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MAGIC MUSHROOMS - Sacred or fun - Myths
Many traditional stories contain, sometimes as a metaphor, indications of substances with the magical quality to shape shift, to enter another world or to go through a transformation. A potion here, a magical spell or a jump in a magical pond there, the crossing of a river, falling asleep and awaking in a strange country; the well informed recognizes the indications. Would Eve's apple not also be a metaphor for the psychedelic experience? Snakes show up quite frequently in trips. And kissing frogs? It is known that certain toads (Bufo species) discharge a substance (bufotenine), which is also psychoactive. It has been told that it can be ingested by licking a toad. If we care to look at the deeper meaning of gnomes living in their toadstools, then there also must be something to the story of the princess and the frog she had to kiss. Actually, a better-recorded use of bufotenine is to dry the toad-venom and smoke it. It is, as many DMT-containing indoles, not orally active without MAO-inhibitors.
The themes of the myths don't seem to change much throughout the centuries: the transformation of villain to hero, from frog to prince, from beggar to king, from child to adult, from wild to wise, it seems a universal scenario.
Somewhere deep inside everyone resides the fascination that accompanies the stories we listened to as kids, the fairy-tales and the myths. Nowadays comics, Science Fiction adventures and computer games are filled with the same heroes, wizards, kings, fairies and gnomes, devilish opponents, quests, magical charms and bewitched brews. All these are archetypal images, scenarios, forms and figures, which according to Carl G. Jung are projections of our subconscious and the collective unconscious.
These images not only appear in the Gilgamesh epos, the Icelandic Edda and the Bible, but also in the legends around King Arthur, in The Lord of the Ring by J. Tolkien and even in Star Wars. And what was it the druid put into the soup in the Asterix-comics that made the Gauls so immensely strong that they became invincible?
Could it be that the psychedelic experience is at the root of many of these stories and myths?
The author Aldous Huxley pointed, in `Doors of Perception' at the similarities between art, architecture, tapestry and jewelry and the visions one experiences during a trip. And it is a trip indeed, a fantastic voyage. Under the spell of the psychedelic one floats through doors and tunnels into enormous spaces with decorations and color-patterns, which look like temples or churches. The question is now what came first, the inner world or what was made and built in `reality'.
A trip to the mythic world of heraldic lore or ancient imagery with palaces, temples and strange surroundings is quite normal, but one also commonly reports a kind of mystic unity, a feeling of oneness.
Many users experience the trip as a mystical, spiritual experience; they make contact with the Godhead, the unmentionable. This is often accompanied with a feeling of union with all, the `unio mystica'. In this context one started calling certain substances as MDMA (XTC or ecstasy) and psilocybin `entheogens'; a means to come closer to the experience of the "Divine".
The step from divine miracle to a ritual using a psychedelic substance is not that far-fetched. The psychedelic can easily be seen as a teacher, a sacrament of transformation. Myths, legends, holy books - fantasy or reality - maybe they all contain a meta-message, a message that may be more easily perceived if one has had some experience of traveling the shadow-regions of the mind.
Are we really certain that Jesus and his disciples were drinking ordinary wine and were eating ordinary bread? We use beautiful words, like transsubstantiation, for what believers see as the `Body and the Blood of Christ' in the Communion. It all depends on the viewpoint; the psychedelic brew is a sacrament for the disciples of Santo Daime, but it is an illegal and dangerous potion for others.
Many feel the magic mushroom experience, as a somewhat guided tour to the magic wonderland inside. That's why we call the magic mushrooms `our little brothers' in this book. This is a strong image, which pictures the magic mushrooms as benevolent, friendly and also suggests that they can be helpful, that we are in a union with them to explore the real as well as the unreal.
It is certainly true that all this can be experienced by other means than psychedelics. Deep meditation, fasting, yoga practice, a vision quest in the desert, a lonely experience on a mountaintop, the challenging of dangers or the encounter with a totem-animal can also bring you into contact with this `other' world, which is so deep inside, but also weaves and shines through all if one cares to look for it or better, open up to it.
Carlos Castaneda wrote about this in an impressive way. His books about the sorcerer Don Juan provide a lot of information about the borderline between inner and outer reality.
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