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Putting the Magic Back into Magic Mushrooms: 9/20 Day of Activism


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This talk took place at American University on the 9/20 Day of Activism in 2015.

Published in: Spiritual
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Putting the Magic Back into Magic Mushrooms: 9/20 Day of Activism

  1. 1. Putting the Magic Back into Magic Mushrooms Michael M. Hughes 9/20/2015 American University
  2. 2. Barbara Bradley Hagerty NPR Religion Correspondent Wrote about two of my mushroom experiences; one terrifying, one transcendent
  3. 3. Baltimore City Paper, October 8, 2008 Sacred Intentions: Inside the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Studies First feature article on the Johns Hopkins study on psilocybin and mystical experiences
  4. 4. Tassili n’Ajjer National Park Southeastern Algeria
  5. 5. “Plateau of Chasms”
  6. 6. Maria Sabina Mazatec sabia (“Wise One”) 1894-1985 Huautla de Jiménez, Mexico First ate mushrooms“los niños santos” as a child with her sister Became a curandera at age 8 when her uncle was near death and all the other healers had failed him. She went into the jungle, gathered mushrooms, and ate them next to her uncle.
  7. 7. Maria Sabina The saint children told her the location of a plant that would heal him. She went to the location, found the plant, boiled it, and gave it to her uncle. He completely recovered. She also healed her sister when all the other healers had been unsuccessful. Worked as a renowned healer for decades.
  8. 8. Maria Sabina Before Wasson arrived in Mexico seeking the sacred mushrooms, she had a vision of men with white faces and white hair traveling through the hills looking for her.
  9. 9. Sabina’s vision, after healing her sister: “I knew they were the Principal Ones of whom my ancestors spoke. They were seated behind a table on which there were many written papers. I knew that they were important papers. There were a number of Principal Ones, six or eight of them. Some looked at me, others read the papers on the table, others appeared to be searching for something among the papers. I knew they weren’t of flesh and bone….
  10. 10. I knew that it was a revelation that the saint children were giving me. Right away I heard a voice. A voice that was sweet but authoritarian at the same time. Like the voice of a father who loves his children but raises them strictly. A wise voice that said: “These are the Principal Ones.” On the Principal Ones’ table a book appeared, an open book that went on growing until it was the size of a person. In its pages there were letters. It was a white book, so white it was resplendent.
  11. 11. One of the Principal Ones spoke to me and said: “Maria Sabina, this is the Book of Wisdom. It is the book of Language. Everything that is written in it is for you. The Book is yours, take it so that you can work.” I exclaimed with emotion: “That is for me. I receive it." The Principal Ones disappeared and left me alone in front of the immense Book. I knew that it was the Book of Wisdom... Wisdom is language. Language is in the Book. The Book is granted by the Principal Ones. The Principal Ones appear through the great power of the children.
  12. 12. Afterward, in my later visions, the Book no longer appeared because I already had its contents in my memory. . . . I had another vision: I saw something fall from the sky with a great roar, like a lightning bolt. It was a luminous object that blinded. The . . . object turned into a kind of vegetal being . . . Like a bush with flowers of many colors; in its head it had a great a great radiance. Its body was covered with leaves and stalks.
  13. 13. When the vision vanished I was sweating . . . I realized that I was crying and that my tears were crystals that tinkled when they fell on the ground . . . I whistled and clapped, sounded and danced. I danced because I knew I was the great Clown woman and the Lord clown woman. At dawn I slept . . . I woke up . . . It was morning. I touched my body and the ground to make sure I had returned to the world of humans. And Maria Ana got better.
  14. 14. I am not a Curer because I do not give potions of strange herbs to drink. I cure with Language. Nothing else. I am a Wise Woman. Nothing else . . . I am the woman of the winds, of the water, of the paths, because I am known in heaven, because I am a doctor woman. —Maria Sabina, Her Life and Chants
  15. 15. A question for the spirits: To know the future or cure disease
  16. 16. R. Gordon Wasson First trip to Mexico met one-eyed shaman Aurelio Carreras. Wasson only witnessed the velada (did not take mushrooms) Carreras, casting corn kernels, told Wasson his son was not in Boston, but in NY, that he would soon join the army, and that a close family member would die within the year. All of his statements turned out to be true. He left this out of his early written accounts.
