Greetings to all from the depths of the cave in which I have been hiding over the last forever since last posting. Life has been all sorts of bizarre globally and individually. I have plenty more to say on that, but I will save that for another time and place. For now, I'd like to focus on the #NaturalMedicine community challenge: Let's Get to Know Each Other!
The idea behind this challenge explains itself fairly well - each participant is to choose FIVE (5) of the listed 31 questions presented to the community about your individual healing path. These questions vary quite widely and many of them might be something you'd like to answer so feel free to answer as many of them as you'd like, five is simply the minimum for entry. There is a minor entry fee of 100 LOTUS for each entry. If you don't have any LOTUS, Check out this article to learn how to purchase LOTUS. If you can't afford to purchase any, just let me know and I'll gladly sponsor your entry. Also, be certain to post a link to your entry with proof of your burn as a comment on the @naturalmedicine post here.
So without further ado, here is my response to some of the questions presented.
How did your journey in this path/with this practice begin?
Allow me to first clarify a little about my practice. I am currently studying to receive my doctorates degree in medicine to practice as a Naturopathic Doctor, and I am a novice in the arts of Alchemy.
I grew up living most of my younger years just outside of Washington, D.C. on the East coast. The culture in this social pocket is very money and power oriented where Nature is a well from which one could pull all they need, and then some, without worry of a drought, where Nature is a beast to be tamed and controlled by the will of our own hands to ensure our needs are properly met before any other, where Nature is an enemy village to be pillaged of all it can give. A place where emotions are seen as a weakness and preying on those more vulnerable than you is the norm.
Growing up under the influence of this cultural experience, I found myself very detached from my inner experience and from Nature. I instead lived a life where I manipulated others and took advantage of any opportunity to advance my own needs. I sought opulence over self-inquiry, power over cooperation, and I didn't care who I had to remove from my path to get what I wanted. I was a textbook "bad person." I continued to live without care for the repercussions of my actions until an extraordinary experience shattered my reality in 2011.
I had been excessively consuming drugs after returning to my hometown after four years of service in the military, my favorite of which were psychedelics. I was far from spiritual or connected to anything other than my own indulgence during this phase of my life. Psychedelics were simply something which took me from the land of desperation and pain into a world of bliss.
I could escape the tortures of this seemingly un-reality by gorging a half ounce of cubensis. I could redesign the whole set of this macabre play by devouring a gram of mescaline. I could philosophize my way out of any disturbing thought by downing a ten-strip of LSD. And then I met the one whom I call Demeter, due to the similarity of the molecule's shorthand name and the experiences intrinsically tied with its ingestion - DMT.
DMT is short for N,N-Dimethyltriptamine, or simply Dimethyltriptamine. DMT is known to be one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, naturally occurring psychedelic substance. This molecule occurs in a very large variety of living beings from plants to animals and is even synthesized by our own bodies. Currently, science is still baffled as scientists attempt to grapple the source and functions of endogenous (produced in the body) DMT. Many hypotheses have been tossed to the grinder, such as DMT playing a role in near-death/death experiences, which was devised from understanding its role in activating sigma-1 receptors which protect the body's cells from high oxidative stress, but none of these hypotheses have come out with substantial evidence.
There are three typical methods of ingesting DMT - vaporized, insulffated, and oral. Oral ingestion requires the additional use of a companion molecule known as a MAOI, or a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor. Monoamine Oxidases are a class of enzymes which catalyze the breakdown of molecules with a single Nitrogen group bound to its ring system, of which DMT is a target. The oral ingestion requires greater time of metabolization for the DMT to take effect. That said, you need to ensure that the DMT is not destroyed before it can effectively alter consciousness. However, when DMT is vaporized, the molecule is immediately absorbed into your bloodstream via entry through the lungs. Likewise, insulffated DMT is absorbed immediately into your bloodstream via the mucosal lining of your nostrils.
Orally ingested DMT typically comes in the form of Ayahuasca and other first people's decoctions and can last for 12+ hours. Insulffated DMT typically comes in the form of Yopo and can last upwards of an hour with the initial peak lasting around 20 minutes. Similarly, vaporized DMT has an initial peak which lasts for around 20 minutes and the entirety being around an hour. Orally consumed DMT takes much longer for it to take effect and thus has been reported to be slightly less intense in effects than vaporized or insulffated DMT which take effect within moments of ingestion.
