Before the days of modern medicine in many cultures psychedelic rituals were used for healing and self-exploration. It was common for a lot of tribal societies to use psychedelic herbal substances but they were almost never used as pleasure seeking or escape as they are so commonly use for in modern society. Early tribal use of psychedelic herbal substances was usually always for seeking religious experiences, finding deeper understand into the sprit world and for healing sicknesses.
The shaman who was trained to gather then prepare the substances usually controlled earlier psychedelic use within the society. They knew where to gather the herbal substances and what time of year they could find them and just how much to harvest so there would still be enough for next year. A lot of the psychedelics had to be prepared a certain way so they also had to know the art of the preparation. Some substance like Ayahuasca are actually very complex brews and all of the ingredients interact with each other to produce the end result. Others like the Fly Agric (Amanita muscaria) have poison in them and have to be prepared a certain way of they will just make the participants sick and have a poor experience.
Most importantly the Shaman was usually trained and experienced in the states of mind that the psychedelic substances produced so he could create and mange rituals and guide participants along the Psychedelic experience. The Shamans usually managed the setting of the rituals, which can have a huge impact on the psychedelic experience of the participants. In the old days things like paranoia, fear, and delusions were called evil sprits and the shamans job was to make sure these elements did not take over his rituals. They also used tools such as drums and rattles to influence the rituals with the music and rhythms they could keep participants from falling into bad thought patterns or bring them out of evil delusions.
A lot of times in early medicine the sick were believed to be troubled by bad sprits and psychedelic rituals were used to bring about the sprits and then banish them. This was very powerful medicine and probably helped many people face their inner demons and free themselves of repeated destructive habits. Today our modern medicine usually focuses on repressing sickness and treating the symptoms but not the cause.
In the modern days like today most psychedelic use is random and usually for pleasure so the states of mind and all of these levels people go through are not utilized in a constructive way. In most of the older tribal societies the people that actually had an interest in the use of psychedelics would have to talk to a Shaman and go through a ritual to make sure they used the substances properly similar to a doctor’s prescription. Even today in the few cultures that still use psychedelics in a tradition usually can’t understand why westerners would want to take these substances just to make themselves crazy and have fun, to them this is a ludicrous way to be.
But even in our modern culture with the random unorganized use of psychedelics they still do expand and heal many people. If you talk to most people that have use psychedelic for any amount of time about it they will probably tell you of times when doing psychedelics that they have had life changing experiences or made very important self discoveries that have healed them or made them a better person.
Psychedelics are very powerful healing tools even though most people in modern society don’t even realize it.