Pharmakia: Traditional Medicine and Black Magick

An excerpt from Riding the Fine Line, by Gabriel D. Roberts. Purchase it here.  

I was taught as a young person that the Bible spoke out against black magick, or witchcraft. To a Christian, these terms are interchangeable. In college I learned the Koine Greek word for witchcraft was ‘pharmakia’. As it happens, this word is where we get the term pharmacy from and as a blanket statement was a biblical assertion of the condemned use of alchemic means of mixing natural ingredients for one’s own gain. I find it very ironic that this term is used as a proof against recreational use of entheogenic substances and naturally occurring plants. It’s time I brought the truth to light. There’s something very insidious about this modern contextual viewpoint that western society has embraced. You see, while puritanical groups maintain this argument, they take pills from mega-pharmaceuticals for every ailment under the sun. Some take Xanax for anxiety; others take heavy opiates for long-term pains. They are buying these pills from people who are using the mixing of natural substances for their own gaining of power and wealth.

These companies are not charging minimums either, because they know that many natural remedies are illegal and therefore everyone must come to them, thus giving them a monopoly on your health needs. If we look at this with some objectivity, we can see the one sided nature of our present state. Everyone has fallen for the big trick, to bow to the black magick of the big-pharma, who doesn’t give a shit about your health as long as you keep buying their wares. This is unrighteous by any definition. In contrast, when we look at the principles which we see the Ayahuasqueros of the Amazon embrace, as catalogued in the book The Cosmic Serpent by Dr. Jeremy Narby, we see the use of natural remedies and guidance provided freely. Our slash and burn western culture has done a tremendous disservice to these people by undermining them in every way possible through our missionaries, our oil companies and even our big pharma companies who look for ways to exploit these sacred substances for their own purposes. This is a dark wave that we have ridden; one that has swept over the whole world like a tsunami of exploitation. Though we may not personally be there, we benefit from this in virtually every aspect of our modern lives.

With all of this bleak talk, could there be any way for us to recover what we have lost, and repair the damage we have done to ourselves, our bothers and sisters of the world and to nature itself? Can we change the way we look at these natural remedies for help? Can we look at these entheogenic sacraments for spiritual guidance? Can we change our world by looking at the truth that is hiding inside of us? Can we even find a way to see inside ourselves? Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within us, but most people just take that as a spiritual metaphor. What if…just maybe, he was being his most literal when he said this? It has come to my attention in this last year of rapid and amazing personal transformation that this really was the case. I’ve come to realize that we humans have both overvalued the worst parts of our existence while selling up the river anyone who decides that the status quo of destruction and vanity is not worthy of a serious life investment. Let me be more specific; we have a western culture that values a homogenized scientific and Christian mindset that seriously limits real spirituality and evolutionary advancement. You may say that Darwinian science and Judeo-Christian mindsets are terrifically different, but the reality is that they both put terrific constraints on human evolutionary advancement by the parameters of belief that they say is acceptable. Every year, we spend billions of dollars turning our equipment to the sky for signs of life and billions more on mega-churches to soak us all with the wet blanket of ineffectual spiritual connection with a real higher source.

It isn’t that science has it all wrong, or even that Jesus didn’t have an eternal purpose that effects us all, it’s that both have been stripped of their true, original purpose; to look for the unconditional truth using our hearts and minds. The truth is that the answers have been here with us all along in the forests and jungles and deserts of our earth, revered and used by indigenous cultures for over a hundred thousand years of human existence. These gifts of the earth have been the object of laughter and ridicule as we have driven our cars to the very edge of destruction. Yet, there they are, calling us back to the earth that took care of us in a symbiotic harmony for thousands and thousands of years. Our earliest cave paintings bear witness to the majestic affect these plants have had on our minds in creating our very first works of art. We have become a people who have lost our first love and are shamefully close to losing our lives for it. Take a short moment to consider where we are going and what we are doing and how we are living. Ask yourself if the mindset we have lived with has brought us closer to solving the real problems. Problems like, leaving the earth better than we found it, ending world hunger and drawing a more direct communion with our higher spiritual sources. In my opinion, we have only made things worse; have waged war over our shortsighted politics and hollow shells of religion. So, if you disagree, feel free to stop reading now. I don’t want to waste your time and I don’t want to tell you something you’re not ready to hear…

