Introducing Gateway Psychonautics™

Activists in marginalized communities reclaim their identities and their gifts by taking back and appropriating the language that has been used to oppress them. Derogatory names and symbols become symbols of empowerment, community identity, and unity. A good example of this is the pink triangle used in Nazi Germany to target homosexuals now being used as a primary Queer Pride symbol. There are countless examples of people taking back the language used to harm them and repurposing it in creative and healing ways.

Cannabis has been stigmatized the same way by calling it the “Gateway Drug.” The belief goes that because cannabis use leads to harder drugs, addiction, criminality, and even insanity, it is a terrible gateway that must remain shut! You don’t want to go there, right? Don’t use the Gateway Drug! This was a propaganda technique and a catchy way to “market” oppression. While there is zero reputable evidence to support the claim that the use of cannabis leads to hard drugs of abuse, it lingers deep within our collective psyche. This idea is pretty entrenched. The only real reason cannabis causes harm is because it has been used as a tool for oppressing communities of color and the environmental activists for a very long time. It isn’t the medicine itself, but the oppressive nature of the laws that hurt us. May I simply remind everyone that it is “just a flower.” That’s it. Cannabis is just a very fragrant bud of sticky flowers. 

The irony of this name is that the oppressors were right about cannabis being a gateway, just not in the direction they loudly proclaimed. I think this is a good example of the intrinsic trickster nature of this spirit. It has been my experience that we are not shamed for our shortcomings, but for our unique and powerful gifts, and cannabis is no exception to this. Shaming our gifts is a tried and true social control technique. How dare you be different, creative, compassionate, smart, curious, caring, and empathetic! How dare you care about others! That doesn’t lead to productivity and compliance! You’re a bad person for being such as way! How dare you be a human!

Cannabis is not the “gateway drug.” Cannabis is the “Gateway Medicine,” and that gateway leads to physical and mental health, spiritual awareness, creative insights, and self-actualization. When used skillfully, it leads away from addiction, ill health and our collective insanities. 

The medicine is ancient and was revered, except until very recently, as a sacred plant ally just as the other psychedelics were. Just as the other psychedelics were demonized, cannabis took the full brunt of this assault so much so that it is no longer even considered psychedelic, even by members of its own medicine communities. That misrepresentation has to change. To change it, we must reframe it, and use the language itself to reclaim it. 

It is impossible now to extract ourselves from this deeply embedded cultural coding without much effort. It’s just too sticky, and too deep. It is better to “transmute” it instead, to sublimate it into something greater, purer, and closer to the truth. In ancient times, Alchemists transmuted lead into gold. We can do the same here. We can sublimate a base fear into our greatest ally. It is time to reclaim this medicine directly through language and thought. I’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t make any gold if we don’t have any lead. This name is our substance, a key into the code of transforming our collective conditionings. 

Cannabis leads the way for the other psychedelic medicines. Always had, just did it in a way that was sneaky so as not to draw undue suspicion. I’m just a drug, she proclaimed! Sure, I’m just like alcohol! Yes, I’m good for your joints! What ever you say, just open the gate and I’ll step right in.

She allowed herself to be degraded so she would be accepted, and now in her acceptance, she can show her deeper gifts. Cannabis is now legal across the United States and all of Canada. She is legal in Mexico and in many places in Europe as well. 

While I strongly believe Cannabis is a trailblazer for psychedelic legalization and she should be honored for that, she isn’t the only medicine in the psychedelic community that we seek to liberate.  And there is a big wave coming soon if the Natural Medicine Health Act is passed this November.

Any term that we use then related to our work and this program must be inclusive to all of the medicines and have multiple meanings. It also must be unique enough so we can legally protect it to make sure it is only used in the context it was intended for. The Gateway Drug becomes The Gateway Medicine, and the philosophy of the use of cannabis and other psychedelics for healing, transformation, creative problem solving, and self-actualization becomes Gateway PsychonauticsTM. Gateway Psychonautics is the study and practice of the skillful, mindful use of psychedelic medicines, including cannabis, associated with the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness, Psychedelic Sitters School and our related programs. 

