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Thread: Book: The Shaman by Piers Vitebsky reissued!

  1. #9

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    That's a good point Herenorthere makes. Abuse can surely be attributed to wrong application as well as overindulgence. I have the nicotine habit so I can relate deeply there. Nothing spritiual about it. There are shamans out there for certain, and like I mentioned they can be found in unlikely settings. I've met a number of them, and I am not a gullible soul. These folk had something and let you know where you could feel it most and know it true. The problem is there are also so many quack cases and it takes a lot of intuition to tell them apart, and not too many intuitive souls.

    The reason that kids probably gravitate to any drug is the forbidden fruit of pleasure illusion. So many of my generation chose to explore such I have to think it a common experience in the human condition. People want these visionary experiences, to leave the oridnary world for awhile or it wouldn't have been so prevelent. Back in the 60's and 70's when our society ran into these substances, an attempt was made initially to try to use them in a ratioinal context, as sort of psychoanalytical tools, sort of a Church of the rational mind. Their potential was recognized. They were legal then. Like any power tools improper use carries dangers, and the misuses led to the illegailty. Had legailty won out from the get go as was attempted, the misuse could have been less, if not absent.

    So the government passed laws making circular saws illegal and no one ever used them again, yes? Hmmmmm. So, instead of use, there can only be misuse now, for the greatest part. Suffice to say, I hope there someday can be legal avenues for those so desiring, to learn the use of such consciousness changing substances. I believe they have great healing potential for many and are demonstrably intelligence enhancers. The mathmetician who developed chaos theory admits he used lsd to envision the mathmatics needed for this. Currently there is legal research again into the possible benefits of controlled and sacramental use.

    The inside scoop on Carlos is great, glad to learn of it, hahaha! If Carlos was a quack, he was a darn entertaining one, and true or not the books do highlite most excellently the difference between differing ethnocentric realities, and demonstrates the plastic quality of a reality we assume is solid and invariable in our culture. I liked those books, and they were his original PhD thesis or so I've gathered. I wonder if they ever revoked his degree if it was all fiction? (the later books surely were!)

    Allistar Crowley! Now there is a name I haven't heard in a....spell, heh heh. Well, all I can say is there is really only room for one Ipsissimus, as Crowley learned to his rue. He thought he had the Word of the Eon, but his ego won out in the end. Let that be a warning. He became another Child of the Abyss burnt out and spent. The books are ok, all the key details are missing from the published copy and so won't help anyone to repeat his mistake. THIS one wasn't a nut case. At least, not before seeing Pan. Funny that he's still making the rounds, but old occultists never die they just reincarnate.

    The Peyote books sounds grand. I took part in a LEGAL mitote back in the early 70's, although it was in a dorm room vs a teepee. A member of the Native American Church gave the sacrament, although it's now illegal for them too. I earned a Native American name from it. Most folk might get down 3. Nine Buttons they called me and I laughed for half of forever after I spewed. I wouldn't trade that night for 5 more years, and it was the most vile taste I have ever! Later I cried just as hard and prayed it would stop. It did, about 10 hrs later which = eternity!

    OK, for the kids I have to say these power plants are bad mojo if you aren't prepared by the Wise. Might go to heaven, might go to HELL otherwise. Might even go to jail. I advocate for opening legal exploration of what I feel is very needful to the human condition and that only.

    And for Ceremonial Magicians, I reccommend Ursla LeGuin's "Earthsea Triology" before you go opening what you can't shut again. Gibbeth can be soooo annoying.
    "Grow More, Share More"

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    As far as Crowley goes I merely stumbled into collecting his books by finding the poetry book Clouds Without Water by "Rev. C. Very" (aka. Crowley). I had no idea it really existed as anything other than a plot item in a Robert Anton Wilson novel. I always thought Crowley was a "star" but not in the way he said every man and woman were all stars... Crowley seems to me much more black comedy than seriousness - same as LaVey - ringmasters for the new aeon's carnivale - lol! I imagine he chuckled a good deal while writing Theory & Practice.... I find most of Crowley's stuff that I've read to be rather sublimely (or outrageously) humorous.

    I enjoy reading all the mystical / mythological literature of various times & places, it's a book collection I started at 12 or 13 through the mail order Tyrad Book Company / World Wide Curio House of Minneapolis-anyone remember them? I generally reject most of it as superstitious piffle, I'm a professional agnostic despite my interest in it. "Be your own guru but be willing to learn from others" is how I generally navigate the situation. Some of it I do find unreadable though. The wishy washy new age stuff makes me sleepy and the Kabbalah and ceremonial magic is so fancy pants and formulaic, I think I forgot my calipers at over at Kether's house...

