Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
White Rabbit: A Psychedelic Reader
Miller, John, and Koral Randall (1995)
San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Description: xvi + 282 pages.
Contents: Introduction, 38 readings, author biographies, acknowledgments.
Contributors: Nelson Algren, Richard Alpert, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Bowles, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William S. Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, Jean Cocteau, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Laurie Colwin, Marie Corelli, Miles Davis, Thomas De Quincey, Philip K. Dick, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sean Elder, the Fang people, Carrie Fisher, Sigmund Freud, Paul Gauguin, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Jim Hogshire, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Peter Mattiessen, Terence McKenna, Ralph Metzner, J. Moreau de Tours, Gerard de Nerval, Florence Nightengale, the Rig Veda, Arthur Rimbaud, Terry Southern, Bayard Taylor, Hunter S. Thompson, Amos Tutola, Alan Watts, Oscar Wilde, Tom Wolfe.
Excerpt(s): RIG VEDA
It is drunk by the sick man as medicine at sunrise; partaking of it strengthens the limbs, preserves the legs from breaking, wards off all disease and lengthens life. Then need and trouble vanish away, pinching want is driven off and flees when the inspiring one lays hold of the mortal; the poor man, in the intoxication of the Soma, feels himself rich; the draught impels the singer to lift his voice and inspires him for song; it gives the poet supernatural power, so that he feels himself immortal. On account of this inspiring power of the drink, there arose even in the Indo-Iranian period a personification of the sap as the god Soma, and ascription to him of almost all the deeds of other gods, the strength of the gods even being increased by this draught. Like Agni, Soma causes his radiance to shine cheeringly in the waters; like Vayu, he drives on with his steeds; like the Acvins, he comes in haste with aid when summoned; like Pusan, he excites reverence, watches over the herds, and leads by the shortest roads to success. Like Indra, as the sought-for ally, he overcomes all enemies, near and far, frees from the evil intentions of the envious, from danger and want, brings goodly riches from heaven, from earth and the air. Soma, too, makes the sun rise in the heavens, restores what has been lost, has a thousand ways and means of help, heals all, blind and lame, chases away the black skin [aborigines], and gives everything into the possession of the pious Arya. In his, the world-ruler's, ordinances these lands stand; he, the bearer of heaven and the prop of earth, holds all people in his hand. Bright shining as Mitra, awe-compelling as Aryaman, he exults and gleams like Surya; Varuna's commands are his commands; he, too, measures the earth's spaces, and built the vault of the heavens; like him, he, too, full of wisdom, guards the community, watches over men even in hidden places, knows the most secret things. ... He will lengthen the life of the devout endlessly, and after death make him immortal in the place of the blessed, in the highest heaven. (pages 83-84)
THE AFRICAN FANG LEGENDS
Zame Ye Mebege (the last of the creator gods) gave us eboka. He saw the misery in which blackman was living. He thought how to help him. One day he looked down and saw a blackman, the Pygmy Bitumu, high in an Atanga tree, gathering its fruit. He made him fall. He died and Zame brought his spirit to him. Zame cut off the little fingers and the little toes of the cadaver of the Pygmy and planted them in various parts of the forest. They grew into the eboka bush. (page 95)
FROM The Tibetan Book of the Dead
In planning a session, the first question to be decided is "what is the goal?" Classic Hinduism suggests four possibilities:
- For increased personal power, intellectual understanding, sharpened insight into self and culture, improvement of life situation, accelerated learning, professional growth.
- For duty, help of others, providing care, rehabilitation, rebirth for fellow men.
- For fun, sensuous enjoyment, aesthetic pleasure, interpersonal closeness, pure experience.
- For transcendence, liberation from ego and space-time limits; attainment of mystical union.
This manual aims primarily at the latter goal-that of liberation-enlightenment. This emphasis does not preclude attainment of the other goals-in fact, it guarantees their attainment because illumination requires that the person be able to step out beyond game problems of personality, role, and professional status. ...
If there are several people having a session together they should either agree collaboratively on a goal, or at least be aware of each other's goals. ...
The voyager, especially in an individual session, may also wish to have either an extroverted or an introverted experience. In the extroverted transcendent experience, the self is ecstatically fused with external objects (e.g. flowers, or other people). In the introverted state, the self is ecstatically fused with internal life processes (lights, energy-waves, bodily events, biological forms, etc.). ... (pages 129-130)
Psychedelic chemicals are not drugs in the usual sense of the word. There is no specific reaction, no expected sequence of events, somatic or psychological.
