Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All Hallows Eve

By: Charles Eisenstein
From: Reality Sandwich

Once upon a time, our distant ancestors were animists who believed in the innate divinity of all things. Spirit was a property of matter, and all things possessed it: not just plants and animals but also rocks, clouds, lakes, wind, places, and every natural thing and process. I said all things possessed spirit, but that isn't quite what the original animists believed. Spirit was not something separate from matter, to be possessed or not. Matter was inherently spiritual.

As the human realm gradually separated from the natural (in perception if not in reality), we began to separate spirit from matter. The first step away was to believe all things to possess spirit. This is the belief that characterizes the pagan religions. In ancient Greek religion, for example, everything from the ocean and the sky down to the smallest shrub or stream had a divinity associated with it. The ancient pagans still lived in a fully enspirited world where everything was sacred.

As time passed and the mentality of agriculture tightened its grip, the human and natural realms separated still further and we began to believe that some things possessed spirit and others did not. Spirit became increasingly abstracted from matter, culminating in twin developments at the dawn of the modern era. On the one hand, Protestantism reduced the participation of divinity in the world to the sole figure of Jesus Christ, replacing the Catholic pantheon of saints with a single divine individual, just as the saints had replaced the even more participatory pagan panentheism. On the other hand, scientists like Galileo, Descartes, and Newton reduced Creation to a single event as well in their conception of a clockwork universe, created and wound up by God to tick on, mechanically and everlastingly, henceforward. In the equations of Newton, the ongoing participation of a divinity in naure was no longer necessary.

The late stone-age people and early agriculturalists that we call pagan recognized, perhaps unconsciously, this progressive desacralization of the world. They knew that the separateness of the human realm is an illusion, that we too are bound by the laws of nature and that it is necessary sometimes to remind ourselves of that. It is necessary sometimes to remind ourselves of the sacredness and divinity of all things. It is necessary sometimes to reconnect to the Wild. Rituals developed to meet these needs. Some cultures recognized this explicitly, such as the Yurok of the Pacific Northwest who, in the words of Joseph Epes Brown,

"believed that, in the beginning, the world was inhabited by the wo'gey, or Immortals, who knew how to live in harmony with the earth. The wo'gey departed when the humans arrived. Yet, because they knew that humans did not always follow the laws of the world, they taught them how to perform ceremonies that could restore the earth's balance." [1]

Halloween originates in the same spirit. The holiday we celebrate today has roots in the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhuinn, which, in the words of Philip Carr-Gomm, was

"a time of no-time. Celtic society, like all early societies, was highly structured and organized, everyone knew their place. But to allow that order to be psychologically comfortable, the Celts knew that there had to be a time when order and structure were abolished, when chaos could reign. And Samhuinn, was such a time. Time was abolished for the three days of this festival and people did crazy things, men dressed as women and women as men. Farmers' gates were unhinged and left in ditches, peoples' horses were moved to different fields." [2]

The agricultural mindset divides the world into two parts, the domestic and the wild, and seeks to maintain and expand the former as it conquers the latter. The domestic is good, the wild is bad. The corn is good, the weed is bad. The sheep is good, the wolf is bad. The orderly is good, the chaotic is bad. But the pagan farmer recognizes that this division is not the ultimate reality, and seeks to maintain a healthy connection to the underlying panentheistic truth, lest she forget that she too is governed by nature's laws. For she knows that to forget this spells doom -- the very doom we are facing today as we seek to maintain a system in flagrant violation of that primary natural law of cyclicity: that one being's waste must be another being's food.

The Samhuinn that Carr-Gomm describes is precisely such a reconnection. Here the order of the separate human realm was thrust aside. The inner Wild expressed itself as an abandonment of social structures, while the outer Wild was allowed to usurp the ordering of the land into domesticity. Animals were let loose and gates were ripped down. This was a time when all the wild spirits once again roamed free, wreaking mischief on the human realm.

