Wednesday, April 30, 2008

scientists explore brain's reaction to salvinorin A

Salvia divinorum shows rapid uptake, short duration in animals
Written by: Kendra Snyder
From: Brookhaven National Laboratory News

UPTON, NY - Brain-imaging studies performed in animals at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory provide researchers with clues about why an increasingly popular recreational drug that causes hallucinations and motor-function impairment in humans is abused. Using trace amounts of Salvia divinorum - also known as "salvia," a Mexican mint plant that can be smoked in the form of dried leaves or serum - Brookhaven scientists found that the drug's behavior in the brains of primates mimics the extremely fast and brief "high" observed in humans. Their results are now published online in the journal NeuroImage.

Quickly gaining popularity among teenagers and young adults, salvia is legal in most states, but is grabbing the attention of municipal lawmakers. Numerous states have placed controls on salvia or salvinorin A - the plant's active component - and others, including New York, are considering restrictions.

"This is probably one of the most potent hallucinogens known," said Brookhaven chemist Jacob Hooker, the lead author of the study, which is the first to look at how the drug travels through the brain. "It's really important that we study drugs like salvia and how they affect the brain in order to understand why they are abused and to investigate their medicinal relevance, both of which can inform policy makers."

Hooker and fellow researchers used positron emission tomography, or PET scanning, to watch the distribution of salvinorin A in the brains of anesthetized primates. In this technique, the scientists administer a radioactively labeled form of salvinorin A (at concentrations far below pharmacologically active doses) and use the PET scanner to track its site-specific concentrations in various brain regions.

Within 40 seconds of administration, the researchers found a peak concentration of salvinorin A in the brain - nearly 10 times faster than the rate at which cocaine enters the brain. About 16 minutes later, the drug was essentially gone. This pattern parallels the effects described by human users, who experience an almost immediate high that starts fading away within 5 to 10 minutes.

High concentrations of the drug were localized to the cerebellum and visual cortex, which are parts of the brain responsible for motor function and vision, respectively. Based on their results and published data from human use, the scientists estimate that just 10 micrograms of salvia in the brain is needed to cause psychoactive effects in humans.

PET images

PET images (color) of [11C]-salvinorin A in the baboon brain overlaid on MRI template (black and white) summed from 3-7 minutes post-injection. High concentrations (red) were observed in the cerebellum and activity was seen throughout cortical and subcortical regions. The maximum concentration of [11C]-salvinorin A in the brain occurs in 40 seconds and clears with a half-life of only 8 minutes, matching the pharmacological duration of action.

Salvia doesn't cause the typical euphoric state associated with other hallucinogens like LSD, Hooker said. The drug targets a receptor that is known to modulate pain and could be important for therapies as far reaching as mood disorders.

"Most people don't find this class of drugs very pleasurable," Hooker said. "So perhaps the main draw or reason for its appeal relates to the rapid onset and short duration of its effects, which are incredibly unique. The kinetics are often as important as the abused drug itself."

The Brookhaven team plans to conduct further studies related to salvia's abuse potential. The scientists also hope to develop radioactive tracers that can better probe the brain receptors to which salvia binds. Such studies could possibly lead to therapies for chronic pain and mood disorders.

This research was funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within DOE's Office of Science. DOE has a long-standing interest in research on brain chemistry gained through brain-imaging studies. Brain-imaging techniques such as PET are a direct outgrowth of DOE's support of basic physics and chemistry research.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Albert Hofmann has passed on today...

Albert Hofmann

The Father of LSD

11 January 1906 - 29 April 2008

Joined the ancestor spriits at 9AM CEST
at his home in Basel, Switzerland

Albert Hofmann, the father of LSD, passed on the the after life at 9:00AM Basel time on Tuesday April 29, 2008 at his home in Basel, Switzerland. Cause of death was a heart attack; two caretakers were there with him at the time.

Albert had been increasingly thinking of death these last few months. He had stopped leaving his home, where he said he could feel the spirit of Anita, his wife who died December 20, 2007. He didn't come to the World Psychedelic Forum a month ago, but did entertain some visitors at his home. MAPS President Rick Doblin said, "Albert and I spoke on the phone the day after the Basel conferenceand he was happy and fulfilled. He'd seen the renewal of LSD psychotherapy research with his own eyes, as had [his wife] Anita. I said that I looked forward to discussing the results of the study with him in about a year and a half and he laughed and said he'd try to help the research however he could, either from this side or "the other side".

Now it even more falls on younger generations to transform LSD into a legal medicine and beyond that into a tool for personal growth legally available to all.

