Monday, December 31, 2007

How to Make a Disco Ball With CDs


You can still dance to old CDs even if you don't like the music on them any more. Just turn them into a disco ball to boogie under! Here's how to recycle all those freebie and unwanted CDs and turn them into something funky and new.


Gather your unwanted CDs and cut each CD into little squares.

Kitchen shears are better for this job. This could ruin a good pair of scissors. Also, the scissors shouldn't be thin, or else your hands will ache.

To soften the CDs for cutting (and reduce splintering) dip the CD into boiling water without letting it touch the bottom of the pot. Pull it out before it starts to warp (this might take a little experimenting on your part to determine how long they need to be dipped). Use gloves to cut the CD while it's still warm.

Collect the squares in a pile. You will end up with all different sizes of little squares.

Fetch the Styrofoam ball and glue gun.

Put a hole through the ball with a bamboo skewer or any thing else. Run some fishing wire or a string through the ball and knot into a loop from which the ball can be hung.

Start by gluing the little squares from the center of the ball. Work your way up and down. Continue until the ball is covered. Leave the top of the disco ball, where the loop comes out, for last. It's a good place to put irregular bits and pieces because it's the least conspicuous.

Hang the ball. You now have a mini disco ball and you've reused the old CDs!

The squares do not need to be even but aim to keep them around the same size when cutting, as this assists with keeping them together neatly on the ball as you glue it.

If you are using craft glue rather than a hot gun, have some towels to wipe away any drips.

You can color the pieces with permanent marker to give the ball a multi-colored effect.

When using a hot glue gun, have a bowl of ice water handy so that you can dip a burned finger in immediately to ward off the pain so you can keep on going Some CDs are silver on both sides, so with CDs like this, be sure to put the shiny side out.

Things You'll Need
Old, unwanted CDs
Styrofoam ball (craft store)
Glue gun or craft glue
Bamboo skewer or a stick
Fishing wire or a string

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Pharmacratic Inquisition

Thousands of years ago, in the pre monarchic era, sacred plants and other entheogenic substances where politically correct and highly respected for their ability to bring forth the divine, Yahweh, God, The Great Spirit, etc., by the many cultures who used them. Often the entire tribe or community would partake in the entheogenic rites and rituals. These rites were often used in initiation into adulthood, for healing, to help guide the community in the decision process, and to bring the direct religious experience to anyone seeking it.

In the pre literate world, the knowledge of psychedelic sacraments, as well as fertility rites and astronomical knowledge surrounding the sun, stars, and zodiac, known as astrotheology, were anthropomorphized into a character or a deity; consequently, their stories and practices could easily be passed down for generations. Weather changes over millenniums caused environmental changes that altered the available foods and plant sacraments available in the local vicinity. If a tribe lost its shamanic El-der (El - God), all of the tribe's knowledge of their plant sacraments as well as astronomical knowledge would be lost. The Church’s inquisitions extracted this sacred knowledge from the local Shamans who were then exterminated…It is time to recognize the fact that this Pharmacratic Inquisition is still intact and destroy it.

The definition of Pharmacratic Inquisition

Pharmaco-, a combining form meaning drug, medicine, or poison used in the formation of compound words: pharmacology, pharmacy, etc.

-crat, a combining form meaning ruler, member of a ruling body, or advocate of a particular form of rule, used in the formation of compound words: autocrat; technocrat. Cf. -cracy.

Inquisition, n. 1. an official investigation, esp. one of a political or religious nature, characterized by lack of regard for individual rights, prejudice on the part of the examiners, and recklessly cruel punishments. 2. any harsh, difficult, or prolonged questioning. 3. the act of inquiring; inquiry; research. 4. an investigation, or process of inquiry. 5. a judicial or official inquiry. 6. the finding of such an inquiry. 7. the document embodying the result of such inquiry. 8. (cap.) Roman Catholic Church A. a former special tribunal, engaged chiefly in combating and punishing heresy. Cf. Holy Office. B. See Spanish Inquisition.

Pharmacratic Inquisition nov. verb.The Christian persecution of archaic religions based on sacramental ingestion of entheogenic plants and the consequent personal access to ecstatic states; whose first great victory was the destruction of the Eleusinian Mysteries at the end of the fourth century; which then reached a gruesome climax in the persecution of witches in the Middle Ages; and which continues in today's Pharmacratic State in the guise of a public health 'War on Drugs.'

1994 Ott Ayahuasca Analogues, 12. May the Entheogenic Reformation prevail over the Pharmacratic Inquisition, leading to the spiritual rebirth of humankind at Our Lady Gaia's breasts, from which may ever copiously flow the amrita, the ambrosia, and the ayahuasca of eternal life!

Source: The Age of Entheogens & the Angel's Dictionary by Jonathan Ott

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Savanna Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus, Hunt with Tools news service
Rowan Hooper

In a revelation that destroys yet another cherished notion of human uniqueness, wild chimpanzees have been seen living in caves and hunting bushbabies with spears. It is the first time an animal has been seen using a tool to hunt a vertebrate.

Many chimpanzees trim twigs to use for ant-dipping and termite-fishing. But a population of savannah chimps (Pan troglodytes verus) living in the Fongoli area of south-east Senegal have been seen making spears from strong sticks that they sharpen with their teeth. The average spear length is 63 centimetres (25 inches), says Jill Pruetz at Iowa State University in Ames, US, who observed the behaviour with Paco Bertolani, of the University of Cambridge, UK.

And the method of procuring food with these tools is not simply extractive, as it is when harvesting insects. It is far more aggressive. They use the spears to hunt one of the cutest primates in Africa: bushbabies (Galago senegalensis).

Bushbabies are nocturnal and curl up in hollows in trees during the day. If disturbed during their slumbers – if their nest cavity is broken open, for example – they rapidly scamper away. It appears that the chimps have learnt a grisly method of slowing them down.

Cave life

Chimps were observed thrusting their spears into hollow trunks and branches with enough force to injure anything inside the holes, Pruetz’s research team says. The chimps used a “power grip” and made multiple downward stabs – much the same way as a human might wield a dagger.
Ten different chimps in the population were observed to perform this behaviour in 22 bouts. In one case the researchers saw a chimp remove a dead bush baby and eat it. Here is the chimp enjoying his grisly meal, and cleaning his small spear (5MB, Requires Quicktime).

And, in what is thought to be another first for chimps, the Fongoli population have taken up aspects of cave living. They use the the shady interiors for socialising, taking siestas and picnicking, the researchers say. Pruetz jokes that she would not be surprised if the chimps began making cave drawings.

The Fongoli chimps inhabit a mosaic savannah – patches of grass and woodland – where there are no red colobus monkeys. The absence of these monkeys, which are the favoured prey of several other chimp populations, may explain the Fongoli chimps’ unique spear-hunting behaviour.

“Given the lack of opportunity, Fongoli chimps have come up with a way to get around the problem of how to get protein in their particular environment...using tools to hunt,” says Pruetz.

Secret snacks

Intriguingly, the behaviour is mostly confined to females and immature chimps. Adults hunt and eat green monkeys, but males have priority over access to the meat. Pruetz suggests that Fongoli juveniles and females get around this by exploiting a niche that is relatively ignored by adult males – and spearing little bushbaby snacks for themselves.

“Immatures and females are innovative in solving the problem of feeding competition,” she says.

Chimps regularly seem to be discovered doing things once thought unique to humans (see Stone Age chimps were handy with a hammer). “Back to the drawing board again in terms of trying to define how humans are special,” says Pruetz.

Savanna Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus, Hunt with Tools
Current Biology, Volume 17, Issue 5, 6 March 2007, Pages 412-417
Jill D. Pruetz and Paco Bertolani
The full paper is available: HERE

Movie S1. Tool Inspection Adolescent female Tumbo extracts and inspects her tool. It is the third and final insertion. She then climbs the tree and begins jumping on the large limb, which eventually breaks off, allowing her to reach in and retrieve the bushbaby (Galago senegalensis).

Movie S2. Meat Eating Adolescent female Tumbo eats bushbaby prey (G. senegalensis). Other chimpanzees are present, but they do not beg for meat.

Movie S3. Eating of Remains Adult male Foudoukou eats the remains of the bushbaby (G. senegalensis) left on the ground by the adolescent female who captured it. He also chews some wood together with meat remains.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just say "KNOW" to police searches!

BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with your right to remain silent, to consult with an attorney, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. However, it is up to you to assert these rights. This NORML Foundation Freedom Card will help you do so effectively.

If you are confronted by a police officer, remain calm. Be courteous and provide your identification. Politely refuse to answer any further questions. Ask to talk to an attorney. Do not consent to any search of your person, your property, your residence or your vehicle. Tell the officer you would like to give him or her this card, which is a statement of the constitutional rights you wish to invoke. Do not reach for this card until you have obtained the officer's permission to do so.

If the officer fails to honor your rights, remain calm and polite, ask for the officer's identifying information and ask him or her to note your objection in the report. Do not attempt to physically resist an unlawful arrest, search or seizure. If necessary, you may point out the violations to a judge at a later time.