  17. 17. R. Gordon Wasson “I had always had a horror,” he wrote, “of those who preached a kind of pseudo-religion of telepathy, who for me were unreliable people; if our discoveries were to be drawn to their attention, we were in danger of being adopted by such undesirables.” Wasson’s daughter and wife later wrote about their apparent psychic episodes.
  18. 18. R. Gordon Wasson “[The sacred mushroom] permits you to see more clearly than our perishing eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of existence, even to know God.”
  19. 19. Allan Richardson Photographer Joined Wasson’s first velada with Maria Sabina. Had a vision: a portrait of a Spanish caballero above a mantlepiece. Upon returning to Mexico city, he entered a hacienda he had never visited, and saw the exact painting above a mantle.
  20. 20. Maria Sabina noticed her visions had changed when she gave the little ones to Wasson and Richardson the first time: “I had different visions than usual. I saw places I had never imagined existed. I reached the place the foreigners come from. I saw cities. Big cities. Many houses, big ones."
  21. 21. Andrija Puharich • Parapsychologist and MD • US Army Captain • Fort Deitrick Chemical and Biological Warfare Center, Edgewood, MD • Working for CIA on ESP and Mind Control Programs • Aldous Huxley called him “one of the most brilliant minds in parapsychology.” • Became interested in the abilities of shamans to “travel clairvoyantly” • Likely the reason a CIA mole, James Moore, later funded a trip to Mexico and accompanied Wasson
  22. 22. One Step Beyond “The Sacred Mushroom” (1961) When trying to psychically visualize a photo of a waterfall: “It has a great deal of… power. Like noise. I don’t how to translate that into a picture. But it seems to have that noise and speed…."
  23. 23. Decided to do an experiment; when Wasson ingested the mushrooms with Maria Sabina, he was to attempt to clairvoyantly visit Puharich (and Puharich to do the same). Their dates got mixed up, but Wasson described seeing Puharich’s lab, which he accurately described as being in a building that looked like a barn. Puharich has set up his lab in a barn in Maine.
  24. 24. Stanley Krippner, PHD The anthropological and ethnobotanical literature is replete with examples of ostensibly parapsychological phenomena occurring with the traditional use of psychoactive plants. For millennia, indigenous societies have used these plant preparations to communicate with purported other- worldly realms and entities. . . .
  25. 25. Stanley Krippner, PHD I went on a whirlwind tour of France, Spain, New York, and Baltimore, ending up in Washington, DC where I found myself gazing at a bust of Abraham Lincoln. While watching the features from the side, in profile, they began to darken and someone whispered, “He was shot. The president was shot.”
  26. 26. Stanley Krippner, PHD A wisp of smoke rose from a gun and curled into the air. Lincoln’s features slowly faded away and those of the current president, John F. Kennedy, took their place. The wisp of smoke was still emerging from the gun, and the voice repeated, “He was shot. The president was shot.” I opened my eyes because they were dripping tears.
  27. 27. Stanislav Grof, MD, PhD One of the creators of transpersonal psychology. His primary interest has been research of the heuristic and therapeutic potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. This included initially four years of laboratory research of psychedelics – LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and tryptamine derivatives – (1956-1960) and fourteen years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy. He spent seven of these years (1960-1967) as Principal Investigator of the psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This was followed by seven years of research of psychedelic psychotherapy in the United States. The first two of these years, he worked as Clinical and Research Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University and in the Research Unit of the Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore, MD. The following five years, he held the position of Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. In this capacity he headed for several years the last surviving official research project of psychedelic therapy in the USA.
  28. 28. “Scientifically conducted consciousness research has brought convincing evidence for the objective existence of the imaginal realm and has thus validated the main metaphysical assumptions of the mystical world view, of the Eastern spiritual philosophies, and even certain beliefs of native cultures.”
