“Asia’s crowed, Europe’s too old
Africa’s hot and Canada’s too cold
And South America stole our name
Let’s drop the big one
There’ll be no one left to blame us.”
—Randy Newman, Political Science, Sail Away
“The rule of US customs and traditions is one of the main objectives of all of what are called international military education training.” —Lt. Colonel Richard Downie, US Army, Commandant, Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, the author’s tape recording, WHINSEC, November 2001
The Petrblt “method,” such as there is, contains some not fully understood factors involving the magic of synchronicity. This was sparked by a friend appearing out of the jungle shortly following yet another letter the Duh Noose Papuh wouldn’t touch. No calls, no emails, nothing… just the same yawning silence that spurred the launch of “Peter Built” at the old Spectator.
The letter attempted to provide some context by which to counter uninformed, sensational anecdotal drivel emanating via such august voices as Dr. Phil and You Tube, backed not by a shred of what they call “knowledge,” spurring legislative action that could result in potential felony convictions for possession of yet another plant-based molecule, Salvia Divinorum. Far beyond simplistically, “legal LSD,” as variously opportunistic and hysterically mis- and uninformed voices whisper, has been subject to such a paltry body of research that nobody in a position of true authority, a scientist, thank you, can rank it as anything other than a botanical mystery.
On cue, my friend, visionary artist David Hewson, a painter employing “water gilding,” a technique going back to Egypt, appears out of Amazonia with an armload of new work (at Adam Cave Gallery next to the Landmark). Hewson had been two years up-country in and near Iquitos, Peru at the confluence of two lesser tendrils of water that together form that great river, so far gone the only ways to get there are by air or a ten day boat trip from the east coast of South America. David submerged himself deep into the jungle, meeting folks so removed from this world that when they were originally discovered and queried as to who they were, answered simply, “people.” They live the most detached, natural lives on planet earth, similar in remoteness to the Inuit of the northern latitudes, reliant on the unspoiled Amazon, home to half of the species of flora and fauna on earth. They employ their world for sustenance, healing and spiritual purposes in a direct manner that allows an approach to the mysteries of eternity without the usual suspect interpreters, clergy and churches, that form so much of the spiritual life of the west, very like the “patent” on the new world issued to swindler Sir Walter Raleigh by Elizabeth and the proprietary mindset that pervades commerce. Hewson’s experiences included shamanistic cleansings involving plant medicines.
“I’d never experienced such a cleanse, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. As I was vomiting, I could see psychic energy that I held onto ten years prior, coming out of me. All I could say was, ‘Why did I hold onto that?’”
My personal field report is that Entheogens are not what most folks would call “fun.” Herein lies part of the problem. They can’t hurt you, unless you’re on Prozac or the like, but strong psychic and spooky physical events can follow ingestion. This doesn’t change anything, the law aside, except to somewhat complicate matters, underscoring the lack of societal mechanisms, a western European Shaman tradition, that would allow a knowledgeable guide and approach to these valuable experiences. Bearing in mind, for instance, that Heroin and its “cure,” Methadone, are essentially the same molecule with predictable results (although Methadone is much more dangerous), the wildly varied experiences provided by Entheogens can be so unsettling and profound that many unprepared subjects don’t repeat the experiences. Entheogens do not cause physical harm but can bring one face to face with the mysteries of consciousness, internal vistas unknown and unacceptable to society and not available via the substances tolerated by this violent, ignorant, brash, loud, adolescent culture, to wit, alcohol, a time-tested ticket to the morgue and costly, soul deadening, deadly pharms.
On the biggest sellers, anti-depressants, it is not that so many folks are “depressed,” but rather simply saddened by their desperate lives, grabbing the only lifeline western medicine offers, synthetics that can be very difficult to shed. I know people who are having a tough time with Zoloft and Lexapro, both with lengthy withdrawals. My own story on meds follows my bike crash, where the doctors began loading me up with anti-epilepsy drugs when simply cutting out coffee did more, although I was being served the stuff at the hospital following a surgery that pretty much guaranteed seizures. No one told me, I had to research the subject myself, finding that every place on earth was aware of the linkage – except the US. I received a personal message from the head of the epilepsy unit at the National Institute of Health’s thanking me for my forwarded citation.
Before the crash, by way of a substance C V, this author spent his formative years growing up in the School of Design/Cameron Park, post “Summer of Love” scene, had done every molecule you’ve never heard of, toured climate controlled bunkers where they grew the same stuff he rode wit da man in a National Guard Blackhawk looking for, the pastiche subsiding in an eerie juxtaposition; by day videotaping access-controlled RTP you-know-who Big Pharm meetings, followed by after-hours, icky Durham style “fun,” the paradox illustrated sickly and hilariously by the “City of Medicine” sign on the Durham Freeway. And when I had dragged myself as far down as one could, recovery began via spontaneous, unplanned research/healing with natural, plant-based compounds, Entheogens, which provided me with great solace, relief and a growing understanding of “what it’s all about.” Chiefly among them were Dimethyltryptamine, i.e. DMT (produced also by the human body) and Salvia Divinorum. Later readings enlightened the larger field of plant medicines of the Americas from such disparate sources as surviving pre-contact native knowledge, Afro-Caribe traditions, Confederate Field medical manuals, and so forth, up to the present suppressed but accruing body of knowledge of today.
