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Intention, Nature, and Tending to Vision

This post is excerpted from Sylas' email newsletter to the community. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter to hear from us in your inbox twice a month. We share current reflections, fun and intriguing things we've come across recently, announce events and courses, and talk integration, harm reduction, healing, growth, and spiritual development.


In this post, I share resources and thoughts about psychedelics and nature, and a description of a recent personal journey (no psychedelics involved). First, there is an interesting study about how psychedelics can affect our relationship with nature. I share a video of an Australian Aboriginal elder speaking about the relationship to land and its sacredness from his ancient cultural perspective. And finally, some thoughts on wilderness fasting ceremonies.


One of the most exciting possibilities within the psychedelic renaissance is its curative potential for the generalized belief that we are separate from nature and can consume and pollute with impunity. Maybe you have experienced this yourself, during and/or after a journey – being powerfully reminded of the reality of our relationship with nature and our environment. For me, this has been joined with wonder, awe, and immense grief in the realization that how we treat Mother Nature is how we treat ourselves, and what this suggests about these intermingled relationships. These “mind manifesting” allies help to reveal both what is obvious and what is hidden. Here is an interesting study discussing this topic more academically.



If the dominant global economically-centered collective consciousness could be positively influenced by the responsible and sacred use of psychedelics, perhaps we could emerge into an imaginal shared reality where we relate to nature once again as sacred, as family.


Here is a video of Bob Randall, an Yankunytjatjara Elder sharing some of his wisdom on the reality of our human position on the planet. As we find our way through this psychedelic renaissance, it is my hope that we remember there are elders carrying wisdom for whom there is no renaissance, but simply a way of life that is IN relationship to place, and all these places hold.


I have been sitting with what it means for a modern Western white cis-gendered male to re-indigenate himself to the earth, in the belly of modernity. I must share here that to me “indigenous” means to have a deep relationship with the land and all the seen and unseen beings of that place, including the human ancestry. Deep relationships happen over time, and as this elder shares, through generations of ceremonial and ritual interaction. If it does take generations to re-indigenate to all that a place holds, where does that leave all the untethered descendants of colonists who have ears, eyes, and heart for the land and all it holds?


This is an inquiry I hold open as I navigate place and belonging in a destabilizing civilization and climate, in the hopes of planting seeds that will bear fruit closer to what I know balanced human life in nature can be. Seeds planted from within the belly of the beast for our future descendants to be able to enjoy life and its fruits.




Psychedelic journeys are one way to catalyze transformational shifts, and there are many other ways that don’t involve the ingestion of substances. Practices from around the world, including meditation, trance, and ceremonial rituals have all offered doorways into the liminal. And let's not forget the spontaneous, synchronous, and mysterious force of grace as a powerful transformational catalyst.


What you are about to read, I wrote in mid-March...


...on my way to participate in a ceremonial ritual practiced in many cultures around the world for thousands of years: a wilderness fast ceremony:


In some communities, the wilderness fast is called a Vision Quest and serves as a rite of passage. Cultures from all continents have engaged in this practice, in some form, for both the mind and spirit. It was a part of the story of many figures in the Abrahamic religions in connection to their spiritual revelations. They are all initiatory experiences and each container for this ceremonial ritual is unique to the intention of the community and the individual. Today, various communities perform these ceremonial rituals in different ways, but one common element is the water fasting.


Water fasting alone is a powerful catalyst, as the body cleanses itself, repurposing the energy usually spent in metabolism of nutrients. The mind clears and becomes lighter. Insights, inspiration, and visions can arise. Being alone in the wilderness can also be a catalyst for healing and spiritual evolution. Immersion in “wild” places helps us find our grounding and place again within the natural world. If ever the natural world needed us to wake up to our interdependent connection with her, I believe it is now. Visiting these places has taught me that we are never alone in the wild, only inside the confines we build within our own minds.


The wilderness fast ceremony is an intentional catalyst meant to open our awareness up through consciously placing ourselves in a situation that most find uncomfortable. Through departures from our normative realities, novel experiences arise. Spontaneous prayer, personal rituals of letting go, opening to receive, new beginnings, expanded states of consciousness, interactions with the natural world, and sometimes nothing (which is actually something) are all things that can happen in these ceremonies.


The way I view this and other catalysts at this place in my life is that they are sources of revealing, alchemising, and bolstering what I call personal medicine. This is the medicine we each carry in our being that is meant for the world. It gets created when we turn toward the pains and sufferings of our lives with presence, love and compassion. Once manifest, our medicine becomes the source for our spontaneous offerings back to sacred life in its myriad forms.


While I don’t know what will unfold or what I will find out on the mountain, I do feel something stirring deep. Deep under the archetypes I have been dancing with, the threads of awareness I have been weaving and unweaving, the brews of lineage, ancestry and myth I have been steeping in. Whatever that stirring is, it feels right because of the delicate balance of unsettledness and surrender present in the awareness of it. It feels like a death and a rebirth all at the same time, and as I write this I chuckle and wonder… when is it not?


More on this later…


For now, here is a poem from Jaiya John, from their book all these rivers and you chose Love, sent to me by a dear friend on the threshold of this crossing:


“You deserve sacredness. Today, this day, I pray. That if you have not felt the holiness of your tender life, that one day, you will. And you then will know the truth: that when you were born, something divine and beautiful came into the world. Still it is so.”


AND


“Have you ever gossiped with a tree? They have the best dirt.”


Since writing the above, I headed off for some tree gossip, and the best dirt...


...for planting the seeds being nursed in my heart. Having returned, I am quietly tending to… tracking contrasts, dreams, and the communications from our larger body, Mother Nature, both subtle and direct.


After catalyst, Presence. I have found it beneficial on multiple levels to not be too quick to share details of journeys. Some details don’t get shared for years, and others not at all, remaining the quiet source of our personal medicine for the world. Time to walk slowly, listen, and pay attention, to be able to see when and where the changes that have sprouted can be nurtured into something valuable for the sacred in life.


The next intentional catalyst event we’ll be hosting is Neurodynamic Breathwork. If you haven’t practiced this type of breathwork before, you might be surprised how powerful of a catalyst this can be, especially when facilitated for you online, while you are in your own space. For more details and to sign up, click here.


Nothing on this site should be considered medical or legal advice. We don't encourage or condone any illegal activities. Consult medical and legal professionals if you have medical or legal questions.

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