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Ethnobotany of Shamanism
Ethnobotany of Shamanism Workshop
Day Month 1988
California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, California
-Needs transcription for Psychedelic Salon: #189, 190 & 191
Well, because this is a small group and probably self-selected for high interest in these subjects, why, as much as possible, you should direct me toward whatever your special concerns are so that for each person, whatever their slant, there's a reasonable payback in information and, uh, there may be areas where I'm disappointing or unhelpful, but usually then, uh, I can point you toward somebody else or some source. The first thing this afternoon I'll bring in some books to show you -- 10 or 15 source books that would help you in researching any aspect of this, uh, whether you're interested, uh, in it academically or for personal spiritual growth or whatever.
It's very important to, uh, to be informed and this is an area where it's very hard to bluff it because, uh, you know, on one level, it's a branch of medical science. I mean, what we're talking about is folk pharmacology and you really should understand certain things about pharmacology, certain things about physiology, uh, because your life may come to depend on it in some situation. I mean, it's not casual, you know. You want to be able to asses risk and make intelligent choices.
So, um, what I usually do in these kinds of situations is to go around the circle and try to get a feeling for the backgrounds, the interests and the concerns of whoever is here and then tailor what is said afterwards, uh, to the needs of the group. So, why don't we just do that and you can tell me, you can tell us your name and then, uh, your particular concern or what you hope to get out of this, just something which will give me a basis then for, uh, structuring what comes afterwards. So, why don't we, uh, go around in good pinpos(?) shamanic fashion, counterclockwise.
Well, that's very interesting. I mean, we'll talk a fair bit about computers, uh. Most software, I think, is written by freaks. I mean, if you hang around the scene where it's going on, everybody has hair down to their waist, uh, but the relationship of psychedelic and computers and the psychedelic computer people and all that is very interesting. Recently, I had to review Marshall McLuhan's letters, so I read all these letters that McLuhan wrote. And one of the things he wrote about was how nervous people got when he tried to discuss the effects of media - the unconscious effects of media - and he said that people who were raised in the tradition of the phonetic alphabet were tremendously nervous about having the machinery of reality examined and I think the drug thing is even more intensely this kind of issue. When I was - in the 60's - when I went home thinking I would convert my family to taking LSD, it was very clear with me -- to me as I argued with them about it that the reason they didn't want to take it was because they knew damn good and well that they were crazy [laughter] and they didn't want to mess with it. The last thing they wanted to do was to probe and explore the mind. They had that all nailed down just fine, thank you. So, we will talk about this. Good. Okay.
Now, did we miss anybody?
Well, I'll say just a little bit about my own interest in all this or how I got into it. I don't know, I mean, one creates a false history when you look back into time to try and explain how you got to where you are or, at least, I do. Trying now to understand how I came to be involved in the psychedelic experience, it seems to me that what it really requires is, uh, a love of the peculiar, of the weird, the bizarre, the outré, the freaky and unimaginable and I'm not -- I don't give great credence to, uh, Astrology but I am a double Scorpio, uh, so, uh, I am told that this kind of thing predisposes one for 12th House activity. Uh, several times in my life, I've gone through these kinds of revelations where everything seemed to change so profoundly that I could hardly recognize who I had been before and this, and I notice this around the time I was seven or eight happening the first time, uh, nature and the imagination seem to be the precursors to involvement in the psychedelic experience, so I was a rock hound, a butterfly collector, a rocket builder, a connoisseur of explosives and all of this [laughter] sort of thing.
While others -- my peers were off playing little league baseball, I was back in the hills digging out trilobites and tracking down moths and stuff like that. And then science fiction was a tremendous stimulus to my imagination because it seemed to say, you know, anything you can imagine is fair game. Anything that you can conceive of can be treated as a reality and, uh, but I was also very, you know, I was raised in a Catholic household, so my whole thing was to build cynical resistance to, uh, to the spirit. So, I was an atheist, a Marxist, an existentialist, a rational materialist, you know, a pain in the neck [laughter] basically, uh, and in all of that, somehow I began reading Aldous Huxley, the social novels: "Antic Hay," "Crome Yellow," these comedies of manners of British academic society. I was, like, 12 or something, but I always drove myself to, uh, read really beyond my level. Well, this led me to "The Doors of Perception" which I had read "Brave New World." "Brave New World" was -- is an anti-drug dystopia, you know, a nightmarish world of plastic, never-grow-old-people who take tranquilizers every time there's a hint of deep emotion or any kind of anxiety. They just, you know, their motto was "a gram is better than a dam" and you can just for a quarter anywhere get one of these pills that just puts you right back into being happy and co-operative.
And so, Huxley who was, you know, a very concerned person, very concerned in the fate of 20th century society went from this dystopic vision of drugs to "The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell" in which he describes experiments with mescalin that, essentially, totally turned him around and convinced him that these mediaeval mystics that he was so fond of, Meister Eckhart and San Juan de la Cruz and so forth, were actually describing the same reality that he was, and William Blake, that he was getting into. So, um, I, uh, wanted to pursue this and this was, like, 1962 or something, and I was about 14 years old and then a few months later, there were stories in the newspapers that morning glories were being abused for their psychedelic effect. Well, I, there was a bind weed that grew locally where I lived, so I went tearing out and gathered half a peanut butter jar of this wild morning glory, and, um, and took it home and ground it up and took it. And, of course, nothing happened, but the hour before it came, before it failed to come on, I sat quietly and fearfully and examined my mind from that point of view for the first time in my life. In other words, examined my mind from the point of view of watching it to see if it was changing in some unpredictable way.
And, actually, I -- though, the morning glory were totally inactive, in that hour of watching, I did observe some interesting false positives that would come and go for a few minutes and then a few months later I got my data a little more together and learned that it was a certain species of morning glory and that you had to buy the seeds from a seed company and then, uh, uh, I discovered what it was. Not the full blown psychedelic experience, but by this time, I was in southern California going to school and a friend of mine and I would go out into the Mojave Desert and grind up low doses of these morning glory seeds because we didn't know what a dose was, really, or what actually was supposed to happen because if you read Huxley, it's pretty high flown language. It's all about radiance and significance and existential validity flooding into the rose. Well, once you're looking at a the rose and posing the question: is existential validity flooding into it? You know, you don't have anything to measure it. Well, we'd go out into the Mojave Desert and take these morning glory seeds and observe shifts in the apparent significance of things. Everything would appear somehow more, more, pregnant with potential meaning.
And then, in fact, if you would close your eyes in that situation, there would be the beginnings of hypnagogia, and, you know, drifting lights and undulating coloured patterns, grids and lace works and all this things which are the precondition for the psychedelic experience. Well, it wasn't long after that when I went to Berkley in the fall of 1965 and, uh, LSD was available a few months later. DMT was available and I was just stunned, and have never lost that sense of profound astonishment that such things could exist,just that they could exist. I mean, DMT seems to argue, convincingly, I might add, that the world is made entirely of something that for want of a better word we'd have to call magic, that, you know, things are not what they appear, not at all what they appear. And what we call "reality," is some kind of provisional construct that if leaned upon too hard can just fall to pieces before your startled eyes. Well, then the question is, you know, what are the implications of this; what lies behind it and so forth and so on.
So, I, um, as most people do or would, I think, looked to tradition for some kind of guidance about what this was and read Jung, and read Marsilliod [sp?] and saw, you know, parallels, but not a clear congruency and saw in the iconography of Tibetan Buddhism seemed to me to bear certain kinds of parallels to the hallucinations that I had, by that time, glimpsed in LSD states.
And, uh, so studied the Tibetan language, went to Asia, learned that the iconography of Tibetan Buddhism is a rip from, uh, the pre-Buddhist shamanism of Tibet which has been there since the Stone Age, you know. Buddhism only entered Tibet in the 7th century with, uh, Padmasambhāva and all the iconography was taken from the octoganist [sp?] indigenous shamanism that was there. But, uh, I didn't find in these yoguns and lamas and geishas, uh, what I was looking for which was direct experience of these realities. I mean, Tibetan Mahayanas seemed tremendously sophisticated in its analysis of states of mind, but, uh, operationally, it was not coming anywhere close to what these psychedelics were able to deliver. Well, because I was fortunate enough to have wise and well- read friends, I knew that this tradition was alive in the Amazon.
So, when I was finished in Asia and went from Nepal to India throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, uh, ostensibly making my living as a professional butterfly collector, but also using that as an excuse to go to these extremely rural and situations and observe what was going on and I concluded that it was far in the past or far removed that, uh, it was, uh, something that had retreated to the status of the myth in most cultures.
And then in late 1970, I went to the Amazon and very quickly through using mushrooms, through using ayahuasca, learned that there is a access and the traditions are alive and the attitudes were sym -- uh, sympatico with my own and have to pledge eternal fidelity to some character, that they were exploratory in their approach and they were open minded. Everybody admitted that nobody knew what was going on with it. That, yes, they could cure; yes, they could balance their societies and act as paradigms of behaviour to other members of their tribe what the hell it is and how can it be. You know, they were like scientists. They were like explorers. They didn't have a myth that encompassed it. They were technicians of myth which they presented back to their societies and this is something that is very important to realize about shamanism as it is being packaged and sold in this society is that a shaman is primarily a theatrical entertainer, but they're not putting on the show for themselves, but in this society, people actually become actors on their own stage but shamans do not believe, I maintain from spending time with them, shamans do not believe in the powers of magic words, crystals, healing darts and so forth and so on. They manipulate these things the way a stage magician manipulates rabbits, hats, saws and boxes with women inside them. They understand what it's for and how it works, and these things are manipulated to create an effect on other people. But the shamans understand that the real magic is the magic of signs, symbols and language, and that by manipulating queuing, by manipulating expectation, you can lead people to a fundamental confrontation not only with themselves, but with the other. And, um, as I said last night in my talk, it is no easier for an Amazonian Indian to come to terms with these things than it is for a native of Manhattan.