Hewson has become a researcher, semi-prophet, canary and, for me, an ally, rendering whole a world of violence, machines, energy, toxins and ignorance, helping me understand that which I had been through some years before. Context, context, context – something lacking in the Yewessian (US) kitty-shocked-by-a-lawn-mower, xenophobic reactions to unknown molecules other than ones hawked on television like Fun-Yuns. Botanical substances and extracts hold a great promise to a people increasingly divorced from an essential and healthy relationship with this world. These substances can have a remarkable effect. Of his experiences Hewson remarked, “One of the main things it did was… I became pro-active, taking responsibility for my actions. I became a proper steward of this planet.”
Certain brave scientists http://lila.info/tag/entheogens have become quite interested in the potential of these unknown compounds. Open-minded psychiatrists have commented that judicious use of entheogens can obviate years of analysis. The National Institutes of Health see such promise and potential for combating a host of ills that they are running clinical trials, along with a bevy of university researchers. Rick Strassman, while at the University of New Mexico, compiled an anecdotal collection of his work on DMT available to the general public, entitled “The Spirit Molecule.” With all this interest, still, in this climate, as witnessed by the trouble with marijuana, hoping for any loosening of the restrictions is pie in the sky.
Vis a Vis the “City of Medicine,” what is legal and not, it is perhaps worth noting that one of three statues of Revolution-era American spy Nathan Hale graces the grounds of the dope-smuggling CIA in Langley, VA. The others are at Andover and on the Common at Yale, home to a top medical school as well as Wall Street-infested secret society Skull and Bones, originally funded through The Russell Trust, a behest of nineteenth century Opium smuggler Captain William Russell. When one looks at what is legal, not and why, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that “well” has little to do with anything. There is a lot of cash in seeing that people are better—but not well. My assessment is that the main trick to the drug biz is keeping the customer alive. Hewson is more vehement:
“Oh, they want to kill you.”
In that regard, the icky, illegal drugs, Cocaine and Heroin, are more predictable and less dangerous than many pharms, in that the user knows what he is trying to get and what it is supposed to do, unlike the rainbow handfuls of “medicines,” most of which, thanks to the FDA, have not been properly tested and are knocking folks off right and
“Ask your prescriber,” an ad announced on the tube, not your “doctor,” your “prescriber,” an honest, tidy summation of what the medical profession has become. High schools are a particularly viscous scene, kids trading meds like bubblegum cards. The dirty little secret of the US medical system under the sway of Big Pharm is the death toll, hundreds of thousands, second only to smoking in sheer number of casualties, followed by the other US-style deaths – alcohol, firearms, automobiles and, near the bottom of the list, all diverted and illegal “drugs” (less than 10,000).
“We’re in the palliative business,” said a smiling, bespectacled Brit at one meeting in the ‘park. In a medical, pharmacological sense, the word has the sense of reducing symptoms, not curing. The US medical system’s primary if not sole concern is not to cure, but to patch the effects of our proven, unhealthy lifestyle, in some cases worsening things, but not enough to prevent the population from crawling to work to make money for someone else, i.e. “human resources.” That’s what the corporate wage slave is, not a person so much as a resource, similar to pork bellies or aluminum ore. During my time at the ‘park, I was privy to discussions of results of clinical trials – costs versus mortality. You know which won. The latest is the same old story. When natural compounds get in the way of profits, the forces of lobbying/legislation rise to affect eradication/control. Marijuana/Hemp is the classic example, lately in the news over Governor Perdue’s airy dismissal over opening a dialog about the medical marijuana and its 6,000 plus year history in human pharmacopoeia.
There are two matters at hand here connected via geography and money that have brought me to a new view of the unassailable US lifestyle. The one is the concealed trail left by how we live, the stupendous conversion of materials and energy that render to us a limited number of lifestyle “options” masquerading as “freedom,” the other, external rules which inexactly and unenforceably attempt to dictate what a person does with the most personal and private aspects of their life and body, their mind. An examination of the two together can perhaps render an explanation of the ills that seem to plague our culture without change. Plant medicine can begin the healing process, but there is so much we don’t know—and may never.
To its misfortune, the Amazon basin is also a point source for what could well hasten the end of the native way of life as well as the resident’s very lives, no figurative speaking needed. The region is amply possessed with a natural resource “essential” to how we live—oil. Formerly the petroleum deposits were off limits but with agreements signed during the waning Bush Administration, the whole of the region is now squarely in the sights of petroleum development, far afield and out of sight of western media who have their own reasons to tread lightly on disclosing the reality of what is happening via shared interests of large corporations’ interlocking directorships.
With the public furor that arises with petroleum exploration and extraction, oil companies and investors have valid, practical reasons to conduct their operations quietly. Out of sight and not subject to US law, oil companies do not have to be nearly as careful with their operations. The Indians are simply in the way, neither a help nor a hindrance, just another critter in the way of the profits. Despite the pretty propaganda oil companies paint their operations with, eyewitness accounts from David and others serving as voices for the voiceless paint a very different, more complete picture unavailable to the teevee benumbed North American. The ordinary person is unknowing but nevertheless complicit to what would be crimes in the US, along with the destruction of what sustains a huge percentage of life on this ball of earth.
With no limits as to what transnationals and the money can and will do in the name of short term profit, petro or pharms, it becomes the bailiwick of the consumer to be the driving force for change. For that reason alone, with the safe assumption that there will be no substantive change in how the US live, I am more than ever a supporter of developing in-country, nationally sourced energy. If that means drilling at Cape Hatteras, fuggit, so be it. At least somebody will be scrutinizing the oil projects. The other, how one chooses to think and live, is going to be just another hassle for the cops courts and corrections to have to hassle and another raindrop we-the-people will be dodging. Just as with Marijuana, they’ll have to catch us every time, from my time in the helicopters, a laughable prospect.