I received this email today from an a person who wishes to remain anonymous following a radio broadcast myself and Adam from cerebralrevolt.com did last night concerning the potential social/political implications of DMT (culture) becoming the new LSD. The following information I believe is an important addendum to last night's conversation:
Thanks for the show last night. It was thought provoking. I guess you knew I might pop up with a response. Got me thinking so, seeing as you are taking an interest in the subject, here’s my opinion as someone who has investigated the subject of DMT/Ayahuasca in an experiential way, for what its worth.
I think you know I am not a believer or a joiner and I’m not naïve so I feel able to fully try things out without being taken in or mentally overtaken by them. So far at least! I’ve done about 20 of these ceremonies. I would do it again because on the whole I found it beneficial. I’m not interested in smoking DMT, it holds no appeal to me. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the details of my personal experiences or proselytise to you about it.
Firstly DMT is already illegal and has been in the UK since 1971. I’m not sure about its status in Ireland but it seems to be a class a/schedule1, illegal drug pretty much everywhere. When Ayahuasca ceremonies started gaining popularity 15 years or so ago they kind of sneaked through the legal system due to the fact that a) it was unknown and b) you had to combine the two plants in order to get an active substance and on their own neither plant was practically illegal.
Police raided a ceremony in the UK organised by the Santo Daime church in Devon in 2010 and set a precedent for prosecuting the Ayahuasca brew as being DMT here. Up until then ceremonies were taking place regularly and were fairly openly advertised. That has now stopped although a few underground ceremonies still persist. Some countries like Holland, Switzerland and Spain haven’t yet fully banned the Ayahuasca form, although they do have clear laws against synthesized DMT. I’ve been trying to find its status in Ireland but, so far can’t find anything clear. (been illegal since 2003 - Thomas)
It’s already very much a religion. The Brazilian Santo Daime church and the União do Vegetal, (UDV) have been holding Ayahuasca ceremonies since the 1930’s. The Daime church is not an alternative or hippy scene thing; its members are ordinary people from the barrios of Sth America. The UDV have special dispensation to use Ayahuasca in some countries, (including the US) on account of them being an official church.
Most of the ceremonies in Europe were in the Daime style, meaning they take place in a lit room and involve music and dancing although they have become more hippyfied and new age because of the people attending and now running them. With Ayahuasca now banned in the UK, Daime people have stopped doing ceremonies. This has probably contributed to the rise of the dodgy “gringo shaman” with westerners getting involved in putting on ceremonies both in their own countries and in the Amazon. I’m not really into the happy clappy ceremonies… they scare the pants off me!
The visions that people get smoking synthesized DMT in a city seem to be very different to the ones people get with the natural Ayahuasca brew in a church or jungle setting.
Smoked DMT seems to create rather digitized, mechanistic visions in some people with technology and alien visitations being a feature. This is not surprising as most young westerners are now completely immersed in technology and sci fi mythology.
In a shamanic context, Ayahuasca ceremonies take place mostly in the dark with a “maestro” or “maestra” singing and performing healing rites and casting out bad spirits etc. The visions are more nature based, featuring plant and animal spirits with shamanic type effects occurring like transforming into animals, healing phenomenon, mini-deaths, divination etc.
In the Daime church the visions are more about celebrating community, evoking collective feeling, humility, devotion, prayer and mutual support. The Daime church is considered a syncretic religion in which religious figures from all over the world are honored at their alter.
It seems reasonable to conclude that a) the nature of the “mareacion”, (Ayahuasca visions), largely reflects the context and form in which the substance is taken and b) the visions will also highlight the unconscious preoccupations of the taker.
DMT is never, in my opinion, going to become popular in the way that LSD was for three main reasons.
1) In its smokeable form, it’s way too intense and will therefore remain of peripheral interest to psychonauts and as a short-term obsession with a few wild kids in the same way that smokeable salvia divonorum is.
2) In its Ayahuasca form it’s too difficult to produce. Therefore it’s going to stay largely within the context of formal ceremonies. Ceremonies have steadily increased in popularity over the last 15 years and may become slightly more popular in the near future BUT, because they are now banned in most countries, taking it, increasingly involves a trip to the Amazon, something the average person is not going to do. So in the near future it seems likely that Ayahuasca use will peak and then trail off.
3) Unlike LSD it is almost impossible to produce it as a pill or ingestible liquid and no such thing is currently available. The construction of a “half life” pill that is first able to release the mao inhibitor then the DMT molecule in the right quantities and at the right time involves very sophisticated technology that only big pharma is capable of mass producing. So it’s not going to become a party drug like acid, MDMA or even mushrooms any time soon. With mushrooms its possible to neck a few and head off out. You just can’t do that with Ayahuasca or DMT.
I think you are right about Ayahuasca being about to break fully as a story in the mass media. All the signs are there and it’s already starting to. As a result, even more people who have been doing it will come forward and sing its praises and of course there will be a backlash that demonises it and incidences of abuse will be brought to light that put people off. They already are.
Can it be co-opted by the PTB into something they can use to their advantage?
Outside of a few nut-jobs, nobody I can think of who has done it, sees it as a quick or easy fix because, as you know, for most people, it’s an uncomfortable, sometimes terrifying ordeal that faces you with a whole heap of denied aspects of your unconscious, not to mention your own mortality.
I have seen a couple of cases of ego-inflation and saccharine new age fakery with it mind you but, I suspect they were that way anyway. It’s certainly not the norm. It’s probable that those people are the most vocal about it so they seem to represent it… they don’t! In reality, the Daime Church goers, are quietly and by far the biggest group of people using Ayahuasca today.
The thing that is positively different about Ayahuasca when compared to other psychedelics is that for the 3 reasons I mentioned earlier it is likely to remain held within a ceremonial setting, which is not a bad thing. Although some dodgy fuckers are and will run ceremonies and there will be more nasty incidents. No doubt!