#Ayahuasca in the Age of Social Networking

What happen when you mix social media with the ancient medicine and sprinkle it with a hint of blissful ignorance? A ticking bomb, possibly. Plant medicine has taken over the Internet, it is an inevitable process and there is really nothing we can do about it. Pros? There are tons of inspirational content released every day that aim to destigmatise the unjust image of entheogenic plants. Such valuable content presents the online audience with current state of psychedelic research, discusses therapeutic properties of plants and substances and reflects on their effectiveness in combating severe mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and various addictions. This brings hope and contributes to promotion of health and safety on multiple levels. But the online march of plants comes with one con. A big one.

Paid advertising and marketing. The online soil is being fertilised with information as we speak but it can be easily contaminated by careless actions. Allow me to get this super straight. Please consider not advertising your plant ceremonies publicly on social media. Why?

Ayahuasca and some other traditionally used psychoactive plants such as San Pedro and Iboga fall into a legal grey area in many countries.

According to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), no plants or concoctions made from plants naturally containing alkaloids controlled under the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances (e.g. mescaline or dimethyltryptamine) are under international control. However, the INCB also states that governments at the national level can regulate these plants and preparations as they so choose. (via Collective Evolution)

In short, plant ceremonies are legally fragile in most of the countries around the world, except for a few places in South America. Sure, there are places around the globe where you can work with some of those plants and substances legally, but the broader landscape is only forming now. Consider not using social media to publicly invite random people, who might be confused or unaware of the legal status of the medicine in their respectful countries. Consider using verbal communication and references instead, keep it narrowed down to your friends. Talk about medicine and educate your audience instead. If people are in need of the medicine the medicine will find the way to reach them, or they might consider travelling to the source where it is legal.

Avoid exposed marketing. Plant ceremonies should not be a subject to aggressive marketing and should not be advertised until clear legal and social frames are formed to support them. Until then, any form of aggressive marketing makes the whole plant medicine movement looks ignorant of the law and unnecessarily provocative. It is vital to reflect that my actions will affect everyone in the movement, even those who invest their time and resources in any linked activities and work, including research and education. There is a resilient collective of visible and invisible people who continuously do their best to create social container for medicinal work to be appreciated, widely understood and recognised as a potent tool of mental and physical recovery and hopefully approved as a legal remedy in the near future. Please respect their dedication. Also, there are always less invasive ways of reaching out to people.

Reflect before you post anything. Online network is a specific environment that may looks like a bastion of anonymity, but it certainly isn’t. Social media are public online spaces but not privately owned and operated. They have their own strict policies in relation to what content can be shared and advertised. That content is a subject to reviews and moderation. No one should act carelessly, as the whole global community of devoted plant teachers, progressive researchers and dedicated adepts of the medicinal work may bye put in a potential danger. Consider mature and collective responsibility. As such we should give an example of maturity and responsibility for each other.

Because of the fragile legal status, you’re not only leaving a trace of your potentially illegal activity online but also, please be aware of this, you’re publicly inviting people to show that they are interested in participating in potential law breaking with you. Consider working with medicine only where it is legal. If you have to use social media, please consider using small private and unexposed events and not using the names of medicines in the body of the text.

Respect what nature is teaching us – patience and awareness towards the (eco-)system you’re in. This global movement has only started to gather momentum and it’s currently being exposed to a wider global public. It’s a turning point for all of us who are interested in planting seeds for a brighter future of alternative medicines. As such, it can be greatly used to our collective advantage if we play it smart, but be prepared it will take time for the forest to grow from our seeds. It can also, as any other ecosystem, be exploited to an irreversible point and turn into a spectacular disaster. Now is the good time to choose your seat wisely.

If you believe in this work then consider expanding your activities and reconsider your role in the movement. It is a friendly call. We all carry a healer inside and it is up to us what tools we choose to contribute to the good cause. It might be anything. If you want to contribute to the entheogenic renaissance invest your time and resources in constructive actions and valuable content. Promote education and health & safety, share meaningful knowledge, support cultural and psychedelic research, help people to access medicine where it is legal and safe to do so and, above all, please keep your head low, as many had before us to bring us to this point. We stand on the shoulders of silent giants. If there is one lesson we can learn from them is to avoid shouting and learn how to whisper instead.

Plant ceremonies should not be about having 50 people swiped in one go in a global Ayahuasca tournée, but about raising the awareness of the movement, creating frames for aftercare, providing people with pre- and post-ceremonial support and introducing various integration techniques. Healing needs time, a lot of attention and even more integration.

Plant medicine is not a race. Our collective mental health and the future of our children and our planet is on stake. Generations of healers have spent their lives contributing to this moment and their work and generational commitment have to be honoured and respected. Know that this achievement can be squandered into thin air in a blink of an eye by reckless the acts of liminal or subliminal ignorance.

No one is excluded from being responsible.
Let love and hope always guide you.

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