Osiris Sinuhé González Romero
Visionary Art, Ecodelícs and Microcosmic Phytoformalism.
The use of sacred plants with psychoactive properties and the development of technology can extend our vision. Both facilitate an understanding of universes and realities not perceptible to the naked eye during our ordinary states of consciousness. The creative use of psychoactive plants and confocal microscopy makes the development of visionary art possible. In the first case, the creative uses focus on the inner visions constructed within the psyche thanks to the effects of various neurotropic molecules that work on human sensitivity and imagination. For its part, confocal microscopy allows us to access the microcosm where these neurotropic molecules are found. This approach will enable us to look in another way, and allow us to extend our understanding of the internal structure of these sacred plants. This expansion of the gaze is what Steven F. White calls microcosmic phytoformalism.1
The Microcosms project allows us to sharpen our gaze. It opens our doors of perception to make visible the aesthetic joy we can experience by contemplating the intimacy and secret histories inherent in plant intelligence. Microcosmic phytoformalism works with living biological material; its challenge is using technology to strengthen aesthetic enjoyment, not capital accumulation. This tribute to sacred plants – grounded on critical museology2– allows us to rethink how humans relate to plant forms beyond naive utilitarianism.
Another of its virtues is its didactic character, which leads the public to think about sacred plants in unsuspected ways and outside the clichés and colonial shadows of the psychedelic renaissance.3 It is this deliberate work on the sensitivity and the capacity of astonishment of human beings. This astonishment allows us to deepen our gaze toward these plant constellations, where their stomata, trichomes, xylems, pollen, and vascular tissues are revealed.
The ritual use of psychoactive plants and confocal microscopy can be considered visionary techniques, not only because both allow access to images that are not perceptible to the naked eye. But also because of their ability to stimulate creativity and capacity to strengthen one of the basic human faculties: imagination. Creativity is significant because, in the “psychedelic renaissance,” the main recognized uses are therapeutic or spiritual. However, those that foster creativity, imagination, and aesthetic enjoyment have been left in the background.4
This indifference, fed by a pragmatism focused on capital accumulation, has generated an atmosphere that only allows the full potential inherent in the sacred plants to be
tapped—hindering the full development of what we call visionary consciousness. For example, the intensification of imagination and fantasy is undoubtedly the most striking effect of these plants and their simple yet potent neurotrophic molecules.5 Studying the effects of the neurotropic molecules present in sacred plants and the imagination is valuable for strengthening the theoretical framework of psychedelic science. This framework is also a key element in understanding the ontological turn necessary to fully understand the scope of indigenous philosophies in the context of the psychedelic renaissance.6
Microcosmic phytoformalism allows us to approach the structural elements of plant intelligence; it will enable us to appreciate how sacred plants are structured. That structure and the ontology of connectivity are two critical elements in developing an ecological consciousness based on the expansion of our visionary consciousness. This interconnectivity between the consciousness modified by sacred plants and their relationship with ecosystems has been called ecodelics.7 That is the manifestation of ecological consciousness using sacred plants with strong visionary properties.
One of the most remarkable effects produced by sacred plants is that they make palpable the connection between human beings and nature. This ontology of connectivity makes it possible to become conscious of certain links with plants, animals, forests, mountains, or deserts, especially when they do not present themselves so clearly in ordinary states of consciousness. The oriented psychedelic experience allows one to overcome anthropocentrism and establish different ecosystem connections.
Within the theoretical framework of the philosophy of indigenous peoples, it is necessary to take into consideration, above all, their visionary tradition. This philosophy involves harmony, compassion, hunting, cultivation, technology, spirit, song, dance, colors, numbers, cycles, balance, death, mind, and renewal. From a holistic perspective, mind and body can be used in the careful, disciplined, and repetitive observation of natural and spiritual phenomena. Knowledge is gathered through the body, mind, and heart in altered states of being, song and dance, meditation and reflection, and dreams and visions.8
Dr. Osiris Sinuhé González Romero. Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Saskatchewan, Canada, Department of History with the project: Cognitive Freedom and Psychedelic
Humanities. Founding member of Via Synapsis, an academic society focused on the organization of the University Congress on Psychoactive Substances hosted since 2014 by the Faculty of Philosophy at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
1Steven F. White. “Microcosmic Phytoformalism. Plant Art, Visionary Experience and Eco-activism”. https://www.microcosmssacredplants.org/es/microcosmic-phytoformalism/
2Anthony Shelton. “Critical Museology. A Manifesto”. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 1 (2013): 7-23.
3Diana Negrín. “Colonial shadows in the psychedelic renaissance.” In Psychedelic Justice on Gender, Diversity, Sustainability, Reciprocity and Cultural Appropriation, eds. Cauby Labate, B. and Cavnar, C. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Synergetic Press, 2021: 65-70.
4Osiris Sinuhé González Romero. “Decolonizing the Philosophy of Psychedelics,” Philosophy and Psychedelics. Christine Hauskeller and Peter Sjöstedt (eds). London: Bloomsbury, 2022: 77-94.
5José Luis Díaz. “Las plantas mágicas y la consciencia visionaria”. Arqueología Mexicana, 59 (2003): 18-25.
6Keith Williams; Osiris González Romero, Michelle Braunstein, and Suzanne Brant. “Indigenous Philosophies and the Psychedelic Renaissance.” Anthropology of Consciousness 33 (2022): 506-527. https://doi.org/10.1111/anoc.12161
7Richard, M. Doyle. Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noosphere; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011: p 18.
8Gregory Cajete, “Philosophy of Native Science”. In Waters, A (ed) American Indian Thought: Philosophical Essays. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2004: pp. 45-57.