Part 1 proposed that a new, ‘2nd Psychedelic Revolution’ utilizing different entheogens (both natural and synthetic), electronic music, and the World Wide Web, has emerged phoenix-like from the ashes of the original 1960’s LSD-and-Rock Revolution. Parts 2,3, and 4 examined the contributions of contemporary psychedelic culture’s principal architects; the chemist Alexander Shulgin (1925-2014), the mycologist Terence McKenna (1946-2000), and the visionary artist Alex Grey (1956- ). Part 5 proposed that rather than a 2nd Psychedelic Revolution, with the synthesis and creation of new psychedelic compounds at the beginning of the 20th Century, western culture has in fact entered into the 6th great entheogenic era in human history. In this, the final installment of the series, I ask ‘Why?’ (Find Parts 1-5 here.)
For those of you who have been reading this series from its beginning, I must apologize, since this final chapter has taken far longer than I anticipated for a number of different reasons, not the least of which being the fact that I have been grappling with the scope of my conclusions, and searching for the concise language with which to present them. Psychedelic History and Psychedelic Philosophy are both enormous, virtually neglected fields of scholarship, and there are days where I feel like I could write endless volumes about various complex facets of the Psychedelic Experience; thus any attempt to summarize the importance of psychedelics to our contemporary culture within the confines of a single article is somewhat doomed to generalizations. However, after the surprising publication of my book on the entheogenic experience Tryptamine Palace in 2009, and now more than six years of addressing audiences around the world on these complicated and diverse subjects, I have come to some definitive conclusions of my own about both the practical use of entheogens – psychedelics capable of providing a sacred or mystical experience – and the ultimate purpose of their surprising reappearance in contemporary western culture.
UnMask, by Jennifer Espenscheid
Psychedelics and the Self
‘You are the World,
and your relationship
is Society’. —Krishnamurti.
There are 4 main beliefs about psychedelics that have become the cornerstones of my own personal entheogenic philosophy, and that I now regard as virtual facts.
The first of which, at the risk of stating the obvious, is that the most practical application of psychedelics in this day and age is as a tool for examining differentiated states of consciousness, and ultimately for investigating the basis of consciousness itself. This was the promise of psychedelics that first created such tremendous interest within the scientific community before research was effectively banned in the early 1970’s. This was also the same aspect of psychedelics that first fascinated experienced spiritual ‘seekers’ like Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts in the 1950’s, who both declared that a single session on psychedelics had taught them more than decades of meditation.
The second is that the ‘ultimate’ psychedelic experience is the relatively rare transpersonal experience–the blissful realization of the Oneness of All Things–and that this transpersonal experience is often identified (by some, not all) as a recognition of the Sacred Nature of Existence, a merging with Source. With the right set, setting, and psychedelic, an untrained individual can experience a very different ‘reality’ by merging with a state of consciousness remarkably different to the one that we normally occupy. Upon returning to our ‘normal’ state of consciousness, we generally lack the vocabulary for the experience, and often all we can do is meditate in silent wide-eyed astonishment upon the fractal of a memory of that Mystery of Mysteries.
The third is that this transpersonal or entheogenic experience (an entheogen is any plant or compound that can initiate a mystical experience) is phenomenologically indistinguishable from the classical mystical experience of Union-with-Source, and thus should be regarded as one.
Prior to the re-emergence of the psychedelic experience in Western Culture during the 20thth Century, mystical states of consciousness were considered rare in our Society, and generally accompanied severe austerities or even obvious psychosis; while the majority of mind-altering compounds available to European society offered only a consciousness-numbing inebriation (alcohol) or narcosis (opium).
For the traumatized generations emerging from the sophisticated horrors of two consecutive World Wars, the white light of the mystical experience became something of an intellectual Holy Grail, a potential escape hatch from the existentialist crisis that Western humanity had fallen into. While Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception has gained considerable notoriety in the decades that have followed its publication due to the now illegal nature of the compounds (mescaline) and experiences (psychedelic) that it promotes, people now tend to forget that at the time of its release Huxley himself was regarded as one of the world’s great intellectuals and the preeminent expert on the spiritual/mystical experience.Thus it was Huxley’s enthusiasm for psychedelics as a genuine tool for spiritual self-examination and personal growth that generated such interest for the generation that survived World War Two, and for the generation born directly after it.
The most convincing part of my own transpersonal experiences – and I would argue that this is in fact the basis of all mystical experiences – is the remarkable experience of Consciousness without Identity, as it is sometimes called. That is to say that a part of me is able to merge and identify with the Consciousness of Source/Ultimate Reality, but in doing so ‘I’ have no idea that ‘I’ exist or ever existed … me, James Oroc, human, Earthling, that complex amalgamation of cells and particles that seems to contain consciousness, now revealed to be nothing more than a vague and distant memory of some unimportant shadow of drifting star-dust, while it is undeniably the underlying and unimaginably Greater Consciousness – ‘the ground of Reality’ – that remains.
It was the unexpected experience of this state-of-consciousness that is sometimes called the Universal Mind, or God Consciousness, that shattered not only the bedrock of most of my scientific-rationalist beliefs, but even my rabid atheism. After this experience, for example, I could no longer believe that consciousness originates within the physical body, but is in fact a Universal Field that our brains somehow access, and I have since come to the conclusion that evolution itself is consciousness driven. Which is to say that rather than the scientific-rationalist view that consciousness is an ‘accidental’ epiphenomenon of matter, consciousness is in fact the primary driving force of Existence, and evolution is the history of matter organizing itself into more complex forms so that this Universal Consciousness can evolve into more coherent ways of knowing Itself – a philosophy, I have come to discover, expounded in various forms by mystics for centuries.
Entheon Hall, by Alex Grey
This shattering of my belief system after my unexpected and unwanted mystical experience then led to the greatest intellectual adventure of my life, the reconstruction of a world-view that could make sense of my new convictions – a journey that would ultimately be the topic and tale of my book Tryptamine Palace. One of the things I believe that makes Tryptamine Palace unique amongst contemporary psychedelic literature is that its pages not only offer some complex theories about the basis of the entheogenic experience, but actually present a model – based on neural Bose Einstein Condensates and the holographic nature of the quantum Zero Point Field – that I believe explains the mechanism of the transpersonal-entheogenic experience within the boundaries of current cutting edge science. However rather than revisiting these ideas in depth in this article, I would rather examine in greater detail some of the concepts that have evolved for me since the publication of Tryptamine Palace.
