The vast majority of shamanic cultures do NOT USE hallucinogens!! Get over the current hype and learn the facts. Sonic driving is what brings us outside of time and into the the worlds of the spirits. Partaking in entheogens can interfere with shamanic practices because the spirit of the plant is too strong and can interfere with a clear experience navigated with a myriad of other helping spirits.. shamanism with entheogens is an entirely different technique that bring on information in an entirely different way.
Michael Harner is a world renowned cultural anthropologist who specializes in shamanism and has done his homework. He did start out with ayahuasca but quickly discovered that the drum, which other anthropologists thought was merely an accoutrement, is actually the main tool of the shaman. Or rattle. Or click sticks. Or bow. Gongs.
About entheogens and shamanism:
“From a shamanic point of view, the spirits of such plants not only have power, but they also have their own personalities and messages, which impinge significantly on the nature of the experience. Auditory drumming in many ways does not carry such influences.”
“… a Russian ethnographer who had spent 28 seasons of fieldwork in Siberia, told me that the real Siberian shamans normally employed only the drum to change their state of consciousness, rather than the psychoactive Amanita muscaria mushroom. The mushroom, Simchenko reported, was mainly used by nonshamans who have been unable to journey successfully with the drum alone. Also, he told me it is usually difficult to maintain the discipline necessary for the shamanic work when the Amanita spirit takes over the body.”
both quotes from Michael Harner’s latest book: Cave and Cosmos
This is the same man who wrote Hallucinogens and Shamanism, (a tract of very dry anthropological accounts.. ).He is well versed in the cultures that do use entheogens as well.
So please, please do not equate shamanism with hallucinogens. It is just not true. Being a shamanic practitioner requires years of training, self-transformation, difficult shadow work, empathic and empathetic skills when working with clients and fore-mostly, deep and long-standing relationships with specific (not general) spirits that help the shaman retrieve healing for others.
And some personal notes, the longer one practices, the more sensitive one’s system becomes, so yeah, I have had quite a few unfortunate hallucinatory experiences where I get pushed into places where I am in fear for my life or my sanity or my spirits can’t reach me or the spirit of the plant won’t leave me alone to do my work. Plant spirits are middle worlds spirits. They have a personality and a WAY, an energetic signature which DOES something. They are not in the class of entirely compassionate upper/lower world spirits that most of us prefer to work with. Yes, they will always “bring stuff up” and often there is a big mess to clean up afterwards but it does not always happen in the most compassionate or healing way. Do I need to cry for 12 hours? Or am I just being retraumatized? Do I need to feel insane to find healing?
Sonic driving is pure power, clean and clear. I have taken part in many, many shamanic ceremonies that kicked my ass and sent me to process my shit for months afterwards. I’ve channeled the divine so strongly that it took me a week to physically recover. This is no small beans over here, with the drum.
It is also potentially dangerous taking such substances in unprotected environments. I regularly have clients (and so do my colleagues) who are people who need extraction healing, depossession or soul retrieval after such experiences. This because when your field is entirely open and you are traveling outside your body, it leaves a space for other spirits to come in. It is no light thing to do, so please, please, do not engage in such practices out of sheer peer pressure because it is what ‘everyone is doing’. “Everyone” is not speaking about their true experiences..only the bliss ones. There are many kinds of personality types and some of them are emotionally/psychically closed down that they are pretty safe using psychoactive substances. Because try as they may, they are just not going to leave their body. But for those of us who are super empathic and open, it is an entirely different ball park.
On a happy note, there are some underground facilitators of hallucinogen experiences who are trained in helping your process in the moment. This can be quite valuable for those under such careful care. But this is not shamanism. Shamanism is the practice of going into an altered state with a clear intention to visit one’s spirit friends for the purpose of bringing back healing/insight for the good of one’s community.
Shamanism is not something you ‘get into’. It is a way of life. It is a world view. It is who some of us are.
Please see this very relevant video: Michael Harner on Sonic Driving vs. Entheogens