Protect your rights durring a Police encounter

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Google Thinks It Knows Your Friends

Google Thinks It Knows Your Friends
By Miguel Helft

That’s how Google announced earlier this month on one of its corporate blogs the expansion of the sharing features in Google Reader, the company’s service for viewing blogs. The feature didn’t win Google a lot of friends.

Several bloggers and users have sounded the alarm about this, with some justification.
Here’s what the brouhaha is about. For some time now, Google has allowed you to share with your friends blog posts you view using Reader. You got to select the items you wanted shared and you got to choose your friends. When you marked a new item as shared, your friends who use Reader would see it. (Technically, your shared items were on a public Web page, so they could have been seen by others who are not your friends, if those people could figure out how to find that page.)

Google is assuming that anyone you have had a conversation with using Google Talk is a friend, so they’ll automatically be able to see and read what you’ve read and marked as shared. You can still manage your friends list and explicitly tell Reader not to share with some of your newfound friends. Of course, you’d have to know that Google had started sharing your items more widely, which many people apparently did not, even though Google alerted them through a pop-up window.

I checked with a few of my tech-savvy colleagues whose shared items I was suddenly able to see and they had no idea that they were sharing them with me.

(UPDATE: Google offers a workaround.)

It seems that the problem is the following: Google is desperately trying to become a force in social networking. It wants to make many of its applications and services more “social,” to, for example, tell your friends what you are reading with Reader or cataloging with MyMaps. But unlike Facebook and other social networks, it doesn’t really know who your friends are. So it is creating a list of friends for you, assuming that anyone you Google Talked with is your friend.
Why Google Talk friends and not, say, those people who you’ve e-mailed with or have in your address book? “With Google Talk, the parties have mutually consented to chatting with each other,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “This type of mutual consent is not required for Gmail interactions.” In other words, they didn’t want to turn everyone you’ve e-mailed (or spammed) into your friend. Fair enough.

But Google Talking with someone and befriending them is not the same thing. Consider how two of my editors use Google Reader’s sharing feature: To alert another colleague about articles they believe deserve to be noted on the New York Times Web site. Now one of my editors has conversed with Google Talk with former colleagues who now work at competing publications. Do they really want those former colleagues to know what they think makes for interesting reading? Clearly not.

Google could have avoided a lot of flak allowing you to opt-in to, rather than opt-out of, the expansion of your Reader friends list. But it didn’t.

If Google wants to come up with its own social graph, the connections between people that are behind the power of social networks like MySpace and Facebook, it’s going to have to work a little harder — or risk alienating a growing number of users.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Hope For Addicts?

An epilepsy drug may help alcoholics stop drinking.
By Temma Ehrenfeld

Donald Elbel remembers sneaking into the garage as a 10-year-old to steal beers from his dad's cooler. By the time he was 40 and working as a mechanic in Kendalia, Texas, Elbel was chugging 35 Lone Stars a day. He knew his life was in danger--he once slammed his car into a telephone pole at 80 miles an hour and, after a short detour to the hospital, ended up in jail. He tried everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to hospital detox, but he couldn't give up the brew. Then, in 1998, Elbel volunteered for a clinical trial of a drug called topiramate, a well-known seizure medication. He wasn't required to stay sober, but after a few days of oral medication, he lost interest in drinking. "I went around at first saying 'Something's missing,' but I didn't know what," says Elbel. "The doctors had to tell me I was missing the craving." Though he took the drug for only three months, Elbel hasn't touched a beer in seven years.

It sounds like magic, but over the past decade scientists have come to better understand how the addicted brain works. And they are using that knowledge to study several existing drugs as potential treatments for the millions enslaved by their cravings. The leading candidate may be topiramate, known commercially as Topamax. For years, epileptic patients reported that it helped them fight food cravings and lose weight. Now, in addition to helping alcoholics, the drug shows promise in early studies with binge eaters, smokers and even gamblers. Because these drugs have a record of safety, doctors may legally use them to treat addiction long before they are officially approved for that purpose, a practice known as off-label prescribing.

Addiction is a kind of brain damage. In a normal brain, a neurotransmitter called glutamate is released when a person experiences desire. It's essentially a "go" signal. Counteracting glutamate is a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitor that keeps glutamate and other go signals from overwhelming us. The strength of a craving depends on the balance of glutamate and GABA in the brain. When an addict confronts a martini or cigarette, theory has it, GABA is overwhelmed by glutamate--desire trumps inhibition. The brain then becomes flooded with dopamine, our master pleasure chemical, reinforcing the original desire.

Topiramate works on both ends of the GABA-glutamate seesaw: it reduces the release of glutamate and enhances the release of GABA. In the Texas study Elbel took part in, 17 percent of hard-core drinkers stayed dry for at least a month while taking the drug. An additional 20 percent cut back from heavy consumption to more normal levels. The drug does have side effects, most commonly mental fuzziness, but patients tend to stick with it, says study author Bankole Johnson of the University of Virginia. A multisite study to confirm his findings is underway.

None of the currently approved treatments for alcoholism acts on the mechanism of addiction as directly as scientists would like, and none has achieved wide-spread acceptance or success. The oldest and best-known is disulfiram, or Antabuse, which makes people vomit as soon as they drink but doesn't reduce cravings. Two other drugs, acamprosate and naltrexone, seem to cut cravings, but each has disadvantages. Acamprosate works well only if patients stop drinking before treatment. If they relapse, acamprosate keeps them from bingeing as badly. Naltrexone also moderates binges and can be taken while the patient continues to drink, but may be most effective only for people with a specific genetic vulnerability.

Meanwhile, up north in Fairbanks, Alaska, internist Linda Garcia has already treated two dozen alcoholics with topiramate, along with hypnosis and nutritional supplements. "My patients tell me that they no longer have the fear that comes with craving," says Garcia, who is especially happy that she's beginning to attract patients from the hard-hit Alaska Native population.
In addition to topiramate, other established drugs are being studied as potential treatments for addiction. Among them are baclofen, a common muscle relaxant that enhances GABA, and N-acetylcysteine, used to treat Tylenol overdoses, which inhibits glutamate. Scientists don't yet know which of these, if any, will emerge as effective and reliable treatments for addiction. But there's hope, and for people like Donald Elbel, that's something to live for.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Add a little Psychedelia to your Windows Media Player

Psychedelia Viz Pack
by Tim Cowley and Stephen Coy

Psychedelia and synesthesia realized through cutting-edge computer graphics technology. These visualizations translate sound into colors, shapes and motion. Experience your music! The pack contains seven great visualizations that pulsate, cycle and morph to the beat. Awesome with an LCD projector. Once you download and install the plug in, you will notice new visualizations named: Album Art 3D, Bubbles, Distortion, Gigertron 3D, Hypnobloom, Ribbons and UpCube! It runs great on my machine, its free and NO spyware. I love it!

Download the Psychedelia Viz Pack

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa’s Crimes Against Humanity

By Robert Anton Wilson

Robert Anton Wilson was the author of the legendary The Illuminatus! Trilogy. He died earlier this year.

In Burlington, North Carolina in 1990, a group of decent, Christian, hard-working folks who called themselves the Truth Tabernacle Church held a trial featuring the well-known elf Santa Claus as defendant.

They charged Mr. Claus, represented in court by a stuffed dummy, with all sorts of high crimes and misdemeanors. They charged him with paganism. They charged him with perjury for claiming to be Saint Nicholas. They even charged him with encouraging child abuse by appearing in whiskey ads. Worse yet, they found him guilty on all counts, for basically being a jolly old elf — i.e., a pagan god trying to steal Christmas from Christ.

It wasn't the first time Mr. Claus got the boot from a Christian congregation. Pope John XXIII threw the suspiciously merry old clown out of the Roman Catholic church back in the late 1960s. The Jehovah's Witnesses have always denounced Santa for his unsavory pagan past. (They also recognized Christmas trees as phallic symbols long before Freud.) Many fundamentalists believe that all pagan gods are basically one false god — the same demon in different disguises — and they think the disguise is thin in the case of this particular elf. It only takes a minor letter switch, they point out, to reveal Santa Claus as SATAN Claus.

I sort of think the fundies have it right for once. Santa not only has an unsavory pagan ancestry but a rather criminal family history all around. Let me Illuminize you...
As Weston La Barre pointed out a long time ago in his classic Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion, you can find remnants of a primordial bear-god from the bottom of South America up over North America and over the North Pole and down across most of Europe and Asia. This deity appears in cave paintings from southern France carbon-dated at 30,000 BC. You can find him and her (for this god is bisexual) disguised in Artemis and Arduina and King Arthur, all unmasked via canny detective work by folklorists -- and etymologists, who first spotted the bear-god when they identified the Indo-European root ard, meaning bear. You can track the bear-god in dwindling forms in a hundred fairy tales from all over Europe and Asia. And you can find the rituals of this still-living god among the indigenous tribes of both American continents.
And Santa, like Peter Pan and the Green Man of the spring festivals, and the Court Jester — and (in an odd way) Chaplin's beloved Little Tramp — all have traits of the god that walks like a man and acts nasty sometimes and clownish sometimes and who was ritually killed and eaten by most of our ancestors in the Stone Age, who then became one with their god and thus also became (if the ritual worked) as brave as their god. See Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough for the gory details.