Now that they are gone, I can let you in on the one secret that has changed my life. The best and fastest way for us to change our minds and hearts is to open up to the possibility that our entheogenic friends in Psilocybin mushrooms, Peyote, Iboga root and the DMT experiences including those through the Ayahuasca vine are not substances that cause you to go crazy, or jump off roofs, but in fact open up real spiritual realms in which we can actually learn lessons about ourselves, our world and those around us. Several great scientists have come forward with boldness and rock-solid evidence that this is the case. A quick search on the late, great scientist, Terence McKenna will give you a great deal of information to consider. The book Breaking Open The Head by Daniel Pinchbeck leads us through the story of a secular humanist with nothing to live for learning some amazing lessons about who we are and what our purpose is and can be. Another breakthrough is the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, by Dr. Rick Strassman. In either case, the serious seeker would do well to give these great men their attention. I’m here to say that the experiences I have had with these substances in this last year have cemented beliefs that I held only in theory until I came face to face with the other side of existence. Now that I have been there and back, I am grateful to say that I do not fear death. I am finally able to know that the spiritual world is simply another dimension of existence we have not classified in our science, just like radio waves were once unknown to us at one time, yet always existed. And so, I come out as one who believes that these entheogenic plants may very well be the source of both our true spiritual awakening and our salvation as a species in this current precipice of doom over which we hover. I’ve begun a process of peeling away the fake things in my life and coming to new revelations daily that fill my heart with love for the earth and universe and others. Jesus said, “you shall know a tree by its fruit.”, so if me becoming a more whole, balanced individual with a growing care for others is the fruit of my exploration of these entheogenic paths, then perhaps there is validity to my thoughts. We’ve seen the fruit of western science and Christianity.

Even now it seems we are drawing to another senseless war while the rest of the world starves. The established powers that be have made it hard for you and I to make decisions about what we can and cannot consume, though they don’t mind allowing pills that hurt just as much as they help to be sold by big pharma. Mega-Churches would lose their followers if they couldn’t compete with the majesty of an entheogenic sacrament. So in the end, we must decide for ourselves if we think that those in power in science, religion, business and politics have our best interests in mind and decide whether we want to participate in the black magick of self-imposed delusion, or return to our roots, both figuratively and literally. It’s something to consider.


Gabriel Roberts

Gabriel D. Roberts is a theological scholar, researcher and public speaker that specializes in discussions about the nature of perception and belief. After 27 years of passionate searching and study, Gabriel stepped away from his long held Christian faith into a more expansive and fluid worldview.The details and reasons are catalogued in his book, Born Again To Rebirth.Like many others who have had an earnest thirst for the answers to the big questions of life, Gabriel was not satisfied to settle for not knowing more.His latest book, The Quest For Gnosis explores the roots of belief, the power of the ecstatic state in one’s spiritual life and the means by which a deeply satisfying spiritual life may be achieved outside of the bonds of dogma.Within The Quest For Gnosis, Gabriel interviews 20 of the brightest minds in this field of study, including Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Graham Hancock, Daniele Bolelli, Peter J. Carroll, Hamilton Morris, Dr. Aaron Cheak, David Metcalfe, Dr. Rick Strassman and many more.

Gabriel writes for VICE Magazine, and and is the author of three books. He is continuing his research at the University of Washington in his hometown of Tacoma, WA.

11 Comments on "Pharmakia: Traditional Medicine and Black Magick"

  1. Thad McKraken | Jan 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

    Great post. I always find it alarming how many people will argue about science being this infallible truth and it’s like, errr, mainstream science is rigged. Just look at psychiatry. Where would computer technology be if we made researching it illegal 40 years ago? Probably pretty much nowhere. That’s what happened with psychedelic drugs.

  2. Nice post, but I think we are too often taken away from the truth of psychedelic use; which is to be used as a tool for the sick, and a gateway for the shaman. I believe we should all be careful in what we choose to prioritise in our lives in terms of our distinctions between the psychedelic experience and the everyday experience. I have found an interest and beauty in this world through the use of LSD and marijuana, but now I have found it is there any true need for these drugs? Is this amazing universe I’m surrounded by not enough to experience without trying to enhance and modify it? I have found more wonder, beauty and especially RELEVANCE in this ‘everyday’ experience than in the psychedelic because now I see the subtleties of mind i can understand the subtleties of the world, of my experience

    • Thad McKraken | Jan 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

      I think there is certainly a need although I agree with what you’re saying. Our brains get programmed by society with such a bunch of shit that the psychedelic experience is often the only way to forcefully detach oneself.

