There’s something I have been pondering for a while. If, in accordance to the hippie narrative, psychedelics turn you into a pansexual gender-neutral vegan pacifist feminist climate activist, explain the Aztecs to me. The Americas were home to many cultures that leftists would have liked. The Taino met by Columbus and subsequently enslaved and eradicated fit the picture just perfectly. They were relatively peaceful egalitarian people, with women held in high regard.
But then there are the Aztecs. If we presume that psychedelics give you insight into the human condition, then the Aztecs would be bad news for the modern radical left. The Aztecs after all, had access to just about anything that makes for a good party. The Aztecs had magic mushrooms, Peyote imported through long-distance trading routes from the North, morning glory seeds, Salvia Divinorum leaves, Datura and probably even hallucinogenic toads.
They were also keen on mixing different plants. Salvia divinorum was mixed with morning glory. The LSA in morning glory is like a poor man’s version of LSD, that gives you headaches by constricting your blood vessels in your brain. On the other hand, Salvia Divinorum relaxes those blood vessels, so when you ingest them together, you should have less of a body load.
In other words, the Aztecs knew their drugs. And that’s why today, PhD students from around the Western world fly to the capital city of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, compensating their CO2 emissions by donating to charities that give efficient wood-burning stoves to Congolese women. They backpack through the Aztec republic, as they travel from shaman to shaman for spiritual healing sessions where they do yoga and visualize their third chakra during deep meditations, with cathartic ceremonies where they cry out over their ecological grief.
No wait. Sorry, wrong timeline. The Aztecs had a hereditary monarchy, ruled by an emperor and a warrior caste, existing in a state of chronic warfare with surrounding nations, as they imported captive warriors for religious ceremonies during which people were stabbed in the chest with a ceremonial knife before having their heart ripped out and sacrificed to the Sun God Huitzilopochtli. The only real option men had for upward social mobility was by excelling in warfare, bringing a lot of captives back for sacrifice. In other words, the Aztecs were shitlords.
One thing that both fringes of the spectrum tend to agree on is that Indians are cool. The Nazi’s held Indian Americans in higher regard than white Americans. The left’s fascination with Indians is pretty self-evident. The Aztecs were so far to the right that the left doesn’t really feel scared of them, even though they have a habit of being overly paranoid. White people are seen as always at risk of moral corruption and succumbing to white supremacy again. Go out with your dog in central park, be confronted with a black man who tells you to put your dog on a leash and your secret inner Nazi reveals himself again. That’s now the white man’s burden.
But what then, of Mexicans? Nobody seems to worry about Mexicans becoming Aztecs again. All sorts of People of Colour were sacrificed on the altars of Tenochtitlan, a genocide as large as their infrastructure would allow them to carry out. If you were trans, or plus-sized, or differently abled? Well, my historical knowledge is admittedly imperfect, but I don’t think you would have had a long life in a society where only men skilled in battle were held in high esteem. And yet, nobody bothers asking how such a thing could happen. We study how Germans could become Nazi’s, we tell ourselves that this may never happen again. But nobody fears the Aztec palingenesis.
And yet, here we are as hip young millennials, doing exactly what the Aztecs did. We spend our days in a drug induced haze. Progressives will complain about Westerners who take Ayahuasca stripped from its cultural context. “You can’t really experience Ayahuasca without an Indian shaman in the Amazon rain forest!” Alright my friend, but then you can’t really experience magic mushrooms without a pyramid in the background where soylent drinking e-scientists are being sacrificed to Huitzilopochtli either, as that’s the only real historical cultural context which we are aware of today. Sure, you can argue that Soma in the Vedas was this or that drug, but at the end of the day, we don’t know. What we do know is where the Aztecs took their mushrooms.
Do I say the quiet part out loud? Fine. I think the Aztecs were onto something. I’m not even being meta-ironic. Why do I believe that? The first reason is because human beings have a hedonic baseline. When your material condition improves, you become happier, temporarily. Ultimately however, your happiness is a product of your social comparison to your peers. If you think you’re doing better than them you’re happy. If you feel like you’re doing worse, you’re unhappy. Throw social media into the mix and we all find ourselves thinking we’re doing worse. You outperformed the SP 500 this year? That’s nice, but Drake had a 100 million dollar mansion before hitting thirty.
