Full Submission : Mind-Expanding Substances - The Use Of Drugs Posted by Shirley Knott on July 16, 1998 at 08:54:26:
TITLE: Mind-Expanding Substances : Use of Drugs
DEFINITION: Pasttime and Therapy.
CREATOR: Mother Nature
PRIMARY CATEGORY: Reality
SECONDARY CATEGORIES: Ritual, Magic, Learning, Art
RELATIONSHIP TO THE CORE WAVE: Are modern humans seeking the same things as our ancestors were in using narcotic and hallucinogenic substances? Have the roles of legality and morality improved or damaged 'drug habits', and is there still a strong case against the rights of the individual to ingest what he pleases? Is it the same sector of society that 'indulges', or has the field widened, narrowed or otherwise changed? What is it that people seek in other or expanded consciousness, and has THIS changed over the millennia?
QUOTES: "Open your mind" - Cuato.
ENCAPSULATION: Shamans used psychedelic substances thousands of years ago, and still do in many parts of the world, untouched by law. Currently in the developed world there is a resurgence in interest in mind-altering drug use of all kinds, fuelled by the media. Though now still largely illegal, their uses and effects have still not been fully and scientifically explored, if this is indeed possible.
Many psychedelics exist naturally, and we would be wise not to turn our backs on a potentially exciting avenue for human exploration of our inner environment, just as we scour the external in all directions. Some are linked to out of body experiences, to telepathy; many others are at the heart of global religions. Why are humans afraid to look inside?
MAIN SUBMISSION: Aboriginal peoples used hallucinogenic substances for magical, medical and religious purposes. On almost every continent there is evidence of psychedelic plant use dating back thousands of years - for example Datura (since Sanskrit times) and Iboga (since at least the 17th Century) from Africa; Deadly Nightshade and Mandrake (since at least the Middle Ages) from Europe; Cannabis (4000 years plus) and the Fly Agaric (3500 years) from Asia; Peyote (Chichimeca, Toltec - at least 2000 years of history), Ayahuasca (a.k.a. Caapi, at least 200 years of use), Psilocybin (Aztec, at least) and San Pedro (use dated to 1300 BC) from the Americas.
Often when they discovered a humble plant with 'supernatural' powers to transport man's mind to realms of ethereal wonder, and even to communicate with spirit worlds, the plant in question was revered or even worshipped. Mushroom cults in Central America, for example, and in India, the Aryans' god-narcotic 'soma' : most likely Amanita Muscaria.
Modern man, when he wants to 'get out of his head' most often turns to Cannabis (grows wild commonly near tobacco and coffee plants, but only one of the three is illegal), Psilocybe mushrooms (very easy to grow at home), LSD, Ketamine and Tryptamines (e.g. DMT), the last two most connected to out-of-body experiences. No longer is there so much ritual involved, unless you count locking the door.
There are many sources of detailed information on a host of intriguing plants and substances to be found on the net, for example at www.lycaeum.org or at www.hyperreal.org or www.herbweb.com , and I highly recommend a spectacular book called Plants Of The Gods (Schultes and Hofmann, Healing Arts Press 1992) for those keen to go deeper still. You may also want to check out TIHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved) by Alexander Shulgin. But for me, most intriguing are the motives for occasional or habitual uses of these drugs.
Are the people 'experimenting' today a similar slice of society to those of yesteryear (in personality terms), or are they a crackpot fringe, bored of life on the eve of the Age of Aquarius?
And are the realms that they explore, the spheres and dimensions of consciousness the same ones that they always were, or have THEY changed too?
Finally, why is such psychonautry so frowned upon nowadays? You get funny looks if you mention meditation, let alone lucid dreams (shock!), astral travel (horror!) and hallucinogens (lock him up!!). It is as ancient as the human race.
DEEPER: Maybe another time. I want some reactions first.
CONNECTIONS: Can't find any.
GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION: Since its people contributed the most to this field - as far as I am aware - Central America.
IMAGES AND CLIPS: Check out the drug-influenced art at the lycaeum (address above).
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Admittedly, I haven't read all that went before me on the Submissions page. If someone else has preempted me, I apologise.
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