    Every so often I find something that actually works and does something for me, well there you go! Osho's Book of Secrets (dumb title) has some fun things to do with your consciousness, any technique that can "show me" something that I can experience is what I can consider real. But it's a lot of trawling through BS to find the golden nuggets and I'm quickly repelled by any sort of dogmas indicating what to believe, think or experience to get the "effect". It either works or it doesn't. I suppose that's why there aren't many anarchist / agnostic mystics out there... But luckily for me mysticism links up with my overall interest in psychology and philosophy so I'm already playing with an experimental deck...

    Here's an interesting fellow searching for his other world that I did an interview with. He's going by the name of THOTH you can see his performances on YouTube, his website and the streets of New York:
    http://www.battlehelm.com/interviews/thoth.htm

  3. #11
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    Tam and other interested readers here's a link to the chapter on the Ethnobotany of Cactus (starts on page 43) in the massive book The Cactus Family, written by the same guy who wrote that treatise on Peyote I mentioned earlier. Which was only 270+ pages according to Amazon, amazing how memory can expand things twice larger than life. THIS cactus book is some 700+ pages though (I checked)... This chapter covers most aspects of cactus use from food to religious.

    Free to read online:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=vYX...amily#PPA43,M1

    If you read too much (100 pages or so) and the preview cuts you off, log off line clear cookies and come back and keep reading.

  4. #12

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    Another route to spiritual realities not reached without training is via Raja Yoga. I think most people familiar with consciousness exploration have heard about the opening of the Third Eye. This is the breath, postural and chanting OM that the Tibetan monks do, the goal being to transcend the material plane and enter a state of total awareness. Early on, I thought this must have to do psyiologicaly with a higher oxygenation level allowing the breakthrough, but I was wrong. As I understand it now, the posture and breathing generate a rhythmic pulse that raises Kundalini up the spine. I thought kundalini was a sort of internal force but later revelation shows it to be an actual substance like spinal fluid which is raised higher and higher by the physical aspects of the meditation via breath and rythmn. If you know the Tibetal symbol for Om mani padme om, you can see a little upswinging curve at the end of it, which signifies a nasal quality to be applied to the sound. Here, I thought it was a seeking to generate a sort of hypnosis, but this too was misinterpetation. The goal of that chant is to open certain sinus cavities. Allegedly, the spinal fluid is raised until it begins to stimulate the pineal gland into secreting a self produced chemical which then makes its way through the opened sinus' into the back of the throat in a kind of sinus drip. These monks have admitted LSD experiences are akin to those transcendental states, but all say the drug cannot duplicate it, and that there is much more. Research LSD and the third eye for some fascinating discussion on this.

    New Age is pretty much bogus as near as I can tell, and you need to be firmly steeped in Jewish culture to even approach the Cabala as many of the words and alphabet have meaning beyond the apparent (like Japanese symbols) which must be internalized, but there is some truth there as well in the Lights on the Tree of Life, later reissued as the Tarot.

    Then there is also the language of trees used by the Druids. You can use whatever "blanket" name you care to use: shaman, magician, sorrcerer, Wise one but they all have a commonality in whatever culture they appear in, and for the greater part of human history these people were the healers, not the AMA lol.

    I agree Swords, you find truth in bits and pieces, here and there often mixed into the trash and OCCULT translates as hidden, so rarely will any of it pan out. If you've read any Gurdjieff, you know the concept of the awakened man, and their discipline says only a man who is awake can help another to wake as well. I liked much of what the society had to say. I think the medicine men were all awake, and all the secret initiations were designed to produce this state in those capable of it.

    As for Anton LeVey.....the First Pope of Satan was/is as bogus as they come. Laughable to worship a nonexistent fiction based on a Christian perversion of the Horned God of the Old Religion dwelling in Hell - that place of punishment stolen from the Norse myth of that place warriors go who die of old age vs battle. Satan worshipers are sad jokes and usually embittered ex-catholics.

    As for lacking "other worlds" in our culture I have to disagree. When you have the experience of being there, its impossible to abnegate the fact that there ARE other realities, and those are not delusional or self produced. That we fail to recognize or experience them doesn't grant that they are fictional.