The most important of these – and one which came about directly from the recognition of consciousness without identity – was the realization that I had in fact experienced ego death, and that the Ego, something that had only ever been a little-understood philosophical concept to me previously, had now been revealed as a very real mask and entity.
There is a moment at the peak of the transpersonal experience (on 5-Methoxy-DMT) when it has all become too much, the moment when even Universal Consciousness feels like it will shatter in awe at what it is experiencing, dissolving as it is back into the mysterium tremendum, and it is at that moment that the questions appear that will bring you back. The moment a voice asks, How is this is possible? How long has this been happening? And who am ‘I’ ? With this last question, the Ego rapidly re-forms and swiftly delivers ‘you’ back to your body, which is usually collapsed in an inglorious heap upon the bed or floor. From these experiences I have come to believe that this is the most practical application of personal psychedelic use – for the recognition of the existence and role of the Ego, and for experiencing how its disruption can result in a greater connection with Source.
Alpha Centauri, by Luke Brown
Before I venture on any further, I should define what is meant by ‘the Ego” since this particular word is fraught with numerous definitions. My own current understanding has been heavily influenced by the work of the contemporary mystic Eckhart Tolle, and especially his book A New Earth: Awakening to Life’s Purpose, (the title of which I have somewhat ironically appropriated for this article), and the basis of the definition that I am using comes largely from his work.
By the Ego I mean the mechanism in consciousness that differentiates between things and ‘labels’ experiences, by creating a thought/memory/word that becomes attached/associated with that experience. (Or quite simply, the voice in your head.) Over one’s lifetime, it is the collection of these thoughts/memories/words (that have now replaced the actual experiences themselves) that creates a sense of history and Self. Babies are born devoid of Ego, and are trained to build one – children often first talk of themselves in the third-person before they grasp the concept of ‘I’ – but once the Ego is established, it generally continues to grow and fortify itself throughout an individual’s life. Human beings are in fact the only animals that must protect their offspring for years until they can gestate to maturity – virtually all other animals must learn to survive within weeks if not days or hours – and it is the Ego that is being developed during this period of childhood and puberty. We are born fully conscious, it is our ability to put labels and values to experiences (and later abstract concepts) that we are developing towards adulthood, and along with it, our sense of ‘I’. In our modern capitalistic society, and especially in the West, one’s sense of ‘self’ is considered to be the most important thing we have, and we are taught to worship the idea of the rights of the individual above everything else; a belief now more important than family, tribe, or country. (“I have to do what’s right for me!) The grip of the Ego on the individual (and especially in the West) is now so strong that most of us never realize that there is anything but the Ego at all, and thus this is the mechanism – that Einstein called ‘an optical illusion of consciousness’ – that has separated Humanity from the rest of the web of life on this planet by causing us to believe that we are ‘unique’ and ‘special’ – made in God’s image no less – and that the Earth is here for our exploiting, rather than our custodianship.
A viewpoint of separation that become virtual dogma during the late 18th and 19th century after the scientific philosophy of Rene Descartes, whose Cartesian Duality advocated the complete separation on body and mind, paving the way for the wide-spread introduction of the Scientific Method and the absolute economic philosophies of John Locke and Adam Smith that would become the operating principles of the Industrial Revolution. (Locke famously wrote that “Unused property is a waste and an offense against nature.” According to his economic theories – which are one of the foundation stones of our modern capitalist paradigm – it is humanity’s God-given duty to subjugate the earth and reap the rewards, as “wealth’.)
Thus my fourth belief/conclusion is that a mystical experience – by any means – destroys the illusion of separation by revealing the singular ground of Reality, the Numinous, and this occurs by transcending the Ego, the overwhelming sense of “I”. (Once again, a belief commonly expounded by mystics for centuries.) This very-real experience of ego-death is the same experience that Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and many others of the post-WWII generation were all seeking from their study of the Eastern texts and technologies; the momentary cessation of the Ego (by meditation, yoga, etc.) so as to reveal the ultimate Source of Reality. A paradigm shattering event whose Sanskrit word, satcitananda, is best translated as “being-consciousness-bliss” or “existence-awareness-bliss”, or what we in the West might describe as ‘a moment of enlightenment’.
This concept was mostly abandoned in the West since the cessation of the Eleusinian Mysteries in Ancient Greece other than in radical pockets such as the alchemist tradition, it was the Theosophists of the late 19th century who generated a wave of interest in the transpersonal teachings and methods of eastern philosophy that many western intellectuals began to investigate. (Madame Blavatsky is often credited with coining the term ‘Cosmic Consciousness’, later used by William James.) A two-year speaking tour of the United States by the remarkable Swami Vivekanada, a disciple of Ramakrishna, led to the formation of the influential Vedanta Society in the United States in 1894, and it was by this direct line to Indian mysticism that many western intellectuals were introduced to yoga, transcendental meditation, and the philosophy of the Vedanta, in a sober and often studious approach to the mystical experience – which Leibniz defined as ‘the metaphysics that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds’ – that steadily gained popularity with intellectuals and bohemians through two World Wars and the Great Depression, and still continues in many Vedanta and Buddhist centers today. An approach that ironically would be unwittingly undermined by the writings of the Beatniks, who while enthusiastically embracing aspects of Vedanta philosophy into their own mythology– the Dharma Bums – had realized in the periods of chaos between their lengthy meditations that there was another kind of much more accessible transcendence available with just the right mix of jazz, alcohol, benzedrine, and a then little-known illegal drug known as ‘tea’ or marijuana, in the heady liberation of smoky mixed-race music-clubs. The unlikely commercial success of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac in the late 1950’s led to a popularization of this hybrid Beatnik philosophy that would unknowingly prepare youth culture for the spectacular arrival of psychedelics shortly thereafter.
Ana-Suromai, by Amanda Sage
So to quickly recap, these are what I see as the most practical personal uses of psychedelics.