      Mainly though, I’ve frequently been disappointed by the lack of interest in alternative spirituality among psychedelic devotees I’ve known. I saw a study a while back (from the 60’s I believe) that indicated that without the adoption of a regular spiritual practice, the effects of the psychedelic experience often don’t have any long term effect. So, psych drugs led me into shit like astral projection and occultism, but most people I know just look at it as partying, which is how our culture has largely framed it ( now featured on episodes of workaholics and what not).

      Also, if music sounds as cool to you and your orgasms are as good when your sober, then wow, you’ve attained a level of spiritual ascendance I never have. Weed helps me enormously with these things. Same deal with food. Tastes way better high.

      • lazy_friend | Jan 4, 2013 at 11:24 pm |

        You need to be high to feel good all the time because your Cannabinoid receptors have down regulated from smoking pot all the time. Research the neurotransmitters and their respected receptors and roles in brain function. Prepare to have your mind blown and to feel kinda intimidated, as neuroscience is oh so complex. But in study you are guaranteed to find out why you need to smoke to feel great, and what are the alternatives in case you are dry for a certain period of time, or more importantly,how to feel good without narcotics or stimulants. Shit, just read everything you can on the brain if you are into psychoactive drugs. Its way more empowering to do them when you know what they do and how they work, instead of just relying on an over stimulation that will diminish over time, due to tolerance and various down regulations in the brain, or acting like they are magick. Drugs are scientific, magick is way more amazing than drugs, you can’t pin it down. It takes a lot of energy to make you feel so good and your brain does not like to be pushed to its processing limits over burgers, ice cream, mediocre music and broads all the time.You will develop tolerance at one point or another, and side effects like depression will most likely occur, if the right dosages and T-breaks are not followed, as stimulants are for short term use only. Pot is very stimulating, it and other stimulants are bypassing your natural reward system, making you feel great about any lame everyday experience, instead of you having to try hard to achieve great things to naturally feel good, its cheating at life and it does catch up to you, if they are not used properly, even if they are becoming legal now (which I agree with since I dont like draconian laws by which pigs also cheat, acting like they are catching bad guys when its all fluff). I suggest you fall down this rabbit hole —-> —-> —–> Bind science, spirituality and sensations all into one. The spirituality of today is the science of tomorrow. With any addiction, you will eventually have to pay the piper. The are no free lunches when it comes to stimulants, its all very complex, and so is your body. There is a reason why most psychedelic drugs were reserved for shamans to use responsibly in sacred rituals, that did not happen all the time. But this is just advice, do whatever the fuck you want to do.

        • Thad McKraken | Jan 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm |

          Yeah, I agree with everything you’re saying. That’s actually one of the things I like about pot, it self regulates. If you start doing it too much, you stop getting very high. I’ve actually taken breaks from weed solely so I’ll get high again, not because it was a problem. Seriously. My drinking on the other hand, yeah, huge fucking problem and basically my spiritual side had to eventually step in and say: stop doing that, you’re killing your health. Long story that I’ll elaborate on possibly on this website.

          Also, I am a practicing magickian/sorcerer/what have you and I do use pot quite ritualistically. I’ve been a proponent of pointing out that so much of the mystery regarding occultism has to do with weed based sex magick. There’s something quite profound in the way marijuana enhances sexuality in most people. If you’ve found a way to manipulate your consciousness to have stoned level orgasms sober, again, more power to you. I haven’t. An orgasm when I’m high is roughly 30 times as intense as sober. On LSD, 1,000 times more intense. On Ecstasy, basically same deal. What is our bizarre societal obsession with sobriety? Why do we somehow think that sober consciousness is superior to intoxication. It’s ridiculous. Oh, and this attitude completely contradicts shamanism. I’ve had that discussion with several people. “Drugs are bad and hinder you psychically”. Weeeeeellll, not according to shamanism.

