The League of Extraordinary Teachers
It’s normal to have favourites. We have a favourite for just about everything – favourite activities, foods, places, and even favourite people for whom we reserve the special title of “friend”. It’s part of each ego’s journey of individuation, a natural outcome of our idea of the self dancing with the material world. We construct a continuum of likeability for each category of phenomena that we can articulate, and then we place each instance of that category somewhere on that continuum. There is little wrong with playing favourites, as long as we remember they are just our idea of what is best, and not some absolute best that needs to be enforced upon others.
We live in a world where the lineages of various knowledge systems that evolved independently from one another have merged. Each person is privy to access the cultural heritage of countless societies, including the sacramental entheogenic medicines that was central to many of their worldviews. Some notable examples include ayahuasca, peyote, huachuma, psilocybin mushrooms, iboga, salvia, and bufo. In addition to these naturally-derived compounds we are able to encounter thousands of synthetic ones. From LSD, to Shulgin’s 2-Cs, to a perpetually growing swathe of “designer drugs” that are invented each day; there is a near-endless collection of entheogenic substances available to the average individual.
Thus any individual that is committed to this path and sustains that interest over some period of time will likely encounter a number of these compounds. They will then naturally also pick a favourite. Sometimes they will simply proclaim it, or, in many instances, they will use an enquiry as to whether they have tried a certain substance as a roundabout opportunity to inform you of their favourite. It’s usually framed as such:
You’ll ask them: “Have you ever tried peyote”?
To which their response would be: “Yes, a few times, but mushrooms are my medicine.”
My medicine, i.e. it’s my favourite. I think what’s meant by this is either that their most profound journey had been with that compound, or, consuming that specific compound makes them feel the best. By that I mean both psychologically and physically – in these states the two almost always go hand in hand. It’s unlikely that a compound that possesses a propensity to give a person a “bad trip” will be viewed favourably by that person. And so we pick our favourite, and then quite predictably, we continue to work with them in lieu of the rest.
I don’t go to the gym and exercise with weights. But I have been told by those that do, and it makes a lot of sense, that an individual who follows a weight training regime will naturally start favouring the exercises they are good at, and neglect the ones they are poor at. This unbalanced positive feedback loop leads to both your strengths and weaknesses becoming magnified. The end results is that the system, in this case the human meat wagon, becomes less balanced and thus less stable.
Let’s apply that same logic to working with entheogenic medicines. Favouring, and thus exclusively working with, the compounds that already make you feel good will magnify those already polished aspects of your being. And shunning a certain compound because working with it makes you feel crappy means you are missing out on addressing those aspects of your being that require the most work. When a specific compound tends to bring your psychological debris to the surface, makes you confront your shadows head-on, or makes you physically weak as it undoes years of energetic blockages, it means that it is of particular benefit to you.
I want to make it clear however that I am not saying that you should only use those compounds that give you an unpleasurable experience and ignore those that make you feel good. What I am saying is that the former will be more beneficial for your personal evolution. A diamond is, after all, created under conditions of pressure. But not all use of entheogens need to be “serious work” aimed towards your personal growth. It’s equally valid to take a substance that makes you feel amazing for a couple of hours and enjoy sweet revelry with loved ones and celebrate the mystery of life. My point is merely that these are two different applications of entheogens, and though both are of value, their value differ in domain.
So have your favourite medicine, I definitely have my medicine too. But keep in mind that collectively these compounds are a league of extraordinary teachers, each with their own unique gift to offer. Their teachings are complimentary, and I believe that the greatest benefit is when you allow their collective wisdom into your life. Sweet and bitter, salty and sharp, balancing the flavours creates life’s tastiest dish.