On a road trip to Portland last summer my partner and I were listening to a recording of my Jyotish session with an Indian astrologer. For those of you unfamiliar with Jyotish, it is a system that interprets how the planets influence us at various phases of our life based on their position in the sky. To create a personalized chart your exact time and location of birth are required because even a few minutes difference can affect your chart. Contrast this with the horoscopes in the newspaper that only require you to know the 30 day window you were born within. While I love reading Rob Breszny’s weekly Free Will Astrology column, Jyotish seems like a much more personalized and relevant system for providing guidance in your life.
Without getting into too many details, the astrologer explained to me during the session that for the past 19 years I was under the influence of Saturn which is known as a disciplined, dark and mature planet. Despite having a healthy dose of skepticism entering my first Jyotish session I had to admit his description of the Saturn phase matched my life quite accurately. The good news is that I was transitioning to the phase of Mercury which is known as an expressive, light and youthful planet. According to Indian astrology my life would soon be influenced by a new planet and I was more than ready for some change.
“Om Aim Bum Budhaya Namah”
-Jyotish mantra for Mercury
After listening to the recording our conversation switched from Jyotish to planning our next healing ceremony with MDMA as the chosen medicine. As with all the ceremonies we participate in, we find it very important to state an intention ahead of time for the purpose of learning, healing, and evolving. This is one of the defining practices that separates a purely pleasure seeking recreational experience from a more structured, yet still often enjoyable, medicinal experience. The last thing I want to do is perpetuate the idea endorsed by our government that psychedelics are dangerous and meaningless. Instead, when these substances are used responsibly the opposite is true and people can have very safe and profound experiences.
As we approached Portland we concluded that during 19 years of living under the influence of Saturn I had done more than enough serious introspection of my dark side. Perhaps instead of re-examining childhood traumas once again it was time to honor the new planetary cycle I was entering with a more youthful and playful intention. Yes, we decided the intention of my next MDMA ceremony would be to escape from the tight squeeze of Saturn’s rings and open to this exciting new phase of Mercury.
Non Sedating Anxiolytic
On ceremony day we were excited to look out the window and see bright blue skies in this typically grey city, a good sign indeed. We ate a light breakfast and then waited at least an hour before beginning the experience. Unlike other psychedelics which sometimes make me nervous prior to consumption, that morning I had absolutely no fear of what was to come. Was it because according to the movie Neurons to Nirvana, MDMA is the only substance known that is both anxiolytic and non sedating? Imagine that, all of the anxiety reducing pharmaceuticals do so by numbing you while MDMA does the opposite. MDMA stimulates you to process difficult stored traumas while it simultaneously silences the fear producing section of your mind. In addition to this rare combination the body’s innate intelligence seems to activate, knowing not only what trauma needs attention first, but also how much healing is enough.
Natural vs man made
In most areas of my life I’m definitely an all natural kind of guy. While I do find great value in spirit plant medicines, MDMA is one of the few areas that I’m willing to make an exception. Some people are still debating whether the substance is safe or not, but it is important to consider we are not talking about a pill you take daily for the rest of your life. Much to the dismay of profit driven pharmaceutical companies, it is entirely possible for a person to be greatly improved with only 1-10 sessions. Most pharmaceuticals are used to help you cope with your symptoms, but MDMA helps you process the source of your problem. Not to be confused with the often contaminated party drug Ecstasy, in pure form this amazing substance has great potential to heal people with PTSD, and beyond. Unfortunately MDMA is classified as an illegal Schedule 1 substance, which are defined as drugs that have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Sasha Shulgin, who resurrected the chemical from the vaults of pharmaceutical company Merck, expresses in the documentary Dirty Pictures that he was deeply disturbed by how our society had misused the gift that he gave to us all. Fortunately groups like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) are currently organizing the scientific studies necessary to make MDMA legal for medical use.
Next we carefully measured with a digital scale the amount we believed to be the maximum safe dosage, after all, the purpose here was to heal not to harm. Most importantly, neither of us were taking any prescription medications that could potentially cause adverse effects in combination with the MDMA, and we also did not have any known psychological conditions. Within 30 minutes of consumption I began to display some odd reactions. My heartbeat increased, I completely soaked my shirt with sweat, and my leg began twitching. Now since we had chosen a private and comfortable room in my friend’s house there was no reason for concern as I was in excellent health, and the room temperature was clearly at around 70 that day. Avoid hot environments and maintain hydration during an MDMA experience as your body may lose the ability to moderate temperature and dangerous overheating could occur.
The Great Release
After removing my soaked shirt the sweating eventually stopped, but we noticed the shaking in my leg increase, and it continued for the next 2 hours without my control. Normally I would have ignored this strange reaction as some unexplainable event during the trip; however, my partner had previously experienced this type of shaking many times after consuming the Huachuma cactus. I had always thought it was slightly strange to see her shake, but it never gave me concern and I accepted it as a unique reaction that only happened to her. Certainly I will never do that strange twitching thing she does, and I had no intention or desire to, yet here I was vibrating out of control, and it actually felt very good. As the effects reduced and we discussed what had just occurred my partner explained to me that the shaking is more than some strange drug reaction. Some believe this is actually how the body releases stored emotions or clears energetic barriers. A couple months later a Physical Therapist told me that during the practice of Myofascial Release patients sometimes experience a similar kind of shaking, and that this healing event should be celebrated rather than feared or repressed.
“But the net’s unbreakable, so don’t worry about falling, the voice that you ignore, might be your future calling”
-Lyrics from Mercury, Performed by Phish
Upon further analysis we remembered my intention for the day, to complete my transition from the dark influences of Saturn to the lighter cycle of Mercury. In a society where science, rationality and technology rule many people hearing of Jyotish ceremonial intentions will scoff, and I can’t blame them as this directly opposes their programming. For those people let’s just say it was an incredible coincidence that I intended to be released from a challenging 19 year phase of my life, and released I was as a surge of energy shot through my leg uncontrollably for 2 straight hours in a way that I have never experienced before.
Here is where the real fun begins. The day prior to ceremony while sitting in a coffeeshop we noticed that the local paper was called the Portland Mercury. Hmmm, interesting, we must have chosen the right city for me to transition to Mercury I thought. Later that night we found it amusing to hear an old Freddy Mercury song playing on the radio during dinner. The next morning during breakfast I made a startling discovery that my favorite band of 20 years had just released a new song called Mercury, which I immediately decided must be listened to during the peak of ceremony. Wait, it gets better, being beginners to the art of Jyotish we didn’t realize until Thursday that we happened to have ceremony on Wednesday, which according to Jyotish is the day represented by, you guessed it, Mercury. And finally, saving the best for last, we decided to check my Sky Guide application for the location of Mercury and it just so happened that Mercury was traveling across the southern sky directly out the window we stared through all day from our comfortable bed. Furthermore, the planetary peak occurred at almost the exact same time as our chemical peak. Now this all would have been an amazing synergy had we orchestrated the event, but the beauty of it is that we didn’t. So who or what did? Trying to explain these synchronicities is a whole other conversation, but if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience them before then you can appreciate how truly special this day was.