Imagine sitting in a rocket ship. 3, 2, 1 - your lighter just above the crystals, with a slow pull on the pipe to draw down just enough heat to vaporize this delicate compound. You breathe deep and long. You slowly exhale, calm, serene, but knowing things are about to get interesting. You have enough time to set your pipe in a safe space and lean back when - pew! Your rocket ship has initiated launch sequence. Now you're hurling through the outer limits of consciousness as fractals and 5D geometric shapes overtake your field of vision, both opened and closed eyes.
So what's so special about me meeting Demeter?
Well, initially, nothing. When I first was introduced to this beautiful entity, all I knew was that I had to have more. I learned so much without realizing I had learned so much. I felt incredibly alive after returning from the eternally-long, 15 minute journey. It wasn't until that fateful night just a few months down the road from the initial introduction to this new friend, Demeter, in which my life changed entirely forever.
My girlfriend at the time, Kristin, and I had decided to partake in ingesting DMT together. Even though I was not spiritual at this time, I had immediately begun to recognize there was something special about this molecule and had been doing my best (as an addict) to treat this molecule with reverence. So ingesting DMT with Kristin was set up in a ritualized manner where the only light in the darkened room were several candles encircling the two of us while we sat crossed-legged on the ground across from one another, eager to climb into our rocket ships.
Upon ingestion, the room went almost entirely black except for what looked like a spotlight now shining directly on Kristin's blissfully smiling face. Her face then lifted off of her skin and floated just atop her where her face should have been and turned a soft white as if she had been wearing a porcelain mask. Her mask then opened in the middle and a cuckoo clock emerged with the cuckoo dancing its way in and out of the clock, chiming, "cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo!" Initially, this experience terrified me as I couldn't piece together what had happened and why I saw what I saw. This was the first time where the drug took over and altered reality beyond a simple overlay of geometric kaleidoscopes and otherworldly colors.
We stepped outside to enjoy some fresh air and smoke some tobacco after we both regained consciousness a bit. I cannot remember much after seeing the cuckoo-clock as I was so spun on this experience that everything else fell away from locking itself into memory. However, I do recall being on the porch talking with Kristin and she was telling me stories about herself and the things she's gone through in her life. I don't recall what they were, but I do remember that as she told her story, I grew greatly confused. You see, I survived a traumatic experience when I was 8 years old in which I coped by completely locking away my emotions. Double that with the cultural influence of the D.C. metro area, and all I recognized was anger and pain. The confusion I began feeling during Kristin's stories was because I began to feel everything she had been relaying to me. Every bit of joy and every bit of pain, I felt thoroughly through every cell in my body.
Experiencing her story as if it were my own drained me of any remaining energy I had after the session with Demeter, and I weakly asked why she was telling me stories about my own life! She stared at me blankly and confused - as I stared back equally confused. Her experiences had become my own as she was sharing. The porcelain mask had been opened and the clock had told me it was time for growth. All sense of self and others, that thin barrier of individual identity, had been completely dissolved.
The first several months after this experience were the most difficult as I grappled with trying to understand what was going on. I was a homeless drug addict who felt that they were experiencing other people's lives as their own, I had nobody I could talk to this about in a safe space. The feelings I began to take on from other people completely altered my views of people and how I moved forward in treating others. I had convinced myself that these people were all ME, and that to continue to manipulate and use and generally treat these people poorly was to do the same to my own self. Why would I belittle myself when all I want is to be built up? Why would I steal from myself when all I want is to eat?
Once I realized what was going on, things got..."easier." I came to the conclusion after several months of intense suffering that I had awoken the empathy within me that was locked away so deep within my psyche that it took an incredibly powerful psychedelic to kiss this Sleeping Beauty. So I stopped being that textbook "bad person" with all the intention to resolve the pains I've caused in the past.