The ancient farmer still believed in these wild spirits and knew they had to be propitiated. Can you see how the ceremonial offerings to the spirits became the goodies we offer trick-or-treaters today? These offerings were once an affirmation of our debt to the wildness of Nature, all-providing, as well as a token reminder that Nature's wild spirits must be respected lest they wreak havoc. How did these offerings devolve into mere candy?

Under the Catholic Church, divinity retreated from "all things and processes," but still resided in a wide pantheon of saints and holy objects that more or less corresponded to the original nature spirits. Samhuinn became All Saints Day or All Hallows Day, but people still believed in a colorful bestiary of spirits and magical beings. The Protestant Reformation removed divinity still further from the world, as science and the Machine completed the desacralization of nature. Ghosts and goblins, fairies and vampires, became mere children's toys, nothing adults took seriously. Halloween became a game arranged for children.

Why do the spirits we associate with Halloween have the reputation of being evil? The Church's effort to vilify pagan religion is only part of the explanation. In fact, the very concept of evil only arose with agriculture's division of the world. Before then there was no such thing as an evil spirit. Each being enacted its role to perfection in the harmonious operation of a greater whole. But when a separate human realm grew that needed to be maintained, with great effort, against natural forces that seek to reduce a field to weeds and a house to ruin, then the Wild indeed became a foe: a source of trouble, mischief, and even death. Tempting it is, then, to see Nature as an enemy to be dominated and conquered. The pagans, understanding the disaster inherent in such an attempt, therefore enacted rituals and festivals to keep their own connection to the Wild alive.

What began with agriculture accelerated with the ascendency of the Machine. From the perspective of the Machine, wildness is evil. Chaos, unpredictability, individual variation are at odds with the values of the Machine: uniformity, regularity, standardization. Modern religion, as servant to the Machine, abets its values by associating the divine representatives of nature's wildness, nature's infinity, nature's superiority to man, with evil. Saturn, the Devil with his horns and ram's foot, and numerous other mythic figures representing evil started out as deities from matriarchal nature cults, and became symbols of evil as nature became man's foe.

Halloween was not the only festival that attempted to maintain a connection to the Wild. Christmas and May Day were two other times when the Lord or Lady of Misrule took over and presided over the festivities. Christmas was very merry indeed: common surnames like "Prince," "Lord" or "King" are traces of the illegitimate paternity of children conceived in the merry Yuletide revels. On May Day, various pagan deities were fit onto the personas of characters from the Robin Hood tale. Madness reigned: "mad-merry marriages 'under the greenwood tree', when the dancers from the Green went off, hand in hand, into the greenwood and built themselves little love-bowers and listened hopefully for the merry nightingale."[3] Surnames like Johnson, Jackson, Robinson, Dobson, Hudson, Hobson, and so on remain with us as evidence of these revels, during which the usual social mores and civilized rules of conduct were suspended. During these times, the figures representing the newer patriarchal gods, representing order and control, were ritually overthrown, and the earlier matriarchal gods and goddesses took over.

Although patriarchy was well-established by their time, the ancient pagans understood that the shadow side, the uncivilized, out-of-control side of the human being, must not be completely suppressed. A society in which order over-dominates cannot last; nor can a farm that ignores ecological principles. Some wildness has to be let in, some chaos. When we lose this balance, then sooner or later Nature will provide a correction. The stricter the repression of the wild, the more violent that correction. When the wild breaks out today it can be violent indeed, whether in its human or environmental aspect, yet we respond by tightening its repression even more. More curfews, longer sentences, school lockdowns; higher levees, more pesticides, higher fences.

From this perspective, Halloween begins to look like a mere imitation of a holiday. Every vestige of wildness has been excised from it. No longer an interlude of chaos to reconnect us to the reality beneath our civilized forms and structures, Halloween has been made safe and orderly in every respect. No longer a "time of no-time," today even trick-or-treat takes place between the official hours of six and eight. In my own lifetime I have seen the last stage of this transformation. When I was a child, parental supervision of trick-or-treating was unheard of. We left home right after dinner, or even before, returning and going out again until we grew too tired to continue. Today I see children as old as ten or twelve walking up to each house as their parents wait for them at the end of the driveway or follow them around in the car. Needless to say, the pranks and vandalism of Mischief Night are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Halloween, All-Hallows Eve, a celebration of the holiness of all, has become yet another occasion for orderly consumption and profit. Like other holidays, it has become almost entirely a purchased celebration. The homemade costumes of my childhood have given way to bought ones, often of television and movie characters. The same is true of yard decorations: pumpkins, bales of hay, spooky dolls. Homemade treats are viewed with suspicion; only store-bought candy is acceptable.

