Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Sixties Spiritual Awakening: American Religion Moving from Modern to Postmodern.
Ellwood, Robert S. (1994).
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Description: First edition,
xii + 369 + i pages.
Contents: Preface, list
of abbreviations for organizations, 6 chapters plus unnumbered
"Judaism in the Later Sixties," chapter notes, bibliography,
index, about the author.
Excerpt(s): To those
on-the-scene writers and prophets, the crucial current event was
not the campus conflicts or the Pentagon sieges-though they might
be symptoms of real revolution-but the emergence of a wholly new
culture, based on a new spirituality. ... Despite all appearances,
the great event was the coming of the Love Generation, the Aquarian
Age, or secular Christianity, and in the last analysis that eschatological
event would be wrought not by street revolutionaries but by those
who dropped out and turned on. (pages 7-8)
My contention is that the religious and political
sides of the Sixties should not be set against each other so much
as seen as bands in a single spectrum. Both are spiritual in that
they touch on values of ultimate significance. What they have
in common is much more important than what sets them apart. They
can both be understood through categories from out of the
phenomenology of religion-mythology, apocalyptic, transcendental
symbols of community, and the like. We will be especially thinking
of religious features that mark times of profound social transition,
for it is precisely then that the nonreligious perspectives-now
undergoing overhaul-are superseded by those pointing toward timeless
ultimates, or so it seems to many in that day. (pages 9-10)
In any case, the historian of Sixties religion can
in no wise leave Leary and psychedelia on
the sidelines. Though Castilia was hardly a church or monastery,
it was a spiritual collegium by intention, and its experiments
were odysseys into unknown, God- and Circe-infested waters. Psychedelia
generally was rebellion and adventure on no small scale, and it
took the combined powers of the church, state, media, and scientific
establishments to quash it.
Whatever wisdom chemical trips may hold was wisdom
for which those power worlds were not ready in the 1960s and are
not yet ready. In the end, that particular kind of laboratory-generated
wisdom or folly was more feared even than civil rights, the antiwar
movement, or the servant church and was more firmly exorcised
by all the reigning priesthoods. Though many were called, the
kairos was not right, and argonauts of consciousness like
Leary became not a new priesthood but the designated devils
of an era.
The antidrug reaction is all too understandable
given the doleful scenes of exploitation, crime, and disease widespread
drug use brought to city streets and counterculture communes.
But abuse by overeager teenagers hardly proves the visions of
the best psychedelic mystics to have no spiritual or cognitive
worth. Yet any kind of research using psychedelics became politically
impossible to undertake or fund, even privately. Data from Watts
and Huxley and the Psychedelic Review,
or gathered from Castilia or the Good Friday Experiment in those
few years between 1954 (the year of Huxley's Doors of Perception)
and delegalization in 1966, remain fascinating but confusing.
What researchers could accumulate and analyze in that brief span
is insufficient to permit final conclusions about the geography,
meaning, or worth of psychedelia's inner worlds. Instead, ontological
exploration met a police barricade before it could much more than
leave base camp. Until it can set out again, one range of the
potentially knowable remains forbidden knowledge. (page 153)
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP