This essay has been been percolating in the caverns of consciousness for nearly 5 years. It starts with a story. In the early months of 2018, fresh off the winter wonderland that became known as the 2017 Crypto Winter – a conference was held on the picturesque beaches of Tulum, Mexico...
I was working as Communications Director for a software wallet, and exploring the emerging world of psychedelic medicine. It was a wild time, and this was a match made in heaven. I was deeply excited.
🧧 The CryptoPsychedelic Conference
The conference brought together young and bright faces across the psychedelic and cryptocurrency worlds, putting them together for a few days of drinks on the beach, speaker panels, and open stages.
Expectations were high. To me, the parallels between the psychedelic experience and the potential of cryptocurrency and blockchain protocols were numerous and obvious. The fractal nature of software design, transparency as a mechanism for Truth, emergence as generative pattern, technology as embodied states of Being — I eagerly awaited the panels.
But nothing of the sort arose. The closest overlap presented was using cryptocurrency as a funding mechanism for psychedelic therapy studies. Relatively basic, to put it nicely. Most panels were individuals talking about themselves. I was profoundly disappointed.
But this idea — the overlap between blockchain, crypto, and psychedelics — has not left me. The idea guides me like a lighthouse in a storm. These two worlds share a deeply fundamental property — the cultivation of sovereignty.
This is what we will explore today — crypto and psychedelics as tools for the cultivation of individual and collective sovereignty.
👀 Grokking Sovereignty Models
Sovereignty is arguably the fundamental concept throughout Nature — fractalling upwards in the holonic architecture that is Life itself. The sovereign atom, molecule, cell, organism, species, ecosystem, bioregion, planet, Being, Life. Sovereignty is fractal, self-similar at any level of scope or magnification.
Personally, I define sovereignty as your capacity and ability to be a complete, conscious agent in the world.
I, and many others I know, have been deeply impressed by Jordan Hall's triadic model of sovereignty. Hall puts forward sovereignty as a self-recursive feedback loop, an agentic strange loop, where one's sovereign capacity is measured spherically, with the x,y,z-axes being Perception, Sense-Making, and Agency.
- 👁 Perception: Are you able to see Reality as-it-is. This includes access to information, avoiding confirmation bias, steel-manning opposing sides, and taking meta-perspectives.
- 🤔 Sense-Making: With clear perception of the available information, can you make sense of it? What can you infer from the data? What is it indicating, what steps are next, where do you go? Just having the information isn't enough, you have to be able to understand it and decide what to do next.
- 🏃🏻♂️ Agency: If you have made a decision, can you act on it? Do you have the individual capacity to make your decisions real in the world? Are you able to effect change?
- 🌀 Strange-Loop: After taking action, you have impacted Reality. You have affected the world. This means new information is available to be perceived, and the process begins again, looping back in on itself in a self-recursive fashion.
Hall's spherical agency model is exceptional because it invites two obvious moves to make in the cultivation of sovereignty: first, become well-rounded. Second, expand holistically.
"Consider, for example, that a major challenge to sovereignty is an imbalance of these capacities. If you have much more ability to perceive the world than you have ability to act in the world, you might feel powerless and non-responsive. If you have much more ability to act than you have the ability to make sense, you might find yourself doing more harm than good." — Jordan Hall, On Sovereignty
Increase your ability to perceive, to understand, and to act. Increase the rate at which you complete these cycles. And just like our vicious vs. virtuous cycles, this can either collapse in on itself, or work synergistically and be a catalyst for major growth. Hall continues:
"As you develop, if you are lucky, you learn something. You increase your ability to relate to the world and to make sense of it. And, ultimately to make good choices. This is a virtuous cycle. The more good choices you make, the better positioned you are to make good choices in the future." — Jordan Hall
🌐 Node <> Network Holonic Architecture
In Ritualized Rebirth and Cultural Architecture, I made the argument that there is something greater than the mere fulfillment of the individual. The beauty of joining the great Web of Life is not self-eradicating, it is self-transcending, rising into more expansive levels of Being.
The paradox is that to join this network, you must be a fully capable node. The individual node must be sovereign, because it's a holon. Holonic architecture is simply that an entity is both a whole, and a part, simultaneously. Your heart is both a complete organ itself, and a single organ of your body. You are both a complete individual, and a part of humanity. Counterintuitively, in order to transcend the self, you have to cultivate the self.
Single points of failure and trophic cascades are problematic. Failure of a holon affects the input of the supra-holon/system, and affects the output of the sub-holon/grouping. These set off chain reactions. You must be a whole individual. You must be sovereign.
The opposite is also true, you can have single acts that ripple positively throughout the higher-order whole — this is why wolves change the rivers.
Because sovereignty is fractal in nature, the same foundational principles apply. We have individual perception, sense-making, and agency, just as we have collective perception, sense-making, and agency.