- For examining and experiencing differentiated states of consciousness; and for examining the role of consciousness itself.
- For realizing the existence of the Ego; and experiencing the field of universal consciousness without it.
- For experiencing the transpersonal nature of reality that is the common ground of all mystical experiences.
- For realizing our connection with Source.
Burning Man, Temple and Uchronia
Psychedelics and Society
‘The task of our generation, I have no doubt,
is one of metaphysical reconstruction’
—E. F. Schumacher Small is Beautiful, 1973.
The first structure that Man built was thus in Consciousness, in the inner space that we began to call ‘our minds’; the walls of separation and division required for the construction the Ego, for the creation of the sense of ‘I’, and ultimately, of Homo Sapiens. Numerous commentators throughout history have stated that this false sense of separateness from the Universal is the inherent ‘dysfunction’ in ourselves and our Society that is stopping us from realizing our full potential. By recognizing that the human ego is the mechanism of division and separation that has been responsible for the world that we have created, then it applies that in understanding the ways in which psychedelics are useful for an individual’s personal growth, we can understand just as equally how they might apply to the collective growth, and in fact survival, of our culture. Although known to be non-toxic and non-addictive, psychedelics are currently amongst the most feared AND most revered aspects of our contemporary society (depending upon who you ask), and despite an all-out war against their use that has been ongoing for nearly 50 years, the popularity of psychedelics has in fact steadily increased (world-wide) along with the astonishing number of entheogenic compounds and plants now available, and there are signs – such as the reemergence of psychedelic research in academia and articles about ayahuasca in popular ‘women’s’ magazines like Marie Claire – that suggest that psychedelics are already returning to mainstream culture. There is a fragment of human curiosity that remains fascinated with the psychedelic experience and is willing to face any persecution to continue it’s influence, and in my opinion this is the part of Humanity that recognizes the inherent dysfunction in human thinking, and instinctively wants to break down the prisons of separateness that the modern Ego has built up around us, the part of us that longs to reconnect with Source. I also believe that this same Universal Source is equally trying to get back in touch with us, to help Humanity through this dilemma, and that entheogens (sacred psychedelics) are perhaps the only technology capable of penetrating the Western Ego’s omnipotent view of itself, and thus allowing us can learn to integrate back into the Web-of-Life again. (They are undeniably the most effective.) This is why I believe that that the reappearance of entheogens in Western (and World) culture at this critical juncture in human history is more than just a coincidence – it is in fact necessary for our future survival as a species.
Boom! 2010, the Libliminal Drop art gallery and speakers
The lasting function of psychedelics must be as a tool for the reintegration of the Transpersonal Experience into the Western Mind; a very-real ‘realization’ that is brought about by the temporary disruption (and subsequent recognition of) the Ego structure, and any goal less than this should be regarded as mere entertainment. And yet while many fascinating things have been written about psychedelics and the psychedelic experience over the past fifty years, from strange tales of transformation and telepathy to ingenious theories ranging from mushroom spores as spaceship to the Soul or Spirit occupying a singular molecule, what I find most revealing is that the practical philosophy that I have acquired from my own decades of academic and personal enquiry (the belief that psychedelics are most useful for realizing and examining the role of the Ego as an obstruction to Source) is virtually identical to the excitement of Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts over fifty years ago, and yet in the five decades of psychedelic history since, this is ancient ground that has barely been revisited, as psychedelic culture has moved further and further away from self-examination, and further and further towards hedonism, escapism, and a flirtation with the fantastic.
There are a number of obvious reasons for this – one being that Huxley and Watts had the advantage of years of Vedanta study and training before they experienced psychedelics, and thus had fully-formed experiential philosophies of their own with which to compare to their psychedelic experiences. Coupled with the fact that their generation experienced psychedelics before there was any stigma attached to psychedelic use gives their writings and speeches a scholarship and an authority that few commentators since have been able to equal. (Unfortunately their philosophical comparisons of the psychedelic experience to the classical mystical experience would become discredited by association and lost in the hubris of Timothy Leary’s cultural excesses less than a decade later.) But I also believe that the core of their understanding – that the classical mystical experience can be achieved by the negation or chemical disruption of the Ego, and that this is the most useful application of psychedelics for the modern Western mind – has also until recently been considered increasingly irrelevant. In the ego-driven decades that have followed our flirtation with the transpersonal in the 1960’s, the mystical experience has been of little societal interest, and the consciousness-modifying compounds of choice have been either life-force negating drugs (heroin/ prescription opiates), potent ego-inflaters (cocaine and alcohol), or vehicles of pure escapism (MDMA) – anything in fact that can help avoid serious self-examination.
This situation that has only began to change again in the past two decades, as the threat of both the impending ecological disaster and the collapse of the world’s economy – two events that are now inextricably entwined with each other – is creating an existential crisis for today’s generations not unlike the deep despair for humanity that many people felt post World War Two. In 2015, nearly 50 years after LSD was made illegal in the United States, millions of people (world-wide) will go to yoga, meditate, eat a vegetarian diet, and even occasionally take a wide variety of psychedelic drugs, all in that same search for meaning that the beatniks and the hippies once sought. This search for the mystical experience – coupled with the LSD ‘drought’ that followed the Kansas Silo bust in 2001 – has resulted in a increase in interest in DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and especially ayahuasca in the 21st century; an interest that in many way mimics the original fascination with LSD before it became illegal, the same hope for a glimmer of reason in an increasingly meaningless world.
If the function of all revolutions is to bring about change, then the 1960’s LSD Revolution remains worthy of that title, since it was a fundamental component in changing Western – and especially American – society’s views on race, sexual politics, religion and spirituality, and perhaps even more importantly, the way in which we related to our planet and our environment. Few social revolutions have been so successful so quickly, and then been abandoned with equal haste, for while the origins of the LSD revolution can be dated back to the early 1960’s (if not earlier), it’s main years of influence were remarkably short (1966-1973). Coinciding with one of the most tumultuous periods in American politics, these years may also prove to have been one of the most pivotal and transcendental periods in human understanding; for this was the first (and so-far only) time that human beings saw our whole planet from another man’s view from outer space.
