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Entheogens | Sacred Geometry

Posted: June 15, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Some drugs are toxic.

Its no accident that the etymological origin of the word toxic stems directly from the Greek toxicon that refers to thebow used in poison arrows. The difference between a poison, a medicine and a narcotic is only one of dosage. Digitalis for example, is a popular cardiac medicine yet in higher doses it remains fatal.We all recognise the term intoxication with reference to alcohol but in reality any toxic substance (like cannabis) may alter our state.

Entheogenshowever, are non-toxic partly because they have no detrimental effects upon the human body and can pass from our system within minutes. They are oftenused in religious, shamanic or spiritual contexts. The word entheogen takes its origins from the Greek word entheos, which means full of the god, and genesthai, which means to come into being.

Entheogens are usually derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of religious ceremonies. Throughout history, they have been employed all over the world by religious cultures. Entheogens are very different from pleasure drugs, which tend to stimulate the lower chakras of procreation and willpower.

The word endogenousrefers to any compound that is found and produced within the human body itself. Serotonin is one example, DMT is anotheras powerful endogenous entheogensthey can invoke mystical experiences when we dream.Because these entheogens possess the same basic structure as neurotransmitters, they are able to cross the human blood-brain barrier which allows them to have a dramatic effect upon human consciousness. In essence, we are all biologically and chemically sympathetic with these compounds:

Ancient initiates also used the fly agaricmushroomAmanita muscaria. This fungusis noted for its hallucinogenic properties which derive from the psychoactive constituents ibotenic acid and muscimol. Muscimol is a potent, selective agonist for the GABAA receptor that produces sedative, depressant and deliriant effects. The Amanita muscaria mushroom grows almost exclusively beneath pine trees; it cannot live without themand remains asymbiont.

When given Amanita muscaria the body begins to produce a superconductor called Pinoline. Pinoline induces cell replication in a state that is otherwise only activated in the womb and during a Near Death Experience (NDE).The pinealgland may then start to produce 5-MeO-DMT, a hormone that is highly luminiscent due to the amount of phosphene that it transmits onto the visual cortex.Eventually, the brain synthesizes DMT. This chemical has come to be known as the spirit molecule. It is the visual third eye neuro-transmitter.

Even at the very roots of our Christmas tradition is the secret of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. The legend of Santa Claus derives from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions who dropped into homes with bags full of magicmushrooms as presents in December.Santa wears red and white clothing and his sled is pulled by reindeer (famous for their play after eating this fungus).

Imagine your consciousness is a TV that has been tuned to the same channel your entire life. This awareness is the product of our rational western culture: it deals with everyday reality. Now image that with the help of entheogens you can overlay the channel for the first time. Using three eyes instead of just two, you can now experience multiple realms simultaneously. Amazingly, they are sympathetic with each other. But the experience is richer, more nuanced and carries deeper lessons.

From the plant kingdoms to the spirit domains you will discover that plants have been here much longer than humanity. Their wisdom may shock you as you start to become a fully-realised person.

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Entheogens | Sacred Geometry

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

Posted: May 4, 2020 at 4:06 am

Psychoactive substances that induce spiritual experience

An entheogen is a psychoactive substance that induces alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior[1] for the purposes of engendering spiritual development in sacred contexts.[2] The religious, magical, shamanic, or spiritual significance of entheogens is well established in anthropological and modern contexts; entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including divination, meditation, yoga, sensory deprivation, asceticism, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, hymns like peyote songs, drumming, and ecstatic dance.

The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of Ancient Greek, (ntheos) and (gensthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as "full of the god, inspired, possessed", and is the root of the English word "enthusiasm." The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means "to come into being." Thus, an entheogen is a drug that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or "spiritual" manner.[3]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley's experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954. Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for "mind manifest", and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:

In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

Entheogens have been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use. However, in the mid-20th century, after the discovery of LSD, and the intervention of psychedelic therapy, the term entheogen, invented in 1979, later became an umbrella term used to include artificial drugs, alternative medical treatment, and spiritual practices, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure.

R. Gordon Wasson and Giorgio Samorini have proposed several examples of the cultural use of entheogens that are found in the archaeological record.[7][8] Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BCE, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[9]

There now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from the aforementioned plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol.

Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed. Alexander Shulgin developed hundreds of entheogens in PiHKAL and TiHKAL. Most of the drugs in PiHKAL are synthetic.

Entheogens used by movements includes biotas like peyote (Native American Church), extracts like ayahuasca (Santo Daime, Unio do Vegetal), the semi-synthetic drug LSD (Neo-American Church), and synthetic drugs like DPT (Temple of the True Inner Light) and 2C-B (Sangoma[11]).

Both Santo Daime and Unio do Vegetal now have members and churches throughout the world.

Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and 2C-i, primarily to assist psychotherapy.

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, ketamine, LSA, LSD, MDE, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, Salvia divinorum and conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross cultural and meta-analysis research.[12]

Alcohol has sometimes been invested with religious significance.

In ancient Celtic religion, Sucellus or Sucellos was the god of agriculture, forests and alcoholic drinks of the Gauls.

Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer.[13]

In the ancient Greco-Roman religion, Dionysos (or Bacchus) was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy, of merry making and theatre. The original rite of Dionysus is associated with a wine cult and he may have been worshipped as early as c. 15001100 BCE by Mycenean Greeks. The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state. In his Laws, Plato said that alcoholic drinking parties should be the basis of any educational system, because the alcohol allows relaxation of otherwise fixed views. The Symposium (literally, 'drinking together') was a dramatised account of a drinking party where the participants debated the nature of love.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, a cup of wine is offered to Demeter which she refuses, instead insisting upon a potion of barley, water, and glechon, known as the ceremonial drink Kykeon, an essential part of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The potion has been hypothesized to be an ergot derivative from barley, similar to LSD.[14]

Egyptian pictographs clearly show wine as a finished product around 4000 BCE. Osiris, the god who invented beer and brewing, was worshiped throughout the country. The ancient Egyptians made at least 24 types of wine and 17 types of beer. These beverages were used for pleasure, nutrition, rituals, medicine, and payments. They were also stored in the tombs of the deceased for use in the afterlife.[15] The Osirian Mysteries paralleled the Dionysian, according to contemporary Greek and Egyptian observers. Spirit possession involved liberation from civilization's rules and constraints. It celebrated that which was outside civilized society and a return to the source of being, which would later assume mystical overtones. It also involved escape from the socialized personality and ego into an ecstatic, deified state or the primal herd (sometimes both).

Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduced "Mindful Drinking" to the West when he fled Tibet.[16][17]

Many Christian denominations use wine in the Eucharist or Communion and permit alcohol consumption in moderation. Other denominations use unfermented grape juice in Communion; they either voluntarily abstain from alcohol or prohibit it outright.[citation needed]

Judaism uses wine on Shabbat and some holidays for Kiddush as well as more extensively in the Passover ceremony and other religious ceremonies. The secular consumption of alcohol is allowed. Some Jewish texts, e.g., the Talmud, encourage moderate drinking on holidays (such as Purim) in order to make the occasion more joyous.[citation needed]

Bah's are forbidden to drink alcohol or to take drugs, unless prescribed by doctors. Accordingly, the sale and trafficking of such substances is also forbidden. Smoking is discouraged but not prohibited.

Any substances that cause intoxication are forbidden in Islam in any quantity.[18] The sale of the same is not looked upon favorably, but is not forbidden if no other livelihoods are available.

Entheogens have been used by individuals to pursue spiritual goals such as divination, ego death, egolessness, faith healing, psychedelic therapy and spiritual formation.[19]

"Don Alejandro (a Mazatecan shaman) taught me that the visionary experiences are much more important than the plants and drugs that produce them. He no longer needed to take the vision-inducing plants for his journeys."[20]

There are also instances where people have been given entheogens without their knowledge or consent (e.g., tourists in ayahuasca),[21] as well as attempts to use such drugs in other contexts, such as cursing, psychochemical weaponry, psychological torture, brainwashing and mind control; CIA experiments with LSD were used in Project MKUltra, and controversial entheogens like alcohol are often mentioned in context of bread and circuses.

The Native American Church (NAC) is also known as Peyotism and Peyote Religion. Peyotism is a Native American religion characterized by mixed traditional as well as Protestant beliefs and by sacramental use of the entheogen peyote.

The Peyote Way Church of God believe that "Peyote is a holy sacrament, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle".[22]

Black shamanism is a kind of shamanism practiced in Mongolia and Siberia. It is specifically opposed to yellow shamanism, which incorporates rituals and traditions from Buddhism.[23][24] Black Shamans are usually perceived as working with evil spirits, while white Shamans with spirits of the upper world.[25]

In some areas, there are purported malevolent sorcerers who masquerade as real shamans and who entice tourists to drink ayahuasca in their presence. Shamans believe one of the purposes for this is to steal one's energy and/or power, of which they believe every person has a limited stockpile.[26]

Many Christian denominations disapprove of the use of most illicit drugs. The early history of the Church, however, was filled with a variety of drug use, recreational and otherwise.[27]

The primary advocate of a religious use of cannabis plant in early Judaism was Sula Benet, also called Sara Benetowa, a Polish anthropologist, who claimed in 1967 that the plant kaneh bosm - mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus, was in fact cannabis.[28] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[29]The lexicons of Hebrew and dictionaries of plants of the Bible such as by Michael Zohary (1985), Hans Arne Jensen (2004) and James A. Duke (2010) and others identify the plant in question as either Acorus calamus or Cymbopogon citratus.[30] Kaneh-bosm is listed as an incense in the Old Testament.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (founder of Jewish Renewal) and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) were influential early Jewish explorers of the connections between hallucinogenics and spirituality, from the early 1960s onwards.

It is generally held by academics specializing in the archaeology and paleobotany of Ancient Israel, and those specializing in the lexicography of the Hebrew Bible that cannabis is not documented or mentioned in early Judaism. Against this some popular writers have argued that there is evidence for religious use of cannabis in the Hebrew Bible,[31][32] although this hypothesis and some of the specific case studies (e.g., John Allegro in relation to Qumran, 1970) have been "widely dismissed as erroneous, others continue".[33]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[34] The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosm (Hebrew: -). This is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. Although Chris Bennett's research in this area focuses on cannabis, he mentions evidence suggesting use of additional visionary plants such as henbane, as well.[35]

The Septuagint translates kaneh-bosm as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to most later translations of the old testament. However, Polish anthropologist Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word 'cannabis',[36] with the root kan meaning reed or hemp and bosm meaning fragrant. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants containing psychotropic compounds.

In his research, Professor Dan Merkur points to significant evidence of an awareness within the Jewish mystical tradition recognizing manna as an entheogen, thereby substantiating with rabbinic texts theories advanced by the superficial biblical interpretations of Terence McKenna, R. Gordon Wasson and other ethnomycologists.

