The trip was evidently so moving as to make Tjeerd van Bekkum reconsider his position in 2017
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Going to a festival and taking psychedelic substances to get ‘a new view on life’ has almost become a lifestyle choice amongst wealthy people in Western Europe and the US in recent years. The trend is evidently strong in Friesland, too, with the former Mayor of Smallingerland (the area around Drachten) having decided to step down as Mayor after a particularly inspiring experience whilst tripping on Ayahuasca in 2017. As reported by the Omrop Fryslân.
Tjeerd van Bekkum (VVD), who is from Drachten and has held several elected positions since 2002, told RTV Noord that he had used Ayahuasca ‘multiple times’. Whilst possessing the drug is a criminal act in the Netherlands, using it is not.
It seems that Van Bekkum’s experience had a lasting effect on him: “it brought me to my deepest thoughts, and I decided that something has to change. I don’t know why, but I know for certain that I didn’t want to return to the world [of local politics] that I was active in”, says Van Bekkum.
The active ingredient in Ayahuasca, DMT (dimethyltyiptamine), is known to give strong visual hallucinations, often with an equally powerful emotional response. The former Mayor apparently used the substance whilst on a ‘retreat’ in 2017: he stepped down later that year.
Van Bekkum didn’t entirely step away from public life, though, and was rewarded for taking a different look at things by being made director of Leeuwarden’s year as Capital of Culture in 2018.
After that, trippy Tjeerd and his family moved to Gelderland, but he may return to the North. “We may build a retreat in Groningen, Friesland, or Drenthe.”