This week, I had the pleasure of meeting a wide variety of people at a conference on psychedelics, science, creativity, and consciousness, the Promega Bioethics Forum. This year’s topic was “Exploring the Genius of Nature: 3.8 Billion Years of Wisdom.” For me, the highlight of the event were the many breaks, which afforded the opportunity to meet a great many people within the community and inquire about their feelings on parenting and family culture with the psychedelic community.
What struck myself and my companions right away was the genuine love, open-heartedness, and joy that pours out of many in this counterculture. They are intelligent, driven by the quest for wisdom and knowledge, and quick to embrace and support those just getting started in this work publicly, such as me. The sense of accessibility to those at the top was amazing, as I found myself multiple times having intimate conversations about building up the religious defense for plant spiritualities as well as gathering parenting stories.
On the eve of my son’s First Holy Communion (yes, we also go to “regular” church, too), I begin to think about when he will be “Old Enough” to sit in ceremony with me and travel in the inner realms. And, apparently, I am not the only one. That day, after church, when I asked him if he had felt anything, he said “I felt a little tingling inside me when I ate the body… When will I be old enough to drink Ayahuasca?” The answer to this question came from a practicing American Ayahuascquero from the West Coast of the USA who told me that he served to his children only when they felt that they were ready, in themselves. “My daugher was 13 and my son was 16,” he said. As he had poured and held the space for seekers in his home for many years, his children had been exposed to the medicine and its effects for most of their lives, and knew what they were getting themselves into. They’d sat through breakfast talking sessions where seekers had shared their journeys, and seen the Purge enough to know what it might feel like before they said they were ready.
Another conversation with a luminary of the psychedelic movement led to a story of sharing a family MDMA session, and watching all the children drop their teenage rivalries, and grow stronger as a unit. Another conversation, this time with the daughter of one of our community’s most famous scholars, pointed to a childhood where nothing was hidden, as she was always answered honestly when questions were asked. Her first psychedelic experience was with ayahuasca, in the Peruvian Amazon, when she was 17, because she had finally requested to go along.
By comparison, the Santo Daime begin serving to their children as early as 7, although only in very small servings. Lou Gold, of VISIONSHARE had this to say about children in Santo Daime:
Daime for children in Brazil is totally a matter of parental descretion. There are no general patterns other than about twice a year the churches hold a “chidrens work” (they call ceremonies, “works”). Almost no children drink regulary even though many want to have a uniform and participate somewhat. In general, an actual commitment to participate as a member of the spiritual community does not happen before adolenscence
So, interviewing the community seems to point to a common wisdom. “Allow your children to be themselves. Expose them to truth, in all its forms. Live psychedelically, and pass that on. When your kids are ready, they’ll let you know.
Going forward, I am seeking to learn more and more from those who have already walked these paths and paved a way. Specifically, I am reaching out to the wisdom of groups like Santo Daime and UDV. Being churches in the somewhat more traditional meaning of the term, they have been raising families for many generations under the umbrella of entheogen consumption. I am beginning to understand that no matter what path we walk, we are rarely the first to do so, and it is wise to seek the council of the sage and the experienced.
In the context of our own family, this has meant exposing my son to elders of the community, and discussing experiences and plants freely in his presence. It has also meant allowing him the space to feel free to ask questions of those elders and including him as a part of the conversation. Just recently, he inquired of one elder how Ayahuasca was made, and what the different plants looked like. For our part, I have told my son that when he turns 13, his uncle and I will consider bringing him to the Jungle to experience the wilderness with us, to get to know the people, and to drink of the vine of the soul.
A video of a Santo Diame Childrens’ Work