A Gate-Crashing Journey at Joshua Tree

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A radiant morning sun shone warm and bright on my face, and a feathery breeze teased my hair as it blew across the high desert. The air smelled fresh and clean, redolent with sweet, delicate fragrances of dried flower blossoms on small bushes and the mild aroma of sticky creosote being coaxed out of the chaparral by the warmth of early spring. The last week of March was still early for the yuccas, spidery ocatillo, jumping  cholla and opuntia cactus, which were just beginning to burst forth with their floral profusion. But the wildlife was out in full force, and the desert was teeming with living creatures, from yucca night lizards to kangaroo rats, sidewinders, tarantulas and stinkbugs.

I was taking a week off prior to a business trip to hike and photograph some of the medicinal plants in the high desert of southern California. No phone, no to-do list, no meetings. I welcomed the solitude, the peace, the distant removal from frenetic civilization. The first night of my stay I had a wild, tangled dream of howling ghosts and phantoms rising up out of a basement shaft. They swirled and yowled, whooshing up into the atmosphere. Expurgations of the deep psyche? Post civilization stress syndrome? I awoke to buzzing bees, chirping birds and the rustling leaves of bright green oleander bushes in the morning breeze.

I stayed just outside the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, at the Institute of Mentalphysics, a spiritual retreat center built in the 1940’s according to the visions of a man named Ding Le Mei, who had learned unusual yogic methods while mapping territory as a surveyor in Tibet. I had lived in a small farm house at the northwest corner of the center for about a year in the late 70’s, and the place felt like home. After a long, limbering yoga session I drove my rental car into the sleepy little one horse town of Joshua Tree and ate breakfast at a comfortable hippie dive whose garish, hand painted day-glo green and orange roadside sign advertised cappuccino, beer and healthy food, in that order. A smiling brunette earth mama named Kathy served me a Depth Charge — two shots of espresso in 16 ounces of strong coffee,  and a big bowl of crunchy granola with chopped apples.  Thus bio-fueled with calories and caffeine, I felt ready to ramble the mysteriously lunar landscape of the area.

After breakfast I enjoyed a leisurely walk along a flood wash, a wide dry river bed that holds no water, except when there is a rare heavy rain. There were big jackrabbits with absurd, huge ears, bounding across the chaparral like kangaroos, and smaller, nervous cottontails hopping and scurrying away in response to the slightest odd sound. I saw lizards and road runners and quail, and watched one very large gray hawk soar off the top of a Joshua tree and glide on an invisible thermal current up and over a distant hill and out of sight. Songbirds chirped and called to one another in high pitched exuberance.  On a ridge I observed three coyotes trotting together. Observing all the wildlife infused me with a great sense of wonder.

Around mid day I drove out into Joshua Tree National Park, a hiker’s and rock climber’s paradise, for a long trek into the hills to observe and photograph medicinal plants. I seemed to have the entire desert to myself. The area is dramatic and majestic, a half million acres of protected open space with an exciting diversity of terrain, vegetation and wildlife. There are palm oases, arroyos, and rugged mountains with crenellated, rocky slopes that drop thousands of feet. Long ago, Pinto Man, among the earliest inhabitants of the southwest, hunted and gathered there. Later the Serrano, Chemehuevi and Cohuilla Indians harvested cactus fruit, acorns, mesquite beans and pinyon nuts in the area, leaving  behind basket pieces, pottery shards and rock paintings to mark their passing. Miners in the 1800’s built dams and dug mine shafts. There are still remnants of the Desert Queen and Lost Horse mines. Horse thieves kept stolen mounts in Hidden Valley.  I could imagine hard riding men with leathered faces driving their mounts into the remote places of the area, camp fires at night, pistols on every hip, danger in the air.

I spent the following three days climbing and hiking out in the vast park, following long trails to mountain tops, abandoned mine shafts, and surreal landscapes filled with thousands of awkward, spiny joshua trees, many of them hundreds of years old. While the air in the valley conveys the fragrance of chaparral, out in the monument the perfume is pinion pine and juniper, with occasional whiffs of animal scat, fetid snake holes and sweet floral scents. Even though the trails were well trod and marked, I felt as though I was wandering past time and history out there, treading with each step further into a dimension of raw natural power, leaving all traces of civilization behind. The rugged, rocky terrain hosted a profusion of animals and plants. The desert lay under the spell of a vast, haunting silence, and I could hear my own heart beat.

Along the Eagle mountains in the southeastern region of Joshua Tree National Park, I photographed early blooming flora, including large white blossoms of gnarled, spiny joshua trees, yellowish, waxy blossoms of Mojave cactus, and stunning magenta flowers of needle-sharp hedgehog cactus. I  shot several beautiful specimens of prickly-pear and beavertail cactus, both of which were foods of the early peoples in that area. Along the way I spotted red-tailed hawks perched on joshua trees, antelope ground squirrels nibbling carefully at the flower buds of prickly cholla, a Costa’s hummingbird sipping the nectar of ocotillo blossoms, and a leathery chuckwalla — a prehistoric-looking reptile,  sunning itself on the top of a large slab rock.