Uh, ultimately this coming to confront the other is coming to confront the mystery of being, not as a phrase, "mystery of being." We all give lip service to that, "the mystery of being," is everywhere; it's in the stones, in the trees, in the elevators, the life of the city, the life of the country. Everything is radiant with the mystery. This is some kind of gloss. What I'm talking about is actually the mystery of being as existential fact, that there is something that haunts this world that can take apart and reduce every single one of us to a mixture of terror and ecstasy, fear and trembling. It is not the primary thing to bear in mind; it is an experience and as we went around this morning, a surprising number of people spoke to it as an experience. Uh, and I think this is what makes the great distinction between the shamanic pragmatic approach and what I called last night, "the political ideologue approach." We're not working here from theory; the theories are the weakest part of what we say. What we're working from is the fact of an experience which we need to make sense of.
Now, let's -- most of these other experiences which are hard to keep track of or make sense of, cannot be commanded freely; they're more in the realm, you know, you're traveling in a foreign country and you contract a terrific fever and you fall into a vision and you have deep realization about the nature of life. This is not an experience that can ever be repeated. Or, you are alone in the wilderness and you confront a flying object in the sky which seems to trigger strange bursts of thought in yourself. This cannot be repeated and triggered on command. So, only in the context of the psychedelic experience and the willed decision to act, can you enter into the scene of repeatedly going to meet the experience of the other. And, uh, it is a very, very bizarre enterprise. It is not that, if we do it enough times, we will understand it or become comfortable with it because it is not in its nature to be understood and it is not in its nature to accommodate itself to us; rather, it is that we have discovered another dimension of in the same way that Europeans discovered another world only five hundred years ago.
In 1992, we will celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America. Now, notice that when Columbus set out from Spain, uh, there was a large body of intelligent opinion which believed he was sailing over the edge of the world, literally, that he was sailing out of mind and instead, what lay at the end of that voyage was real estate [laughter] immense amounts of real estate and we have come to terms with that and now, in fact, inhabit what five hundred years ago was not even on the maps; It was in the unconscious. Now, it is the centre of the global economy.
In the same way that these European, uh, navigators began to have this intimation that the world was a wrap-around - that's what it means to say the world is round; it means you can get back to where you started from by going away continuously - in the same way that the European navigators discovered that the world was a wrap-around , we are on the brink of discovering that you can start in three-dimensional space and time, move off in a linguistical vehicle and find your way back to the place you left from. This means that what we call three-dimensional space and what we call the imagination actually have a contiguous and continuous transformation from one into the other and this is big news.
This entirely goes against our Cartesian expectation that thoughts inside/world outside; objects outside/perceptions inside. And this is actually nothing more - this inside/outside thing - than an artifact of European language is and yet we take it to be, uh, you know, how God made the world because we are so embedded in our language that we cannot, literally, we cannot,uh, cognize reality without it. We cannot cognize reality without our language, but then in the psychedelic state, somehow this happens. Somehow, syntax is replaced by hyper-syntax. Uh, linguistically moderated and modulated perception is replaced by perception in the raw, not, uh, coded and sculpted and sifted for culturally-validated meaning, but rather, just the full hit.
Well, this is tremendously disorienting, but it's also tremendously liberating because that's the full deck. That's when you have full command of the options available within the matrix. If you play the cultural game, it's like playing only with clubs or something or playing only with the red-marked cards. You have to play with the full deck and that includes this pre-linguistic, uh, surround in which we are embedded. Now, why is it so emotionally charged for us? In other words, why can the shamans go into this dimension, uh, and heal or divine, see into the future or, in a sense, see into the past by discovering who stole whose cow or who's sleeping with who or all these things that shaman are concerned with. What is this ground of being that we discover by, uh, dissolving the cultural machinery of cognition?
Well, what I think what it is is simply, uh, reality unpackaged for a historical epoch. In other words, uh, reality uncompromised by the need to be culturally efficacious and useful, and this is precisely what we need to throw light on our culture crisis because the models that we have used to sanction information that is culturally useful have given us information which is toxic, meaning we have actually created a toxic relationship between ourselves and nature. We have pursued avenues of questioning the feedback from which have given us an overpopulated, polluted, ideology-obsessed, uh, uh, unresponsive planet that we're living in. We, as a culture, must conventionalize and believe that today is whatever it is, November 5th or 6th, 1988. But, some of us are living in the 21st century and some of us are living in the 18th century, and the goal, you know, is to try and move all this forward.
This is why it's funny certain themes that have emerged in the western mind, uh, are, in fact, very psychedelic and one of them is, uh, the notion of progressivism which is a pretty western idea and quite psychedelic. It's the idea that things are getting better or that things
get better. Uh, most of societies look backward toward a paradigm of a past paradise and all effort is toward recovering this paradise. We're the only people who have this faith in progress and it's quite strong in us, so strong that we barely question it. I remember the first time I was in Karachi, Pakistan. I was being hauled around the city in a rickshaw drawn by a guy with bare feet and when it was a human-powered machine and he spoke English and we were scoring hash and this and that so we got to know each other. And he said, "In Pakistan, we understand what's wrong with the world." So, I said, "What's wrong with the world?" And he said, "Progress. That's what it is. [Laughter] We have to stop progress." For me, it was quite a revelatory idea.
This thing about time, though, is very interesting and operates on many different levels. Uh, ultimately, I think, what the psychedelic experience may be is, uh, a higher topological manifold of temporality. That the reason it's so puzzling and so familiar; so alien and so exalting is that it is, in fact, mundane; it is, in fact, just us, but "us" sectioned through some higher spatial dimension and if, for instance, you think about magic for a moment, uh, let's think about the major, uh, uh, identifiers of the magical act such as, uh, psychic surgery where your hand is plunged through the wall of the body cavity of a human being and a tumorous organ is taken out and no wound is visible - a typical form of folk magic much discussed. I'm sure you're all familiar with it. Or, uh, the more typical -- or another form of magic, stage magic in this case, a word is written on an envelope and the envelope is locked in a box and the blindfolded magician is able to tell the audience what the word is on the envelope in the box and these things are m-miraculous. We cannot conceive of how they could be done. Uh, but, if you allow the possibility of a higher spatial dimension then these things become trivial because, uh, it means the body is open.There is a way -- that, from the point of view of the higher spatial dimension, the inside or the outside of the body are on the same side, so no problem is posed by removing this organ.
Likewise, from the point of view of the higher spatial dimension, the locked box is open on one end, the end that is intersecting the dimension from the way you read the message. You just go over and look. It's completely trivial. Uh, a way to make this cogent for people who are now thoroughly confused is to recall Edwin Abbott's fantasy "Flatland" where he imagined a world of two dimensions where a house was what in our world is called a blueprint and that was all you needed. You could live in the blueprint because you walked in and once you had closed the door, no one in Flatland could cross that blue line and get at you. But, of course, to those of us in three dimensions, you just lean over and look at the blueprint and put your thumb in the inside of the Flatlander's living room and, from his point of view, out of nowhere an enormous thumb has magically appeared in his living room. Well, this shows how perfectly mundane situations on one level appear to be absolutely violations of natural law on another level. And this is happening very much in the psychedelic experience because the mind is the cutting edge of the evolving event system. Yeah.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the idea of, of, um, apocalypse of some kind and some kind of transformational event and how your experience in altered states has led you to believe or feel that there is some hope and why?
TM:Well, I think it's clear that we are in a race between apocalypse and breakthrough, and I suppose breakthrough is the dark horse. Everything seems to be set up to favour apocalypse. It has the inside track except, of course, very few people would want to own up they personally would want to die. So, why is it that not one of us really want to die? Why is the, uh, overwhelming global cultural image one of inevitable, uh, catastrophe? I'm very optimistic. Uh, I really think history was for a purpose. I would not have not had it. I think it was useful and that we must have learned something very important. What we learned that was so important, I'm not sure, but probably when we need it, we'll have it. I mean, maybe we need atomic weapons because a large object will be detected hurdling toward Earth and if nature had not split off the monkeys a hundred thousand years ago and evolved inter-continental missile thermal-nuclear weapons delivery systems that we could use to destroy that asteroid then all life on Earth would die. So, what appears to us madness, our own dedication to the release of larger and larger amounts of energy for no purpose other than to destroy ourselves, is suddenly rescued from pathology and shown to be this
and, I mean, God, we did this because otherwise we'd all be dead and everything else would be dead. I don't seriously believe that, but I do think that we must have learned something very, very important. Perhaps cybernetics come in here.
Perhaps, uh, this exoskeleton of pneumonic, um, material that allows us essentially to freeze and to -- and to -- record our entire culture, everything is going into the databanks. Uh, one way of thinking about what's going on is, uh, compression of information and history represents a compression of information magnitudes more accelerated than the evolution of life and then 20th century history represents an ever greater information compression. Information finely compressed to such a degree that it's like the singularity inside a black hole. You know, a black hole has at its centre a place where the equations don't sum, in other words, where it doesn't make any sense. And the only conclusion you can reach is that at that point of so called infinite compression or singularity, another universe bursts into being somewhere else in a greater and vaster cosmology and then the energy equations balance.
