The Democratic Plants
"It is clear from the foregoing descriptions that mesctil intoxication may be described as chiefly a saturnalia of the specific senses, and. above all, in orgy of vision. II reveals an optical fairyland, where all the senses now and again join tht play, but the mind itself remain* a gulf-possessed spectator Mescal intoxication thus differs from the other artificial paradises which drugs procure. Under the influence of alcohol, for instance, as in normal dreaming» the intellect is impaired, although there may be a consciousness of unusual brilliance: hasheesh, again, produce* an uncontrollable tendency to movement and bathes its victim in a sea of emotion. The mescal drinker remains calm and collected amid the sensory turmoil around him; his judgment is as clear is in the normal state; he falls into no oriental condition of vague and voluptuous reverie. The reason why mescal is of all this class of drugs the most purely intellectual in its appeal is evidently because it affect;* mainly the most intellectual of the senses. On this ground it is not probable that its use will easily develop into a habit. Moreover, unlike most other intoxicants, it sterns to have no special affinity for a disordered and unbalanced nervous system; on the contrary, St demands organic soundness and good health for the complete manifestation of its virtues. Further, unlike the other chief substances to which it may be compared, mescal does not wholly carry us away from the actual world, or plunge us into oblivion; a large part of Us charm Ilea in the halo of beauty which it ca&ts around the simplest and commonest things. It is the most democratic of the plants which lead men lo an artificial paradise,"
1 lave lock Ellis "Meacah A New Artificial Paradise/ 169b
Double Domes, Microdots, Orange Wedges, Four-Ways, Pink Swiijs. The cost was 50 cents or a dollar a hit close lo the source, two or three dollars when exported to Middle America. Sunshine acid, which began to be seen around 1969, was a powerful, reliable, radiance-creating orange (or green, blue or red) tab manufactured in northern California by a Laguna Beach-based spiritual dealership called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Sunshine was actually a homologue of LSD called ALD-52 with about 90 percent of the potency of LSD. (ALD-52 was later ruled to be illegal like LSD at the trial of the two Sunshine alchemists, Nick Sand and Timothy Scully.) Lesser alchemists copied this form to cash in on its fame, and varieties of pseudo Sunshine, including one containing a trace of strychnine (which gives an initial rush like LSD but is highly toxic) appeared on the scene. Besides speed and strychnine, other contaminants of acid have included PCP and STP and various ergot alkaloids and cycjoalkaloids that are not removed in the process of manufacture. True alchemy is always very difficulty ergotamine tartrate became scarce after the anlipsychedelics laws; oxidation and light destroy the LSD-25 molecule. People were cynical and cautious about the quality of acid available, but it has always been possible to find reasonably good LSD, if one wanted it.
The next major form of black market acid was called Blotter. A drop of LSD solution soaked into blotting paper created rows of round, dark stains that could be sliced off and even cut up for chipping. The most imaginative Blotter acid was marketed with R. Crumb's Mr. Natui-al imprinted on it, pointing lo heaven. Blotter usually comes in ihe range of 50 to 150 micrograms. It lends to decompose somewhat faster than other forms, but has the virtue of being easy to send through first Glass mail..
Probably the engineering wonder of quality acid was Windowpane. Originally called Clear Light by its makers, it appeared on the slreets around 1972 in the form of tiny, flat, translucent gelatin squares uniformly impregnated with LSD. Windowpane contained little, if any, speed and provided a serene trip; you generally needed two for full-dose effects. It could be mailed under a postage stamp.
"The psychedelic substances such as I,SO are the True Host of the Church, not "drugs.™ They are sacramental foods, manifestations of the 'Grace of God J of the infinite Imagination of the Self, and therefore belong to everyone."
Circuul Boo I loo of the N'eo American Church
Underground acid in recent years has generally been of weaker doses, although stronger and purer LSD has been available here and there. The price of a hit is somewhat higher, about one to three do Liars in the U.S., and about twice as much in Europe. There has been talk lately that people who have only taken underground acid have never had LSD, Though this may be true, it's not of great significance, for many synthetic substances akin to LSD-25, such as its homologues ALD-52, LSD-59 and Mirror Image LSD, also open the doors of perception.
Even after the media forgot about it, LSD remained the drug most frequently submitted to street-drug analysts like Pharm Chem Lab until 1974, when it was replaced by cocaine. But there was no longer any LSD scene as there had been in the Sixties and eauly Seventies. Users of LSD had learned its values and were moving on, although some occasionally take a trip to remind themselves what it was like. For some people LSD remains a yoga for self-therapy, stimulation towards creativity in art and relationships and heightened sensual pleasure. People turning on to LSD and the other psychedelics for the first time in the mid-Seventies are probably more prepared for the experience than were their Sixties' counterparts. Acid freak-outs rarely require medical attention any more.
