A reader invited me to attend a 'journey', an event which he and a few
friends made fortnightly on Ecstasy. Without having met any of them, I
turned up at an address in North London one Saturday afternoon.
The participants were old friends in their thirties who had previously been
involved in rebirthing. They felt that spiritual paths were often a
distraction from coming to know and change oneself. They believed that
releasing their internal anger and other negative emotions would result in
being able to let these go.
The session started by each person (including myself) taking the 'medicine'
in a cosy room with lots of candles and a coal fire. Some took a whole
tablet, others three-quarters.
When the drug came on, one member of the group started to talk about the
knot he felt in his belly, and the rest of us focused our attention on him,
encouraging him to feel it and interpret it. When he seemed to exhaust this
route, someone else would take over the central role. Some would talk and
reveal their secrets, others would 'regress' and describe situations they
believed were from a previous life. One particular member took on the role
of interpreting what was going on, and the others seemed to accept his
'insights'. For instance, he might say that someone was angry and that
person would reply "I don't feel angry" to which he would suggest that this
was because they were suppressing anger.
The atmosphere was intense without fun. I found myself identifying
intensely with the pain being expressed, but this was exhausting and too
much to take after the first couple of hours. I then became more detached
and observed, with growing doubts that the process was really therapeutic
and about their implied belief that there is "no gain without pain".
At the end of the session we all shared a meal, and they considered it an
important 'journey'. They planned to meet a couple of days later to go over
it. I learned that they met at least once a week in addition to these