"In death, I go back to where I came from,
To where I was before I was born, that’s all.”
Albert Hofmann

Earth will miss you Dr. Hofmann!

More 2008 World Psychedelic Forum talks

2008 World Psychedelic Forum
Mp3's hosted by

Mp3 recordings from the World Psychedelic Forum held March 21 - 24, 2008 in Basel Switzerland. The forum presented a unique opportunity for experts, researchers, and interested persons from around the globe, to exchange views and hear about the latest research on the value of these remarkable substances in medicine, psychology, science, religion, culture and the arts.

COLOMBIAN "MAMA" (LENGTH: 18:50 mins. SIZE: 8.62MB) Shaman ("Mama") from the Kogi indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

JEREMY NARBY (LENGTH: 10:43 mins. SIZE: 4.91MB) Anthropologist and writer who spent several years living with the Ashaninca in the Peruvian Amazon cataloging indigenous uses of rainforest resources to help combat ecological destruction. Narby has written three books, as well as sponsored an expedition to the rainforest for biologists and other scientists to examine indigenous knowledge systems and the utility of Ayahuasca in gaining knowledge. Since 1989, Narby has been working as the Amazonian projects director for the Swiss NGO, Nouvelle Planete.

STANISLAV GROF (LENGTH: 42:34 mins. SIZE: 19.4MB) One of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of altered states of consciousness for purposes of healing, growth, and insight. Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007. He developed a form of psychotherapy called Holotropic Breathwork believed to allow access to nonordinary states of consciousness. Stanislav Grof also presented: The Roots of Human Violence at the conference.

DANIEL PINCHBECK & JOHN LASH (LENGTH: 1 hr., 4 mins. SIZE: 29.4MB) Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and advocate of the use of psychedelic substances for enriching people's intellectual, psychological and spiritual beliefs through the psychedelic experience. John Lash is the author of Not in His Image and Quest for the Zodiac, co-founder and principal author of the and one of the foremost exponents of the power of myth to direct and shape an individual's life, as well as history itself.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

World Psychedelic Forum 2008: Stanislav Grof

The Roots of Human Violence and Greed:
Observations from Psychedelic Research

Psychonautica Mp3 download: PART ONE, PART TWO
(right click, save as)

Google video: PART ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR

Stanislav Grof's presentation at the World Psychedelic Froum 2008.

Since time immemorial, violence and greed have been among the most important forces driving human history. Due to technological progress and exponential population growth in the twentieth century, they have become a threat for survival of life on our planet. It has become imperative to gain a deeper understanding of the roots of these forces in the human psyche and to find ways of reducing their impact in the world.

In this lecture, we will explore the observations from psychedelic research that offer new insights into extreme forms of human violence and social pathology, such as wars, bloody revolutions, terrorism, suicide bombing, concentration camps, and genocide. In a series of slides, we will demonstrate the astonishing similarities between the symbolism of posters and cartoons from the time of wars and the visions accompanying the reliving of birth and the experience of psychospiritual death and rebirth.

Stanislav Grof’s professional career has covered a period of over 50 years in which his primary interest has been research of the heuristic and therapeutic potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. This included initially four years of laboratory research of psychedelics - LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and tryptamine derivatives - (1956-1960) and fourteen years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy. He spent seven of these years (1960-1967) as Principal Investigator of the psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This was followed by seven years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy in the United States.

Friday, April 25, 2008

North Dakota Man Facing Years in Prison After Buying Salvia Divinorum On eBay

In what is likely the first arrest for possession of salvia divinorum anywhere in the nation -- and definitely a first in North Dakota -- a Bismarck man now faces years in prison after he bought a few ounces of leaves on eBay. Kenneth Rau, a bottling plant worker with an interest in herbalism, altered states, and religion and spirituality, was arrested by Bismarck police on April 9 when they searched his home looking for his adult son, who was on probation for drug charges.

Police found a marijuana pipe, eight ounces of salvia leaf, a quantity of amanita muscaria mushrooms, and a number of other herbal products. Rau now faces multiple charges, said Burleigh County States Attorney Cynthia Feland.

"He is being charged with possession of salvia with intent to deliver, as well as possession of psilocybin with intent, and possession of marijuana," she said. Although Rau told the Chronicle he thought he would be charged with a school zone violation as well, which would have made his intent offenses Class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison, that is not the case, said Feland. "He is not being charged with a school zone violation," she affirmed.

(The psilocybin charges could go up in smoke. The amanita muscaria mushrooms that he possessed are not controlled substances under federal law and, while hallucinogenic, do not contain psilocybin. The active ingredient in amanita muscaria mushrooms is muscimole.)

Rau was being charged with possession with intent because of the weight of the leaves, she said. "We look at the typical use quantity," she said, "and it is similar to marijuana, with a typical use dose of .25 grams to .5 grams, and he had significantly more than that," she said.

Salvia divinorum, a member of the Mexican mint family, has been used by Mazatec shamans for hundreds of years. Smoking or chewing the leaves, or more commonly, concentrated extracts, can produce intense, albeit short-lived hallucinogenic experiences. While the plant has become notorious through YouTube videos of young people smoking it and behaving strangely, it is also of interest to "psychonauts," or people attempting to explore consciousness through herbal means.

Researchers say that while salvia's effects on consciousness may be disquieting, the plant has not been shown to be toxic to humans, its effects are so potent it is unlikely to be used repeatedly, and its active property, salvinorin A, could assist in the development of medicines for mood disorders.

There are hazards to messing with hallucinogens, one expert was quick to point out. "It's an hallucinogen, and while its hallucinogenic actions are different from those induced by LSD and other hallucinogens, it has the liabilities that hallucinogens do," Bryan Roth, a professor of pharmacology at University of North Carolina's School of Medicine, the man who isolated salvinorin A, told Drug War Chronicle last month. "When people take it, they are disoriented. If you don't know where you are and you're driving a car, that would be a bad experience."

Still, said Roth, while it may make you freak out, it isn't going to kill you. "There is no evidence of any overt toxicity, there are no reports in the medical literature that anyone has died from it. The caveat is that there have been no formal studies done on humans, but the animal data suggests that it doesn't kill animals given massive doses, and that's usually -- but not always -- predictive for human pharmacology."

The DEA considers salvia a drug of interest, but has yet to move to place it under the Controlled Substances Act. A DEA spokesman told the Chronicle recently that the plant is being reviewed to see if it meets the criteria for inclusion on the list of controlled substances.

But driven by little more than the YouTube videos and the story of one Delaware youth whose parents blamed his suicide on salvia, state legislators have not waited for the DEA's measured considerations to act. Since Delaware became the first state to ban salvia, a handful of others, including North Dakota, followed suit. Moves are currently afoot in a number of other states to join the club.

salvia (and criminal defense) ads on web version of ND news station report on Rau's bustSalvia became illegal in North Dakota on August 1, after a bill sponsored by three Republican lawmakers, state Sens. Dave Oelke and Randel Christmann and state Rep. Brenda Heller sailed through the legislature earlier this year. None of the three legislators responded to Chronicle requests for comment this week.

After Rau was arrested earlier this month, Bismarck police warned that it could be only the beginning in the fight against the member of the mint family. "It sure looks like there could be a market, based on the amount he had, Lt. Bob Hass told reporters. "This is the first we've seen of it." Hass did not return Chronicle calls for comment this week.

While some salvia information web sites place a single dose of salvia leaf at between .25 gram and one gram, similar to County Attorney Feland's estimate, intent to deliver still seems a stretch. "I bought eight ounces of leaf on eBay by bidding $32 for it," said Rau. "Now they're charging me with possession with intent. That's silly. Nobody wants leaves. Everyone is buying those 10X and 20X and 30X extracts." [Ed: Not to mention that on eBay one buys what is being offered a sale, not half or a tenth or twentieth of it.]

Rau was also not impressed by the prosecutor's dosage estimates. "This is a clear ploy to exaggerate the number of saleable units," he complained. "These drug warriors have long used this ploy to make dealers out of everyone. Accepting those figures, an ounce of Salvia Divinorum would give 120 doses and make anyone holding an ounce of it a dealer. This is ridiculous since an ounce is clearly the standard saleable unit for leaf. Applying the prosecutor's standard marijuana dosage and saleable quantity would be the amount that would fit in the end of a pinch hitter. This standard would make anyone holding even an eighth ounce of marijuana a dealer."

Rau also scoffed at the notion that anyone is going to be buying fractions of an ounce of salvia leaf. "You can buy an ounce online for as little as $10," he pointed out. "Who is going to split that up into smaller quantities? Hell, you would probably end up spending more on baggies that you did on the leaf," he said.

"This is ridiculous legislative overreaching," said Rau of the new law. "They only based it on those wacky YouTube videos, and even on those, you see people trying to abuse the stuff as much as possible and ham it up, and it still doesn't hurt them. And why jump from selling it in stores to making it a felony," he asked, "don't they do misdemeanors anymore? I didn't even know it was illegal here, and with their first prosecution they go for the max."