The historical picture portrayed by the Entheos journal is of fairly widespread use of visionary plants in early Christianity and the surrounding culture, with a gradual reduction of use of entheogens in Christianity.[37] R. Gordon Wasson's book Soma prints a letter from art historian Erwin Panofsky asserting that art scholars are aware of many "mushroom trees" in Christian art.[38]

The question of the extent of visionary plant use throughout the history of Christian practice has barely been considered yet by academic or independent scholars. The question of whether visionary plants were used in pre-Theodosius Christianity is distinct from evidence that indicates the extent to which visionary plants were utilized or forgotten in later Christianity, including heretical or quasi- Christian groups,[39] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[40]

According to R.C. Parker, "The use of entheogens in the Vajrayana tradition has been documented by such scholars as Ronald M Davidson, William George Stablein, Bulcsu Siklos, David B. Gray, Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, Shashibhusan Das Gupta, Francesca Fremantle, Shinichi Tsuda, David Gordon White, Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, James Francis Hartzell, Edward Todd Fenner, Ian Baker, Dr. Pasang Yonten Arya and numerous others." These scholars have established entheogens were used in Vajrayana (in a limited context) as well as in Tantric Saivite traditions. The major entheogens in the Vajrayana Anuttarayoga Tantra tradition are cannabis and Datura which were used in various pills, ointments, and elixirs. Several tantras within Vajrayana specifically mention these entheogens and their use, including the Laghusamvara-tantra (aka Cakrasavara Tantra), Samputa-tantra, Samvarodaya-tantra, Mahakala-tantra, Guhyasamaja-tantra, Vajramahabhairava-tantra, and the Krsnayamari-tantra.[41][self-published source?] In the Cakrasavara Tantra, the use of entheogens is coupled with meditation practices such as the use of a mandala of the Heruka meditation deity (yidam) and visualization practices which identify the yidam's external body and mandala with one's own body and 'internal mandala'.[42]

It has also been proposed by Scott Hajicek-Dobberstein that the Amanita muscaria mushroom was used by the Tantric Buddhist mahasiddha tradition of the 8th to 12th century.[43]

In the West, some modern Buddhist teachers have written on the usefulness of psychedelics. The Buddhist magazine Tricycle devoted their entire fall 1996 edition to this issue.[44] Some teachers such as Jack Kornfield have acknowledged the possibility that psychedelics could complement Buddhist practice, bring healing and help people understand their connection with everything which could lead to compassion.[45] Kornfield warns however that addiction can still be a hindrance. Other teachers such as Michelle McDonald-Smith expressed views which saw entheogens as not conductive to Buddhist practice ("I don't see them developing anything").[46]

Santo Daime is a syncretic religion founded in the 1930s in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Acre by Raimundo Irineu Serra,[47] known as Mestre Irineu. Santo Daime incorporates elements of several religious or spiritual traditions including Folk Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritism, African animism and indigenous South American shamanism, including vegetalismo.

Ceremonies trabalhos (Brazilian Portuguese for "works") are typically several hours long and are undertaken sitting in silent "concentration", or sung collectively, dancing according to simple steps in geometrical formation. Ayahuasca, referred to as Daime within the practice, which contains several psychoactive compounds, is drunk as part of the ceremony. The drinking of Daime can induce a strong emetic effect which is embraced as both emotional and physical purging.

Santo Daime churches promote a wholesome lifestyle in conformity with Irineu's motto of "harmony, love, truth and justice", as well as other key doctrinal values such as strength, humility, fraternity and purity of heart. The practice became a worldwide movement in the 1990s.

Unio do Vegetal (Portuguese: Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal [stw ispiit benefist uniw du veetaw]; or UDV) is a religious society founded on July 22, 1961 by Jos Gabriel da Costa, known as Mestre Gabriel. The translation of Unio do Vegetal is Union of the Plants referring to the sacrament of the UDV, Hoasca tea (also known as ayahuasca). This beverage is made by boiling two plants, Mariri (Banisteriopsis caapi) and Chacrona (Psychotria viridis), both of which are native to the Amazon rainforest.

In its sessions, UDV members drink Hoasca Tea for the effect of mental concentration. In Brazil, the use of Hoasca in religious rituals was regulated by the Brazilian Federal Government's National Drug Policy Council on January 25, 2010. The policy established legal norms for the religious institutions that responsibly use this tea. The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously affirmed the UDV's right to use Hoasca tea in its religious sessions in the United States, in a decision published on February 21, 2006.

Entheogens also play an important role in contemporary religious movements such as the Rastafari movement and the Church of the Universe.

Some religions forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic beverages. These include Islam, Jainism, the Bah' Faith, the Mormons, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, the United Pentecostal Church International, Theravada, most Mahayana schools of Buddhism, some Protestant denominations of Christianity, some sects of Taoism (Five Precepts and Ten Precepts), and Hinduism.

The Pali Canon, the scripture of Theravada Buddhism, depicts refraining from alcohol as essential to moral conduct because intoxication causes a loss of mindfulness. The fifth of the Five Precepts states, "Sur-meraya-majja-pamdahn verama sikkhpada samdiymi." In English: "I undertake to refrain from meraya and majja (the two fermented drinks used in the place and time of writing) to heedless intoxication." Although the Fifth Precept only names a specific wine and cider, this has traditionally been interpreted to mean all alcoholic beverages. Technically, this prohibition does not include light to moderate drinking, only drinking to the point of drunkenness. It also doesn't include other mind-altering drugs, but Buddhist tradition includes all intoxicants. The canon does not suggest that alcohol is evil but believes that the carelessness produced by intoxication creates bad karma. Therefore, any drug (beyond tea or mild coffee) that affects one's mindfulness be considered by some to be covered by this prohibition.[citation needed]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development ("plant teachers"),[48][49] as recreational drugs, and for medical and therapeutic use. The use of entheogens in human cultures is nearly ubiquitous throughout recorded history.

Naturally occurring entheogens such as psilocybin and DMT (in the preparation ayahuasca), were, for the most part, discovered and used by older cultures, as part of their spiritual and religious life, as plants and agents that were respected, or in some cases revered for generations and may be a tradition that predates all modern religions as a sort of proto-religious rite.

One of the most widely used entheogens is cannabis, entheogenic use of cannabis has been used in regions such as China, Europe, and India, and, in some cases, for thousands of years. It has also appeared as a part of religions and cultures such as the Rastafari movement, the Sadhus of Hinduism, the Scythians, Sufi Islam, and others.

The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga.[50] Although the ancient Egyptians may have been using the sacred blue lily plant in some of their religious rituals or just symbolically, it has been suggested that Egyptian religion once revolved around the ritualistic ingestion of the far more psychoactive Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, and that the Egyptian White Crown, Triple Crown, and Atef Crown were evidently designed to represent pin-stages of this mushroom.[51] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[52] Numerous other plants used in shamanic ritual in Africa, such as Silene capensis sacred to the Xhosa, are yet to be investigated by western science. A recent revitalization has occurred in the study of southern African psychoactives and entheogens (Mitchell and Hudson 2004; Sobiecki 2002, 2008, 2012).[53]

Among the amaXhosa, the artificial drug 2C-B is used as entheogen by traditional healers or amagqirha over their traditional plants; they refer to the chemical as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to "Medicine of the Singing Ancestors".[54][55][56]

Entheogens have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of most American cultures for millennia. The first American entheogen to be subject to scientific analysis was the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). For his part, one of the founders of modern ethno-botany, the late-Richard Evans Schultes of Harvard University documented the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa, who live in what became Oklahoma. While it was used traditionally by many cultures of what is now Mexico, in the 19th century its use spread throughout North America, replacing the toxic mescal bean (Calia secundiflora). Other well-known entheogens used by Mexican cultures include the alcoholic Aztec sacrament, pulque, ritual tobacco (known as 'picietl' to the Aztecs, and 'sikar' to the Maya (from where the word 'cigar' derives)), psilocybin mushrooms, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor and Turbina corymbosa), and Salvia divinorum.

Datura wrightii is sacred to some Native Americans and has been used in ceremonies and rites of passage by Chumash, Tongva, and others. Among the Chumash, when a boy was 8 years old, his mother would give him a preparation of momoy to drink. This supposed spiritual challenge should help the boy develop the spiritual wellbeing that is required to become a man. Not all of the boys undergoing this ritual survived.[57] Momoy was also used to enhance spiritual wellbeing among adults. For instance, during a frightening situation, such as when seeing a coyote walk like a man, a leaf of momoy was sucked to help keep the soul in the body.

The indigenous peoples of Siberia (from whom the term shaman was borrowed) have used Amanita muscaria as an entheogen.

In Hinduism, Datura stramonium and cannabis have been used in religious ceremonies, although the religious use of datura is not very common, as the primary alkaloids are strong deliriants, which causes serious intoxication with unpredictable effects.

Also, the ancient drink Soma, mentioned often in the Vedas, appears to be consistent with the effects of an entheogen. In his 1967 book, Wasson argues that Soma was Amanita muscaria. The active ingredient of Soma is presumed by some to be ephedrine, an alkaloid with stimulant properties derived from the soma plant, identified as Ephedra pachyclada. However, there are also arguments to suggest that Soma could have also been Syrian rue, cannabis, Atropa belladonna, or some combination of any of the above plants.[citation needed]

Fermented honey, known in Northern Europe as mead, was an early entheogen in Aegean civilization, predating the introduction of wine, which was the more familiar entheogen of the reborn Dionysus and the maenads. Its religious uses in the Aegean world are bound up with the mythology of the bee.

Dacians were known to use cannabis in their religious and important life ceremonies, proven by discoveries of large clay pots with burnt cannabis seeds in ancient tombs and religious shrines. Also, local oral folklore and myths tell of ancient priests that dreamed with gods and walked in the smoke. Their names, as transmitted by Herodotus, were "kap-no-batai" which in Dacian was supposed to mean "the ones that walk in the clouds".

The growth of Roman Christianity also saw the end of the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation ceremony for the cult of Demeter and Persephone involving the use of a drug known as kykeon. The term 'ambrosia' is used in Greek mythology in a way that is remarkably similar to the Soma of the Hindus as well.

A theory that natural occurring gases like ethylene used by inhalation may have played a role in divinatory ceremonies at Delphi in Classical Greece received popular press attention in the early 2000s, yet has not been conclusively proven.[58]

Mushroom consumption is part of the culture of Europeans in general, with particular importance to Slavic and Baltic peoples. Some academics consider that using psilocybin- and or muscimol-containing mushrooms was an integral part of the ancient culture of the Rus' people.[59]

It has been suggested that the ritual use of small amounts of Syrian rue is an artifact of its ancient use in higher doses as an entheogen (possibly in conjunction with DMT containing acacia).[citation needed]

John Marco Allegro argued that early Jewish and Christian cultic practice was based on the use of Amanita muscaria, which was later forgotten by its adherents,[60]but this view has been widely disputed.[61]

In general, indigenous Australians are thought not to have used entheogens, although there is a strong barrier of secrecy surrounding Aboriginal shamanism, which has likely limited what has been told to outsiders. A plant that the Australian Aboriginals used to ingest is called Pitcheri, which is said to have a similar effect to that of coca.Pitcheri was made from the bark of the shrub Duboisia myoporoides. This plant is now grown commercially and is processed to manufacture an eye medication.There are no known uses of entheogens by the Mori of New Zealand aside from a variant species of kava,[62] although some modern scholars have claimed that there may be evidence of psilocybin mushroom use.[63] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[64]

Kava or kava kava (Piper Methysticum) has been cultivated for at least 3000 years by a number of Pacific island-dwelling peoples. Historically, most Polynesian, many Melanesian, and some Micronesian cultures have ingested the psychoactive pulverized root, typically taking it mixed with water. In these traditions, taking kava is believed to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[65]

Studies such as Timothy Leary's Marsh Chapel Experiment and Roland R. Griffiths' psilocybin studies at Johns Hopkins have documented reports of mystical/spiritual/religious experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[66] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition.

