A version of this article was first written for the Synthesis retreat. I have re-worked it to remove the advertising – now, this is a brief overview of the way that plant medicines are viewed in the indigenous cultures that are still intertwined with them.
The growing awareness of the medicinal benefits of psychedelics in the West has been dubbed the “psychedelic renaissance.” Unlike the counterculture movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, this psychedelic emergence is fuelled by contemporary science and the potential for psychedelics to treat the rising tide of mental health conditions in our societies.
But psychedelics have been familiar to humanity for much longer than the past few decades. Plant medicines have been a part of some cultures since their beginnings.
So is our view of the benefits of psychedelics somewhat narrow? What lessons can we learn from studying the history and culture of psychedelic use outside of our immediate awareness?
For the past two and a half years I’ve been working as the content manager for The Third Wave, an organisation that educates about psychedelics and promotes microdosing. Recent events have prompted the majority of the team to leave, including myself.
Here is the full statement from a few of us regarding the decision. It is followed by a personal statement from myself.
“See, Pat, the thing about me – I have a very masculine energy. I like building and creating. I’m good at opening doors but not so good at closing them after me.”
“So, I have a very feminine energy, Pat. I like organising, tidying, putting things in order.”
These were statements spoken to me a few days apart, both by colleagues who also work in the psychedelic community, and both times it surprised me.
I would not have expected these people to use gendered terms to describe their personalities, because it felt so thoroughly unnecessary. And it made me start thinking about why they had decided to use the terms masculine and feminine to describe their personality traits. It was one of a string of events that made me start to seriously reflect on the prevalence of gendered concepts in the psychedelic space.