While orbiting satellites had taken grainy images of the Earth before, it would be two unauthorized photographs shot by astronauts on the Apollo mission’s – ‘Earthrise’ taken by William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission of 1968, and ‘The Blue Marble’, taken during the last manned lunar mission, Apollo 17 in 1972 – that would (via the increasingly sophisticated channels of human media) quickly become the most distributed images in human history. Of the two images, it is the latter image showing a fully-illuminated Earth that is perhaps the more remarkable, since you need to be at least twenty thousand miles away from the Earth to view it as a complete globe, and of the twenty-four human beings who have journeyed far enough into outer space to see that sight during the nine Apollo missions that went to the moon, only three men – the three astronauts on the last manned lunar mission – actually had the opportunity to see a fully-illuminated Earth. It’s still unknown which NASA astronaut took the series of four unauthorized snap shots of our planet that have become the most reproduced image in history.
This stolen image of a fragile blue bubble floating in outer space, broadcast on the increasingly borderless medium of television, came in the midst of the LSD revolution that was dramatically introducing the transpersonal experience – the connectivity of all things – to an actively divided American society. Many contemporary commentators now believe that these two seemingly unrelated events were the primary forces behind the birth of the modern Environmental Movement, as millions of people around the globe began to wake up to the great danger that Life on this planet faces. Hard on the heels of the Civil Rights movement and the Sexual Revolution, the modern Environmental movement has for the first time in the history of our planet fought for the rights of Gaia, of our Mother Earth, and our society has in many ways become divided between those who believe that the planet is here to serve us, and those who recognize that if as a species we are to survive, we must evolve towards a protective custodianship of the only home we have — a battle that is becoming more and more critical every day, as many biologists now believe that the Industrial Revolution and subsequent growth in human population over the last 250 years humans is now responsible for the Sixth great extinction event in history; the Anthropocene – the Age of Man. 
While the concept of extinction was only realized by our sciences a little over 200 years ago, this is an advantage that no other known species presumably has ever had. And yet in the final chapters of Tryptamine Palace, after describing the powerful sense of responsibility for the Web-of-Life that comes with a transpersonal-psychedelic experience, I am forced to conclude that our species is suffering from Extinction Denial – that our planetary society is on course for the most anticipated crash in human history, and yet due to the peculiar narrowness of our individual focus, we are somehow able to ignore it. This narrowing of focus is of course the mechanism of the Ego at work – our own personal needs (food, shelter, money, sex, stimulation) keep us occupied from the Big Picture, and especially if that picture is looking grim.
Michael Christian sculpture at Lightning in a Bottle
Technology and the Ego
Technology, the unique human development of consciousness that separates us from all other known species on the planet, and is the source and/or cause of many of the ill’s that are afflicting the biosphere, is the concrete manifestation of the Ego – the concentration and narrowing of focus that is required for the conception and creation of our complex and remarkable tools. This narrowing of focus, combined with the human fascination with our own ingenuity, has resulted in a planet with an estimated 19,000 nuclear warheads, 250,000 tonnes of nuclear waste, and the development of chemical and biological weapons previously unknown to nature, while the unfettered use of our ‘good’ technology (i.e. agriculture, energy, transportation etc) has also at least contributed greatly to global warming (if not creating it) due to the enormous amount of ‘greenhouse gases’ that we have added to the atmosphere as a result of the combined effect of the Industrial Revolution of planetary deforestation, and the ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels; by 2050, CO2 levels will be twice what they were in pre-Industrial days. This release of carbon into the atmosphere has also resulted, perhaps even more ominously, in the increasing acidity of the oceans that is the ‘evil twin’ of global warming, and a related effect only realized at the beginning of the 21st century; roughly one-third of the carbon-dioxide that the rapid growth of human society has released into the air in the past two hundred and fifty years has been absorbed by the oceans, and by the end of the 21st century they will be 150% more acidic then they were at the start of the Industrial Revolution. What effect this will have on the food-chain in the ocean is unknown, but the best-case scenario seems to be ‘a considerable reduction in bio-diversity’.
According to Eckhart Tolle’s interpretation, the Ego will constantly try and tell you that it has reformed itself, that it has learned its lesson so to speak, and that it no longer needs to be of any concern – and this is very much how I view our human relationship with technology. (Which is, as I have said, the concrete manifestation of the peculiar adaption to consciousness that is human ego). Our modern view on technology is almost exclusively celebratory, and the pursuit of technology is viewed as somehow being neutral, no matter how patently evil the use of that technology may be, or how unfortunate the result. One of the main paradoxes of modern civilization is that we somehow believe that the solution to the looming ecological disaster that the Industrial Revolution has wrought upon this planet lies in the very same attitude towards the technology that has caused it. But as Albert Einstein said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them,” and it seems obvious that we must create a new relationship with technology that recognizes the fact that our technology is a manifestation of Ego – the mechanism of separation – and requires the same scrutiny and rigorous self-observation that any selfish and tunnel-visioned ego does. The reappearance of a transpersonal-psychedelic perspective in Western culture after an absence of nearly 2000 years is thus far from coincidental; it is a necessary and important tool for the socially required reassessment of both our love of technology, and of the indiscriminate ways in which we use it.
Take for example one synchronicity that I find most telling, which is the timing between between the discovery of the isolation and synthesis of psychedelics compounds, and of nuclear energy.
The first isolation of mescaline was in 1895 by the German chemist Arthur Hefftner; the same year that the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen produced X-Rays (or Röntgen rays), a discovery that led to the discovery of radiation and to the birth of the nuclear age. A mere 43 years later LSD was discovered in 1938, although its unique effect on human consciousness was not realized until 1943, after its discoverer Albert Hofmann had a ‘strange premonition’ to reinvestigate this previously synthesized compound. During the same period, the Einstein-Szilárd letter to President Roosevelt in 1939 first warned of the potential development of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type”; a warning that led to the creation of the Manhattan Project, and the first detonation of a nuclear device (codenamed Trinity) in 1945.