Notable early testing of the entheogenic experience includes the Marsh Chapel Experiment, conducted by physician and theology doctoral candidate, Walter Pahnke, under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In this double-blind experiment, volunteer graduate school divinity students from the Boston area almost all claimed to have had profound religious experiences subsequent to the ingestion of pure psilocybin. In 2006, a more rigorously controlled experiment was conducted at Johns Hopkins University, and yielded similar results.[67] To date there is little peer-reviewed research on this subject, due to ongoing drug prohibition and the difficulty of getting approval from institutional review boards.[68]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[69]

Article 32 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances allows nations to exempt certain traditional uses of substances from prohibition:

A State on whose territory there are plants growing wild which contain psychotropic substances from among those in Schedule I and which are traditionally used by certain small, clearly determined groups in magical or religious rites, may, at the time of signature, ratification or accession, make reservations concerning these plants, in respect of the provisions of article 7, except for the provisions relating to international trade.

However, this exemption would apply only if the peyote cactus were ever explicitly added to the Schedules of the Psychotropic Convention. Currently the Convention applies only to chemicals. The Commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances notes, however, that the plants containing it are not subject to international control:[70]

The cultivation of plants from which psychotropic substances are obtained is not controlled by the Vienna Convention.... Neither the crown (fruit, mescal button) of the Peyote cactus nor the roots of the plant Mimosa hostilis nor Psilocybe mushrooms themselves are included in Schedule 1, but only their respective principals, mescaline, DMT, and psilocin.

No plants (natural materials) containing DMT are at present controlled under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Consequently, preparations (e.g. decoctions) made of these plants, including ayahuasca are not under international control and, therefore, not subject to any of the articles of the 1971 Convention. -- International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), United Nations[71]

Between 2011 and 2012, the Australian Federal Government was considering changes to the Australian Criminal Code that would classify any plants containing any amount of DMT as "controlled plants".[72]DMT itself was already controlled under current laws. The proposed changes included other similar blanket bans for other substances, such as a ban on any and all plants containing mescaline or ephedrine. The proposal was not pursued after political embarrassment on realisation that this would make the official Floral Emblem of Australia, Acacia pycnantha (golden wattle), illegal. The Therapeutic Goods Administration and federal authority had considered a motion to ban the same, but this was withdrawn in May 2012 (as DMT may still hold potential entheogenic value to native and/or religious peoples).[73]

In 1963 in Sherbert v. Verner the Supreme Court established the Sherbert Test, which consists of four criteria that are used to determine if an individual's right to religious free exercise has been violated by the government. The test is as follows:

For the individual, the court must determine

If these two elements are established, then the government must prove

This test was eventually all-but-eliminated in Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990) which held that a "neutral law of general applicability" was not subject to the test. Congress resurrected it for the purposes of federal law in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement. In Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), a case involving only federal law, RFRA was held to permit a church's use of a DMT-containing tea for religious ceremonies.

Some states have enacted State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts intended to mirror the federal RFRA's protections.

Peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, practitioners of the Peyote Way Church of God, a Native American religion, perceive the regulations regarding the use of peyote as discriminating, leading to religious discrimination issues regarding about the U.S. policy towards drugs. As the result of Peyote Way Church of God, Inc. v. Thornburgh the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 was passed. This federal statute allow the "Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament," exempting only use by Native American persons.

Although entheogens are taboo and most of them are officially prohibited in Christian and Islamic societies, their ubiquity and prominence in the spiritual traditions of various other cultures is unquestioned. "The spirit, for example, need not be chemical, as is the case with the ivy and the olive: and yet the god was felt to be within them; nor need its possession be considered something detrimental, like drugged, hallucinatory, or delusionary: but possibly instead an invitation to knowledge or whatever good the god's spirit had to offer."[74]

Most of the well-known modern examples, such as peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and morning glories are from the native cultures of the Americas. However, it has also been suggested that entheogens played an important role in ancient Indo-European culture, for example by inclusion in the ritual preparations of the Soma, the "pressed juice" that is the subject of Book 9 of the Rig Veda. Soma was ritually prepared and drunk by priests and initiates and elicited a paean in the Rig Veda that embodies the nature of an entheogen:

Splendid by Law! declaring Law, truth speaking, truthful in thy works, Enouncing faith, King Soma!... O [Soma] Pavmana (mind clarifying), place me in that deathless, undecaying world wherein the light of heaven is set, and everlasting lustre shines.... Make me immortal in that realm where happiness and transports, where joy and felicities combine...

[citation needed]

The kykeon that preceded initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries is another entheogen, which was investigated (before the word was coined) by Carl Kernyi, in Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Other entheogens in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean include the opium poppy, datura, and the unidentified "lotus" (likely the sacred blue lily) eaten by the Lotus-Eaters in the Odyssey and Narcissus.

According to Ruck, Eyan, and Staples, the familiar shamanic entheogen that the Indo-Europeans brought knowledge of was Amanita muscaria. It could not be cultivated; thus it had to be found, which suited it to a nomadic lifestyle. When they reached the world of the Caucasus and the Aegean, the Indo-Europeans encountered wine, the entheogen of Dionysus, who brought it with him from his birthplace in the mythical Nysa, when he returned to claim his Olympian birthright. The Indo-European proto-Greeks "recognized it as the entheogen of Zeus, and their own traditions of shamanism, the Amanita and the 'pressed juice' of Soma but better, since no longer unpredictable and wild, the way it was found among the Hyperboreans: as befit their own assimilation of agrarian modes of life, the entheogen was now cultivable."[74] Robert Graves, in his foreword to The Greek Myths, hypothesises that the ambrosia of various pre-Hellenic tribes was Amanita muscaria (which, based on the morphological similarity of the words amanita, amrita and ambrosia, is entirely plausible) and perhaps psilocybin mushrooms of the genus Panaeolus.

Amanita was divine food, according to Ruck and Staples, not something to be indulged in or sampled lightly, not something to be profaned. It was the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and it mediated between the two realms. It is said that Tantalus's crime was inviting commoners to share his ambrosia.

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizari fida'is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries.

The tales of the fida'is' training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo's account, in which he described a "secret garden of paradise".[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida'is would awaken. Here, they were told by an old man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause[75](History of Nizari Ismailism). So went the tale of the "Old Man in the Mountain", assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (17741856), a prominent orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammer's retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

Many works of literature have described entheogen use; some of those are:

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Entheogen - Wikipedia

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The Return Trip: Psychedelics may come back from the abyss of illegality – Valley Advocate

Posted: November 23, 2019 at 11:49 am

When over the past several years states began to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes and then some of them for recreational use, many people from the Baby Boomer generation witnessed something they doubted they would ever see in their lifetimes. People who had long known or believed that marijuana was a far safer and beneficial alternative to alcohol had that conviction sanctioned by some state governments. Marijuana advocates finally had their hard-earned victory.

Yet if one now gazes out at the cultural horizon, there is a storm heading our way the impact of which would not only dwarf cannabis legalization, it may have a transformative effect on the entirety of our social fabric. As vividly detailed in Michael Pollans 2018 bestseller How to Change Your Mind (Penguin Books), momentum is building towards the legalization and mainstreaming, at least for medical use, of the class of substances known as psychedelics or entheogens. Yes, LSD, psilocybin (found in certain mushroom species), and mescaline (from the peyote cactus) are undergoing a resurgence being described as a renaissance.

Design by Jennifer Levesque

Unbeknownst to most people, research and clinical studies on psychedelics have been going on at universities and medical schools in the U.S. and Europe for much of the past two decades. Psilocybin has already been passed through Phase II clinical trials by the FDA, and if Phase III is successful it may be approved for psychiatric treatment early in the next decade. How psychedelics have returned from the abyss and reached this level of approval by the U.S. medical establishment is a story of how some scientists, believing that something of great value was lost when psychedelics were made illegal in the 1960s, made it a mission to regain and rehabilitate these substances for a new generation. But another surprising aspect of this renaissance is how this research has opened a window to the world of spirituality that most involved wouldnt have thought possible.

What makes psychedelics such a fascinating and important topic of interest is that their very existence, unlike anything else this writer can conceive of, has to be considered as being of deep philosophical significance. Here we have a naturally occurring molecule or chemical, that nature has placed in various plants and fungi, that users have insisted for centuries elevates their consciousness to an unmistakable level of spiritual awareness and realization. There is nothing else that allows for science and spirituality, those two supposedly irreconcilable realms of human endeavor, to be analyzed for their connectedness, not their distinctions and differences.

Encouraging news for legalization advocates occurred earlier this year, when Oakland, California, and Denver, Colorado, passed measures to decriminalize the possession of psilocybin mushrooms. Campaigns to place mushroom decriminalization referendum questions on 2020 election ballots have also begun in Oregon and California. But while these events represent progress for those hoping for legal sanction for personal use, the scope of these efforts are likely to be limited in size at least until there is widespread approval for medical use, much like what happened with cannabis. In fact, if there is an area of disagreement among advocates it is the types of usage psychedelics should be legalized for.

Peyote, ritual cactus with flower

Outright legalization for recreational use a la marijuana? While there are still those who hope for this level of social acceptance and government approval, the majority opinion is that might not be the best idea. While research has shown that psychedelics are remarkably safe, nontoxic, and completely nonaddictive, there is as with any substance the potential for misuse. They are not for drinking beer with and watching a Three Stooges marathon. Activists have a genuine reverence for psychedelics and dont want to see them being used frivolously.

Applications for psychedelics for which there is much more enthusiasm are in the medical/psychiatric and spiritual/religious fields the psychedelic movement has always been about more than just medical usage. The true believers from outside the medical profession have always envisioned broader applications for psychedelics, especially for their use in spiritual contexts. The phrase the betterment of well people is a mantra for those with this mindset. Activist Bob Jesse, founder of the Council on Spiritual Practices, would like to see trained and certified psychedelic guides administer entheogens (what psychedelics are more often called when describing their use in spiritual contexts) in contexts which to Pollan sounded a lot like churches. Others envision psychedelics being used in spa-like or religious retreat settings, again with trained guides present to take care of people having their experience and then helping them integrate it afterwards.

Before the 1960s there was no law restricting the use of entheogens and they have been in use for spiritual purposes by cultures around the world for centuries or millennia. In the Western Hemisphere evidence indicates widespread usage among indigenous cultures throughout the Americas, with usage in Latin and South America, and among Native Americans, continuing today.

Southern Oregon University Religious Studies Professor Martin W. Ball claimed that many of the worlds religious and spiritual traditions are rooted in ancient use of entheogens. In hunter-gatherer societies, the predominant form of spirituality was shamanism, and shamans have always made use of plants and fungi, including entheogens, that alter consciousness, he said.

The ancient Greeks used entheogens in their religions. So too did ancient Hindus, said Ball. Theres evidence for entheogen use in ancient Egyptian religion, Zoroastrianism, indigenous African and Native American traditions, to name just a few. Its important to understand that it was (and is) a global phenomenon and has not been limited to any particular time or place in the world.

