Updated: Apr 14
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You can watch the video version of this article on Donca Vianu’s Youtube channel. To do so, please click here.
These compounds are known in our Western culture under two names. The most used name is psychedelics and the other is entheogens. Psychedelic comes from ancient Greek “psyche” and “deloun” and it means manifesting, revealing the mind. Entheogen comes from ancient Greek “entheos” and “genesthai” and it means inspired by the divine.
You can derive their benefits from these two termini: they reveal what is in the mind; and they access a consciousness that transcends our daily consciousness, which Indigenous cultures call spirit or soul.
The benefits of the mind revealing psychedelics
Psychedelics amplify, magnify, intensify whatever is in our mind, both conscious and unconscious. Nowadays intense research is going on at several universities worldwide to treat mental problems, like depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, end of life distress, and certain addictions with psychedelics.
Psychedelics influence the serotonergic system in the brain, as antidepressants also do. Yet, psychedelics seem to be more effective, have fewer side effects, and to be less addictive. Another difference, a fundamental one, is this: when taking allopathic Western psychopharmaca, our mind stays a black box. We need a psychotherapist, or a strong meditative practice to look into our mind.
Present Western allopathic antidepressants do not unravel the roots of our distress, or how to process it. They do not help us to know ourselves better and what and how to change. Neither do they carry us through the transformation process needed in order to heal.
Psychedelics though, seem to do all this. They seem to reveal to you your own mind. Under the right conditions, this can be beneficial. Research shows that these compounds can help you solve issues you have with yourself, and in extension, with others and life in general.
By revealing yourself to yourself they help you to grow as a person. By revealing other ways to perceive life, they help you to create a more meaningful life for yourself. Your outer life is a mirror of your inner life. The separation we bring between inner and outer is artificial. If your inner life is more harmonious and fulfilling, it will show in your outer life. If you perceive more beauty, meaning, love in your outer life, it will seep into your inner life, balancing and beautifying it.
According to academic case reports, if taken well prepared, with the right intention and under the right conditions, psychedelics can help you heal, balance, grow, and create for yourself a harmonious, satisfying, beautiful life.
The benefits of the spirit revealing entheogens
People who took entheogens in indigenous cultures ceremonies report that entheogens plunged them into awe and a wonderfully inspiring state of consciousness. They left the mundane world behind and entered another dimension, which filled them with trembling reverence or with deferential terror.
In this state of consciousness, it is seemingly possible to encounter and interact with deities and demons from different cultures, to meet own previous incarnations, re-live the time spent in mother’s womb, travel to other times in history, and to other corners of the Earth and of the Universe.
It may be possible to experience the deep meaning and true power of love, compassion, and evolution of the soul. Whatever the experience is, it is important to comprehend what it means for who you are in this life, in this phase of your life, and what you have to do further with the time left for you on Earth in this life.
Taken well prepared, with the right intention, and under the right conditions, entheogens can seemingly reveal to you the journey of your soul through many incarnations, your ultimate goal, and how to reach it.
The revelations of the mind and of the spirit can blend into each other. Research shows that the occurrence of a mystical experience can speed up and complete mental healing.
What psychedelics/entheogens are is a mystery. We don’t really know. Even if they are synthesized in a LAB, like LSD, they are still a mystery. Every explanation resembles the description of an elephant groped by blind people: a pillar, a long pipe, a huge flat cushion. They are all right, and none is right.
In order to benefit from them, your mindset, preparation, intention, the safety of the setting you choose, and the integration afterward are crucial. Last but not least: the more you have worked out for yourself a coherent psychological and spiritual cognitive framework, the more you can have meaningful journeys towards healing and self-actualization.
Donca Vianu is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She offers individual counseling and guidance for integration processes. You can follow her work through her Youtube channel and watch the video version of this article here.