Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

From Myth To Modernity: Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy and The Human Psyche.

The blooming field of psychedelic-assisted therapy beholds a unique (and rather ancient) pairing of the Apollo and Dionysus archetypes.

Three and a half thousand years ago in the city of Thebes, Greece, gods expanded in space upon the town's altar. For 9 months of the year, the beautifully sculpted and traditionally attractive Apollo stood in austere elegance. Known for being proud in law and order, he ruled over propriety. When humans were being good samaritans, following rules and practicing obedience, Apollo expressed joy. His other half, Dionysus, would also take the throne, but only for three months of the year. Equally as attractive but with a more chthonic flair, he ruled over everything Apollo did not: wanton abandon, altered states of consciousness, and debauchery.

The two were not jealous of one another; they knew they each had a time and a place and were rather content with the monthly breakdown. After all, what sort of society could survive in good health if its people are in altered states of consciousness for 9 months of the year? Both the gods and the greeks held an unparalleled brilliance in understanding realms of Psyche which still to this day astonishes modern thinkers.

Ordinary states of consciousness can be likened with the mundane. Muses are often seen alongside Apollo for this reason. To remain grounded within structure and predictability, one needs muses to breathe oxygen and vibrancy into humdrum hues of normalcy.

Expanded or altered states of consciousness can induce (among other feelings) euphoria, ecstasy and elevation. Whether through drink and drug or wildly unfettered sex, Dionysus is anything but dull. Additionally under his domain is theater. This is why some consider him to be healing. Audiences made of entire villages would congregate in amphitheaters to experience shows. Through either laughing at comedy or crying in tragedy, the emotional catharsis allowed for a collective cleanse.

What do these disparate gods have to teach about human psychology? Modern understanding upon the Greek gods is best articulated through archetypal psychology. Rather than being related to as heavenly bodies in the sky, they are seen as archetypal forces within each and every human psyche. What does this look like through a less abstract vernacular?

Apollo and the Muses

The mundane thirsts for the magic.

Where Apollo is taking a shower, Dionysus is reclining in a scorching bubble bath. Apollo plans his vacations months in advance with pre-booked tours and a set plan for each day. Dionysus is the one way ticket to unfamiliar terrain with nothing pre-booked. Apollo is the walk and the yoga class. Dionysus is skydiving and Ecstatic Dance. Apollo is the mother giving birth at a hospital under the supervision of the medical industrial complex. Dionysus is Mama giving birth in her own living room under the care of a midwife. Apollo is a toyota camry, Dionysus, a jeep wrangler. Apollo is the sermon in a Catholic Cathedral, Dionysus is the worship service at a Pentacostal church. Apollo is a glass of water with dinner; Dionysus is a glass of red wine.

Apollo is sparkling cities and erect skyscrapers penetrating the heavens. He is the map and the road. Dionysus is overgrown forest and paths foraged by rebellious pioneers. Apollo is waiting in line for movie theater tickets; Dionysus is reclining in a theater seat with a bucket of popcorn and enjoying the show. Apollo is the engineering of a museum, Dionysus- the art which sparkles the museum to life. Apollo is the language of numbers, Dionysus the language of spirals. Apollo is the 9-5 job, Dionysus is the visionary entrepreneur. Apollo is the tree trunk, Dionysus is the poetry upon leaves. Apollo is eating one slice of cake for dessert, Dionysus is sneaking away to devour multiple slices.

What are the shadows of being too stuck in one or the other? For Apollo, stagnancy and monotony can lead to depression and apathy when individuals become too comfortable with safety and predictability. Hypertension and anxiety are additional symptoms of falling prey to this archetype. Apollo is a force within the psyche deserving of respect and being in right relationship. Too much of him, however, can grip one into neurotic needs for control. Judgmentalism and condemnation can also sneak into psyches which aren't getting enough doses of the dionysian. Unfulfilling sex lives, relationship issues and fear can all blow through the window when Apollo stops dancing with his other archetypal friends in the individual's psyche.

What are the shadows of getting too enamored with Dionysus? Addiction. Addiction is hell; when aspects of Dionysus are not being respected, he becomes an idol. When individuals make an idol out of anything (whether it be a substance, a person, or a philosophy) their relationship with The Most High suffers. This chasm can intentionally and unintentionally invite varied arrays of unclean spirits into one's psychic home.

Both these archetypes have much to offer one another within Psyche. One needs the knowledge of God (Apollo archetype) just as much as one needs intimacy and actual experience with God (Dionysus archetype). What happens when these two take one another out for a sweet and serendipitous encounter?

The blooming field of psychedelic-assisted therapy beholds a unique (and rather ancient) pairing of these archetypes. Due to the 60's, understanding of substances by lay people have become "drugs" rather than "medicines." The promiscuous use of them at rock n roll concerts and hippie festivals became wielded as propaganda for the war on drugs. This "war," which ended up being deleterious to marginalized groups of people, cemented the idea that entheogens are perilous paths to destruction.

Set and Setting are paramount for any altered state of consciousness journeying

Over recent decades, people have lost faith in the war on drugs. Thanks to research, substances like MDMA have proven to be more effective than years of psychotherapy for veterans healing from PTSD. Important to consider is that it is not just MDMA, it is the MDMA being administered by a skilled practitioner who sits with the client the entire time of their journey. Additionally, several sessions happen both before and after the journey as a way of preparation and integration. MDMA is not the only medicine proving to be more effective than traditional psychotherapy. Astonishing research exists on the powerful outcomes of Ketamine-assisted therapy, psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms) and LSD.

These psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions could also be seen as sacred ceremonies, perhaps even alike to the mysterious and ancient initiations led by priestesses before priestesses were outlawed. While culture is about to witness a proliferation of these types of ceremonies taking place, it is important to remember that there is nothing new about these forms of respect and relating with medicines as healing agents. An ancient art, these practices are resurging in the mainstream with great thanks to research. Sponsored by those who understand society is recalcitrant without science, extensive research now exists. Experiences of God are not enough to sate the cerebral-dominated paradigms. It wants science. Thank you MAPS (Multidisciplinary Studies for Psychedelic Science); the science speaks.

With Apollo loving structure and Dionysus loving direct experiences of God, could these ceremonies be a healing balm to a culture in great need of reorienting to The Most High? Rather than popping a pill and diluting its potential all along the dance floor of sweat and grime, it becomes prayed over and taken under the care of nurturing and trained guides. What might shift in society if more individuals had access to such ceremonies?

How do you relate with the Apollo archetype within yourself? What has the rhythm of your dance with the Dionysus archetype been? May your Psyche continue to unfurl in voluptuous fertility.

Alita Alison Lauren, M.A., PhD is a spiritual consultant, wildlife rehabilitation investor, founder of Sacred Rose Ministry Project, and author of Cultural Psychology of Women's Sexuality: The Priestess, Patriarchy & The Prostitute. For more information visit


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