The local TV station's web site has inadvertently supported Rau's point. At the time of this writing, an online version of the news report about Rau's arrest was still pulling up salvia ads by Google. Rau emailed the link to Drug War Chronicle, proving that the salvia ads are showing up on computers in North Dakota.

A mild-mannered 46-year-old, Rau's interest in salvia derived from a broader interest in herbalism, religion and spirituality, as well as efforts to deal with his own inner demons. "I read that salvia facilitates lucid dreaming, so I tried chewing some leaves before bed time, and it was interesting because I would see faces and remember names I had long forgotten."

He also tried salvia as a cure for depression. "I have some childhood issues to deal with. They had me on Paxil," he said. "They want you to take their pharmaceuticals, but if you want to take an herbal remedy, they want to throw you in prison. Are they going to save me from myself by throwing me in prison for years?"

Now, Rau is fighting for his freedom, but there aren't many resources in North Dakota, and he doesn't even have a lawyer yet. "The ACLU doesn't even list anyone in the state," he said. "I've emailed the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, but I haven't heard back from them yet."

Still, he said, his arrest has motivated him. "Maybe this is an opportunity for me to join the fight," he said. "I've never been a drug user, never been arrested. I started experimenting with this stuff because I thought it was legal. I didn't want to get into trouble, but now they're treating me just like some meth dealer."

From Drug War Chronicle, Issue #533, 4/25/08

Watch the News Report

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eight Lectures on Yoga by Aleister Crowley

Eight Lectures On Yoga
by Mahatma Guru-Sri Paramahansa Shivaji-Aleister Crowley

Download: PDF


Aleister Crowley has achieved the reputation of being a master of the English language. This book which is as fresh and vibrant today as when it was penned over thirty years ago demonstrates this fact. It shows how impossible it is to categorize him as a particular kind of stylist. At turns he can be satirical, poetical, sarcastic, rhetorical, philosophical or mystical, gliding so easily from one to the other that the average reader is hard put to determine whether or not to take him at face value.

His description of mystical states of consciousness clarifies what tomes of more erudite writing fails to elucidate. It is in effect a continuation of Part I of Book 4 brought to maturity. Nearly three decades had elapsed between the writing of these two books, in which time his own inner development had soared ineffably. A great deal of what he has to say may seem prosaic at first sight, but do not be fooled by this. Other of his comments are profound beyond belief, requiring careful and long meditation if full value is to be derived from them.

This is not a book to be read while standing or running. It is a high water mark of Crowley's literary career, incorporating all that we should expect from one who had experimented with and mastered most technical forms of spiritual growth. There is humor here, a great deal of sagacity, and much practical advice. This book cannot be dispensed with for the student for whom Yoga is 'the way.'

Israel Regardie
March 21, 1969
Studio City, CA

First Principles ............ Part 1
Yama ........................ Part 2
Niyama ...................... Part 3
Asana and Pranayama ......... Part 4

First Lecture ............... Part 5
Second Lecture .............. Part 6
Third Lecture ................Part 7
Fourth Lecture .............. Part 8

Monday, April 21, 2008

A new Ayahuasca article by Dennis McKenna

The Scientific Investigation of Ayahuasca
A Review of Past and Current Research

By Dennis J McKenna PhD, J C Callaway PhD, Charles S Grob MD
Date: Apr 8th, 2008


Of the numerous plant psychotropics utilized by indigenous populations of the Amazon Basin, perhaps none is as interesting or complex, botanically, chemically, or ethnographically, as the beverage known variously as ayahuasca , caapi, or yage. The beverage is most widely known as ayahuasca , a Quechua term meaning “vine of the souls,” which is applied both to the beverage itself and to one of the source-plants used in its preparation, the Malpighiaceous jungle liana, Banisteriopsis caapi (Schultes, 1957). In Brazil, transliteration of this Quechua word into Portuguese results in the name, Hoasca . Hoasca, or ayahuasca , occupies a central position in Mestizo ethnomedicine, and the chemical nature of its active constituents and the manner of its use makes its study relevant to contemporary issues in neuropharmacology, neurophysiology, and psychiatry.

Traditional and Indigenous Uses of Ayahuasca

The use of ayahuasca under a variety of names is a widespread practice among various indigenous aboriginal tribes endemic to the Amazon Basin (Schultes, 1957). Such practices undoubtedly were well established in pre-Columbian times, and in fact may have been known to the earliest human inhabitants of the region. Iconographic depictions on ceramics and other artifacts from Ecuador have provided evidence that the practice dates to at least 2000 B.C. (Naranjo, 1986). Its widespread distribution among numerous Amazonian tribes also argues for its relative antiquity.

