Transcending Boundaries: Identity and Oppression Within Psychedelic Culture

Wise words from VTSeeker48, of the DMT-Nexus, highlighting how even the so called counter-culture still heavily suffers from the conditioning and pitfalls of existing within the framework of western society. Via The Nexian:

cyb metamorph

Cyb – Metamorph

“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.”

“Part of what psychedelics do is they decondition you from cultural values. This is what makes it such a political hot potato. Since all culture is a kind of con game, the most dangerous candy you can hand out is one which causes people to start questioning the rules of the game.”

–Terence Mckenna

The popularity of psychedelic experiences has skyrocketed in recent years with the advent of the internet and widespread acclaim of Ayahuasca and DMT. Transformational music festivals are spreading across the globe at an astonishing rate while breeding a unique and trendy sub-culture. As this neo-psychedelic culture evolves and grows, important questions are being raised.

With such an increasing demand for plant medicines around the world, we are seeing people profit off of the destruction of ecosystems and the defacement of beautiful plants simply so that Joe Shmo can order root bark online. How sustainable is psychedelic culture, and what steps can we take to ensure that these teachers are here for future generations to explore? With the incredible speed at which so called “conscious” music festivals are springing up, how can we create spaces that are both transformational and sustainable? Are these festivals even supposed to be sustainable in the first place, or are they simply big parties for people to get away from dominant culture? What is dominant culture anyways and how does it play out in the spaces we create? As psychedelics help us to transcend conditioned conceptualizations of identity and culture, how can we apply these realizations to our daily lives?

All of these are important questions that must be addressed by our community if we wish to see ourselves as having a legitimate role in the ongoing struggle for an autonomous and sustainable world. This said, most of the dialogue that I’ve seen taking place so far has been focused on the environmental implications of the psychedelic experience. As an environmentalist, I am absolutely ecstatic to see this happening. But even so, we live in an interdependent universe; no struggle is separate or more important than the collective human struggle for a peaceful and functional world. To quote Audre Lorde, a radical black feminist and civil rights activist, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

So without disregarding the urgent need for an ecologically minded culture, I would like to make the point that the environmental issues that we face today are one in the same as the systems of racism, patriarchy, and classism that have come to dominate our lives, and that our efforts towards creating an all-inclusive and sustainable psychedelic revolution are moot points if we fail to recognize how entrenched we are in the dominant power structures of society.

I grew up in a small and rural state that is over 98% white folks. As a person of color, growing up in such a non-diverse state exposed me to the myriad of ways that white-supremacy continues to dominate our culture while remaining invisible to most white people. I was never very good at sports, but because of my African heritage it was expected of me. The fact that I was not good at playing basketball was a qualitatively “white” trait according to the other kids at school. I was constantly questioned for not speaking the way black people are “supposed” to speak, or dressing the way we’re “supposed” to dress. Even my teachers seemed surprised that I was as academically competent as white students. There were about three or four black students I attended high school with, and the white kids would rank us according to who was the most black. My hair was a constant source of stress; white kids found it “exotic” and took it upon themselves to touch it, grope it, or stick pencils and other objects in it; things that if they did to a white student they would be punished for.  Even before I ever experimented with cannabis or substances of any kind, it was a regular incidence that white students would approach me asking to buy drugs because they genuinely assumed I must use and sell drugs simply because of the color of my skin. The fact that I didn’t take substances at the time was a surprise to people, like it was some sort of anomaly. I was tokenized by close friends for being their one black friend; as if I were an object one could own to prove that they weren’t racist.

Read the rest on The Nexian.