So, if you think a society where e-scientists, corona-doomers and other degenerate forms of man are sacrificed to Huitzilopochtli, or his brother, Tezcatlipoca, is a dystopian nightmare, that’s fine with me. But if you really lived in those circumstances, you wouldn’t think to yourself “Drake had a 100 million dollar mansion before hitting thirty”. No my friend, you would be thinking: “At least I’m not having my heart pulled out of my body”. I’m not being absurd here. Human beings adjust to any sort of misery. Make the world darker and what light remains is held in higher esteem.
But there are other advantages too. Humans have an excessive capacity for reproduction. If the resources are there, an average woman can give birth around ten times during her reproductive lifespan. If you have wet nurses, the woman will ovulate again rapidly after giving birth, enabling her to give birth anywhere around twenty times. You need slightly more than two children for a stable population. How do we stabilize our population and prevent ourselves from drowning out all other life? Educating women? How’s that working out for you?
The Aztecs had a pretty obvious answer: You kill everyone. You take those who are most eager and willing to sacrifice themselves for the Gods and you turn them into your nation’s elite. Then, rather than genuinely sacrificing themselves for the Gods, you make them go out and find other people to sacrifice. It’s pretty obvious who your elite would be. You take a group of people and ask them who wants to try Datura.
Two or three days later, you look for the survivors. Some of them will be in insane asylums, others will be lying naked in a ditch somewhere. This is now your nation’s new priesthood. If you have experienced psychedelics it’s hard to feel sorry for those who are dead. If you have experienced Datura, it’s hard to feel sorry for those who are dying. In other words these are the perfect people to put in charge of things. Joe Biden? Elizabeth Warren? Do those look like the kind of people ready to embrace death to you? No? Well, then they’re not about to save the forest and its animals, are they? The Aztec aristocracy was perfectly willing to sacrifice themselves, whenever they felt they failed to live up to their duties. People would mutilate their own bodies, whenever they felt they had insulted the Gods.
Alright, let’s do this again, we start from the basics. The plants are dying, because of us. When humans show up, plants disappear. When you ingest the plants, or their friends the mushrooms, they help you accept the prospect of death. So, you go all the way to the Amazon rain forest, you consume these plants that teach you not to be afraid of death, you fly back to Amsterdam (compensating your emissions of course by helping Congolese women to more efficiently burn trees) or another hip city and you… start blocking traffic somewhere to save the planet. You didn’t get the message! What does the message look like? It looks like the people on your Twitter feed having their still-beating hearts ripped out and held up for the sun God. When you get the message, hang up the phone and start building pyramids.
But let’s be serious for a moment. There’s a culture that existed in Mesoamerica that considered it a good idea to sacrifice thousands of people to their Gods, to thereby delay the looming end of the world. We see the end of the world approaching, in the form of catastrophic heatwaves and the death of everything we hold dear. If this culture had an active relationship with the plants that surround them, if they had a living tradition that evolved over thousands of years and if their nation’s cultural elite had grown convinced that thousands of people should be sacrificed to the Gods, perhaps it’s time we start listening to Aztec voices. If you take Psychedelics and the message you get is “let’s block traffic somewhere”, I’m afraid your own Western Eurocentric cultural bias is shining through.
You could also turn this around. From a Darwinian perspective, plants should feel incredibly threatened by human beings. History shows that we are the big killers. Unless they manage to become domesticated, human beings will replace them with plants that produce high amounts of carbohydrates. As a plant that doesn’t produce large amounts of carbohydrates, what can you do to survive under those circumstances? Infect their minds. Convince them of ideas that will reduce the number of human beings on the planet.
