I wanted to share this, because I find this rather interesting and important.
It is a documentary about psychedelic drugs as part of shamanistic rituals, our religions and cultures. It displays and explains the usage of herbs and shrooms and LSD, and gives some really interesting points on how they may have played a grucial part in the very beginning of our cultural evolution. I was afraid it would slip into new age hippie-bullshit, but it did not. Of course, when you have psychonauts talking about psychedelic drugs, you have their side on the subject. But the documentary had a variety of different people talking about the drugs, sharing their thoughts and learning new stuff themselves.
These aspects were really interesting to me, since I'm really into studying religions, human beings, their habits and cultures. I believe all religions sprout from the same root, same shamanistic essence, that is still evident in our present world, but it does not manifest itself through any organized religion. It has taken place inside our need to know ourselves, it is self-reflection, a will to understand your ego and it's limits, a way to surpass the ego and become objective. It guides our ideals of knowledge, we tend to value objective knowledge over subjective knowledge, although we are most of the time blind to the fact we are always subjective beings, and all the information we gather and accept is always seen through our own lenses. We just let everything uninspiring and dull pass us by, and build our world upon our own interests and moral values. This being said, I believe modern day shamanism is self-observation, reflecting your own actions, with or without drugs. You don't really need them, if you bear the insight inside your own mind. For those who do not, they are tools to help them get rid of distractions, tools of concentration. The more you have insight on yourself, the better you can help your society and the people surrounding you.
As said in the documentary, religions might, and I believe they did, have had the psychedelic tripping as essential part of their rituals. Even in Christianity, where the communion was the flesh of god, which the shrooms are often referred as. Or as explained, they might have had a bad crop, which has produced psychedelic bread, which has sent them accidentally tripping their balls off, giving the experience of pure being. That is just one explanation, one part of it all, the documentary gives various theories, that I find interesting and fascinating, I am aware that they are not confirmed and verified information, but they are enough to accelerate my mind. This, though, is not a new thought. Aldous Huxley was observing religious rituals and shamanistic tripping, and he had similar ideas of psychedelia as an essential part of early religions. Later on, as they decided to want authority over people, they disconnected the divinity and denied their roots, making profane people dependant on their power to interact with the divine. Because (as said in documentary) where would people need the church, if they had a way to feel whole, safe and complete without it?
I think religions have played their part in our cultural evolution. They were explanations to our experiences of holiness we might have had when we had eaten certain herbs or animals unknown to us, because nature is full of hallucinogenic things, we're just being told their all venomous. And of course they are, but in small dozes they might have given us what appeared to be God. They would explain why people around the world had a similar idea of building huge geometric construction to help us determine our place in the cosmos, the pyramids. It would explain the worshipping of nature: We got our divine experiences from the forest by accident, so the forest has granted us this gift of self-observation. Later on they noticed that certain herbs did always the same trick, learned to use them, and performed rituals, which included these herbs being used as part of them. People were slowly but surely developing a culture, science and religion still entwined in this same form of worshipping life itself, until they derived as themselves, two counterparts in constant war with each other. Religion gave man the imagination needed to seek forth. Science took the torch from there, and did the same trick on religion, as religion did to drugs: denied it's part in it's own birth.
There's also a mention of our Finnish traditional epic of Kalevala, where there is Sampo, giver of happiness. It is an magic mill, which can produce anything one needs, and the heroes are constantly fighting over it. I read it when I was on the elementary school, so I should probably refresh my memories a bit. In the documentary it was seen as a metaphor for Amanita Muscaria one of our most common toxic, and to some extent psychedelic mushrooms. One of my friends ate one once, and had just mild burns and fever. He got a nickname that stuck with him ever since. I've heard that in Lappland shamans used to feed Amanita Muscaria to their reindeers and drink their pee. I always thought of it as a repulsive habbit, but this documentary actually gave me an explanation to it: the mushroom emits acid, that disolves in your liver, and the liver produces the same psychedelic ingredient the mushroom has, so your pee comes out even more psychedelic than the shroom you consumed. Of course uptight Finnish men we're not going to drink eachother's pee, because in small towns that kind of news travel faster than the speed of light, so they made their animals eat it and drank their pee, as if to make it less gay. Right.