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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

In the Kingdom of Mescal: A Fairy Tale for Adults.

Schafer, George, and Cuz, Nan. (1970).
Berkeley: Shambhala Publications.

ISBN: 0-87773-016-4

Description: First edition, 36 pages.

Contents: Folk tale.

Note: Foreword by Miguel Angel Asturias, translated by Dinah Livingstone, originally published as Im Reiche des Mescal by Carl Schunemann Verlag, Bremen.

Excerpt(s): ABOUT THIS BOOK The Kingdom of Mescal, a legend from the Indians of Central America, appeals to people of very different temperaments, culture and belief. In this fairy tale for adults, told by George Schafer and illustrated by Nan Cuz, herself an Indian, the pictures with their brilliant colours and simple lines and the patterns of speech with their engaging spontaneity combine to make a remarkable document of human belief, a book which is also a work of art.

The text is based on ancient Indian symbolic forms and tells the story of a boy who longs to get behind the appearance of things. A magic drink given to him by a medicine man sends him on a wonderful journey to a place where "the tongue forms no more words," into the depths of himself and to the heights of sheer wonder at the brilliance of the absolute. But such phrases as "magic drink," "journey," or "trip," "the depths of himself," have a far wider currency than that of the Indian world alone. The book is the story of the kind of journey described by Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception; and the man who goes through the door in the wall never comes back the same. The rediscovery of drugs used in the religious cults of the past such as the mescalin and nanacatl-a toadstool which causes brilliantly coloured dreams-and the synthetic substance commonly known as LSD, has aroused great public interest. Some approve of them, others stress their dangers. And the danger does exist of letting these drugs, whose secrets were so closely guarded in the past by a priesthood, become in our completely different society a form of consumer goods. Uncontrolled "trips" may be physically or psychologically harmful. Men of all times and places have wanted to escape the stress of everyday life. The most widely used oriental drugs, opium and hashish, have much the same function in the East as alcohol does for the Westerner. But the Indian soma and the various American Indian drugs have another purpose. They are part of a highly developed cult which has nothing to do with mere intoxication. Magic drinks, particularly mescalin, are used in American Indian society as a means of spiritual transformation. They are thought to extend the consciousness, open the closed doors of the self and increase the richness of the soul.

George Schafer and Nan Cuz experimented with synthetic mescalin shortly after the war. They discussed their findings in a scientific paper entitled " Experimental research on the space-time problem," which led to a correspondence with Albert Einstein. In The Kingdom of Mescal their researches have born a different kind of fruit, and art and literature are richer for it. (pages 38-39)

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