And I swear the same god-bear tromps and shambles through every page of Joyce's masterpiece of psycho-archeology, Finnegans Wake. If you don't believe me, consult Adaline Glasheen's Third Census of Finnegans Wake.

Most folklorists recognize "the cannibal in the woods" as a humanized relic of the bear-god. The heroine, in 101 tales, meets him while on a mission of mercy. He generally sets the heroine to solve three riddles, and when she succeeds, instead of eating her he becomes her ally and helps her reach her goal. One variation on that became The Silence of the Lambs. Another became Little Red Riding Hood.

What? Hannibal Lecter another of Santa's uncouth family?

Yes, indeedy.

In some rustic parts of Europe and probably in Kansas, Santa retains traces of his carnivorous past. Children are told that if they are "good" all year, Santa will reward them, but if they are "bad" he will EAT THEM ALL UP. Yeah, the Boogie Man , or Bogie, or Pookah, or Puck, are all of somewhat ursine ancestry, although other animal-gods got mixed in sometimes.

As Crazy Old Uncle Ezra wrote in Canto 113, "The gods have not returned. They have never left us."

Jung might state the case thusly: Gods, as archetypes of the genetic human under-soul (or "collective unconscious"), cannot be killed or banished; they always return with a new mask but the same symbolic meaning. Related example: Young ladies in ancient Greece were often seduced or raped by satyrs; in the Arab lands, we note a similar outbreak of randy djinn; it India, it was devas. In the Christian Dark Ages, it began happening to young men, too, especially to monks. They called the lascivious critter an incubus. Now it's happening all around us, and the molesters come from Outer Space. The sex-demon, like the Great Mother and the Shadow and our ursine hero, and the three brothers hunting the dragon (recognize them in Jaws? Spot them doing their Three Stooges gig?) — these archetypal forces always come back under new names. Sir Walter Scott called them "the crew that never rests."

And the bear-god seems wakeful elsewhere. He has appeared prominently in other bits of pop culture — the movies Legends of the Fall and The Edge (both of which, curiously, star Anthony Hopkins, who also starred as Hannibal Lecter) and snuck into Modern Lit 101 not only via Joyce but also via Faulkner's great parable "The Bear." He also pops up to deliver the punch line in Norman Mailer's Why Are We in Vietnam?

We will see more of him, methinks.

Meanwhile, Santa, the Jester/Clown/Fertility God aspect of Father Bear, is doing quite well also, despite getting the bum's rush by some grim, uptight Christers. He has quite successfully stolen Xmas from X and brings pagan lust and pagan cheer to most of us, every year, just when we need it most — in the dead of winter. His beaming face appears everywhere and if we have a minor cultural war going on between those who wish to invoke him via alcohol and those who prefer their invocations per cannabis, we all share the pagan belief, at least for part of a week, that the best way to mark the solstice and the year's dying ashes is to form a loving circle and all get bombed together.

As a pagan myself, I wouldn't have it any other way.

By Robert Anton Wilson

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Professor Vilayanur S. Ramachandran MD, PhD

V.S. Ramachandran: journeys to the center of your mind

Download this talk in high resolution

V.S. Ramachandran is a mesmerizing speaker, able to concretely and simply describe the most complicated inner workings of the brain. His investigations into phantom limb pain, synesthesia and other brain disorders allow him to explore (and begin to answer) the most basic philosophical questions about the nature of self and human consciousness.

Ramachandran is the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. He is the author of Phantoms in the Brain, the basis for a Nova special, and A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness; his next book, due out in January 2008, is called The Man with the Phantom Twin: Adventures in the Neuroscience of the Human Brain.

Editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Human Behaviour and author of the critically acclaimed book Phantoms in the Brain that has been translated into eight languages and formed the basis for a two-part series on Channel Four TV UK and a one-hour PBS special in USA. Newsweek magazine recently named him a member of "The Century Club," one of the "hundred most prominent people to watch in the next century."

"Ramachandran is a latter-day Marco Polo, journeying the silk road of science to strange and exotic Cathays of the mind. He returns laden with phenomenological treasures...which, in his subtle and expert telling, yield more satisfying riches of scientific understanding." Richard Dawkins

More videos
Phantoms in the Brain - 1 of 2.avi
Phantoms in the Brain - 2 of 2.avi

The Uniqueness of the Human Brain

You can hear Rama's talk given at MIND STATES IV held on May 23-25, 2003 on The Psychedelic Salon Podcast #118 “What Neurology Can Tell Us About Human Nature, Synesthesia and Art”

V.S. Ramachandran Links
Vilayanur S. Ramachandran (official webpage)
Ramachandran illusions
Publications available for download
All in the Mind interview

Wikipedia Entry
Reith Lectures 2003 The Emerging Mind by Ramachandran

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Invisible College 3rd Edition

Invisible College
3rd Edition is now available
Free download in PDF and

Here's some of what's featured in this issue:
  • A. Andrew Gonzalez is our featured artist gracing our front and back covers with his amazing art...
  • Poetry from Allen Cohen of The San Francisco Oracle...
  • Tim Daly graces us once more with stories from his home in Ireland...
  • Will Penna takes us back over Summers of Love with his entry...
  • Diane Darling writes on the festival of Lughnasdh...
  • Find out how Salvia divinorum was kept legal in Oregon...
  • Poetry from Tomas Brawley and Aleister Crowley...
  • The Sumerian Connection is examined in ' The Serpent and The Light' from Hermetic Magician LyterPhotos...
  • We also have the art of Eddy Andres (Semi-God) and Dodie's "World of Art"...
  • Walter Maderos announces a new book of Willifred Sattys' illustrations: "Visions of Frisco"...
  • A very interesting interview: "The Flowery Path: One Man's Journey on the path of the sacred plants"...
  • This edition is rounded off by a photojournal of Modern Tribalism by Kyle Hailey....
Also see:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Modern Christmas traditions are based on ancient mushroom-using shamans.

Modern Christmas traditions are based
on ancient mushroom-using shamans.
by Dana Larsen (18 Dec, 2003)

Although most people see Christmas as a Christian holiday, most of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian Northern Europe. The sacred mushroom of these people was the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom, also known as "fly agaric." These mushrooms are now commonly seen in books of fairy tales, and are usually associated with magic and fairies. This is because they contain potent hallucinogenic compounds, and were used by ancient peoples for insight and transcendental experiences. Most of the major elements of the modern Christmas celebration, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, magical reindeer and the giving of gifts, are originally based upon the traditions surrounding the harvest and consumption of these most sacred mushrooms.

The world tree
These ancient peoples, including the Lapps of modern-day Finland, and the Koyak tribes of the central Russian steppes, believed in the idea of a World Tree. The World Tree was seen as a kind of cosmic axis, onto which the planes of the universe are fixed. The roots of the World Tree stretch down into the underworld, its trunk is the "middle earth" of everyday existence, and its branches reach upwards into the heavenly realm. The amanita muscaria mushrooms grow only under certain types of trees, mostly firs and evergreens. The mushroom caps are the fruit of the larger mycelium beneath the soil which exists in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the tree. To ancient people, these mushrooms were literally "the fruit of the tree." The North Star was also considered sacred, since all other stars in the sky revolved around its fixed point. They associated this "Pole Star" with the World Tree and the central axis of the universe. The top of the World Tree touched the North Star, and the spirit of the shaman would climb the metaphorical tree, thereby passing into the realm of the gods. This is the true meaning of the star on top of the modern Christmas tree, and also the reason that the super-shaman Santa makes his home at the North Pole. Ancient peoples were amazed at how these magical mushrooms sprang from the earth without any visible seed. They considered this "virgin birth" to have been the result of the morning dew, which was seen as the semen of the deity. The silver tinsel we drape onto our modern Christmas tree represents this divine fluid.

Reindeer games
The active ingredients of the amanita mushrooms are not metabolized by the body, and so they remain active in the urine. In fact, it is safer to drink the urine of one who has consumed the mushrooms than to eat the mushrooms directly, as many of the toxic compounds are processed and eliminated on the first pass through the body. It was common practice among ancient people to recycle the potent effects of the mushroom by drinking each other's urine. The amanita's ingredients can remain potent even after six passes through the human body. Some scholars argue that this is the origin of the phrase "to get pissed," as this urine-drinking activity preceded alcohol by thousands of years. Reindeer were the sacred animals of these semi-nomadic people, as the reindeer provided food, shelter, clothing and other necessities. Reindeer are also fond of eating the amanita mushrooms; they will seek them out, then prance about while under their influence. Often the urine of tripped-out reindeer would be consumed for its psychedelic effects. This effect goes the other way too, as reindeer also enjoy the urine of a human, especially one who has consumed the mushrooms. In fact, reindeer will seek out human urine to drink, and some tribesmen carry sealskin containers of their own collected piss, which they use to attract stray reindeer back into the herd. The effects of the amanita mushroom usually include sensations of size distortion and flying. The feeling of flying could account for the legends of flying reindeer, and legends of shamanic journeys included stories of winged reindeer, transporting their riders up to the highest branches of the World Tree.

