Drugs and Magic
The majority of spiritual traditions in human history psychedelic drugs have been central to their practice; this is not an opinion but historical fact.
According to Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal Herbs, and the Occult by Chris Bennett, drugs, especially weed, have been used by magicians and shamans for thousands of years. It’s a well-researched book, and he does a decent job of presenting the historical evidence without much speculation.
But what happens when psychedelic/ psychotropic drugs become an addiction?
Drugs maybe are great for an introduction, but they are almost certainly something that can’t be relied on in the long run. It can pretty amazing for ritual (as you might imagine), but it can also be super distracting.
They can unlock doors, but they don’t give you access to anything that isn’t already within you. They can also open doors before you are ready. You don’t know what is waiting for you when those doors opened……
They allow you to see/open doors, but the real test is to come back and do it again on your own.
With any drug that is taken, even the sacred drugs, there are side effects.
Hacking the brain’s ability to achieve the states you desire through will and the body alone is NOT the same as when under the influence of drugs. Don’t get me wrong, those drugs have their own spirits and energies and can help to teach, but YOU are not them.
Mushrooms, for example, aren’t magical, we are. Everything you experience is coming from your brain, not the drug; your body already has the ability to produce those states. As we are energetic beings the electrical charges being sent between our neurons in our brain constitute the building blocks of our consciousness, our experience, our reality, our memories, our abilities, etc. We exist as the realization of pure energy; we are the vibration, oscillation, and reverberation of energy that can harness this mass of molecules we inherited to explore and realize the nature of existence for what it really is.
Rather than psychedelics “amplifying” what we literally already are, I believe they actually slow down or stop the filtering function of the brain.
Drugs have a greater chance of hurting your efforts than of helping them so making them a part of your regular practice is a generally bad idea. YOU have to do the work, not the drugs. If you see them more as a way of “getting there fast”, then you are lazy. Quit magic before you become addicted.
Mix psychotropic drugs you’re just inviting trouble. I’ve seen enough of it going the wrong way for most people. Just because it works for them and their body chemistry doesn’t mean it will work for others. I’m not gonna mention shamanistic drug use, talking strictly about drug addiction, which is the opposite of spiritual. Drug addiction is slavery to indulgence, which is the densest kind of physical vice. It’s the opposite of fasting, so the contrast should be obvious…
A substance which helps bring you into a more receptive an open mindset could be of benefit. Like training wheels for a bicycle. You can peddle, and steer, and not fall off. But you will not have learned to balance or ride the bike on your own.
Taking a drug adds no new knowledge to a practitioner. They learn nothing. They just scramble their brain for a while in a way that pings feelings of enlightenment and gnosis without the achievement that should accompany them. The mind is too powerful, I think, to be played with like that. We can already accomplish those feelings through honest pursuit. If the journey takes longer for some than for others, they have more opportunity to observe along the way – what use is a shortcut, if indeed it is such and not a dead end?
In my experience, the “portal” is inside of you, and things like meditation, yoga are tools to help you find it easier. Sleep deprivation and fasting are easy ways to reach an altered state, usually accompanied by aural and/or visual hallucinations. This is the drug-free method. You could stay up on meth for a few days and reach the same state but the side effects of the drug include paranoia, which in extreme cases can lead to psychosis. Also, the come down is terrible.
Drugs are fun toys, and like Legos, they can be used creatively and artistically. But when it comes to spirituality, you need architecture.
I think Alan Watts once said “they are a phone call – but once you’ve got the message you hang up the phone”
They can play a significant role when used as a tool by someone who understands that tool. There are no shortcuts. Everything is a tool we decide to use to develop ourselves. It depends on what you do with your tools. What do you want to create?
But……. Isn’t magick a drug in and of itself?