Saturday, January 31, 2009

Entheogenic Studies

Long have I studied the world of entheogens, or psychotropic plants. Starting the late 1950s, I was introduced to mind alteration through plants and lifestyle by the Aborigine People of Australia, with whom I spent some of my childhood. See, from shortly after my birth, a series of events and circumstances have guided me - sometimes gently, at other times far more forcefully - down a path of Inner exploration and expansion.

Along the way, the inclusion of altered states was a natural tool. There was a time when I needed the stutter of a drum or rattle, or the injestion of a psychotropic plant to achieve an altered state. But once I gained some knowledge of the paths that led to my inner landscape, I only needed to be still and go within. Exploring that landscape and tending my sacred garden is something I now do while waiting for a plane or standing in line, as I sit in the car waiting for a friend shopping, pretty much anywhere, any time. It's really very pleasant.

Still, I would very much like to experience ayuhausca and ibogaine, but that will likely require a trip outside the U.S., as both are controlled substances here.

There's a documentary on the subject of entheogens now available on dvd, Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within. You can watch the trailer here. I love the quote from Brother David Steindl-Rast, Ph.D - Benedictine Monk, Professor of Religion, ""Obviously, Americans are least of any people in the world afraid of drugs, because there's a drug store on every corner. So, if they are so afraid of mind expanding drugs, obviously it's the mind expansion they're afraid of."
From the film's website comes this description, which I cannot better:

Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within is a feature length documentary which invites the viewer to rediscover an enchanted cosmos in the modern world by awakening to the divine within.

The film examines the re-emergence of archaic techniques of ecstacy in the modern world by weaving a synthesis of ecological and evolutionary awareness,electronic dance culture, and the current pharmacological re-evaluation of entheogenic compounds. Within a narrative framework that imagines consciousness itself to be evolving, Entheogen documents the emergence of techno-shamanism in the post-modern world that frames the following questions: How can a renewal of ancient initiatory rites of passage alleviate our ecological crisis? What do trance dancing and festivals celebrating unbridled artistic expression speak to in our collective psyche? How do we re-invent ourselves in a disenchanted world from which God has long ago withdrawn? Entheogen invites the viewer to consider that the answers to these questions lie within the consciousness of each and every human being, and are accessible if only we give ourselves permission to awaken to the divine within.

Stan Grof, Marilyn Schlitz, Ralph Metzner, Alex Grey, Terrence McKenna, John Markoff, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Kat Harrison among others, postulate how the disenchantment of the modern world may be remedied by summoning the courage to take the next leap in the evolution of planetary consciousness.