The challenges we are up against are far beyond the scope of an individual to handle, perceive, or understand. Collective sovereignty is the way forward.
The fundamental building block of collective sovereignty is individual sovereignty. Only with sovereign individuals coming together can we paint a Gestalt of the wicked problems complete and compelling enough to address them.
🔮 Psychedelics and Individual Sovereignty
Psychedelics have been used in ritual and ceremonial contexts for millennia, largely due to their ability to invite in the sacred, and in the cultivation of individual sovereignty. In Ritualized Rebirth, we covered this process of formal death/rebirth practices as essential in the self-actualization and self-transcendence process.
The psychedelic experience thrusts you to look at the two fundamental components: yourself as an individual, sovereign node, and yourself as part of a vast, interconnected network: the Web of Being.
It confronts you directly with your almighty power, with the importance of every act and thought you have, and the profound power of exercising your will over linear time. They smack you with sovereignty.
Psychedelics are among the single most powerful experiential psychotechnologies for sovereignty and transcendence I have ever come across. Several factors make them powerful catalysts in the cultivation of individual sovereignty:
- ⛑ Resolving Trauma: if you are viewing the world through a lense of historical trauma, you are severely limiting your Perception. Most traumatized people wear trauma like glasses, viewing the world solely through it. They're never seeing reality as it is.
- 🕶 Lenses of Perception: Several distorting lenses of perception exist. Psychedelics help to slowly or completely remove these filters from your perception. Fear, cognitive biases, logical fallacies, spiritual ego, tribal identities/affiliations. Psychedelics are remarkably consistent at oblierating lenses that distort reality, this by itself makes psychedelics an indispensible tool.
- 🏔 Meta-Perspectives: The psychedelic experience is uniquely skilled at forcing people into meta-perspectives, rising above the content of experience to witness the structure and unfolding of experience itself. This is essential for systems thinking, holistic and ontological design, and accelerates the individual evolutionary process.
- ⚡️ Insight Cascades: John Vervaeke introduces flowstates as cascades of insight, this is why they are so intrinsically rewarding – a constant barrage of 'aha!' moments with full-bodied engagement. Psychedelics produce an extended flowstate, both subjectively and neurobiologically. When the subject of the insight is the interrelation and right relationship of Self, Other, and World, that is an extremely potent place to be.
- 💡 Creative Problem-Solving: One of the most classic psychedelic science studies of all time was around creative problem solving. ~30 domain experts were brought in, all of whom had a 'problem' they could not solve. The majority found creative or innovative solutions to their challenges. In regards to perception and sense-making, psychedelics are incredibly powerful tools.
- 😵💫 Nuance/Complexity: Due to this increase in creativity, insight, schema theory, and information management, psychedelics allow for the processing and assimilation of greater amounts of nuance and complexity than normal. Suddenly, like the disparate dots above, everything fits into a holistic picture, while retaining individual uniqueness. We need individuals who can hold and process more nuance and complexity, and psychedelics with appropriate integration can facilitate this.
- 💪 Personal Power/Responsibility: You cannot exercise your agency if you are consciously or unconsciously throttling yourself. This is what most people do — hold themselves back. From fears of failure, to self-doubt, to comfort, to perceived smallness, people throttle their own agency frequency. Psychedelics, through mechanisms like embodied awakening, self-transcendence, death/rebirth, God-experiences, fear extinguishing – help individuals reclaimg their power, take deep responsibility, and increase their agency as a result.
- 🔋 Energetic Re-Alignment: Psychedelics experiences excel at energetic realignment, giving the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual (PEMS energy systems) a hard reset. This is basic, but foundational. You make worse decisions when hungry, perform at a lower quality when tired. It all adds up and contributes to your sovereignty.
In the yoga of becoming, psychedelics are an indispensable tool for internal awakening and sovereignty. Though they are not the only tool available, ritual psychedelic use has withstood the test of time for good reason.
🪙 Crypto, Blockchain, & Collective Sovereignty
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain protocols are the latest (& perhaps first) emerging technological innovations that have the flexibility, strength, and potential to assist humanity's phase shift through a regenerative renaissance.
No other existing economic, financial, or political systems have been capable of stewarding this. How do we know? Because nothing is happening. From misaligned incentive structures, perverse power dynamics, optimizing for dark triad personality traits — there are several reasons why the existing systems are either incapable, unwilling, or both, to help enact the level of change required.
This is where cryptocurrency and blockchain are taking center stage. They are systems-level components of cultural architecture that are up to the task of stewarding this level of collective transition. Of course, they are still nascent and being developed, but the initial results and capabilities are extremely promising.
Putting the power back in the hands of the people is synonymous with developing collective sovereignty.
It's outside the scope of this essay to provide detailed explorations of what cryptocurrency and blockchain are, but we'll explore a few key characteristics that make these technologies so essential in contributing to individual and collective sovereignty.
