Dear Michael, thank you for the (rather) lengthily document entitled ‘Democratizing Psychedelics: Why Community Should Lead The Way’. I can see that you have put some thought to this work.
As you know, I have been ‘around’ ‘The Flying Sage’ site and WhatsApp chats for a couple of months now. I have been feeling out the terrain to see if it resonates with my own work as a shamanic practitioner. Thank you, by the way, for providing the opportunity to do so J
As I have been in the psychedelic space since 1970, I have had ample time to formulate my own thoughts about the safe use of psychedelics.
We learn from Chris Bache’s  monumental work ‘LSD and the Mind of the Universe’ that a powerful psychedelic can be used with minimal supervision (his wife would sit for him) by SOME individuals. Chris has a PHD in Theology, I believe, so he is blessed with a capable mind, as I see it. However, based on my own experience, I do not believe that LSD is safe to consume without supervision for a large percentage of the population. And I do not think that most people would benefit from an unsupervised acid trip. After consuming LSD for many years I can verify this last statement personally. No benefit at all.
We have a far better opportunity to ensure the safety of the participant when we are able to review that person’s medical history and, perhaps, their lifestyle and desires.  And, provide a safe container, by way of a shamanic hosted ceremony or a therapeutic session, hosted by a qualified practitioner.
Chris Kilham, aka the medicine hunter (although I do not know whether he still goes by that name), has said, “The benefits received from taking a psychedelic will be directly proportional to the degree in which the experience was spiritual.”
This is further supported in Dr. Neil Goldsmith’s book, “Psychedelic Healing” when he states, “We call people neurotic when, in reality, it’s not a medical illness they are suffering from, but spiritual immaturity. We must redefine spirituality, too, not as supernatural, but as simply the natural unfolding toward the wise, mature end of the normal curve of human developmental psychology.”
I am convinced that the most beneficial psychedelic experience will also be spiritual in nature.
You generalize when you speak about the (possible) benefits of consuming psychedelics; however, there are no guarantees, and a psychedelic is not a panacea. We have a far better opportunity to help those in need when we create a safe container and offer the medicine from a knowing, experienced, and open heart.
I worry that your work and philosophy are not that far removed from the assertions made by prominent figure heads in the 1960s when LSD escaped from the labs and was released into an unsuspecting public. Education alone will not save humanity from poor choices and bad trips.
As I said earlier, I do not wish to pay to be a part of The Flying Sage. I will remain on the WhatsApp chat for now where I have received some welcome announcements of late, the 2 upcoming festivals for example, in which I think I can make a positive and loving contribution.
To which Michael responded –
Thanks for your thoughts here! Really appreciate you taking the time to read through the article. I thought I would reply to some of the points you made here.
I do not intend to promote unsupervised use in my writing. Although solo journey work might be suitable for some people like Mr.Bache or folks that have developed mature relationships with medicines, I am advocating that most people have supervision most of the time. I am arguing however that this supervision can often come in the form of a trip-sitter, not necessarily a guide. A guide will always be better in situations where people can afford one… but i think a trip-sitter will do just fine if there is enough education.
I am sure you are aware of all the exciting advancements in AI as of late. I suspect that within a year’s time there will be AI systems that can take care of all of the screening work typically done by a medical team or guide. I would argue that at that time, the AI system will actually be far superior to any human’s ability to screen. Might be a little sci-fi but I think we are rapidly approaching this inflexion point.
I agree with Chris. I have always said that the biggest predictor of a transformational experience is contact with the mystical.
If there was something specific I said that made it seem like I feel psychedelics could be a panacea, please let me know as I would like to adjust the wording. I do not think psychedelics are a magical cure and I agree with you that “we have a far better opportunity to help those in need when we create a safe container and offer the medicine from a knowing, experienced, and open heart.” My argument is that community can offer this. When a community is composed of many different practitioners with diverse backgrounds and skill-sets, it becomes a better resource in my opinion than a single guide.
Education alone is not the answer. But education combined with community structures and professional support (both human and artificial) I think could hold the key.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
And… my response…
Hello Michael, I hope that you are having a nice day.
I can see that we hail from wildly diverging points of view and one of the few things we seem to agree on is that psychedelic medicine can help a lot of people. Perhaps it is the difference in our ages; although, it is hard to imagine that our difference of 40 odd years is a lot of time, given how ancient is the use of these medicines.
My comment regarding psychedelic medicine as a panacea is mine alone, no inference was intended.
As a shamanic practitioner I cringe when I hear the words business and spiritual work used together. Likewise, a computer AI application is about as far removed from traditional indigenous culture and shamanic practice as I can imagine. Although technology has, indeed, made some of our lives easier, it is also one of the many catalysts which have made many of us sick.
I will be watching, with interest, your work and others in this regard.