Another well-known writer at the time of psilocybin's first wave of Western use was the revered author and poet Robert Graves who also wrote publicly of his mushroom experience. Actually, Graves had been intrigued by mushrooms ever since he had licked a species of fly agaric as a young boy and had consequently experienced burning sensations on his tongue. Perhaps the incident had been a symbolic Gaian kiss of sorts, or at least a taste of things to come. At any rate, as the reader will recall, it was Graves who originally notified Wasson of the secret mushroom ceremonies still extant in Mexico. It comes as no surprise then that Graves eventually went on to write speculative articles on entheogenic mushroom use in ancient Greece (such speculation remains contentious) after he had tried the sacred sacrament in Wasson's New York apartment in 1960.
Graves was, it transpires, understandably apprehensive about his first brush with psilocybin, especially worried that he might perceive 'demons' behind his closed eyes. Being the author of the acclaimed The White Goddess, a book about an historical cult of goddess worship, was no guarantee that Gaia's mushroom would shower him with grace (Gaia was originally the name of the Greek Earth Goddess).
As it was, Graves need not have worried. Unable to write during his 'rapture', he passively let the experience overwhelm him. Afterwards he was to write that he had seen a "mountain-top Eden" and experienced the "bliss of innocence" and "the knowledge of good and evil". He had even felt capable of solving any problem in the world as if he had access to all of the world's knowledge.
Graves went on to predict that a once sacred substance entrusted to an elite few would soon be sought out by "jaded sensation seekers", although they would likely be dissatisfied with psilocybin as it was not a 'drug' as such since it failed to stupefy like alcohol. He ended his descriptive account with the following warning which still rings true today:
"Good and Evil alternate in most peoples' hearts. Few are habitually at peace with themselves and whoever prepares to eat hallucinogenic mushrooms should take as careful stock of his mental and moral well-being as initiates took before attending the Eleusinian Mysteries This peculiar virtue of psilocybin, the power to enhance personal reality, turns 'Know Thyself into a practical precept; and may command it as the sacramental food of some new religion."
Fine and prescient words indeed, once more indicative that psilocybin be approached cautiously and with a 'good heart'. Graves' remark about "jaded sensation seekers" is almost identical to Wasson's emerging dismay at the hoards of "oddballs", "thrill seekers", and "riff-raff" who were already descending in their droves upon Mexico in search of the divine mushrooms.
However, this type of popular reaction to some new fashion was surely inevitable. Although it was to cause abject consternation amongst the psilocybin elite, to deny the mushroom outright to the masses is an impractical short-sighted reaction to basic human nature and I would argue that knowledge of psilocybin's potentially supra-mundane power is best laid open to all who might wish to seek it out. If this be considered by some as like casting pearls before swine then so be it. The point is that the end will justify the means, this end being, hopefully, a culture transformed with a revitalised veneration for the natural systems of the Earth and a deeper insight into the ultimate nature of the reality process.
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