Considerable genetic intermingling and adoption of local customs followed in the wake of European contact, and ayahuasca , along with a virtual pharmacopoeia of other medicinal plants, gradually became integrated into the ethnomedical traditions of these mixed populations. Today the drug forms an important element of ethnomedicine and shamanism as it is practiced among indigenous Mestizo populations in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. The sociology and ethnography of the contemporary use of ayahuasca (as it is most commonly termed) in Mestizo ethnomedicine has been extensively described (Dobkin de Rios, 1972, 1973; Luna, 1984, 1986)

Syncretic Religious Use of Ayahuasca

From the perspective of the sociologist or the ethnographer, discussion of the use of ayahuasca or hoasca can conveniently be divided into a consideration of its use among indigenous aboriginal and mestizo populations, and its more recent adoption by contemporary syncretic religious movements such as the Uni’ do Vegetal (UDV), Barquena, and Santo Daime sects in Brasil. It is within the context of acculturated groups such as these that questions regarding the psychological, medical, and legal aspects of the use of ayahuasca become most relevant, and also, most accessible to study.

The use of ayahuasca in the context of mestizo folk medicine closely resembles the shamanic uses of the drug as practiced among aboriginal peoples. In both instances, the brew is used for curing, for divination, as a diagnostic tool and a magical pipeline to the supernatural realm. This traditional mode of use contrasts from the contemporary use of ayahuasca tea within the context of Brazilian syncretic religious movements. Within these groups, the members consume ayahuasca tea at regular intervals in group rituals in a manner that more closely resembles the Christian Eucharist than the traditional aboriginal use. The individual groups of the UDV, termed nucleos, are similar to a Christian Hutterite sect, in that each group has a limited membership, which then splits to form a new group once the membership expands beyond the set limit. The nucleo consists of the congregation, a group leader or mestre, various acolytes undergoing a course of study and training in order to become mestres, and a temple, an actual physical structure where the sacrament is prepared and consumed at prescribed times, usually the first and third Saturday of each month. The membership of these newer syncretic groups spans a broad socio-economic range and includes many educated, middle-class, urban professionals (including a number of physicians and other health professionals). Some older members have engaged in the practice for 30 or more years without apparent adverse health effects.

The UDV and the Santo Daime sects are the largest and most visible of several syncretic religious movements in Brasil that have incorporated the use of ayahuasca into their ritual practices. Of the two larger sects, it is the UDV that possesses the strongest organizational structure as well as the most highly disciplined membership. Of all the ayahuasca churches in Brasil, the UDV has also been the most pivotal in convincing the government to remove ayahuasca from its list of banned drugs. In 1987, the government of Brasil approved the ritual use of hoasca tea (’hoasca’ is a Portugese shortening of ‘ayahuasca’ and is sometimes used to differentiate UDV brew from non-UDV ayahuasca) in the context of group religious ceremonies. This ruling has potentially significant implications, not only for Brasil, but for global drug policy, as it marks the first time in over 1600 years that a government has granted permission to its non-indigenous citizens to use a psychedelic substance in the context of religious practices.

Please see the complete article at

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy 65th birthday LSD!

Nevertheless, in the spring of 1943, I repeated the synthesis of LSD-25. As in the first synthesis, this involved the production of only a few centigrams of the compound. In the final step of the synthesis, during the purification and crystallization of lysergic acid diethylamide in the form of a tartrate (tartaric acid salt), I was interrupted in my work by unusual sensations. The following description of this incident comes from the report that I sent at the time to Professor Stoll:

Last Friday, April 16, 1943 I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.

This was, altogether, a remarkable experience—both in its sudden onset and its extraordinary course. It seemed to have resulted from some external toxic influence; I surmised a connection with the substance I had been working with at the time, lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate.

Dr. Albert Hofmann

Bicycle day

On April 19, 1943 Dr. Albert Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 µg of LSD, which he hypothesized would be at most a threshold level dose, based on his research on other ergot alkaloids. Surprisingly, the substance showed a potency orders of magnitude above almost any other substance known at the time, amounting to a much heavier dose than typically given in modern therapeutic use. After ingesting the substance Hofmann found himself struggling to speak intelligibly and asked his laboratory assistant, who knew of the self-experiment, to escort him home on his bicycle, since wartime restrictions made automobiles unavailable. On the bicycle ride home, Hofmann's condition became more severe and in his journal he stated that everything in his field of vision wavered and was distorted, as if seen in a curved mirror. Hofmann also stated that while riding on the bicycle, he had the sensation of being stationary, unable to move from where he was, despite the fact that he was moving very rapidly.

