the plant medicine world, traumatic experiences in the Amazon and beyond and rampant abuse of esoteric hallucinogenic compounds.
Look, I realize that you may think that these horrors—which include just a brief glimpse of a few examples of what happens when plant medicine goes wrong—are simply what happens when “bad people take drugs,” and that good people or Christians who use such compounds are protected by the blood of Christ and thus are only going to open themselves up to a divine, mind-expanding, heavenly experience in which they more directly experience God. But, as the tweet below humorously implies, all drug users are at risk of demonic influence or mental damage when using drugs.
“How can you be entirely certain that these kids smoking their DMT vape pens aren't letting some type of 4th dimensional intergalactic chaotic evil imp into their brain to use them like a skin-suit ?”
— Sterling Cooley (@SterlingCooley) July 16, 2022
“It is important that the risks of hallucinogen use not be underestimated. Even in the present study in which the conditions of volunteer preparation and psilocybin administration were carefully designed to minimize adverse effects, with a high dose of psilocybin 31% of the group of carefully screened volunteers experienced significant fear and 17% had transient ideas of reference/paranoia. Under unmonitored conditions, it is not difficult to imagine such effects escalating to panic and dangerous behavior. Also, the role of hallucinogens in precipitating or exacerbating enduring psychiatric conditions and long-lasting visual perceptual disturbances should remain a topic of research.”
So yes, handing an honest and innocent spiritual seeker a tab of LSD and telling them to go discover themselves even more deeply is probably not a good idea. Though I never denied that such compounds open one up to a kind-of fourth dimension spiritual world, I myself was deceived that if I was a Christian I was “safe and protected” when venturing into spiritual realms using plant medicines – until I got on my knees in a fully sober state to seek God's wisdom and, following His voice, finally buckled down and fully educated myself on all this.
The problem is that when you are in a drug-induced altered state of consciousness, you are directly at risk of being heavily influenced, or even possessed, by not just good spirits such as angels, God, or Jesus, but also by bad spirits, such as Satan and demons. At that point, things can go downhill fast, and worse yet, you can be deceived that everything is alright because all you've experienced up to that point is love, light, and pure bliss.
But when we venture into the spiritual world by using drugs, none of us are immune, because, as 1 Peter 5:8 says, we are to, “…be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” When you're laid flat on your back deep into plant medicine with your tongue lagging out the side of your mouth, your entire world wobbly, your vision cloudy and your brain flooded with chemicals that completely dissociate you from reality, you are a veritable sitting duck for spiritual influence, both good and bad. It's a dangerous enough state to be in that we are warned repeatedly in the Bible to avoid using drugs to commune with the divine, no matter how pure our intentions might be. When immersed in a plant medicine-induced altered state of consciousness, you really have no way of knowing whether the voices and insights and downloads you are getting are from the light side or the dark side. When you're on your knees, fully sober and awake, in prayer and meditation and fasting and worship and Scripture study, you do know. But when you're taking the “easy route” of popping pills to experience God, you simply don't know. You're in too vulnerable and confused a place to truly discern right and wrong, light and dark, angels vs. demons, or God vs. Satan.
I fully realize that this can all seem kind of weird and spooky. But the fact is, we actually live in a weird and spooky world.
The question is, which side of the weird and spooky are you going to be on: the light side or the dark side?
And look, I personally got lucky (or, more appropriately, providentially spared – unlike folks like the guy in this video “I Took Psychedelics as a Christian, What I Saw Shocked Me“). Fact is, I spent many years engaged in the use of plant medicine without experiencing any demonic possessions or “bad trips” or violent outbursts or anything of the like. All of my plant medicine experiences actually seemed to solidify my faith and bring me closer to God and closer to others—at least that was how I justified it. But the fruits of an action don't necessarily mean that action is right. For example, if my wife and I decide to adopt a polyamorous, open relationship, and it seems to solidify our marriage and make our relationship happier, that doesn't mean it's right. Similarly, if I shoplift milk from the grocery store to feed the poor, it's still stealing.
I was deceived and I was playing with fire.
See, I didn't need any these compounds to develop a stronger faith or a stronger marriage, or a stronger personal or professional life. I got caught up in the modern-day infatuation of discovering oneself, dissolving the ego, and becoming a better person through the use of plant medicine. Yet, had I spent more time sober, awake, alert, fully conscious, and on my knees praying to God instead of flat on my back slobbering on psilocybin, I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt I would have achieved the same (or better) results, but without the risk of demonic influence while in an altered state of consciousness. Instead of relying on the power of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, Scripture, meditation, silence, solitude, fasting, and the like, I instead took the easy pill-popping route and abused drugs, all with the excuse that it was all for the noble purpose of building my faith, and only seemed to produce good fruits, so how could it be bad?
