By Paddy Kamen, Publisher
I am a psychedelic virgin. Or perhaps not....I did try Ayahuasca about five years ago and can't recommend it based on that experience; not that it hasn't been of huge benefit to other people I know. I still consider myself a virgin because I haven't had anything close to the reality-shaking experiences reported by others. I know at least two well-regarded meditation teachers whose first enlightenment experiences were mediated by such substances and I remain fascinated by the potential for spiritual awakening and personal insight that may result from the use of substances such as psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, LSD, and iboga. I am prepared to experiment, with caution, and I'm not sure what my next adventure in consciousness will be.
Recent reading on the subject includes Storming Heaven by Jay Stevens, a fascinating social and political history of the experimental drug culture in the U.S., beginning with the discovery of LSD. I highly recommend this book. I also enjoyed, Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals, by Huston Smith. Smith, a religious scholar, was part of the early-days experiments with LSD. Like me, he was searching for spiritual insight. I am currently reading DMT: The Spirit Molecule, by Rick Strassman.
Fortunately, research on psychdelics has been somewhat revived (although I'm not up on the current politics of this). Two recent interesting articles describe success with psilocybin for cancer patients. Check out Jann Hoffman's piece in the New York Times, and Olga Khazan's artile in The Atlantic.
Bring on the shrooms!