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A Short Guide About Hallucinogenic Drugs

A Short Guide About Hallucinogenic Drugs

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Published by: Luis Alejandro Diaz Arce on Aug 10, 2012
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05/19/2013

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A Short Guide About Hallucinogenic Drugs for theExplorers of Inner Space
By Donald J. DeGracia
Reprint based on the text as archived at deoxy.org 
Introduction
History Of Hallucinogenic Substances
The Effects of Hallucinogenic Drugs
Explanations of Hallucinogenic Effects
Scientific Explanations of Hallucinogenic Effects
Occult Explanations Of Hallucinogenic Effects
Hallucinogenic Drugs And Inner Exploration
Introduction
There are a variety of tools available to anyone interested in exploring altered statesof consciousness. Such tools include meditation, out-of-body experiences, brain andbiofeedback instruments, occult type rituals, visualization exercises, and also in thiscategory are hallucinogenic drugs. Each of these tools provides a different doorway intothe inner spaces of our subjectivity and consciousness. In this article, I would like toprovide a brief overview of hallucinogenic drugs as one means among many for achievingaltered states of consciousness. It is not my intention here to debate whether it is right ornot to use hallucinogenic drugs, whatever is ones motive, though I will discuss the varietyof opinions that exist in this regard. My purpose here is twofold: 1. to give a broadoverview of hallucinogenic drugs in general, and 2. to show how hallucinogenics canprovide, if used reasonably and responsibly, a valuable and substantial tool for exploringinner spaces.
History Of Hallucinogenic Substances
The history of mankind’s involvement with hallucinogens seems to go back thousands of years. Some modern scholars speculate that the soma of the ancient Hindus was indeeda hallucinogenic substance that was used for purposes of religious ritual and ecstasy.The use of opiates in China and the Far East is well documented. The religious uses of hallucinogenic mushrooms by Native Americans is also a well documented fact, as wellas being a point of controversy in modern legislation.
c
1993 Donald J. DeGracia, all rights reserved.Reprinted with permission of author in September, 2006.
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A Short Guide About Hallucinogenic Drugs for the Explorers of Inner Space
However, the modern West only really became involved with hallucinogenic drugsafter World War II. It was in 1948 that LSD was first produced from rye mold by AlbertHoffman, who was at the time looking for antibiotic substances in fungi. Also around thistime, mescaline was identified as the active agent in certain hallucinogenic plants. Withina few years after being recognized, these substances began to cause severe polarizationin opinions about their use and benefit.On one hand, there were in the 1950s and early 1960s, small groups of avant gardeintellectuals who began to associate religious and mystical qualities with the effectsof these drugs on human perception. Perhaps best known in this regard was AldousHuxley’s
The Doors of Perception 
, which highlighted Huxley’s personal experiences onmescaline. Also in this vein was Alan Watts’
The Joyous Cosmology 
which also extolledthe philosophical and mystical virtues of the hallucinogenic experience.On the other hand, during this same period, hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD andmescaline were seen by the medical and psychiatric fields as being agents that seemedto simulate psychosis. Initially, the term
hallucinogenic 
did not even exist. In the1950s and 1960s these drugs were generally called
psychomimetics 
, meaning that theireffects mimicked symptoms displayed by psychotics and paranoids. Perhaps the crowningtribute to this view of LSD was the book
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest 
by Ken Kesey,which reflected Kesey’s experiences as a volunteer in medical experiments on the effectsof LSD. Incidentally, Kesey, in the late 1960s went on to be one of the leaders of theWest coast psychedelic movement with his “Band of Merry Pranksters” (as described inthe book
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests 
).So from the very beginning the hallucinogenic drugs have been viewed from totallyopposite points of view: doctors initially equated the drugs’ effects with psychosis, andintellectuals equated the drugs’ effects with profound religious experiences.The story of LSD climaxed in the early 1960s with the research of Timothy Learyat Harvard University. Initially, Leary, who was a Harvard psychologist researchingthe nature of personality, had only an impartial scientific interest in these so-calledpsychomimetic drugs. He soon found out however that their effects were so great asto cause him to essentially abandon his roots as an elitist East coast intellectual andto become the founding father of the psychedelic movement in the United States. Itwas Leary’s contention that hallucinogenic drugs opened up to human perception thingslong lost from Western tradition, things that were well understood in older cultures andreligions. Timothy Leary recognized, like other intellectuals a decade before him, thatthese drugs have the potential to cause profound religious and mystical experiences,experiences that could easily be distorted and misconstrued by Western reductionisticintellectuals as being symptoms of insanity. Leary, like any other person made sane byLSD, came to the conclusion that it was the modern West that was insane, not somepoor individual in a psychiatric ward who was experiencing visions and hearing voices.I do not think there is a need here to attempt to recount in full the story of TimothyLeary. However, we will return to the contention that hallucinogenic drugs cause religiousand mystical experiences. At this point, it is enough to say that Leary started somethingmuch bigger than himself. The psychedelic movement gained much momentum through1965-1967, culminating with events like Woodstock. However, quick as it came, it wasgone. LSD was made illegal, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died, Leary got off his soap-box, and the United States, after failing miserably in Vietnam, drifted into a depressing2
 
A Short Guide About Hallucinogenic Drugs for the Explorers of Inner Space
1970s.And here we are, some 20 years later. LSD has not gone away, it is simply nottalked about anymore. The best of the actual psychedelic movement turned into theGrateful Dead, who have been riding a successful music career ever since. And thebasement scientists who in the 1960s made and sold LSD turned into the “designerdrug” community on the West Coast, giving us such wonderful poisons as “Ecstasy”(which causes severe nerve damage if taken enough—so beware!).Well, with this bit of history under our belts, I’d like to discuss a little about thehallucinogenic drugs themselves both in terms of what their subjective effects are andalso what is known about how they react in the body. After that, I will then go intomore detail about their use as a tool for exploring inner space.
The Effects of Hallucinogenic Drugs
So doctors call it insanity, and intellectuals call it enlightenment, but really, what is it?What are the effects caused when on hallucinogenic drugs?In terms of effects, one of the most important generalizations about these drugs’ effectswas laid out by Leary when he spoke of “set and setting”. What he meant by this isthat what an LSD user actually experienced was critically dependant on the user’s stateof mind (set) and where he was at and what company he was in (setting). This fact iscompletely true. It is very difficult to classify the effects of hallucinogenic because theyare so dependent upon set and setting. If the user is depressed and in bad company,the experience will be vastly different than if the user is relaxed, happy and in goodcompany.But, keeping this idea of “set and setting” in the front of our mind, we can still makesome generalizations about the subjective effects of the LSD experience. Some of themost commonly reported effects are:1. Visual hallucinations.2. Audio hallucinations.3. Sensory mixing (hearing sights or seeing sounds).4. Weakening of ego boundaries (a weakening or loss of sense of self).5. Enhanced ability to think abstractly.6. The uncontrollable urge to laugh.7. Enhanced ability to sense the emotions of others.8. Inability to maintain focus or concentration for long periods.9. Feelings of extreme joy10. Feelings of extreme depression and terror.11. A direct apprehension of God.3

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