On the fourth morning, I awoke feeling prepared for an experiment I had planned. For many years I had maintained a strong interest in sacred, psychoactive plants. Used as sacraments by numerous cultures around the world, sacred plants are considered keys to a luminous reality, a spiritual realm that others call the kingdom of heaven. I had practiced yoga daily for over twenty years, and was familiar with a variety of non-ordinary states resulting from deep meditation and focused practice of various yoga methods. But I also knew that the judicious use of psychoactive plants could quickly deliver a person to many of the states that took a long time to achieve through these practices. I had brought to the desert with me a chick pea-sized ball of Nepalese black hashish, which I intended to eat. Hashish is the concentrated, pure resin deriving from the flowering tops of cannabis. For while smoking cannabis produces a high state, eating cannabis, especially in its most concentrated form as hashish, can produce a greatly more intense and revelatory experience. I had read various accounts of hashish eating from Hindu and Arabic texts, and in European literature. One to another, they portrayed vivid journeys into fantastic spirit realms, and a sense of the immanent presence of the divine. I wanted to find out for myself.  I wasn’t the least bit interested in getting stoned, and hadn’t done so since my first year in college. But I was greatly interested in breaking through the veil that separates this phenomenal world from what Carlos Castaneda so aptly referred to as a separate reality. I counted on this “bio-assay” to show me if such a breakthrough was indeed possible.

Through my many years of intensive daily yoga practice and meditation, I had developed an easy talent for achieving serene states, for stimulating internal energy flow, and for accessing unusual realms of consciousness. Yet I was aware that another set of tools, pulled from another magic hat, if you will, existed for such attainment. Hundreds of accounts suggested that such a possibility was likely, and that sacramental plants such as hashish, peyote, San Pedro cactus, and the fabled Amazonian brew ayahuasca, every bit as intrinsic to nature as ourselves, provided keys to the conscious and spiritual locks within us, and offered express passage to other worlds. Many people further claimed that these plants were not simply chemical transporters, but fully conscious allies in such pursuit. There was no reason to imagine that the sages of the east held all the answers to spiritual exploration. Other people in other lands had also engaged in deep explorations of a spiritual nature, utilizing other methods. Could I use the hashish to, as the hit song by the Doors put it, break on through to the other side? There was really only one way to find out for sure. Swallowing the material and letting it take me where it would was the short path.

My choice of hashish as an agent for journeying was by no means random. I knew from a great deal of research that hashish possessed the power to produce a full and significant psychedelic experience. Coined by psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond, the term psychedelic literally means soul manifesting, or mind-manifesting. The psychedelic agents in nature all possess the ability to provoke powerful expressions of mind, and a deep sense of inter-connectedness with all things. It is the latter effect that so faithfully reflects teachings in both yoga and Buddhist thought, of everything being one and indivisible. As an agent of consciousness modification, hashish enjoyed thousands of years of use. Many yogis claim that the god Siva himself provided cannabis, its source plant, to humanity, so we could commune directly with the divine.

Despite the best efforts of botanical experts to pinpoint the exact origin of cannabis, this information remains elusive. There is general agreement that Cannabis sativa is native to central Asia, north of the Himalayan range. Cannabis sativa is the name given to the plant in 1623  by botanist Caspar Bauhin. The name means cannabis — “cane-like” and sativa —  sown or planted.  Throughout time many botanists have maintained that all cannabis plants are Cannabis sativa or sativa sub-species. But Russian botanists as well as Drs Richard Evans Schultes and LSD discoverer Albert Hoffman assert that there are two other distinct species,  Cannabis indica, or so-called “Indian hemp,” and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa tends to be a taller plant whose branches start higher up on the stalk. Cannabis indica is typically shorter and more densely branched. Cannabis ruderalis is short and sparsely branched. Of these, Cannabis indica is most consistently of high potency as far as psychoactivity is concerned.

For most users, cannabis delivers an expansive, spacious high. For many, cannabis heightens sensory experience. It makes music more rich, food more tasty, colors more vivid, touch more sensual, sex more erotic. In some people, cannabis stimulates creativity. In many, it provokes laughter. “Taken moderately, hashish cheers a person’s mind, and at most, perhaps, induces him to untimely laughing. If larger doses are taken, producing the so-called fantasia, we are seized by a delightful sensation that accompanies all the activities of our mind. It is as if the sun were shining on every thought passing through our brain, and every movement of our body is a source of delight.” –Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau

Cannabis plants grow between 1 and 20 feet in height, with a furrowed central stalk from which numerous branches grow. The branches are covered with green leaves with long, green toothed blades. Virtually all parts of the cannabis plant above ground are covered with trichomes, fine hairs. Among the various types of trichomes, those known as capitate glandular trichomes contain a resin rich in cannabinoids, the phytochemicals which produce the distinctive psychoactive effects of this plant. Of these, over 70 are currently known. Cannabis plants are either male or female, and the difference between the two becomes most apparent at the onset of flowering. Males flower prior to females, and pollinate the females as they flower. Then the males begin to lose vigor and wither, while the females prosper and thrive.

The flowers and leaves of cannabis plants are used to smoke, to eat, or to make hashish, which is the concentrated resin. Flowers have a greater number of resin glands, and are thus the most prized parts of the plant. Leaves of both male and female plants contain comparable levels of cannabinoids. But the flowers of the two sexes differ greatly. In high quality cannabis, male flowers can produce a high. But in lower grades, they may not do so at all.  Female flowers, however, will be resinous and will produce a high. For this reason growers apply their best agronomic efforts to increasing female bud size and yield, as well as potency.

Cannabis produces its satisfying and euphoric effects thanks to the cannabinoid THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found in the resin which accumulates in cannabis leaves and flowers, and which determines the potency of the material. THC binds to specific receptor sites in the brain, producing euphoria and relaxation. The acute toxicity of THC is extremely low, and there has never been a single reported case of a death due to THC or cannabis consumption in any form. THC is lipophyllic, and thus mixes well with various oils. For this reason, THC is readily dispersible in butter and other fats used in the making of cannabis baked goods and confections.

