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.
Description: First edition,
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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