Well, it's as though mind is undergoing this kind of gravitational collapse and information is being compressed to such a degree that eventually it will not all fit in the present and then the information begins to move off into the only dimensions available to it which are the past and the future exactly if you fill a glass with more water than it can hold. Once it has more water in it can hold, the water begins to flow down the sides and now into the larger domain. And so, I think that people who try to use history which is usually male egos and male-dominated institutions are, uh, actually tremendously frustrated. We don't see it that way because, to us, it looks like they win every battle because they win every election. But, because they win every election, it is their job to manage the situation. It's a case of, "You want it? Here it is." And they have not a clue as to how to manage it.
So, their thing is all about the headaches of ownership while our political point of view is pretty much about the headaches of disenfranchisement, but, uh, I think that there is some kind of event ahead of us in time not far on the order of twenty to forty years that is casting an enormous shadow back through the lower dimensional slice of being which we call history, so that religions and mystical visions and the visions of, uh, of, uh, revolutionary leaders, are a response of flickering intimations of this transcendental object that is pulling intelligence out of the organic matrix of life on this planet in a process that is occupying 50 - 100,000 years. It'is extremely unusual what's happening and a process that, um, creates a series of self-transforming, boot-strap steps in a period of 100,000 years means it's a unique kind of phenomenon. There's never been anything quite like it on the planet.
What it is leading towards it is hard to say, but I know that it's values are the values of life, connectedness, primacy of experience and caring, and it is using the historical process to wire us altogether in some way. Uh, control mechanisms are spreading through the society at an enormous rate. You know, and it's interesting -- one of the horror fantasies of the 1950's which was when, you know, this conservative, straight [ahem] crew-cut point of view was really at its height, one of the fears of the future that people would just toss off offhandedly was, uh, well, in the future, machines will take over and run everything and this notion of the control of the planet rested from the sure hands of noble human beings and instead betrayed into the power of calculating automatons was a great science fiction theme of the 50's.
But, uh, it's interesting how impartial computers are. They are not ideologues. They are not, um, they're managers and remember I said: the struggle was between the shaman manager and the idealogue politician, and so, I think the cybernetic matrix is a tremendous, uh, tool for feminizing and radicalizing and psychedelisizing the social matrix. I see computers as entirely feminine. I mean, people have a reaction to this because they think that -- because men spend a lot of time around them and seem obsessed with them, that somehow it isn't feminine. But men have always been obsessed with the feminine [Laughter]. I mean, I think it was D.H. Lawrence who said, uh, "What life is really about is men keeping women from ever suspecting how truly obsessed we are by them." [Laughter] [Ahem}
So, I -- I think, uh, you know, this linking together feminizing cybernetic theme is part of the anticipation of this object at the end of time. What seems to be happening is that we're all flowing together and we keep talking about unity, uh, globalism, completion, well, you better, you know -- you're gonna get what you ordered and I think what it means is probably, uh, that dearer individual which, don't be fooled, is a soft description of the male ego run rampant. The democratic individual, the citizen, this notion is in fair peril to be replaced by, uh, uh, the person which is a much more, uh, nubbly kind of concept. The person is not an interchangeable part; the citizen is. The citizen is the model of society based on the Industrial Revolution of the 19 -- 18 century, but the person is a harking back to a pre-print model and, uh, this is, uh, being set loose. It's what the hippies were, essentially, what they were trying to evoke was this do your own thing idea, but there's a paradox here. The "do your own thing" idea is somehow leading to this vectoring toward a unified cultural state where everybody is involved in everybody else. It's alright but it's paradoxical because there's no reason that it should be reasonable. Yeah.
Q: I wonder if you could address the difference between the LSD experience and the mushroom experience, if there is a difference, and also your feelings about marijuana as an altered state.
TM: Well, the LSD experience is -- well, I speak only from my own experience, of course, but to me it seemed more psychoanalytical than psychedelic, more - I mean, I was in my early 20s when I encountered LSD. Maybe I had more "stuff," as they say, to deal with, but it was not a reliable visionary drug for me. It caused me to have funny ideas. It seemed mostly to me to be more of a thought thing, but not a visual thing and somehow in my education somewhere along the way, I had picked up this bias in favour of the visual channel. I wasn't satisfied with LSD. I wanted those things that Havelock Ellis describes where he talks about, you know, jeweled ruins and maidens in diaphanous gowns howling demon songs beneath a violet moon, and that's what I wanted [laughter] not funny ideas. [Laughter] And what I found - and I worked pretty diligently at it with LSD - I found the most satisfying LSD experiences were with smoking hash and then that really did do something interesting, sent it skittering off into these wonderful visionary directions.
But, uh, uh, these things do have characters and this is something probably worth talking about in this group. At low doses, everything seems like everything else. In other words, a little mescaline, a tiny amount of LSD, a little bit of MDMA, a tiny tab of psilocybin, all of these things simply register as "wired," you know, "arousal," "eager to hear what's being said and follow the thread of the argument and absolutely fascinated with what's going on no matter what's going on," uh, but as you raise the dose, the character of these things begins to appear and, uh, for instance, psilocybin, to my mind, in many ways is the most anomalous because, number one, this thing about how it speaks, it does speak. None of the others do. I mean, the others you may occasionally in years of fiddling get a sentence or two but the mushroom just is voluble. It just comes on and raves. Sometimes you -- and people have said to me, "It really does rave." I mean, it's not a calm, it's not a go-with-the-flow rap; it's a rap about planetary destiny in the next ten million years and the last ten million years, it's this - trumpet blast - Cecil B. De Mille [laughter] hyper, you know, real like that. Well then something like Ayahuasca that the shamans use in the Amazon basin that's based on DMT and monoamine oxidase inhibitors you take that and it's about the rivers and the jungle and these people and their humility and dignity and your humility and dignity and the earth and plants and life and water and sunlight and it's this totally earth-bound terrestrial life-affirming thing.
And, it does not speak. But, it's an eye and its language is visual and after an Ayahuasca trip, you just feel like your eyes are literally bulging out of your head. I mean, you've spent six hours looking, looking, looking, looking, just, you know -- not really doing anything else but looking, but then something like datura has this watery, magical, forgetful, kind of witchy occult quality and its shadows, shadows and a peculiar erosion of your own attention so that, you know, no matter who you are, you find yourself wandering through empty colonnades and, uh, under a sky pregnant with the possibility of rain. I mean, it's this strange mercuric-esque kind of landscape. DMT has another quality: it seems to convey you into just a world of utter outrage where all linguistic sensory and analytical machinery is just, uh, brought to a screeching halt. So, you know, it's important to learn what you like and to learn what you can, uh, put up with.
Someone at a recent weekend who takes mushrooms quite religiously and quite regularly and I said, you know, "Does it ever get easier?" and he said "No, it never gets easier. Each time what I pray as I go into it, is please let me be able to stand a little bit more because finally, you just -- it is -- it is the real mystery. It really is so the only way your relationship can end is by you averting your gaze because no human being can gaze into it endlessly because it is, um, you know, it is what it says it is; it is the other." I was groping for the Hebrew but not finding it. Yes. Yeah.
Q: Just wanted to follow up on that question a little bit. Stan Grof describes LSD as a non-specific amplifier and, by that, he means it amplifies what is already in the psyche. And he uses this metaphor that LSD serves as a kind of telescope or microscope in that it did not itself produce the experience but, rather, it enables you to have an experience that's already there in potentia, latent in your psyche and I just wondered if you could comment on that since you've just now described the various psychoactives as having a character. So, in his framework, would you disagree with it or would you say that the various telescopes were tinted with a certain lens or how would you reconcile...?
TM: Well, um, at the beginning of your question, uh, you characterized LSD, uh, -- it's that, it, uh, it is a non-specific amplifier, but of the contents of the personal unconscious and the sensorium. Uh, what people notice about LSD is either what's right or wrong with themselves or how freaky the world is, you know, a bug, a drop of wa -- it can be anything, but you discover the strangest things on LSD and they're real things. I mean, relationships of reflections in windows and I mean, it basically seems to be a tremendous amplifier of attention and analysis of the input of attention when directed into the outer world and when directed into the inner world, uh, it's an analytical tool for looking at past history of the individual which is what I call the personal unconscious.
The thing that always puzzled me about enthusiasts of LSD, uh, was that they claimed that beyond this lie what they called the "white light" which they put great store by and made all kinds of Buddhist associations to it. I don't know if I've ever had the white light experience. As I go deeper into strong psychedelics, what happens is multiplicity proliferates. There is not a simplifying. There is a further, and further, and further, complexifying and, uh, I was talking to someone at the Ojai Foundation about this and they said, "But surely, beyond all this, there is some kind of simplification and unity." And I said well, that I wasn't sure and that maybe it's just, you know, an infinite samsaric ocean in all directions and all dimensions forever.
Ketamine comes closer to providing a no-observer/nothing-observed kind of state, but you can't do much with that. I mean, you can have it, but I -- and there is, of course, with the dropping of all boundaries, the feeling of release, but, uh, what I'm interested in are bringing back artifacts to share with the tribe and I've accepted that they will come in the form of either things that can either be painted or things that can be said and, uh, and since I'm better at the saying than the painting, I work like that. Uh, Stan is a good friend of mine. We've talked about this over the years. Um, I just don't -- I just can't confirm his maps of the psyche. I don't see those states occurring along a continuum the way that he says they do. I think it's much more chaotic and that if his categories worked to facilitate psychotherapy then that's good because that's what he's interested in. In other words, I see his maps as very, very provisional and useless -- and use
for navigating but I doubt when we get the final maps if we ever do, that they will bear terrifically much resemblance to that and I think he would agree with that. I mean, we're not at loggerheads about this. Anybody who works with psychedelics, their ultimate position is, the hell, they don't know. [Laughter] And on that note, why don't we go to lunch and, uh, we will reassemble at two o'clock. If you're new to the neighbourhood, Pape Street is two blocks down Ashbury and there's a plethora of restaurants to choose from down there.