Cannabis is well-loved and widely employed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Thus it is no surprise to discover that the brain is uniquely fitted to accommodate the active constituents of marijuana. In August 1990, researchers reported in the journal Nature the discovery of receptors in the brain which specifically accommodate the cannabinoids in pot. Cannabinoids bind to particular neurological sites in the brain, as though the brain was specifically designed to utilize this plant. Did nature toss cannabinoid receptors into the brain by random chance? Are these physical structures accidental neurological  junk? Or are cannabinoid receptors part of an intelligent design for deriving maximum benefit from cannabis? Is cannabis a divine elixir of sacred communion for which we are ideally suited?The most potent and concentrated form of cannabis is hashish, which is the pressed resin glands of mature female cannabis flowers. When cannabis is mature and the buds are sticky with pregnant resin glands, then hashish can be made. This is performed by various methods. In the Himalayan foothills of India and Nepal, collectors run their hands up and down against the resinous flowers of mature plants, until their palms are covered with resin. They then rub their hands vigorously together to clump the resin into little balls. These little balls are rubbed together into larger balls, or into “fingers” of a regional hashish called charas. This charas is fragrant and sweet, with a floral aroma, and conveying a pleasant, lively high. As romantic as the hand-rubbing method of hashish production may seem, it is very inefficient, and really only suitable for those instances in which there is a large amount of ganja available. This is certainly the case in the Himalayan foothills, where the yards of most homes feature a plot of cannabis for charas, hemp fibre and nutritious seeds for cooking. The people in that region enjoy a super abundance of high quality cannabis.

For the most part, hashish is made by sieving. In this method, ripe cannabis plants are harvested and dried, usually by hanging them upside down. When the plants are reasonably dry, they are then shaken or lightly beaten against a fine sieve, through which the tiny resin glands fall. This results in a pile of fine, dust-like resin which is highly maleable and easily molded at room temperature. The resin may be rolled into balls by hand, hammered into concentrated blocks, or mechanically pressed into squares. Some hashish is even stamped with a seal of origin.

Some old methods of hashish manufacture involve rubbing the plants against coarse carpet before sieving, or sieving through fine cloth. The important part of the process is that as much resin as possible is collected, and after that, any pieces of leaf or other debris are removed by the sieve. Fine quality hashish is free of debris, contains no mold, is uniform in color and texture, and is malleable in the hand at room temperature.

Different types of hashish come from different regions. The legendary Nepalese Temple Ball and Manali cream varieties are both black and smooth. Hashish from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon is often red. Most Afghani hash is greenish-brown. Some Middle Eastern hashish is blond or pink. Whatever the type or the origin, the goal of any real quality maker of hashish is to produce a uniform product made solely from resin glands, to ensure purity and potency.

Hashish is either smoked in a pipe, or eaten. As a smoke, it is typically pleasant and lofty. As an eaten material, it can be wildly powerful. For this reason, the eating of hashish should be approached with care and caution. All things considered, hashish is the cognac of ganja products. Throughout much of India, Nepal, Kashmir, Turkey and the Middle East, hashish is the preferred form of cannabis. This is owing to its rarified nature and exquisite effects.

Cannabis has most likely been a companion of humans since the advent of agriculture, around 10,000 years ago. The Chinese emperor and revered herbalist Shen Nung wrote about cannabis in 2000 B.C., recommending its use for rheumatic pain, constipation, constipation and female disorders. The emperor commented that cannabis “makes one communicate with spirits and lightens one’s body.” In early China, cannabis was used in magical ceremonies for divination. Later around 200 AD, the herbalist and surgeon Hua Tuo employed cannabis in wine as an anaesthetic.

In India, cannabis fit well into the traditional folk medicine. The plant was referred to in the ancient Artha Veda, which may have been written as early as the treatise by Shen Nung. The plant was recommended for a variety of health needs, from relieving dysentery to improving digestion, easing headache to improving judgement. The Rajanirghanta, penned around 300 A.D, recommended cannabis for alleviate flatulence, stimulate appetite and boost memory. The later Tajni Guntu described cannabis as a strengthener, a promoter of success, a mover of laughter, and a sexual excitant. In the Hindu tantras, cannabis was described as an empowering intoxicant. The plant was made into “pills of gaity.” Its psychoactive properties gave cannabis high status, as a divine elixir, a life-promoting, soul-vitalizing agent. In the Indian Himalaya and the Tibetan plateau, cannabis achieved high religious esteem.

Cannabis has traveled far and wide, carried on the backs of pilgrims, traders, and sailors. One historical account states that in ancient times an Indian pilgrim introduced cannabis use to Khorasan (northeastern Iran). From there, cannabis spread to Chaldea (southernmost valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), into Syria, Egypt and Turkey. Hair analysis of Egyptian mummies dated back to 1070 BC reveals high levels of cannabis residues. This puts the spread of cannabis into Egypt prior to that time. Early Arabian manuscripts describe the Garden of Cafour near Cairo as a major location for the use of hashish by fakirs.

Sometime around 450 B.C. the Greek historian Herodotus recounted the use of cannabis by Scythian horsemen in central Asia. The Scythians lived in an area now known as the Siberian Altay. I have been there myself, and have seen vast tracts of cannabis stretching out over hundreds of miles in that region. The Greek writer said “they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woolen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red hot stones and then add some hemp seed…. The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor bath can exceed: the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy…” The account given by Herodotus has been confirmed in archaeological digs, with the discovery of apparatus as described. However, to correct the record of Herodotus, residues show that cannabis leaves and buds were the materials which produced Scythian euphoria, not the seeds. The Scythians took cannabis, their joy-giver, across Asia westward to Europe.  An urn found in Berlin and dated around 500 B.C. contained cannabis leaves and seeds. Within a short period, cannabis had made its way to England, Scotland and Ireland.

