Huichol Yarn Painting
LSD took America by storm in the 1960's. The effects of this drug on the mind became entwined with the social upheavals of that time, and laws were passed against it to take their place among laws against narcotics. LSD, however, was similar in its effects to plants and mushrooms used for centuries by healers and shamans from cultures all over the world. These substances are widely considered to have great spiritual value, and form the core of religious beliefs in many cultures. In America, the strong Puritan streak that still runs through this country has led to both an uninformed view that LSD is just another drug of abuse, as well as the subtler notion that no "genuine" spiritual experience can be brought on by taking a drug.
Yet the evidence is strong and persistent that the so-called psychedelic drugs do indeed bring profound spiritual benefits to their users. Some of these users have even coined the term "entheogens", meaning "God within", to emphasize that aspect of their actions. The purpose of The Web of Possibilities is to keep in the public eye, through the freedom of the World Wide Web and the Internet, the real truth about entheogens, and their potential for assisting human spiritual growth.
The Web of Possibilities contains historical information and other resources.
The crackdown on mind expanding drugs beginning with the criminalization of LSD (legal from 1943, when it was first synthesized, until 1966) was not only a legal and medical prohibition, but extended to a vilification that led most publishers to avoid any pro-drug message at all. Most books published that discuss benefits from such substances are published by small presses or individuals. It is not unlike a Dark Age of scholarship, with a few brave souls resolutely writing and publishing like medieval scientists copying and circulating manuscripts. This file is a briefly annotated list of the best of the books covering the medical, psychological, religious, chemical, ethnobotanical and philosophical aspects of these drugs. Some are in print, some not. Used bookstores, and small independent booksellers are the best places to find them. Information is still legal in this country - just harder to find.
Fitz Hugh Ludlow (1836-1870) was the first American to write a full length work on the effects of drugs on the mind. The son of a prominent Abolitionist preacher, Ludlow wrote The Hasheesh Eater, in which he detailed the physical, intellectual and spiritual aspects of altered states of consciousness.
This is a popular treatment of the theories of a number of sociologists, historians and philosophers that entheogenic drugs played a key role in the religious roots of Western Civilization. It will be serialized in The Web of Possibilities over the next several months. This first installment contains the Introduction and a chapter discussing the legal history of the use of entheogens in the U.S. by Native Americans.
The traditional culture and religion of the Ute Indians, like other Native American peoples, was devastated by the invasion of European Americans in the 19th Century. There exists some evidence that the Amanita muscaria mushroom, native to the Rocky Mountain pine forests, could have served as a shamanic sacrament for the Utes.
Despite the fact that entheogens are illegal in this country, a few organizations and forums still exist to discuss the value of entheogens and topics ranging from cultivation to ethnopharmacology. The Telluride Mushroom Festival and Conference, held every summer amid the breathtaking scenery of Telluride, Colorado, is one such event.
Here is a list of other entheogenic resources.
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