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Hallucinogens, Shamans, And Culture

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TheARRGH View Drop Down
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  Quote TheARRGH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Hallucinogens, Shamans, And Culture
    Posted: 04-Aug-2008 at 20:03
I was having a conversation with another guy in the lab where I work, and we got onto the topic of psychedelics, and how prevalent (if not always widely advertised) their use was by musicians, scientists, and writers--Richard Feynman (according to the scientist I was speaking to), The musicians of Pink Floyd, Watson and Crick, Ken Kesey..the list goes on and on.

After that, I became interested in the history of psychoactive substance use, especially by creative/knowledgeable types: I wonder if they are used so traditionally and prevalently because they actually HELP--assist the brain in making unconventional and potentially useful connections.

I'm also interested in the culture surrounding such substances--specifically in societies with a long tradition of such substance's use.

I was wondering if all of you brainy forumgoers had any suggestions for good books about such topics, or happened to know any specifics yourself, whether by cultural observation, research, personal experiences, or accounts.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Oct-2008 at 12:56
Have you read "Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind " by Graham Hancock?
I have just begun it and so far it is brilliant.
His theory is that something in our minds was switched on about 50,000 years ago by plant hallucinogens and this explains why art, religion and creativity exploded in humanity around this time.
I imagine Graham  has a bad name in most mainstream archaeological circles after his much publicised search for a lost epoch in human civilisation but controversy has never worried me :)
 
Also if you're interested in music, hallucinogens and archaeoliogy I'm sure you've already heard of the mighty Julian Cope :)
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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Oct-2008 at 20:43
Originally posted by TheARRGH

I was wondering if all of you brainy forumgoers had any suggestions for good books about such topics, or happened to know any specifics yourself, whether by cultural observation, research, personal experiences, or accounts.
 
Oh man, I wish I saw this thread sooner, because I think I have pretty much what you're looking for. Its a book called Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond by Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain. Its about 400 pages, and one of the most interesting and insightful books I have ever read. It was required reading in one of my college history classes (post-civil war American history), and it says a lot about the teacher that he would make us read this book. It covers the discovery of LSD in a Swiss lab, its use by the CIA (with details about their secret experiments... VERY twisted stuff), the entire international subculture which surrounded the drugs, details about the effects of LSD and similar drugs, personal accounts of LSD trips, and so much more. Its like one big story with many, many characters and subplots. Very informative and interesting.
 
Here is an online version, just so you can get an idea before you buy it: http://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/acid_dreams.pdf
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Oct-2008 at 00:28

This is possibly an angle you weren't expecting,  2-3 years ago I happened on a review of this book.  Never had the interest to actually hunt it down and read it.

Antipodes of The Mind by prof. Benny Shannon.  This is part of another review.

 

According to Shanon, writing in the British Journal Time and Mind, two naturally occurring plants in the Sinai Peninsula have the same psychoactive components as ones found in the Amazon jungle and are well-known for their mind-altering capabilities - in other words, ayahuasca.

Shanon said that similar plants in the Middle East had long been used for their healing powers. This could help explain the vivid images in the Book of Exodus, which include God’s descent onto Mount Sinai: “The whole mount quaked greatly…the voice of the trumpet sounded long…Moses spoke, and God answered him.” (Exodus, Chapter 19)

Professor Shanon told Israeli radio: “As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics.”

                                       
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  Quote Stonneflute Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Oct-2008 at 16:01
I recommend a book called Belief, Ritual and the Structure of Religion.  It covers a wide range of cultures and has been used as a textbook for grad. classes at U. Washington-Seattle.
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  Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Oct-2008 at 20:34
Interesting subject. Christianity has vestigial drug connection with the ceremony of the Eucharist, although it is mostly symbolic.

Also, an instructor of mine in the San Francisco East Bay area told me that drugs only seem to fire up the minds of people who are already creative and smart, and only certain kinds of thought processes.

I was initially attracted to this thread on account to the mention of shamanism. something that I am getting an interest on through chanting.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Feb-2012 at 19:48
I've always found a few joints of Mary-Jane helped with difficult essays during my undergrad years. Shamans would have taken it for the same reason: to reach a higher mental level and break through the constraints of "normal thought" preventing them from finding the truth
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  Quote okamido Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Feb-2012 at 13:59
The Sami shamans of Finland had a ritual in which they would feed fly agaric, a toxic toadstool, to their reindeer. The shamans would then drink the urine of the reindeer in order to experience the psychotropic effects of the stool, without the harmful toxicity, which would dissipate through the reindeer metabolizing it during digestion.
 


Edited by okamido - 16-Feb-2012 at 14:00
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