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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

Proceedings of the International Conference on Shamanism.

Heinze, Ruth-Inge. (1984).
Berkeley, CA: Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California.

ISBN: none

Description: Perfect-bound, mimeograph or photocopied on one side of each leaf, viii + 249 pages. Proceedings of a conference held at St. Sabina Center, San Rafael, California, May 11-13, 1984, sponsored by Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Contents: Introduction, 29 unnumbered chapters, addresses of active participants, letter from Weston La Barre, letter from Mircea Eliade.

Contributors: Sally Abbott, Daniel J. Benor, Bruce Davis, Dorothy Fadiman, Pat Ferrero, Paul Freeman, Reinhard Greve, Keith Harary, Bruce Hawkins, Ruth-Inge Heinze, Mihaly Hoppal, Stanley Krippner, William C. Leikam, Jaime T. Licauco, Joseph K. Long, Luis E. Luna, William S. Lyon, Terence McKenna, Ralph Metzner, Jean Millay, Carla Corradi Musa, Rowena Pattee, Thomas I. Patterson, Richard Rainbow, Jean Sayre-Adams, Jim Swan, Jean-Pierre Valla, Collin van Uchelen, Virginia Veach, Maria Ester Grebe Vicuna, Giorgio Villa, Tamara Wasserman-Hill, Michael Winkelman.

Excerpt(s): On the initiative of Dr. K. Bob Wikan, Professor Emeritus at the Finland-Swedish University of Abo, the Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History invited some forty scholars ... to participate in a symposium on shamanism in Abo from the 6th to the 8th of September 1962. Nine of the presentations at the symposium were published later under the title, Studies in Shamanism, ed. Carl-Martin Edsman, By Alqvist & Wiskell, Stockholm, in 1967.

During another conference on "Shamanism in Eurasia," held in Budapest in 1981, experts ...presented papers ... which have just been published by edition herodot, Gottingen, West Germany.

Mihaly Hoppal called again scholars ... to participate in a three-day symposium on shamanism in conjunction with the XIth Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Vancouver, B. C. in August of 1983. The publication of this symposium's papers is forthcoming.

Ruth-Inge Heinze, the conference coordinator, then invited scholars ... to contribute papers on the topics of (1) what is shamanism? (2) methods and techniques for the study of shamanism; and (3) reports by or on living shamans. Of the 40 presentations made at the St. Sabina Center, San Rafael, California, May 11-13, 1984, 30 were selected for publication in these proceedings in their entirety, summaries of the films shown appear on pp. 244-245, and summaries of the other presentations are given at the end of this introduction. (page iii)

The religious categories used to describe that type of phenomenon are very grandiose, while psychiatric or medical categories are strongly oriented toward pathology. So I used a composite list of characteristics and I looked whether I found these characteristics within every experience reported or not.

A feeling of harmony was found in 72.6 percent of the experiences. A feeling of being detached in 52.5 per cent of the experiences. Non-hallucinatory perceptual changes ... were found in 35.2 per cent of the experiences. The riveting of attention (fascination) occurred in 25 per cent of the cases, the feeling of a presence different from every-day self in 18.4 per cent of the cases. What I called a non-interpretive intellectual process, e.g., insight, was found in 18 per cent, an interpretive process was present in almost 16 percent, and an hallucination (what psychiatrists would call hallucination), a hallucinatory type of perceptual modification occurred in 3.9 per cent of the experiences which is very low. [Valle is describing religious experiences in general, not those occasioned by entheogens. His descriptive categories are included because they may be helpful supplements to categories derived from Stace, James and Huxley. TR] (page 42)

In this position the subject no longer needs secondary process thinking insofar as this is a tool to survive within the mazeway [the person's assumptive world]. Primary process thinking, which motivates one to act within the mazeway, also becomes irrelevant even though the subject is caught up in emotion. Thus, in the particular situation of having religious experiences both primary and secondary process thinking stop and the mind starts working another way. Hallucinations which may occur at this point are examples. The hallucinations appear as an artificial way of creating harmony between the subject and his environmental maze, in some respect a way to cheat.

Hence, in addition to the rational secondary process thinking and affective primary process thinking, religious experiences oblige us to enlarge the psychoanalytic model of the psyche and to hypothesize a third type of psychological process, a third way of functioning for the psyche a way of thinking through images and symbols. I coined this third type of thought process "existential process thinking" because Sartre's famous formula states that existence precedes essence.


In other words, secondary process thinking helps us to drive the vehicle, i.e., the body, primary process thinking helps to know whether we like it or not where we are going and the way to go, and existential process thinking allows us to know where we are and to choose where we are going according to the point of view emphasized by the phenomenological theory. (Jean-Pierre Valla, Contemporary Religious Experiences, (pages 44-45)

We must have a sense of balance. Some people are too much in the unconscious. Certainly, I am not recommending that they immerse themselves in hallucinations, but I think the dominant rational, reductionist, scientific dualist establishment needs to come to terms with these things. The whole problem of Western society is that we rule ourselves according to theory and we have different theories of humanity. Marxist man is such a pathetic caricature of a human being that eighty per cent of what a human being is is left out of Marxist man. Hitlerian man is another lame vision. We are very proud of democratic man or democratic humanity, but obviously this does not answer all questions. And the democracy we have is very provision. So, what we are talking about is healing the division, having a union in each individual in each society, and in the global totality where these factors are balanced. Then we will discover an infinite number of dimensions, dimensions of feeling-toned relations, esthetic dimensions, political dimensions. The meaning of unity is liberation and the meaning of liberation is the proliferation of more and more dimensions where human freedom has efficacious feedback into human becoming. Human freedom is not something destructive. (Terence McKenna, Tryptamine Hallucinations in Amazonas, page 114)

Responsible exploration of what Aldous Huxley calls the "inward power" of the entheogens, as well as what psychosocial environments best serve their usage, needs to be encouraged and supported to actualize the benefits they hold for "the welfare of people living in a technological society." The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart reminded us of the spiritual bottom line for all seekers of the sacred when he advised, "what is taken in by contemplation, must be given out in love." (Thomas I. Patterson, Purification, Death and Rebirth: The Clinical Use of Entheogens Within a Shamanic Context, pages 132-133)

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