Graham Hancock, Ayahuasca, & Consciousness

By the time I got to Joshua Tree, Graham had already presented his main ideas formally, making this a real treat — an informal interactive session with the man who has unearthed so many of history’s treasures and put them into a meaningful and cosmic context.

Graham gave an account of his journey, beginning with his family roots in England and his horrific experiences being conditioned in a private school, then moving on to becoming a journalist with the ability to travel the world.  He had been an atheist until he was cracked open to a new concept of man’s history by encountering stories about the Ark of Covenant in war-torn Ethiopia.

This experience began his interest in “out of place technology.” Noting the connection between the Ethiopian stories of the Ark with his growing interest in the Ancient Egyptian texts, he dropped his atheism and became interested in spirituality — in “levels beyond levels” of reality that pointed to so much beyond the veil of what we take as truth.

Graham credits Robert Bauval with the “fundament breakthrough Orion correlation connection to Egypt,” which is the key breakthrough in tying Egypt to its past by discovering the connection to the stars of the constellation of Orion.

When he began writing about ancient mysteries Graham encountered what he described as the perils of academia; dedicated to making his case, he found that he needed to be beyond perfect with annotations and still he was criticized and vilified by conventional archeologists and historians.

One intriguing aspect of Graham’s insight is that he claims that you “don’t need ancient astronauts”; rather, the veils of consciousness can be lifted by using the resources of the earth itself, and specifically the chemical properties of plants like Ayahuasca to “open the doors of perception.”

Still, the monuments are key sources of inspiration and Graham believes that there is much to learn from the stars, citing how in terms of the ancient skies the constellation of Leo was aligned with the gates of the Sphinx.

Besides conventional academics, political skirmishes also inhibit many new discoveries, but Graham urges that it will take a cooperative and new scientific method, embracing openness, to bring many hidden aspects of reality to light.

A key discovery will be how, after “six million years of boredom” with different primates and versions of humans, there was a sudden leap in consciousness and intelligence signified by the cave drawings of the ancients such as at Lascaux, France.

While some attribute this to extraterrestrial intervention, Graham makes the point that a distinct type of psilocybin mushroom thought to only be in the Americas actually existed in Europe as well, and he posits that its effectA either contributed to or caused this enormous leap in the creative abilities of humans, and the birth of shamanic wisdom.

Graham became interested in the neuropsychology theory of cave art presented by David Lewis Williams of South Africa into deeply altered states of consciousness which suggested that it was psychotropic plants and the shamanic traditions that unfolded from their discovery that was responsible in the dramatic and sudden increase in intelligence among some human groups.

Graham agrees with Williams that the chemical agents in these sacred plants allowed humans to detach from materialism and evolve spiritually and intellectually very rapidly.”

Graham debunks conventional theories of Lascaux as merely paintings of animals our ancestors wanted to hunt for food; at Lascaux, for example, the main food item was reindeer but there is only a single painting of a reindeer in the cave, and it is portrayed with the feet of a duck.

At the same time, modern DNA tests have proved the existence of mushrooms in Europe.

This inquiry led Graham to conclude that he must experience the reality facilitated by shamans in altered consciousness, and so he went to the Amazon.

Here he became convinced that it is our “plant allies” that offer the opening to experience a suddenly expanded universe and discover truths about ourselves.

He was open about the experience in terms of having “Mother Ayahuasca” reveal to him his own hubris and arrogance in the 90s and his own toxic emotional tendencies. This changed him forever.

“Mother Ayahuasca” was the most powerful example of a disembodied intelligence or entity he found through the plant in his experiences, and She told him to write a book and to stop his dependence on cannabis, both of which he described in detail and which he followed thereafter, resulting in the novel Entangled.

In the novel he deals with one truth conveyed by the plant, that the Neanderthal peoples we currently see as primitive and crude were actually immensely telepathic, compassionate, and peace loving, and helped the humans until we surpassed them, and presumably wiped them out.

To his critics about using “chemical” or unnatural means of awakening he responds, “What could be more natural than a mushroom?” He said that he feels the need to personally experience everything he studies because otherwise it has the credibility of “celibate monks arguing about sex.”