Once Hofmann arrived home, he summoned a doctor and asked his neighbor for milk, believing it might help relieve the symptoms. Hofmann wrote that despite his delirious and bewildered condition, he was able to choose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning. Upon arriving the attending doctor could find no abnormal physical symptoms other than extremely dilated pupils. After spending several hours terrified that his body had been possessed by a demon, that his next door neighbor was a witch, and that his furniture was threatening him, Dr. Hofmann feared he had become completely insane. In his journal Hofmann said that the doctor saw no reason to prescribe medication and instead sent him to his bed. At this time Hofmann said that the feelings of fear had started to give way to feelings of good fortune and gratitude, and that he was now enjoying the colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind his closed eyes. Hofmann mentions seeing "fantastic images" surging past him, alternating and opening and closing themselves into circles and spirals and finally exploding into colored fountains and then rearranging themselves in a constant flux. Hofmann mentions that during the condition every acoustic perception, such as the sound of a passing automobile, was transformed into optical perceptions. Eventually Hofmann slept and upon awakening the next morning felt refreshed and clearheaded, though somewhat physically tired. He also stated that he had a sensation of well being and renewed life and that his breakfast tasted unusually delicious. Upon walking in his garden he remarked that all of his senses were "vibrating in a condition of highest sensitivity, which then persisted for the entire day".

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Please send Love, Light and Blessings to Sasha Shulgin!

Sasha's surgery to replace his aortic heart valve was a success. He is now recovering at home. Please send him lots of love and healing energy. This past year has been a difficult road for him and Ann. Lets pray that he quickly returns him back to his usual, extraordinary self!

We love you Sasha!

Thanks for bringing us all soooo much love!

Be well soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

World Psychedelic Forum 2008: Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz

The Revolving Doors of Perception

Deconstructing the Myths and Ambiguities of the Psychedelic Zeitgeist

Direct Mp3 download: HERE
(right click, save as)

Michael Horowitz, former co-director of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, offers tours through the L.S.D. Library, sharing stories and anecdotes to single exhibits. Director of Flashback Books, Editor of Works by Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary.

Michael Horowitz's lecture from the World Psychedelic forum in Basel Switzerland. Michael talks about mythic events in Western history since the discovery of LSD 65 years ago. Horowitz speculates about the films that will be showing at the 2020 world film festival and the top 10 films yet-to-be-made, and talks about the superb aptness of the word 'trip',the mythic status of a person's first, best and worst trips in their life, the coincidence of the discovery of LSD and nuclear bombs, the CIA's experiments with psychedelics and their unwitting creation of the 60s counterculture, the Wasson family's legendary meeting with Maria Sabina, Tim Leary's psychedelic research and his later imprisonment, president Kennedy's acid-seductress, Aldous Huxley's humane and fully conscious death, the Beatles, rock festivals, underground chemists, acid-anarchists, the fate of the hippies, Nixon's near-miss with an LSD spiking, empathogens and the rave movement and the coicident rise of anti-depressants, 2012 and the transformative power of chaos and Tim Leary's death.

From: Psychonautica

Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Chew Betel Nut in Papua New Guinea

How to Chew Betel Nut in Papua New Guinea

from wikiHow

If you ever go to Papua New Guinea, the first thing you will notice is the brilliant red-stained teeth and lips of the local men and women. Betel nut, or what the locals call buai [boo-eye] is the cause. Green betel nut is a nut that grows in the tropical climates of South East Asia and is popular in the South Pacific Islands. It can be found on every street corner in Papua New Guinea and is chewed as part of social occasions or as a part of everyday life. Betel nut has a mild stimulant effect and in addition to reasons of tradition local people chew it for stress reduction, heightened awareness, and suppression of hunger.

Many foreign visitors try betel nut as a way to experience a part of the local Papua New Guinea culture. In addition, if a visitor arrives at a local person’s house for dinner, the visitor will most likely be given betel nut as a welcome offering. If you would like to learn how to chew betel nut, follow these steps.