Okay. I think, uh, I think we're all here. People are pulling together. So, we'll talk for an hour or so and then we'll break and then we'll go to four.
Well, this afternoon I thought we would, uh, do some operational homework and academic referencing. One of the most important things about, uh, all of this that we've been discussing is, to get the information straight, to be as well informed as possible. I mean, it's as important to be well informed in this area if you're going to do it, as it is to be well informed about procedures in skin diving and that sort of thing, uh, if you're going to do that.
Okay. Well, what I thought I'd do at the beginning this afternoon today à propos of this idea that people should inform themselves, uh, about what's going on because though while you can't find out about everything, you can find out a lot more than most people know and it's amazing to me the number of people who would pay a couple of hundred bucks to come to a weekend with a person like myself to learn about psychedelics when a couple of hundred bucks would get you quite far, uh, in a bookstore and, you know, the public library is a marvelous resource for this stuff.
So, I hauled some titles off my own bookshelf and I'll go through them. This is by no means all. I just simply chose books that I thought were either important to the field or I felt would be fairly easy for someone to obtain, if they wanted to look into these matters. Uh, this one, some of you may know.This is probably the easiest to obtain and the most compendious. It's "The Plants of the Gods" by Richard Evans Schultes who is Professor Emeritus of Botany at Harvard. This is basically the distillation of his life's work. It's filled with pictures. It has all kinds of, uh, uh, information arranged in this kind of table form, get a notion of what it looks like, what family it belongs to, what its chemical constituents are and so forth, and it has a very good bibliography and a chemical appendix. So, this is around and highly recommended.
If you want to go slightly deeper than that book goes, this is the academic version of the same book. This is "The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens." This is the bible of this field because it lists, uh, well virtually the state of the art circa 1980 and a compendious bibliography and -- uh, hmm, unopened mail [laughter] -- and, uh, this book -- this is an expensive academic press, but highly recommended. If you had to have just one book on hallucinogens, this would probably be the one to go for. It's also by Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman who some of you may know is the discoverer of LSD and the man who first characterized and synthesized psilocybin.
From a slightly more counter-culture point of view, the revised edition of the, "Psychedelics Encylopedia" by, uh, Peter Stafford who some of you may know. And again, this is an effort to be compendious. No one of these books should be taken as gospel. I mean, you want to get it from several different sources before you conclude any given fact is true. But, this book is published by Tarcher in L.A., and this is fairly easily obtained book.
Q: Is that the newest...was he coming out with the revised edition?
TM: Yeah, this is the second edition and he's going to do a third edition. Yeah. And he's, uh, very good about keeping up on the literature and following it through. This is an interesting book. Peter Stafford.
Then, um, for those of you who are more inclined to, uh, pharmacology and neurophysiology, and that sort of thing, this is a fairly hard book to obtain but in a way it's never been surpassed. This book is called, "The Hallucinogens" by Hoffer and Osmond. And, there was never a revised edition after 1965. This discusses a lot about LSD and psychotherapy and also has all kinds of strange information that was never again mentioned in the literature, that was just sort of dropped out. So, you can read here about, for instance, the hallucinogen, uh, dimethyl sulfoxide where you drink eight fluid ounces a day for five successive days, and then the onset of hallucinations begin. They're supposedly quite spectacular. It's just that the notion of drinking eight fluid ounces of this bizarre chemical compound is not too, too appetizing.
Q: Is it still available, the book?
TM: I doubt it. I think you'd probably have to have a scientific book searcher hunt this one down for you. Hoffer and Osmond, "The Hallucinogens."
And then for sort of the state of the art, uh, in a simple one between - you know, in one book is Solomon H. Snyder's book, "Drugs and the Brain" and it doesn't simply address hallucinogens; it talks about, uh, all kinds of drugs, but explains the mechanism of drug activity, uh, the notion of, uh, the lock and key activity of the drug molecule to the synaptic cleft and it gives you a short basic course in neurology. And Sol Snyder is one of the giants of psychopharmacology. Nobel prize winner, so forth and so on. So, "Drugs and the Brain" by Solomon Snyder.
Uh, let's see here. Here's another book somewhat on the line of Snyder's book. This is one of the most recent books written on hallucinogens. The editor is Barry Jacobs. "Hallucinogens: Neurochemical Behavioural and Clinical Perspectives," and as my brother said, "All of the uninteresting perspectives [laughter] are covered here very thoroughly and in detail. And what these books are good for, uh, besides whatever they say is that they contain excellent bibliographies, so, uh, tracing a particular problem, uh, you go to these books and then they direct you to the journal articles that give you what you want to know. Most of the literature of psychopharmacology is in journals which you will never as a layman encounter unless you go to medical libraries and attempt to see these things, uh, things like
, and -- oh, I don't know,
Journal of Psychopharmacology
and this sort of thing, but, uh, you can be directed to the -- I mean, some of these journals cost as much as $200 and $300 a year to subscribe to. So, if you don't want to do that, the bibliography directs you to the articles. You may need to just go to the med library and xerox them out.
TM: It's edited by Barry Jacobs. I'm trying to do this in some kind of reasonable order. Let's see, uh. Well, then, this sort of bridges the gap between pharmacology, sociology and anthropology. This is, uh, Brian Du Toit, I guess -- d-u space t-o-i-t...
TM: Toit -- du Toit -- Brian du Toit: "Drugs, Rituals and Altered States of Consciousness" and some of the altered states of consciousness, hmm [laughter]. Let me see if I can make a quick identification. [Laughter] I think this is actually Banisteriopsis rusbyana which is a rare admixture plant, contains DMT, but has the lancia-like leaf end that distinguishes it from Banisteriopsis caapi. Hmm. Probably could do 10 years for [laughter] the book.
Q.Who is the publisher on that one.
TM: The publisher on this one is a weird one. It's, uh, B-a-l-k-e-m-a -- Balkema of Rotterdam. So, it's a Dutch publisher.
Q: And what is the name of the author?
TM: The author's name is Du Toit. D-u T-o-i-t. Yeah, this is a -- this is a good one.And, uh...
So then sort of moving out of the realm of pharmacology and psychology and into the specifically anthropological stuff, uh, this is one that a number of various contributors: "Alternate States of Consciousness: Multiple Perspectives on the Study of Consciousness" edited by Norman Zinberg of Harvard. And this deals not only with shamanic drug usage but, uh, heroine -- the heroine sub-culture and a number of different things, urban drug cultures are discussed as well . Mostly a sociological perspective here.
TM: Zinberg. And then, uh, moving into the more specifically anthropological stuff -- uh, in what order? Let's see. Well, here's my favorite one. Before he got into drumming, Michael Harner edited this book, "Hallucinogens and Shamanism" Oxford University Press, available in print in paper and, uh, a number of writers contributed to this. There are about three articles on ayahuasca that you will just not find anywhere else. Four articles. Uh, articles on peyote. Wonderful article by Henry Munn called, "The Mushrooms of Language" - just a classic article on mushrooms. So, this I highly recommend.
One of the things that's so striking about shamanism in the native context is the absence of mental illness - the absence of, uh, serious neurotic patterns of behaviour. This is because this, uh, trans-linguistic reality is allowed to work its will through shamanism. It's allowed to regulate the society. In other words, our model of how society works is: we are at war with nature and we must push it back, seize a beach head, fortify our position, dig in - these kinds of metaphors - metaphors of capture and control while the shamanic approach is: we must communicate with nature in order that nature can communicate with us in order that we may know what should be done and shamanism as classically practiced is hunting magic, weather magic, healing magic. In other words, ways of getting into the evolving of state-bound system patterns within nature whether we would presume to some degree be predicted by past weather states. Hunting can to some degree be predicted by looking at the migration and movement of game in past situations. So, uh, shamanism then becomes a kind of pneumonic exercise where by keeping track of what has happened, you can build up a model of what will happen. And, originally, this was done through great pneumonic feats of memory, you know, like the Yugoslavian folk tale singers or the Homeric epics or the people who sang the Edda. These were, uh, you know, works of hundreds of thousands of lines that were passed down virtually without change over millennia, but in -- there's a strange phenomenon in, at least, in the evolution of cultures and perhaps more generally which is every step into freedom contains within it the potential for greater bondage.
Now, what I mean by that is; here's an example of it: women, uh, in charge of the gathering phase in hunting and gathering cultures developed language, I believe, because they had great need of the ability to make fine distinctions. In other words, here you have 50 grasses, uh, small herbs, shrubs, they are -- they have roots, fruits, berries, seeds, inflorescences. Some of these things are poisonous; some of these things are food; some grow in the spring; some in the fall; some along the river courses; some on the hilltops, so forth and so on. A great many descriptive dimensions come to bear on this, so consequently, I think, women are to be held responsible for the evolution of language in order to discuss the extremely important matter of what is good to eat and what is not and where do you find it and how do you preserve it and what do you combine it with and so forth and so on.