I am not telling you pagans and animists out there to keep your children inside on Halloween night. I want you to know, though, that you are participating in a sham. The pagan roots of the holiday don't validate its present incarnation. They show us instead what has been lost. Lost to what? To the insatiable world-devouring machine, driven by usury, that cannot and will not stop until it has consumed every last vestige of natural, cultural, and spiritual wealth. Forests and seas, customs and traditions, stories and songs, communities and cultures -- all are grist for the machine that takes in beauty and spits out money.

Nothing can save or reform that machine, but as its furnaces consume the last bits of our heritage capital, it begins to sputter and stall. You can hear it choking already if you listen. Soon, from amidst the cold, dead hulk of its wreckage, a new culture will grow. Its seedlings, too, are visible already to those who care to look. They are the recovery of our lost connections. Through them, our animistic and pagan connections to a fully enspirited world will blossom into a future where control-driven technology retreats to its rightful place as one of many modes of creativity. In that future, our spirituality will, like that of the Samhuinn celebrants, function as a frequent reconnector to the Wild within us and around us that is the true source of all wealth.

In that spirit, let us not attempt to redeem today's commercial parody of a holiday that we call Halloween. Let it sputter on toward its final demise as we create something new alongside it. Something that truly invokes the deep-buried, paved-over Wild within us and around us. Something to remind us that the structures we have created are but temporary artifices, castles of sand aside an ocean of being. Better not lose ourselves in attachment. All will be swept away one day. As in the ancient traditions, death is an appropriate theme for the new Halloween. Death. The other side. The spirit world. The shadow. The unseen. The scary. The unknown. All that the temporary structures we have created exclude. We need occasions to remind ourselves that these structures are not the whole of reality, and indeed that the part they exclude is infinitely the greater. Whether it is inspired by the ancient traditions or something entirely new, let us find a way to go Wild this All-Hallow's Eve.

[1] Joseph Epes Brown. Teaching Spirits, Oxford University Press, 2001. p. 17

[2] Philip Carr-Gomm, The Druidic Tradition, Elements Books, 1996. Cited by Isaac Bonewits, http://www.neopagan.net/Halloween-Origins.html [1]

[3] This quote and the argument of the paragraph are from Robert Graves, The White Goddess, Farrer, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 1948. pp. 396-8.


Halloween has roots in the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhuinn, a time of no-time, when order and structure were abolished, when chaos could reign.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Timothy Leary's 1961 letter to Arthur Koestler

Leary and Alpert 1960
Dr. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert aka Ram Dass

An interesting letter [Circa 1961] from Dr. Timothy Leary describing his new found enthusiasm for psychedelics.

Dear Arthur,

Things are happening here which I think will interest you. The big, new, hot issue these days in many American circles is DRUGS. Have you been tuned in on the noise?

I stumbled on the scene in a most holy manner. Spent last summer in Mexico. Anthropologist friend arrived one weekend with a bag of mushrooms. Magic mushrooms. I had never heard of them, but being a good host joined the crowd who ate them. Wow! Learned more in six hours than in the past sixteen years. Visual transformations. Gone the perceptual machinery which clutters up our view of reality. Intuitive transformations. Gone the mental machinery which slices the world up into abstractions and concepts. Emotional transformations. Gone the emotional machinery that causes us to load life with our own role-ambitions and petty desires.

Came back to the USA and have spent last six months pursuing these matters. Working with Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg the poet. We believe that the synthetics of peyote (mescalin) and the mushrooms (psilocybin) offer possibilities for expanding consciousness, changing perceptions, removing abstractions.

