On my life's journey I met a lot of shamans, healers, wise humans who taught me about the use of plant and animal medicines to heal and expand consciousness. I have a huge respect and love for all life forms, and in indigenous settings I saw the same respect and care when doing ceremony with various medicines. These medicines are powerful. And when used in the right context and with awareness and a close connection to spirit world, they can bring balance.
I see more and more people using these medicines in Western cultures. Often they "borrow" ceremonies and rituals from indigenous cultures that aren't theirs. This means they do not fully understand their depth and essence. More so: they lack the profound spiritual awareness and direct connection to spirit world that is required to navigate the medicines and to acknowledge their spirit with the due respect. They might have good intentions, but aren't aware of the consequences of the "consumer mindset" of their culture. They feel entitled to use the medicines, longing for balance and spiritual connection. The medicines give them an insight into the essence of life. The experience can be so profound that they become addicted to the feeling (not to the substance itself) - and want more. This often takes away the gifts of true (self-) discovery without substance (ab-) use: the intimate connection with spirit that arises from deep within, practical experience that comes from self-connection, confidence in oneself and grounding.
Before using plant or animal medicine, you might want to ask yourself:
Have I made a conscious connection and build a relationship with the animal or plant? Do I know the plant/animal well? Have I sat with them? Have I asked them for their permission?
Or do I just "consume", "use", "take" for my own personal benefit?
Is there another way, or do I need to take the medicine?
To restore the balance within yourself, the answers to these questions are essential.
Indigenous people use and have used plant and animal medicines in their environment since ancient times. They cultivated their relationship with the medicine plants and animals and treated them with respect. People who grew up in Western societies often lack the deep connection and awareness that is needed to treat the plant and animal spirits with respect and in a sustainable way. Some animal and plant species are at the brink of extinction, because people in the West use them for "healing". The Bufo alvarius, for instance, is a threatened species since its venom became a trendy psychoactive drug.
A butterfly needs to free itself from its cocoon - it cannot survive if cut out of its cocoon.
If you take a helicopter to climb a mountain, you might be able to enjoy the view; however, nothing will give you the same feeling as standing on top of a mountain after you climbed it yourself.