During these months of confusion, I continued to consume psychedelics in copious amounts which led me through some inexplicable experiences. Things occurred during this time that I could not simply explain away as being drug induced, from being crazy, or explain in any other manner. Things like visiting places in my dreams and meeting people that I would visit and meet the next day. Things like alterations in reality that others, not just myself, picked up on. Things like having people look to me and speak full audible sentences and then look at me wildly bizarre after I respond to what was actually only being thought about in their heads. And much, much more.
The more I researched into Alchemy and the occult, the more I was able to comprehend and lay a foundation for the experiences I found myself in throughout the past year of madness. What once seemed to be purely the genesis of insanity now had been rationalized and understood to be something much greater. Cultures throughout all of history have used psychedelics for various purposes. These cultures therein have well established explanations and roots for understanding the experiences brought upon the psyche through psychedelic ingestion. However, modern cultures in the colonized world have placed serious taboos on the use of psychedelic medicines. These taboos have stripped away these roots for understanding what we as people are experiencing under the influence of psychedelic medicines. This single idea of psychedelics being taboo is the sole cause for a great deal of suffering from the use of psychedelics. If psychedelics were not seen as taboo in our society, then there likely would have been a support system in place which would have been better equipped to help me, and many others like me, heal rather than me taking nearly a year of inordinate suffering to understand it on my own.
It was from this moment onward that I had decided to become an initiate of the Alchemical Arts. Chemistry was always one of my strong suits, and having finally been introduced to the Royal Art of Alchemy, I only found it fitting that I should pursue this path. After several years of practicing Inner/Spiritual Alchemy (Alchemy of self-transformation), I finally felt capable of endeavoring Practical Alchemy, or that which is practiced in a laboratory to produce medicaments.
My initial laboratory was indeed quite small and was confined to the space of a 2x2 closet in the motorhome I was living in. I first produced a ginger tincture through the Alchemical methods where I experimented using word magick and witnessed how charging the same type of tincture with different words will produce different effects. As each experiment proceeded, I found my past experiences to be further validated through my Alchemical understanding of reality.
I began freely distributing my tinctures to those who exclaimed the need for healing which the tinctures could provide. To this day, now after nearly 8 years of practice, everyone who has received a tincture has been thoroughly satisfied and pleased with the results and the efficacy of the tinctures I produce. Three years ago I realized that I wanted to do this professionally and to set up a non-profit laboratory that would produce tinctures for free to low-cost as I found it absurd to capitalize on another's health and well-being. Thus, I began studying in college majoring in biochemistry.
I was doing just grand in college and was getting ready to transfer fully to university to continue my education. Just as I was about to graduate with my Associates of Science degree, I encountered a teacher in organic chemistry who was the absolute worst instructor I've yet to cross. I spent the entire 12 weeks sitting with the textbook and online courses in order to teach myself so that I could then pass that information along to my peers during the multiple study groups per week. I literally was teaching the class because this instructor was so terrible that he would teach incorrect material which I'd have to correct as I had been sure to prepare for the class the days prior.
I was about to have to spend two more terms with this outrageously incompetent instructor through one of the hardest series of classes of the selections in chemistry. So, I went to the biochemistry board director at the university I was transferring to. Their only suggestion was to wait an entire year to then rejoin the organic chemistry courses when the rotation started again with the university. This caused me quite a bit of fret as I worried how well I'd be able to retain the language taught in OChem I after waiting a year to take OChem II and III.
I was later explaining all of this to my wonderful partner, Willow (she unfortunately does not have a Hive account (yet 😉)), when she asked me if I'd thought about attending NUNM. I asked her what NUNM was and she was surprised that I'd never heard of it and that it was the National University of Natural Medicine here in Portland, Oregon. I quickly did a bit of research and found that NUNM is the nation's longest standing natural medicines university and that it had a course directive that I found absolutely delightful. This is where I belong, I thought to myself, and so I applied shortly after being led to this new path and was quickly admitted for the coming rotation of undergraduates.
