Psychedelic Renaissance — Fad or Fab?

By Frédéric Cherri
Therapist, shamanic practitioner, retreat & workshop leader, ceremonialist and speaker.
Summary
Plant and Earth medicines are on the rise. Whilst this must be a good thing, the profound respect that imbues all ancestral medicines practices seems to be desecrated. And some questions need to be asked: Is the Psychedelic Renaissance a good thing? What is the best way to prevent operators to adapt millennial practices into practices that address the self-serving interest of a few over the many?

Plant and Earth medicines are on the rise.

In the United States only, a growing number of states have voted to move forward with decriminalising psychedelics and legalising adult-use.

In other countries like Holland, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy and Germany we are also seeing profound changes in the regulation and decriminalisation of ancestral medicines.

Ketamines, MDMA, Psilocybin and soon Ayahuasca extracts, DMT, N-NMT, Mescaline and others are the objects of reviews and new protocols and approvals.

From Health regulating organisations (FDA in the US, the HPBF in Canada and others in other countries) to legislative bodies, doctors and users, the benefits of ancestral medicines and psychedelics are now the new frontier of healing and wellness.

On the commercial front, Venture Capital based initiatives worldwide are simply mind boggling, in scope, and vastness of funds invested in new ventures rushing into protocols and clinical based trials to operate urban clinics offering psychedelic-assisted therapies.

Conversely international cooperation with education bodies and large universities is accelerating at an impressive rate with every university, worldwide, now integrating Research departments into their own infrastructures, often in cooperation with corporations.

The gold-rush has started.

A new industry is born and the next 3 years will show the results of the explosion. Not 10, not even 5 — give it only 3 years and you will witness our old ways of healing crumbling to give way to new thinking about our health, our growth and our transformation.

And the pharmaceutical industry is watching — some of them are already participating and contributing. They won’t be left in the dust.

It raises many questions that I don’t have an answer for, yet, but from my perspective it’s become important to address a few points:

The rise of Psychedelic-Assisted-Therapy is clear about one thing: it’s here to stay
It will provide solutions and care for millions of people worldwide
It will change the way we deal with depression, PTSD, addiction and many other afflictions

I’m all for it, big time: for three decades I’ve watched people suffer in a clinical context.

Yet, as a person who has also studied and practised ancestral medicines with many different traditions I have a clear understanding of a few points:
The medicines used in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies are all chemically based
The ‘Spirit’ of the medicine itself is extracted and obliterated by the process that results in a lab-made compound.
As an example, many Venture capital funded companies are trying, and succeeding, in extracting molecular variations from Ayahuasca and Bufo Alvarius (DMT), Psilocybin and others to come. A few of them are also looking into Mescaline. They all arrive at synthesised versions of the psychoactive substances within a plant or an earth medicine.

The goal for these commercial operations is to modify ever so slightly the molecule so they can claim patents on these compounds — Usual commercial warfare. Nothing new there.

The Spirit has gone

But in the process of ‘extracting’ or synthesising a compound they have to use solvents, bases that are chemically affecting the extraordinary synergistics dynamics that exist within the initial natural medicine to achieve its mission which is to support our healing.

In short, and to put it bluntly, any human interference with nature eradicates the Spirit of the medicine.

Work with these medicines with intention and humble vulnerability and you come to understand that the essence of the work achieved in ceremonial spaces is thanks to the Spirit of the medicine, not the chemical compound (DMT or others).

The importance of ceremonial space

In all indigenous traditions, the careful use of these medicines is done in ‘ceremony’ circles, the community gathers around the person or the object in need of healing. The restoration of balance and harmony in people, communities and nature is achieved by a group effort.
These ceremonies will not be found in urban clinics or settings.

The crucial lack of skills

At the same time, the boom of the Psychedelic Renaissance will require a vast number of skilled ‘clinicians’. This ‘boom’ is only matched by another, this time in the modern education system. All large world Universities are pouring resources into new psychedelic research and departments.
We are also assisting in a profound reform of all the psycho-professions. A vast number of psychotherapists, psychologists and even psychiatrists are interested in the promise of the psychedelic revolution.

A flurry of new ‘conversion’ or ‘up-skilling’ programs seeks to contextualise the use of psychedelics within the psychology domain.
None of them are inspired from the millenary ceremonial practices of the First Peoples of this planet. None of them are in any way acknowledging the lineage. The profound respect that imbues all ancestral medicines practices is desecrated.

As we know, history repeats itself and some questions need to be asked:
Is the Psychedelic Renaissance a good thing?
What is the best way to prevent operators to adapt millennial practices into practices that address the self-serving interest of a few over the many?

I’m impatient to hear your views.
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