Respect is a fundamental aspect of any healthy relationship.

The same goes for y/our relationship with psychedelics.

Many people don’t receive the full gifts of psychedelics and I would say that’s due to a lack of respect. Psychedelics are some of, if not the most powerful tools available to humanity. I’ve spoken enough times about what they’re capable of and Julian Vayne gave us a whole host of reasons on day one so I won’t go over all that again now. Just consider that they have the power to literally change lives.

Though psychedelics are now beginning to gain credence and credibility in the western world, they are not a new thing and they are not a passing trend. Psychedelics have been revered by humanity in various parts of the world and by various cultures for literally thousands of years. They’ve been used for healing, learning and growth. They’ve been named the flesh of the gods. They’ve been worshipped and used as a sacred sacrament. Them being a hot new medicalised trend in the west now belies their ancient history and humanity’s deep relationship with them.

Why Respect Psychedelics?

Having a baseline of respect towards psychedelics allows one to really learn as much as possible from their use. In some cultures they are called maestros, which means masters, or teachers. If you consider a psychedelic session to be a meeting with one of the ancient masters of mankind, then I would personally consider that appointment to be a pretty important date in my calendar and with someone I would have a lot of respect for.

Imagine, for example, that you play tennis. Now imagine that you somehow you managed to get a lesson or a coaching session with Roger Federer. Now if you were serious about tennis you would want to make the most of that time with him and soak up as much of his expertise as you could. Before the session you would make sure to rest well, take care of your diet, and show up with the right equipment. You would also want to be mentally prepared to carefully listen to him and take in as many of his tips as you could. If you really wanted to make the most of it you would also make notes on the session afterwards, writing down tips that he gave you so that you could revisit them and really implement them into your game.

OK so maybe that was a bit of a strange example but I hope it illustrates a point. The difference with psychedelics is that they are far and beyond Roger Federer (No offence, RF, love you man). In a consciously oriented psychedelic session you can be shown things very deep and very personal to you that no one else is going to be able to show you. This is because they are from the unconscious depths of your own psyche. They are parts of you that no one else has access to, including your non psychedelic self.

Some of that stuff may shock and surprise you. Psychedelics can be very honest and no-nonsense teachers. If you can imagine someone who is able to push all your buttons, who knows all the different parts of you that you really don’t want to know about, then that’s someone you should probably respect.

Casual Relationships

Now there are many people who have taken psychedelics and say “yeah well that’s no big deal, I took shrooms and saw some funny shapes and flashy colors”. If you see psychedelics merely as drugs which provide unusual experiences with no value beyond their novelty then you may well not get much more from them. Any insights or truths that you may glean from your sessions can simply be brushed off as a weird drug experience or dressed down by way of “well yeah, I was really high when I thought that”. To that I’d say, you get out what you put in. If you’ve taken it to see squiggly lines and funny colors then maybe that’s all you’ll get.

On the other hand, maybe it was just a question of dose. Many people have taken psychedelics with a more casual or lax intention only to find themselves deep in an experience where they are being shown their traumas and some very uncomfortable things about themselves. When psychedelics are given that control by way of a big enough dose, they don’t ask for respect, they command it. So if you’re planning to take a big dose, just upfront respect it, and be prepared to be shown some uncomfortable truths.

Does this mean that you can’t have fun with psychedelics? I don’t think so. But just as a healthy relationship with a friend that you would have fun with would be based on respect, so should your relationship with psychedelics. I think it’s useful to not take fun as a given if that’s your intention and to be prepared for some bumps on the road.

If you have a casual relationship with psychedelics, consider the groundbreaking discoveries that have been made by people through careful use of psychedelics. A topical example is the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction, the technology behind the PCR tests used for the coronavirus. PCR is a method that allows scientists to take a very small sample of DNA and amplify it to a large enough amount to study in detail. PCR was invented in 1983 by the American biochemist Kary Mullis, who credited LSD for the inspiration, and went on to win a Nobel prize for this work. 

Respect the Origins

Respect can also be broadened to include where the psychedelic comes from. The origin of the substance, plant or fungi. This is a good way to deepen the connection and respect for your psychedelic of choice. 

If it’s LSD, consider the chemist working away with his instruments in his lab to prepare that substance for you. If it’s a plant, ask: where does this come from? Are you using it in a sustainable way which is going to allow that plant to continue its life force? Do you respect enough that you’re willing to allow that species to continue its survival, so that both yourself and other humans, potential future generations, can continue to have a relationship with it and receive its benefits? Or do you see it as a resource to be extracted and used for your own personal gain, with no care given to if you make this plant species extinct? Conservation is a relevant consideration now, especially in how psychedelics have come into the western materialist mindset that views nature as something to be taken advantage of and dominated, rather than living in harmony with. Many psychedelic plants are in danger now because of this type of relationship with nature, and there are conservation concerns around plants such as peyote, iboga, and the toads secreting 5-MeO-DMT.

Read more: An Urgent Plea to Users of Psychedelics: Let’s Consider a More Ethical Menu of Plants and Compounds

Growing Deeper

I’m currently working on creating a course for psychedelic explorers to deepen and broaden both their relationship and practice with psychedelics. In the early stages of thinking about who this course is for, the first thing I wrote down was people who respect the power of psychedelics. This is because I want to work with people who are serious about using these incredible tools. These are the kind of people I want to connect with and serve. I don’t want dabblers or people who are flippant or nonchalant about psychedelic use. I’m after serious explorers who value psychedelics for the power they behold. Those are the people I want to attract and align with and work alongside.

If you’re hoping to have a good relationship with psychedelics and to help manifest the gifts which they can bestow upon us and the world, then it starts with respect.

Do you respect psychedelics?