To The Entheogen Revolution?
Josh Wickerham, © The Michigan Daily (Thursday, April 5, 2001)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A lot of ink has been spilled over civil rights battles.
Blood too, for that matter. And pontificators have given us our last civil
rights fights for a long time. They say affirmative action is the last battle.
They say gay rights is the last battle. They might even say that political
correctness is a civil rights battle. But what has not been addressed is the freedom
of consciousness movement.
Let's get this out in the open: I'm talking about psychedelics -- the taboo little topic
that few have dusted off since the fallout of the '60s. But that word
"psychedelic" is loaded with fear. A more straightforward label is
entheogen, which literally means "generating the divine within." In laymen's
terms, that means "becoming god." We could also go with a purely
phenomenological description and call them "consciousness expanding agents"
because that's what they do.
Whatever the case, I'll let you in on a little secret: The last decade has been secretly
psychedelic. And we have all been primed and ready for an explosion of
consciousness. To get to that point, we must have an idea of where to direct our
energies. The best way to do this is through a common goal of cognitive liberty.
Cognitive liberty is the belief that we have the inalienable right to achieve, through the
use of mind-altering plants and drugs, any state of consciousness we choose -- not just
the socially acceptable ones.
What we need is a new definition of the word "drug." The late philosopher of
consciousness, Terence McKenna, said a drug is anything that causes unexamined, compulsive
behavior. A drug, then, is something that consumes our lives. By this
definition, a cigarette is a drug, caffeine is a drug and alcohol is a drug. When we
look at it from this perspective, television is also a drug. And the average
American spends three to seven hours every day getting intimately hooked to the flickering
I-V of the cathode ray tube. Yet television eats at our creative faculties like a
cancer, alcohol dumbs us down ( and helps us mingle -- woohoo ), while cigarettes are
nothing but dirty syringes for nicotine injection. These substances are socially
acceptable and perfectly legal -- all the while causing serious harm at astronomical
It all comes down to allowing people the right to experiment with marginal states of
consciousness. Right now most of us operate on a very narrow band of habitual
behavior that is closed to realms of imagination and possibility. We are a species
Pioneering minds have used entheogens. It's no secret that Steve Jobs, the creative
zest behind Apple Computers, dropped acid. Bill Gates, in an obscure Playboy
interview, all but admitted that some of his formative experiences came from
mind-expanding substances. Entheogens break down boundaries of habitual, unexamined
behavior and aid in the creative process. Yet most of us are still locked in the
termite mind of man. This cannot stand. We've been lied to. It is time
The war on drugs is not a war on substances; it's a war on states of mind.
Entheogens are not illegal because a loving government is concerned that you're
going to hurt yourself by smoking pot or tripping in your bedroom. Entheogens are
illegal because they make you question authority. They break down socially
constructed fables and cleanse the doors of perception. They make you question the
wrongs of society in a fundamental way, making you dangerous. You're like Neo in The
Matrix when all of the illusions of reality have been irrevocably stripped away.
Not that everyone should use entheogens. Far from it. Experiencing ecstasy is
not pleasant. It's like being grabbed by the spine and shaken until every sense and
emotion blurs, recombines, expands, digitizes and becomes unspeakable. Yet it is
also a birthright and is as fundamental to the human experience as sex.
Consciousness determines everything. An important battle for the freedom of our
mental landscapes is brewing. And it never takes more than five percent of the
population to start a revolution. Actually, it's never been more than that.