  29. 29. “The Jungians started referring to this whole domain as being not imaginary, but imaginal in the sense that different people can visit these realms in their experiences and they can actually reach consensual validation about them in the same way in which those of us who watch a particular television channel will agree that we experience the same thing.”
  30. 30. “When I got the third correct answer in a row, the feelings [of a universe where no laws of time and space exist] were so powerful that I could not continue. The reason for discontinuation of the ESP experiment was a strange mixture of a conviction that it was absurd to test the obvious and, on the other hand, a metaphysical fear of confusion that would follow if I had to give up the usual concept of time and space and with it all the related reference points we feel so secure with.”
  31. 31. Psilocybin shows you everything you know is wrong. The world is not a single, one-dimensional, forward- moving, causal, connected thing, but some kind of interdimensional nexus… What the alien voice in the psychedelic experience wants to reveal is the syntactical nature of reality. That the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of, you make of it whatever you wish! —Terence McKenna
  32. 32. Luke, David P. (2008) Psychedelic substances and paranormal phenomena: a review of the research. Journal of Parapsychology, 72. pp. 77-107.
  33. 33. About a dozen controlled studies in “Pharma- psi” conducted before prohibition in the 1960s. Some studies were terribly repetitive and boring! My private conversations with researchers suggest they are interested in resuming this research Between 18–83% (depending on the type of experience) of those using cannabis and/or psychedelics also reported ESP experiences occurring whilst actually under the influence (Luke)
  34. 34. For instance, my own research into precognition, using a methodologically-rigorous design with 100 participants, found that precognitive ability correlated positively with the reported number of psychedelics consumed by the individuals in the sample (rs =.27, p =.008, two-tailed). Although indirect, this adds further support for the notion of psi-inducing psychedelics. David Luke
  35. 35. Paul Stamets from Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: “A peculiar and strangely real dream enveloped me.” He was at college, trying to desperately return to his mountain cabin. Came to a broad, river valley that had completely flooded. “Floating, dead, and bloated in the frigid sunlight were hundreds and hundreds of cows. The dream abruptly ended and I awoke in a cold sweat, struck with a fear of impending disaster.”
  36. 36. He went downstairs and told his friends. “This was like no dream I had every had; there was a particularly foreboding strangeness to it that struck to the very core of my being…..” One friend asked when this catastrophe would strike. Stamets told him soon, but he didn’t know when except that it would be on a weekend. Friend pointed to a calendar, to weeks from that evening, and wrote “Paul says doomsday” on it.
  37. 37. 2 weeks later an unusual temperature inversion moved into western Washington. Torrential rainfall hit the Cascades, and the inversion caused snow to melt. Bridges were flooded. His cabin was only 20 feet from a glacial creek, and Stamets would lose all of his books, manuscripts, and personal belongings would be lost. So the next day he drove, and because of bridge closures had to go nearly a hundred miles out of his way to get to the cabin. His cabin was safe but 10 feet closer to the river. The next day, he packed everything up to head south to Olympia.
  38. 38. “As I entered the Snohomish Valley, I stared in disbelief at hundreds of cattle who, stranded by the rising waters, had drowned overnight. It was December 1, the exact day my dream had foretold. This single even shattered my concept of linear time. The future can be foreseen." “Now I knew what shamans have known for centuries: the psilocybin experience can facilitate precognition of the future."
  39. 39. The big question: Do we need controlled, scientific documentation of psi effects facilitated by psychedelics to study them and better understand them?
  40. 40. Can we integrate simple, well- designed psi experiments into current psychedelic research? Can the psychedelic community conduct its own research and data collection? Most importantly, we must continue to tell our stories to each other, even if they are considered inconsequential by the scientific mainstream. “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Muriel Rukeyster, The Speed of Darkness
  41. 41. Michael M. Hughes 9/20/2015 American University Twitter: @michaelmhughes Facebook: michaelmhughes