For the person who is prepared, they provide a soul-wrenching mystical experience. Remember your enlightenments in the Franco prison? Very similar to what we are producing. We have had cases of housewives understanding, experiencing satori describing it --who have never heard of Zen.

There are inevitable political-sociological complications. The expected groups are competing to see who should control the new drugs. Medicine and psychiatry are in the forefront. Psychiatric investigators (hung up as they are on their own abstractions) interpret the experience as PSYCHOTIC- and think they are producing model-psychosis. Then too, the cops and robbers game has started. Organized bohemia (and don't tell me it ain't organized, with rituals as rigid as those of the Masoic order) is moving in. There is the danger that mescalin and psilocybin will go the way of marijuana ( a perfectly mild, harmless, slightly mind-opening substance, as you know). And of course the narcotics bureau hopes that it will go the same way--so they can play out their side of the control game.

We are working to keep these drugs free and uncontrolled. Two tactics. We are offering the experience to distinguished creative people. Artists, poets, writers, scholars. We've learned a tremendous amount by listening to them tell us what they have learned from the experience.

We are also trying to build these experiences in a holy and serious way into university curricula. I've got approval to run a seminar here--graduate students will take the mushrooms regularly and spend a semester working through, organizing and systematizing the results. Its hard for me to see how anyone can consider himself a theologian, psychologist, behavioral scientist if he had not had this experience.

So how does it sound? If you are interested I'll send some mushrooms over to you. Or if you've already been involved I'd like to hear about your reaction. I'll be in London around June 8th and would like to tell you more about the cosmic crusade.

The memory of our weekend last winter remains as an intellectual and emotional highspot.

Best Regards to you,

From the Letters collection on Leary.ru
Also see Tim Leary Correspondence on Archive.org

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New scientific evidence further confirms Terence McKenna's Stoned Ape theory!

Alex_Grey_visionary origin of language

From: The UK Telegraph
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
1:05PM BST 20 Oct 2008

Stone Age man took drugs, say scientists
Scientists have discovered evidence suggesting Stone Age man used herbal mixtures to get high.

It has long been suspected that humans have an ancient history of drug use, but there has been a lack of proof to support the theory.

Now, however, researchers have found equipment used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sniffing, and dated them back to prehistoric South American tribes.

Quetta Kaye, of University College London, and Scott Fitzpatrick, an archeologist from North Carolina State University, made the breakthrough on the Caribbean island of Carriacou.

They found ceramic bowls, as well as tubes for inhaling drug fumes or powders, which appear to have originated in South America between 100BC and 400BC and were then carried 400 miles to the islands.

While the use of such paraphernalia for inhaling drugs is well-known, the age of the bowls has thrown new light on how long humans have been taking drugs.

Scientists believe that the drug being used was cohoba, a hallucinogen made from the beans of a mimosa species. Drugs such as cannabis were not found in the Caribbean then.

Opiates can be obtained from species such as poppies, while fungi, which was widespread, may also have been used.

Archeologists have suggested that humans were extracting mind-expanding drugs from mescal beans and peyote cacti as far back as 5,000 years ago, but have not found direct evidence that this is true.

They consider that drugs were being used to induce spiritual or trance-like states by people who had religious beliefs.


Summary of Terence McKenna's "Stoned Ape" Theory of Human Evolution

McKenna theorizes that as the North African jungles receded toward the end of the most recent ice age, giving way to grasslands, a branch of our tree-dwelling primate ancestors left the branches and took up a life out in the open -- following around herds of ungulates, nibbling what they could along the way.

Among the new items in their diet were psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing in the dung of these ungulate herds. The changes caused by the introduction of this drug to the primate diet were many -- McKenna theorizes, for instance, that synesthesia (the blurring of boundaries between the senses) caused by psilocybin led to the development of spoken language: the ability to form pictures in another person's mind through the use of vocal sounds.