Santa Claus, super shaman
Although the modern image of Santa Claus was created at least in part by the advertising department of Coca-Cola, in truth his appearance, clothing, mannerisms and companions all mark him as the reincarnation of these ancient mushroom-gathering shamans. One of the side effects of eating amanita mushrooms is that the skin and facial features take on a flushed, ruddy glow. This is why Santa is always shown with glowing red cheeks and nose. Even Santa's jolly "Ho, ho, ho!" is the euphoric laugh of one who has indulged in the magic fungus. Santa also dresses like a mushroom gatherer. When it was time to go out and harvest the magical mushrooms, the ancient shamans would dress much like Santa, wearing red and white fur-trimmed coats and long black boots. These peoples lived in dwellings made of birch and reindeer hide, called "yurts." Somewhat similar to a teepee, the yurt's central smokehole is often also used as an entrance. After gathering the mushrooms from under the sacred trees where they appeared, the shamans would fill their sacks and return home. Climbing down the chimney-entrances, they would share out the mushroom's gifts with those within. The amanita mushroom needs to be dried before being consumed; the drying process reduces the mushroom's toxicity while increasing its potency. The shaman would guide the group in stringing the mushrooms and hanging them around the hearth-fire to dry. This tradition is echoed in the modern stringing of popcorn and other items. The psychedelic journeys taken under the influence of the amanita were also symbolized by a stick reaching up through the smokehole in the top of the yurt. The smokehole was the portal where the spirit of the shaman exited the physical plane. Santa's famous magical journey, where his sleigh takes him around the whole planet in a single night, is developed from the "heavenly chariot," used by the gods from whom Santa and other shamanic figures are descended. The chariot of Odin, Thor and even the Egyptian god Osiris is now known as the Big Dipper, which circles around the North Star in a 24-hour period. In different versions of the ancient story, the chariot was pulled by reindeer or horses. As the animals grow exhausted, their mingled spit and blood falls to the ground, forming the amanita mushrooms.

St Nicholas and Old Nick
Saint Nicholas is a legendary figure who supposedly lived during the fourth Century. His cult spread quickly and Nicholas became the patron saint of many varied groups, including judges, pawnbrokers, criminals, merchants, sailors, bakers, travelers, the poor, and children. Most religious historians agree that St Nicholas did not actually exist as a real person, and was instead a Christianized version of earlier Pagan gods. Nicholas' legends were mainly created out of stories about the Teutonic god called Hold Nickar, known as Poseidon to the Greeks. This powerful sea god was known to gallop through the sky during the winter solstice, granting boons to his worshippers below. When the Catholic Church created the character of St Nicholas, they took his name from "Nickar" and gave him Poseidon's title of "the Sailor." There are thousands of churches named in St Nicholas' honor, most of which were converted from temples to Poseidon and Hold Nickar. (As the ancient pagan deities were demonized by the Christian church, Hold Nickar's name also became associated with Satan, known as "Old Nick!") Local traditions were incorporated into the new Christian holidays to make them more acceptable to the new converts. To these early Christians, Saint Nicholas became a sort of "super-shaman" who was overlaid upon their own shamanic cultural practices. Many images of Saint Nicholas from these early times show him wearing red and white, or standing in front of a red background with white spots, the design of the amanita mushroom. St Nicholas also adopted some of the qualities of the legendary "Grandmother Befana" from Italy, who filled children's stockings with gifts. Her shrine at Bari, Italy, became a shrine to St Nicholas.

Modern world, ancient traditions
Some psychologists have discussed the "cognitive dissonance" which occurs when children are encouraged to believe in the literal existence of Santa Claus, only to have their parents' lie revealed when they are older. By so deceiving our children we rob them of a richer heritage, for the actual origin of these ancient rituals is rooted deep in our history and our collective unconscious. By better understanding the truths within these popular celebrations, we can better understand the modern world, and our place in it. Many people in the modern world have rejected Christmas as being too commercial, claiming that this ritual of giving is actually a celebration of materialism and greed. Yet the true spirit of this winter festival lies not in the exchange of plastic toys, but in celebrating a gift from the earth: the fruiting top of a magical mushroom, and the revelatory experiences it can provide. Instead of perpetuating outdated and confusing holiday myths, it might be more fulfilling to return to the original source of these seasonal celebrations. How about getting back to basics and enjoying some magical mushrooms with your loved ones this solstice? What better gift can a family share than a little piece of love and enlightenment?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gaialogues podcast interview with Dr. Ralph Metzner

Gaialogues with Joanna Harcourt-Smith
Dr. Ralph Metzner
Recorded: Dec 3, 2007
Download the podcast: HERE

Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. who has a B.A. in philosophy and psychology from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard University, has been involved in the study of transformations of consciousness ever since, as a graduate student, he worked with Dr. Timothy Leary and Ram Dass formerly known as Richard Alpert on the Harvard Psilocybin Projects. He co-wrote The Psychedelic Experience, and was editor of The Psychedelic Review.

During the 1970s, Ralph spent 10 years in the intensive study and practice of Agni Yoga, a meditative system of working with light-fire life-energies. He wrote Maps of Consciousness, one of the earliest attempts at a comparative cartography of consciousness; and Know Your Type, a comparative survey of personality typologies, ancient and modern.

He was the Academic Dean for ten years, during the 1980s, at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he taught courses there on “Altered States of Consciousness” and “Developing Ecological Consciousness.” He is now Professor Emeritus. He maintains a part-time psychotherapy practice, and conducts numerous workshops on consciousness transformation, both nationally and internationally. His books include The Well of Remembrance, The Unfolding Self, Green Psychology, and two edited collections on the science and the phenomenology of Ayahuasca and Teonanácatl.

He is the co-founder and president of the Green Earth Foundation, an educational and research organization dedicated to the healing and harmonizing of the relationships between humanity and the Earth.

In this interview Dr. Metzner shares his amazing philosophies, insight and history with the listener.

Be sure to listen to the 2nd Gaialogue podcast interview with Dr. Ralph Metzner

Articles and essays by Ralph Metzner, PhD:
Ralph Metzner Links
The Green Earth Foundation
Ralph Metzner on Erowid
Alchemical Divination Training Program

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Acid test - Cosmos Magazine

COSMOS Magazine Inside the Mind Issue
Link: COSMOS Magazine Inside the Mind Issue.

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann with a model of the LSD molecule.

"The acid test" by Alex Wilde, a short feature article about LSD. It's been banned for 35 years, but some scientists argue that a comeback for the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs is overdue. Is there a place for LSD in medicine today? A nice history from the Swiss biochemist Dr. Albert Hofmann's famous bicycle ride to todays push to resume studies. The "Inside the Mind" issue is actually a back-issue of Cosmos, Issue 13 dated, February 2007. The other articles in this issue are pretty interesting as well. There is quite a bit of content on the site and its well worth the visit.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shamanic Ecstasy

"Shamanic ecstasy is the real "Old Time Religion," of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder... is no religion at all!" Jonathan Ott

What is Shamanic Ecstasy and how does it compare with other forms of ecstasy?

From the Greek ekstasis, ecstasy literally means to be placed outside, or to be placed. This is a state of exaltation in which a person stands outside of or transcends his or herself. Ecstasy may range from the seizure of the body by a spirit or the seizure of a person by the divine, from the magical transformation or flight of consciousness to psychiatric remedies of distress.

Three types of Ecstasy are specified in the literature on the subject:
a. Shamanic Ecstasy
b. Prophetic Ecstasy
c. Mystical Ecstasy

Shamanic ecstasy is provoked by the ascension of the soul of the shaman into the heavens or its descent into the underworld. These states of ecstatic exaltation are usually achieved after great and strenuous training and initiation, often under distressing circumstances. The resulting contact by the shaman with the higher or lower regions and their inhabitants, and also with nature spirits enables him or her to accomplish such tasks as accompanying the soul of a deceased into its proper place in the next world, affect the well-being of the sick and to convey the story of their inner travels upon their return to the mundane awareness.

The utterances of the shaman are in contrast with those of prophetic and mystical ecstasy. The prophet literally speaks for God, while the mystic reports an overwhelming divine presence. In mysticism, the direct knowledge or experience of the divine ultimate reality, is perceptible in two ways, emotional and intuitive. While these three varieties of ecstatic experience are useful for the purposes of analysis and discussion, it is not unusual for more than one form of ecstasy to be present in an individual's experience.

However, it can be argued that, generally speaking, there are three perceptive levels of ecstasy.

The physiological response, in which the mind becomes absorbed in and focused on a dominant idea, the attention is withdrawn and the nervous system itself is in part cut off from physical sensory input. The body exhibits reflex inertia, involuntary nervous responses, frenzy.

Emotional perception of ecstasy refers to overwhelming feelings of awe, anxiety, joy, sadness, fear, astonishment, passion, etc.