Unfortunately, those centuries of prior spiritual or sacramental use became problematic when the U.S. started making all known entheogenic agents illegal in the 1960s, but in 2006 a slight legal opening for spiritual use appeared courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the UDV, a small religious sect founded in Brazil in 1961, could legally import ayahuasca, an entheogenic tea it uses as a sacrament, into the U.S. The Court based its decision on 1993s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which when enacted allowed the Native American Church to continue the peyote ceremonies that had been a part of the Churchs worship for decades. The UDV, which stands for Union of the Plants in English, expanded in the U.S. after the ruling, and had about 525 American members in nine church communities in 2018.

So, it seems as if a legal precedent has been established that sanctions entheogenic use in religious worship, but there are caveats. Part of the Courts decision included the recognition of the UDV as an already existing religion, so it remains to be seen how the government would respond if an American citizen wanted to establish a new church in which entheogens were part of its practice or worship.

Mark Hart of Deerfield was able to shed some light on why psychedelics have been used in spiritual practices or religious ceremonies for centuries. Hart has a psychotherapy practice in Amherst but also has a Ph.D. in theology from Boston College, so he is a person with a rare blend of psychological and religious knowledge and insight. In addition to his psychotherapy practice he is also a founder and leader of the Bodhisara Dharma Community in Amherst, which teaches insight meditation and other practices from the Buddhist tradition.

When asked about the spiritual experiences many people on entheogens report Hart said, People report insights on reality that are not unlike those of people in profound meditative states. I used to be somewhat of a Buddhist chauvinist, saying our way of meditation is the best but I would say in the last 10 years that has gone by the wayside. My suspicion is that people do have genuine spiritual experiences on these substances. And I think the proof is in the lasting effects of these experiences.

Martin Ball, the Oregon religious studies professor, has been an advocate for entheogenic spirituality for years and has written several books on the topic. Not all use of psychedelics results in a spiritual or mystical experience, but these experiences do show up quite unexpectedly and regularly and can also be intentionally sought after through conscious use of entheogens. Its very interesting that these kinds of experiences can happen whether one is seeking them out or not. In fact, one could make the argument that psychedelics and entheogens are the premier tool for having deep spiritual experiences simply because they are so reliably effective and potentially powerful.

The questions statements like this raise are as profound as they are obvious. What are we to make of the mushrooms, cactus, and other botanical forms of life that have this amazing power to profoundly alter our state of mind and raise our awareness from the physical to the spiritual realm of being?

What we do know is that the power of psychedelics to create or enable these shifts in consciousness is not a recent discovery. And what may be more impressive to some people is that it was not yogis, gurus or other New Agers first making these claims, but the scientists who have been researching psychedelics from when LSD was first synthesized in 1938 and continuing to the present day. Almost all of those who led psychedelic research programs from the 50s onward sampled psychedelics for themselves, and even those who were staunch atheists or materialists before their experience felt as if profound truths about the existence of a spiritual realm were being revealed to them. Most if not all of the research up until the 1966 prohibition led many of the scientists involved to feel strongly about the potential of psychedelics as a possible agent for human transformation and societal betterment.

Even in the pre-1960s much of the focus of psychedelic research changed from psychiatric treatment of the mentally ill to something much more encompassing: bringing peace, happiness, and spiritual understanding to all of humanity.

If one person stands out as the leading figure in the psychedelic renaissance, it is Roland Griffiths, who heads a team that restarted psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins in 1999. In fact, Pollan writes that if there is a date that the revival fully blossomed it was 2006, and the key event triggering it was the publication in the medical journal Psychopharmacology of Griffiths paper Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance. That the words spiritual and mystical could appear in a research papers title is remarkable enough, but even more so was the enthusiasm with which the paper was received by the scientific establishment. It was as if Griffiths had singlehandedly created a space allowing for the spiritual to be accepted as a subject of legitimate scientific inquiry.

Among the most recent and current psychedelic research programs is one at New York University. Here researchers are working to see if psychedelics can be helpful for people with very difficult to treat psychological conditions, most notably those who have been diagnosed with cancer and are facing a possible terminal prognosis. The NYU psilocybin cancer trial is trying to determine if psilocybin can help people facing the greatest personal crisis there is: the existential fear and dread that comes with knowing that you have only a short amount of time to live. And the results thus far have not only amazed researchers, theyve shown how spirituality has been thrust into the scientific paradigm.

Stephen Ross, part of the NYU research team, saw things in his patients he could hardly believe and said, People who had been palpably scared of death they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once could have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like that in the psychiatric field.

One case study Pollan described is that of Patrick Mettes, a New York man with bile duct cancer who volunteered for the NYU program and had his initial psilocybin session in January 2011. Mr. Mettes was able to speak in great detail about his experience even as he was having it, at one point sitting up and saying to his doctors Everyone deserves to have this experience, that if everyone did, no one could ever do harm to another again wars would be impossible to wage. He eventually added, The sheer joy, the bliss, the nirvana, was indescribable. I know Ive had no earthly pleasure thats ever come close to this feeling. No sensation, no image of beauty, nothing during my time on earth has felt as pure and joyful and glorious as the height of this journey.

Mettes lived another 17 months after his experience, and loved ones say he seemed to carry that bliss with him the entire time. From his hospital bed in his final days he was the one consoling his wife and friends, not the other way around. It was like he was a yogi. He put out so much love, his wife Lisa said.

One thing I was struck by upon reading these accounts is how similar they seem to those Ive read of people having near-death experiences in the now abundant literature on that topic. This is probably not a coincidence or misjudgment. Johns Hopkins researcher Katherine MacLean said, A high-dose psychedelic experience is death practice, or almost like a dress rehearsal for dying. But people experience the blissful realization that there is something on the other side, so the spiritual implications of this are easy to see.

While researchers in the U.S. have focused more on the subjective experience of psychedelics and its possible therapeutic applications, in the U.K. the focus has been on how they interact with the brain itself and its neurological functioning. At Imperial College in London, researcher Robin Carhart-Harris has discovered is that it is not the drug that the experience derives from. Instead, they are entirely the creation of the mind/brain.

Many people have heard by now the medical maxim that humans only use about 10% of their brains capacity. Modern brain imaging and scanning technologies used in neurological research have more or less confirmed this. But in addition to that, a 2001 discovery showed that most of that 10% is located in an area known as the default mode network, DMN for short. The DMN can be defined as the area in the brain where the concept of self and ego consciousness is constructed. And by the time a person reaches adulthood, the DMNs neurotransmitter pathways become so worn in by overuse that directing brain activity outside of the DMN becomes almost impossible. Researchers liken it to a pathway that has been cleared through fallen snow that people habitually gravitate towards. That is what gives people the sense that they are trapped in captivity of their ego/self-identity. Psychic walls are built that confine the persons subjective experience and create the impression that the self is forever a separate entity from the world perceived by the senses. And an overactive DMN is linked to numerous mental health problems, most notably anxiety, depression, and existential distress.

Returning to the snow analogy, what psychedelics do is add a fresh layer of snow to the brain and cover the DMN, allowing mental activity to take place along neurotransmitter connections the person has likely never used before. Another way it has been described is that psychedelics reboot a persons neural activity into a state of consciousness where the usual distinctions between self and world, subject and object, dissolve. This further convinces those having the experience that consciousness continues after the self no longer exists, with the resulting effect being the perception that a transcendent spiritual realization has been achieved.

One more feature of the research that is of vital importance is how the brain scans of people having psychedelic experiences and those having mystical experiences through deep, advanced meditation are remarkably similar. Judson Brewer, now at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School in Worcester, has reported that scans show in both instances brain activity in the DMN is significantly reduced.

An interesting paradox is at work here. Research involving psychedelics has been applied with the highest standards of the scientific method, yet the success of this research seems to depend on the prevalence of mystical experiences that take subjects into places science is unable to venture. It may have been the great religious scholar and theologian Huston Smith who expressed the situation best. In a letter to Bob Jesse after the publication of Roland Griffiths 2006 paper that got this Renaissance started, he wrote, The Johns Hopkins experiment shows proves that under controlled experimental conditions, psilocybin can occasion genuine mystical experiences. It uses science, which modernity trusts, to undermine modernitys secularism. In doing so it offers hope of nothing less than a re-sacralization of the natural and social world, a spiritual revival that is our best defense against not only soullessness, but against religious fanaticism. And it does so in the very teeth of the unscientific prejudices built into our current drug laws.

Science has taught us that all forms of life evolve and adapt over the course of eons, and that they naturally develop attributes to better ensure their long-term survival. But what would be the reason that certain plant species developed psilocybin and mescaline over the course of their evolution? Botanical research has shown psilocybin and mescaline provide little if any benefit to their host organisms, but they do astounding things for the people who use them. Its not a defense mechanism or something to strengthen an organisms long-term survival prospects if it makes it more likely that humans will want to consume it.

Something is going on here. A person doesnt have to be anti-science to believe that organisms that contain these incredible properties to enlighten minds to the spiritual realm of being couldnt possibly have evolved on this planet by accident. Is the natural world we share this planet with trying to share secrets with us about life that its known all along? Is the immanent and transcendent God, in which we live and breathe and share our being, trying to speak to us through these amazing plants?

Most importantly, are we listening?

One of the things I loved about Michael Pollans book were its numerous references to something very dear to me and that is William James masterpiece The Varieties of Religious Experience, which is still thought to be one of the greatest nonfiction books of the 20th century even though it was published in 1902. James study of mysticism led him to believe that our everyday waking consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.

Amen.

Peter Stilla is an editor at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and an ordained Christian Universalist minister. He lives in Deerfield with his wife and two daughters. Reach him at pstilla@gazettenet.com.

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How San Francisco’s Summer of Love sparked religious movements – The Oakland Press

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:17 am

SAN FRANCISCO In the past few months, the Bay Area has waxed nostalgic at the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1967, when hippies and thousands of seekers, drifters and runaways poured into the citys suddenly chaotic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

To many Americans, the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s, which the Summer of Love came to represent, may seem like an irrelevant little experiment involving LSD, tie-dyes, free love, shaggy hairstyles and rock bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

It was all of that, but the mind-blowing revolution that rocked the streets of San Francisco that summer may also be seen as a new religious movement that shaped the spiritual expression of millions of Americans who never dropped acid, grew beards, burned bras or set foot in a commune.

Anyone who has ever participated in yoga classes, practiced mindfulness meditation, looked into alternative medicine, or referred to oneself as spiritual but not religious, may want to thank a 70-year-old hippie this summer.

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San Francisco had drawn adventure seekers and freethinkers since the 1849 Gold Rush, but the immediate roots of the Summer of Love date from the 1950s and Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac (On the Road, 1957) and poet Allen Ginsberg (Howl, 1956).

The psychedelic experimentation in San Francisco took off in 1965, when novelist Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest) gathered a Dionysian band of artists, musicians and drug enthusiasts known as the Merry Pranksters and held a series of LSD-fueled happenings in the Bay Area. Their story was immortalized by Tom Wolfes 1968 book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Those in the middle of the San Francisco scene in the mid-60s say the best of times were over by the summer of 67, when the drugs got harder and the unconditional love got conditional.