If you are a plant, convincing us to keep our population low is a very efficient use of your scarce photosynthetic capacity. So, what are plants going to do? They’re inevitably going to evolve in a manner that helps them convince us to keep our population low. Plants that don’t manage to do that, end up extinct, like the forests of Lebanon. Plants like those in the Amazon, help the rest of the plants survive. Imagine you’re a tree in the Amazon. The Ayahuasca vine is climbing up on your side. Any other vine would anger you, but you know this guy as the guy who convinced the local humans to stop multiplying like bacteria in a Petri dish. Rather than casting him off, you’ll happily give him a helping hand.
Now you might say that you would love to believe what I’m arguing here, but it’s too far fetched. You can’t believe that a plant could teach us to keep our population low, that such a thing could evolve. What you are unaware of, is that the evolution of plants is guided. It’s guided by fungi. Plants need connections with other plants in most forests, for them to thrive. They exchange nutrients through the use of mycorrhizal networks. A nutrient that your local portion of the soil doesn’t have, is a nutrient that can be transported to you by fungi, from other plants. If you’re a plant and you want to live in the forest, you need to make sure you remain on friendly terms with the fungi.
But now we get to the juicy part. Fungi are smart. Chances are, they’re incredibly smart. Mycorrhizal fungi create something resembling a neural network. Different cells together form a mycelium. A mycelium consists of cells, which communicate together through use of electricity, just like your neurons. Why are human beings so smart? It’s now increasingly thought that the answer is rather inelegant: We just have an unusually large number of neurons.
Scientists think they can build a fungal computer through use of a mycelium. It’s a small step from here, to the idea that the mycelium contains a form of advanced intelligence. It’s the mycelium that is tasked with transporting nutrients to different plants. So, what is this mycelium going to do, when it figures out that one plant in the forest has come up with a genius new way to get those pesky humans to stop reproducing like bacteria in a Petri dish? It’s going to be blessed with whatever nutrients it asks for.
What are some ideas that plants and mushrooms can use to reduce our population? Here’s a good one: It’s both an exit and an entrance honey. Your clitoris extends deep into your body and the easiest way to reach it is the most taboo. Men generally don’t have to be convinced of this sort of depravity, but women are kept in the dark through Abrahamic religions, which are the human defense system against the ideas that plants use to keep our numbers low. All true sins were taught to us by the church, but sodomy is one of many virtues taught to humans by plants. Satan, if you couldn’t guess it, has green fingers.
So one day, a humble plant in the rain forest proudly announced to the mycelium that it figured out a way to convince humans to stop using the front hole. Guess who got all the potassium and nitrogen he asked for? But that’s not enough of course. The plants also had to convince us that there are too many of us. The plants had to convince us that we have to get rid of each other. In comes a mysterious plant that lives high up in the mountains: Our lady the shepherdess, Salvia Divinorum! When the humans consume her leaves, they feel as if the world is ending and start building pyramids where e-scientists have their hearts ripped out.
Plain simple promiscuity works too. A woman who is promiscuous will be infected with STD’s that make her sterile. If plants can make us promiscuous, it should work to keep our numbers low too. If I had to guess, I would say that this is what made the Coca plant so successful. What we call the rain forest, is a continual competition between plants over who can convince humans of the most anti-human ideas.
The plants produce the antithesis to Christian humanism. All lives matter? No lives matter says Lady Datura. God created the world? I destroy the world says the Shepherdess. And what do you get when you get all the plants and mushrooms together, when you build an empire where you import Peyote all the way from the Huichol up North, when you chew Salvia Divinorum leaves together with Morning Glory seeds, when you consume magic mushrooms during your religious ceremonies? That’s when my Dark Lord Tezcatlipoca feasts on human bodies and sheds a tear of joy.
I’ll leave you with the translation of a gorgeous Aztec poem, the authorship of which is unfortunately unknown:
No one comes on this earth to stay
Our bodies are like rose trees –
They grow petals then wither and die.
But our hearts are like grass in the springtime,
They live on and forever grow green again.
I have never agreed so much with something that I completely disagreed with.
Great post. I really have to try some of that stuff sometime.