About 12,000 years ago, further climate changes removed the mushroom from the human diet, resulting in a new set of profound changes in our species as we reverted to pre-mushroomed and frankly brutal primate social structures that had been modified and/or repressed by frequent consumption of psilocybin.

McKenna's "Stoned Ape" Theory, in his own words -- excerpts from interviews, transcripts, etc.

Similar blog entry's that may also interest you:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ayahuasca Serpent Vision by Ralph Metzner

Ayahuasca and Chacruna 
Painting by Pablo Amaringo: Ayahuasca and Chacruna

Poem is from Ralph Metzer's blog entry: Ayahuasca – The Vine of Spirits

I pray to the serpent vine of visions:

               Help me heal the ancient wounds. 
         Slowly, the glittering snakes glide and slide,
         Insinuating intimately into my deepest roots.
         I’m inside the Serpent Mother now,
         Coiling, writhing, turning, squirming,
         Our bodies merged – one  skin, one spine.

         The space within expands to spaciousness,
         Our little band of travelers on the spirit boat,
         Are in the house, on the river, in the snake,
         Sailing serenely along the darkening stream.

         The Great Serpent’s body expands once more,
         Encompassing now the River of Time,
         The barque of human civilizations:
         Whole villages & towns, I see, temples & palaces,
         Pyramids & towers, kingdoms & nations:
         Egypt, Rome, India, America,
         Carried by the currents of collective fate,
         Through the millennia, one great stream, one great Snake.

          Now – continents & oceans, cloud mountains, I see,
          Vast deserts, rain forests,  river deltas,
          Are only the shimmering body of Diamond Rainbow Serpent,
          Mother of All Organic Life on Earth.

          And now – the great Earth with all her sibling planets,
          Companion worlds, Moon, Mercury and Mars,
          Spinning and whirling in stately serpentine orbits,
          Around Primordial Mother-Father Sun.

          The barque of hundreds of millions of years sails on,
          Great Cosmic Star Sun Serpent,
          Wheeling majestically around the Milky Way
          Galactic Center, Dark Source of All Radiance.

Listen to some Icaros from Peru Shamanic Explorer:
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Nature Sounds
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

James Burchfield: Sound stylings by a human beatbox

James "AudioPoet" Burchfield performs an intricate three-minute human beatbox breakdown. Using only his mouth, tongue, throat and vocal cords, he performs heavy, layered, club-style jams that seem to come from real drum machines and lusciously... » Full bio and more links

Friday, October 17, 2008

Robert Anton Wilson explains Quantum Physics

Posted By Scotto @ DoseNation.com

In this charming video, Robert Anton Wilson tours the subject of quantum physics in his own inimitable style.

Any model we make does not describe the universe it describes what our brains are capable of saying at this time. All perception is gamble. We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it we don't even know we're making an interpretation most of the time.

Translator: "She wants to know what Quantum Physics is..." *takes sip*


Translator: "Quantum Physics, explain it simply she asks"

RAW: "Explain Quantum Physics simply?"

Translator braces herself and RAW explains it wonderfully!

RAW, U R missed!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Zeitgeist: Addendum

Zeitgeist the Addendum, attempts to locate the root causes of this pervasive social corruption, while offering a solution. This solution is not based on politics, morality, laws, or any other establishment" notions of human affairs, but rather on a modern, non-superstitious based understanding of what we are and how we align with nature, to which we are a part. The work advocates a new social system which is updated to present day knowledge, highly influenced by the life long work of Jacque Fresco and The Venus Project.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2 TED Talks: Featuring Wade Davis

Wade Davis Ph.D. is a Harvard graduate and former student of Professor Richard Evans Shultes. He holds degrees in Anthropology, Biology and Ethnobotany and is also a professional writer, photographer, and filmmaker currently working with National Geographic. The feature film "Serpent and the Rainbow" was based on Davis's doctoral thesis on Haitian Voodoo Witchdoctors and the science behind zombification. He has done extensive fieldwork with Ayahuasca, Magic Mushrooms, DMT containing snuffs and other entheogens / psychotropic plant medicines. Last but not least he is dedicated conservationist who believes humanity's greatest legacy is the "ethnosphere," the cultural counterpart to the biosphere, and "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." He beautifully articulates the intellectual, emotional and moral reasons why it's in everyone's best interest to preserve the world's cultures.. I'm certain you will enjoy these TED talks, they are well worth your time to watch or listen to.