It was all downhill, they say, following the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in January 1967, when former Harvard University psychologist and LSD guru Timothy Leary took the stage and told the stoned multitudes to turn on, tune in, drop out.

To Carolyn Mountain Girl Garcia, the Summer of Love was very much a media distortion.

It drove people in vast numbers with expectations that were never met, she said. It was kind of a sociological disaster. But it was really wonderful when it was working.

Garcia, now 71, was only 17 when she arrived with her older brother from New York in 1963. Within a year, she met Neal Cassady, the real-life, charismatic character of On the Road.

Cassady introduced Garcia to Kesey, who fathered her first daughter, Sunshine. Within a few years, Garcia was living with Sunshine and Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead.

She later co-founded the Womens Visionary Congress, a community of adventurers from generations and traditions united to explore a more vivid and profound awareness of our inner and outer worlds.

Carolyn Garcia sees psychedelic drugs and plants as a major inspiration for much of the broader spiritual experimentation of the 1960s-70s, and beyond.

It got people into a spiritual dimension without the religion attached. It was personal contact with the realm of spiritual energy, with an unseen force that connects everybody to life itself, to nature, she said. Many spiritual communities have evolved from the hippie times, including people taking on Buddhism and other Asian religions and re-creating them as modern movements. If you want to find out about spirituality and psychedelics, just talk to your yoga teacher.

Some former psychedelic enthusiasts question whether the consciousness-raising counterculture was effective in transforming American society.

One is Robert Forte, who studied the history and psychology of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and has taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the California Institute of Integral Studies.

He sees the psychedelic counterculture as a microcosm of the best and worst of religion.

Religion is a very complex subject, spanning the whole spectrum of human behavior. It can be an ethical, exalted expression, but religion can also be a mind-control technique to subjugate the masses, said Forte, who edited two collections of essays in the late 1990s, Timothy Leary Outside Looking In, and Entheogens and the Future of Religion.

A lot of people in the 1960s had unitive experiences that informed their life in important ways.

Yet we also see all this fake New Ageism, he added. You hear a lot of cheerleading about the value of these drugs. ... But where is our anti-war movement today? Where are the visions we had in the 1960s about transforming the world in more ecologically sustainable ways? Weve failed.

Yet there are these people who think that by taking drugs and putting feathers in your hair and going to Burning Man you are somehow furthering this alternative culture.

For visual artist Bill Ham, the man who more or less invented the psychedelic light show, it was a magical time of creative freedom. Ham is now 84 and still living in San Francisco, not far from Haight Street. He arrived as an art student in 1958 and began hanging out with the Beats, who gathered in coffeehouses and poetry venues in the citys North Beach neighborhood.

Ham was among a small band of San Francisco beatniks and hippies who spent the summer of 1965 at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nev., a old mining town about five hours east of San Francisco, on the other side of the Sierras.

Some fledgling musicians, including Dan Hicks, formed the Charlatans and became the Red Dog house band. Ham had just developed an art form he calls light painting, a kinetic abstract expressionism that used an overhead projector, layers of glass, oils, pigments and other liquids to project pulsating amoeba-like patterns of color onto walls and ceilings.

According to some rock historians, the Charlatans were the first psychedelic rock band. They returned to San Francisco and began performing with other fledgling groups in small clubs and dance halls and for free in Golden Gate Park. In the early years, there was little separation between the performers and audience, a connection that was intensified by psychedelic plants like marijuana and peyote, and later with powerful mind-altering drugs like LSD, which at high doses have the ability to blur the boundary between self and other.

In the early 1960s, Ham said, there was this whole city of creative people, including jazz musicians, artists, writers, dancers, avant-garde actors, and the early electronic music creators. Then it got overwhelmed by the rock n roll scene, he said, because it turned out that was where the money was.

Americas music critics discovered the San Francisco sound at the Monterey Pop Festival in the spring of 1967, a concert where the imported Texas blues singer Janis Joplin, the new frontwoman for Big Brother and the Holding Company, blew everyone away. That spring also saw the release of the hit pop song, San Francisco, with its famous lyric, If youre going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.

But the most influential musical release that spring was the Beatles classic psychedelic album, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Those songs inspired millions of people around the world to experiment with psychedelic drugs and explore the mystical promises of Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.

This was all two years before the Woodstock nation gathered on Max Yasgurs dairy farm in upstate New York.

All of the media attention focused on San Francisco and the 1967 Summer of Love attracted throngs of baby boomers to the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was not all peace and love.

Among the waves of psychedelic immigrants were hordes of troubled, runaway kids. Many found freedom, while others fell into drug addiction, sexual exploitation, and the worsening of pre-existing mental illness caused by the careless use of psychoactive drugs. There were definitely casualties, Ham said, but when you compare it to Vietnam, we dont have too much to apologize for.

Photographer Gene Anthony, author of a richly illustrated book, The Summer of Love Haight-Ashbury at its Highest, captured many magical moments during the Acid Tests and early gatherings of the tribe from which the soon-to-be-famous San Francisco rock bands would emerge.

In some ways it did seem like a religious movement, but more in the communal and political sense. There wasnt one charismatic leader, Anthony said. There were groups of people like the Mime Troupe and The Diggers, who were feeding the kids and trying to do something positive. There was the Free Clinic and a store where everything was free.

Anything could happen. One Sunday in the summer of 1967, Anthony was standing at the corner of Haight and Masonic streets when a black limo pulled up and out popped Beatle George Harrison with his wife, Pattie Boyd, both of them in fashionable hippie garb.

Harrison later revealed he was not impressed with the scene in the Haight. I expected it to be a brilliant place with groovy gypsy people, he said, but it was full of horrible spotty dropout kids.

Starting in fall 1966 and continuing into the 1980s, laws were passed banning and increasing penalties for drugs like LSD and MDMA, known as Ecstasy or Molly. Scientific research into beneficial uses of these compounds, which date back to the 1950s, was shut down in the 1970s and 1980s. Richard Nixon declared his war on drugs, and the Just Say No mantra of Nancy Reagan became the federal drug policy.

Today, however, there is a growing appreciation of the potentially beneficial medical uses of still-banned, mind-altering compounds like MDMA and psilocybin, the drug that puts the magic in magic mushrooms. Government-approved clinical trials are underway at UCLA, New York University and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in which these drugs, alongside psychotherapy, are used to help people suffering from depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Summer of Love exhibits have opened in San Francisco at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and at the Mission Street offices of the California Historical Society.

Don Lattin is the author of Changing Our Mind Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy, donlattin.com.

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Outside the Box – HuffPost

Posted: August 13, 2017 at 2:24 am

My wife, a painter, was lying on the couch. The five blades of the ceiling fan are each a different color, she said musingly. Different? Yes, she continued, depending on which window the surface of the blade is lit by, or which lamp in the room, and the colors of the nearby walls.

Most of us perhaps see the fan s as off-white and are most concerned with how fast it will cool the room. It occurred to me that ordinary reality is so helpful, and so limited, because it sees things mainly in terms of the obvious use or dangers they suggest. A painters vision would then be analogous to what we call expanded consciousness, which is not better or worse than our usual vision, but which offers different information.

Because ordinary consciousness is so useful, many of us cling tightly to it. Any deviation from it may being forth prejudicial terms. Expanded visions are often dismissed as hallucinations, maybe caused by drugs. The world is divided strictly between material reality and a catch-all category called the spiritual. The former is studied by scientists; the latter, by priests and, may the Lord help us, by psychonauts. Stephen jay Gould called these realms magisteria. This division kept peace between the church and the men in lab coats, but it has confused the category of spiritual.

As a result of the distinction, anything outside of ordinary reality is consigned either to mental illness or to a transcendental realm. In the reaction to drugs after WWII and especially during the 1960s, the classic psychedelics were said to be psychotomimetic or hallucinogenic. In other words, the visions they occasioned were regarded as similar to mental illness. What else could there be, other than ordinary reality and distortions of it?

Except theology. So, as a new name for the hippies psychedelics, people who knew awe is the most important effect concocted the name entheogens, meaning they awaken the god within. The name was ambiguous about whether this god was transcendental or immanent, was a God familiar from the old-time religions with their temples, churches, and mosques or the sort of being who is prayed to or suggested by the increasingly popular phrase, spiritual but not religious.

The classic psychedelics are only one way to get beyond the limitations of ordinary reality, and they don't always effect a change. Even when revelatory on the personal level, the experience may remain trivial socially. Many of us have met guides who say, you dont always get the trip you wanted, but you do get the trip you need. If only this were the case! But at least there is a chance, as with any of the other techniques catalogued so usefully by groups such as the Council on Spiritual Practices (CSP).

(Disclosure: I had the honor to serve on the CSP board for a while starting in the 1990s.)

A friend in touch with a high Google executive tells me that in that firm its a firing offense to shoot down a new idea before it has an opportunity to be thoroughly explored, before it may suggest yet other ideas, one of which may lead to a product. In the non-profit world, too, things that eventually lead to a revolution are often said to be impossible, ridiculous, or in the contemptuous phrase of a physicist, not even wrong. In retrospect, everybody knows that a certain concept is right, even obvious, but not when it was nearly dismissed.

In his influential history of science, Thomas Kuhn advanced the useful hypothesis that after people do normal science for a while, anomalies pile up, and a new paradigm appears that takes account of what did not fit within the old paradigm. Brilliant, except where does the new paradigm come from? To conjure up an intuitive leap is indisputably true, but doesn't tell how it happens. Most ideas that are outside the box will not prove to be true, but one may, and in order to obtain the one its necessary to generate and at least briefly tolerate all the others. The kind of mind that thinks outside the box is not necessarily the same mind that frames and conducts careful experiments to test an idea.

A realist painter has to see what is actually there in order to reproduce it, even when that perception adds little or nothing to our sense of the usefulness (or danger) of an object, such as a ceiling fan. In a similar way, what we call expanded consciousness may help us to get beyond narrow pragmatism.

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Outside the Box - HuffPost

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‘Summer of Love’ shaped American lives, spiritual expression – Houston Chronicle

Posted: July 29, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Photo: Amy Osborne, Freelance

The Conservatory of Flowers light display, a part of the Citywide Summer of Love 50th anniversary, is tested before it's Wednesday night debut on Monday, June 19, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif.

The Conservatory of Flowers light display, a part of the Citywide Summer of Love 50th anniversary, is tested before it's Wednesday night debut on Monday, June 19, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif.

Starting June 21, the first day of summer, San Francisco'slandmark Conservatory of Flowers will be lit up at night with imagery inspired by the Summer of Love.

Starting June 21, the first day of summer, San Francisco'slandmark Conservatory of Flowers will be lit up at night with imagery inspired by the Summer of Love.

The Conservatory of Flowers light display, a part of the Citywide Summer of Love 50th anniversary, is tested before it's Wednesday night debut on Monday, June 19, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif.

The Conservatory of Flowers light display, a part of the Citywide Summer of Love 50th anniversary, is tested before it's Wednesday night debut on Monday, June 19, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif.

Hippies parade the streets of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district in 1967.

Hippies parade the streets of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district in 1967.