Graham is passionate about the need for individuals to resist the efforts of the state to “control our consciousness” and believes this is an inalienable right of each human. He admits that this is “all British shit” and lauds the American people for reversing the trend electorally in states like Colorado and Oregon.

He summarized that “Mother Ayahuasca kicked my ass” in the state of pure consciousness and he was exposed to the multi-dimensional nature of reality.  Graham acknowledges the risks involved but compares them to mountain climbing or sky-diving.

He believes that Ayahuasca brings contact with disembodied intelligences and that plants are like antennae on the earth, receiving and transmitting a multitude of frequencies and energy.

Ayahuasca neutralizes inhibitors in the gut to open what Huxley called “The Doors of Perception” and open the user to the “intelligence in vine.”

Scientists believe that the force is

in the leaves of the Chacruna plant (p. viridis, containing the DMT element of the brew); but Graham believes the intelligence is in the vine and its connection to the soil and the earth, and that the vine harvests the leaves to affect the intelligence of beings, now humans, helping them to evolve.

He compares Mother Ayahuasca to the Goddess Isis in Egypt and described an experience where he was made to “weigh his soul” in the fashion of the Judgment Hall of Osiris in Egyptian lore. It was here that he confronted his own toxicity as a human and worked on his arrogance.

Graham cautions that in this state, nonphysical entities can take advantage and enter humans, which is why it is imperative to take the substance under the direction of an experienced guide or shaman. One can come under attack and be the victim of “psychic vampirism” by Trickster entities but the benefits are to forever broaden our concept of reality.

Finally Graham described his current fascination with the fact that 30 leading scientists attribute the end of the Ice Age 12,800 years ago to a cataclysmic comet impact, and his theory is that newly found ruins of advanced civilizations represent the efforts to preserve the knowledge and wisdom of a super civilization that perished at that time.

Graham says that the key lesson of the plant and many of his experiences is to silence the mind and “choose love, not fear.”

I felt privileged to be able to witness this remarkable individual for even this short period of time on a personal level, and I was struck by his humility and grasp of the widely disparate subject areas he presented and his unique ability to connect the dots. I also felt a kinship in terms of his many struggles to be accepted, his sense of being an outsider from a young age, his being an only child (as am I), and his discovery of his gift for the written word and exploration.

I almost blew off the event because of the ten hours of driving that it entailed but this was probably the most powerful lesson of all, that when life affords you a singular opportunity it is incumbent to accept — because our precious and privileged existence on this planet is truly a means of teaching and growth.


On the Pineal Gland and Fluoride

Why A Fluoride-Free Pineal Gland is More Important than Ever

There has been some controversy over the activity of adding synthetic fluoride to municipal water supplies and elsewhere, but not enough. The seriousness of this issue is more than what most realize. Fluoridation ranks with GMO’s and tainted, forced vaccinations among the great crimes against humanity.

Understanding the Different Fluorides

There are two types of fluoride. Calcium Fluoride, which appears naturally in underground water supplies, is relatively benign. However, too much consumed daily can lead to bone or dental problems. Calcium is used to counter fluoride poisoning when it occurs. This redeeming factor indicates that the calcium in naturally formed calcium fluoride neutralizes much of fluoride’s toxic effects.

On the other hand, the type of fluorides added to water supplies and other beverages and foods are waste products of the nuclear, aluminum, and now mostly the phosphate (fertilizer) industries. The EPA has classified these as toxins: fluorosilicate acid, sodium silicofluoride, and sodium fluoride.

For this article, the term Sodium Fluoride will include all three types. Sodium fluoride is used for rat poison and as a pesticide. According to a scientific study done several years ago, Comparative Toxicity of Fluorine Compounds, industrial waste sodium fluorides are 85 times more toxic than naturally occurring calcium fluoride.

Health Hazards of Sodium Fluoride

Generally, most fluoride entering the body is not easily eliminated. It tends to accumulate in the body’s bones and teeth. Recently, it has been discovered to accumulate even more in the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain.