Men, on the other hand, who were in charge of the hunting because of the different body type and bladder capacity and so on, uh, the premium there was placed on silence, stoicism, being able to stalk, and for days make no noise possibly and to just, you know, sort of integrate into this silent kind of thing. Well, this same kind of, uh, freedom which binds occurred in the shamanic, uh, effort to steer culture by pneumonic means because eventually even the greatest of -- of the shamanic memory, uh, artists were overwhelmed by the amount of data, by the size of the epics, by the sheer length of these genealogies. So then symbolic notation is brought in and -- and shamanism turns into scribecraft and signifying magical forces turns into writing down their names and there's a tremendous binding, a compression, a -- a limitation of freedom because the strategy of freedom became, uh, too successful. So, this -- this reaching beyond ourselves is a process that is continuous. We transcend a state. We then lock ourselves into the, uh, transcendent state. It becomes defined by its own set of limitations and we move beyond it. And this kind of -- of, uh, boot strapping mechanism, I think, has been at work throughout the evolution of language, throughout the evolution of shamanism. Now, we have come to a similar kind of bind having to do with the bankruptcy of, uh, analytical analysis and rationalism which has led us to a pretty complete mastery of inert matter, but when pushed into the quantum realm suddenly contradictions begin to multiply and impossible conclusions force themselves upon the investigator.
Well, what this means is that rationalism has simply reached its limit. There is nothing -- no reason to think that it doesn't have a limit; it was just the inflated fantasy of the 17th century that thought that God's mind must work like the mind of a watchmaker, but, in fact, what with chaos theory and catastrophism and numerous other, um, non-equilibrium partial differential processes in nature, we now know that nature is extremely unpredictable, highly variable, not subject to, uh, analytical understanding except in very limited domains. What this understanding the quantum physics has brought the physicists and what the psychedelic state has brought the people who pursue that, it has not fed back into the mainstream of society. We are still living in a male-dominated object-dominated, subject other kind of, uh, uh, world model, a world model inherited from the 18th century, uh, really even more than from the 19th century. Well, is it going to kill us? Is it too late? What can we do about it?
This is what I talked about last night about, uh, about the archaic revival as the notion of, uh, making a sharp left turn away from the momentum that the historical vehicle wants to follow which is stenotopic, don't kid yourself. You cannot have three religions stacked up on top of each other stretching back four thousand years pursuing this monotheistic vision which ends in an apocalypse without building a tremendous morphogenetic predilection for the apocalypse and our demonic investigations into matter have led us to create the machinery to produce the apocalypse.
It's interesting. Somebody said of the Reagan administration, uh - this is when James Watt was running around saying we didn't have to save the trees because Jesus was coming anyway, so it didn't matter [Audience: Laughter] and someone said the jerks want to be in the Bible and that's precisely the historical situation. The jerks want to be in the Bible. In other words, every petty potentate from Frederick Barbarosa to Ronald Reagan has secretly believed that they were living in the time of the Anti-Christ and would participate in the scenario of the Book of Revelations and this is psychosis if you meet it in a person; if you meet it in a culture, it's called religious piety and conviction. Uh, and it has been going on so long that it has actually created a very narrow neck in the historical process that cannot be avoided.
We now have no choice in the matter of business as usual. There will not apparently be business as usual. There will either be an apocalyptic destruction of the planet, a kind of
ung, a complete storm of fire brought on by the eruption of the psychotic mythologies that have driven the matter-centred, uh, monotheistic, male-ego culture. Or, there will be a, uh, a plucking of victory from the jaws of that defeat and not an apocalypse, but a kind of cultural millennium: a complete breaking out of the pattern into something else.
And some of you may know, um,
Riane Eisler's work
, "The Chalice and The Blade." If you haven't read this book, I recommend it to you. For psychedelic people, for feminists, for people concerned with the state of society, this is certainly an important book. And what she's saying is, partnership is not true that the story of the human race is the story of the pendulum swing, between matriarchy and patriarchy each with its own flaws; rather, it is that human beings have always lived in an equilibrium style partnership society except during the last eight thousand years. This pattern has been disrupted by the rise of the male ego, the suppression of the logos-like connection to nature and, uh, uh, a certain evolutionary path taken in the epigenetic coding of information; in other words, the phonetic alphabet. The phonetic alphabet which has no reference to the icon of the things expressed is utterly cool, utterly unable then to give you any feeling of engagement which -- with what is being described. This gives permission for analytical science and the detachment of rationalism and the sorts of philosophies that have created the tremendous split between head and heart that characterizes the political systems of -- of, uh, of the last several hundred years.
Well, this thing which the shamans are contacting which we can call another dimension, hyperspace, the collective unconscious, whatever it is, it is the ground of our becoming and the only way to -- to sort of unhitch ourselves from the ego is to open pathways of communication to this invisible field of intentionality in which we are embedded and this is a very difficult task because the culture in which we live denies that this thing even exists. I mean, if you start saying that you feel the heartbeat of the planet or that you are in resonance with the local ecosystem or, still worse, if you say that you hear the voices of elves and fairies, this is psycopathy, automatically. You know, you have to be observed, sedated and cured because, uh, you're participating in a model of reality that is not consensually validated. Nevertheless, I think what I think we're trying to do with meeting like this is empower this particular meme, empower this idea.
Uh, I can't remember who developed the idea of memes, but it's basically the notion that ideas compete with each other the way animals and plants compete in an ecosystem, that ideas, uh, adapt and spread and occupy niches and defend territory and redefine environments. And so, my mentioning last night of the woman who said to me, "I thought I was crazy until I heard you speak." For me, that is really the nugget of this work and the most satisfying kind of comment that anybody could make because what has happened since the 1960's is the straight people all went off together - and by this I don't refer to sexual preference, I use "straight" in the earlier sense - the straight people all went off and became very weird together [Audience: laughter], you know, with their golden Mercedes and their Picasso ceramics and all that. Uh, the freaks all went off and became strange alone, each apart in our own way because community was shattered; affinity groups were suppressed; people went all kinds of directions. Now, the people who went through the 60's approaching or in their 40's have had 20 years to see how they like that kind of alienated aloneness.
And so, this morning as we went around, I heard many people saying, uh, uh, you know, that they had done these things in the 60's but not for a long time and now they were returning to it. I think this is because it finally dawns on you that, you know, this may be the only shot you've got at it. I mean, reincarnation is fine, cat's lives are fine but we're all getting daily older and, uh, we don't know where we came from, you know, what lies beyond the zygote and we don't know where we're going, what lies beyond the pine box. Who can say? So, out of the incredible mystery of whatever the universe is, a microsecond of opportunity against impossible odds has sprung into being. We are embedded in that moment of opportunity. So, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to sweep up around the ashram for 30 years and [Audience: laughter] then decide that that was a mistake or, you know, are you going to give yourself over to the arms of holy mother church for a life -- I mean, people do this. You cannot escape making some kind of commitment to something. Nobody gets through life without, uh, being asked to, uh, to sign up either in their own club or somebody else's.
The mushroom said to me once in the way that it does when it delivers these aphorisms, it said, uh, "You must have a plan. If you have no plan, you'll become part of somebody else's plan. You either have a plan or you are part of somebody else's plan." And so, I think -- I think people are waking up to the fact that, uh, we must use what works because you see someone on this side of the room when we went around talked about yoga and how, you know, the psychedelic gives the experience on demand, but are we ready? And how do you gain skills? And this sort of thing. To my mind, the goal is not the psychedelic experience; the beginning of the path is the psychedelic experience. So, if yoga promises that after 20 years, it will deliver you to the beginning of the path [Audience: laughter] then there's something seriously wrong here.
Uh, the psychedelic sets you at the beginning of the path and then people do all kinds of things with it. I mean, I am amazed. I feel there is more variation in how we deal with this than almost any other phase of human activity because some people seem to have almost no self-reflection and I've noticed it also touches sexuality because - I don't know how many of you have ever encountered the
but this is where people write into
and detail these astonishing sexual unpredictable sexual exploits, threesomes, foursomes and twelvesomes [Audience: laughter] that just fell upon them and whenever I have for some reason some occasion to read these things [Audience: laughter] what amazes me is that this appears to be descriptions of the behaviour of an alien species because there is no self-reflection of what does this mean? What does this mean that I get stuck in an elevator and end up copulating with 12 stock brokers [Audience: laughter]? It's just accepted as, uh, how it is.
Well, you get this same thing with psychedelics where you say to someone -- "Oh, yeah, in the 60's I took psychedelics. You know, wow! It was really strange - all these colours and voices, and, uh." Uh, apparently no self-reflection, no realization that this is actually happening to you. This-is-happening-to-you. Therefore, the implications must be fairly central and then other people immediately get it. They say, you know, "My gosh, this plant, this pill shows me that reality is at least thousand times larger than I thought it was; showed me that I don't know who I am, where I am, what I am or anything else." Uh, and I don't know what it takes to, uh, to instill that in people. Maybe intellectual self-reflection.
One of the things that is so puzzling about shamans when you actually deal with them in the field is they are not like the other people in the tribe. The other people in the tribe are very tribal people. In other words, they have all the curious cultural limitations of people in every culture. They think you smell funny, you look funny, everything you do is amusing. Uh, they stand around in small groups, giggling and pointing, and like that. The shamans, on the other hand, are nothing like that. They accept you totally as a person. They make no cultural judgements. You don't look funny, smell funny so forth and so on because they are what I call extra-environmentals. They are de-conditioned from the assumptions of their own culture so they may be the Witoto shaman but the Witoto shaman is less Witoto than any other Witoto because the Witoto shaman operates in the context of "witotoness" embedded in the larger reality and so I think what we need to do when we try to revivify shamanism in our own lives is recover, uh, the profound reality of what it's doing.
Sometimes I have flashes when I'm giving these talks of how different it is to be stoned and to talk about being stoned. I mean, here we sit, you know, in our cotton underwear [Audience: laughter] just with -- where we came from, our schedules in front of us, uh, the mundaneness of it is so all pervasive and we could be discussing
gnosticism or a political action project, but we're discussing instead something really appalling, I think. I mean, we're calmly discussing the fact that there is another world overlapping our own and very few people will even admit the fact.