Archaeological evidence shows that the Assyrians used cannabis for incense during the first millennium B.C. Hashish especially became popular, spreading throughout Asia Minor during the first millennium A.D., and from there into Africa. Tribes-people in Africa, notably the, Bushmen, Kaffirs and Hottentots (who called cannabis Dacha ), embraced the euphoria-producing effects of cannabis. The plant and its use were taken up enthusiastically throughout Africa.

In the 13th century, Marco Polo recounted the tale of the hashishan, or assassins, who were followers of a mysterious “Old Man of the Mountain.” According to history, the warlord Hasan ibn al-Sabah, resided in the mountain fortress of Alamut, south of the Caspian Sea. Hasan ibn al-Sabah reputedly intoxicated young recruits with hashish, and indulged them with women and all manner of pleasures. Informing the soldiers that such rewards would be theirs as a result of unwavering service to him, he garnered extreme loyalty among his troops. The young hashishan were bold, fierce, fearless, and willing to sacrifice themselves for their leader’s cause, assured of a hash-intoxicated and highly sexual idyllic afterlife. The assassins spread throughout Persia and Syria, and became a much feared sect. Marco Polo traveled along the fabled pan-Asian “silk road,” where he saw many marvelous things. I have been on part of that route, in the far northwestern Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, a Uighur-inhabited territory of China, where cannabis grows in super-abundance. From the eastern capital of that region, all the way west along the verdant Borohora Shan, along the fabled Naladi Grasslands, all the way to the rugged and majestic Tian Shan mountain range, cannabis is the single most abundant plant in sight. It is literally everywhere.

Cannabis may even have been mentioned as pannag in the Bible, in Ezekiel, Ch. 27 v. 17. Pannag is linguistically similar to the Sanskrit bhang. Are the visions of Ezekiel the psychedelic results of cannabis consumption? It is not preposterous at all to imagine that when Ezekiel saw a giant wheel in the sky, he may have been under the influence of a potent psychoactive plant. In Jerusalem, remains of burned cannabis show its use there around 400 A.D.

The morning of my planned hashish journey, I hiked from Cottonwood Spring out to Lost Palm Oasis, a recondite, isolated stand of shady palms nestled in a small arroyo. Once there, I sat in the cool shade of a tall rock, with the unceasing desert breeze tickling my face. I unwrapped the ball of hashish and chewed it thoroughly with a small handful of dried apricots and some water. And then I waited. Within half an hour I began to feel expansive, as though my physical and mental boundaries were melting away, dissolving into the desert breeze. A short while later I began to hear a faint buzzing sound in my head which steadily grew in intensity, until it seemed to come from all directions at once. The buzzing grew increasingly intrusive, and eerie in its loud volume, enveloping me. At first it sounded like one huge cicada, then like several, then like the amplified buzzing of millions of locusts. I stood up to walk, but didn’t make it very far. The sound seemed to press down on my body, a heavy atmosphere pushing me down. I was overcome by the irresistible pull of gravity, and felt compelled to lie down on the sand, stretching out on my back. I felt alternately ten feet long, and too spacious to determine my own form. My entire body and mind vibrated with the buzzing sound, which enveloped me and pressed me into the ground. My mind was strangely disengaged and slowed down, and I mused lazily to myself that I hoped everything was alright, and that no wild animals would hurt me in my disadvantaged condition. I began to dissolve, a human grain of salt dispersing in the vast waters of time.

Behind closed eyelids I viewed the vaulted mysterium tremendum of space. Elaborate geometric patterns undulated in my field of vision, a spectacle of brilliant fractals and forms in luminous, shimmering colors. After an undetermined period of time on the ground, I felt a strong urge to move my bowels. But as though I was pinned down by a gigantic weight, I couldn’t get up, and it occurred to me that I would defecate in my pants. Then the sensation changed curiously, and what initially felt like a bowel movement was something else, forcing its way slowly up the inside of my lower spine. I had the distinct feeling of a round, smooth object about the width of a wooden rake handle pushing up my lower spinal canal. As the sensation urged upward, the loud buzzing shifted, replaced by a single, high-pitched whine of extraordinary intensity. I imagined that the whine was vibrating the sand all around me, pulverizing it into fine dust which then dispersed up into the air, scattering shimmering particles to the far-flung reaches of space. The world was disintegrating.

The sensation in my spine continued, and when it reached the middle of my back I “saw” a dark, shiny snake slithering forcefully upward through my spinal canal. Oddly, the knowledge that a snake was rising up my spine was comforting to me. Was this the kundalini, the so-called serpent power, whose arousal and full awakening is a goal of yoga practice? When the snake forced up into my neck, the pressure became extreme, as if the snake was too wide and was cracking  the bones of an internal passage that was too small. I mused that perhaps giving birth felt something like that. The serpent just kept rising, steadily and smoothly slithering up into my brain, producing an aching pressure. I thought my head would split from the pressure. The volume of the high pitched whine intensified to a thrilling, overwhelming pitch. The entire world whined.

When the snake reached the top of my head, it strained against the inside of my skull and cracked through the bones. I felt tremendous relief, and took a long, sighing breath. Once outside my skull, the snake elongated and fanned itself wide like a huge, hooded cobra. It raised its head high, eyes glittering yellow, mouth open and razor fangs sticking out. Then in one deft strike, the snake drove its fangs into the center of my forehead, causing a blinding pain that seized every muscle in my body and made my ears pound. I thought that my bones would crush from the tension. Then as quickly, the snake yanked its fangs from my forehead.