This consequence of dental fluorosis, which seriously harms teeth, from daily fluoridation has been documented. Yet, the American Dental Association (AMA) continues beating a dead horse, promoting fluoride. There is a refusal to admit that instead of preventing tooth decay, fluoride causes even more dental harm.

The flood of sodium fluoride in water and food also creates other more serious health problems that are not widely publicized, even suppressed. Nevertheless, in addition to fluorosis, independent labs and reputable researchers have linked the following health issues with daily long term intake of sodium fluoride:

*Genetic DNA Damage
*Thyroid Disruption – affecting the complete endocrine system and leading to obesity
*Neurological – diminished IQ and inability to focus, lethargy and weariness.
*Alzheimer’s Disease
*Melatonin Disruption, lowers immunity to cancer, accelerates aging, sleep disorders.
*Pineal Gland, calcification, which clogs this gland located in the middle of the brain.

How Did We Get Stuck With Stuff?

According to investigative journalist Christopher Bryson, author ofThe Fluoride Deception, getting large quantities of sodium fluoride into the water and food system was a ploy of public relations sponsored by the industries who were saddled with getting rid of the toxic materials.

Fluoride was necessary for the processing or enriching of uranium. The pro-fluoride propaganda was started during the Manhattan Project to create the first atom bombs in the 1940′s. The spin was to convince workers and locals where the largest nuclear plant was located in Tennessee that fluoride was not only safe, it was good for kids’ dental health.

In the early 1950′s, the notorious spin master and father of advertising, Edward Bernays, continued the campaign for adding fluorides to water supplies as an experiment in engineering human consent! Then the AMA picked up on the dental issue and endorsed sodium fluoride’s addition to water supplies. The few dissenting health studies and reports were usually squashed. Those dissenting voices were dismissed as quacks regardless of their credentials.

Approximately 2/3 of the USA water supply is laced with sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride is a common pesticide. So that residue is in some foods. Some sodas, packaged orange juices, and even bottled drinking water for babies contain fluoride additives. Buyer beware. Read your labels carefully.

Avoiding Fluoridation

Keep in mind that boiling only increases the concentration of fluoride to water more. But removing fluoride from tap water is not so difficult. Reverse osmosis works well for removing fluorides. If you own your home and can spring for the bucks, you can have one installed under the sink in your kitchen. That makes things very convenient for your fluoride removal from tap water.

If this is not your situation, grab a couple of large jugs and fill them up from reverse osmosis machines in health food stores, supermarkets, and other locations. There are several such machines around, usually labeled as using reverse osmosis, and they usually take coins. So it is the most accessible and cheapest way to go if you can’t install one where you live.

The Physiological Importance of the Pineal Gland

During the late 1990′s in England, a scientist by the name of Jennifer Luke undertook the first study the effects of sodium fluoride on the pineal gland. She determined that the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain, was a target for fluoride. The pineal gland simply absorbed more fluoride than any other physical matter in the body, even bones.

Because of the pineal gland’s importance to the endocrine system, her conclusions were a breakthrough. Her study provided the missing link to a lot of physiological damage from sodium fluoride that had been hypothesized but not positively connected. A veritable root source for the chain reaction of blocked endocrine activity had been isolated.

Good news though. Frequent exposure to outdoor sunshine, 20 minutes or so at a time, will help stimulate a fluoride calcified pineal gland. Just make sure you take off your hat. This is more important than most realize, because the pineal gland affects so much other enzyme and endocrine activity, including melatonin production.

The 2012 Connection

First a bit about 2012, a date many have heard about. According to Carlos Barrios, anthropologist, historian, and investigator who was initiated as a Mayan ceremonial priest and spiritual guide, “Anthropologists visit the temple sites and read the inscriptions . . . but they do not read the signs correctly. . . . Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed.”

Carlos Barrios goes on to say that the transformation will be both spiritual and physical. The transition started in 1987. He says that we are in a spiritual transition from the rule of materialism, greed, and enmity to a new period of cooperation and peace – but not without difficulty. The current oligarchy is happy with what they have and don’t want to give it up, and they are powerful. The Mayans claim that 2012 marks the end of the period of the fourth sun and the beginning of the fifth sun.

