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Hallucinogens are mind altering drugs that affect the mind’s perception, causing bizarre, unpredictable behavior and severe, sensory disturbances that may place users at risk of serious injuries.  Hallucinogens may also cause an adverse effect if used with alcohol or marijuana resulting in an overdose.

Hallucinogens can be found in plants such as mescaline, which comes from a cactus known as peyote, or certain mushrooms.  Hallucinogens may also be chemically created.  Some of the chemically created forms of hallucinogens are commonly known as:

  • LSD – which is made from lysergic acid.
  • Ecstasy – which is made from the stimulants found in methamphetamine and mescaline.
  • PCP – made with phencyclidine, also known as angel dust.

Researcher Terrence McKenna wrote a book “Time Wave Zero” in which he theorizes that using hallucinogens helped increase awareness of other realities.  This was triggered by a 1971 shamanic-like experiment that he and his brother Dennis conducted in the Columbian Amazon.  Terrence claims he was told by alien voices that the I Ching was part of an ancient machine of time and a way to understand the future.

Using a transformation of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching hexagrams, Terrence and programmer Peter Meyer set about to develop a strict mathematical algorithm for the Time Wave.  This algorithm compares time and history with the ebb and flow of experiential connectedness which McKenna finds essential to the structure of the temporal universe.

Terrance McKenna died in 2000. He was notable for his many speculations on subjects ranging from the Voynich Manuscript to the origins of the human species to Novelty Theory, which claims time to be a fractal wave of increasing novelty, which ends abruptly in 2012.  This corresponds to the winter solstice and is also the end of the Mayan Calendar.  McKenna’s theory is related to the theory of the technological singularity, except that McKenna advocated what he called an “Archaic Revival” as the antidote to what he saw as the self-destructive nature of unchecked, technological development.  The concept appeared to involve a combination of hallucinogenic drugs, Gaianism, and shamanism.

McKenna began speaking publicly, lecturing, and conducting workshops on the topic of psychedelic drugs.  Even though this was somewhat related to the “New Age” or human potential movement, McKenna himself had little patience for New Age sensibilities.  McKenna is quoted as saying, “It’s clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning.  These are the two things that the psychedelics attack.  We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; but we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds.  We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior.  And, it’s not easy.”

Peruvian born author Carlos Castaneda wrote a controversial series of books that claims to describe his training in traditional Native American Shamanism.  His work describes paranormal experiences, several psychological techniques, Toltec magic rituals, shamanism and experiences with psychoactive drugs like peyote.

Many have criticized his work in the area of his description of the use of psychotropic plants as a means to induce altered states of awareness.  Castaneda claims that using plants such as peyote and datura are not necessary to achieve meta-heightened awareness, but was advised by his teacher as being beneficial to aiding in freeing a stubborn mind.  He says that his teacher used them to demonstrate that experiences outside those known in day-to-day life are real and tangible.

Castaneda wrote in his book “Journey to Ixtlan”: “My perception of the world through the effects of those psychotropics had been so bizarre and impressive that I was forced to assume that such states were the only avenue to communicating and learning what don Juan was attempting to teach me.  That assumption was erroneous.”

Dr. Rick Strassman has researched the endogenous psychedelic drug Dimethyltryptamine (DMT).  DMT is formed and found in the human body.  Dr. Strassman theorizes that DMT may be the potential cause of naturally occurring psychotic states such as schizophrenia and manic depressive illnesses as well as other highly altered states of consciousness such as near-death experiences, and mystical states.

A powerful drink called Ayahuasca which is still used today in Brazil for religious rituals is one of the most powerful psychedelic substances in existence.  In a recent article in the philosophy journal Time an Mind, Benny Shannon, a professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, states that this Ayahuasca could hold the key to some unexplained “miracles”.

Professor Shannon theorizes from reading the Bible and deciding that the events described were similar to visions he had after trying the Ayahuasca drink himself.  After further research, he claims that some of the main events in Moses’ life were induced by hallucinogens.  Other biblical stories suggest that the ancient Israelites regarded psychoactive plants in high esteem.


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