If you smoke or drink it may not be appropriate to do this actually within the circle itself, nor in practice is it usually a good idea to enter ritual space while intoxicated as this will affect the energy that you introduce to any circle, obviously there may be ritual mead or alcohol in small quantities as an offering and maybe some smudging, but these are limited and carefully controlled and respectful.
Morning David. I agree with you on this point wholeheartedly. Apart from the psychological, physical and legal dangers that may be involved, I think a person who is seeking out spiritual enlightenment of some kind should stay well away from intoxicants. I’m not talking about ritual ale or mead here, although turning up to sacred sites drunk is pretty bad in my opinion and I’ve heard plenty of people’s stories about experiences at Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury that were ruined by people who were off their heads turning up and spoiling it for everyone else. In a purely spiritual sense, I think that they are at best ineffective and at worse potentially harmful on a spiritual-psychological level.
Of course, all of this depends on how much a person really believes in such things, but my view of it is that we are dealing with powerful forces and energies and for this reason, the same as if you were in any other potentially dangerous situation, you need to be in control, centred and focused. Now, I know people will point to the use of certain entheogens among indigenous peoples and their ritual use thereof, however, when an indigenous healer or shaman is using a plant in a ritual way, he is using it with years of training and experience in a controlled environment and on the back of millennia of his or her people’s traditions and lore. This could be compared to how doctors are allowed to write prescriptions for medicines that could be harmful – they know why, when, how and how much. In recent years the trend of going to South America for ayahuasca experiences has become popular and sadly there have been a number of deaths and bad experiences.
In addition to these considerations, some of the entheogens – plants and fungi – that were used in traditional cultures in Europe are dangerous and easily confused for others that could be even more dangerous, especially as far as many fungi are concerned. I’d really not recommend their use at all.
In the third Bardic Course booklet, Greywolf points out:
… However, with our strengthened and purified awareness this need not be as daunting as it potentially sounds and, unlike the use of mind-altering drugs (mind-destroying more like – the BDO does not condone the use of drugs), meditation only gives you what you are ready for by way of incrementally increasing your awareness. … If you still wish to escape from reality then there are the above mentioned drugs, alcohol,television and a plethora of other means to do so. But if that’s really what you want, then we politely and respectfully suggest that perhaps the path to becoming a Druid is not for you…