So, I always think - and this is my symbol of myself to myself - I always think of a wonderful B science fiction movie I saw when I was a kid where, uh, there's a dinosaur in the swamp and, uh, it's set somewhere in Mexico and the typical campesino is sent by the patrone of the ranch to gather firewood in the jungle and he, of course, encounters this extremely large rubber reptile roaring around and then comes back to the ranch and is pointing back in the woods and is completely inarticulate, trying to say, you know, "A creature from the Id, a beast from another dimension is rampaging around in the forest." Well, they just dismiss him, as. "You know, these peasants, they believe anything. You can't trust them for a moment." This is the sort of situation we're in.
Uh, the extraterrestrial invasion that so many, uh, people anticipate or the extraterrestrial contact that so many people, uh, hope for and that sells so many cheap newspapers is well underway. It's simply that the words we have to describe it are utterly inadequate, so words like extraterrestrial invasion, contact with an intelligent species, end of history, migration into hyper-space, these are pathetic signifiers of what is actually happening to us. What is actually happening to us is, uh, pretty darn hard to wrap your mind around. We are caught in a vortex of concrescence and compression that was set in motion at least as early as the melting of the last glaciation. We are reaping the fruits of ten thousand - fifty thousand - years of sowing of the fields of mind and it is being dropped into our laps for us to create, uh, you know, human machine interfacing, uh, control of genetic material, re-definition of, uh, social reality, re-engineering of languages, uh, revisioning of the planetary ecology.
All of these things fall upon us and for us to be worthy of it, for us to make sense of it, for us to be anything other than victimized by the 20th century, we need, I think, to reach back into time and to, uh, anchor ourselves with the transcendent mystery which is, uh, somehow tied up with our own being, somehow present on the planet, but mostly, a large list of unanswered questions. We don't know what is going on on this planet. We don't know why there's life here; whether it's an accident; somebody's plan? We don't know why intelligence is here. Again, accident? plan? If planned, whose plan? If planned, for what? Uh, if planned, where are we in the plan? I mean, we all, uh, tend when we abandon ourselves to cultural values to focus in so tightly that we lose the big picture and if psychedelics are anything, they are a zoom lens back to the broadest possible, uh, point of view.
Well, why don't we stop there, uh, and take a -- take just a ten minute break and then we'll come back and do dialogue on this.
So, uh, why don't we use the rest of this morning to see if we're getting oriented right and, uh, just discus any questions you have or anything that comes up for you out of this so far. Does anybody have anything? Yeah.
Q. I was curious about, uh, when you were talking about extraterrestrials and not having appropriate language to really discuss it and, like, your view of what it's going on and can you put it in words so we can...
TM: Well,um, it changes for me all the time. I mean, I'm not -- I don't have a point of view and my primary job is not public speaking or writing but exploring. When I first started taking mushrooms in and throughout the 70's we wrote, "The Mushroom Grower's Guide," I held several opinions but my most strongly held opinion was it actually is an extraterrestrial. Just no shit, flat out, it
an extraterrestrial and what's surprising to me is that a single mushroom trip of a certain sort could probably put me right back there again. Uh, getting it worked down to Gaia or the over-mind of the species is a kind of process of coming down from the real, uh, uh, assimilatable context of, uh, the experience. It's like an extraterrestrial. I mean, I would certainly say this: you know, if extraterrestrials appeared over Washington and Moscow tomorrow, it wouldn't make this any less mysterious or puzzling. Uh, in fact, the extraterrestrials might turn out to be the mundane. This is not, uh, how it speaks. This is the most astonishing thing for me to get used to. I mean, the visual hallucination somehow I can work it around that these are floods of imagery set off from deep structures of the brain and dumping of memory banks, but that it can just address you in real time and say, "Terence?" [Audience: laughter] You know, and then proceed to blow my mind.
The only - and there are several things that may be happening here. Uh, the only time when we have the experience of focusing on an incoming message, decoding it in real time and responding to it immediately is when we have a conversation with someone. So, if you find yourself responding to a message in real time, uh, your brain automatically thinks you're having a conversation, saying, you know, "If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, it must be a duck." So, here I am listening and responding to someone speaking to me in English; therefore, this must be a conversation.
Uh, there are physical arguments for viewing the mushroom as extra-terrestrial. First of all, what is psilocybin? Psilocybin is 4-phosphoryloxy indoletryptamine.[sp?] Of all the indo compounds in nature. Of
the i ndo compounds in nature, only psilocybin is, uh, hydroxilated at the four position. Well now, if you were to design a computer program to search Earth, to search the life forms of Earth for evidence of extraterrestrial origin, one of the things youwould tell this program to do is look for unusual molecules that have no apparent cousins or relatives among other organisms. Well, here is psilocybin - phosphorylated in the four position. Nothing else on Earth is. A material argument for its origin outside of the terrestrial ecosystem.
Um, a slightly different argument that would see the mushroom as extraterrestrial is, uh, look at its, uh, style, for want of a better word. I mean, what is a mushroom? First of all, they reproduce by spores. Spores are the most economical biological unit imaginable. They can survive the, uh, radiation levels of interstellar space. They can survive for aeons under conditions very close to those encountered in deep space. Uh, the mushroom spore falls into an ecosystem, it immediately undergoes, uh, cell division, a fine thread-like network full of neurotransmitters begins to spread itself through the soil. It's very closely analogous to the neural network of a higher animal, including a human being. Now, we're accustomed to thinking that an extraterrestrial would bear the imprint of the evolutionary situation in which it came to be. In other words, if it was - if it evolved on a low gravity planet, it will be tall and thin. If it evolved in a methane atmosphere, it will have an exotic body chemistry and so forth. But, that's because we, ourselves, have possessed the knowledge of how DNA works for only about 40 years.
It's reasonable to assume, I think, that if an intelligent species gets a thousand years of study of DNA that they can design themselves to be however they care to be and, in fact, if you think of mushroom, I think that we might choose that kind of an adaptation. If we could have any form we wanted because it's very non-invasive, very humbly insinuates itself into a situation and grows essentially on waste material in the soil, yet when it sporulates, it can actually cross the boundary of outer space and, you know, great economy, great artistry, tremendous Zen-like aesthetics seem expressed in the mushroom if you view it as a designed a piece of work rather than an object in the environment. And then finally, of course, for the major argument for the origin of the extraterrestriality of the mushroom - but it's an insider argument - it's the content of the experience.
Number one, it says it's an extraterrestrial organism and it has the data to back up the claim. It can show you movies of desert worlds, jungle worlds, high pressure, high gravity methane worlds, worlds -- planets whose cores are helium 4 and worlds where you don't know whether you're inside an organism or whether you're inside some kind of machinery; whether you're under the surface of the planet -- I mean, literally, things that our minds just stop in the presence of. So, to me, that's really the interesting thing about the mushroom is that it can be as friendly as it needs to be and can even reassure you with a Disney-esque, uh, burlesque of dancing flowers and, uh, pirouetting pink elephants. But, once you are comfortable with it and enter the dialogue and begin to get to know it, getting to know it is an appalling experience because you can say to it, "Show me a little more of who you are for yourself" and then, you know, a veil is lifted and your jaw just drops and then you say, "Shhh, show me a little more of who you" - that's enough of who you are for yourself because -- and you wonder while this thing is talking to me, is it talking -- how engaged is the mushroom by me.
Is all of its attention focused upon me when I'm talking to it the way all my attention is focused back on it or is it like a multi-user computer system?. Is it able to simultaneously deal with huge numbers of organisms. What is the relationship of psilocybin to the inner life of the mushroom? Is it stoned all the time? Why does it want -- why is it so important that these indo compounds get lodged in the nervous system of mammals? It's almost as though it's a symbiotic relationship that the mushroom does not truly live its life unless it is taken, unless its molecular, uh, its unique molecular compound can find its way into the synapsis of a self-reflecting higher animal. Well then what is it -- what are we for for it? And, you know, you can ask these questions.
Q: I think that it's..
TM: Yes, they usually - one reason I think one of the reasons people have had trouble confirming the inanimate and intelligent quality of the mushroom is you must ask. You know, you can't just take psilocybin and sit there because it won't do it. But, if you take psilocybin and call it, in some sense, whatever that means, invoke, call, uh, try to visualize then it will begin to come toward you and lift these veils. And this world of zany, pun-like, hyper-dimensional intelligence that is revealed is as strange as an extraterrrestial would be.This is, I guess, this the final content for the the fact that it just seems so different from anything one can conceive of or imagine. I mean, you cannot in one of these volleys of hallucination convince yourself this is only me. These are my memories or these are distorted transforms of past experience because, uh, you know, I was, uh, I was trained as an art historian to have an eye for stylistic difference and cohesion of, uh, of, uh, a set of aesthetic canons and it just blows my mind. I mean, there is more art locked up in these things to be viewed in a single hour than the human race has produced in 10,000 years. I mean, an art of a compelling, weird, breathtaking, awesome quality that just breathes in every pore of itself. You know, this is the other. This is not you. Don't be deceived my little primate friends. [Audience:Laughter] Yeah.
Q: It seems like in popular culture, movies that came out in 1952 and 1962 sci-fi spores and plants coming and these are from very straight people who hadn't taken psychedelics at all what was about to come 10-15 years later.
TM: Well, I think, and so far as I know I'm pretty well alone in this opinion information actually a very small percentage of information is able to tunnel backward through time. That there is a very small counterflow to the forward movement of causal efficacy and one of the things that shamanism is about is going into that hyper-dimensional place and picking up this thin, thin signal from the future and tuning it in. This is why prophecy and seership and all of that has to do with states of ecstasy and intoxication.
