The Right to Get High
Article ID: 2385
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 7,286
Times Read: 12,571
Posted: June 15th. 1999
Times Viewed: 12,571
Few subjects are more controversial in society than the ever present drug debate. The pagan community is certainly no exception. In fact, there seems to be a firm split between many pagans on the subject of drug use. Those who enjoy a bottle of wine at the Saturday night drum jam are the same people that scoff as other pagans light up a cigarette, or some other smokeable substance, outside.
Addictions, as any addict will tell you, are not pleasant situations to deal with. Physical addiction to a substance can and will occur when one exposes their body to an addictive drug repeatedly. Yes, you can become physically addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics, and even caffeine. Some people drink, smoke, and even occasionally indulge in an illicit substance and never become addicts. For others, all it takes is the first time.
Addictions are scary, mean, relentless, unpredictable enemies of the body and mind. For some people this alone is good enough reason to avoid such substances altogether. Others know they possess addictive personalities or weak wills that simply cannot avoid the irresistible lure of addiction. However, many people, particularly teenagers, take an open, experimental attitude to the pleasurable, consciousness-altering drugs of our society. And this is where it starts to get messy.
Drugs are everywhere. You can not avoid them. The smoker, the drinker, and the pot head all have their drugs of choice. Doctors tend to call their drugs of choice "medicine". But no matter what you call it, a drug is still a drug. And everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. Some popular pagan authors are not shy in voicing their opinions on drugs as well as instructing others on how to handle them.
Silver RavenWolf writes: "Illegal drugs and alcohol do not, and never did, mix with magickal applications...If anyone tells you differently, they're full of it...When you take drugs or drink alcohol, you impair your thinking. Your personality can, and will, turn to major ugly. You start to lie about things. You won't remember stuff, and the sad thing is, you won't even realize it...If you're a teen reading this and laughing at me, that's sad for you, because you're not thinking with a full deck anymore...Forget the illegal drugs and alcohol if you want to be a real Witch."
According to Silver RavenWolf, I'm a few cards short of a deck, and I'm probably full of it too. I guess I'm not a "real" Witch either. All I have to my credit is that I think and experience life for myself. And I read other authors. Yet those of us in the Craft are unfortunately used to ridicule and prejudice because of our beliefs.Preconceived notions such as the one above are certainly not uncommon.
Many ill-informed, closed-minded, and downright ignorant individuals tend to assume the worst about what they do not know or haven't experienced first hand. It's no secret that humans fear what they do not understand or can not control. As a matter of fact, not too long ago being a Witch meant you were a devil-worshipping baby killer. To some stubborn, un-enlightened individuals it will always mean this. Yet those of us involved in the Craft and magickal practices know differently.
"Traditional warnings against the use of magick and occultism suddenly seem similar to warnings against the use of psychedelic drugs. Certain strengths are necessary before using both--a knowledge of oneself, a correct environment--so that these new perceptions can come to us in a manner that encourages growth rather than harm."
Margot Adler wrote this after countless interviews and investigations into the history and modern practices of Witches and Pagans in her definitive book Drawing Down the Moon. It is sweeping dismissals of any and all drug use such as Silver RavenWolf's that lead to the discrediting and alienation of many honest and curious teenagers left without a guide to pursue drug-induced forms of consciousness. Without a doubt this does more harm than good, as many teenagers drift toward serious drug abuse in an alienating society that ridicules certain forms of recreational, and yes, even productive drug use.
There is such a thing as responsible drug use. Many Pagans and Wiccans I know are hemp and psychedelic advocates. They also happen to be successful, intelligent, honest individuals who think for themselves and do not let the narrow views of society dictate who they can be.
Many commonly used illegal substances are naturally occurring plants found all over the world that existed long before Homo sapiens came into the picture. Many of these drugs are also used for their healing and medicinal properties and are considered sacred in many cultures around the world. There's probably a reason EarthMother concocted these consciousness-altering botanical gifts. If its good enough for Her, its good enough for me. And anyone who thinks our Pagan ancestors weren't getting drunk and high during the ancient rites is fooling themselves. Alas, we live in much more complicated, government-controlled times.
In the end, you make the choice for yourself. You can use drugs to harm yourself, or bestow a new enlightened perception of reality. As in most things, its up to you to take upon the responsibility of educating yourself. If you're going to use, know the consequences. This can include the possibility of addiction. As in all things, remember the Rede: Harm no one, including yourself. Yes, you take a risk when you have a controlled substance. However, its often necessary to take risks for what you believe in. Many Wiccans and Pagans with illegal athames in their possession know what I mean.
In the meantime, I'll see you outside at the drum jam.
Silver RavenWolf, Teen Witch, 1998 Llewellyn Publications.
Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon, 1979, 1986 Penguin Books.
Location: Denver, Colorado
Bio: Miss Tigriss lives in Dallas, where she studies and practices the occult arts. She is also a researcher and practitioner of chemically-altered forms ofconciousness. And yes, she believes Timothy Leary lives on...
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