Fact is, like so many others who are dependent on and intrigued with plant medicines these days, I was placing my faith in something other than God, and using dangerous, exogenous substances to attempt to “divine” and experience God in a fuller sense. Had I kept on this path, I guarantee that at some point me, my wife, or my innocent young sons would have eventually opened a big portal to demonic influence. It actually scares the hell out of me how close I probably got many times, without even realizing it.
I was in sin.
Sure, I was ignorant of the troubling history and spiritual potential of these mind-altering compounds, but as the saying goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
So even though I seemed to experience a great deal of benefit and personal and professional growth through my use of plant medicines, I'm not wishing that experience upon anyone else, nor am I endorsing what I did as right. See, God draws straight in crooked lines. I strongly feel that the reason He allowed me to fall into sin via my attempt to seek God, journey into the spiritual world, or to better divine God's will via the use of plant medicines was so that I could come out of that journey with a strong, experienced voice to cry out from the rooftops that you don't need these chemicals, that they're dangerous, and that you can achieve far, far more God-seeking and divination by dropping to your knees in prayer and reading the Bible every single day, no magic mushrooms required.
Sadly, I have come back from my own journeying and toying with plant medicines spiritually scarred, bruised, beaten up, and damaged, with much time lost that I could have better spent in prayer and Scripture, communing with God in a fully sober “ego on board” state. If you are considering using plant medicines to alter your state of consciousness or to “journey” and find yourself, I can tell you with confidence that I have gone to that place many times, it is not the way and it is dangerous. You only have one soul and one spirit, and I don't recommend sullying your invisible self in this manner. The only way to true spiritual enlightenment, eternal life and salvation is through Jesus. This is why Christianity, way back when it first started, was called “The Way”. It was different than everything else out there, including the ancient Greek and Roman dependency on multiple gods and pharmakia.
Just imagine if the time every psychonaut spent in a week long special food dieta followed by 8-72 hours flat on their back hallucinating under psychedelic plant medicines was instead time spent sober, awake, alert, fasting, in prayer, on the knees, playing soaking worship music, reading Scripture, and seeking God with intelligence, wisdom, discernment and in a non-tripped-out state. That's true spirituality and, yes, that's much harder work than popping a pill. Consider that to be your challenge though – after all – as Matthew 7:14 says, “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”.
Think about Moses and Aaron, for example. They were mere humans, just like you and me, rift with their own temptations and personal struggles. Don't you think that the magic, sorcery, pharmakia, drugs, witchcraft, divination and easily accessible tactics used by the Egyptian priests were incredibly appealing and tempting to Moses and Aaron in the same way that the instant spiritual enlightenment offered by plant medicines is appealing to us in our modern day, especially compared to calling upon an “invisible God” who they or we may not be able to taste, touch or feel? Yet, during the time of the Egyptian plagues and miracles from God that brought the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt (full story here), Moses and Aaron called upon God and God won over the drugs and plant medicines (which were effective and impressive, but not as incredible as the miracles God pulled off without drugs). Moses and Aaron could very easily have fought fire with fire and used the pharmakia and sorcery tactics of their day, “claiming them for God”. But they didn't. They went direct to God (and no, despite the common myth floating around out there on the interwebs, Moses was not high on ayahuasca when God spoke to him through the burning bush). That took faith. That took trust. That took bravery and courage. For Moses and Aaron to have taken drugs instead would have reflected distrust and disobedience.
Interestingly, the Bible also teaches that at the end of this age, such drug use as I've described above will eventually encompass the entire earth. For example, in Revelation 21:8, Jesus states quite clearly that he is going to sentence the pharmakos to eternal torment, when he says,
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts [pharmakos], the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”
With the booming popularity of plant medicines, painted in the noble light of science, therapy, and mind expansion, we seem to be dangerously getting close to that point now, don't you think?
Even if you're not a Christian, the idea of a large majority of the human race getting the equivalent of slobbering drunk multiple times per year to find themselves, while risking spirit possession, violence, psychosis and the like ought to make you just a bit nervous and cautious about this.