The whining sound changed again, increasing to tornado intensity in my skull. Dozens of distinct sounds roared, blared and howled, each one louder than the most violent storm. As the sound current increased far past what I imagined possible, an electrical vibration coursed throughout my entire body, causing all my molecules to dance wildly. My interior was unimaginably vast. A roaring current of sound surged from my feet up through my head as loudly as if a train was hurtling over my body. Every cell of my body was being pulverized by energy. Up through the center of my spine a wailing current of almost unbearable intensity coursed. The roaring sounds and raging sensations were accompanied by a stunning display of vivid colors, brilliant jets of gold, yellow, red, blue, purple and silver surging upward through my body, clearly visible to my interior sight. I was suffused with undulating waves of  rose and blue color, and streaks of pure, clear white light, which coursed through my entire body. The energy and colors surged through me, bathing every cell in my body, dissolving all thoughts, questions and ideas, stripping my mind clean. Tabula rasa.

Before me, an immense, yawning tunnel gaped open, the pupil of a gigantic eye, bigger than the ocean, bigger than the sky. The last remaining tiny bit of my self identity ripped up and out of my body. As if launched by a gigantic catapult, “I” hurtled upward into the vast heavens, through the center of the great eye and into a blazing realm of fire. Flames raged above, below, before, behind. I was consumed in fire. And there before me, resplendent, magnificent, beyond all comprehension, spirits and forces of antiquity rolled on by my field of vision.  All around me streamed waves of radiant light and blinding orange fire. The entire universe, and all that is known and unknown, collapsed and was obliterated by the flames.

Several hours later in the cool desert dusk, I rose alert and hungry. I stood, shook the sand off my pants, and looked out at the San Jacinto mountains. Visible waves of blue-white energy streamed over the peaks. I smelled the delicate honey scent of blossoms far away, and heard lizards crawling on the palms. High above the oasis, a hawk dipped in a long, graceful ark. I watched it until it was gone from sight, flying over the mountains without once flapping a wing. I gathered my thoughts as best as I could, slowly taking in what had transpired. Everything about me felt more alive. My senses were keener. My mind felt burnished and radiant.

Most of us, to some extent or another, intuit the presence of greater or divine power. Some call it God, some The Great Spirit, some The Creator. Cults and religions apply various names and descriptions. Pundits, intellectuals and priests argue over its nature. Religions claim special relations, and offer to negotiate with this power on our behalf, petitioning for our “salvation.” We get a sense that this power suffuses creation, provides an ocean in which we swim. And yet, for most, spirit remains an abstract notion, something beyond our experience, something we invoke in times of stress and crisis. We may yearn for more, but few receive it. Religions are often dry wells that pass on tales of mystic experiences, but only as relics of the past, attainable by bearded others in antiquity, but not by us.

Yet others, carrying forth vibrant archaic practices, have found ways to encounter spirit directly. Their charging mounts are meditation, drumming, dancing, mind-bending rituals and sacramental plants. Employing these as if riding on furious steeds, they crash through the guard gates of the luminous reality in which this power can be encountered. These methods provide an all-access, backstage pass to the spirit landscape.

In one of my favorite yogic scriptures, the Rosary of Gampopa, it is written that “circumstances arise from a concatenation of causes.” Try to identify the origin or source of something, and invariably you will find strings that when pulled lead to other strings, and that when pulled lead to yet others. The smallest moments, conversations, events and scenes aggregate like microfibrils, twisting into endlessly varied threads, that weave into the fabric of our lives. The design, patterns and colors of each life are unique, born of trillions of such concatenations, reaching back to the beginnings of time. In fact, we can never find the beginning of anything, as there is always someplace further back to go. But I can say nonetheless that the incident at Joshua Tree quickened my interest in other practices beyond yoga, and traditions that utilize not only cleverly constructed ceremonies, but psychoactive plants as gate-crashing agents for gaining access to the spirit world.

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How to Dry Magic Mushrooms: Best Practices
Read to learn more about specifics for the best practices on how to dry magic mushrooms after harvesting season.

How to Buy Psilocybin Spores
Interested in psilocybin mushrooms? We’ll walk you through all you need to know to obtain mushroom spores. Nosh on this delish How To guide.

Hippie Flipping: When Shrooms and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Explore the mechanics of hippie flipping and how to safely experiment.

Having Sex on Shrooms: Good or Bad Idea?
Is having sex on shrooms a good idea or an accident waiting to happen? Find out in our guide to sex on magic mushrooms.

Gold Cap Shrooms Guide: Spores, Effects, Identification
Read this guide to learn more about the different characteristics of gold cap mushrooms, and how they differ from other psilocybin species.

Guide to Cooking with Magic Mushrooms
From cookies to smoothies and sandwiches, we cover various methods of cooking with magic mushrooms for the ultimate snack.

2020 Election: The Decriminalize Psilocybin Movement
Are you curious if mushrooms will follow in marijuana’s footsteps? Read to learn about how the U.S. is moving to decriminalize psilocybin.

Oregon’s Initiative to Legalize Mushrooms | Initiative Petition 34
Oregon continues to push ahead with their initiative to legalize Psilocybin in 2020. The measure received its official title and now needs signatures.

Canada Approves Psilocybin Treatment for Terminally-Ill Cancer Patients
Canada’s Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu approved the use of psilocybin to help ease anxiety and depression of four terminal cancer patients.