Intuitive perception communicates a direct experience and understanding of the transpersonal experience of expanded states of awareness or consciousness. While the physiological response is always present, the emotional response may or may not be significant when intuition is the principal means of ecstatic perception. Some have argued that beyond the intuitive state there is a fourth condition in which the holistic perception exceeds mental and emotional limitations and understanding.

The ecstatic experience of the shaman goes beyond a feeling or perception of the sacred, the demonic or of natural spirits. It involves the shaman directly and actively in transcendent realities or lower realms of being. These experiences may occur in either the dream state, the awakened state, or both. Dreams, and in particular, lucid dreams, often play a significant role in the life of a shaman or shamanic candidate.

Ayahuasca, shamanism, and curanderismo in the Andes by Steve Mizrach
Shamans and scientists
Mazatec Shaman Maria Sabina
Gaian Botanicals

Friday, December 14, 2007

Laura Archera Huxley passes on at age 96

The author and widow of Aldous Huxley has died in Los Angeles, according to family friends. She was 96. She was born in Italy and became a top violinist at a young age. Her friends pick up the story in an obituary they prepared:

"In 1948 Laura met Aldous Huxley and then wife, Maria and a wonderful friendship blossomed. In 1956, a year after Maria’s death, Aldous and Laura were married. During that time Aldous wrote Island and Laura wrote You Are Not The Target, which became national bestsellers and huge successes. The “recipes for living and loving” contained in Laura’s fabulous self-help book ask you to imagine attending your own funeral, visualize your favourite flower, jump in another person’s position, dance naked with music In later years she also wrote Let’s Die Healthy, available online for free.

The Huxleys became prominent representatives of the Psychedelic Movement, always advocating the use of psychedelics in a controlled environment and for personal enrichment and always warning against the dangers of the mindless and indiscriminate use of drugs.

Aldous Huxley died on November 22, 1963. Laura wrote about their life together, and Aldous’s death, in the her touching book This Timeless Moment. A favourite quote of Aldous’ words is: “One never loves enough.”

In 1978 she started OUI (Our Ultimate Investment), later to become COUI – Children: Our Ultimate Investment. This Foundation is dedicated to the best development of the “possible human” from before conception to the first years of life, with particular attention given to unwanted teenage pregnancy.

"A succession of explorations and discoveries – that is what my life has been,” says Laura Huxley, whose life continues to be a series of investigations uncovering answers for her ceaseless questions about the nature and quality of life. Laura Huxley has indeed undergone a series of discoveries throughout the course of her life. From the age of ten, she lived and moved in the universe of the violin, going from her native Turin, Italy, to study with the masters in Berlin, Paris and Rome, where she earned a Professor of Music degree. She made her teenage debut at Carnegie Hall, continuing her music education at the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia. At this point, Laura decided she knew little of life other than that of the concert violinist. After a long and painful deliberation, she put her Guarneri into its case and set out to discover wider horizons.

Seeking other means of creativity and development, in the following years Laura produced documentary films, played in a major Symphony Orchestra, was assistant film editor at RKO and intensely studied health, nutrition and psychology. She worked as a psychological counselor, a lecturer, and a seminarist in the human potential movement.

In 1956 she married the writer and philosopher, Aldous Huxley, and together they explored ways of opening the mind to new levels of consciousness. After his death in 1963, Laura wrote THIS TIMELESS MOMENT, a book describing her life with her husband.

The ever present common denominator that impressed her were the problems in human relations and the vast amount of avoidable unhappiness with which people are affected. The response to this challenge were her books: YOU ARE NOT THE TARGET, BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH, ONEADAY REASON TO BE HAPPY, and THE CHILD OF YOUR DREAMS which she co-authored with Piero Ferrucci. An even more complete reflection of her innovative thought was the founding in 1977 of Our Ultimate Investment (OUI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the nurturing of the possible human. “The predicament of the human situation,” she days, “begins not only in infancy, not only before birth, but also in the physical, psychological and spiritual preparation of the parents before conception.”

April 1994 in Los Angeles: Laura’s Foundation sponsored the highly successful four day Conference entitled, CHILDREN: OUR ULTIMATE INVESTMENT. This event honoring the centenary of the birth of Aldous Huxley addressed the issues of children's conditions in our present society.

Laura continues to fulfill her role as grandmother to her adopted child, Karen and Karen's daughter, Kaya, and has received widespread recognition for her humanistic achievements. Some of these include an Honorary doctor of Human Services from Sierra University, Honoree of the United Nations, Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Preventics, and Honoree of the World Health Foundation for Development and Peace, from which she received the Peace Prize in 1990.

In December 2003, the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health honored Laura Huxley with the Thomas R. Verny award. Laura was the 6th recipient of the Verny award, chosen for outstanding contributions to the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology both as an author and as the founder of Children: Our Ultimate Investment, which serves children in several communities through Project Caress and Teens & Toddlers.

Laura Archera Huxley

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eye Witness to History

I wanted to share with you Countless accounts of history from the ancient World to the present through the eyes of those who lived it... Give it a try, search a topic your interested in. If nothing comes to mind, then just take a look at the index. If still nothing comes to mind, then I see some of my favorites listed below:

The Suicide of Socrates, 399 BC
The philosopher is ordered to be his own executioner

The Fall of Rome •"Who could believe this?" Writing in the year 406, a Roman describes the invasion and destruction of the Empire by the barbarian horde.

The Vikings Discover America, ca. 1000
"There was no want of salmon either in the river or in the lake." Five hundred years before Columbus, the Vikings discover a New World.

The Black Death, 1348
Florence, Italy is hit by an onslaught of death as an epidemic of plague attacks.

Columbus Discovers America, 1492
The "Admiral" describes the first sight of land and landing on the shores of the "New World."

The Salem Witch Trials, 1692
The Puritans of Salem Villagehunt for witches within their midst.

The Boston Tea Party, 1773
The colonials get serious about their tea, igniting the American Revolution

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776
Thomas Jefferson drafts the announcement of America's separation from England

Washington Crosses the Delaware, 1776
"For God's sake, keep by your officers!" General Washington leads his troops across the ice-swollen Delaware River and into one of the American Revolution's decisive battles.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, 1863
"It is a flat failure..." Lincoln remarked after the audience's lack of reaction to his speech at Gettysburg.

"learned that not everything in America was what it seemed to be." A foreign visitor gives his observations of America's "Noble Experiment" during the Jazz Age.

Entering King Tut's Tomb, 1922
Howard Carter describes the wonder of discovering the greatest ancient Egyptian treasures ever found.

Apollo 8: First Voyage to the Moon, 1968"Welcome to the moon Houston. . . a vast, lonely, forbidding type of existence, great expanse of nothing. . ." Man's first voyage to the moon.

The Forced Suicide of Field Marshall Rommel, 1944
"I shall be dead in a quarter of an hour." Hitler forces his "favorite General" to take his own life.

The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946
"Goering came down first and strode into his cell, his face pale and frozen, his eyes popping..." The reaction of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials gives insight into the mindset of the Nazi hierarchy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

TransmissionFM - Free DJ mix downloads

TransmissionFM is a free DJ network that brings great DJs from every corner of the globe. With styles ranging from Breaks, Drum and Bass, Hip Hop, House, Trance, Techno and other electronic dance music genres.

Every DJ on TransmissionFM has the ability for their mixes to be heard in several different ways. Free downloads, on demand player and they will even be placed into rotation on one of the 6 non stop radio streams.

Every DJ on the site also has the opportunity to host their own Live Show. All for the low low price of absolutely nothing. They also provide community features like user profiles, forums, messaging and chat. This is not only for DJs, but for fans, music lovers, clubbers, etc.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Myspace is not what you think it is

At first glance appears to be the ultimate social network for friends to exchange photos, thoughts and correspondence online. However once one falls victim to their censorship and they peek a bit below the surface. Myspace is not what it appears to be.

After realizing Myspace was more then a fad, I decided to check it out and was amazed to find so many long lost friends just a click away. I immediately created an account to begin re-establishing contact with these old friends. I even convinced other people I knew to sign up with out even giving it a second thought.

I helped my friend Lorenzo establish a Myspace page for his podcast The Psychedelic Salon and we were excited to see it take off so quickly with hundreds of friends in just a few weeks. Then one day I went to update the show notes to his blog and the account was not available. I thought no biggie, a technical problem. Then noticed the show was missing from my personal pages friends list. After a little more research I realized we had been deleted and Myspace did not even have the courtesy to send us an email explaining why. I sent Myspace a couple of emails and received in return a couple of generic notices that the page had been deleted, it could not be restored and to find out why it was deleted read the user agreement. Which I did and to the best of my comprehension, we did not breech any of the terms set forth in the "user agreement" Then why were we deleted? That can be answered by asking the following questions.

Who is Myspace?
Myspace is owned by Fox Interactive Media \ Fox News Corporation. Thereby owned by Rupert Murdoch, the major shareholder, chairman and managing director of News Corporation (News Corp). He is a long-time supporter of the Republican Party and friend of George W. Bush. Murdoch also strongly supported George W. Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. His publications worldwide tend to adopt conservative views. During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide editorialized in favor of the war. He is famous for monopolizing news and information outlets.