  1. Gather the ingredients needed to chew betel nut. You will need the green betel nut (buai), a jar or bag of lime powder (kambang) and a bean-like green called mustard (daka). These can be bought on any street corner for about one Kina (30 cents).
  2. Break the betel nut open by cracking the shell with your teeth. Take the meaty center out of the shell and start chewing it. Do not swallow the fibrous residue of the nut as it is said to cause stomach aches.
  3. Chew the betel nut for 2-5 minutes or until it forms a wad in your mouth.
  4. Slightly moisten the mustard seed with your mouth and dip it into the jar/bag of lime powder.
  5. Move the betel nut wad to the side of your mouth and then bite off the piece of mustard seed that has the lime powder on it. Make sure to not put the lime directly on your mouth or gums as they will feel a burning sensation. Instead try to bite the mustard seed directly into the betel nut wad. As you chew the mixture together, they will form a chemical reaction that will make your teeth and lips red and provide a mild high.
  6. Know that as you chew, spit out the fibrous residue of the nut as needed. Most people just spit on the street so there is often red splattering of betel nut all along the street and sidewalks.
  7. Keep chewing until there is no more betel nut left. You may have a mild euphoric feeling because of betel nuts’ mild stimulant effects.


  • Do not chew Betel Nut if you are a minor. Betel Nut is a drug and can become habit forming.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers betel nut to be a human carcinogen (i.e. oral cancer is common in places where betel nut is chewed)
  • Betel nut will make your teeth and lips very red, sometimes permanently if chewed a lot. When chewed over long periods of time it can also lead to gum and teeth disease.
  • Betel nut is often compared to tobacco. It can be very addictive and habit forming. In many places in PNG you will find “no betel nut” signs that are similar to “no smoking signs.”

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Chew Betel Nut in Papua New Guinea. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Leaves of the Shepherdess by Kat Harrison

The Leaves of the Shepherdess
By: Kat Harrison

Mazatecan curandera preparing Salvia divinorum for ceremony
(Drawing by Jon Hann ©2000)

Salvia divinorum, a relatively obscure sacred plant native to Oaxaca, was rediscovered by Gordon Wasson in 1962, when he and Albert Hofmann's wife Anita first noted its psychoactive effects. Used for "divining" and other purposes at least as far back as the Aztecs, the plant began to be cultivated and used in the U.S. beginning in the mid-1990s.

I had grown the plant -- Salvia divinorum -- for twenty years, and I knew the scant botanical and anthropological literature on this rare, sacred plant, but I´d never successfully had a visionary experience from ingesting the leaves. Once I´d tried putting thirty leaves in a blender with water and drinking the green slurry, but other than a headache and distinct empathy with a trapped butterfly, not much had happened.

In the summer of 1995 I was ready for another in my series of solo ethnobotanical fieldwork adventures, and so I headed off for a month in the mountains of northern Oaxaca, Mexico. My son and daughter were staying with family, and I had work to do: not only investigating the folk uses and beliefs regarding healing plants, but also a health challenge of my own. For a couple of years following the dissolution of my marriage and the sad, slow death of my father, my heart had not been beating regularly. I´d always had a heart murmur and the strain of recurrent anemia, but this was more disturbing, grabbing my breath away. After one episode with a doctor, I decided I wanted to ask a Mazatec healer to do a ceremony for me with the Leaves of the Shepherdess.

The Mazatecs are renowned for their ritual shamanism, made world-famous by the twentieth-century "discovery" of their ancient practices using psilocybin mushrooms. The curandera Maria Sabina became the emblematic shaman who was revealed and unfortunately sacrificed to Western popular attention. The mushroom rituals intrigued me of course, but I was most drawn to the more elusive medicina of these leaves. I wanted to meet La Pastora, the Shepherdess.
An anthropologist friend gave me directions to an old curandero´s hut, perched above a tiny village in a remote valley of those tropical mountains. I came bringing greetings from our mutual friend and gifts of multi-vitamins and vegetable seeds. I was met with caution, which I felt was appropriate, and interviewed over two days as to my life experience and my intentions. The curandero and his son, who acted as our interpreter from Spanish to Mazatec, agreed to gather the leaves for a session with me.

Shka Pastora, the Leaves of the Shepherdess, grows in small, hidden glades in the upland moist forest of the Sierra Mazateca. The plant seems to propagate itself from nodes of the fallen stems, perhaps with the help of humans who tend their private patches. It is speculated that the species diminished its ability to set seed through centuries of human tending. And perhaps this highly sensitive species -- growing in light-speckled seclusion in such a small region of the world -- would have long ago disappeared, had it not been for its lovely medicina and gift to human consciousness. Each healer´s patch is a family secret, and the spirit of the plant is known to have a personal relationship with one who cares for her. Not just anyone can pick her leaves and derive benefit from her medicine. One´s purpose must be clean and clear.

