Taking LSD can lead to a mystical experience or feelings of heightened spirituality. In contrast to other popular psychedelic substances, LSD is a synthetic compound and not tied to specific indigenous lineages that have been affected by colonization or cultural appropriation. This characteristic sets it apart from ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, or peyote. LSD is connected to other lineages of users around the world who are not members of indigenous communities, but often have roots in the counterculture use of LSD in the 1960s.
Things to Know
- LSD can induce a mystical experience that can be measured using the scientifically defined mystical experience questionnaire
- LSD-induced mystical experiences can bridge the gap between healing and psychosis
- LSD may induce a spiritual emergence or a spiritual emergency, characterized by sensations of awakening and expanded consciousness, as well as potentially tumultuous emotions
- LSD can help strengthen a person’s connection to the natural world
The psychedelic effects of LSD can lead to profound alterations in perception, consciousness, and self-awareness, which some people interpret as having spiritual or mystical significance. These experiences can vary greatly depending on the individual, as well as their set and setting.
Scientists studying psychedelics and spirituality have identified some core tenets of the mystical experience, often boiled down into the mystical experience questionnaire,1 which identifies a sense of oneness, unity, ineffability, transcendence of time and space, deeply felt positive mood, sense of awe, and other factors used to identify spirituality brought on by a psychedelic or through other means.
In psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, it’s sometimes found that the magnitude of a mystical experience may correlate with the extent to which the individual experiences a sense of healing.2 Other research3 indicates that LSD-induced mystical experiences might bridge the gap between “madness” and healing: As research Isabel Wiessner states, “Mystical experiences seem to play a key role in both psychotic and therapeutic experiences: they are commonly reported by people with psychotic disorders and have previously been shown to be crucial for psychedelics to exert therapeutic benefits (for example in anxiety or depression). In other words, LSD-induced mystical experiences might be the missing link between the psychosis model and the therapy model.”
Indeed, the effects of LSD can engender an expanded consciousness, allowing individuals to tune into different spiritual energies within their internal and external worlds, an enhanced perception which could lead to a deeper appreciation of nature and beauty, a sense of awe and wonder connecting an individual to a feeling of something greater than themselves, and varying degrees of emotional healing and insight, which could lead to a spiritual awakening.
Spiritual Emergence/Spiritual Emergency
It’s important to note that not all spiritual experiences are full of bliss. While spiritual emergence is a process of awakening into a new level of consciousness and functioning, a spiritual emergency4 can be a challenging, yet profound period of psychological transformation. This can involve intense emotions, visions, sensory changes, and potential psychosis. It’s important to know the differences between these states and to seek out assistance in the integration process of a psychedelic experience in order to stabilize amid new insights and perception of reality.