Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and Mescaline in Experimental Psychiatry.
Cholden, Louis. (Editor). (1956).
New York: Grune & Stratton.
Description: Hardcover, xii + 85 pages.
Contents: Introduction, 12 nunumbered chapters, Questions and
Discussion, Answers and Final Statements, index.
Contributors: Harold A. Abramson, Eugene S. Boyd, A. Cerletti, Louis
Cholden, Edward Evarts, harold E. himsich, Paul H. Hoch, Abram Hoffer,
Aldous Huxley, Harry H. Pennes, Max Rinkel, Ernst Rothlin, R. A.
Sanderson, Charles Savage.
Note: Proceedings of a round table on held at the Annual Meeting of the
American Psychiatric Association, Atlantic City, NJ, May 12, 1955. Note
Excerpt(s): Let us use a geographical metaphor and liken the personal
life of the ego to the Old World. We leave the Old World, cross a dividing
ocean, and find ourselves in the world of the personal subconscious,
with its flora and fauna of repressions, conflicts, traumatic memories
and the like. Traveling further, we reach a kind of Far West, inhabited by
Jungian archetypes and the raw materials of human mythology. Beyond
this region lies a broad Pacific. Wafted across it on the wings of
mescaline or lysergic acid diethylamide, we reach what may be called
the Antipodes of the mind. In this psychological equivalent of Australia
we discover the equivalents of kangaroos, wallabies, and duck-billed
platypuses-a whole host of extremely improbable animals, which
nevertheless exist and can be observed.
Now, the problem is, how can we visit the remote areas of the mind,
where these creatures live? Some people, it is clear, can go there
spontaneously and more or less at will...
Those who cannot visit the mind's Antipodes at will (and they are the
majority) must find some artificial method of transportation. One method
which works in a certain proportion of cases is hypnosis. There are
persons who, under moderately deep hypnosis, enter the visionary
More certain in their effect are the so-called hallucinogens, mescaline
and LSD.(pages 46-47)
This brings me to a very interesting and, I believe, significant
point. The visionary experience, whether spontaneous or induced by
drugs, hypnosis or any other means, bears a striking resemblance to the
Other World, as we find it described in the various traditions of religions
and folklore. In every culture the abode of the gods and of souls in bliss
is a country of surpassing beauty, glowing with color, bathed in intense
light. In this country are seen buildings of indescribable magnificence,
and its inhabitants are fabulous creatures, like the six-winged seraphs of
Hebrew tradition, or like the winged bulls, the hawk-headed men, the
human-headed lions, the many-armed, or elephant-headed personages
of Egyptian, Babylonian and Indian mythology. Among these fabulous
creatures move superhuman angels and spirits, who never do anything,
but merely enjoy the beatific vision...
One is reminded, as one reads these descriptions of the mescaline
experience, of what is said of the next world in the various religious
literatures of the world. Ezekiel speaks of the stones of fire, which are
found in Eden. In the Book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem is a city of
precious stones and of a substance which must have seemed to our
ancestors almost as wonderful as gem-stones-glass. The wall of the
New Jerusalem is of gold like glass -that is to say of a transparent,
self-luminous substance having the color of gold. Glass reappears in the
Celtic and Teutonic mythologies of Western Europe. The home of the
dead, among the Teutons, is a glass mountain, and among the Celts it
was a glass island, with glass bowers.
The Hindu and Buddhist paradises abound, like the New Jerusalem, in
gems; and the same is true of the magic island which, in Japanese
mythology, parallels Avalon and the isles of the Blest.(page 49)
Of the connection between visionary experience and certain forms of
art, I have no time to speak. Suffice it to say that the connection is real,
and that the almost magical power exercised by certain works of art
springs from the fact that they remind us, consciously or, more often,
unconsciously, of that Other World, which the natural visionary can
enter at will, and to which the rest of us have access only under the
influence of hypnosis or of a drug such as mescaline or LSD. (Aldous
Huxley, "Mescaline and the 'Other World'" (page 50).
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