The information and resources available from this website are intended to promote awareness of the use and risks attached to ayahuasca and/or other psychoactive plants & substances. We make no claim to providing full, absolutely correct information though we make every effort to qualify our opinions and provide references for statements. On this website we promote our own ceremonies and workshops, but the information presented here is not intended as an invitation to anyone who comes here to contact us with all their questions. This site cannot possibly provide all possible answers to your questions. What it aims to do is provide information that can help you formulate relevant questions that can help you establish a basis for your quest for wholeness, liberation, fulfillment and meaning. The successful outcome of efforts to heal ourselves of the “general delusions” and poisonous pedagogy instilled in us by a society that seems in all respects ignorant about genuine human needs and potentials depends upon our ability to formulate questions that lead to meaningful insights and solutions.
On this website we allude to both the utility and limitations inherent in the use of psychoactive plants and substances and the related traditions and practices whether they be healing, therapeutic, religious or mystical, recreational or even magical. AOS aims to provide a forum for critical reflection on issues related to the consumption and dissemination of entheogens.
The specific aim of this website and the information provided here is to help people interested in psychoactive plants & substances and related practices to assess the relevance of these things in relation to “healing” and “religious/mystical” experience. It is our aim to demonstrate that healing and religious or mystical experience are not strictly separate experiences but rather overlapping and mutually dependent phenomena. These phenomena can be clarified by understanding the relationship between human biology, consciousness and culture. In other words, the information and discussions provided here are based on an important premise, namely, that human consciousness and subjective experience which give rise to our psychology, values, perceptions and behaviors, are not phenomenologically separate from our biology (i.e. the body) or from our social and cultural environs. Stated succinctly, our premise is that the experience of birth, separation and individuation, which is something we can only experience because it occurs through the human body and senses, has a profound impact on our consciousness and hence on our development. In similar vein, the fact that we are both psychologically and physically dependent and part of social networks has important implications for our development: the human faculty of language is just one example of the way our consciousness evolves in response to an awareness of others.
Our premise, that the totality of human behavior can be explained without recourse to supernatural or magical phenomena, thus narrows our discussion and eliminates the need for metaphysics. This in turn implies that we seek to understand religious and mystical experience as well as healing in purely humanistic terms as existential phenomena, in other words, as expressions of what goes on in the human mind and emphatically not, as expressions of a “higher plan” or supernatural intervention.
It is in this sense also that the information provided here is an open invitation to become part of a growing community that has been using psychoactive plants and substances for the purposes of self-examination, reflection and ethical development. These activities involve much more that just having an experience in altered or non-ordinary states of consciousness. To start with, the term “sacrament” which is often used to describe “entheogenic” plants and substances, encompasses something of the term sacrifice, implying the need to make some sort of effort, often a significant one, to really benefit from these experiences. It is in this sense also that members of the Brazilian ayahuasca churches refer to their ceremonies as “trabalho” (work). Not only is one expected to “work” during the ceremony itself, but the work of “integrating” the experience begins after the ceremony and it is only through attempts to integrate the experiences that participants actually can become aware of those areas in their life where they need transformation.
Moreover, it is important to note that transformation does not come from experience alone. Thus, it is not reasonable or logical to expect more than a superficial change in outlook from passively consuming an entheogenic substance. Consciousness, according to our premise, is a potential that is limited by the breadth and depth of our actual awareness. That awareness is limited both by factors such as our level of education and personal preferences as well as by a deep dread of responsibility, or “response-ability”. In short, the more we actually know and understand about what is going on in and around us, the more we are actually responsible and able. Our awareness of human suffering therefore imposes a heavy responsibility and it is not surprising that “spiritual development” is blocked and never fully blossoms into ethical development when we feel discouraged by our fear of taking responsibility.
It is in this sense that the most important function of the information on this website is to provide empowering and inspiring insight into the power of transformation (as the creation of an entirely new realm of possibility unclouded by past experience and negative expectations). Towards that goal, we provide a reading list and workshops that you can use to educate yourself so that you will possess the basic skills to make working with entheogens a truly beneficial practice.