The behavior and influence of an Unfettered Ego apply as much to Society as to the individual; viewed in the terminology of the Ego and the Transpersonal, the Atomic Bomb is clearly the most egotistical invention in history of Man – the idea that any individual has the right to order the deaths of millions of others due to a perceived notion of ‘right and wrong’. It was the terrifying shadow of the Bomb, coupled with the deaths of more than 60 million people in the two ‘World Wars’ and the discovery of the extent of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, that were the primary causes of the existentialist crisis that Western culture faced in the 1950’s. LSD on the other hand, has proven to be one of the most ego-nullifying compounds ever discovered, and perhaps equally importantly, one of the few psychedelics of which millions of doses can be manufactured in a single afternoon.
The fact that the realization of these morally-opposite inventions came about within two years of each other I find quite remarkable – as if the Yin to the other’s Yang – as is the way LSD jumped from the post-war laboratory (most likely with the help of the CIA ) and introduced mass-produced psychedelics and a revolutionary taste of the transpersonal into popular Western (and especially American) culture in a way that no other entheogen ever could have. However I do not consider this a coincidence, since the challenge for human consciousness has now become whether or not it can survive itself; and now nearly seventy-five years since the invention of both LSD and the atomic bomb, and with virtually the whole planet now having fallen into step on the treadmill of our own ‘mutually assured-destruction’, the sustained study of transpersonal consciousness and the dysfunction of the human ego may in fact be our only hope of survival.
Lucent Dossier performing on the FractalNation Collective
The New Eleusis
“The answer is never the answer. Whats really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be thinking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer, but they think they have. So they stop thinking. But the job is o seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants and mystery bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” —Ken Kesey, The Art of Fiction CXXXVI, The Paris Review, 1994.
Late one night at a psychedelic gathering in Miami during Art Basel a couple of years ago, I was asked why I spent so much of my time promoting psychedelic culture by a intelligent young dread-locked man who seemed interested in my work, and who I was later told is heir to a considerable fortune. As I struggled to connect the dots between my ideas about the Ego, technology, the environment, and the absolute necessity of the reintroduction of the mystical transpersonal experience into the western mind, the young man stopped me and told me that he understood, and the way he neatly summarized it was:
“The psychedelic perspective is the perspective required for us to adapt and survive.”
I couldn’t agree more, and the hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people who have adopted healthier lifestyles and attitudes due to their personal psychedelic use are a testimony to the possibilities of this approach. Perhaps the hallmark of modern psychedelic culture is that if you happen to participate in one its many rotating nexuses, (such as a CoSM fundraiser, the FractalNation art-and-performance Collective at Burning Man, a transformational festival in the USA or Canada, or a major psy-trance festival in Europe), you cannot help but be impressed by the beauty and complexity of the many-layered vision being presented there; a Vision that proclaims the possibility of what the world might be like if we simply allowed responsible psychedelic culture to flourish.
Having often been a working part in these various events over the past decade, and having engaged in an on-going conversation with committed psychedelic activists such as Alex Grey, Rick Doblin, Android Jones, Carey Thompson, Jon Hanna, Amanda Sage, and many others about what it is we are collectively trying to achieve – sometimes despairing that the message is being lost in all the beautiful pictures and the pretty lights – I have come to the conclusion that this ‘Second Psychedelic Revolution’ is somewhat instinctively building modern mystery schools, and that these temporary temples of art, music, and dance that the psychedelic community have been lovingly creating with an ever-increasing sophistication over the past fifteen or so years are the closest things our Society has to true portals to Transcendence. ‘Art could be the new religion,’ Alex Grey is fond of saying, ‘with psychedelics recognized again as sacraments’, and he and I share the belief that the psychedelic-mystical response to art, music, and dance is one of the few experiences that can actually cut through the programming of modern existence and alleviate our existential suffering through a transformative connection with the Transpersonal; a viable technology capable of freeing us from the tremendous paralysis of an impending planetary demise of our own species’ creation.
This is why psychedelic culture often showcases itself these days as ‘transformational festivals’, genuinely believing that transformative personal growth can occur from experiencing some aspect of the transpersonal from within the multi-layered vision that the community that has evolved around these festivals collectively and collaboratively weaves and creates; and that if enough people experience this sense of connection there will be enough of us to make a change, ‘the sharpened spearhead of humanity’. If there is a substantial difference between the outsider attitude of the psychedelic politics of the 1960’s – immortalized by Timothy Leary’s advice to ‘Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out’ in 1966 – and the pragmatic politics on display today at tech-savvy festivals like BOOM!, Lightning in a Bottle, and Symbiosis, or within a ‘professional’ psychedelic organization like MAPS, it is the realization that reformation is more likely to occur within the system than as any kind of overwhelming ‘revolution’; and that while a transpersonal experience from taking psychedelics can motivate an individual to work towards real personal and social change – a psychedelic form of ‘liberation theology’ – the mere act of taking psychedelics themselves changes nothing.
The intense awareness of the psychedelic community of the fragility of this moment in history is obvious; virtually every ‘Transformational Festival’ has lecture series and workshops on the environmental crisis, alternative energy, and permaculture, while the entire 2012 phenomenon was, in my opinion, a misguided identification of the stark reality of the global crisis that we will most likely soon face. And one of the things that I find most encouraging about the psychedelic community as a whole, is how many really smart people I meet at these events and conferences, often the densest concentration of brilliant minds I have experienced outside of a University, and generally the most tolerant and open-minded. A transpersonal experience challenges virtually every foundation stone of our soulless DesCartesian-Newtonian paradigm, and can stimulate an aroused intellect to new heights of understanding, while opening up the heart to the tolerance and acceptance that comes from knowing that all things are connected, that we are all part of the One. Something we now know from more than fifty years of modern psychedelic culture is that responsible psychedelic use can build community, since any community with a high number of individuals who are familiar with transpersonal spaces – be it due to yoga, meditation, prayer, or psychedelics – is likely to be both more cognizant and more inviting. The contemporary psychedelic community is continuing proof of this, with a significant community now having built up around the West Coast transformational festivals and the annual Burning Man Festival, a remarkable experiment in art and group consciousness that is for that week each year arguably the most open and tolerant place on earth. The psytrance festivals in Europe and Australia offer a similar sense of community, with Goa in India, and the openly psychedelic BOOM! Festival that is held every two years in Portugal as major epicenters. What these festivals all offer in common, apart from the art, the electronic music, and the workshops on permaculture, yoga, and psychedelics, is the same sense of community that can come from attending them, and the fact that the more you attend, the more this sense of community grows, as does the ability and desire to collaborate and work with other like-minded people.