Myspace censorship
Myspace admittedly has only 300 total employees, only portion of which administrate over 200 million accounts which is growing at the rate of 230,000 new accounts per day (Source: It is evident that Myspace commonly deletes pages that do not fit with in their "paradigm" with out any intelligent consideration what so ever. They have a strict shoot first policy and don't bother asking questions at all. Myspace membership is a "privilege" not a right. The old wisdom that nothing is free, definatly applies to Myspace. You pay by allowing them to basically program your mind. They feed you their version of reality and since it comes in the guise of social networking commminty where everyone is equaly free to exchange ideas and information. Most of us, fall for it.

Brad Greenspan, whose company created Myspace in 2003 wrote:
"The shocking mass censorship of the over 100 million Myspace users that News Corp and Myspace are beginning to aggressively engage in today is simply evil behavior.. "When we started Myspace in 2003, we empowered users by giving them full control over their profile pages. Myspace has flourished by partnering with users and protecting their rights to express themselves and have freedom of choice on their profile page. News Corp’s moves to destroy and limit the freedom Myspace users have enjoyed is analogous to the strategies a dictator would employ after seizing control of a previously free nation.”

Greenspan continued, “If News Corp is able to continue its censorship and mass gagging techniques today, then tomorrow it should surprise no one when News Corp deletes mentions of competitive news organizations to their own Fox News by preventing users from typing or in their Myspace blogs. Or when Myspace wants to promote the music artists on its own label, it will simply block users from talking about or promoting similar artists.” (Source:

What is Myspace, really?
This is the scariest question of all. Myspace is the largest private opt-in database on the planet. We willingly register ourselves, our thoughts, ideas and interests. We upload photos of ourselves, our children and families. We link ourselves to our friends, family, organizations, telling where we live, our relationship status, religion, age, sexual preference, employment, which schools we attended, etc. We feed all of this into the biggest computer networked propaganda machine ever developed all in the name of social networking. A machine owned and operated by friend and supporter of G.W. Bush and his "war on terror" All ready there are numerous reports extreme as people going to jail, because of the contents of their Myspace page? What will be next?

A few good sites dedicated to the Myspace censorship problem.
Myspace censors Presidential candidate Ron Paul - see

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Legal aspects for importation of Coca Leaf & Coca-Cola

The Stepan Company (a $400 million American Stock Exchange company) of Maywood, New Jersey imports 175,000 KG of coca leaves into the United States each year. The leaves come from some of the same farms that supply the Columbian drug cartels. Its finished products end up into nearly everyone in the United States.

The beverage was named Coca-Cola because, originally, the stimulant mixed in the beverage was coca leaves from South America, which the drug cocaine is derived from. In addition, the drink was flavored using kola nuts, also acting as the beverage's source of caffeine. The recipe once called for five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, a significant dose. Coca-Cola did once contain an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass.

Coke dropped cocaine from its recipe around 1900, but the secret formula still calls for a cocaine-free coca extract. Today Coca-Cola includes a coca leaf extract prepared by a Stepan Company plant in Maywood, New Jersey. The facility, which had been known as the Maywood Chemical Works, was purchased by Stepan in 1959. The plant is the only commercial entity in the country authorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency to import coca leaves, which come primarily from Peru. The non-narcotic extract is sold to Coke.

The cocaine is then sold and delivered in armored trucks to Mallinckrodt Inc., a St. Louis pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify the product for medicinal use. There cocaine containing products are manufactured and sold to the medical industry.

The other major product is the coca in Coca-Cola©. The Coke formula is one of the most closely guarded corporate secrets in America. The company concedes to using a 'decocainized flavor essence in the coca leaves'-one of the few Coke ingredients the company will publicly acknowledge. When asked why the company uses such a troublesome product as coca leaves, its representative said that 'each ingredient adds to the flavor profile.'

Flavor scientists say that the mysterious essence has no significant taste of its own , but acts as an 'enhancer' PepsiCo Inc. does not use the coca leaf. Flavor scientist Nicholas Feurstein thinks that the average guzzler might well notice the difference if Coke stopped using it. ..

The very first batch of Coca-Cola contained an extract of coca leaves back in 1886. Coke had in fact contained traces of cocaine ever since John 'Doc' Pemberton created the drink. At the turn of the century, a public outcry erupted against cocaine. Doctors and editorialists began taking aim at Coca-Cola.

Now the company had a catch-22 problem. If it removed the coca leaf from the product's manufacture, it could no longer defend use of the name. If cocaine was used, an angry public would boycott Coca-Cola. An elaborate extraction process was devised.

The leaf is ground up, mixed with sawdust, soaked in bicarbonate of soda, percolated with toluene, steam blasted, mixed with powdered Kola nuts, and then pasteurized. The Coke-Cola company, forever fearful of the DEA and the drug lords, is a stickler on security and quality. Drug lords have a less formal way to extract cocaine: they use kerosene as a solvent; the drug leaches out like tea from a tea bag. Cocaine is then recovered by evaporation.

The Coca-Cola company itself is extremely squeamish about the subject of coca leaves. A 1948 one-paragraph reference to the Maywood's production of coca extract so enraged top Coke officials that they threatened to slash all Wall Street Journal advertising in retaliation. An internal Coke memo, unearthed by historian Frederick Allen blasted the Wall Street Journal s 'an instrument of the chiselers and the substituters' and suggested sending stories to the rival Journal of Commerce, 'which has not felt tempted to publish bits or pieces of our formula.'


Miller, M. "Quality Stuff: Firm is Peddling Cocaine, and Deals are legit" Wall Street Journal 27 Oct 1994.Weil, A. "Letters from the Andes The New Politics of Coca" The New Yorker May, 1995 pp7

*The information was obtained from multiple sources on the Internet

As always,please consider for all your ethnobotanical needs

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Mushroom Speaks by By Terence McKenna

The Mushroom Speaks
By Terence McKenna

"I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages I am from the stars. My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life. The mushroom which you see is the part of my body given to sex thrills and sun bathing, my true body is a fine network of fibers growing through the soil. These networks may cover acres and may have far more connections that the number in a human brain. My mycelial network is nearly immortal, only the sudden toxification of a planet or the explosion of its parent star can wipe me out. By means impossible to explain because of certain misconceptions in your model of reality all my mycelial networks in the galaxy are in hyperlight communication across space and time. The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider's web but the collective hypermind and memory is a vast historical archive of the career of evolving intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm. Space, you see, is a vast ocean to those hardy life forms that have the ability to reproduce from spores, for spores are covered with the hardest organic substance known. Across the aeons of time and space drift many spore-forming life-forms in suspended animation for millions of years until contact is made with a suitable environment. Few such species are minded, only myself and my recently evolved near relatives have achieved the hyper-communication mode and memory capacity that makes us leading members in the community of galactic intelligence. How the hypercommunication mode operates is a secret which will not be lightly given to man. But the means should be obvious: it is the occurrence of psilocybin and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiots the vision screens to many worlds. You as an individual and man as a species are on the brink of the formation of a symbiotic relationship with my genetic material that will eventually carry humanity and earth into the galactic mainstream of the higher civilizations.

Since it is not easy for you to recognize other varieties of intelligence around you, your most advanced theories of politics and society have advanced only as far as the notion of collectivism. But beyond the cohesion of the members of a species into a single social organism there lie richer and even more baroque evolutionary possibilities. Symbiosis is one of these. Symbiosis is a relation of mutual dependence and positive benefits for both of the species involved. Symbiotic relationships between myself and civilized forms of higher animals have been established many times and in many places throughout the long ages of my development. These relationships have been mutually useful; within my memory is the knowledge of hyperlight drive ships and how to build them. I will trade this knowledge for a free ticket to new worlds around suns younger and more stable than your own. To secure an eternal existence down the long river of cosmic time I again and again offer this agreement to higher beings and thereby have spread throughout the galaxy over the long millennia. A mycelial network has no organs to move the world, no hands; but higher animals with manipulative abilities can become partners with the star knowledge within me and if they act in good faith, return both themselves and their humble mushroom teacher to the million worlds all citizens of our starswarm are heir to."

As always,please consider for all your ethnobotanical needs

The oldest Representations of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms in the World

Bee-Headed Mushroom Shaman from Tassili - Ajjer

(Sahara Desert, 9000-7000 B.P.)

The Algerian Tassili mushroom shaman with deer/bee face, 6,000-9,000 B.C.E.

This hieroglyph is presently located in one of the driest desert regions on earth.

