Navigating a psychedelic gathering – A Buddha Mag guide for psychonauts

By Kai Teo
Photos by Em Lo, Johan Olin, Indra Sjöberg, Alex Paralex

The sacred lands of Andra Vaerlden Gathering 2017

The sacred lands of Andra Vaerlden Gathering 2017

It is finally time for the festivals to begin. The mystical forests, the eternal sunshine, the campfires, the uncomfortable neon-coloured tents, the seemingly endless psychedelic trips – these have been what we’ve all been waiting for. Now let’s immerse ourselves in the pure embrace of music, lovers, friends, and the power of Mother Nature. 

Across modern societies, psychedelic gatherings have become synonymous with the wanton use of mind-altering substances, and for those who have never supported drug use, these festivals can seem more like a long weekend of debauchery, senseless abuse of the mind, body and soul, and irresponsible behaviour. 

And for the numerous young psychonauts that are joining our tribe for the first time, we all understand that it can be harrowing to tread on the thin, blurry line between spirituality and superstition, learning from altered states of consciousness versus escaping into them, or pure, unadulterated love for another human being or just using our “hippie” mentality as an excuse to give your tits a good squeeze (because it’s considered tantric massage). 

It’s confusing. And not everyone is always nice, clean, or honest. Most of us try our best to keep our intentions pure, but sometimes, we slip. And if you’ve had a weird / bad / fucked up experience with another psychonaut, on behalf of our community, we sincerely apologise and ask for your forgiveness. 

Many festival organisers, including the wondrous souls at Andra Vaerlden, do their utmost to maintain an atmosphere of peace, love, unity, respect and freedom, so that all of us who are there can do whatever the fuck we want, as long as we don’t fuck other people up by doing so. And this year, being Buddha Mag’s first year at the festival, we’ve seen that their efforts have paid off tremendously. Here, we send our deepest gratitude to the team, the artistes, and of course, all you beautiful Rainbow Warriors.

The wondrous souls I've connected with. No humans were harmed in the making of this photograph.

The wondrous souls I've connected with. No humans were harmed in the making of this photograph.

While the organisers have tried their best, even the most powerful love propaganda cannot reach deep into the souls of everyone. Some of us have seen freak outs due to an overconsumption of substances, loud, unruly behaviour in the name of personal freedom, ego trippers putting themselves in higher moral positions and judging our new learners, and spiritual liars laying their lecherous hands on the unsuspecting under the guise of healing and free love. 

In this little guide, I hope to be able to share some of my personal experiences at festivals with all our readers, so that we may remind ourselves to maintain a pure state of mind and intention towards those around us. I do not claim to know better, and I’m sure you would have a lot to advise me and teach me too. I just happen to have a platform to share these thoughts, and I hope that you would read them knowing that I only want the best for you, me, and our entire community.

Tantric sex? Or just pervy persuasions?

A neon tree of life. Not to be confused with your tantra stuff.

A neon tree of life. Not to be confused with your tantra stuff.

I personally know how attractive the “spiritual guru” position can seem to those who are eager to learn and become part of our community. It’s easy to blabber on about the universe, our chakras, our energy, and receive an instant, unwavering gaze of admiration and even sexual attraction. I have to constantly remind myself not to abuse this position of arbitrary power for my personal gains. What we have acquired as knowledge can only be shared freely, used to inspire others and ourselves, and help make a better world. To run your hands up an attractive being’s thigh because you want to help her “clear out her negative energy”, is to me, a despicable perversion of the true healing powers of shamans, gurus and saints. 

A simple line of advice: if you want to express your sexual desire towards someone, just tell them that you would like to have sex with them (trust me, it works). Do not tell them that your hugs have healing abilities, or that your penis can channel positive shakti. Have simple, pure, clean, and fun sex without bringing in spiritual jargon. Once we’re able to share that with a partner, old or new, when there is an understanding that sexual consent is mutual, then we can free ourselves to explore the spiritual forces at play during sex. 

So if some dodgy dude with dreadlocks tells you that he’s gonna give you a tantric massage, chances are, it’s a bullshit excuse to somehow eat your nipples at some point. If you’re not into that, don’t agree to one. 

Getting higher doesn’t mean you’re better

Why do we get high? Do we use it as an escape from the mundanity of the world? Or do we use it to temporarily enhance our experience so that we can bring back lessons we would otherwise not so easily see in our everyday state of consciousness? Or because it’s just a fun booster to bring our festival mood to the next level of ecstasy? 