- 🧾 Immutable Record: The immutable ledger that forms the foundation of blockchains is one of the most significant developments we have seen in the last few decades. Clear perception of reality is the starting point for sovereignty, and you cannot make sovereign collective decisions about governance, economics, or finances when small groups of people like governments, banks, or financial institutions can black box information, lose trillions of dollars, or engage in unethical behaviour.
- 💻 Information Visibility: The collective has no insight or ability to perceive what is happening within the highest levels of monetary policy, governmental decision-making, or banking institutions. Given the centrality of money in today's socio-economic systems, this is an absolute atrocity. Having all records collected, stored, and available to the public is absolutely essential to the sovereignty of the collective. This is why existing systems are both incapable (don't have transparency mechanisms) and unwilling (information is actively surpressed) at assisting the development of collective sovereignty.
- ⚖️ Governance Mechanisms: Blockchain invites the opportunity for decentralized governance mechanisms, liquid democracy protocols, and opportunities for more robust collective sensing and collective intelligence to take place. If we're being truly honest, most politicians are only good at being politicians. They have no real skill in the world — why are they making decisions on things like healthcare, economic policy, planetary regeneration?
- ✅ Collective Agency: We have lost the ideal of liberal democracy and have succumbed to oligopalist plutocracy, rule by wealthy elite. The existing political and economic elite can debase and destablize currency without your knowledge, acceptance, approval, or permission.
- 👊 Individual Control: You have no input on how your money works, your system of governance, or any other meta-systematic decisions from which all else arises. The two-party system is a pathetic polarizing manipulation of the masses. We have allowed this to happen, and we can begin to change it. Most major banks have massive investment in the fossil fuel industry – regardless of your views, if you're using major banks, you're funding planetary devastation. It's time to reclaim this.
Decentralized systems were one of the design requirements in Cultural Architecture, for this very reason.
Crypto and blockchain enact and enable collective sovereignty, to once again enmesh humanity as a whole unto itself, and also as a symbiotic part of the great holonic holograph known as Life.
🎯 Future Possibilities
Across several pieces we have explored the fundamental recognition that the external world is formed and shaped from your internal state of being. The world looks the way it does because of the cultural frequency that created it. Your life looks the way it does because of the internal state of being you embody.
The true potential of psychedelics and blockchain is the virtuous cycle it creates, the collective yoga of becoming it enables. Psychedelics facilitate radical internal evolution, facilitating novel insights, creativity, systems thinking, and more. Crypto and blockchain provide the tools and technologies to manifest this new way of Being in the world. They are the integration process of humanity's embodied awakening. They are how we materialize these changes in the world.
Decentralized governance, fractal holonic architecture, biomimetic programming. Crypto and blockchain allow us to build, innovate, and iterate at the speed of evolution, at the speed of insight, at the speed of Life. Nothing has enabled us to do that, individually or collectively, thus far, to this degree. Looking forward, this opens up radical new possibilities:
- 🏴 Digital Nations/Stewardship: Largely put forward already by the late Toni Lane Casserly with her pioneering work at Cultu.re, we can phase shift from outdated forms of governance and democracy and step boldly towards a more united, holistic dynamic. Digital nations, collective governance, and communal stewardship move us in the connected collective visions that so often arise in the psychedelic experience, and are enabled by the emergent technologies within crypto and blockchain.
- 👥 Self-Organizing Collective Intelligences (SOCI's): The Collective Sovereignty feedback loop has to be iterated quickly, seamlessly moving from perception into sense-making into action as quickly as possible. Self-Organizing Collectives, with the ability to manage resources and make decisions rapidly, will be essential.
- 👩🏼⚖️ Governance Mechanisms: The collective embodied awakening aspect of this sovereignty work will be putting it into practice. Fortunately, alongside these initiatives, novel ways of relating and governing are opening up. Liquid Democracy, Quadratic & Conviction Voting, Holonic Architecture, and many others are presenting opportunities for experimentation and creative evolution of the very building blocks of civilization as we know it.
- 💵 Paid to Participate: With radical reorganization of individual and collective mechanisms, entirely new ways of architecting come about. Imagine if the dollar paid you for being a user of it? Imagine if video games paid you for playing? Imagine if countries competed for your citizenship? All of this is already happening in the crypto and blockchain worlds. It's there, just not evenly distributed yet.
💃🏻 A Dance of Emergence
There you have it. Sovereignty as the gravitational force uniting the psychedelic experience and the crypto/blockchain worlds.
This world is just emerging. A dance between individual evolution and the tools capable of holding it. Our systems are incumbent, old, outdated, and crumbling. Humanity needs to start embodying its own awakening, and embracing the tools and technologies that are capable of honouring the divine experiences and insights that the inner landscapes of mind present.
It's time to once again embrace the emergent, dynamic, holonic nature of reality and embrace our own cryptopsychedelic sovereignty as a species.