Giorgio Samorini
Integration, vol. 2/3, pp. 69-78, 1992

originally appeared in: Integration no. 2&3, 1992, 69-78
Copyright by author and org. publishers.
Abstract — The idea that the use of hallucinogens should be a source of inspiration for some forms of prehistoric rock art is not a new one. After a brief examination of instances of such art, this article intends to focus its attention on a group of rock paintings in the Sahara Desert, the works of pre-neolithic Early Gatherers, in which mushrooms effigies are represented repeatedly. The polychromic scenes of harvest, adoration and the offering of mushrooms, and large masked "gods" covered with mushrooms, not to mention other significant details, lead us to suppose we are dealing with an ancient hallucinogenic mushroom cult. What is remarkable about these ethnomycological works, produced 7.000 – 9.000 years ago, is that they could indeed reflect the most ancient human culture as yet documented in which the ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms is explicitly represented.As the fathers of modern ethno-mycology and in particular R. Gordon Wasson imagined, this Saharan testimony shows that the use of hallucinogens goes back to the Paleolithic Period and that their use always takes place within contexts and rituals of a mystico-religious nature.

Rock paintings and incisions of the prehistoric periods are to be found all over the world, and serve as a testimony to the pre-literate history of human cultures. Rock art, the first permanent form of visual communication known to man, the same art which led to the invention of writing, goes back almost to the origins of mankind. In fact, in Tanzania, as in Australia, there are rock paintings which it would appear go back 40,000 years and more (Anati,1989).

Since most of the works of rock art were, or were related to, initiation rites, or were part of religious practice and its context, the idea that these works should be associated with the use of hallucinogenic vegetals (as has already been put forward for some specific cases on the basis of ethnographic and ethnobotanical data) comes as no surprise. This use, where it arises, is historically associated with controlled rituals involving social groups of varying dimensions. It is perhaps not a chance occurrence that the areas where examples of rock art are to be found — areas in which it is most often asserted that the use of hallucinogens might have taken place, on the basis of the scenes represented or on the basis of the consideration that this practice might have served as a source of inspiration — are also the areas where the most famous examples are to be found in, terms of imagination, mythological significance and polychromy.

We might consider, for example, the works of archeological (or rather "archeo-ethno-botanical") interest in the easternmost areas of Siberia, within the Arctic Circle, on the banks of the Pegtymel River. An extensive petroglyphic area was found there dating back to the local neolithic period. Among these works, we find mushroom gatherers (Dikov, 1971). In some cases we find females wearing long and ornate "ear-rings" and an enormous mushroom on their heads, figures with the stance of people trying to keep their balance. The stocky form and the decoration on the mushroom lead one to suppose these mushrooms are Amanita muscaria (Fly-Agaric), the hallucinogenic mushroom most often associated with shaman practices in Euro—Asia and N. America (Wasson, 1979). Mushroom motifs have also been found in the petroglyphs of the prehistoric settlements of the Kamchatka peninsula on the banks of Lake Ushokovo (Dikov, 1979). The paleolithic culture of Ushokovo (protoeskimoleuts) belongs to the group of peoples who gave birth to the various paleo-eskimo cultures of N. America (2nd Millenium B. C.). It is to be imagined that these protoeskimoleuts belong to the peoples who contained within their culture, in embryo form, "protoshaman" religious practices.

In California, the rock art of the regions inhabited by the Chumash and Yokut, a polychromic manner of painting — particularly evident during the stylistic phase known as the "Santa Barbara Painted Style" — has been associated with the "toloache" cult centered around "Jimsonweed" (a hallucinogenic plant of the Datura genus) known to have been used by a number of Californian and Mexican Indian tribes (Campbell, 1965:63-64; Wellmann, 1978 and 1981). Apparently, the first examples of Chumash rock art date back to 5.000 years ago (Hyder & Oliver, 1983).

The impressive Pecos River paintings in Texas have also been associated with the "mescal" cult (Sophora secundiflora, hallucinogenic beans of which were used during rites of initiation on the part of the Indian tribes of the region) (Howard, 1957). Furst (1986) affirms that the mescal cult goes back 10.000 years, which is to say back to the Paleo-Indian Hunters Period at the end of the Pleistocene period. Archeological excavations carried out in the areas where paintings are to be found reveal mescal seeds which go back to 8.000 B. C, when Carbon-14 dated. Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) has also been found during some of these excavations (Campbell, 1958).
An interesting and quite explicit use of "cohoba", a hallucinogenic snuff taken from the Anadenanthera peregrina tree has been documented among the peoples of the Borbon Caves art in the Dominican Republic (Pagan Perdomo, 1978). This art is probably an example of the Late Antillian Culture of the Tainos and goes back to a period shortly before the arrival of the Spaniards. In this painting, the subject of inhalation of cohoba — by means of cane pipes — is repeatedly represented (Franch, 1982).

The use of hallucinogens as a significant source of inspiration has also been associated with Peruvian rock art. The rock art in this case is based on incisions on rocks, as can be seen in the Rio Chinchipe works in the north of Peru, probably influenced by the use of ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis spp. & allies) (Andritzky, 1989: 55-57). That this is an ancient practice is confirmed by archeological findings (Naranjo, 1986). Also in the rock art of Samanga, the mountainous region of the province of Ayabaca (Piura), among the petroglyphs, we will find figures which have been interpreted as images of San Pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi), the hallucinogenic cactus still used today in the north of Peru and in Ecuador during shaman healing rites (Polia, 1987 and 1988).
Indeed, archeological indications as to the use of hallucinogens are to be found within many Precolumbian cultures (Dobkin de Rios, 1974; Furst, 1974).

Recently it has even been put forward that even the more ancient paleolithic art of the Franco-Canthabric cave-sanctuaries were influenced by altered states of consciousness procured by various methods, among which the use of hallucinogens (Lewis-Williams & Dowson, 1988). The "psychograms" of the paleolithic period, a series of aniconic graphemes (points, vertical lines, circles, zig-zags, lozenges etc.) which, together with zoomorphic images, cover the walls of the European paleolithic caves, could be considered as the fruit of entoptic, phosphenic or hallucinatory states, typical sensorial phenomena pertaining to the field of altered states of consciousness, as might be gathered from Reichel-Dolmatoff’s well-known research into the Tukano of the Amazon (1978: 43-47). Furthermore, natural changes in consciousness due to prolonged sensorial isolation have already been noted. These conditions can be determined in the deep paleolithic caves. Even though the "neuropsychological model" put forward by Lewis-Williams & Dowson is not sufficient on its own to interpret that complex phenomenom which is paleolithic art, this model at least paves the way to supposing that mind-altering factors may have contributed to a prehistoric will-to-art.

At this point, we should remember Kaplan’s (1975) theory that mushrooms are represented in the Swedish cave art of the long Scandinavian Bronze Age.

It should also be pointed out that the explicit representation of psychotropic vegetals, as sacred objects (and therefore subject to taboo), is rare and the few cases of explicit representation make up but a small part of prehistoric art, as sacred art, associated with the use of hallucinogens. We must consider that, generally speaking, sacred cult objects will not be represented and that it is more than likely that these will be hidden behind symbolic devices, also of a graphic nature, whose meaning is indeed beyond us.

Further evidence in support of the idea that the relationship between Man and hallucinogens — in this case mushrooms is indeed an ancient one comes from the ancient populations of the Sahara desert who inhabited this vast area when it was still covered with an extensive layer of vegetation (Samorini, 1989). The archeological findings consist in prehistoric paintings which the author personally had the opportunity to observe during two visits to Tassilli in Algeria. This could be the most ancient ethno-mycological finding up to the present day, which goes back to the so-called "Round Heads" Period (i.e. 9.000 – 7.000 years ago). The centre of this style is Tassili, but examples are also to be found at Tadrart Acacus (Libya), Ennedi (Chad) and, to a lesser extent, at Jebel Uweinat (Egypt) (Muzzolini, 1986:173-175).

Central Saharan rock art, apart from extensive concentrations of incisions, near the sites of ancient rivers, and rock-shelter paintings among the large promontories or high plateau which reach an altitude of some 2,000 metres, cover a period of 12,000 years, generally divided in 5 periods: the "Bubalus antiquus" Period, the works of which were produced by the Early Hunters at the end of the Pleistocene period (10.000 – 7.000 years B. C.) — characterized by representations of large wild animals (Mori, 1974); the "Round Heads" Period, in turn divided into various phases and styles, associated with the epipaleolithic populations of the Early Gatherers (7.000 – 5.000 years B. C.), whose works of fantasy have quite rightly become world famous; the "Bovidian" or "Pastoral" Period (starting 5.000 years B. C.), a population of animal herders and breeders whose art is predominantly concentrated on these activities and, after these, the "Horse" Period and, lastly, the "Camel" Period, the art works of which are stereotyped and of a lower quality.

Some rock art experts have already produced evidence supporting the idea that the art of the Round Head Period could be influenced by ecstatic or hallucinogenic states. According to Anati (1989: 187), this art is produced by the Early Gatherers during the end of Pleistocene and the beginning of Holecene periods. Analogous works dating back nearly to the same period are to be found in various sites around the world (Sahara Desert, Tanzania, Texas, Mexico etc.). These areas were later to become arid or semi-arid when the lakes and rivers dried up. From the many works of art these peoples have left us we learn what were gatherers of wild vegetal foods: "people who lived in a sort of garden of Eden and who used mind-altering substances". Sansoni too (1980) is of the opinion that "it might be that (the works of art of the Round Heads Period) are the works of normal consciousness or the results of particular ecstatic states associated with dance or the use of hallucinogenic substances -The context, or rather the "motivations" behind Round Heads art, just as with all the other periods of Sahara rock art, are generally of a religious and, perhaps, initiatory nature. Fabrizio Mori, discussing Acacus, stressed "the close relationship which there must have been between the painter and that figure so typical in all prehistoric societies whose main role is that of mediator between earth and sky: the wizard-priest" (Mori, 1975). According to Henri Lohte, the discoverer of the Tassili frescoes, "it seems evident that these painted cavities were secret sanctuaries" (Lhote, 1968).