Uh, one way of viewing, uh, all religion and all, uh, spiritual metaphor-making is as an anticipation of the future. These western religions have this apocalyptic transformation built into them almost as a self-fulfilling prophesy. In other words, they believe the world is going to end because the world
going to end. And since the melting of the glaciers, people of sufficient sensitivity have heard through a vast wall of stokastic[sp?] noise coming from the future, the thin, reedy, broadcast station of the true vision of the future and this seems to be one of the things that you can do with these psychedelics is tune this in. You know, it's a cliché, and I'm sure you've heard it, that artists are society's antenna for change, that artists are supposed to be somehow, uh, more sensitive than the rest of us and they pick up the new design forms, the evolving æsthetic canons and then translate it into society for the rest of us. Well, that gains a little more bite if you substitute shaman for artist and realize that this may not be a metaphor. It may not be simply because both pursue bohemian lifestyles and are willing to accept poverty for a life of free thinking and so forth. That isn't what's allowing an anticipation of the future.
What's happening is there truly is an anticipation of the future and, uh, uh, visionaries like William Blake or -- or the author of
are actually people who by virtue of some fortuitous confluence of circumstance, space, time and genetic constitution, are able to draw these messages out. What is startling is that apparently this is fairly ordinary in psychedelic states, that, in fact, uh, one way of thinking of psychedelics is, uh, you begin to move through time when you put them into your life. I don't mean while the trip is happening; I mean ever after. I mean, if you're living with a 1960's style mind and you have a strong psychedelic experience and you will come down with a 1970's mind or perhaps a 2040 style mind - mind is a temporal style - it's important to have this information, to have it at your fingertips.
People -- the compartmentalisation of knowledge that impinge on us always amazes me. I mean, you get psychologists who don't know what an MAO inhibitor is. Uh, you get people combining things without knowing how drug synergies work. Uh, you get people, you know, just not informing themselves on setting, dosage, psychic predisposition, so forth and so on - all vital matters that can impinge on, uh, how an experience develops. And if you will take the time to inform yourself you will feel much more sure of what you're doing and that in itself can alleviate confusion and, uh, negative reactions.
Well, so then I thought what I would do is, uh, [clears throat] sort of go around the world and talk about these things a little to give you an idea of what is available, what's on the menu, and, uh, then we'll take a little break -- a very short break and then come back and talk about it. Sure. Absolutely.
Q: Did I hear you correctly that, um, the liquid DMSO -- drinking five to seven ounces a day for five days will precipitate a psychedelic experience?.
TM: No, did I say, "DMSO'?
Q: I thought, is it DMSO? ...
TM: No, it isn't "DMSO." If I said that, I didn't mean to. It's Dimethyl -- Dimethylacetamide.
Q: Oh, I thought you said, "sulfoxide."
TM: I might have said sulfoxide.
Q: Dimethyl sulfoxide.
A: Dimethylacetamide. I can show you the record here. While I'm raving, you can just look it up and satisfy yourself.
Q: Can you explain the difference between psychoactive, psychetropic and psychedelic because I don't understand the meaning?
TM: Yeah, if I can. A psychoactive means exactly what it implies: that you can detect this compound as a higher cortical experience, that's all. I mean, to my mind, a higher cortical experience is a shift of mood, uh, depression, elation, uh, acute hearing, sensitivity to noises. All of these things could be classed as psychoactive reactions to a compound. Psychotropic is a word I've never been very found of and it sort of came in late. Uh, uh, psychedelic which is a fairly maligned word but was coined by the psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond, uh, means simply mind-manifesting and I like that because it's phenomenologically neutral.
Now, some people have tried to push the word entheogen for these things meaning literally god-inducing, but to my mind this carries a huge amount of ideological freight that we may not wish to buy into. I mean, maybe it's god-inducing, maybe it isn't, but, uh, uh, psychedelic meaning mind-manifesting is pretty good and then if all of these make you uncomfortable, you can just fall back on a completely phenomenological description and call them consciousness-expanding drugs. But there are drugs that I don't consider -- well, I certainly don't consider alcohol a psychedelic but clearly it's psychoactive.
Q: What about marijuana?
TM: Well, marijuana is one of these things that'is so variant both in how people react to it and how strong it can be. I would call MDMA a psychoactive drug not a psychedelic drug and then I use the word hallucinogen a lot and a lot of people don't like that, even people in the field and say hallucinogen seems to imply that it's an illusion, but not in my mind, I don't hear that. I'm fascinated by hallucinations. I mean, to me, that is the
sine qua non
that you're getting somewhere. I guess it's because -- it's my philosophical biases, but when -- but, hallucination is such an extraordinary concept, isn't it?
To see something which isn't there and I don't mean to misread a surface so that you think it sticks into the room when, in fact, it sticks out of the room. I mean, seeing something that is not there and then that divides into two classes: seeing an ordinary object which is not there and I think that's what most people think an hallucination is. Here is a bicycle, is it real or not? The drug-crazed victim cannot tell. [Audience: Laughter] But, most hallucinations are of things which can only be hallucinations because that's what they are, you know, and so, they have this aura of the unexpected and the other, and the intrusive alienness. People have claimed to me that they have seen objects which are not there which are completely ordinary. That is more typical of accounts of datura users. People who take, uh, high molecular weight tropanes such as occur in gypsum weed and those kinds of thing, but my brief experimentation what I call a deliriant rather than a psychoactive. I mean, when you take datura you're so messed up, you can't -- you literally lose all discrimination.
TM: Yeah. Belladonna. You can't tell exactly where you are. You can't tell thinking about being somewhere from being there. Well, you're in no shape to undertake a spiritual quest if you're that discombobulated. What I like are things that do not destroy what I call core functions. In other words, there is still an evidence-gathering mind left in tact and the disruption of perceptual input, if you want to put it that way, is pretty well confined to the visual cortex and then to the - to the metaphor-forming capacity that is relating to the visual cortex But I don't like things that confuse you which impair judgement. Uh...
Q: What about Salvia divinorum.
TM: Salvia divinorum. Well, that's a kind of -- that's an obscure one about which not much is known although in the past year they've learned the absolute chemical characterization of the psychoactive compound which is called salvinorin alsa [sp?]. Uh, more work has to be done. Anthropologists who have taken it with Indians in Oaxaca describe a very intense experience. When we grew it in Hawaii and took it exactly the way these people said to do it, it was an experience, but it was not clear whether it was psychedelic or merely physiologically active in such a complex way, you couldn't tell what exactly what was going on. The impression which was not mine but, uh, uh, cats and a beloved being, uh, they both experienced, uh, flow. They described the experience as though you were lying in a dirty ditch [chuckle][Audience laughter] with this cold fluid flowing from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. And where this kind of cold, clammy fluid encountered energy obstructions in your body, it would wash them away, but it was a kind of vertigo with nausea with, I mean, it was a complex experience, but it was not largely mental; it was more a revisioning of the body image. And, you know, this is another one of these things where no research has been done. It isn't illegal, Salvia divinorum, but you're not going to do your career any good to get tangled up with this. So, consequently, it's pretty much left alone.
Salvinorin alsa is extremely unstable and breaks down within 12 hours so that probably indicates it's a polyhydryl[sp?] alcohol or an or something like that. It's not an indo. Yeah.
Q: I'm curious. Wasson talks about hallucinogens and he's really against the word, "hallucinogen."
TM: Yeah, he's the one who proposed, "entheogen."
Q: And his theory was that hallucinations wasn't there completely. He thought the the experience on mushrooms was something that you actually are experiencing. So, it's not an hallucination. It's real.
TM: Yeah. That is what he said. But if you actually look at the etymology of the word "hallucination." What it has come to mean in English is a delusion, a delusion. But what it really means in the original language is to wander in the mind. That's the meaning of hallucination, "to wander in the mind." Well, that's a pretty good operational description of what's happening and then when you add in the visual component, uh, uh. I don't know. It's hard for me to imagine how someone could undervalue hallucinations if they had had them.
Q: ...the hoopla of LSD ... reading of the experience were
TM: Well, these guys were very frustrated with seeing this thing turned into a social hysteria. And Wasson, you know, at times expressed great unhappiness with Tim Leary's approach and hated going to Mexico and seeing these mushroom villages invaded by graffiti-covered vans of filthy freaks from southern California who were disrupting the local ecology and, uh, it was a kind of proprietary approach, you know, this thing belongs to anthropologists, specialists. Wasson was very reticent to -- to assess his own work. Some of you may have seen Bob Forte's interview with him in the psychedelic issue of
where Forte asks him, "How do you assess the historical impact of your work?" And he said, you know, "I will leave that to others to decide." He didn't want to deal with the question of the potential impact on his own society. He really looked at it as this exotic foreign kind of thing. These guys were cautious, this first generation: Hoffman, Wasson, Schultes. These guys are not stoners, by any means. I mean, their approach is cautious and their psychedelic experiences can be counted on the fingers of one hand in a lifetime. So, I am not sure they ever realized the size of the tiger whose tail they had seized. Yeah.
Q: The DMT and the frog or whatever it is. How is that extracted? I mean, how that frog slime or whatever it is...
TM: Toad slime...
Q: Yeah, right. Now I want to know about that.
TM: Well, I haven't had the good fortune at the milking, so I really couldn't say but as I gather you put pressure on the back of the neck in two places and this exudate emerges exactly where, I'm not sure, and probably decency should safely scarcely inquire. [Audience: laughter]
Q: And then it's dried?
TM: And then it's dried on sheets of glass, and scraped up and packaged and so forth.