The community involved in the now global production of these transformational festivals – the producers and artists, stage-builders and designers, structural engineers, sound engineers, lighting and video engineers, wood and welding wizards, along with the musicians, DJs, and performers, and another whole community of vendors, many of whom now travel with their young children – has in fact grown so large over the past fifteen years that there is now a move AWAY from the festival model, since many of the people centrally involved are beginning to feel that these events have become too large and wasteful considering the amount of time and resources that the community spends constructing these elaborate psychedelic environments, only to have to break them down again. The natural progression seems to be towards the purchase of permanent sites for these festivals that can develop as prototype sustainable villages for a currently transient community. In an increasingly disenfranchised world, the building of real community offers a very powerful draw, and the high concentration of radical free-thinkers within the psychedelic community – many of whom are pioneers in their own fields in the ‘real world’ – may have unforeseen advantages in the tumultuous years ahead.
Psychedelic philosophy is like a neon rabbit hole that fractals in every direction after the first time you dissolve in the tunnel of light, and I personally have spent most of the last decade reading and researching various fascinating facets of that rainbow-colored gem. Thus it is no wonder to me that open and enquiring minds are drawn towards this Mystery of Mysteries, since I personally think that psychedelics and our mystical relationship with them is one of the most fascinating avenues of pure human thought. The very fact that tryptamine psychedelics even work at all – that there are specialized molecules (DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, LSD, and psilocybin) found in trees, plants, fungi etc in nature whose shape is similar enough to serotonin (a brain hormone) that the extremely sophisticated defense system of the human brain (the blood brain barrier) is basically fooled into serotonin’s very specialized locks in the brain where these molecules then have the effect of dramatically modifying human consciousness – this is in itself a mystery that almost defies the human imagination, and has kept me awake pondering many a night. What possible purpose could this relationship serve in nature if life and consciousness are nothing but the accidental by-products of a Universe full of chemicals aimlessly bouncing around as many of our modern scientists would have us believe? And then, even accepting that consciousness is merely some highly specialized cosmic accident, how did we – homo sapiens – manage to figure out this strange relationship between us and the plant world, and what effect did that discovery then have on what must have been the most primitive of societies? This question inevitably leads to wondering how long psychedelics were revered before our own culture did its best to extinguish them, and why now, on the verge of our planetary destruction, have they so dramatically reappeared?
This Mystery only deepened considerably with the discovery of endogenous DMT and 5-MeO-DMT in the early 1970’s, and the scientific realization that two of the most powerful psychedelics we know are being naturally produced somewhere within the human body. While this discovery opens up a whole pandoras box of speculations and possibilities, what I find most fascinating is the manner (phenomenologically) in which we know these two compounds transform consciousness.
Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, opens up the minds-eye to the visionary experience – anything that can be seen or imagined can vividly exist in the DMT realm, which is why it is so revered by visual artists like Alex Grey or Luke Brown. Nick Sand, the man who invented Orange Sunshine LSD and who also first figured out that you can smoke DMT, has described DMT to me as ”The Fullness”, and in my own lectures I correlate DMT to the 6th chakra in the kundalini system, for at the 6th chakra while you can experience the existence of God in all the infinite myriad of God’s forms, there is still the knowledge of a separation between the subject and object, between you and the manifestation of Source. Endogenous DMT is thus, I propose, the conduit of the vast and incredibly rich human realm of contemplative Mythology, replete with all its myriad of deities and demons, but still occupying the recognizable world of form.
5-Methoxy-DMT on the other hand, Nick Sand likes to describe as “The Void”, since the experience on this compound is completely different; the revelation of a space beyond vision, thoughts, identity, or time, 5-MeO-DMT induces the transpersonal experience via an ego-death so instantaneous and dramatic, it is often impossible to find the vocabulary with which to relate the experience when one ‘returns’. This is the transpersonal realm of the 7th chakra, the universal and very singular Mystical experience in which any separation between you and the Godhead ceases to exist – when in fact ‘you’ cease to exist – and All becomes One.
If you consider the hypothesis that virtually all religions on this planet have been born from a tension between the Mystical and the Mythological – which is to say that localized mythologies and religious systems have grown out of the same universal untranslatable mystical experience – then you would think it might be of great interest to human society that we have discovered that the two compounds in nature most likely to induce these mystical or mythological experiences when smoked or ingested, are also (almost unbelievably!) being produced naturally somewhere within our own bodies. The discovery of endorphins – endogenous opiates – and the opiate receptor, is now considered one of the major biological discoveries of the last fifty years, so you might think the much more difficult discovery of endogenous psychedelics entheogens would also be similarly celebrated. But due to one of those great ironies of our modern dilemma – a polarity one could even argue – shortly before it was discovered to be endogenous to the human body in 1972, DMT had been made illegal (along with LSD and all other known psychedelics) in the US by the 1971 Convention of Psychotropic Substances. All research on psychedelics effectively stopped, on what yet may prove to be the brink of a new era of human understanding, and non-toxic and non-addictive entheogens, despite being known sacraments to numerous cultures, became amongst the most illegal contraband in the world.
In 1973, a new Federal agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was formed to fight the ‘rising drug problem’, and less than a decade later, Nancy Reagan, the wife of the man who had made LSD illegal in 1966, entered the USA into a seemingly endless ‘War on Drugs’. Considering the severity of the prohibition that psychedelics have been under for nearly the past fifty years, it is astonishing that there is a contemporary psychedelic culture at all; it is this author’s hope that once the federal legalization of marijuana has been achieved, then the organizations that have evolved in that battle turn to the legalization of psychedelics, and the freeing of hundreds of thousands of people in the United States whose greatest crime was simply modifying their state of consciousness.