Among many indigenous, nature-based peoples, significant plant species are each personified as a being with a name and particular attributes of character that relate to the plant´s effects. The plant spirit is a persona, to be honored, solicited and thanked for its gifts. Over the past five hundred years, a veneer of Catholicism has been laid over the rich indigenous animistic world-view, and stories of the helper-saints have meshed with the perceived primordial qualities of certain plant allies. The Virgin is often identified with plants that aid us; the Mazatecs recognize two species of morning glory (Ipomoea violacea and Rivea corymbosa) that produce Seeds of the Virgin, used for vision and difficult childbirth. Another name for La Pastora is Santa Maria, again a variation of the compassionate Mother Goddess.

We gathered for the session, a late night ceremony before a rough altar that held flowers, candles, pictures of the saints and powdered tobacco. We sat, the family and I, facing the stone wall that emerged from the earth there, against which they had built their tiny abode of tin, tar-paper and wood. La Pastora is very shy, they told me, timid like a deer. She will come only when we have eaten many pairs of the leaves and sit very quietly, perfectly still, in utter darkness, as in a glen in the forest in the moonlight. If someone moves or speaks suddenly, she will disappear in a moment. If we invite her, and are very clear and open to her, she will come, she will speak. She will whisper to us what we need to know and show us what she sees. She may help heal us, or bless us with good fortune. But we must pray and we must listen, and we must pay her our full attention. Do you know how to pray, really pray with all your heart? If not, tonight you will learn.

The curandero unrolled banana-leaf bundles of hand-sized Salvia divinorum leaves, slightly wilted, and sorted them into pairs. Both mushrooms and leaves are measured in pairs, he told me, representing masculine and feminine. He doled out forty pairs to me, rolled them into a long wad, rather like a salad rolled into a cigar. He explained that after he said the invoking prayers and we stated aloud our intentions, I was to eat the leaves. I was told not to hesitate at their bitterness, not to stop until I had eaten them all, and above all, not to laugh throughout the entire session. Laughter, he counseled, would steal away the power of the medicine.
The curandero held our leaves up to the altar, to the stone emerging from the mountain, and murmured a long prayer that included La Pastora, the Virgin of Guadalupe, San Pedro, San Pablo and names of native deities I could not recognize. He signaled me to state my intentions, make my request.

I greeted the spirit of La Pastora, identified myself, asked her to come be present with me that night. I asked, "Please help my heart to become strong and clear and without fear, so that it can pump smoothly." I asked, as I always do when I enter into relationship with sacred medicine, "What is my work now? May I please see the next stretch of the path?"

I took my first bite, stanched my reaction to the bitterness, and proceeded steadily through many bites to the end. By the time I had consumed almost the entire bundle, I was saturated with a taste that was sharp and fresh and ancient all at once. I had a momentary sense of how very long these people had been doing this ritual, the generations that had sought the wisdom of this plant spirit. Suddenly there was a shimmering, the curandero blew the candles out for total darkness, and within seconds I was completely in another realm, astonished. Some part of me ate the final bite, and I relaxed into another place: I was in the presence of a great female being, a twenty-foot high woman, semi-transparent. I was standing in her garden. There she was, some distance away, at the edge of her garden, near the forest, standing amidst her lovely plants against a small, white picket fence. There were butterflies and hummingbirds flying around and through her. Her great translucent face, the density of rainbows, leaned toward me and away. She moved through the garden, tending her leaves and flowers, leaning over them and standing again, beams of sunlight pouring through her. I felt a great longing for her to move toward me, to touch me, and I realized I could not move my feet from the earth where I stood. I felt the other human spirits around me -- the old curandero, his wife, his son and the little granddaughter -- and they were all giving her their full attention. I realized then that we were plants at the edge of her garden. She drifted slowly toward us, reached out and ran her hands through us, like a breeze, like a ripple, and I knew in those moments that my body was clear, that when she touched me I was in perfect order. I knew in my bones that if we ever asked for her to touch us, and we gave in exchange our most profound attention when she did, all would be well. I inhaled and exhaled her presence. She circled the garden again and returned to us. When she passed her hand through my chest a second time, I saw a tiny, ornate wooden door in my heart. It was carved with flowers and vines, and had an intricate golden filigreed handle and hinges. As her grand spirit fingers brushed it, I felt a strong breeze open the tiny door and a pocket of hurt blew away into the sweet air of the garden.

There is this enduring memory of my own face gazing out of a plant, and the dark but not unfriendly presence of the woods nearby. As she faded from view and I returned to a sense of the present, I heard the words repeatedly, in both Spanish and English: "Show them the edge of the garden. Les muestra el borde del jardín." That is my work.

This article is from a forthcoming anthology called Sisters of the Extreme: Women Writing on the Drug Experience from Inner Traditions in May.

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