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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.

Rave Culture: An Insider's Overview

Fritz, Jimi. (1999)
Victoria, BC: SmallFry Press.

ISBN: 0-9685721-0-3

Description: viii + 275 pages. Paperback original.

Contents: 19 chapters, including Recommended Web Sites.

Excerpt(s): I was twice the age of most of the ravers that night but it made not the slightest bit of difference to any one, least of all myself. I felt like I had walked into a different world. A world where the social rules had changed. A world where people had changed. A world where people had transcended their petty, superficial differences and evolved to the state where they could accept everyone else for who and what they were without judgment of fear. We are all familiar with theoretical notions of brotherhood, ranging from the ancient Christian ethic of "love your brother," to current new age philosophies that advocate opening our heart chakras and seeing God's light in others. Though we all know how it's supposed to go, apart from a handful of saints and sages, it is extremely rare to see these practices manifest in daily life. But here I was in a sea of six hundred radiant souls putting into practice five thousand years of religious and philosophical hypotheses. Beyond the conceptual world of ideas and dogma this was a direct experience of tribal spirituality practiced by our ancestors. I could feel the pulse of the shaman's drum and almost smell the pungent wood smoke of ancient fire. (page 5)

I had experimented with various psychedelic drugs in the past and had some powerful and inspiring experiences but this experience had an immediacy and intensity that set it apart. It felt more real than the fantastic, illusionary worlds of LSD or magic mushrooms, as if the effects were activated by the ecstasy but ultimately came from somewhere deep inside. Coupled with the influence of the music, it seemed that, rather than feeling a direct effect from the drug, it seemed that the feelings were generated from my own being, merely triggered by the drug, making the experience seem more organic and less drug induced. But the effects of the ecstasy were only one part of the equation. The music also had a powerful influence and was key to the overall effect. It was a combination of the people, the environment, the music and the drug all conspiring to bring about a unique set of circumstances with the power to create a powerful and meaningful group experience.

I can honestly say my experience that night changed my life for the better. During the writing of this book, I have spoken to hundreds of ravers about their first experience and found my story was far from unique. The majority of ravers had a very similar story to tell.

It seemed amazing to me that this life-changing ritualistic, cultural phenomenon was going on in almost every large urban center in the western world and beyond, making it a truly global phenomenon. It has been estimated there are now many more ravers in the world that there were hippies in the sixties. Even more amazing was that the rave scene was still almost entirely underground even after a decade of phenomenal growth. The mainstream press and media have only sporadically reported on rave culture and have consistently missed the real story, choosing instead to focus on raves as out-of-control drug fests. (pages 6-7)

We have arrived at a point in history where people are losing touch with themselves and others with disastrous effects. The young people of today are busy creating new tribal rituals as the old religions continue to lose their appeal and meaning. The rave experience is as valid and powerful as any tribal or spiritual practice from the past or present, and can serve to fulfill our basic human need to feel connected to our families our communities and ourselves. Does that sound so bad?

The material for this book has been gathered over the last three years from many varied sources in keeping with the spontaneous and eclectic nature of rave culture itself. What is presented here is a compilation of subjective notes and opinions that collectively, will give you a taste of what rave culture is all about. If you want the real thing however, you will have to try it for yourself ... (pages 7-8)

And here is a letter written by a Buddhist monk to Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in California. The letter is from Volume 5, Number 3, MAPS Newsletter, page 44.

Dear Rick,

Thanks for sending the latest issue of MAPS and congratulations on the breakthrough in your research.

Well, I not only had a ball in England at the rave but also got an education and personal liberation. I had not been to a dance since I became a monk yet I used to love to dance and was part of the scene in the 60's.

What blew my mind was the fact that I'll be 70 this year. I was so taken by the MDMA and music that I danced from 11 P.M. to 7 a.m. It had a very strong impact on me, since I could totally give myself to the rhythm and was in a sort of trance, which reminded me very much of the North American dances which I witnessed in New Mexico. It also occurred to me that the DJ was a kind of shaman. Having gotten over the initial 'shock' of the rave, I have had time to muse over the whole experience. I've come to the conclusion that rave dancing could be a very important aspect of the spiritual path. It is not only fun and relaxing but is also creative, that is, liberating. The other night I went to a nightclub to dance with three visiting monks from Mt. Baldy!

The effect the MDMA has on me is like a magnifying glass. I use it only once or twice a year (my supply is very limited) for meditation. I can focus more sharply and the content becomes more magnified and I see more with my mind's eye.

Hope you are happy and well.

H (page 184)
It has been said that this is the first generation to be raised without religion, but it may be more accurate to say that the old religious models have lost touch with the youth of today. Young people today are rejecting the traditional religions followed by their parents and are busy creating new contexts for their devotional needs. A Rabbi from the USA agrees. "Traditional religions have lost the ability to provide their followers with mystical experiences. Instead, young people are far more likely to have such experiences while on LSD or ecstasy. If priests really want to understand young people, they should try these drugs themselves. Then they would learn that certain drugs can produce the same quality and potential value as other mystical experiences."

It is also an interesting and common phenomenon that many young people who have no previous interest or awareness in spirituality start to develop an interest in religious matters after going to a few raves. Their experience with trance states at parties can often lead to an interest in spiritual pursuits. Having had a powerful or moving experience at a rave, they now have to find the terminology and context with which to describe and communicate the experience, and religious or spiritual systems often provide the framework necessary to explain and define these profound experiences. (pages 184-185)

The basic philosophy of rave culture can be summed up in the acronym PLUR which regularly appears on rave flyers and tickets all over the world and has recently turned up on various clothing products from some of the leading sportsware designers. The letters stand for peace, love, unity, and respect. This simple mantra has been widely accepted as the guiding principals of rave culture. (page 203)

This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby

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