Carlos points out that adversarial revolution against the ruling class will not work. It is up to those who want this shift to connect with others of like mind and begin actively creating networks of real cooperation. The old will crumble. The new period will dawn with its growing pains, the severity of which depends on our ability to accept what is happening and go with the flow. This, he says, requires evolving to unconditional love, with an open and simple heart, forgiveness, and cooperation with less ego competition.

Connecting the Pineal Gland to This 2012 Matter

Well, what does all this have to do with the pineal gland? A lot. It is considered a portal to the inner or higher self by yogi masters, including Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi. Psychics consider it to be the link for inter dimensional experiences. It is associated with what many call the third eye or sixth chakra, which is a doorway to higher consciousness and bliss.

And it is vital for supporting intuition, an ability that will be needed during hard times. So it is necessary to evolve spiritually in order to help create better understanding, acceptance of our fellow humans, and easier group cooperation. Meditation is a part of this evolving. That and a little sunshine, good rest and food, can cause a calcified pineal gland to loosen up and allow that portal to open.

An unusual psychiatrist, professor of medicine at University of New Mexico, and practicing Buddhist, Dr. Rick Strassman, MD, has written a book based on actual human studies of people under the psychedelic drug, DMT, titled DMT, The Spirit Molecule. He has discovered, among other things, that the pineal gland is a source of DMT production during birth and at death, and during near death or mystical experiences. This chemical approach corroborates the idea of the pineal gland as a portal, where the spirit passes through to other dimensions, either entering this physical realm or leaving it.

South American and Central American shamans use Ayahuasca, an herbal potion that stimulates DMT for psychological healing and spiritual initiation ceremonies. They have expanded their ceremonies with Ayahuasca by traveling throughout the world or opening their local facilities to non natives. They are doing this urgently in anticipation of 2012. Their desire is to jump start and expand individuals’ consciousness so the transition of consciousness will be facilitated and incorporate as many as possible.

This information is meant to link the physical realm’s pineal gland to higher states of awareness and other realms. The point is not to advocate or discourage psychedelic drug use, but to encourage health, meditation and spiritual growth by maintaining a fluoride free pineal gland. 2012 is approaching. Time to get in shape!


New Study of NDE’s

New Study Challenges Common Assumptions About Consciousness and Death
The problem of studying what happens to consciousness when we die has plagued empiricists for millennia. How do we measure consciousness and how do we observe it once it leaves the body?

Researchers at the University of Southampton, UK, have found one way around this dilemma by examining the experiences of over 300 individuals from the U.S, U.K. and Australia who had undergone cardiac arrest and been declared ‘clinically dead’ before they were resuscitated and brought back to life. According to the study, published this week in the Journal of Resuscitation, nearly 40% of respondents reported some kind of ‘conscious awareness’ during the time that they were clinically dead.

Myth 1: Conscious Ceases to Exist When the Dody Dies

According to study lead investigator Dr. Sam Parnia, the brain can only stay alive for 20-30 seconds once heart stops beating. And yet, some respondents in this study reported conscious awareness that lasted for minutes after they were declared clinically dead, a finding that Dr. Parnia describes as “paradoxcial” when compared to accepted scientific beliefs.

In one particular instance, a 57 year-old male reported rising up out of his body and watching medical staff attempting to resuscitate him for minutes while he was clinically dead. Surprisingly, he recollected the event exactly as it happened, from the attempts of nursing staff to resuscitate him, right down to hearing two beeps from a machine that makes a noise every three minutes. These findings suggests that consciousness may continue to exist for some duration of time even after the heart and brain cease functioning.

Myth 2: Dying is an Instant and Immediate Process

Modern medicine traditionally assumes that death is a quick and immediate process: The heart stops, and within 20-30 seconds, the brain ceases to function and the body follows suit. Without blood pumping oxygen through the veins, a human life is over in only a few minutes.