Mapping the DMT Experience
With only firsthand experiences to share, how can we fully map the DMT experience? Let’s explore what we know about this powerful psychedelic.

Guide to Machine Elves and Other DMT Entities
This guide discusses machine elves, clockwork elves, and other common DMT entities that people experience during a DMT trip.

Is the DMT Experience a Hallucination? 
What if the DMT realm was the real world, and our everyday lives were merely a game we had chosen to play?

How to Store DMT
Not sure how to store DMT? Read this piece to learn the best practices and elements of advice to keep your stuff fresh.

What Does 5-MeO-DMT Show Us About Consciousness?
How does our brain differentiate between what’s real and what’s not? Read to learn what can 5-MeO-DMT show us about consciousness.

How to Smoke DMT: Processes Explained
There are many ways to smoke DMT and we’ve outlined some of the best processes to consider before embarking on your journey.

How to Ground After DMT
Knowing what to expect from a DMT comedown can help you integrate the experience to gain as much value as possible from your journey.

How To Get DMT
What kind of plants contain DMT? Are there other ways to access this psychedelic? Read on to learn more about how to get DMT.

How DMT is Made: Everything You Need to Know
Ever wonder how to make DMT? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how DMT is made.

Having Sex on DMT: What You Need to Know
Have you ever wondered about sex on DMT? Learn how the God Molecule can influence your intimate experiences.

Does the Human Brain Make DMT? 
With scientific evidence showing us DMT in the brain, what can we conclude it is there for? Read on to learn more.

How to Use DMT Vape Pens
Read to learn all about DMT vape pens including: what to know when vaping, what to expect when purchasing a DMT cartridge, and vaping safely.

DMT Resources
This article is a comprehensive DMT resource providing extensive information from studies, books, documentaries, and more. Check it out!

Differentiating DMT and Near-Death Experiences
Some say there are similarities between a DMT trip and death. Read our guide on differentiating DMT and near-death experiences to find out.

DMT Research from 1956 to the Edge of Time
From a representative sample of a suitably psychedelic crowd, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t tell you all about Albert Hofmann’s enchanted bicycle ride after swallowing what turned out to be a massive dose of LSD. Far fewer, however, could tell you much about the world’s first DMT trip.

The Ultimate Guide to DMT Pricing
Check out our ultimate guide on DMT pricing to learn what to expect when purchasing DMT for your first time.

DMT Milking | Reality Sandwich
Indigenous cultures have used 5-MeO-DMT for centuries. With the surge in demand for psychedelic toad milk, is DMT Milking harming the frogs?

Why Does DMT Pervade Nature?
With the presence of DMT in nature everywhere – including human brains – why does it continue to baffle science?

DMT Substance Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to DMT has everything you want to know about this powerful psychedelic referred to as “the spirit molecule”.

DMT for Depression: Paving the Way for New Medicine
We’ve been waiting for an effective depression treatment. Studies show DMT for depression works even for treatment resistant patients.

Beating Addiction with DMT
Psychedelics have been studied for their help overcoming addiction. Read how DMT is helping addicts beat their substance abuse issues.

DMT Extraction: Behind the Scientific Process
Take a look at DMT extraction and the scientific process involved. Learn all you need to know including procedures and safety.

Microdosing DMT & Common Dosages Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing DMT.

DMT Art: A Look Behind Visionary Creations
An entire genre of artwork is inspired by psychedelic trips with DMT. Read to learn about the entities and visions behind DMT art.

Changa vs. DMT: What You Need to Know
While similar (changa contains DMT), each drug has its own unique effect and feeling. Let’s compare and contrast changa vs DMT.

5-MeO-DMT Guide: Effects, Benefits, Safety, and Legality
5-Meo-DMT comes from the Sonora Desert toad. Here is everything you want to know about 5-Meo-DMT and how it compares to 4-AcO-DMT.

4-AcO-DMT Guide: Benefits, Effects, Safety, and Legality
This guide tells you everything about 4 AcO DMT & 5 MeO DMT, that belong to the tryptamine class, and are similar but slightly different to DMT.

How Much Does LSD Cost? When shopping around for that magical psychedelic substance, there can be many uncertainties when new to buying LSD. You may be wondering how much does LSD cost? In this article, we will discuss what to expect when purchasing LSD on the black market, what forms LSD is sold in, and the standard breakdown of buying LSD in quantity.   Navy Use of LSD on the Dark Web The dark web is increasingly popular for purchasing illegal substances. The US Navy has now noticed this trend with their staff. Read to learn more.   Having Sex on LSD: What You Need to Know Can you have sex on LSD? Read our guide to learn everything about sex on acid, from lowered inhibitions to LSD users quotes on sex while tripping.   A Drug That Switches off an LSD Trip A pharmaceutical company is developing an “off-switch” drug for an LSD trip, in the case that a bad trip can happen. Some would say there is no such thing.   Queen of Hearts: An Interview with Liz Elliot on Tim Leary and LSD The history of psychedelia, particularly the British experience, has been almost totally written by men. Of the women involved, especially those who were in the thick of it, little has been written either by or about them. A notable exception is Liz Elliot.   LSD Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety LSD, Lysergic acid diethylamide, or just acid is one of the most important psychedelics ever discovered. What did history teach us?   Microdosing LSD & Common Dosage Explained Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing LSD.   LSD Resources Curious to learn more about LSD? This guide includes comprehensive LSD resources containing books, studies and more.   LSD as a Spiritual Aid There is common consent that the evolution of mankind is paralleled by the increase and expansion of consciousness. From the described process of how consciousness originates and develops, it becomes evident that its growth depends on its faculty of perception. Therefore every means of improving this faculty should be used.   Legendary LSD Blotter Art: A Hidden Craftsmanship Have you ever heard of LSD blotter art? Explore the trippy world of LSD art and some of the top artists of LSD blotter art.   LSD and Exercise: Does it Work? LSD and exercise? Learn why high-performing athletes are taking hits of LSD to improve their overall potential.   Jan Bastiaans Treated Holocaust Survivors with LSD Dutch psychiatrist, Jan Bastiaans administered LSD-assisted therapy to survivors of the Holocaust. A true war hero and pioneer of psychedelic-therapy.   LSD and Spiritual Awakening I give thanks for LSD, which provided the opening that led me to India in 1971 and brought me to Neem Karoli Baba, known as Maharajji. Maharajji is described by the Indians as a “knower of hearts.”   How LSD is Made: Everything You Need to Know Ever wonder how to make LSD? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how LSD is made.   How to Store LSD: Best Practices Learn the best way to store LSD, including the proper temperature and conditions to maximize how long LSD lasts when stored.   Bicycle Day: The Discovery of LSD Every year on April 19th, psychonauts join forces to celebrate Bicycle Day. Learn about the famous day when Albert Hoffman first discovered the effects of LSD.   Cary Grant: A Hollywood Legend On LSD Cary Grant was a famous actor during the 1930’s-60’s But did you know Grant experimented with LSD? Read our guide to learn more.   Albert Hofmann: LSD — My Problem Child Learn about Albert Hofmann and his discovery of LSD, along with the story of Bicycle Day and why it marks a historic milestone.   Babies are High: What Does LSD Do To Your Brain What do LSD and babies have in common? Researchers at the Imperial College in London discover that an adult’s brain on LSD looks like a baby’s brain.   1P LSD: Effects, Benefits, Safety Explained 1P LSD is an analogue of LSD and homologue of ALD-25. Here is everything you want to know about 1P LSD and how it compares to LSD.   Francis Crick, DNA & LSD Type ‘Francis Crick LSD’ into Google, and the result will be 30,000 links. Many sites claim that Crick (one of the two men responsible for discovering the structure of DNA), was either under the influence of LSD at the time of his revelation or used the drug to help with his thought processes during his research. Is this true?   What Happens If You Overdose on LSD? A recent article presented three individuals who overdosed on LSD. Though the experience was unpleasant, the outcomes were remarkably positive.

The Ayahuasca Experience
Ayahuasca is both a medicine and a visionary aid. You can employ ayahuasca for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual repair, and you can engage with the power of ayahuasca for deeper insight and realization. If you consider attainment of knowledge in the broadest perspective, you can say that at all times, ayahuasca heals.


Trippy Talk: Meet Ayahuasca with Sitaramaya Sita and PlantTeachers
Sitaramaya Sita is a spiritual herbalist, pusangera, and plant wisdom practitioner formally trained in the Shipibo ayahuasca tradition.


The Therapeutic Value of Ayahuasca
My best description of the impact of ayahuasca is that it’s a rocket boost to psychospiritual growth and unfolding, my professional specialty during my thirty-five years of private practice.


Microdosing Ayahuasca: Common Dosage Explained
What is ayahuasca made of and what is considered a microdose? Explore insights with an experienced Peruvian brewmaster and learn more about this practice.


Ayahuasca Makes Neuron Babies in Your Brain
Researchers from Beckley/Sant Pau Research Program have shared the latest findings in their study on the effects of ayahuasca on neurogenesis.


The Fatimiya Sufi Order and Ayahuasca
In this interview, the founder of the Fatimiya Sufi Order,  N. Wahid Azal, discusses the history and uses of plant medicines in Islamic and pre-Islamic mystery schools.


Consideration Ayahuasca for Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Research indicates that ayahuasca mimics mechanisms of currently accepted treatments for PTSD. In order to understand the implications of ayahuasca treatment, we need to understand how PTSD develops.


Brainwaves on Ayahuasca: A Waking Dream State
In a study researchers shared discoveries showing ingredients found in Ayahuasca impact the brainwaves causing a “waking dream” state.


Cannabis and Ayahuasca: Mixing Entheogenic Plants
Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a pro cannabis Peruvian Shaman.


Ayahuasca Retreat 101: Everything You Need to Know to Brave the Brew
Ayahuasca has been known to be a powerful medicinal substance for millennia. However, until recently, it was only found in the jungle. Word of its deeply healing and cleansing properties has begun to spread across the world as many modern, Western individuals are seeking spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. More ayahuasca retreat centers are emerging in the Amazon and worldwide to meet the demand.


Ayahuasca Helps with Grief
A new study published in psychopharmacology found that ayahuasca helped those suffering from the loss of a loved one up to a year after treatment.


Ayahuasca Benefits: Clinical Improvements for Six Months
Ayahuasca benefits can last six months according to studies. Read here to learn about the clinical improvements from drinking the brew.


Ayahuasca Culture: Indigenous, Western, And The Future
Ayahuasca has been use for generations in the Amazon. With the rise of retreats and the brew leaving the rainforest how is ayahuasca culture changing?


Ayahuasca Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
The Amazonian brew, Ayahuasca has a long history and wide use. Read our guide to learn all about the tea from its beginnings up to modern-day interest.


Ayahuasca and the Godhead: An Interview with Wahid Azal of the Fatimiya Sufi Order
Wahid Azal, a Sufi mystic of The Fatimiya Sufi Order and an Islamic scholar, talks about entheogens, Sufism, mythology, and metaphysics.


Ayahuasca and the Feminine: Women’s Roles, Healing, Retreats, and More
Ayahuasca is lovingly called “grandmother” or “mother” by many. Just how feminine is the brew? Read to learn all about women and ayahuasca.

What Is the Standard of Care for Ketamine Treatments?
Ketamine therapy is on the rise in light of its powerful results for treatment-resistant depression. But, what is the current standard of care for ketamine? Read to find out.

What Is Dissociation and How Does Ketamine Create It?
Dissociation can take on multiple forms. So, what is dissociation like and how does ketamine create it? Read to find out.

Having Sex on Ketamine: Getting Physical on a Dissociative
Curious about what it could feel like to have sex on a dissociate? Find out all the answers in our guide to sex on ketamine.

Special K: The Party Drug
Special K refers to Ketamine when used recreationally. Learn the trends as well as safety information around this substance.

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

Ketamine vs. Esketamine: 3 Important Differences Explained
Ketamine and esketamine are used to treat depression. But what’s the difference between them? Read to learn which one is right for you: ketamine vs. esketamine.

Guide to Ketamine Treatments: Understanding the New Approach
Ketamine is becoming more popular as more people are seeing its benefits. Is ketamine a fit? Read our guide for all you need to know about ketamine treatments.

Ketamine Treatment for Eating Disorders
Ketamine is becoming a promising treatment for various mental health conditions. Read to learn how individuals can use ketamine treatment for eating disorders.

Ketamine Resources, Studies, and Trusted Information
Curious to learn more about ketamine? This guide includes comprehensive ketamine resources containing books, studies and more.

Ketamine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to ketamine has everything you need to know about this “dissociative anesthetic” and how it is being studied for depression treatment.

Ketamine for Depression: A Mental Health Breakthrough
While antidepressants work for some, many others find no relief. Read to learn about the therapeutic uses of ketamine for depression.

Ketamine for Addiction: Treatments Offering Hope
New treatments are offering hope to individuals suffering from addiction diseases. Read to learn how ketamine for addiction is providing breakthrough results.

Microdosing Ketamine & Common Dosages Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing ketamine.

How to Ease a Ketamine Comedown
Knowing what to expect when you come down from ketamine can help integrate the experience to gain as much value as possible.

How to Store Ketamine: Best Practices
Learn the best ways how to store ketamine, including the proper temperature and conditions to maximize how long ketamine lasts when stored.

How To Buy Ketamine: Is There Legal Ketamine Online?
Learn exactly where it’s legal to buy ketamine, and if it’s possible to purchase legal ketamine on the internet.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?
How long does ketamine stay in your system? Are there lasting effects on your body? Read to discover the answers!

How Ketamine is Made: Everything You Need to Know
Ever wonder how to make Ketamine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how Ketamine is made.

Colorado on Ketamine: First Responders Waiver Programs
Fallout continues after Elijah McClain. Despite opposing recommendations from some city council, Colorado State Health panel recommends the continued use of ketamine by medics for those demonstrating “excited delirium” or “extreme agitation”.

Types of Ketamine: Learn the Differences & Uses for Each
Learn about the different types of ketamine and what they are used for—and what type might be right for you. Read now to find out!

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

MDMA & Ecstasy Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to MDMA has everything you want to know about Ecstasy from how it was developed in 1912 to why it’s being studied today.

How To Get the Most out of Taking MDMA as a Couple
Taking MDMA as a couple can lead to exciting experiences. Read here to learn how to get the most of of this love drug in your relationship.

Common MDMA Dosage & Microdosing Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing MDMA.

Having Sex on MDMA: What You Need to Know
MDMA is known as the love drug… Read our guide to learn all about sex on MDMA and why it is beginning to makes its way into couple’s therapy.

How MDMA is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make MDMA? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how MDMA is made.

Hippie Flipping: When Shrooms and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Explore the mechanics of hippie flipping and how to safely experiment.

How Cocaine is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make cocaine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how cocaine is made.

A Christmas Sweater with Santa and Cocaine
This week, Walmart came under fire for a “Let it Snow” Christmas sweater depicting Santa with lines of cocaine. Columbia is not merry about it.

Ultimate Cocaine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
This guide covers what you need to know about Cocaine, including common effects and uses, legality, safety precautions and top trends today.

NEWS: An FDA-Approved Cocaine Nasal Spray
The FDA approved a cocaine nasal spray called Numbrino, which has raised suspicions that the pharmaceutical company, Lannett Company Inc., paid off the FDA..

The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Bioavailability
What is bioavailability and how can it affect the overall efficacy of a psychedelic substance? Read to learn more.

Cannabis Research Explains Sociability Behaviors
New research by Dr. Giovanni Marsicano shows social behavioral changes occur as a result of less energy available to the neurons. Read here to learn more.

The Cannabis Shaman
If recreational and medical use of marijuana is becoming accepted, can the spiritual use as well? Experiential journalist Rak Razam interviews Hamilton Souther, founder of the 420 Cannabis Shamanism movement…

Cannabis Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to Cannabis has everything you want to know about this popular substances that has psychedelic properties.

Cannabis and Ayahuasca: Mixing Entheogenic Plants
Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a procannabis Peruvian Shaman.

CBD-Rich Cannabis Versus Single-Molecule CBD
A ground-breaking study has documented the superior therapeutic properties of whole plant Cannabis extract as compared to synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), challenging the medical-industrial complex’s notion that “crude” botanical preparations are less effective than single-molecule compounds.

Cannabis Has Always Been a Medicine
Modern science has already confirmed the efficacy of cannabis for most uses described in the ancient medical texts, but prohibitionists still claim that medical cannabis is “just a ruse.”

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