Yes, yes, I know you could say the same about, say, guns or knives or dynamite or anything that has the potential to be “dangerous,” but the uniqueness of plant medicines is their ability to put you not only at a physical risk (which, when plant medicines are used responsibly, isn't really a big deal), but more importantly at significant spiritual risk. Though many can commit horrific atrocities with firearms, none of which I would endorse or encourage, you don't actually risk getting attacked by dark spirits when you handle or fire a gun. It's all physical. But you do carry this great risk when you “journey.” As Matthew 10:28 says, “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Weapons kill the body. But mind-altering drugs can kill both the body and the soul.
So, somebody has to put their foot down.
Somebody has to stop this madness.
Somebody has to point out what could eventually happen if we continue down this road.
As Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary themselves noted, the only thing standing in the path of plant medicine taking over the world and replacing people's faith in God…
…is the Bible.
Freedom From Bondage
Look, like I said, I've gotten away, relatively unharmed and probably better for it personally and professionally, with pretty robust use of plant medicines.
But I was playing with some potentially deep and dark fire.
Furthermore, my life's purpose statement is to love God through prayer and worship and to love my family by preparing and providing. Obviously, I can't exactly do that if I've made it a part of my lifestyle to regularly be flat on my back hallucinating in a shaman's den, vomiting, pissing my pants, slobbering, and seeing visions. The reality is that through the hard, spiritual disciplinary work of prayer, worship, Biblical meditation, devotions, study, silence, solitude, fasting, and the like, both you and I can experience all the benefits that modern-day psychonauts would seek through plant medicine, without the extreme risk. But the spiritual disciplines are the hard, straight, and narrow path, and far more difficult to traverse than the wide, easy, and increasingly accessible path of popping a pill, sipping a medicine brew, or munching on a magic truffle.
However, which do you think makes you ultimately leaner, faster, and stronger with greater character? Gastric bypass surgery or stuffing your mouth with food less? Hill sprints or steroids in your butt cheek? Calf implants or hardcore barbell squats? An intramuscular ketamine injection and hit on a DMT vape pen, or dropping to your knees fully sober to seek God's direction?
Hopefully, I'm making my point.
Once again, as 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
The devil is there, masquerading as an angel of light, and waiting to pounce. By journeying with plant medicines and seeking drug-induced altered states of consciousness, you are laying yourself out in front of his lair like a wounded rabbit in a trap. You're vulnerable, you're exposed and even if you're a Christian, you're in a very dangerous place.
Interestingly, when I made the decision on June 1 to swear off any association with plant medicines when it comes to divining with the spiritual world, it was a full-on heart yes.
Here's what I mean: perhaps you’re familiar with a book by Derek Sivers entitled Hell Yeah Or No: What's Worth Doing. If you haven’t read it or heard of it, you’ve no doubt been introduced at some point in your life to a saying that was directly influenced by that book, namely, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” For the most part, I think that this is a pretty good bit of advice to live by, especially when making important decisions or weighing the prioritization of the many opportunities that inevitably come the way of most humans these days. However, the part that Derek and this saying largely leave out is the consideration of seeking God’s wisdom and discernment in any decisions—large or small—that we might make.
Lately, I’ve been making it a point to ask God to guide my decision-making. So what does that process look like? First, it requires constant daily dialogue and union with God. Don’t wait to come to God when you have some massive, life-changing decision to make. Instead, worship God daily, praise God daily, talk to God daily, pray without ceasing (yes, that means talking to God and speaking with Him about any decision you make and an excellent book to learn how is Walking With God by John Eldredge), ask God for direction in even the small things (e.g. what game should I play with my kids tonight? or what song should I learn on the guitar? or how should I dress for this particular social function?), and perhaps most importantly, make space in your busy life to slow down and listen to God daily.
After all, in the Bible, God meets with Elijah, but 1 Kings 19:11-13 describes that it required silence: “…there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”.
So these days, I shut down my headphones. My music. My audiobooks. My podcasts. My phone calls. My text messages. My notifications. I make space, usually in the morning, and then I lay my decisions before God. What should I choose, God? Who should I talk to, God? What should I eat, God? Is this right for me, God? Does this honor you, God?
If God says, yes, and if it is truly a “heaven yes” (trust me, that’s much better than a hell yes), then, if your experience is anything like mine, it is not a shout or a thundering voice that you will hear, but rather a sensation that your heart feels clean and light about the decision you made or will make, and a feeling as though a weight has been lifted from your chest and a burden removed from your back. You will feel peace and a subtle knowing that you have made the right decision. That is what a heart yes and a heaven yes from God feels like.