The specific reaction has little to do with the chemical and is chiefly a function of set and setting: preparation and environment. The better the preparation, the more ecstatic and revelatory the session. In initial sessions and with unprepared persons, setting-particularly the actions of others-is most important. With persons who have prepared thoughtfully and seriously, the setting is less important.
There are two aspects of set: long-range and immediate.
Long-range set refers to the personal history, the enduring personality. The kind of person you are-your fears, desires, conflicts, guilts, secret passions-determines how you interpret and manage any situation you enter, including a psychedelic session. Perhaps more important are the reflex mechanisms used when dealing with anxiety-the defenses, the protective maneuvers typically employed. Flexibility, basic trust, religious faith, human openness, courage, interpersonal warmth, creativity, are characteristics which allow for fun and easy learning. Rigidity, desire to control, distrust, cynicism, narrowness, cowardice, coldness, are characteristics which make any new situation threatening. Most important is insight. No matter how many cracks in the record, the person who has some understanding of his own recording machinery, who can recognize when he is not functioning as he would wish, is better able to adapt to any challenge-even the sudden collapse of his ego.
The most careful preparation would include some discussion of the personality characteristics and some planning with the guide as to how to handle expected emotional reactions when they occur. ...
Intellectual expectations are appropriate when subjects have had much psychedelic experience. Indeed, LSD offers vast possibilities for accelerated learning and scientific-scholarly research. But for initial sessions, intellectual reactions can become traps. The Tibetan Manual never tires of warning about the dangers of rationalization. "Turn your mind off" is the best advice for novitiates. Control of your consciousness is like flight instruction. After you have learned how to move your consciousness around-into ego-loss and back, at will-then intellectual exercises can be incorporated into the psychedelic experience. The last stage of the session is the best time to examine concepts. The objective of this particular manual is to free you from your verbal mind for as long as possible.
Religious expectations invite the same advice as intellectual set. Again, the subject in early sessions is best advised to float with the stream, stay "up" as long as possible, and postpone theological interpretations until the end of the session, or to later sessions. ... (pages 132-134)
The Psychedelic Guide
For the initial sessions, the attitude and behavior of the guide are critical factors. He possesses enormous power to shape the experience. With the cognitive mind suspended, the subject is in a heightened state of suggestibility. The guide can move consciousness with the slightest gesture or reaction.
The key issue here is the guide's ability to turn off his own ego and social games-in particular, to muffle his own power needs and fears. To be there relaxed, solid, accepting, secure. The Tao wisdom of creative quietism. To sense all and do nothing except to let the subject know your wise presence. ...
It goes without saying, then, that the guide should have had considerable experience in psychedelic sessions himself and in guiding others. To administer psychedelics without personal experience is unethical and dangerous.
... From our own research studies and our investigations into sessions run by others-serious professionals or adventurous bohemians-we have been led to the conclusion that almost every negative LSD reaction has been caused by fear on the part of the guide which has augmented the transient fear of the subject. When the guide acts to protect himself, he communicates his concern to the subject.
The guide must remain passively sensitive and intuitively relaxed for several hours. This is a difficult assignment for most Westerners. ... Routine procedure is to have one trained person participate in the experience and one staff member present in ground control without psychedelic aid.
The knowledge that one experienced guide is "up" and keeping the subject company, is of inestimable value; intimacy and communication; cosmic companionship; the security of having a trained pilot flying at your wing tip; the scuba diver's security in the presence of an expert comrade in the deep. ...
The role of the psychedelic guide is perhaps the most exciting and inspiring role in society. He is literally a liberator, one who provides illumination, one who frees men from their life-long internal bondage. To be present at the moment of awakening, to share the ecstatic revelation when the voyager discovers the wonder and awe of the divine life-process, is for many the most gratifying part to play in the evolutionary drama. The role of the psychedelic guide has a built-in protection against professionalism and didactic oneupmanship. The psychedelic liberation is so powerful that it far outstrips earthly game ambitions. Awe and gratitude-rather than pride-are the rewards of this new profession. (Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert, pages 137-139)
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP