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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Apology for Wonder.

Keen, Sam. (1969).
New York: Harper & Row.

ISBN: None

Description: 218 pages.

Contents: Preface, 7 chapters, notes.

Excerpt(s): In the last chapter of Life Against Death [Norman O. Brown] proposes the creation of a Dionysian consciousness which would be based upon a body ego of the polymorphously perverse body. ... The unrepressed man would be free to live and to die because he would have overcome anxiety and guilt. He would also be free from obsession with genital sexuality and would exist in a world which was totally eroticized. Being oriented toward delight and play, he would lose the money complex and would demand happiness rather than power and use-value rather than exchange-value. (page 182)

It would seem that much of the material coming from the psychedelic revolution is relevant to evaluating the Dionysian consciousness induced by ingestion of mild hallucinogenic such as marijuana and hashish and stronger agents such as LSD, DMT, and mescaline, the psychedelic experience seems to qualify as pure Dionysian consciousness. LSD produces the polymorphous perverse body in short order with such intensity that even the desire to play with language is dissolved in the pleasure of immediate experience. ... (page 185)

The distortion of the normal sense of time and of the boundaries between the senses is a part of the more radical dissolving of the ego which takes place in the psychedelic experience. When the rider of self-consciousness falls away, leaving pure awareness, the I or ego is left behind, as is the distinction between subject and object, inside and outside, or here and there. This loss of a sense of the distinctiveness and separateness of the experiencing self accounts for both the aesthetic and the religious aspects of psychedelic experience. ... The self is reduced to a focused awareness of the objects, events, and sensations that flow ceaselessly in the moving mandala of reality. Ego transcendence is often reported in religious terms, especially by those persons who have some knowledge of Eastern religions; the one becomes caught up in the flow of the All; the alienation caused by the illusion of atomic selfhood is dispelled, and painful self-awareness gives way to the ecstasy of being included in a moving reality.

Another aspect of the psychedelic experience which leads us to believe it is a candidate for Brown's Dionysian consciousness is its erotic component. ... the psychedelic places one in a more erotic but less genital world. Where there is much to wonder at, sex becomes a delight among delights. LSD doesn't take the pot of gold from under the tree of sex; it merely, like Rumpelstiltskin, in the children's fairy tale, ties a scarf around every tree in the forest.

... The reverse side of the ecstasy of self-transcendence and ego loss is the terror of losing all those values and delights that are a part of our rootedness in a particular time, place and situation. The loss of boundaries promises the release from chains of limitation, but it threatens destruction of the treasures which the boundaries encompass and keep safe. (pages 185-187)

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