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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

The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching.

McKenna, Terence, and McKenna, Dennis. (1993).
San Francisco: HarperCollins.

ISBN: 0-06-250635-8

Description: Paperback, xvii + 229 pages.

Contents: List of figures and tables, foreword to the 1994 edition by Jay Stevens, preface to the 1994 edition, acknowledgments to the 1975 edition, acknowledgments to the 1994 edition, introduction to the 1994 edition, 14 chapters divided into 2 parts: 1. Mind, Molecules and Magic; 2. Time, Change and Becoming; epilogue; appendix: The Mathematics of Timewave Zero by Peter Meyer; bibliography; index.

Note: Originally published in 1975 by the Seabury Press.

Excerpt(s): The search for liberation, a paradisiacal state of freedom that mythology insists is the ahistorical root of the historic process, has always been the raison d'etre of the human species' conscious pilgrimage through time. In the name of drawing near to this liberation, humankind has built and then partially rejected an endless procession of societies, governments, phil osophies, and religions. ... Systems as divergent as Buddhism and Marxism, National Socialism and Christianity, have all claimed possession of a set of concepts that would in some sense "free" their practitioners. The entire human experience, individual and collective, can be described as the pursuit of that which frees. (page 3)

... Our interest then centered upon primitive societies where a connection with the timeless world of the unconscious is maintained through the office of the shaman, the technician of the sacred. We believed that the widespread use of psychedelic drugs in modern society was somehow rooted to the intuition that exploration and reassimilation of so-called magical dimensions was the next valid step in humanity's collective search for liberation.

... Indeed, in the institution of shamanism we felt that the normal and the paranormal were somehow merged, and in the shamanic world, physical manipulation of psychic space via hallucinogens is raised to the level of "science"-more precisely a folk science. We assumed that the merging of the normal and the paranormal and the use of hallucinogens were directly related. (page 4)

It is our contention, to be amplified in later chapters, that the presence of psychoactive substances is a primary requirement of all true shamanism, and that where such substances are not exogenously available as plants, they must be endogenously available either through metabolic predisposition to their synthesis, as may occur in schizophrenia, or through the various techniques of shamanism: dancing, drumming, singing, and the confrontation of situations of stress and isolation. Where these alkaloids are not present, shamanism becomes ritual alone, and its effectiveness suffers accordingly. (page 15)

Let us now focus our attention on a more speculative question: whether there are, or could be, institutions in modern society that draw their models from shamanism. There appears to be occurring in modern life a progressive alienation from the numinous archetypal contents on the collective unconscious, which has engendered a gradually encroaching sense of collective despair and anxiety. The archetypal motifs of the Western religious tradition seem to have lost their effectiveness for the large portion of civilized humanity or, at best, have been depotentiated to the level of a "merely psychological" reality. Western humans have lost their sense of unity with the cosmos and with the transcendent mystery within themselves. ... From the point of view of religious symbolism, this preoccupation of modern humanity with its historical and existential situation springs from an unconscious sense of its impending end. (pages 16-17)

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