Psychedelics + the Ecosystem of Meaning

Autumn is a psychedelic season. More than just a waning golden hour, autumn has its own texture. And just by touching it, our consciousness begins to shift.

In our culture psychedelics are often synonymous with “drugs,” exotic substances that blow open the gateways of your perception, concentrates that tip the cup of the world over into your hands and make it so that nothing is ever the same again. To be sure, traditional psychedelics can do this… but so can sunrise, a flower opening, fog. What we miss, when we narrow our vision to Class A drugs, is the very truth that makes these substances popular in the first place— that our world itself is psychedelic. We only have to open our eyes to see it.

At its core, the word psychedelic simply means “consciousness expanding.” Psychedelics can be anything that changes our perspective, opening the garden gates of our psyche so that we can experience the world more fully. The way water moves over a boulder can be psychedelic. A thoughtful conversation with a friend. That moment your eyes lit upon the heart of the woods and you swore, for a second, you saw a stag.



As with many things, the obvious psychedelics seem to be the ones that get popularized (and yes, also prohibited, regulated and demonized). But seeking hard psychedelics every time you need a perspective shift is tantamount to quitting your job and moving to an ashram whenever you feel a bit lost. Sometimes you need to tip the whole contents of the world into your hands in order to find what you are looking for. But most of the time, we simply need a needle-thin moment to gaze into our palms, and we’ll find the paths we’ve been seeking all along.

If we want to live a psychedelic life, to fully step into the expansion, the exaltation and the enchantment of being alive, all we truly have to do is stop courting the conspicuous and begin flirting with the subtle.

We live in a forthright culture, one where there are blacks and whites, absolutes, lights to turn on to banish the night. Our ancestors, however, lived in a world of subtleties. Cave shadows and an existence that depended on hitting a curve of obsidian so it flakes just right. Seasons that flow with the moon and springs slowly seeping from the hillside. We are truly, subtle creatures. And when, in contemporary culture, we begin to feel like we are starving, it is most often for the rich nectar of the subtle that we are missing.

Like the tiny seed of sweetness lapped from a honeysuckle flower, subtlety is one of the most psychedelic substances on the planet. And when we learn how to tune into the subtleties on a momentary basis we can find the numinous always.



Psychedelia isn’t a human frivolity, it is a function of the ecosystem of meaning that keeps our earth alive. When we expand our consciousness, we open the portal to the unseen consciousness of the land itself. This world will ask you to become psychedelic over and over again. You’ll feel it in your body, every autumn there will be a call. The sound of walnuts dropping from the trees. The way a field of wind flowers will bring you to your knees. The particular whitebrightness of the harvest moon on your skin.

The world will ask you to become psychedelic because this, too, is who we were meant to be. Meaning diviners. Subtle seers. Celebrants of the small beauties. Co-creators with the Otherworld. When we touch the expansion of the earth, we become agents of its widening.

And remember that plants and fungi are our kin, and our most enduring mind-expanders. If ever you need a consciousness shift, they will always be here to help you widen.

Want more? Keep reading to learn about my favorite psychedelic mushroom, and it’s not what you think…


Are you ready to exponentially open your awareness of autumn’s subtle psychedelia and learn about the gatekeepers who guard its portal? Check out my class: Herbs for the Otherworld.