Well, let me start through this and give you a notion of what is available. Whenever you talk about the distribution and cultural usage of hallucinogens, the first thing that you come up against is a curious unsolved problem in botany which is: no one knows why this is and we would be grateful if somebody could figure it out, but for unknown reasons, there is a tremendous concentration of psychoactive plants in the -- on the South American continent. The South American continent has more known hallucinogens than the rest of the planet combined. Now, why is this? After all, the climax tropical rain forests of eastern Indonesia are at least as species rich as the Amazon basin and yet, not a single powerful hallucinogen is known with certainty from the old world tropics. Uh, all kinds of suggestions have been made that actually there are psychedelic plants common throughout the tropics of the old world, but the cultures have lost contact with them and forgotten them and hence our anthropologists have not discovered them. Or, something in the soil of South America. A very improbable theory. Uh, I was telling about sthis once in a workshop and somebody raised their hand and said, "No problem. Obviously, that's where the spaceships landed. [Audience: laughter] Good. Well, we've solved that problem. Now, we can move on.
Uh, North America is extraordinarily poor in hallucinogens, perhaps the poorest of all continents so that the -- the psychedelic phobia that Europe created against paganism was completely reinforced or, at least, not eroded by the colonization of the New World or of North America because there were no plants here to challenge that. The North American Indians tend to ordeal as a shamanic vehicle - the sun dance thing, some of you may be familiar with. Or sonic driving which is worldwide in shamanically-oriented cultures without drugs. You should know that not everyone agrees with me that, uh, um, psychedelics are the
sine qua non
of shamanism. That's what Wasson thought, that you don't have shamanism unless you have psychedelics. If you have people calling themselves shamans and not using psychedelics then they are, uh, cut off from the older level of tradition and through ritual drumming, ordeals, starving, flagellation, they are creating near-psychedelic or pseudo-psychedelic states.
Uh, now, a brilliant and respected commentator on comparative like
whom I quote whenever it suits my purpose, uh, totally disagreed with this and said narcotic shamanism which means psychedelic shamanism - the choice of the word tells you that the guy had a problem - narcotic shamanism is decadent shamanism and the flagellation, the starvation, the ordeals and the drumming, that's the real shamanism and it's only when the tradition is abandoned and decadent that a culture will turn to drugs. I maintain this is nothing more than he was a Rumanian who became an academic in Paris. I maintain that this is nothing other than his western cultural bias operating.
Also, in his youth, he was pretty infatuated with yoga. They will insist to you, you know, that drugs are an inferior path. However, if any of you who are scholars of yoga should know that all yoga is based on the yogic
Sūtras of Patañjali
2nd century BC, uh, Hindu Vedic Commentator and
specifically says there are three paths to the goal of yoga and they are: control of the breath, control of posture, and light-filled herbs.Says it right there, Stanza 6 of the yogic
Sūtras of Patañjali. It's never discussed again basically in the entire exegesis of the yogic literature. The third path is never mentioned. Well, is that
because it's a secret tradition or what? I don't know. When you go to India, seeking these yogins practicing these higher yogas, what you find are a bunch of guys smoking as much charas as they possibly can. [Audience: laughter] And the notion that you could do it without that just gets a long laugh from [Audience: laughter] everybody down around the burning gaff[sp?]. I mean, they deal with it on a practical level.
Okay, moving out of drug impoverished North America or psychedelic impoverished North America where there are, uh, more than 20 species of indigenous psilocybin-containing mushrooms but - and this is interesting - no evidence whatsoever for tribal or traditional usage. In other words, in this northwest coast Indian complex, the Tshimshian-Tlingit-Nootka group, no reason to believe other than our own predilection for romantic fantasy that these people were using mushrooms, uh, in pre-contact times and yet the mushrooms were there. Uh, the complex that we're most familiar with is a North American hallucinogen is in the southwest of the United States, peyote,
the peyotal cactus. Now, the interesting thing here is, uh, we cannot find archaeological evidence of peyote use that is particularly ancient. Peyote used in the southwest appears to be less than 500 years old. Before that, what we find in Indian graves of the Tara-Humara[sp?] and so forth are the seeds of Sephora secondafolia [sp?]. Sephora secondafolia is a highly poisonous legume that contains cysteine. This is an example of what we call not a psychedelic but an ordeal poison. Now, in certain parts of the world, this approach to spiritual growth has been taken most notably in -- on the island of Madagascar off the coast of eastern Africa.
What is an ordeal poison? This is a plant where you take it and you are so convinced that you're dying that you have an experience of self-abandonment, uh, getting straight, surrender and then you live and you're fine, you know, but -- but you are absolutely convinced that you're dying. Your heart pounds or fibrillates or you convulse or you fall into a deep coma or you become -- have tightness in the limbs whatever it is and then you recover. Well, anybody can tell you this is a kind of psychedelic experience because you're so damned glad you lived that you see everything in a new light. You can be kind to your children and love your wife and tolerate your relatives and people say, "Well, it made a new man out of him." Well, yes, because he came so close to dying that he shed neurotic behaviour patterns, but this is not a true psychedelic. So, what we're assuming is that about 500 years ago or 1,000 years ago, some time in that span, the sephora cult was replaced by the peyote cult which came from a much smaller usage area. Then also in southern California, there were what was called the Teloch[sp?] religions, religions of datura intoxication. Initiation of young men by intoxicating them with datura and then leaving them in the wilderness to fend for themselves. Again, this is -- comes close to being an ordeal poison although it also has psychoactive properties but so confusing, such a deliriant that, uh, it bears no relationship to the true hallucinogens which, with the exception of mescaline, I believe all fall into the category of the indo.
Now, mescaline is not an indo; it's an amphetamine closely related to MDA and MDMA. Uh, but it is a true hallucinogen at fairly high doses. The indo's which is the structurally related small family, they seem to me to be the true visionary ecstatigens and I will mention as I go through the list which ones are indo's and which ones are not. Uh...
TM: Well, no. The only one that is an amphetamine is mescaline, so we needn't go into that.
Q: So, you have indo and non-indo?
TM: Indo and non-indo. A kind of a parallel phenomenon to the peyote cult of the southwest is in the deserts of northwestern Peru. There are very large calumnar[sp?] cacti in the genus Trichaferous [sp?] that contain mescaline and they have been used for a long time, a lot longer than peyote. We have, uh, Moche ceramic dated to before 1,000 BC which show, in fact, isn't someone wearing -- yes, this gentleman here has a T-shirt. This is a Peruvian design. Point out the -- yes, that's the chunk of San Pedro being held by this dwarf-like little demon. This is a fanged demon, Moche design, 1,500 years old.
Now, in central Mexico, we come up on, uh, the first of these large centres of hallucinogenic use in the cultural area in which the Olmec arose, were subsequently succeeded by the Maya who were subsequently subjugated by the Toltecs and the plants that were in use in those situations were -- fallen into two pretty well defined categories: First of all, psilocybin containing mushrooms of several species and second of all, morning glories of, at least, two types:
which contain LSD-like alkaloids active in the milligram range that are highly visionary and there's considerable evidence in the Codex Vindobonensis and some of the Mayan ceramics that, uh, this was a culture that made a very important place for hallucinogens and that it was the privilege of the priestly c-class and that their obsession with callendrics and astronomy and, uh, this sort of thing was also somehow intimately connected to their interest in the psilocybin mushroom. And again, one of these botanical puzzles: here is a cluster of 10 or 15 species in central Mexico and a culture that builds itself around them. Uh, a similar cluster of species in the northwest coast, the culture seems to totally ignore it and have no use for it. And nowhere else on Earth are there clusters of species of psilocybin mushrooms with a long history of use. Naturally, the export of cattle throughout the warm tropics has allowed the coprophitic mushroom - the mushrooms that grow on manure - to be spread throughout the warm tropics and then in places like England and France, you get the currents of the diminutive psilocybin mushrooms - lanciata[sp?]. But again only the most unconvincing of use. I mean, I am Irish Celtic I would
to have somebody come up with a bunch of evidence that ancient Celtic and Druidic art and magic was somehow related to mushrooms, but to date, the efforts have been unconvincing to any skeptic. It may still be there. Perhaps in heraldic devices. Someone should go back and study the escutcheon of the families of mediæval Europe and you do find, for instance, the Morell family - Morelli, noble Italian family - mushrooms on the -- on the -- family coat of arms and, uh, other families in France whose names escape me.
Q: Lady Gaga.
TM: Lady Gaga. Yeah, though, that is coincidence.
Q: I mean, yeah, but still...the name.
TM: Will the sargent-at-arms... [TM: Laughter]
Okay, so. Well, let me say something a bit more about the morning glory complex because it's very interesting. Uh, LSD discovered by Albert Hoffman in 1937 and so forth, uh, comes from ergot -- comes from an organism called Claviceps paspali which is a smut which grows on ergot, a humbler organism you could hardly imagine. I mean, this is basically, yuck, is how you would describe this organism if you were to come upon it. It looks like a mistake 'cause it's just an amorphous slimy black mess growing on certain cereal grains. One of these fascinating questions to these chemists once they discover a new compound is to try and figure out: does it occur anywhere else in nature, some plant, some fish, some something and then they, you know, you can form theories and judgements about evolutionary relationships. Uh, so, Albert Hoffman, the discoverer of LSD, was amazed when carrying out analytical work for Gordon Wasson on magic morning glory seeds that had been sent to Wasson from Scholtes, he discovered the same compounds or very closely related compounds as he had synthesized to make LSD. Uh, I'm gonna slightly, uh, jump around here now and say that, uh, in India, there are 13 species of morning glory ...
(Cont'd: Psychedelic Salon #189)
Original Transcription by: [P.C. Lansdown, May 17, 2015]
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