Psychedelic History Documentary

Entheogenic Reformation has a heads-up to an upcoming television documentary that I'm very excited to hear about: "Peyote to LSD: A Psychedelic Odyssey":

Plant Explorer Richard Evans Schultes was a real life Indiana Jones whose discoveries of hallucinogenic plants laid the foundation for the psychedelic sixties. Now in this two hour History Channel TV Special, his former student Wade Davis follows in his footsteps to experience the discoveries that Schultes brought to the western world.

Shot around the planet, from Canada to the Amazon, we experience rarely seen native hallucinogenic ceremonies and find out the true events leading up to the Psychedelic Sixties.

Featuring author/adventurer Wade Davis ("Serpent and the Rainbow"), Dr. Andrew Weil, the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and many others, this program tells the story of the discovery of peyote, magic mushrooms and beyond: one man's little known quest to classify the Plants of the Gods.

The feature is scheduled to air on The History Channel on April 20th. Not only is the topic a great one, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Wade Davis presenting it (see this video for an example of the man's knowledge and passion about ancient cultures).

News Briefs 17-03-2008

Who knows - this could well be one of those paradigm-shifting days. Shall we all start looking for a rock to hide under, or have you already made other plans?

Quote of the Day:

Part of me lives in a world of new age remedies and science. And some of the science is a little like voodoo -- but science was never an exact science. And personally I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.

I intend to scream and harangue while there is time. I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the Cure comes along. There's nearly as many of us as there are cancer sufferers, and it looks as if the number of people with dementia will double within a generation. It is a shock to find out that funding for Alzheimer's research is just three percent of that to find cancer cures.

Author Terry Pratchett, on pledging $1million (£500,000) to the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

Eye of the Phoenix

Gary A. David writes:

My new book "Eye of the Phoenix: Mysterious Visions and Secrets of the American Southwest" has just been published by Adventures Unlimited Press.

This nonfiction book is a sequel to "The Orion Zone", which was reviewed by Rick Gned in the October 2006 issue of Sub Rosa. The new book continues to explore enigmas and anomalies in the vast American Southwest. Having witnessed sacred Hopi ceremonies and rock art, I discuss little known aspects of the indigenous people. It is my belief that a global culture existing in pre-Columbian times profoundly influenced the dynamics of daily life there. The dimensions of high desert strangeness boggle the mind and enchant the soul of anyone who enters.

Gary is a TDG member and often posts here, so great to see one of 'our bunch' putting out a book on historical mysteries.

Weekend Blogscan 15-03-2008

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...


Moses and Psychedelics Poll

After numerous requests, I've changed the poll over (down the side column a little). To remain topical with today's story about Moses and ayahuasca, I'm asking a simple yes/no question: do you think Moses and other Biblical identities used psychedelics in order to see their visions? Reading through Benny Shanon's paper "Biblical Entheogens: A Speculative Hypothesis" should give you some background...also consider the literature, and shamanistic techniques from other parts of the world.

A simple yes or no, because I'm just asking for your opinion....

Time and Mind Online

I noted last week the controversial news story doing the rounds about Benny Shanon's theory that Moses was high on psychedelics. When posting it, I said "I haven't heard of any hard evidence for usage [of ayahuasca analogues] in the Middle East. Probably worth getting a hold of the Time and Mind paper mentioned in the article to see what Shanon has to say about it all..." Welp, you can actually read the full text of the article online (along with the other papers in Issue 1 of Time and Mind, see further below for details): "Biblical Entheogens: A Speculative Hypothesis" (PDF download). The title immediately shows that Benny Shanon isn't claiming this *is* what happened, he's just speculating on the possibility:

...I am a Jew who, though not observant, finds the Jewish textual heritage to be personally very meaningful. Following my experiences with Ayahuasca, I came to regard various aspects of the Jewish heritage from a new perspective. Propelled by ideas on the role of entheogens in human history such as those reviewed above, I am here proposing still another entheogenic, admittedly speculative, hypothesis. The hypothesis originated in the finding of parallels between psychological effects induced by Ayahuasca and patterns described in the Bible in conjunction with special experiences and events in the life of the founder of the Israelite religion and its greatest prophet, Moses. The hypothesis is further corroborated by botanical and ethno-botanical information that I have collected, by linguistic considerations, by the exegesis of Talmudic and mystical Jewish texts, by anthropological information pertaining to Jewish and Mideastern traditional lore,as well as by psychedelic data pertaining to a concoction analogous to Ayahuasca.

Shanon sugggests that this Mideastern ayahuasca analogue may have been concocted from Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala) - which he found in abundance near the Dead Sea settlement of Qumran - and various DMT-containing Acacias.

News Briefs 14-03-2008

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before...

And away we go...

Quote of the Day:

...If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.

Thomas Pynchon

Fortean Times #234

The latest issue of Fortean Times has been released, with the usual bunch of high strangeness stories within. The new release takes on the urban legend of the "Curse of the Crying Boy", Iron Age hemp usage, and "Visions and Visionaries", amongst other content. See the latest issue page for full details.

2008 Templeton Prize Winner

The winner of the 2008 Templeton Prize (for Progress toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities) is Polish cosmologist and Catholic priest Michael Heller. New Scientist have an excellent interview with Heller (do you call him Dr Heller or Father Heller?), who receives £820,000 towards his research from the Templeton Foundation. In it, he discusses how he resolves the seemingly fundamental disconnect between science and religion:

Everything depends on your concept of rationality. Science is a model of rationality. The question is whether the limits of rationality coincide with limits of the scientific method. If they do, then there is no place for religion or theology because everything outside of the scientific method is automatically irrational. On the other hand, if you agree that they do not coincide then there is a place for rational religious belief. If you look at the recent history of science and philosophy, you can see that the dominating philosophy in western countries was positivistic, it said that the scientific method is identical with rationality and that what’s beyond the scientific method is beyond rationality. Nowadays very few philosophers agree with this; we are more pluralistic.

While Heller's words are sure to draw a rebuke from hardcore atheists and fundamentalists alike, his analysis is spot on in my opinion. The tying of rationalism to physicalist science is one of the real flaws in current atheist opinion (again in my opinion). And while I personally can't see how I would resolve Catholicism within this spectrum of rationalism, I do think Heller offers some good insights in this interview.

The Templeton Prize website has much more on Michael Heller, including news stories from around the globe about his win.

News Briefs 13-03-2008

The news is so hot, my keyboard is melting.

Thanks to Ross, who thanks Red Pill Junkie, who thanks Greg, who thanks Kat. It's Dr Seuss time.

Quote of the Day:

The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.

David Bohm