'Summer of Love' shaped American lives, spiritual expression

Over the past few months, the Bay Area has been waxing nostalgic over the 50th anniversary of the "Summer of Love," the 1967 season when "hippies" and tens of thousands of seekers, drifters and runaways poured into the city's suddenly chaotic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

To many Americans, the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s, which the Summer of Love came to represent, may seem like an irrelevant little experiment involving LSD, tie-dyes, free love, shaggy hairstyles and rock bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

It was all of that, but the mind-blowing revolution that rocked the streets of San Francisco that summer also may be seen as a new religious movement that profoundly shaped the lives and spiritual expression of millions of Americans who never dropped acid, grew a beard, burned their bras or set foot in a hippie commune.

Anyone who has ever participated in yoga classes, practiced "mindfulness" meditation, looked into alternative medicine, or referred to oneself as "spiritual but not religious," may want to find a 70-year-old hippie this summer and simply say, "Thank you."

'A media distortion'

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San Francisco had been drawing adventure seekers and freethinkers since the 1849 Gold Rush, but the immediate roots of the Summer of Love date back to the 1950s and the influential work of the Beat writers like Jack Kerouac ("On the Road," 1957) and poet Allen Ginsberg ("Howl," 1956).

The psychedelic experimentation in San Francisco took off in 1965, when novelist Ken Kesey ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1962) gathered a Dionysian band of artists, musicians and drug enthusiasts known as the Merry Pranksters and held a series of LSD-fueled happenings around the Bay Area. Their story was immortalized by Tom Wolfe's 1968 nonfiction book, "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."

Those who were in the middle of the San Francisco scene in the mid-1960s say the best of times were over by the summer of 1967, when the drugs got harder and the unconditional love got conditional.

It was all downhill, they say, following the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in January of 1967, when Timothy Leary, the former Harvard University psychologist and LSD guru, took the stage and told the stoned multitudes to "turn on, tune in, drop out."

To Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia, the 1967 Summer of Love "was very much a media distortion."

"It drove people in vast numbers with expectations that were never met," she said. "It was kind of a sociological disaster. But it was really wonderful when it was working."

Garcia, now 71, was only 17 years old when she arrived in the Bay Area with her older brother from New York in the summer of 1963. Within a year, she met Neal Cassady, the real-life version of a charismatic character in Kerouac's "On the Road."

Cassady introduced Garcia to Ken Kesey who christened her "Mountain Girl" and fathered Garcia's first daughter, Sunshine. Within a few years, Garcia was living with Sunshine and Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead.

She later co-founded an organization called the Women's Visionary Congress, "a community of adventurers from generations and traditions united to explore a more vivid and profound awareness of our inner and outer worlds."

Carolyn Garcia sees psychedelic drugs and plants as a major inspiration for much of the broader spiritual experimentation in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.

"It got people into a spiritual dimension without the religion attached. It was personal contact with the realm of spiritual energy, with an unseen force that connects everybody to life itself, to nature," she said. "Many spiritual communities have evolved from the hippie times, including people taking on Buddhism and other Asian religions and recreating them as modern movements. If you want to find out about spirituality and psychedelics, just talk to your yoga teacher."

Best, worst of religion

Some former psychedelic enthusiasts question whether the consciousness-raising counterculture was all that effective in transforming American society.

One of them is Robert Forte, who studied the history and psychology of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and has taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the California Institute of Integral Studies.

He sees the psychedelic counterculture as a "microcosm of the best and worst of religion."

"Religion is a very complex subject, spanning the whole spectrum of human behavior. It can be an ethical, exalted expression, but religion can also be a mind-control technique to subjugate the masses," said Forte, who edited two collections of essays in the late 1990s, "Timothy Leary - Outside Looking In," and "Entheogens and the Future of Religion."

"A lot of people in the 1960s had unitive experiences that informed their life in important ways."

"Yet we also see all this fake New Ageism," he said. "You hear a lot of cheerleading about the value of these drugs. ... But where is our anti-war movement today? Where are the visions we had in the 1960s about transforming the world in more ecologically, sustainable ways? We've failed. Yet there are these people who think that by taking drugs and putting feathers in your hair and going to Burning Man you are somehow furthering this alternative culture."

Wear your flowers

For visual artist Bill Ham, the man who more-or-less invented the psychedelic light show, it was a magical time of creative freedom. Ham is now 84 and still living in San Francisco, not far from Haight Street. He arrived as an art student in 1958 and began hanging out with the Beats, who gathered in coffeehouses and poetry venues in the city's North Beach neighborhood.

Ham was among a small band of San Francisco beatniks and hippies who spent the summer of 1965 at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nev., an old mining town about 250 miles east of San Francisco, on the other side of the Sierras.

Some fledgling musicians, including Dan Hicks, formed the Charlatans and became the Red Dog house band. Ham had just developed an art form he calls "light painting," a kinetic abstract expressionism that used an overhead projector, layers of glass, oils, pigments and other liquids to project pulsating amoeba-like patterns of color onto walls and ceilings.

According to some rock historians, the Charlatans were the first psychedelic rock band. They returned to San Francisco and began performing with other fledgling groups in small clubs and dance halls and for free in Golden Gate Park.

In the early 1960s, Ham said, there was "this whole city of creative people," including jazz musicians, artists, writers, dancers, avant-garde actors and the early electronic music creators. "Then it got overwhelmed by the rock and roll scene," he said, "because it turned out that was where the money was."

America's music critics discovered "the San Francisco sound" at the Monterey Pop Festival in the spring of 1967, a concert where the imported Texas blues singer Janis Joplin, the new frontwoman for Big Brother and the Holding Company, blew everyone away. That spring also saw the release of the hit pop song, "San Francisco," with its famous lyric, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair."

But the most influential musical release that spring was the Beatles classic psychedelic album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Those songs inspired millions of people around the world to experiment with psychedelic drugs and explore the mystical promises of Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.

The Acid Tests

All of the media attention focused on San Francisco and the 1967 Summer of Love attracted throngs of baby boomers to the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was not all peace and love.

Among the waves of psychedelic immigrants were hordes of troubled, runaway kids. Many found freedom, while others fell into drug addiction, sexual exploitation and the worsening of pre-existing mental illness caused by the careless use of psychoactive drugs. "There were definitely casualties," Ham said, "but when you compare it to Vietnam, we don't have too much to apologize for."

Photographer Gene Anthony, the author of a richly illustrated book, "The Summer of Love - Haight-Ashbury at its Highest," captured many of the magical moments during the "Acid Tests" and the early gatherings of the tribe from which the soon-to-be-famous San Francisco rock bands would emerge.

"In some ways it did seem like a religious movement, but more in the communal and political sense. There wasn't one charismatic leader," Anthony said. "There were groups of people like the Mime Troupe and The Diggers, who were feeding the kids and trying to do something positive. There was the Free Clinic and a store where everything was free."

Anything could happen. One Sunday in the summer of 1967, Anthony was standing at the corner of Haight and Masonic streets when a black limo pulled up and out popped George Harrison, the famous Beatle, with his wife, Pattie Boyd, both of them decked out in fashionable hippie garb.

Starting in the fall of 1966, and continuing into the 1980s, laws were passed banning and increasing penalties for drugs like LSD and MDMA, known on the street as Ecstasy or Molly. Scientific research into beneficial uses of these compounds, which date back to the 1950s, was shut down in the 1970s and 1980s. Richard Nixon declared his "war on drugs," and the "Just Say No" mantra of Nancy Reagan became the official federal drug policy.

Today, however, there is a growing appreciation of the potentially beneficial medical uses of still-banned, mind-altering compounds like, MDMA and psilocybin, the drug that puts the magic in magic mushrooms. Government-approved clinical trials are underway at UCLA, New York University and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in which these drugs, alongside psychotherapy, are used to help people suffering from depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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'Summer of Love' shaped American lives, spiritual expression - Houston Chronicle

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The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism – The Independent

Posted: July 24, 2017 at 8:23 am

Something remarkable happened to the youth of the Western world 50 years ago. In the summer of 1967 a huge number of American teenagers nobody knows exactly how many, but some estimate between 100,000 and 200,000 escaped what they saw as their suburban prisons and made for the city district of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco.

We now look back on the Summer of Love the name originated at a meeting of counter-cultural leaders in the spring as a lost golden age of bliss, excitement and adventure; a paradise which can never be recreated. But in actual fact, this centre-piece of the Sixtiesstill looms large over popular culture and social mores today.

Drawing on utopian traditions which date back to the founding fathers, and fuelled by the euphoric and hallucinatory powers of marijuana and LSD, the summer of 1967 saw an extraordinary culture rise in a remarkably short space of time.

There was a creative explosion in the arts, music and fashion combined with a belief that the world could be born anew. Characterised by the vivid, flowing colours of psychedelic art, and a belief that love was the solution to all problems, hippy culture set out to transform the world by rejecting every social, political, economic and aesthetic feature of mainstream Western society.

This hippy revolution became a media sensation with the release of Scott Mackenzies song, San Francisco, in May 1967, which was a huge hit in the US and much of Europe.

The story goes that a paradise of peace and love prevailed in San Francisco for much of the year, but came sadly unstuck very soon after. This new Garden of Eden was destroyed progressively by the sheer numbers of teenagers who descended on Haight-Ashbury. One leading figure described the resulting chaos as a zoo.

Commercialisation of the hippie dream compounded the problem and disillusion set in. The twin shock of the Manson murders in August 1969, and the brutal killing by Hells Angels of an audience member at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont a few months later, provided the epitaph to an era.

According to this version, the survivors renounced psychedelia, abandoned the vain belief that love would solve everything and knuckled down to political action gay liberation, second wave feminism and environmentalism. Or they found gurus and became new agers. The Sixties were sealed off, preserved in aspic as a lost golden age, a time of innocence. It was over, finished, forbidden to anyone who wasnt there.

However, like all golden age stories, this narrative is largely bogus.

Happy together

Criticism of the Summer of Love mythology dates back to 1967 itself, to the Diggers named after the English radicals of 1649-50. This guerrilla street theatre group regarded the hippy phenomenon as a media creation, a distraction from the true attempt to build a new and more just society. They denounced the irresponsible preaching of psychedelic guru Timothy Leary, who urged teenagers to take LSD and renounce work and education, and attacked the catchy nonsense of MacKenzies song as a marketing ploy.

The truth is that like all apparently simple cultural phenomena, the Summer of Love was complex. There was a deep tension between the Diggers back-to-basics idealistic communism, the commercialism of hippy capitalists selling bells and beads, the advocates of psychedelic transformation, and the politicos of the new left based in Berkeley, California.

The single issue all these groups opposed was American involvement in Vietnam. When the war came to an end with the Paris peace accord in 1973, there was no longer a binding external enemy. The illusion of a single, principled counterculture vanished.

Flowers in your hair

In reality, there was no single Sixties, no golden age, and nothing to come to an end. Instead there were three taste cultures that all coincided, and started to change societys values.

The first of these cultures was based in fashion and music. Peacock styles for men long hair and bright colours and women in mini-skirts or flowing hippy garb. The second group were political revolutionaries, post and neo-Marxists for whom the transformation of socio-economic conditions was the pressing priority. The third group believed in inner transformation and liberation achieved through marijuana and LSD.