          To further your point though, it’d be easy to criticize my writing as just being – a guy who does too many drugs (I haven’t done nearly as much psychedelics as any of the 60’s heroes, not even fucking close). Truth- I often have weirder dreams when I’m not smoking, waaaaay weirder. So weird, that I sometimes smoke pot as a means of dampening my dreams not the inverse. I have a day job to worry about and too much shit to do at all times. Sometimes I don’t have time for super intense dream work. I just need sleep. Pot helps with this. Someday, I’d love to take like a week and focus on sobriety and meditation, just to see how odd it would get. To even further your point, one of the oddest and most significant spiritual things I’ve ever done involves astral projection. Stone cold sober, listening to tapes to fuck with your head. I eventually abandoned the practice because it was too strange.

          • lazy_friend | Jan 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

            Pot self regulates, but not in the way you are thinking. It also down regulates the brains normal function when you are not intoxicated, making your brain operate at diminished rate, creating depression and fatigue in many . I am all set with being a burned out, drugged out, wanna be magician that does not like doing anything unless their high. Not saying that this is what you are, but being intoxicated every time i tried to perform a ritual or cast a sigil would make me severely addicted. I have experimented with many substances and no stimulants and psychedelics have long term habitual use. Psychadelics like psylocibin here and there to celebrate a special occasion seems to work, but you still have to be careful. Drugs are just for initiation, if you are adept, you don’t need anything besides magic. One is only a magician if their magick works, and if your magicks worked, you would “will’ the sensation you have from drugs to happen without the drugs. Pot heads and addictics love making excuses for their habits but its all denial, what they are using is medicine and should be for short term use and not something that should not be habit forming. I like the occult and mysticism but I also enjoy science when its free from
            corruption. Charlatanism is also a kind of crude occult practice. I am ok with drugs being legal but I am not ok with bias as to their true effects on the body. Don’t confuse drugs and narcotics that are material and scientific with magick and mysticism. Those are two different sides of the coin. You can do it the hard way with science that has its limitations. Or you can choose to rewire reality from the inside out via meditation, sigils, rituals to trigger the subsconcious, occult literature, altering behavior with no nonsense self control, which is true occultism. Just don’t be boasting you are adept at magick when you are relying on materialism, thats bush league. Like I said, drugs are just for initiation, to give you that first peek behind the veil of reality after years of conditioning by society (High Priestess), but they are not the keys, even acompanied with so called spiritual practice, you eventually reach the moon and figure that out or have to content with psychosis and confusion.

          • Thad McKraken | Jan 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

            My magick seems to be working quite well. I’m probably of the more shamanic tradition though. You call it fucking up your brain chemistry, I call it getting high. People have their own ways. It is funny, because spirits basically called me to the occult tradition, and it might have been a way of them saying, hey, you lazy pot smoking porn addicted motherfucker. Well, fortunately for you there’s a spiritual practice that involves pot smoking and porn addiction. Shit seems to work for people like me, Grant Morrison, Robert Anton Wilson, Terrence Mckenna (huge proponent of ganj-i-tating), Alan Moore, etc. Does it work for you? Well, you’d have to figure that out for yourself.

          • lazy_friend | Jan 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm |

            Oh it works, but its not the way of least resistance. I take what I can from such writers, not the pot smoking, porn addiction part of who they are. I figured the porn and pot were spiritual on my own. The spiritual realm is whatever you want it to be, your spiritual practice whatever you make it, such writers are also just initiations, there is no separate agency behind things, just illusions as to their source, its all one. What you are is my shadow, and I battle with you all the time, the only thing that changes is what person you are using to speak your bullshit from. The are many substances, narcotics are just for the ones that can’t move past them or are not worthy to be free from their grasp, their prison. Magic always changes, its a mean on which to bring certain change. Being stagnant will certainly bring you in connection with morbid experiences and projections, no matter how talented one is. You should believe more in your magick. Things greater than your writings would be advanced in the physical realm, where your magick should be crystallising your will, out of the void.

          • lazy_friend | Jan 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

            Read up on the Tarot card “The Devil” and it will totally recall your point of view and what lies behind it. I Hope it helps in your quest.

  3. Chimera Geep | Jan 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

    Hmmm not sure what makes you equate corporatism with Black Magic. That’s a very Christian “good guys vs bad guys” notion which is indeed popular in some circles, but I think you could educate yourself a bit better about the left-hand path.

  4. Gabriel D. Roberts | Jan 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

    Thanks for the lively discussion, All!

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