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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

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and Mescaline in Experimental Psychiatry. Cholden, Louis. (Editor). (1956).
New York: Grune & Stratton.

ISBN: none

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 early date.

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 state.

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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