Ancestral Psychedelic Therapy™
Posted by: Carlos Tanner
Psychedelic therapy has burst into global awareness in the past decade. Thanks to pioneers willing to explore and research the healing potential of substances like psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, and other psychedelics, a new field of medicine is quickly emerging. Psychedelic therapy has been proven to provide tremendous benefit in the treatment of anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, PTSD, and chronic pain. Prestigious institutions like Johns Hopkins, Imperial College, UC Berkeley, Yale, NYU, and organizations like MAPS and the Beckley Foundation have devoted millions to psychedelic research. New treatment centers are already in operation as a movement to legalize psychedelics also spreads across the United States and the globe. It is inevitable that future generations will be able to use psychedelics to improve their health and well-being without the stigma or legal issues that were associated with their use for the last fifty years.
It is so wonderful to see this process of expanded awareness and acceptance of psychedelic use unfolding. While it appears that most of the funding and research is being done in clinical settings and within the modern medical paradigm, there is also some ‘fringe’ research being done on the psychedelics that have been used for much longer than the synthesized or pharmaceutical drugs at the center of attention within the field of psychedelic therapy. Plant medicines like ayahuasca, peyote, san pedro, iboga, and others have been used for countless generations within complex and highly developed healing traditions. Anthropology has shown that these shamanic practices were part of human ancestry in every corner of the world. Every human being alive today had ancestors who relied on plant medicines to maintain their health and well-being. These ancestral healing traditions are the origins and roots of all psychedelic therapy.
The distinction between synthetic and natural
Unlike pharmaceutical drug use, ancestral psychedelic therapies, like those practiced in the Amazon rainforest with ayahuasca, do not operate within the same paradigm as modern medicine. As evidenced by intact shamanic practices of indigenous groups, our ancestors did not perceive the world and our role in it from the same perspective as most people do today. Ancestral psychedelic therapies work within a world view that is quite distinct from the modern medical paradigm. Therefore, a distinct understanding and approach is necessary to truly ascertain the value of plant medicines like the ayahuasca healing traditions. The ideologies and methodologies of these traditions are incredibly important, perhaps even more important than the medicinal substances ingested. If the tradition is not given its proper value or overlooked because the modern medical paradigm focuses too much on aspects of chemistry and biology, a significant portion of potential benefit may be lost.
Ancestral psychedelic therapy™ cannot be understood properly from a modern medical perspective, which views a pharmaceutical drug as responsible for any healing taking place, due to chemical reactions in the biological system. Within the ancestral paradigm, a medicine like ayahuasca does not heal a person, even though we might credit it with such healing because of the modern cultural paradigm. Rather, the work that is done during an ayahuasca ceremony heals a person. That healing work operates within an amazing science of spirit and consciousness that forms the core of the ancestral paradigm, but is nearly absent entirely from the modern medical paradigm.
So, while psychedelic therapy is a huge step forward in medicine and the potential for a deeper understanding of the healing process, there is a clear distinction within this new field of medicine between what could be considered clinical or pharmaceutical psychedelic therapy and ancestral psychedelic therapy. The modern medicine community and all of modern culture would benefit a great deal by respecting our ancestors’ understanding and use of plant medicines by striving to learn more about the ancestral paradigm that sustained human life for the last one hundred thousand years on Earth. Plant medicine traditions like ayahuasca still work within this paradigm, and because of this, the ideologies and methodologies of the ayahuasca healing tradition are so powerful and effective as evidenced by recent research. Ancestral psychedelic therapy reconnects us to our ancestral wisdom, to the roots of our healing arts, to the core of our true nature.