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Liberating the Plants of Consciousness

By Hempology | September 9, 2003

From MOMENTUM Magazine, August/September 2003

by GoaDave

Since pre-history, humans have induced visonary mind states through the ritual
use of entheogenic plants including peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and
psychotrie virdis(*1). These plants have been described as facilitating
insight, lucidity and an opportunity to commune with an otherwise inaccessable
intelligence. Notable ethno-botanists believe that these visionary plants are
catalysts in the evolution of the human conciousness and our capacity to realize
the self as part of a planetary whole(*2). Whatever their effect, these shamanic
mediums are merely agents of thought. By prohibiting their use, the state is
effectively restricting the range of consciousness.

The history of mind control goes back to at least 1560, when Pope Paul IV created the
Index Librorum Prohibitorum – a list of forbidden books, including
works by Spinoza, Kany, Galileo, Pascal and Locke. Our modern day Index
is Schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is no
more about plants, powders and potions that the Pope’s book ban was about controlling
ink and paper. In both cases, the real target of prohibition is a mental state -
a modality of thought that threatens the status quo.

The attack on Galileo, the McCarthiest war on communist ideology, the Chinese crackdown
on Falun Gong meditation and the current prohibition of entheogenic plants are
all attempts by the state to suppress the development of ideas – mind control. It may
have worked in the USA and it may have worked in China. But it won’t work in Canada,
not for long.

By attempting to regulate the mental environment, the state is in violation of our
fundamental right to “freedom of thought” as explicitly guaranteed under section 2(b)
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The state has no place in
the minds of the nation. It is not for the government to prescribe an adult sitting
in her own home which states of consciousness are permissible and which are not.
What goes on inside a person’s skull must be beyond government regulation. There is
nothing more interior – and nothing more private – than the mind.

The encroachment by drug prohibition laws on cognitive autonomy is compounded by
the onslaught of mental manipulation that we are subject to on a daily basis. Our
thoughts are regularly being diverted in someone else’s direction. Efforts to
manipulate human consciousness have reached Orwellian proportions with American
companies spending US$200 billion each yrear in an effort to influence our
opinions and desires.

The mind is malleable. Through the association of products with manufactures images
of sex and success, the peddlers of ‘pap culture’ have managed to intoxicate
the masses into a state of consumer psychosis. Mental pollution can also distort the
democratic will. On behalf of the major American presidential candidates, $63 million
US was spent on ads between June 1 and September 13 of 2000 in an unabashed attempt
to purchase the votes of a nation. (*3) The electorate “chose” George Bush. What
more needs to be said?

The impact of the media on consumer habits is undeniable. A number of studies,
including research out of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, have found that depiction
in movies of tobacco use triples the odds that a teen audience member will try
smoking. Young minds are perhaps the must vulnerable – a fact which the U.S. army
has been exploiting through the mass distribution of their new video game “American
Army”. In this popular new game of multi-player combat, kids can log on and see
themselves and a squad in U.S. Army uniforms, wielding U.S. weapons conducting
violent and bloody invasions of terrorist camps. The army has published the game
free of charge with the explicit goal of attracting new recruits. (*4)

How have the wheels of popular consciousness become so jammed up with someone else’s
agenda? It’s as if a radio has been implanted in each of our heads without our
consent. We cannot turn it off. The radio emits an endless barrage of information,
the presence of which we cannot escape. We are under the influence.

The radio implant would certainly be rejected in our society as an intrusion into
the body – a violation of privacy rights. We are adept at identifying the machinery
of physical control; however, we are not as sophisticated when it comes to identifying
the machinery of mental control. Restraints on cognitive autonomy are more elusive
and difficult to recognize, for the radio is not physically implanted in our brains,
it’s all around us:

Our mental processes are under siege. At a certain frequency and intensity, mass
media advertising dominates the mind and amounts to an invasion of the self. One
can’t even urinate in a public bathroom without being subject to an attempted
manipulation of one’s desires. As cookies are surreptitiously planted on your
computer hard drives, they are also planted in your subconscious so as to
influence your mental processes.

Our challenge is to liberate the consciousness from this onslaught of mental
manipulation – to clear the cookies from our hard drives for the purposes of
cognitive hygiene. By silencing the volume of external noise and cultivating
an internal focus, we may be able to tune out seductive advertising and other forms
of mental pollution. Many maintain a disciplined practice of yoga or meditation
to these ends, but others choose to cleanse the lenses of perception and induce
self-reflection through the use of visionary plants.

Personal adult decisions about how to manage one’s interior thought processes, whether
by way of literature, yoga or shamanic ritual, are essential to individual autonomy -
and they are private! While visionary plants should not be used freely and
indiscriminately, the individual ought to be free to direct her own consciousness as
she determines. Your individual choice to surf the frontiers of consciousness must be
an autonomous one, but should also be exercised with a respect for the fact that
surfing requires stablity, strength, maturity, judgement and favourable internal
and external conditions, or else it can plunge you to the depth. Nevertheless, in a
free society, the choice is yours.

Our fate as a planetary species lies essentially within the arena of human
consciousness. Until we liberate the mind, we will continue to impede the capacity
of human evolution towards a critical awareness of our collective nature. Through
a well-balanced mental diet and an unimpeded advance in shamanistic gnosis, we
might come to realize that we are all alfalfa sprouts on the same sandwhich -
one whole organism – and that our interests are interdependant. Such realizations
are arrived at by many means, but all constitute a class of mental experiences that
is vital to the restoration of balance in our social and environmental worlds. It
is therefore critical that the machinery of mental control be abolished in all its

GoaDave is a lawyer and civil liberties activist in Canada where he is in the
process of challenging the prohibition against psilocybin mushrooms on the basis that
the law offends the guaranteed Charter right to “freedom of thought”. To support
that effort, visit


  1. The DMT bush used in the entheogenic brew known as ayahuasca or yaje.

  2. See McKenna, Terrence, Food of the Gods (Bantam: 1992)

  3. The Ecologist,, December 2002, at page 43.


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