Leor Roseman, PhD
Imperial College London
Prophetic-Like Events in Ayahuasca Rituals with Palestinians and Israelis
Several ayahuasca groups in Palestine/Israel include both Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Palestinian participants. We conducted observational research on these groups to better understand the potential psychedelics can play in peace-building. Yet, very early in the inquiry, we observed that most of our interviewees held an apolitical ideology, which might serve the status-quo. People highlighted the importance of the mystical orientation of the rituals, and the moments of group oneness and harmony, but seemed to neglect meaningful engagement with political reality and injustice. Similarly many (non-psychedelic) dialogue groups aspire to achieve harmony between participants, which can ironically lead to disengagement from political liberation by creating false perceptions of equality.
Yet, besides the mystical-union, described as beyond ‘left and right’ and beyond national identities, another type of spiritual event took place during the rituals: the prophetic-like event,which is twofold – a revelation and the delivery of the message. The observed events included ayahuasca-induced conflict-related political revelations; both visions based in history or visions of a potential future. The person who experienced these visions often felt compelled to deliver the message to the rest of the group, usually through singing. The phenomenology and impact of the observed prophetic-like events will be presented. I will argue that prophetic-like processes –though rarer than ego-dissolving mystical events – are more likely to occur when socio-political reality ‘leaks’ in the seemingly apolitical mystical structure of the ayahuasca ritual.
I will therefore suggest that when psychedelics are used for peace-building or systemic change, the psychologized inner-spirituality framework of the therapeutic use of psychedelics will require modification; and that the inclusion of socio-political awareness in the modified framework will increase the likelihood of prophetic-like events and their integration in society.
Funding:This work was supported by a private donation by Moshe Tov Kreps, and MAPS
Leor is a postdoc at the Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London, where he also received his Ph.D. and MRes, under the supervision of Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and Prof. David Nutt. His research is focused on the neural and psychological correlates of the psychedelic experience, and the therapeutic application of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression.Currently, Leor is investigating the psychosocial potential of psychedelics, mainly through investigating the potential of psychedelics for peace-building.