Download: in Mp3 Format

Wade Davis: Cultures at the far edge of the world with stunning photos and stories, National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world's indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate. 

You can learn more about the Kogi HERE. Also in the National Geographic story entitled "Keepers of the World"

Wade Davis serves on the councils of Ecotrust and other NGOs working to protect diversity. He also co-founded Cultures on the Edge, a quarterly online magazine designed to raise awareness of threatened communities.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Horizons 2008: Perspectives on Psychedelics

The second annual Horizons forum is for learning about psychedelics. It seeks to open a fresh dialogue about psychedelics and challenges society to rethink their role in history, culture, medicine, spirituality and art. Featuring a small group of dedicated researchers and activists who have orchestrated a renaissance in psychedelic research that is re-shaping the public's understanding of these unique substances. Horizons brings together some of the brightest minds and boldest voices in this movement to share their research, insights and dreams for the future.

Streaming Audio 64kbps: Horizons 2008

To download, right click on any file size and save as:

Download the complete conference *
MP3 ZIP 64Kbps [165 MB]
MP3 ZIP VBR Mp3 [238 MB]
*The Shulgins talk must be downloaded separately.

Individual Audio Files 160Kbps MP3 64Kbps MP3 VBR MP3
Allan Hunt Badiner 55 MB 22 MB 31 MB
Dan Merkur 54 MB 22 MB 31 MB
Daniel Pinchbeck 52 MB 21 MB 30 MB
David Nichols 56 MB 22 MB 32 MB
Dmitri Mugianis 33 MB 13 MB 19 MB
Rick Doblin 57 MB 23 MB 33 MB
Robert Forte 45 MB 18 MB 26 MB
Roland Griffiths 61 MB 24 MB 36 MB
*The Shulgins N/A N/A 50 MB


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kathleen Harrison: Spirit in nature


Psychedelic Plants & Mushrooms through Native Eyes
As presented at the 2008 
World Psychedelic Forum

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Courtesy of: Psychonautica

Drawing from her fieldwork in Mexico and South America, the experienced ethnobotanist will share perspectives, stories and images from the worldview and ritual practices of indigenous people who live in respectful relationship to psychoactive species. Sacred medicines and humans are seen as part of an animated fabric of beings.

Part 1
The presentation will look into cultures that incorporate psilocybin mushrooms, Salvia divinorum, ayahuasca, peyote or tobacco into their ceremonies, with particular focus on the enduring traditions of the Mazatec people of Mexico. The relation of plants to mythology and the being of plant species. The healing power of Brugmansia, the religious practices/beliefs of the Mazatec. The mushroom culture of Huatla, R. Gordon Wasson, Maria Sabina, the healing industry and psychedelic mushroom trade in Mexico, healing objects for sale in Mexico, the hippy-tourist invasion of the 1960s. The different species of mushroom used in Mexico and the differences between them, shamanic husband/wife couples, uses of various types of tobacco by the Mazatec and the naming of tobacco species after saints, the cooperativeness of Psilocybe Cubensis, and use of Psilocybe Mexicana.

Part 2
Kathleen talks about the capacity of plants for absorbing and releasing energy, the journey drugs go on before they are consumed, the grow season of mushrooms in Mexico, the use of plant medicine for snake bites, how shamans discover appropriate healing plants, Mazatec use of Morning Glory, references to the virgin Mary in the names of plants, the possibility of Salvia Divinorum prohibition in the US, becoming personally acquainted with shamanic plants, different kinds of Salvia experience, Mazatec Salvia use and etiquette, the personality of Salvia Divinorum, smoking Salvia, safety precautions of Salvia use and the 'bolt-factor', contacting tribal ancestors and the morphogenetic field.