Evolving from my 2015 Honours thesis examining the overlaps, intersections and parallels between the philosophy of Deep Ecology and the Ayahuasca experience, this presentation explores the concept of ‘The ecological Self’ as a key aspect of entheogenic awakening.
The ecological Self is a concept developed by Deep Ecologists such as Freya Mathews, Arne Naess, John Seed and others, which proposes that ecological ideas are insufficient to bringing about change and that a ‘wider-identification’ or ‘ecosophical’ worldview is required to recognise the intrinsic interconnection of all life. The ecological-Self describes a ‘mode of being’ able to perceive and experience all living things as inseparable from our individual and collective embodiment and encourages us to explore our affinities with other beings as part of our own humanity. As psychedelic compounds/entheogenic plants are known to reliably induce this expanded sense of self, this commonly experienced disruption of fixed identity gives us an opportunity to critique culturally constructed norms of anthropocentrism by challenging our assumed boundaries of separation. Exploring the unique way an ecological Self is bought about by psychedelics, further presents a way of mapping this particular path towards entheogenesis by highlighting the significance of experiential methods that present a view of our existence as relational and holistic. Entheogenic experiences of an ecological Self therefore implicate a way in which we are able to identify with the broader non-human biotic community, by seeing beyond the present into the ‘deep time’ of evolution in order to consider the real roots of consciousness and our role on this planet.