Not a lot of people that know me through my psychedelic work know about one of my biggest loves:
But more relevant to my psychedelic work; punk ethos.
Punk and its associated ideas have played a huge part in my growing up, my identity, and the person I’ve become. A lot of the values I hold are also shared by punk as a movement.
If you think punk is all about people getting angry and shouting “fuck the system”, I’d like to show you that there is much more.
Here are some crossovers between punk and psychedelics.
Punk challenges conformity. It challenges the norms of society. In a world where we’re burning our own house down, where corruption and inequality are rife, I think it’s a good time for us to challenge a few social and cultural norms.
If I conformed to the rules of the world, and the laws set in place by governments, I never would’ve started on my psychedelic journey. I never would’ve been able to receive these beautiful, wonderful, and healing experiences.
I never would’ve become able to help others on their psychedelic journeys either.
“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”
– Dr Martin Luther King
Punk as a movement is anti-authority. It allows people to form their own beliefs rather than being handed them by people who are in positions, or supposed positions, of authority. Punk encourages you to question authority.
Do you believe what you believe because this belief has been passed on to you? Or have you come to this conclusion yourself through your own reasoning, agency, and experience? Punk encourages us to become our own authority and to discover truth for ourselves.
Psychedelics encourage us to find our own truths too. They help us to face truths, sometimes they will reveal them even if they’re f-ing uncomfortable.
As a genre of music, punk is pretty expressive.
Punk doesn’t repress. Punk lets it out and lets it rip.
And psychedelics encourage this in us too. Psychedelics do not reward suppression or repression of our deeply held emotions or beliefs. In fact, they punish them. They will often squeeze them out of us. Even those which may seem to be pretty full-on.
Some say punk is all about needless anger, for me it’s about standing up for what you believe in and being honest with yourself about things that you’re not cool with. It’s about not having your boundaries crossed.
As Pema Chödrön says, there is compassion, and then there is idiot compassion:
“For example, trying to smooth everything out to avoid confrontation, not to rock the boat, is not what’s meant by compassion or patience. It’s what is meant by control. Then you are not trying to step into unknown territory, to find yourself more naked with less protection and therefore more in contact with reality. Instead, you use the idiot forms of compassion and so forth just to get ground.”
Psychedelics encourage acceptance, but likewise, there is acceptance and then there is idiot acceptance. Idiot acceptance is pretending we’re OK with things and that it’s all love and roses when it’s not, it’s being soft when we actually need to draw a line.
Finally, something that comes from the punk movement but for me is very relevant to my psychedelic practice is the DIY ethic. With various organizations looking to establish themselves as gatekeepers in the psychedelic space I think this is becoming more and more important.
DIY as a subculture was brought forward by the punk movement of the 1970s.
Punks would release their own music on self-funded record labels, create and publish their own books and zines, put on their own shows, and book their own tours – without relying on an external source of authority or permission. Artists like Black Flag were trailblazers in the movement of underground do-it-yourself record labels within the subculture, exemplary in their tireless promotion of an autonomous DIY punk ethic and aesthetic.
Before the technological advances of the last few decades, this was a huge deal.
This ethic is something that informs my own psychedelic practice. I learned to DIY with psychedelics. I learned to journey solo and self-organize sessions with friends. Without therapists or guides.
And man I’m so glad I did. I love helping others to learn to DIY and self-organize, and I want to help you learn to DIY and self-organize. Because like punk I believe in the decentralization of power. I believe in the dissolution of the old systems that have led to this breaking point we stand as a species, as a global society.
I also love jumping around to some fast pumping riffs and jumping off the stage for a cheeky little crowd surf from time to time. Try it out, it’s hella fun.