I am now 3 terms away from completing my Bachelors of Science in Integrated Health Sciences (BiHS) which approaches healing using a variety of modalities linked together. Integrated Health practices rely mainly on natural modalities (ie - herbs, minerals, diet, exercise, etc) while allowing space for Western (or allopathic) medicine to exist in the necessary occasions. This approach is meant to be a balance of the modalities without polarizing and demonizing either side of the spectrum. Upon completion of my BiHS, I will be applying to the school of graduates at NUNM in order to achieve a Naturopathic Doctorates degree to be licensed to practice medicine in the state of Oregon or Washington (depending on where I decide to move).
What have been the positives of your natural medicine journey?
Some of the positives of my natural medicine journey are the validity of the practice through healing I've been able to find in my own body through integrating practices and new health habits, being able to bring peace from suffering in other's lives through my tinctures or health suggestions, and being able to find a role in life which brings me great amounts of joy and pleasure.
Have you had trouble with any member of your family for having chose the path of natural medicine?
Initially, my mother thought that my switching to these modalities was a bit "woo-woo", but she was happy to see that I was trying new things. She now accepts that these medicines are just that - they're medicines. However, my paternal grandparents both think that I am absolutely insane for endeavoring this path. When I last saw them 4 years ago, they became rather irate as I explained things like many pharmaceuticals having their origins in naturally occurring substances. I have now conceded to the fact that their cognitive dissonance surrounding the ideas of natural medicines is too great to converse on these topics and have since stopped bringing up anything in relation to my practices or studies.
Do you think this boom of the natural is just another trend or is society really starting to wake up?
This is a very difficult question to answer and truly only time will tell. Personally, I am seeing a great deal of individuals reverting purposefully back to ancestral knowledge, of which natural medicines is highly important. We are experiencing global crises which many feel that this ancestral knowledge can help alleviate. I think that the return to natural things in its current form is going to be a trend as in its current form the idea is typically polarized and wholly denounces anything unnatural. However, as all things in life are found in a balance, and all systems push towards homeostasis, I think that this trend will eventually come full circle and meet with the synthesized world in the middle. There are situations which do call for extreme measures of which natural medicines really cannot accomplish.
Would you take ancestral medicine (yagé, kambo, yopo... ) with a non native person as your guide?
Yes, but only with certain stipulations being fulfilled. Ancestral knowledge of these medicines is extremely important, for, as I mentioned before, they lay out the ground works for the experience and for helping to untangle and explain the experience so that the user may integrate the experience into their lives. Without having this knowledge, there is a great deal of risk involved. Individuals have died from ill prepared decoctions, and thus the importance of knowing how to prepare these medicines and how to administer them is inexplicably dire.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Although Holmes was a supreme court associate justice, this quote is directly relatable to psychedelic medicines. In the same way that my mind was stretched to new limits in ways that drove me to madness, others can and have fallen into similar cycles because there is a lack of knowledge in those educated in the roots of the experience and how to integrate them. The shamans are given this knowledge through generations of lessons taught to each of them. These medicines are sacred and revered by them and are thus treated with due respect.
I would therefore take ancestral medicine with a non native person as my guide if they have been thoroughly educated in the experience to be a guide and if they gave as much, if not more, respect to the medicines as the natives. I mention "if not more respect" simply due to the nature of how sacred these medicines are and the privilege of being given the information to properly guide others through the experience safely. Also, I would only take the medicine if the medicine had been obtained in an ethical manner which does not prey on the vulnerabilities of indigenous cultures.
Another keynote to mention is that there are ancestral medicines that can be tied back to most, if not all, cultures. The Elusian Mysteries in Greece, for example, used an initiatory mind-altering decoction, Kykera, as part of its rituals. The Scythians of Western Asia used Suma, which contains a mind-altering mushroom. Even traditional Chinese medicine lists multiple psychedelic medicines in its pharmacopia. Some individuals who may have problems using another culture's medicine might want to research into their own ancestral roots and do their best to uncover their own ancestral medicines.
I have gone through many powerful experiences which have ultimately shaped my person into who I am now and the beliefs that I hold as true. I have gone from borderline sociopathy, to overwhelmingly debilitating empathy, to finding a balance and walking both sides of the line. I desire to heal myself and to help others heal their selves. Medicine is my life and psychedelics opened that door for me. The great psychedelic researcher Terence McKenna once said, “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”
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