So go to God for every decision you make, whether large or small, and you will, with practice and dedication, learn to discern His voice.
What I'm getting at is this…
…the very second I made the decision to forego plant medicine and to write this article that you're reading right now, I felt as though an enormous burden had been lifted off my back, and I felt a sensation of righteous freedom from bondage that I haven't experienced in years. I began making other decisions in life that were based on trusting God and following His law no matter what, because I had removed from my life a glaring example of not trusting God fully. I expect that you will feel the same shift if you are a current user of plant medicines and you decide to take this step along with me. You may also notice, if your experience is like mine, that you begin to question any other chemical attachments in life that you may have, such as caffeine, nicotine, kratom, kava, microdosing, and the like (but more on that in Part 2 of this series).
Now are there exceptions to everything I've just said. Sure. Go back up and read my three caveats near the introduction. We need to approach this entire topic with great respect, wisdom and discernment. For example, for something like ketamine, a synthetic compound with the capability (but not the necessity!) of induced a drastically altered state of consciousness. For example, I get a full body deep tissue massage one or two times a month, and typically administer to myself a small dose of intranasal or oral ketamine beforehand. Am I in a somewhat “dissociated” state because of using ketamine? Well, yes, I am. Am I tripping out, hallucinating or in a K-hole-esque out of body state? No – at least, not with the dose I take (in the same you can be “psychotic” on caffeine you can be “psychotic” on ketamine, but the dose is the poison). Am I seeking to “divine with God” or “interact with spirits” when I use ketamine? No, although I do find that I have different thought patterns, altered perspectives and new creative ideas with a small dose of ketamine in my system. So this would be an example for which both the dose and the intent makes the poison, but an example – much like my earlier examples of medical anesthesia, trauma therapy, so-called “clarogenic” compounds for mind expansion, etc. of a right and responsible use of a potentially mind-altering compound.
Summary of Part 1
Look, I'm quite self-aware that this article is a bit preachy and speaks quite a bit to Christians like me who have at some point placed their faith not in God alone, but also in mind-expansion using plant medicines.
But please, please, please realize that even if you're not a Christian, you're playing with fire.
Even if you don't believe in demons and a spiritual world, or that you can somehow be physically, mentally, or spiritually harmed by plant medicines, you're still putting yourself at risk of being influenced by dark forces (and, incidentally, if you do not believe in an unseen realm that surrounds us, I highly recommend you read the excellent books Unseen Realms or Supernatural by Dr. Michael Heiser).
You may think I'm being silly and overly dramatic, but I'd rather speak up and say my piece on this matter than keep my mouth shut and eventually see a lot of people get hurt and place their faith in something other than their dear Creator. Furthermore, if you're a Christian and you're feeling convicted while reading, please know that any guilt or shame you may have stirring up in your soul about substance use or abuse can all be laid down at the foot of the cross by simply asking God for forgiveness and placing your trust instead in the free salvation offered through a belief in Jesus Christ.
See, once you discover the peace, love, and joy that you can only get through trusting in Jesus and crying out to God in a fully sober state when you need help, direction, and insight, you will find that your desire for plant medicines and altered states of consciousness will fade away.
This is because nothing but Jesus can replace the eternal hole in your soul that you are trying to fill.
In Part 2, I'll tell you even more about this, but in the meantime, you may find this article helpful if you want to understand more of what I mean when I tell you that all you need is the simplicity of Jesus.
As I mentioned earlier, I've barely scratched the surface of everything I've learned in the past several weeks about the shocking history of plant medicines and the extreme risks of dabbling with drug-induced altered states of consciousness. So if this article has even remotely piqued your interest, you must, must, must read the book Pharmakia by author Robert Orem.
Finally, within the next one to two weeks, I promise you a less lengthy Part 2 of this series, because there are a few unanswered questions I plan to tackle for you—namely: microdosing (you may be surprised at what I have to say about this); the use of plant medicines in small amounts for sensory enhancement for activities such as sacred hunting or sex; recreational “responsible” small-dose use of marijuana (e.g. hitting a vape pen at the end of the day instead of having a glass of wine); and any other loops I haven't closed based upon what you've just read.
But in the meantime, I welcome your questions, your comments, and your feedback. I promise I will read them all, and do my best to respond. Trust me, I'm very much aware that this article is a big shift from what I've said in the past about plant medicines. But it is a very important shift because this is a battle for your eternal soul. Thank you for reading.