    Well, this is a subject near and dear to my heart and I've studied deeply in all the religious and shammanistic traditions. Often, you have to be raised with the mindset and belief for the experience to have meaning and useless if you haven't, but sometines you get a glimmer of truth, just never all in one place or book!

    Swords, you mentioned Robert Anton Wilson. I have immense respect for the man. The appendix in the back of the Illumanitis Triology is very revelatory, even more so than the books which were scary and entertaining in themselves although a little dated now.

    In closing, I want to say that humans need and will find ways to alter their consciousness, whether its kids spinning until they drop, some guy getting trashed in a bar, or a responsible user of psychedelics like that Math professor that evolved the Chaos Theory branch of mathmatics. It's a human URGE and it's there for a reason. Not all who have used these drugs are not reprobates, are not mentally ill and what is needed is not for more laws but more teachers that can demonstrate how these substances can lead to a happier and richer life for man.

    'scuse me now, I gotta go spin in circles and chant some OM's. That's still legal isn't it?
    "Grow More, Share More"

  5. #13

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    I think you misunderstand what I mean by our culture lacking an "other" world. For example, if you grew up on the banks of the Amazon river deep in the jungle you would from a very early age, understand that this other world existed beyond what you see and feel etc. but that is it also possible to journey to this world for various purposes. Now take someone raised in Western culture where they are in most cases taught either that science explains the world and that no other reality exists other than the physical reality you can see, or are raised in one of the Religions of Abraham (Ibrahim) where the other world is only reachable after death and you can communicate through prayer but you do not journey to the other world. In fact if you look at Islam one of the great feats of the prophet was his night journey to heaven accompanied by Gabriel. The idea of traveling to the "other" is just not present in Western culture as a whole. Some subcultures have their own beliefs about another world existing which one can travel to, but for the most part these are borrowed from another culture, they do not stem from the core of Western culture as it exists today. This is what I meant by saying our culture lacks the "other" world.

    As for the spinning circles and chanting OM I think Buddhism is next when the war on terror is done with Islam isn't it. LOL. so enjoy it while you can.
    "We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should." - Kurt Vonnegut

  6. #14
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    Tam, I think you're referring to DMT - the chemical being released in the Pineal gland, part of the neuro-peptide system. It's the same as the chemical found in Ayahuasca admixture plants and certain other plant based extractions. The book DMT the Spirit Molecule by Strassman is a pretty good look at the subject. A documentary of the same name is on You Tube in numerous parts though it is far more boring than the book. The conditions of DMT activity in the brain is said to occur nightly during REM sleep, those heightened states you mention, during OBE's/Near Death and Astral travel. There is even some suggestion that the UFO abduction cases are actually DMT misfires.

    I think a lot of times we talk about how meditation, yoga, breath work ALONE can compare +/- to a mushroom revelry, ayahuasca, lsd, etc ALONE. But what we need to realize is combining the mushroom revelry with the meditation, after whirling skyclad under the full moon after bathing in the creek (or any such combined activity) is the magic combo. All of it together makes for an experience which is (I imagine) closer to what those "shamans" were doing.

    True we'll never have the worldview of an Inuit or Witoto Indian but (and I know this will probably "kill" an anthropologist dead on the spot, even as I write it) culture is all a figment of our collective imagination. No matter who you are or where you live you can have & create any worldview you want. We in the west have no homogenous culture, because there is no homogenous culture to have. In a widely mixed society of diverging reality-tunnels such as ours we are each free to find or generate our own mythology. But there is no reason not to cull the useful nuggets from discoveries made in the past so we don't have to go about "re-inventing the wheel" as they say.

    I just find LaVey so blatantly comical, even in his "scary face" pics he has a glint of hilarity in his eye as oposed to the dead grey junkie stare of Crowley. LaVey's like a dirty uncle or something who got you drunk the first time and always tells you nasty jokes. Fun to be around for a while but you're glad when he leaves. lol! But like most his books start and ends in Aristotelian either / or dogma so I take him at entertainment value only. His two "notebooks" of essays however, are very funny and are much closer to what I saw of him in filmed interviews / documentaries.

    I think anyone into this mysticism stuff who can't laugh, a lot, is a nut.

    Robert Anton Wilson is great! I have just about every one of his books (most of his stuff is non-fiction you know, like Prometheus Rising, Quantum Psychology, etc) and CD lectures from Sound Photosynthesis. He's the man who made me nuts and taught me not to trust even the BS I dream up myself! lol!
    "Don't fully believe anyone's BS and don't fully believe your own BS or you wind up as crazy as they are."

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