Though the three groups priorities were fundamentally different, they shared a belief that the past was old and stale, along with a commitment to unfettered individualism. There were, of course, still significant overlaps, and when psychedelic culture met the radical left, notions of protest as play and performance took centre stage.

Half a century on from the height of the Summer of Love, all three taste cultures have survived, but with a different relevance. Individuality and self-expression in fashion and music has continued unhindered. Traditions of political protest flourish as new targets are found in environmental activism and sexual politics. And new generations of spiritual seekers find inspiration in psychedelic drugs, now also known as entheogens.

Defining the Sixties as a single unique period, a lost golden age, seals it off from contemporary experience. The sun may have set on the Summer of Love, but the warmth of its rays are still being felt today.

Nicholas Campion is anassociate professor in cosmology and culture, principal lecturer in the faculty of humanities and the performing arts at The University of Wales Trinity Saint David. This article was originally published on The Conversation (www.theconversation.com)

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The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism - The Independent

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How San Francisco’s Summer of Love sparked today’s religious movements – Religion News Service

Posted: July 22, 2017 at 8:20 am

50th anniversary By Don Lattin | 12 hours ago

Guests view the Bill Ham Light Painting Room/Light Show during the opening night of TheSummer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco on April 8, 2017. Photo courtesy of BillHamLights.com

SAN FRANCISCO (RNS) Over the past few months, the Bay Area has been waxing nostalgic over the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the 1967 season when hippies and tens of thousands of seekers, drifters and runaways poured into the citys suddenly chaotic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

To many Americans, the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s, which the Summer of Love came to represent, may seem like an irrelevant little experiment involving LSD, tie-dyes, free love, shaggy hairstyles and rock bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

A crowd keeps a large ball, painted to represent a world globe, in the air during a gathering at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, to celebrate the summer solstice on June 21, 1967, day one of Summer of Love. (AP Photo)

It was all of that, but the mind-blowing revolution that rocked the streets of San Francisco that summer may also be seen as a new religious movement that profoundly shaped the lives and spiritual expression of millions of Americans who never dropped acid, grew a beard, burned their bra, or set foot in a hippie commune.

Anyone who has ever participated in yoga classes, practiced mindfulness meditation, looked into alternative medicine, or referred to oneself as spiritual but not religious, may want to find a 70-year-old hippie this summer and simply say, Thank you.

The Cosmic Car on a San Francisco street in 1967. Photo by Gene Anthony

San Francisco had been drawing adventure seekers and freethinkers since the 1849 Gold Rush, but the immediate roots of the Summer of Love date back to the 1950s and the influential work of the Beat writers like Jack Kerouac (On the Road, 1957) and poet Allen Ginsberg (Howl, 1956).

The psychedelic experimentation in San Francisco took off in 1965, when novelist Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, 1962) gathered a Dionysian band of artists, musicians and drug enthusiasts known as the Merry Pranksters and held a series of LSD-fueled happenings around the Bay Area. Their story was immortalized by Tom Wolfes 1968 nonfiction book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Those who were in the middle of the San Francisco scene in the mid-1960s say the best of times were over by the summer of 1967, when the drugs got harder and the unconditional love got conditional.

Timothy Leary addresses a crowd of hippies at the Human Be-In that he helped organize in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco on Jan. 14, 1967. Leary told the crowd to turn on, tune in, drop out.(AP Photo/Bob Klein)

It was all downhill, they say, following the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in January of 1967, when Timothy Leary, the former Harvard University psychologist and LSD guru, took the stage and told the stoned multitudes to turn on, tune in, drop out.

To Carolyn Mountain Girl Garcia, the 1967 Summer of Love was very much a media distortion.

It drove people in vast numbers with expectations that were never met, she said. It was kind of a sociological disaster. But it was really wonderful when it was working.

Garcia, now 71, was only 17 years old when she arrived in the Bay Area with her older brother from New York in the summer of 1963. Within a year, she met Neal Cassady, the real-life version of a charismatic character in Kerouacs On the Road.

Judy Smith, wearing face paint and flowers in her hair as she and others gather at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on June 21, 1967. Fifty years ago, throngs of American youth descended on San Francisco to join a cultural revolution. (AP Photo/Robert W. Klein)

Cassady introduced Garcia to Ken Kesey who christened her Mountain Girl and fathered Garcias first daughter, Sunshine. Within a few years, Garcia was living with Sunshine and Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead.

She later co-founded an organization called the Womens Visionary Congress, a community of adventurers from generations and traditions united to explore a more vivid and profound awareness of our inner and outer worlds.

Carolyn Garcia sees psychedelic drugs and plants as a major inspiration for much of the broader spiritual experimentation in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.

It got people into a spiritual dimension without the religion attached. It was personal contact with the realm of spiritual energy, with an unseen force that connects everybody to life itself, to nature, she said. Many spiritual communities have evolved from the hippie times, including people taking on Buddhism and other Asian religions and recreating them as modern movements. If you want to find out about spirituality and psychedelics, just talk to your yoga teacher.

Some former psychedelic enthusiasts question whether the consciousness-raising counterculture was all that effective in transforming American society.

One of them is Robert Forte, who studied the history and psychology of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and has taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the California Institute of Integral Studies.

He sees the psychedelic counterculture as a microcosm of the best and worst of religion.

Religion is a very complex subject, spanning the whole spectrum of human behavior. It can be an ethical, exalted expression, but religion can also be a mind-control technique to subjugate the masses, said Forte, who edited two collections of essays in the late 1990s, Timothy Leary Outside Looking In,and Entheogens and the Future of Religion.

A lot of people in the 1960s had unitive experiences that informed their life in important ways.

Yet we also see all this fake New Ageism, he added. You hear a lot of cheerleading about the value of these drugs. But where is our anti-war movement today? Where are the visions we had in the 1960s about transforming the world in more ecologically, sustainable ways? Weve failed. Yet there are these people who think that by taking drugs and putting feathers in your hair and going to Burning Man you are somehow furthering this alternative culture.

For visual artist Bill Ham, the man who more-or-less invented the psychedelic light show, it was a magical time of creative freedom. Ham is now 84 and still living in San Francisco, not far from Haight Street. He arrived as an art student in 1958 and began hanging out with the Beats, who gathered in coffeehouses and poetry venues in the citys North Beach neighborhood.

Artist Bill Ham performs a light painting. Photo courtesy ofBillhamlights.com

Ham was among a small band of San Francisco beatniks and hippies who spent the summer of 1965 at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nev., a old mining town about five hours east of San Francisco, on the other side of the Sierras.

Some fledgling musicians, including Dan Hicks, formed the Charlatans and became the Red Dog house band. Ham had just developed an art form he calls light painting, a kinetic abstract expressionism that used an overhead projector, layers of glass, oils, pigments and other liquids to project pulsating amoeba-like patterns of color onto walls and ceilings.

According to some rock historians, the Charlatans were the first psychedelic rock band. They returned to San Francisco and began performing with other fledgling groups in small clubs and dance halls and for free in Golden Gate Park. In the early years, there was little separation between the performers and audience, a connection that was intensified by psychedelic plants like marijuana and peyote, and later with powerful mind-altering drugs like LSD, which at high doses have the ability to blur the boundary between self and other.

In the early 1960s, Ham said, there was this whole city of creative people, including jazz musicians, artists, writers, dancers, avant-garde actors, and the early electronic music creators. Then it got overwhelmed by the rock and roll scene, he said, because it turned out that was where the money was.

Americas music critics discovered the San Francisco sound at the Monterey Pop Festival in the spring of 1967, a concert where the imported Texas blues singer Janis Joplin, the new frontwoman for Big Brother and the Holding Company, blew everyone away. That spring also saw the release of the hit pop song, San Francisco, with its famous lyric, If youre going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair.

But the most influential musical release that spring was the Beatles classic psychedelic album, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Those songs inspired millions of people around the world to experiment with psychedelic drugs and explore the mystical promises of Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.

Peace demonstrators fill Fulton Street in San Francisco on April 15, 1967, during a five-mile march through the city. The march ended at Kezar Stadium, where a peace rally was held. Groups came from Los Angeles and the Northwest to join in the march and rally. San Francisco City Hall is in the background. (AP Photo/Robert W. Klein)

This was all two years before the Woodstock nation gathered on Max Yasgurs dairy farm in upstate New York.

All of the media attention focused on San Francisco and the 1967 Summer of Love attracted throngs of baby boomers to the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was not all peace and love.

Among the waves of psychedelic immigrants were hordes of troubled, runaway kids. Many found freedom, while others fell into drug addiction, sexual exploitation, and the worsening of pre-existing mental illness caused by the careless use of psychoactive drugs. There were definitely casualties, Ham said, but when you compare it to Vietnam, we dont have too much to apologize for.

Photographer Gene Anthony, the author of a richly illustrated book, The Summer of Love Haight-Ashbury at its Highest, captured many of the magical moments during the Acid Tests and the early gatherings of the tribe from which the soon-to-be-famous San Francisco rock bands would emerge.

In some ways it did seem like a religious movement, but more in the communal and political sense. There wasnt one charismatic leader, Anthony said. There were groups of people like the Mime Troupe and The Diggers, who were feeding the kids and trying to do something positive. There was the Free Clinic and a store where everything was free.

A young San Francisco resident, far right, came out of his apartment across the street to welcome three new visitors arriving from Ohio for the 1967 Summer of Love. Photo by Herb Greene

Anything could happen. One Sunday in the summer of 1967, Anthony was standing at the corner of Haight and Masonic streets when a black limo pulled up and out popped George Harrison, the famous Beatle, with his wife, Pattie Boyd, both of them decked out in fashionable hippie garb.

Harrison would later reveal that he was not impressed with the scene in the Haight. I expected it to be a brilliant place with groovy gypsy people, he said, but it was full of horrible spotty dropout kids.

Starting in the fall of 1966, and continuing into the 1980s, laws were passed banning and increasing penalties for drugs like LSD and MDMA, known on the street as Ecstasy or Molly. Scientific research into beneficial uses of these compounds, which date back to the 1950s, was shut down in the 1970s and 1980s. Richard Nixon declared his war on drugs, and the Just Say No mantra of Nancy Reagan became the official federal drug policy.

Today, however, there is a growing appreciation of the potentially beneficial medical uses of still-banned, mind-altering compounds like, MDMA and psilocybin, the drug that puts the magic in magic mushrooms. Government-approved clinical trials are underway at UCLA, New York University and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in which these drugs, alongside psychotherapy, are used to help people suffering from depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Summer of Love exhibits have opened in San Francisco at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and at the Mission Street offices of the California Historical Society.

(Don Lattin is the author of Changing Our Mind Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy, published this spring. Find him at http://www.donlattin.com)

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How San Francisco's Summer of Love sparked today's religious movements - Religion News Service

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The Poisoner: Pharmakos and Veneficus-Poisoner’s Apothecary – Patheos (blog)

Posted: July 19, 2017 at 4:20 am

Forest Pathway. Photographer Carey E. Ward.

