Ingested Hallucinogens

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Below: This painting by the Peruvian shaman Pablo Amaringo depicts the creation of the drink Ayahuasca, the most important medicine of the Amazo nian Indians. The magical drink has powerful visionary properties, which reveal to the participant a glimpse of "true reality," the fantastic realm of visions.

Page 13 tow The hallucinogenic use of Hemp (Cannabis) can be traced far back into history. It is poss.ole that the ingestion of this plant was responsible for the wild dances of the Mongolian shaman.

preted as referring to dangerously addictive agents, such as opium and its derivatives (morph'.ne, codeine, heroin) and cocaine. In the United States a substance must be included in the Harrison Narcotic Act to be considered legally a narcotic: thus Marijuana is not legally a narcotic, although it is a controlled substance.

Hallucinogens are, broadly speaking, all narcotics, even though none is known to be addictive or to have narcotic effects.

There are many kinds of hallucinations: the most common and popularly recognized is the visual hallucination, often in colors. But all senses maybe subject to hallucinations: auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory hallucinations can occur. Frequently a single hallucinatory plant—as in the case of Peyote or Marijuana—may induce several different hallucinations. Hallucinogens may likewise cause artificial psychoses—the basis of one of the numerous terms for this class of active agents: psychotomimetic ("inducing psychotic states"). Modern brain research has shown, however, that hallucinogens trigger brain activity entirely different from that apparent with true psychoses.

Modern studies have demonstrated such a complexity of psychophysiological effects that the term hallucinogen does not always cover the whole range of reactions Therefore, a bewildering nomenclature has arisen. None of the terms, however, fully describes all known effects. The terms include entheogens, deliriants, delusiono-gens, eidetics, hallucinogens, misperceptinogens. mysticomimetics, phanerothymes, phantasticants, psychotica, psychoticants, psychogens, psychosomi-

Below right: In India the flowers of the potent hallucinogenic Thorn Apple (Datura metel) are brought as an offering to the Hindu god Shiv They are also niually smoked.

Below left: Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus) is one of the most important hallucinogenic plants of Europe. It was used for oracles and ritually burned in ancient Greece

Below right: In India the flowers of the potent hallucinogenic Thorn Apple (Datura metel) are brought as an offering to the Hindu god Shiv They are also niually smoked.

Below left: Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus) is one of the most important hallucinogenic plants of Europe. It was used for oracles and ritually burned in ancient Greece metics, psychodysleptics, psychotaraxics, psychoto-gens, psychotomimetics, schtzogens, and psychedelics, among other epithets. In Europe, they are frequently called phantastica. The most common name m the United States—psychedelics—is ety-mologically unsound and has acquired other meanings in the drug subculture.

The truth is that no one term adequately delimits such a varied group of psychoactive plants. The German toxicologist Louis Lewin, who first used the term phantastica, admitted that it "does not cover all that I should wish it to convey," The word hallucinogen is easy to pronounce and to understand, yet not all of the plants induce true hallucinations. Psychotomimetic, while often employed, is not accepted by many specialists because not all the plants in this group cause psychotic-like states.

But since these two terms—hallucinogen psychotomimetic—are easily understood and widely used we shall employ them in this book.

Among the many definitions that have been offered, that of Hoffer and Osmond is broad enough to be widely accepted: "Hallucinogens are . . . chemicals which, in non-toxic doses, produce changes in perception, in thought and in mood, but which seldom produce mental confusion, memory oss or disonentation for person, place and time."

Basing his classification of psychoactive drugs on the older arrangements of Lewin, Albert Hofmann divides them into analgesics and euphones (Opium, Coca), sedatives and tranquilizers (Re-serpme), hypnotics (Kava-kava), and hallucinogens or psychedelics (Peyote, Marijuana, etc.) Most of these groups modify only the mood,

Below: María Sabina reverently ingests the niños santos, "holy children," as she lovingly refers to the visionary and healing Magic Mushrooms

Page 15: The Mazatec shaman Maria Sabina incenses sacred mushrooms prior to their ingestion during the healing ceremony of the velada.

either stimulating or calming it. But the last group produces deep changes in the sphere of experience, in perception of reality, in space and time, and in consciousness of self. Depersonalization may occur. Without loss of consciousness, the subject enters a dream world that often appears more real than the normal world. Colors are frequently experienced in indescribable brilliance; objects may lose their symbolic character, standing detached and assuming increased significance since they seem to possess their own existence

The psychic changes and unusual states of consciousness induced by hallucinogens are so far removed from similarity with ordinary life that it is scarcely possible to describe them in the language of daily living. A person under the effects of a hallucinogen forsakes his familiar world and operates under other standards, in strange dimensions and in a different time.

While most hallucinogens are of plant origin, a few are derived from the Animal Kingdom (toads, frogs, fish) and some are synthetic (LSD, TMa, DOB). Their use goes back so far into prehistory that it has been postulated that perhaps the whole idea of the deity could have arisen as a result of the otherworldly effects of these agents.

Indigenous cultures usually have no concept of physically or organically induced sickness or death: both result from interference from the spirit world. Therefore, hallucinogens, which permit the native healer and sometimes even the patient to communicate u hh the spirit world, often become greater medicines—the medicines par excellence—of the native pharmacopoeia They assume far more exalted roles than do the medicines or palliatives with direct physical action on the body. Little by little, they became the firm basis for "medical" practices of most, if not all, aboriginal societies.

Hallucinogenic plants owe their activity to a limited number of types of chemical substances acting in a specific way upon a definite part of the central nervous system. The hallucinogenic state is usually short-lived, lasting only until the causative principle is metabolized or excreted from the body. There would seem to be a difference between what we might call true hallucinations (visions) and what perhaps could be described as pseudo-hallucinations. Conditions for all practical purposes apparently very similar to hallucinations may be induced by many highly toxic plants which so upset the normal metabolism that an abnormal mental condition may develop. A number of the plants (for example, Salvia divinorum) experimented with by members of the so-called drug subculture and which were considered as newly discovered hallucinogens by their users belong to this category as well. Pseudo-hallucinogenic conditions may be induced without the ingestion of toxic plants or substances; b' ;h fevers are known to cause such reactions. Fanatics of the M'ddle Ages who went without food or water over long periods finally induced such alterations in normal metabolism that they did actually experience visions and hear voices through pseudo-hallucinogens.

Continue reading here: The Plant Kingdom

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