Whatever our reasons are, they’re all valid. We can either choose to see this as a four-day adventure of our minds, get insanely fucked, drink copious amounts of alcohol, then go home and continue living the way we did. Or we can take this chance to learn as much as we can about human connections, consciousness, alternative ways of living, and use this time as a social experiment to see how a human community can live together in pure love, so that we can bring these thoughts home in hope of helping to build better cities, better towns, and better societies. 

I usually see festivals as the latter. Which is why during my journey at Andra Vaerlden, I have been a fleeting presence that did not actively engage myself too much in any interactions, choosing to be a bystanding observer of this phenomenon. I felt rather aloof, and sometimes lonely, maybe even at some points, unfriendly. I apologise to those who might have thought that I appeared insincere and passive during our interactions, I was merely trying not to impose my presence on your experience. Or maybe I’m just kinda shy in larger groups and not sure what I can say in some social situations. 

I floated a lot...

I floated a lot...

Through floating around the festival, I’ve observed that some of our fellow psychonauts have turned their micrograms into a numerical measure of their mental toughness and aptitude. Yes, heavy trips have heavy consequences. But taking five tabs of acid haven’t taught you anything if you needed to boast about it. 

It’s easy to get carried away. One more tab, one more pill, one more of everything, please. We never want the good vibes to end, do we? But we all know that this chase to the moon is not only pointless, it’s also dangerous. And we urge everyone to pace ourselves properly and not force our fragile minds to stay at the overdrive level. An acid trip lasts up to 12 hours, with a maximum of 3 hours at the peak, for a good reason. Many of our substances have been tried and tested by millions that have flown before us, and they know that the human brain can only be juiced up so much before it starts showing signs of fatigue and sometimes, even madness. 

So let us take our journeys with reverence, and treat our substances with respect. Because it’s not about how much we take, it’s about how much we learn.

If you’re not smart enough to be kind, you’re not smart enough.

In our quest for greater enlightenment and deeper understanding of the universe and our existence, we often open doors to the words of great teachers, and open our hearts to the presence of those who inspire us. We’re all on the same journey. Some of us have come further, and some of us have excitedly just begun. We often take wrong steps, but we, as a community, are here for one another to help guide us back to the path of the light. 

To those who have acquired tons of knowledge and gained worlds of wisdom, we have a responsibility to share what we have learnt and give without judgement. To those who are eagerly soaking in every bit of information that would one day make us better human beings, we have a responsibility to offer our innocence and questioning minds to throw the wiser ones off balance, so that they, may too learn that no knowledge is infallible. 

It seems that sometimes, there would be those who feed their egos with how well-read they have been, and how far along the DMT journey they have explored. And they look upon us occasional trippers as a second-grade citizen of the psychedelic world. My dearest Rainbow Warriors, do not get discouraged by the mansplainers and deep talkers. Sometimes, we all get consumed by how fucking clever we seem and it can be easy to look upon our friends as naive children – feeding our insecurities with a false sense of superiority. We are all still learning, and we haven’t learnt enough to be fully accommodating to everyone’s stories. Our responsibility as diligent students of the universe is to remember that we are all one. So forgive one another’s pride and let’s teach all of us humility and empathy again, and again, and again.

Every festival is a potential birthplace of a new civilisation – one that is actually civilised.

Every festival is a potential birthplace of a new civilisation – one that is actually civilised.

Andra Vaerden is only the beginning, now we go out and build a better world.

What have we learnt during this festival? Is a society based on pure love sustainable? Can we inspire others to love and share like us? Others, such as our parents, our colleagues, our friends who listen to Justin Bieber? We can try. And we can all try our best.

Everyone wants to be loved and to love. We just do it in different ways, influenced by different societal constructs, brainwashed by different schools of thought. But we all desire love. And that, is the single, most important common denominator of all human beings. I wouldn’t go so far to say that the mosquitoes are motivated by love, because honestly, I fucking hate these creatures and I don’t want them in my immediate psytrance family. 

Let’s take the spirit of Andra Vaerlden and bring it home to our everyday lives. We are 600 different individuals leading 600 different lives, influencing 600 different social circles. When we become beings of pure love and light, we can truly start making a difference in helping to build a nicer world. 

Go forth Rainbow Warriors, the beginning of world change is in our very mud-stained hands. 

There's more reflections from Andra Vaerlden in our minimag
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