Plant medicine comes in many forms as we all know
Cannabis is one form, and thankfully it is finally gaining the recognition and access that it deserves. Humans have been using the buds from the female plant for thousands of years. The earliest record was 2500 years ago in Central Asia where people were smoking psychoactive cannabis at funerals. What is even more fascinating, is that archaeological digs dating back to 790-520 BCE, analyzed ancient cannabis samples from a cemetery in Turpan showing the “earliest chemical evidence of cannabis smoking.” What really astounded me was that not only did they discover this, they found a higher concentration of THC than usually found in wild plants. What this shows is that the people either found or cultivated plants with higher THC levels meaning that they did this on purpose. They valued and recognized the immense power of these plants. WOW! (sciencealert.com)
This article (I recommend reading the whole thing) talks about how humans have long had an interactive relationship with the plants and the world around them. It has never ceased. Like cannabis, Psilocybin which is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced by over 200 species of mushrooms, has also been used by humans for thousands of years. It is believed that 4,000-7,000 years BCE, in the mountain ranges of Algeria, there exist carvings of figures “which appear to be floating or leaving their bodies”. They believe this to be some of the earliest evidence of humans using psilocybin. (thethirdwave.co)
Mushroom use for psychedelic purposes has known origins in Western culture dating from around 1900, but became much more readily known during the Harvard Psilocybin project with Timothy Leary in the 1960’s.
Cannabis & Psychedelic Use in American Culture
Without getting into the extreme darkness of what has happened in the years transpiring, both with Cannabis use in American culture as well as psychedelics, we are now seeing a real resurgence. Years lost to innocent people incarcerated during the war on drugs (many of whom are still behind bars), there is a dim light at the end of the tunnel as society begins to see (and remember) what these plants are doing for our healing. Clearly if humans have been drawn to these natural modes of healing for millennia, there must be something to it…..yet like many things that are powerful, fear often dominates and eliminates access. We saw this big time in the 60’s with psychedelics being outlawed so systematically and abruptly despite their proven ability to heal. Thank you, President Nixon!
I can personally attest to the tremendous progress I have made in my own reduction of extreme anxiety and ptsd due to the plant medicine journeys I have been lucky enough to experience in the last two years. I was lucky enough to be invited to experience the healing powers of psilocybin and MDMA while accompanied by a guide when I needed support. Really, the inward journey was one of rediscovering my soul and coming to terms with accepting the life path I had chosen, even its most painful forms. Being able to look at an abusive relationship I eventually left, the death of my beloved mother when I was going through a divorce and pregnant, and childhood loneliness with an open, non judgmental heart and zero fear was nothing short of LIBERATING.
I understand that many people are fearful of psychedelics. Did you know that Cannabis is considered part of the psychedelic family by some? At a recent conference in London on the science of psychedelics, Holland said that using marijuana may be linked with a phenomenon some psychiatrists refer to as “dehabituation” — the process of looking at something with fresh eyes. (businessinsider.com). This looking at things with a new perspective is the single most gift I would say I experience from Cannabis use and I have spoken to many who agree.
Is Plant Medicine Healing?
In any event, what I call “plant medicine” has many forms and modes of healing. To paraphrase something that Gabor Mate, who is one of my most revered teachers, says when questioned about psychedelics, is that there truly is nothing to fear about taking a journey with plant medicine because that fear is already inside us. It is something we are dealing with every day on an intrinsic level, both physically and emotionally. Until we let it up and out of us….until we face it and see it and start to heal it, it is part of us. I can vouch for how far I have come and also for how far I feel I still want to go with this path to healing. Thank you beautiful plants. I would not be the 45 year old woman, mother, wife and friend that I am today without you. I am humbled by your intelligence, and ability to heal those of us who are willing.