However, these findings imply that death may be a much more gradual, slower process than scientists had previously considered. The fact that so many respondents continued to maintain conscious awareness after being clinically dead, even after being resuscitated minutes later, suggests that perhaps death does not happen quickly over the course of a few seconds, or even a few minutes. We simply do not know how long it actually takes for consciousness to leave the body after death.

Myth 3: Everyone Experiences Death The Same Way

According to this study, not everyone feels a sense of peace and sees a white light when they die (although some people do!)  Respondents reported a wide variety of experiences and sensations while they were deemed ‘clinically dead.’ Twenty percent did feel peaceful, while one third felt that time either slowed down or sped up. Thirteen percent felt dissociated from their bodies, while another thirteen percent felt that their senses were actually heightened. Some respondents did see a bright white light, while others felt like they were drowning or being pulled underwater. It is also possible that other respondents had experiences they could not remember due to the effects of sedative drugs or brain injuries.

The results indicate that the experience of death may be one of the most subjective experiences of all.

Myth 4: The Visions Experienced During Death are Only Hallucinations

When we die, a large amount of Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), one the most powerful psychedelic substances in the known world, is secreted from the pineal gland in our brain. But this does not mean that the visions experienced during death are mere hallucinations, as has typically been assumed by medical doctors.

The case of the man who witnessed with exact clarity the nurses’ attempt to resuscitate him shows us that not every vision that happens during death is an illusion. In this case, the accuracy of the clinically dead man’s report indicates that it may be possible for our senses to continue to perceive reality even when our brain and body has shut off.

Is it possible that conscious awareness can persist even after the body is clinically dead because consciousness resides not within the body, but somewhere outside of it?  The implications of this study are far reaching and certainly deserving of further thought and investigation.

Photo Credit: Dying by Alex Grey, Oil on Canvas, 1999


Original Article

National Report

Independent UK


J.T. Phillips on the Top 10 Spiritual Counterculture Books

Top 10 Books of the New Edge


 (This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post).

With the rapid rise of the new spiritual counterculture, a generation of young avant-garde writers are making conscious magazine headlines and electrifying the festival-speakers’ circuit. Featuring a brutally honest look at the shadow aspects of the Self, and society at large, these books — while often focused on healing — are not fluffy New Age “Celestine Prophecy” reads nor “The 7 Laws of Spiritual Materialism.” They are harder to define, hosting a multidimensional mix of spiritual awakening, new media activism, visionary art, punk attitude, permaculture principles, Burning Man aesthetic and Occupy ideologies.

As if exploring some quantum physics conundrum, they fuse the world of observer and observed, where the researcher flies third-eye-first into the mystical fields they are investigating. In a similar manner that LSD influenced the Keseys and Ginsbergs of the 60s, newly introduced “entheogens” (God-inducing substances), like the Amazonian shaman’s brew ayahuasca and the synthesized “spirit molecule” DMT, are influencing the style and transformational arcs of these stories. Also, like the 60s, there is a regrettable dearth of female voices, something I hope changes over the coming years.

This is my “informal, unofficial, thoroughly unscientific” list of the top 10 books of the New Edge. I’m hardly an expert on this subject, but I have bared witness to some of this burgeoning literary movement over the last few years as a co-founder of Reality Sandwich and the Evolver Social Movement. For those of you following this literary scene, I welcome you to expand and improve upon the list, adding your choices in the comments section below.
10. The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and The Origins of Knowledge
Author: Jeremy Narby

Amazed by the complex “botanic mastery” of the Ashaninca’s polycultural gardens in the Amazon, anthropologist Jeremy Narby broke ranks with the detached scientific model when drinking the hallucinatory tea ayahuasca, which the Ashaninca claimed had taught them their agricultural knowledge. Composed of two plants – one containing the psychoactive chemical DMT (dimethyltryptamine), the other a double-helix-shaped vine with MAO inhibitors, the brew exposed Narby to a potent spiritual reality where talking telepathic serpents launched him on a study on how shamans might access the consciousness of DNA for healing. It was a serious career risk for a scientist, connecting empirical study with spirituality.

