Cultures throughout the world have used plants and fungi with psychedelic properties for millennia to produce altered states of mind.
More than just temporarily transforming the lens through which one sees the world, these drugs were considered sacred, because those who took them frequently had mystical or religious experiences.
To this day, many individuals who use psychedelic drugs feel they grant a certain kind of perspicacity, and the number of people who are using psychedelics appears to be growing. Several clinical trials are now examining the effects of these drugs, while some cities and states are considering decriminalizing “magic mushrooms” that contain the psychotropic compound psilocybin.
While under the influence of the drug, users typically experience changes in mood and perception, a sense of oceanic boundlessness, radically altered reasoning and thinking, and auditory and visual hallucinations. Once the acute effects of the drug subside, however, many people feel as though they have a heightened sense of empathy and self-awareness, which is why these drugs have generated much interest from many medical researchers. While this is not an endorsement by any means—since far more research needs to be conducted before medical science can definitively say these drugs are effective—preliminary clinical trials indicate that these aftereffects may have therapeutic benefits, especially for those who are confronting the limits of their mortality.