Does psychedelic experience hold the key to healing our wounded earth ecosystem and our own health as part of it? Could these kinds of experiences be pivotal in a more universal healing of our planet and our relatedness?
Some time ago, walking in the garden with a few psychedelic molecules running around in my system, a new realization dawned on me: As my bare foot made contact with the rich black dirt,I saw in vivid detail how each movement I made resonated in and through world, just as the world resonated in and through me. In this heightened perceptual state, I saw tracer lines radiating from the point where foot met earth, in a symmetrical snowflake pattern, extending through the grass, soil, and rock.
This one small step was a leap in personal consciousness. I felt profoundly connected to the cosmos, the ground, my body, and the space between everything. Prior to this moment, I had a mental model of being ON earth, now I was OF the Gaiasphere. It confirmed, visually and energetically, the intuitive knowing of our deep interconnectedness that often remains below my threshold of perception. The experience came with a direct message of the consciousness and subjectivity of every manifest “thing”, the sublime intelligence of the natural world and our utter dependence on it.
Similarly, my efforts at conservation, which had been a moral and logical choice, now started to come from the heart of my being. Over the next months and years, I found myself increasingly gravitating towards nature, using less, advocating for a more spacious and slower paced life in a body (I must also have a sustainable reality if I am a microcosm of the planet!)
I’m not alone in this. In researching and discussing with peers, I realized many have had similar experiences. Entheogens or consciousness-expanding substances have led many of us to feel this profound bond with and as nature, not just as observers, but as vital parts of the ecosystem. with the boundaries between self and the environment more fungible and permeable. They have shown many of us explicitly that we are never alone but always suspended in a sort of cosmic goo that we call air or space or atmosphere, often with superb visible webs of connectivity.
Psychedelics have also offered many of us deep experiences of profound love and self acceptance, which significantly slows any disharmonious or pathology driven behaviors. And of course, these medicines can foster heightened empathy, extending even to the environment and other life forms. Feeling empathetic towards our planet, or connected and belonging to it, naturally evokes a desire to protect it. Maybe there’s a growing kindness, an altruistic inclination to shield what we are connected to.
Many people undergo personal transformations post-psychedelic experiences, and some, like me, become acutely aware of their actions and their repercussions on the environment. This can manifest in various system friendly ways, from simply doing less and resting more, to being more sustainable toward the self, to adopting non-violent or non-toxic diets, or choosing not to waste resources, or becoming actively involved in environmental protection and restoration and policy. Awareness of connectedness pulls us towards a more sustainable lifestyle, making choices that reflect a newfound reverence for the rest of the living world. And these individual changes add up! Our collective choices, motivated by this kind of direct love, have the potential to drive system scale activation, and significant healing for our planet.
Some of us have also grappled with eco-anxiety, feeling overwhelmed by the extent of our environmental predicament, and even eco-grief or hopelessness. As climate change looms larger, many feel immobilized, unable to confront the issue. The mechanism of action in certain psychoactive substances such as MDMA or Sassafras or Kanna can reduce the fear response, and sometimes remove it altogether, and allow us to look at problems in a new light. Psychedelic helpers can reduce the avoidance that can come with fear, and make space for us to find our own right action. Psychedelics also aid in processing our more challenging emotions, allowing us to approach environmental concerns with a direct and fearless gaze, with hope rather than despair. This shift in perspective can pave the way for proactive, rather than reactive or avoidant solutions.
And of course, as anyone who’s researched LSD and Nobel prize winning insights, knows, psychedelics can also ignite creativity, potentially leading to innovative solutions for pressing environmental issues. This boost in creativity and problem-solving abilities might bring forth approaches to climate change that we haven’t yet considered.
For me and many others, entheogens have reshaped my sense of who I am relative to the rest of nature, and shifted my understanding of right relationship to our world.
As we search for holistic approaches to address climate change, it may be time to consider not only our technological and political tools but also those that touch the human soul and spirit. Technological solutions are important, but the solutions that aid in us feeling more or ourselves and earth, in perceiving our connectedness (such as entheogens) are vital. They can lead us from fear to clarity, they can help us direct all the genius contained in us, and open heartedly guide us, into new paths of action and creative solutions