In our first three articles, we talked about some more and less useful ways of relating to entheogens, what to expect and not expect of Spagyrics of these sacred plants, and why Spagyrics are unique expressions of these plants’ power. Now, we’d like to offer some suggestions for working with our Spagyrics to best effect for body, spirit and soul.
First, be very clear about your intention. This should be a step you take even before you buy anything. Think about what you want to accomplish and research the possible plants for accomplishing your goal, especially considering safety and health information relevant to your condition. Read, consult websites like Erowid, Lycaeum, Entheology, even Google the plants you’re considering. We also invite you to contact us so we can help. We have taken every one of our Spagyrics in ceremonial context, and we really know them. What we’ve learned is that each one is different and each offers a unique sort of help, there is no one tool for all jobs.
Secondly, after you get your Spagyric, but before you take it, again think about what you are doing and why. This is a request from you to the plant, and starts your relationship. As Caroline Casey so wisely points out, the spirits are always willing to help us, but etiquette demands that we ask. So, before you ingest your carefully-selected Spagyric, clear some time and inner space to sit with it a bit, before and after the dose.
Next, take the drops, under your tongue. Taste them, really connect with the flavour and its effects. If it’s an especially entheogenic plant, it will likely be very bitter. This is Nature’s way of telling you not to take too much, to go slowly and carefully. It’s also how the plant first starts to connect with you, sharing its body with your receptors, awakening and opening from that initial point of contact. Bypassing this first taste connection through smoking or use of pills disconnects the action of taking something from the results of taking it.
I will always remember the first time I tasted Calea, the Mazatec dreaming herb. Words cannot describe the bitterness of this plant, the way that it hits you like a brick, and yet continues to unfold for hours. And hours. But, connecting with it on its terms, meeting it halfway, I saw that bitterness as an essential part of its nature, that bitterness is an entity unto itself, and I was awed by it.
The alcohol can also be quite sharp, as well. The alcohol is the Mercury of the plant kingdom: alchemically, the fermentation frees the plant’s spirit, the carrier of its life force and intelligence. Wine alcohol opens that intelligence in other plants and carries it into you to connect with your intelligence and spirit. It’s a good extraction medium on the physical level, but in a more subtle way, it is the communicator of the message of that plant.
So, take the Spagyric and sit with the taste, sit with the initial sensation of it, and continue to connect with the plant. Look for its effects within you, in places you might not expect. Does it change the feeling in your body somewhere? Is your mood changed? Perception? Thought processes?
The insights that the plant offers may come in a visionary way, or they may not. Be willing to see anything that happens in your meditative space as a communication from the plant. It’s not all Jaguars and crazy Yage patterns, peyote-style whirling designs and the dancing deities of lotus-land (as much as we all love them!). Sometimes it’s much quieter and less flashy, inward and still.
Some of my favourite entheogens’ teachings manifested in completely unique ways. Calamus is a fairly traditional teacher, he comes as a leafy plant being in my dreams, talking to me and introducing me to other plants. One of the plants I met through him, before I met it in physical space, was Jurema, or Mimosa. We were introduced by name, and so I sought out the plant in waking time, already knowing quite a bit about its properties from my dream, although I had not researched it before that.
Jurema took quite a visionary style with talking to me, showing me the jeweled net of being we are all suspended in, and which of the jewels I was. Jurema re-faceted me like a gemcutter, leaving me more shiny and able to reflect the divine in all directions. But none of this vision overtook my open-eyed consciousness, it was all within, behind my eyelids. If I had expected it projected all over my awareness, and only looked for it outside me, I would have really missed out.
Rhodiola, by contrast, manifested to me entirely intellectually. The first time I tasted this plant, I knew what it was for, what it did, how it did it, and what kinds of people it would help. All this came through words, Materia Medica style, as if I had read the information in a book and was remembering it. And although everything I knew about Rhodiola was later confirmed in books, when it came through to me that first time, I had never read about it.
If I had been waiting for the visionary experience some people get of Rhodiola showing them chanting monks and the sounds and sights of Shambhala, I would have lost out on so much valuable information. After I took the Rhodiola, I knew things that I didn’t know before. I count that as a vision.
Some people get literal visions, some don’t. Some plants give them, some don’t. It’s best to let your own inner nature and the individual preferences of the plant determine how the wisdom comes, and then be willing to take it as it comes.
After the communication comes across, process it however you like, but do chew on it a bit. Talk with someone, journal it, or just mull it over in your mind. A lot more can come through later that day, or even days later. That’s how and when you know that it’s you who did the work, not the plant. Salvia divinorum is one like this, helping you fill journals with insights for days after a journey. That’s not the chemicals talking at that point, that’s the leafing out of your inner wisdom.
Likewise, these relationships with plants can build over time, like a door first being unlocked and then opening gradually, bit by bit. Once that door starts to open, less of the Initiatic is needed, and yet more wisdom is gained each time. This is the exact opposite of drug use, where tolerance builds up and dosages must increase each time to stay at the same level of experience.
This phenomena is not unique to Spagyric use; experienced Ayahuasceros speak of needing the normal heroic dose when starting their training, but reducing that to mere drops, or even just the presence of the brew, as their relationship with the substance develops. Once you know the plant as a being, you don’t have to be continually re-introduced.
This is when you know that the plant has truly given you something that is yours, a piece of wisdom you can call up at any time, in any place, whether the plant is physically with you or not. Like looking within your heart to remember the guidance of a friend in troubling times, even when that friend is far away, this is what it is to have a relationship with a plant.