Whatever the future brings – whether it be a rapid global social reinvention of our Society the likes of which history has never seen before, or an adaption for survival amongst the ruins of the first man-made planetary collapse – I firmly believe that one of the main transformations that our global society must make (and a large part of the ‘spiritual reconstruction’ that E. F Schumacher predicted) will be the realization that ALL religious systems come from the same singular mystical spark, the transpersonal experience of ‘enlightenment’ that can arise from the extinguishment of the Ego due to extraordinary stress or strain, pointed meditation, devoted prayer, or an entheogenic experience. The experience universally states that all things are One, and bound to the God of Love, the greatest Mystery of All. Without this radical shift in human understanding we will doom ourselves to an existence of never-ending war and intolerance, a world where the poor will be endlessly pitted against each other over ancient racist mythologies to create profits for the corporations and the Global Elite, until the Industrial-Military complex finally radically breaks the chain of life on the planet through its own colossal ignorance and indifference – a potential model that is already clearly playing itself out in the 21st century. Considering the lack of alternatives, it becomes obvious how the transpersonal-psychedelic experience grants us not only an invaluable perspective from which to view our relationship with ourselves and with our Society, and with our species relationship with planet and the rest of the Web-of-Life, but also ultimately with our relationship with Source, with the Universal Consciousness that has somehow managed to evolve, ever so briefly, into this packet of wonder that is ourselves, the first hand experience of which – Life – remains the greatest human mystery, and the greatest gift of all.
I would like to dedicate this series to the memory of Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin who, as arguably the most important Father of this 2nd Psychedelic Revolution, was the subject of Part Two of this series, and who died before the publication of the series was completed. While I can not claim to have known Sasha well, he was (and will continue to be) one of my greatest inspirations, and I consider the time I spent with him to be one of the great unexpected privileges of my life. It seems fitting to leave the final words on the lasting value of entheogens – taken from the Introduction to PIHKAL – to him, as an inspiration to us all.
“I have stated some of my reasons for holding the view that psychedelic drugs are treasures …. There is, for instance, the effects they have on my perception of colors, which is completely remarkable. Also, there is the deepening of my emotional report with another person, which can become an exquisitely beautiful experience, with eroticism of sublime intensity. I enjoy the enhancement of touch, smell, and taste, and the fascinating changes in my perception of the flow of time.
I deem myself blessed, in that I have experienced, however briefly, the existence of God. I have felt a sacred oneness with creation and it’s Creator, and – most precious of all – I have touched the core of my own soul.
It is for these reasons that I have dedicated my life to this area of inquiry. Someday I may understand how these simple catalysts do what they do. In the meantime, I am forever in their debt. And I will forever be their champion.” —Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, (1925 – 2014)
Sasha Shulgin, Nick Sand, Alex and Alyson Grey
 Tryptamine Palace, my ‘psychedelic tome’ about the rare entheogen 5-MeO-DMT, was originally ‘gifted’ at Burning Man in 2006 and 2007 by the author. It was subsequently published (in its completed form) by Inner Traditions in 2009.
 Meditation, which in the 1950’s was an extremely avant-garde past time, was considered the ultimate tool for the examination of differentiated states-of-consciousness
 Le Club de Hachichin, which operated in Paris between 1844 and 1849, and whose members included Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas, was a notable exception, since the eating of hashish often results in powerful psychedelic experiences. Aleister Crowley, the english occultist, would later develop a heavy hashish habit after his time in Paris; Crowley also held performances in London in 1910 where the audience would drink punch spiked with peyote. It is possible that Crowley introduced Aldous Huxley to peyote in Berlin in 1930, more than 30 years before Huxley experiences on synthetic mescaline that were the subject of ‘ The Doors of Perception’.
 Huxley’s book “The Perennial Philosophy”, written in 1946, is still considered to be the classic in comparative mysticism, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Anybody interested in the entheogenic aspect of psychedelics should read it, even though it has no mention of psychedelics at all..
 On the rare entheogen 5-Methoxy-DMT, the subject of my own book Tryptamine Palace.
 Or the human microtubule system to be more accurate.
 A term popularized by Rudolph Otto in his book “Ideas of the Holy (1917), it is translated as “The Overwhelming Mystery”.
 The Scientific Method, arguably Western culture’s greatest contribution to the history of this planet, and the Industrial Revolution that grew out of the application of its discoveries, can be considered the starting point of the current Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm that our culture (not our sciences) still occupies.
 Which is also the classical shamanic death-and-rebirth.
 The majority of Christian Mysticism involves identifying with the Godhead through the example of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the mystic’s union-with-Source. Christian (and Islamic) mystics have historically risked charges of blasphemy – often with quite horrific consequences – if they cross this metaphysical line.
 Aldous Huxley was a frequent contributor to the Vedanta Society journal. See Huxley and God: Essays on the Religious Experience (2003).
 Allen Ginsberg, who already had a considerable amount of psychedelic experience before he met Timothy Leary, would play a major part in the introduction of psychedelics to America’s underground network of artists, writers, and musicians, since it was Ginsberg address book and patronage that attracted many well known personalities to Millbrook, while Neal Cassidy, the hero of Kerouac’s “On The Road”, would become one of the most famous and revered personalities in psychedelic history, as the unstoppable driver of Further, the legendary bus of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Kerouac however never embraced psychedelic culture, famously stating the ‘walking on water wasn’t made in a day’. http://realitysandwich.com/125588/kerouac_psychonaut/
 Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, and Jesus of Nazareth to name two.
 Or a program if you like; I see the Ego as a particular function, or program, while Universal Consciousness is the overall ‘operating system’
 The unfortunate entanglement of the 2012 phenomena with the psychedelic movement being perhaps the most obvious example of this.
 There is a remarkable amount of highly entertaining Alan Watts podcasts on the world wide web.
 Excesses that would result in termination of any legal avenues of psychedelic exploration.
 See “What can Entheogens teach us?” http://realitysandwich.com/147536/what_can_entheogens_teach_us_0/
 Around the same period that I have designated as ‘The 2nd Psychedelic Revolution’ that began with the published works of Alexander Shulgin, Terence McKenna, and Alex Grey in the mid -1990’s.