9.  Dharma Punx
Author: Noah Levine

Who would have imagined that the son of bestselling Buddhist author/teacher Stephen Levine would spend his teenage years “fueled by the music of revolution, anger, fear, and despair… Eating acid like it was candy and chasing speed with cheap vodka, smoking truckloads of weed, all in a vain attempt to get numb and stay numb”? Eventually Levine’s rebellious spirit would lead him to the liberation of Buddhist meditation, but without abandoning his love of punk music as an agent of change.

8. Fishers of Men: The Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest
Author: Adam Elenbaas

Unfortunately under-promoted in bookstores, “Fishers” is the most hauntingly beautiful book about ayahuasca that I’ve come across. Elenbaas fully exposes his sentimental, wounded soul when detailing his trek from troubled Minnesota minister’s son to sex-and-substance abuser in Chicago and New York, finally finding refuge with ayahuasca visions of Jesus in Peru. With a sweetly maudlin tone, ghostly lyrical imagery, and poetic switches in time sequences, the book is as if Garrison Keller and William Faulkner spent a few years binging with Charles Bukowski and getting high with Terence McKenna. When I asked Elenbaas how he crafted his unusual style, he said, “Ayahausca taught me.”

7. This Is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground
Author: Brian Doherty

While the writing style may slip on occasion, Doherty gives Burning Man aficionados exactly what they are looking for – the myth behind America’s most creatively extravagant festival. Tracing the event from its humble origins with a few dozen onlookers at San Francisco’s Baker Beach to its five-square-mile explosion of radical self-expression in the Nevada desert. One early scene (before the festival instigated a number of guidelines) has co-founder John Law racing his rental car across the desert flats, “flying on mushrooms,” drinking wine and having sex with his girlfriend while shooting guns out the window at teddy-bear targets. Hedonistic, yes, but also the stuff of legends.

6. Black Smoke: A Woman’s Journey of Healing, Wild Love, and Transformation in the Amazon
Author: Margaret De Wys

The curing of her breast cancer through the use of ayahuasca only covers one piece of De Wys’ epic tale of ditching her comfortable life as a Bard College music professor to apprentice with a charismatic Shuar healer, Carlos, deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Steeped in the magical lineage of the Shuar tradition, De Wys and her companion encounter near-death initiations, giant anacondas, and the iron fist of the industrialized North when bringing their Schedule 1 controlled healing substance to Native American tribes. She can handle it all, except for rule number 1 of ayahuasca apprenticeship: don’t sleep with your shaman.
5. Exile Nation: Drugs, Prison, Politics, and SpiritualityExile Nation: Drugs, Prison, Politics, and Spirituality
Author: Charles Shaw

Spiritual memoirs don’t get grittier, or more provocative, than this. After being arrested for possession of 14 MDMA capsules (which the author uses as a controversial method for overcoming PTSD), Shaw’s story opens in the nightmare of Chicago’s Cook County Jail, being sentenced to 1 year in the penitentiary. What follows is a despairing first-hand examination of our utterly failing prison systems and the collateral damage that the war on drugs inflicts on American lives. But Shaw embodies the warrior spirit, fighting for a personal rebirth through “unorthodox spiritual and healing practices” with the “evolutionary counterculture.”
4. The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscape
Author: Erik Davis, Photographs by Michael Ruaner

It might seem strange for a coffee table book to make this list, until you realize that’s exactly how it made the list. Traveling on my “Electric Jesus” tour throughout the West Coast, I was hard pressed to find a living room, or home hangout lounge, that didn’t boast this title as some type of flag, or stamp, of membership in the rising transformational tribe. Claiming to be “the first book to address the full story of ‘California consciousness” and featuring the po-mo mystical writings of Davis, the book tracks the landscapes and lives of UFO cults, Zen Buddhists, neopagans, and of course, Burning Man.
3. Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition
Author: Charles Eisenstein