Images of enormous mythological beings of human or animal form, side by side with a host of small horned and feathered beings in dancing stance cover the rock shelters of which there are very many on the high plateau of the Sahara which in some areas are so interconnected as to form true "citadels" with streets, squares and terraces.

One of the most important scenes is to be found in the Tin-Tazarift rock art site, at Tassili, in which we find a series of masked figures in line and hieratically dressed or dressed as dancers surrounded by long and lively festoons of geometrical designs of different kinds. Each dancer holds a mushroom-like object in the right hand and, even more surprising, two parallel lines come out of this object to reach the central part of the head of the dancer, the area of the roots of the two horns. This double line could signify an indirect association or non-material fluid passing from the object held in the right hand and the mind. This interpretation would coincide with the mushroom interpretation if we bear in mind the universal mental value induced by hallucinogenic mushrooms and vegetals, which is often of a mystical and spiritual nature (Dobkin de Rios, 1984:194). It would seem that these lines — in themselves an ideogram which represents something non-material in ancient art — represent the effect that the mushroom has on the human mind.
The whole scene is steeped in deep symbolic meanings and is a representation of a cultural event which actually happened and which was periodically repeated. Perhaps we are witnessing one of the most important moments in the social, religious and emotional lives of these peoples. The constant nature of the physical nature of the dancers and their stances reveals a coordinated will towards scenic representation for collective contexts. The dance represented here has all the indications of a ritual dance and perhaps, at a certain stage, this rite became ecstatic.

In the various scenes presented, a series of figurative constants lead us to imagine an accompanying conceptual structure associated with the ethno-mycological cult described here.

Matalem-Amazar / In-Aouanrhat

Evident examples of such constants are the two remarkable southern Tassili figures (sites: Aouanrhat and Matalem-Amazar). Both are approximately 0.8 metres tall, they wear the typical mask of this pictorial phase and a typical gait (legs bent inwards and arms bent downwards). Another common feature is the presence of mushroom symbols starting from the fore-arms and thighs; others are hand held. In the case of the Matalem-Amazar figure, these objects are scattered over the entire area surrounding the body.
This mushroom symbol was first interpreted by researchers as an arrowhead, an oar (Mori 1975), a vegetal, probably a flower (Lhote, 1973: 210 and 251), or as an undefined enigmatic symbol. The form which most closely corresponds to this cult-abject is that of a mushroom, most probably of a psychotropic kind the sacramental and socialized use of which is represented in gathering and offering scenes and in the expressive ritual dances, in phosphenic geometrical patterns and in Tassili visionary works.

Thus, these two figures could be interpreted as images of the "spirit of the mushroom", known to exist in other cultures characterized by the use of a mushroom or other psychotropic vegetals.
In a shelter in Tin-Abouteka, in Tassili, there is a motif appearing at least twice which associates mushrooms and fish; a unique association of symbols among ethno-mycological cultures. Two mushrooms are depicted opposite each other, in a perpendicular position with regard to the fish motif and near the tail. Not far from here, above, we find other fish which are similar to the aforementioned but without the side-mushrooms.

In the same Tin-Abouteka scene, yet another remarkable image could be explained in the light of ethno-mycological enquiry. In the middle we find an anthropomorphous figure traced only by an outline. The image is not complete and the body is bending; it probably also has a bow. Behind this figure, we find two mushrooms which seem to be positioned as though they were coming out from behind the anthropomorphs.

If the mushrooms in question are those which grow in dung, the association between these mushrooms and the rear of the figure may not be purely casual. It is known that many psychotropic mushrooms (above all, Psilocybe and Panaeolus genera) live in dung of certain quadrupeds and in particular bovines, cervides and equines. This specific ecological phenomenom cannot but have been taken into account with regard to the sacramental use of psychotropic mushrooms, leading to the creation of mystico-religious relations between the mushroom and the animal which produces its natural habitat. Furthermore, the dung left by herds of quadrupeds were important clues for prehistoric hunters on the lookout for game, and the deepening of such skatological knowledge probably goes back to the paleolithic period (the long period of the hunter of large game). Thus we have a further argument in favour of the version of events that would have it that there have been mythical associations, with religious interpretations, on different occasions, between the (sacred) animal and the hallucinogenic mushroom. The sacred deer in the Mesoamerican cultures and the cow in Indian Hindu culture (the dung of which provides a habitat for Psilocybe cubensis, a powerful hallucinogen still used today) could be interpreted in this zoo-skatological manner (Wasson, 1986:44; Furst, 1974; Samorini, 1988).

In a painting at Jabbaren — one of the most richly endowed Tassili sites — there are at least 5 people portrayed in a row kneeling with their arms held up before them in front of three figures two of which are clearly anthropomorphous. It could be a scene of adoration in which the three figures would represent divinities or mythological figures. The two anthropomorphous figures have large horns while the upper portion of the third figure, behind them, is shaped like a large mushroom. If the scene is indeed a scene of adoration, it is an important testimonial as to Round Heads mystico-religious beliefs. This scene would thus be the representation of a "Holy Trinity" illustrated by a precise iconography. It is worth bearing in mind the fact that the upper part of one of the "trinity" figures in the adoration scene is mushroom-shaped. It could be related to the iconographic figure at Aouanrhat and Matalem-Amazar described above.

But the more or less anthropomorphous figures with mushroom-shaped heads are to be found repeatedly in Round Head art, some with "hat-heads" of umboned or papillate form which on two occasions are of a bluish colour while others carry a leaf or a small branch.
The occurrence of various data suggests the presence of a very ancient hallucinogenic mushroom cult with a complex differentiation between botanical species and related mythological representations. Indeed it would be remarkable to find out that, as part of the culture of the Late Stone Age which 7.000 to 9.000 years ago produced Round Heads rock art, we were in the presence of the oldest human culture yet discovered in which explicit representations of the ritual use of psychotropic mushrooms are to be found. Therefore, as the founders of modern ethno-mycology had already put forward — and this is especially true of Wasson (1986) — this Saharan testimony would demonstrate that the use of hallucinogens originates in the Paleolithic period and is invariably include within mystico-religious contexts and rituals.
It is not easy to identify the mushrooms represented in Round Heads art. The biochemical characteristics of these mushrooms determine the action on the human mind and it either belongs to a flora which has disappeared or, retreated to the Saharan basin which later became desert. From the paintings it would seem there are at least two species one of which is small and topped with a "papilla" (a characteristic it would share with most known hallucinogenic Psilocybe) and the other of which is larger (like Boletus or Amanita). The colours used are white and probably the result of oxidation of the original colour).
The Sahara Desert area has undergone periodic and significant climatic variations. At least three long humid periods have been identified since 20.000 BC, interrupted by three periods of drought, and it appears that the drought we know today is less severe than the two which preceded it. The semi-quantitative graph drawn up by Muzzolini (1982) presents the "Great Humid Holocemic Period" characterized by the presence of enormous lakes all over the Saharan basin (10.000 BC — 5.500 BC). The generally accepted chronology of Round Heads art fits comfortably into this period. Pollen examination carried out at Tassili reveals that, during the Round Heads period, this area was vegetated by highland flora (2.000 m height) with the presence of coniferous trees and oaks (AA.VV., 1986: 97). It can be presumed that some of the mushrooms represented (the large ones) were indigenous to this wooded area in that they are intimately associated with these species of tree.

Mushrooms are not the only vegetals to be found in Round Heads art. We often find figures in typical costume and in hieratic positions, dancing, and holding in their hands small branches or leaves (and in one instance roots). At least two species occur fairly frequently in the images found at Tassili and nearby Acacus. In fact, the interest which surrounds the hallucinogens is always represented within a context of general interest in vegetals and it is most likely that it is within these contexts, related to religious activity and initiation, that we find the origins of individual specializations within the communities of these people concerning the magical, therapeutic and culinary aspects of vegetals.

This new piece in the ethno-mycological puzzle is even more significant if we consider it from the point of view of research into the use of hallucinogens in the immense African continent. Some progress has been made over the last few years as regards the study of this problem (see the work of e.g., Emboden, 1989; Hargreaves, 1986; Lehman & Mihalyi, 1982; Monfouga-Brousta, 1976; Wagner, 1991; Winkelman & Dobkin de Rios, 1989). Africa — both because of an ignorance of the facts which has continued up to the present day and because of the wealth and extreme old age of the indigenous "animist" religions — has still much to tell us concerning the human use of hallucinogens and the origins of such practice.
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