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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



Roll Away the Stone: An Introduction to Aleister Crowley's Essays on the Psychology of Hashish with the complete text of The Herb Dangerous [by] Aleister Crowley.

Regardie, Israel (1968)
Saint Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.


ISBN: 0-87542-692-1

Description: Paperback, 1974 printing, x + 241 pages

Contents: 2 unnumbered parts: Part1. Roll Away the Stone by Israel Regardie, 10 chapters, Part 2. The Herb Dangerous, 4 contributors'chapters.

Contributors: Charles Baudelaire, Oliver Haddo (Aleister Crowley), H. G. [Fitzhugh] Ludlow, and E. Whineray.

Excerpt(s):

Roll Away the Stone
by Israel Regardie

The purpose of the hashish-session was simply to provide the student with a fore-taste or some adumbration of the mystical experience towards which he was focusing all his energies. It was never the intention of Crowley at any time to use drugs as a substitute for the body-mind discipline which he insisted on beyond all other things. This was the furthest notion from his mind. ...

I want to emphasize unequivocally that Crowley has asserted not once but a thousand times that the discipline itself was far more important than any one particular result or attainment. His thesis was that in training a concert pianist for example, one concentrates on drills, scales and exercises until enough manual dexterity and self-discipline has been developed by play Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. One does not start with the latter. It was in this area that he differs seriously from most of our contemporaries. ...

His fundamental premise was stated over and over again, in a hundred different ways. It was never that the drug experience per se could possibly replace the basic mental and spiritual discipline that he stood for, and which all occult teachers insisted upon. In fact, he was relatively certain that whatever the drug experience did evoke would soon be forgotten to become a cold, gray, vague memory. (pages 23 - 26)

A new school of psychologists is developing currently. They regard the mystical experience as a healthy development in the onward growth of the psyche. They do not consider this phenomenon outside of their psychological field, as did nineteenth century science. Since it is a piece of naturalistic human behavior, it is regarded as well within their scientific purview, rather than as belonging to the field of religion. Instead of the familiar phrase the "religious" or "mystical" experience, they have coined a new phrase, the "peak" experience to refer to the same inner phenomenon. They are inclined to view its occurrence as a good deal more common than was previously supposed, and that there is a spontaneity in this frequently. More often than not, in non-religious people such as poets and artists, it is not evoked or precipitated by the use of prayer, devotion or other religious techniques.

"There is no difference in principle between sharpening perception with an external instrument, such as a microscope, " wrote Alan Watts, "and sharpening it with an internal instrument, such as one of these three drugs. If they are an affront to the dignity of the mind, the microscope is an affront to the dignity of the eye and the telephone to the dignity of the ear ..." (pages 29 - 30)

... But if I may be permitted to hazard a guess, I would suggest that the above writers [Huxley, Watts, Alpert, Leary] may yet go down in psycho-religious history as outstanding figures who have been instrumental in transforming current, dead religious attitudes into vital mystical experience. This could result, on the on hand, in increased membership in the several religious institutions in the country - for which I am quite certain the churches will never express appreciation - and in a revived experimental attitude toward the whole topic of mysticism which has never been equaled before in the known history of mankind. In any event, the latter will leaven the public religions, and transform them. The result of all this may prove to be the final vindication of Aleister Crowley, and of what he came to call his system of "Scientific Illuminism."

A half century has elapsed since he coined this phrase. Today, only a few people are in the least bit aware of the superb analytical writing produced by Aleister Crowley. With lysergic acid practically a byword on so many lips, adn when so much excellent writing pro and con has appeared, it seems to me imperative to revive the original study by Crowley. He had so much to say in this connection and he has said it very well. Moreover, because of his training, exp[erience, and mystical accomplishments, he was in a far better position to articluate what he did than most of our contemporaries. This is hardly to decry our present-day writers. They have done, on the positive side of the ledger, a yeoman job to indicate that the prudent use of psychedelic drugs may vastly expand the limited horizon of the human mind. (pages 50 - 51)



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