Walking the Crooked Path

There are few words to adequately describe my nature as a practitioner of the Nameless Arte. There is not one single title that I identify with on a regular basis, but a collection of diverse practices that contribute to my identity. I am often hesitant to call myself anything when it comes to magical titles. Many of the words used to describe ourselves today originated during a time when people like us were feared. Many of the cultural terms for witch used in European vernacular during the Medieval Period were also associated with malevolent supernatural entities. If I had to choose a term that most closely describes what and who I am; it would have to be one of the old names used in the ancient world to describe sorcerous practitioners with the knowledge of botanical poisons and powers. The Greeks called them Pharmakos because of their knowledge of the powers of plants. In the Roman Empire they became known by the Latinized version of the earlier Greek title. The Veneficus of Rome specialized, not only in plant medicine, but also in botanical toxins. Assassination was a common occurrence in Roman political society, and the apothecary played a central role in the turning of political tides. With their knowledge of plant poisons and antidotes, a practitioner of the Venefic Arts could be an invaluable tool. Witchcraft was synonymous with the venefic arts in ancient times, and has remained a tool of the politically and socially oppressed.

In modern terms of religion I consider myself aPagan since I have never felt entirely comfortable using the termNeo-Pagan to describe myself or my practices. I dont see anything wrong with those who identify with this term, and I recognize it as a legitimate academic term. Just like other major religions, there are many diverse traditions under the umbrella of Paganism, Neo-Paganism included. Both titles are able to coexist simultaneously as they refer to different ends of the spectrum. The concept of religion as an institution based on specific doctrine is a relatively modern idea. Pagan spirituality as a whole does not fit into this compartment. I think as fellow Pagans we all follow a similar path when it comes to our reverence for nature and our relationship with the spirit world. There are many branches off of the path of paganism, each with its own unique cosmology.

Photographer Carey E. Ward.

The Path of Poisons and Witchlore

ThePoison PathorVeneficium as it has become known is a facet of traditional witch lore based on the ancient arte of plant magic. The story of the Fall, in which divine luminaries descended from the heavens is a central pillar of traditional witchcraft lore. The Fallen Ones brought knowledge of the arts to mankind, including the art of wortcunning. In addition to this knowledge, they made wives of the daughters of man, and through this union brought the legendary witchfire or Mark of Cain into the human gene pool. This ancient myth with its pre-Christian origins has been shared throughout human history preserved in occult lore. The Poison Path is just one of the ways in which we can unlock the secrets of the spirit world through communion and partnership with the spirits of nature.

Part of our practice on the verdant way is the collection and preservation of traditional plant lore. What we do not obtain from written sources we are able to learn directly from the plants themselves. Spending a lot of time in direct communion with plant-spirit allies is a great advantage to any practitioner of green witchcraft. Whether it be sitting with a single special plant of your own cultivation or immersing yourself in the forest surrounded by its collective spirit. One of the most effective devotional practices for building a strong bond with the green current is meditative walking in the forest, and cultivating traditional witch herbs. So much can be learned about the hidden nature of any plant by tending to it every day and watching it go through its life cycle.

Photographer Carey E. Ward. Lindenwood Nature Preserve.

Plants of Tradition

There are certain plants that are more associated with witchcraft and sorcery than any other. These are the herbs of traditional witch lore. The Nightshades are amongst some of the most infamous witchs herbs, including well known names like Belladonna and Mandrake. Other banes like Wolfsbane are associated with shapeshifting, sorcery and the Underworld. The infamous Fly Agaric Mushroom found across cultures has been used by shamanic practitioners to part the way between the worlds and travel back with newfound knowledge. All of these well-documented botanicals have been associated with magical practice and occult secrets over the centuries. I believe that these plants allied themselves with ancient men and women who were the first keepers of esoteric lore.

The plants within this category make powerful allies for any magical practitioner, and are not limited to those containing large amounts of toxins. Like many powerful plant spirits, just their presence and proximity is enough to bring one into a trance. Regular meditation with the living plant spirit is one of the best ways to develop a spiritual bond with the plant. Harvesting these plants is a sacrament in itself, and one of the primary practices of the green witch. The harvest ritual can be as simple or complex as the practitioner desires, and offerings are made to the spirit of the land. The plants retain their power within their bones long after their waters have left them.

Poisoners Accoutrement. Photographer Coby Michael Ward.

Underworld and Harvest

As plants of life, death and resurrection their bodies are transformed by their harvest-death returning from the Underworld as powerful spirit fetishes for artifice. Artificium is the creation of magical tools, objects and artifacts using sacred mineralogical and botanical materials, and is one of the artes of the path. Strangely enough the Nightshade plants of the Witchs Garden have roots that are perfect for the making of altar totems and ritually prepared homunculi. The berries, leaves and seed pods of these plants also produce natural amulets and tokens.

While different methods of ingestion and absorption have been utilized ritually and medicinally, it is imperative to gain ones own experience and understanding of the plants before any ritual ingestion is attempted of any kind. Any such ritual should be treated with reverence and rarity of occasion to maintain potency.

Green Witchcraft, or plant magic in general has associations with the Underworld via direct connection through the earth. The plants of the Poison Path draw nutrients up through their root systems, taking in energy from subterranean realms. While most plants draw their energy from the Sun, these shade loving denizens of the night draw their power directly from the Underworld. Their additional Saturnian correspondences further connect them to the Underworld. These witch allies nourish themselves with the dark and verdant light below, occasionally descending to its depths for protection. Because of their time spent in the Underworld during the winter months they are able to return more powerful or more numerous than before. Like a witch returning from a night at the Sabbath they bring with them new powers and lore.

The Underworld is a place of ancestral knowledge and where the hidden powers of nature reside. It is the repository for the Mysteries, where through initiatory experiences one returns with new understanding having communed with Elder Gods. The chthonic powers of the underworld are presided over by the Witch Queen or Queen of Elphame, whose consort and spirit retinue comprise the courts of the Fair Folk. It is the resting place of that divine fire that fell to Earth many millennia ago, still casting its dim green glow over the landscapes of the world below.

Plant-Based Magical Practices

The Poison Path or Crooked Way not only emphasizes the baneful herbs of medieval witchlore, but all plants with potent relationships with mankind. Understanding the balms and antidotes is the other side of the path as it weaves crookedly through the forest. Throughout history there have been certain plants that seem to have a special affinity towards humanity, plants like Ladys Mantle and Vervain are known for their powers as catalysts for magical operations. Such plants are also known for aiding practitioners in the practice of plant alchemy. There is a rich history of botanical lore that preserves medieval folk practices, and complex herbal preparations recorded in handwritten grimoires.

The historic relevancy and emphasis on academic research is another aspect that attracted me to classical witchcraft and the Poison Path. Part of my practice is piecing together bits and pieces of botanical folklore to create my own compendium of sorcerous allies. I am very interested in any documented historical use of the traditional plants of European witchcraft, and also any modern pharmacological research available on botanical entheogens. This path weaves together many facets of witchcraft mythos, including the Witches Sabbath and the infamous Flying Ointments of the Medieval Period. Interestingly we find many obscure pieces of magical practices hidden within the botanical folklore of the world. Many of the lost practices of antiquity can be regained through our direct communion with these elder spirits.

Learn More About the Poison Path Here

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The Poisoner: Pharmakos and Veneficus-Poisoner's Apothecary - Patheos (blog)

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The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism – Metro Newspaper UK

Posted: July 8, 2017 at 4:23 am

Nicholas Campion, Associate Professor in Cosmology and Culture, Principal Lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities and the Performing Arts, The University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Something remarkable happened to the youth of the Western world 50 years ago. In the summer of 1967 a huge number of American teenagers nobody knows exactly how many, but some estimate between 100,000 and 200,000 escaped what they saw as their suburban prisons and made for the city district of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco.

We now look back on the Summer of Love the name originated at a meeting of counter-cultural leaders in the spring as a lost golden age of bliss, excitement and adventure; a paradise which can never be recreated. But in actual fact, this centre-piece of the 60s still looms large over popular culture and social mores today.

Drawing on utopian traditions which date back to the founding fathers, and fuelled by the euphoric and hallucinatory powers of marijuana and LSD, the summer of 1967 saw an extraordinary culture rise in a remarkably short space of time.

There was a creative explosion in the arts, music and fashion combined with a belief that the world could be born anew. Characterised by the vivid, flowing colours of psychedelic art, and a belief that love was the solution to all problems, hippy culture set out to transform the world by rejecting every social, political, economic and aesthetic feature of mainstream Western society.

This hippy revolution became a media sensation with the release of Scott Mackenzies song, San Francisco, in May 1967, which was a huge hit in the US and much of Europe.

The story goes that a paradise of peace and love prevailed in San Francisco for much of the year, but came sadly unstuck very soon after. This new Garden of Eden was destroyed progressively by the sheer numbers of teenagers who descended on Haight-Ashbury. One leading figure described the resulting chaos as a zoo.

Commercialisation of the hippie dream compounded the problem and disillusion set in. The twin shock of the Manson murders in August 1969, and the brutal killing by Hells Angels of an audience member at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont a few months later, provided the epitaph to an era.

According to this version, the survivors renounced psychedelia, abandoned the vain belief that love would solve everything and knuckled down to political action gay liberation, second wave feminism and environmentalism. Or they found gurus and became new agers. The 60s were sealed off, preserved in aspic as a lost golden age, a time of innocence. It was over, finished, forbidden to anyone who wasnt there.

However, like all golden age stories, this narrative is largely bogus.

Criticism of the Summer of Love mythology dates back to 1967 itself, to the Diggers named after the English radicals of 1649-50. This guerrilla street theatre group regarded the hippy phenomenon as a media creation, a distraction from the true attempt to build a new and more just society. They denounced the irresponsible preaching of psychedelic guru Timothy Leary, who urged teenagers to take LSD and renounce work and education, and attacked the catchy nonsense of MacKenzies song as a marketing ploy.

The truth is that like all apparently simple cultural phenomena, the Summer of Love was complex. There was a deep tension between the Diggers back-to-basics idealistic communism, the commercialism of hippy capitalists selling bells and beads, the advocates of psychedelic transformation, and the politicos of the new left based in Berkeley, California.

The single issue all these groups opposed was American involvement in Vietnam. When the war came to an end with the Paris peace accord in 1973, there was no longer a binding external enemy. The illusion of a single, principled counterculture vanished.

In reality, there was no single 60s, no golden age, and nothing to come to an end. Instead there were three taste cultures that all coincided, and started to change societys values.

The first of these cultures was based in fashion and music. Peacock styles for men long hair and bright colours and women in mini-skirts or flowing hippy garb. The second group were political revolutionaries, post and neo-Marxists for whom the transformation of socio-economic conditions was the pressing priority. The third group believed in inner transformation and liberation achieved through marijuana and LSD.

Though the three groups priorities were fundamentally different, they shared a belief that the past was old and stale, along with a commitment to unfettered individualism. There were, of course, still significant overlaps, and when psychedelic culture met the radical left, notions of protest as play and performance took centre stage.

Half a century on from the height of the Summer of Love, all three taste cultures have survived, but with a different relevance. Individuality and self-expression in fashion and music has continued unhindered. Traditions of political protest flourish as new targets are found in environmental activism and sexual politics. And new generations of spiritual seekers find inspiration in psychedelic drugs, now also known as entheogens.

Defining the 60s as a single unique period, a lost golden age, seals it off from contemporary experience. The sun may have set on the Summer of Love, but the warmth of its rays are still being felt today.

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The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism - Metro Newspaper UK

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