 The documented ability of psychedelic being able to give people a sense of meaning in life is why LSD, psilocybin, and most recently ketamine, have all been cited as potential cures for clinical depression. I personally have heard first-hand, often dramatic testimony of numerous cases.
 See “The 2nd Psychedelic Revolution Part 1. http://realitysandwich.com/216613/the-second-psychedelic-revolution-part-one-the-end-of-acid/
 San Pedro, Peyote, and Iboga have all become increasingly popular as well.
 Even the dates of this so-called ‘Revolution’ are arbitrary. LSD was made illegal in 1966; and while the infamous Altamont concert in 1969 is often cited as the ‘end’ of the psychedelic sixties, by the time The Brotherhood of Love were busted in 1972, and the DEA formed in 1973, the first wave of the ‘Acid Revolution’ truly over.
 Interestingly, this was also the apex of the middle-class in the history of the United States in terms of size and influence.
 Described by Galen Rowell as ‘the most influential environmental photograph ever taken’.
 Especially the new medium of television, which rose to influence during the 1960’s with its news coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis, J.F Kennedy’s assassination and funeral, and the riveting Apollo missions.
 Three astronauts went twice.
 Due to the shadow of the Moon.
 Strangelu all 3 astronauts have claimed to have taken the photograph.
 I strongly recommend the rather terrifying book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert.
 Prior to the recognition of extinction in the fossil record by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1796, the prevailing view was that all species existed as a great, unbreakable “chain if being”.
 Tools now so focused and concentrated that we can expends billions of dollars in search of a single ghostly sub-atomic particle.
 CO2 levels are currently at the highest point they have been in (at least) the last 800,000 years.
 The increasing acidity of the oceans this century has been responsible for the extinction of the coral reefs for example.
 Pg 120 The Sixth Extinction: An unnatural history by Elizabeth Colbert. The chapter is ironically titled ‘Dropping Acid”.
 The ancient Greeks, while considered the foundation of modern Western culture, had a very different view towards technology than we do, and predicted many of its potential downfalls in prescient myths like Pandora’s Box. I am of the opinion that many of the great insights of Greek philosophy were due to the transpersonal insights afforded the 2000 years worth of philosophers that had attended the annual Mysteries at Eleusis.
 An interesting character, Heftner tested his isolations on himself to determine which one was the compound in peyote that was so dramatically influencing human consciousness, making him the West’s first psychonaut!
 And won Röntgen the first Nobel Prize in 1901.
 Especially at high dosages as was initially popular.
 It is a rather frightening intellectual exercise to consider both what might have happened had LSD’s effects on human consciousness been realized when it was first invented in 1938 (while the war was raging it Europe and Nazi Germany was making considerable advances), or if Albert Hoffman had not had his strange ‘premonition’ to reinvestigate a compound that had been shelved 5 years earlier – an unheard of break in protocol for a Swiss chemist, and something that Hoffman had never down before. It is conceivable that LSD-25’s unique properties may have never been realized at all.
 No pun intended.
 The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Alex and Allyson Grey’s temple to art in Upstate New York. See www.CoSM.org
 This is one of the reasons I have become comfortable using the awkward term ‘Visionary Culture’, the preferred term for contemporary psychedelic culture that Alex Grey borrowed originally from William Blake. (See The 2nd Psych Revolution Part 4). It means many things to different people, but I define it as meaning ‘the recognition of Source as the ultimate creator of all Visions, of which the Artist is both conduit and co-creator’ – a very different concept to the cut throat ego-driven modern art world.
 For those curious of my credentials other than the fact that I authored Tryptamine Palace, I have also produced and appeared at numerous Alex Grey events, regularly speak at the major transformational and psytrance festivals, and was a co-founder of the FractalNation Collective (at Burning Man) with Android Jones and others. I also named it.
 Joseph Campbell often stated that two of the oldest and most assured technologies of transcendence are music and dancing,
 BOOM! was first held in Portugal in 1997, the first Temple at Burning Man was built by David Best in 2000, and the original Chapel of Sacred Mirror’s opened in New York in 2004, the same year as that the Do Lab presented the first (public) Lightning-In-A-Bottle in California… all pivotal moments in the birth of contemporary psychedelic/visionary culture.
 Tryptamine Palace
 Multi-Disciplinary Association for the Psychedelic Sciences.
 With Burning Man being the most extreme example of an unsustainable festival, although to be fair, it has never had any intention in being so.
 As BOOM! has in Portugal, and Shambala in Canada. The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM) that is being built in upstate New York by Alex and Allyson Grey, while not intended to community is intended as a psychedelic ‘shrine’ and place of pilgrimage, and will even house psychedelic ‘relics’ such as Albert Hoffman’s spectatcles!
 The psychedelic community – for example – has tens of thousands of sophisticated (marijuana) growers who are in the process of rediscovering many traditional farming techniques that have been lost to Big AG. No other community that I know of has such a high concentration of skilled farmers, who may yet, due to necessity, find themselves growing more than gourmet cannabis.
 In many ways THE two most powerful.
 Despite the common misconception that the pineal gland has been proven as the source of these endogenous compounds, the actual source is still not known.
 I have tried. 5-MeO-DMT, and my own experiences with it, are the subject of my book Tryptamine Palace.
 The classical mystic’s dilemma.
 The dismantling of organizations like the Hashish-and-LSD ring known as the Brotherhood of Love – who reputedly kept the price of LSD at $1 a hit for decades since they believed it was a revolutionary agent of social change – was cited as a primary need for such an law-enforcement agency.
 Which I have also been describing as the ‘transpersonal-psychedelic experience’, to distinguish it from other psychedelic states. (Of which there are many).
 The Soviet Union had a state-run Military-Industrial Complex. In the privately-owned transnational-corporation controlled world of the 21st century, we are ruled by a Industrial-Military complex, an important distinction. One of the major public-relations coups of the 20th century has been been instilling a distrust in the government in the people (even though the modern function of government is to protect the people from corporations through the laws and regulations it implements), while creating the illusion that corporations (whose sole motive is profit) are somehow benign or even benevolent. True societal transformation will only occur if the people can regain control of the Government (which by rights should be ours) and the Courts from the economics of these morally-deficient Corporations that proliferated during the 20th century.