Part-time Goddard College faculty member Eisenstein gained a large number of admirers through his pioneering essays on Reality Sandwich, but it’s his Evolver Editions/North Atlantic Books release “Sacred Economics” that has propelled him to the forefront of the Occupy movement with viral videos like “The Revolution is Love” and countless speaking engagements. In 496 pages, Eisenstein unpacks the entire history of money from a visionary prospective, providing the “radical yet gentle” transitions we can make to reboot and redesign the global (and local) economy. In the end, you believe the impossible: money can become sacred.
2. DMT: The Spirit Molecule
Author: Rick Strassman

At the University of New Mexico, Dr. Rick Strassman conducted DEA-approved research, injecting 60 volunteers with the powerful tryptamine DMT. Many readers skip the academic jargon on finagling FDA approval to indulge in the wild trip accounts of subjects rocketing out of their bodies and across the universe, breaking out of the limits of time and space, exploring realms of “pure living energy,” and perhaps most disturbingly, contacting bizarre extraterrestrial beings. While Strassman’s writing is all dry-scientist, the DMT accounts have influenced the imagination of countless writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians in the consciousness movement.

1. Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into Contemporary Shamanism
Author: Daniel Pinchbeck

Although “2012: The Return to Quetzalcoatl” made my Evolver and Reality Sandwich colleague the go-to guy on the Mayan calendar, it was “Breaking Open the Head” that first exposed ayahuasca journeys, initiations with the hallucinatory West African rootbark iboga, and DMT “galactivations” to the hipster world. Blending a healthy dose of Marxist philosophy, Burning Man chic, and Manhattan skepticism, this book pulled off a counterculture coup – it made embarking on a mystical awakening wild and transgressive. Part memoir, part exegesis on Western philosophy, Pinchbeck’s trailblazing work would set the structure, tone, and trajectory for a whole new generation of writers.

Honorable Mentions

“God vs. Gay” by Jay Michaelson
“Tryptamine Palace” by James Oroc
“The Four Global Truths” by Darrin Drda
“The Red Book” by Sera Beak
“Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey” by Rak Razam
“Star Sister” by Stella Osorojos

Elders Circle (Books by older authors who have influenced this genre)

“Supernatural” by Graham Hancock
“The Fifth Sacred Thing” by Starhawk
“The Mission of Art” by Alex Grey
“The Archaic Revival” by Terence McKenna
“Nothing in this Book Is True But It’s Exactly How Things Are” by Bob Frissell
“Antipodes of the Mind” by Benny Shanon
“PIHKAL” and “TIHKAL” by Alexander and Ann Shulgin
“The Mayan Factor” by Jose Arguelles
“Be Here Now” by Ram Dass
“Ayahuasca In My Blood” by Peter Gorman
“Singing to the Plants” by Stephan V. Beyer
“The Secret Teaching of Plants” by Stephen Harrod Buhner


Image by moriza, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing. 


Jonathan Talat Phillips is author of The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic.



Ayahuasca Experience – Discussion w/Jeremy Narby

The Ayahuasca Experience


The following conversation is excerpted from The Psychotropic Mind: The World according to Ayahuasca, Iboga, and Shamanism
by anthropologist Jeremy Narby, filmmaker Jan Kounen, and writer/filmmaker Vincent Ravalec, available from Inner Traditions Bear & Company.
Vincent: The ayahuasca experience can be separated from shamanism. We can take ayahuasca, for example, in an urban setting and have a very strong experience, one not necessarily connected to the ancestral experience of shamanism. The experience of shamanism is quite close to nature, which actually functions with interfaces of spirits; and someone who takes ayahuasca is not necessarily going to encounter, I don’t know, the parrot god who will come talk to him in his dreams or the green mouse who drops by to say hello. He is going to see something else. While someone is having the experience in a shamanic setting, one is going to go through its conceptual system. And you can have very strong shamanic experiences without taking ayahuasca. But it so happens that ayahuasca is a very formidable agent for altering consciousness.

Jan: What is ayahuasca, for you?

Vincent: Physically, it is a beverage that is quite unpleasant to drink. Now there are different blends, depending on the shamans who brew it. . . .

Jeremy: Would you agree that it is the Concorde of hallucinogens?

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