The double meaning is also obvious. We are at the threshold of a greater gateway. It is time for all of us to pass through it. We are the psychopomps that lead the way for others in their transformation and healing. We hold open the door so they can step through this threshold. It is a sacred honor and responsibility to be in such a position. 

Gateway Psychonautics is a work in progress. We are naming it here to create a very clear “first commercial use” precedent for legal purposes, and I have also applied for a trademark registration, and for the related terms listed below, with the USPTO office. By the time you read this, a subpage on our websites will be added. It is unique enough to be easily registered, and the name itself, most importantly, is really, really evocative. It is time to reclaim the names that are used to suppress us. I intend to use this name in that way. 

There is a chance that although our claim to these terms are legitimate, and this mark is quite unique, the USPTO will decline them outright because of the very reasons we are naming here. It wouldn’t be the first time. For that reason, we are asking that our members treat this as protected language regardless of the initial ruling of the USPTO. If necessary, we will appropriately challenge this through their appeal process and there are rules around this that govern protections based on how long a mark has been used commercially. This process takes time and will be something to live into as an organization and greater community.

Current definitions of Gateway Psychonautics and related terms follow:

Gateway PsychonauticsTM: Gateway Psychonautics (GP) is the study and practice of the skillful, mindful use of both natural and synthetic psychedelic medicines, including cannabis, associated with the services and training platform of the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness, Psychedelic Sitters School and other related programs. It is a philosophy that aligns with the educational principles of Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Prevention. Gateway Psychonautics points to a holistic approach to psychedelic medicine use that includes the four primary contexts of intentional use: clinical, spiritual, scientific, and creative/celebratory. GP also orients to not only “Set and Setting” but also to “Skill,” creating a new terminology associated with “Set, Setting and Skill.” GP combines concepts of transpersonal philosophy, somatic psychotherapy, mindfulness skills, and the need for social and environmental justice within a sacred world view that supports the safe, skillful, and intentional use of psychedelic medicines and their positive integration into our lives and society. Gateway Psychonautics points to democratic values, personal and collective agency, consent, and stewardship for the benefit of our communities, our families, our children, future generations, and our shared ecology. 

The term, “Gateway Psychonautics,” and the below terms, are specifically used by the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness, Psychedelic Sitters School, and related programs, as a branding agent to distinguish our services and training, and our underlying theoretical orientation, from other organizations’ services, and we have applied for trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

 Gateway PsychonautTM: A “psychonaut” in our community, a word that is a playful adaption of “astronaut,” has come to mean a “Sailor of the Soul.” Psychonauts use psychedelic medicines for healing, spiritual exploration, personal growth, and creative play. A Gateway Psychonaut uses the skills, resiliencies and theory of Gateway Psychonautics to navigate and chart new paths through new gateways of possibility. A Gateway Psychonaut is an explorer, a journeyer, seeking gifts and possibilities for the betterment of our communities and our shared ecology. We are ethical allies for others seeking similar paths. We are pathfinders, soul searchers, trailblazers, and activists. Gateway Psychonauts are resilient, playful, and excessively curious. We face our fears, insecurity and growth edges with bravery, compassion, and acceptance. Gateway Psychonauts are Alchemist, we help transmute our collective lead into gold. 

Gateway GuideTM: A Gateway Guide is an experienced Gateway Psychonaut who is trained in safely and skillfully leading others on their own psychedelic journey. We are skilled and caring allies, offering support and compassionate awareness of the psychedelic terrain so we can help those in our care reach the  completion of their deepest and most meaningful intentions. Gateway Guides follow the philosophy of Gateway Psychonautics, and engage in the practice of guiding as a sacred act of service. A Gateway Guide adheres to the safety protocols and ethical principles associated with Gateway Psychonautics.