Although LSD remains a Schedule I substance with restricted uses, legal LSD research may soon return to the pre crisis level of the Fifties. Research is especially favored with certain subject groups: the terminally ill (after the example of Huxley and the work of Dr. Eric Kast), autistic children, severe cases of alcoholism and opiate addiction and mental cases that don't respond to conventional drugs and therapies. LSD's discoverer predicted that the earliest foreseeable legal marketing of LSD would be in 25-microgram doses to alleviate depression.
MORNING-GLORY AND HAWAIIAN WOOD-ROSE SEEDS Many important elements in the cultural drama of LSD and the psychedelic era were prefigured in the history of three ancient magic plant drugs of Mexico. Peyotl (peyote buttons), teonanacuti (Psilocybe and related mushrooms) and oloiiuqw (morning-glory seeds) all produce effects similar to LSD, but with greatly varying dosages and with some noteworthy differences. These plant hallucinogens and the synthetic preparations of their psychoactive alkaloids (mescaline, psilocybin and d-lysergic acid amide) blow away the conditioned mind and reveal new and unbelievably provocative orders of reality. All of them have been used since pre-Columbian times and were observed by the Spanish conquerors in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. To the European physician's way of thinking these drugs provoked madness; the Catholic priests considered them absolutely diabolic. Establishment disapproval then, as in the 1960s, was total and unrelenting. The Inquisition officially banned and suppressed the native sacraments, driving their use underground.' The sacraments managed to survive in secret practice in remote mountain villages until their rediscovery by anthropologists and ethnobotanists in modern times. During the past 25 years these sacred substances have been intensively studied by psychedelic researchers and avidly sought by street users, some of whom have journeyed south of the border, especially when the reputation of LSD was sullied by attacks from the medical profession and people began to feel more comfortable about taking organic drugs. This in turn led to a situation where street dealers commonly misrepresented LSD-mixtures as mesca Ii ne or psilocybin.
Of the three major plant hallucinogens of Mesoamerica, ololhtqui is the one that most resembles LSD chemically, but its psychoactive alkaloid d-lysergic acid amide is only one tenth as potent as LSD. It is found in the seeds of Rivea corymb osa, a white-flowered morning-glory vine, and in Ipomoeo violacea, another type. The seeds have been used by the ancient Aztecs and their present day descendants in Oaxaca both as a
sacred drug in divinatory rites and as a magical ointment. . The crushed seeds are dissolved in water or in an alcoholic, beverage called pulque, mescal or aguardiente. The curanderos, or shamans, who lead the rituals are known as piuleros and usually take the hallucinatory potion with the others.
As a magic plant ololiitqw ranks in importance with Psilocybe mushrooms and peyote. it was substituted for the mushrooms when the rainy season was over. Hernandez, personal physician to the king of Spain, observed the Aztec drug ceremonies between 1570 and 1575 and wrote that the priests "communed with their gods ... to receive a message from them, eating the seeds to induce a delirium when a thousand visions and satauic hallucinations appeared to them." Richard Evans Schultes of the Harvard Botanical Museum, America's foremost ethnobotanical specialist, 'found a morning-glory vine in the yard of a Oaxacan curandero in 1938 and confirmed its identity and sacramental use. Osmond performed the first experimental tests, eating 60 to 100 seeds of morning-glory in 1955 and recording its psychedelic effects. A few years later Hofmann astounded the psyehochemical profession by isolating lysergic acid amide as the main alkaloid of ololhtqiu, a higher plant (family of Com olvui aceae), not a lowly ergot fungus.
In the mid-Sixties the news circulated widely that morning-glory seeds were psychedelic. Colorful packets bearing trade names like Heavenly Blue, Pearly Gates, Wedding Bells, Flying Saucers, Summer Skies and Blue Star began rapidly disappearing from plant store shelves. But because
Early Christian fresco showing Amanita muscaria of the virtually unavoidable nausea (caused by the action of nonaetive alkaloids, as in the case of peyote) throughout the early stages, morning-glory-seed tripping never caught on in a big way. A safe, relatively nontoxic dose of the seeds amounted to a low or moderate amount of LSD, and many did not deem the experience worthy of the discomfort. . A further problem developed when it was learned that certain American brands of seeds were being Ueated with toxins to discourage more than just spoilage. Despite these drawbacks, morning-glory seeds, when untreated, continue to be used by devotees of the organic psychedelics. The seeds must be thoroughly ground or chewed before ingestion. A couple of hundred (five to ten grams) will produce a four- to six-hour trip marked by fairly rapid onset (half-hour) 1 and heightened mind powers combined with body lethargy. There is no peak, but there are fine aftereffects of serenity and elation. It might be mentioned that toxic seeds do not transmit the poison to the next generation.
Another member of the morning-glory family and also used as an ornamental plant in the U.S, is the baby Hawaiian wood-rose (Argyreia nervosa), which flourishes on Maui,, The seeds (containing lysergic acid amides) are much larger than the common morning glory, and it only takes about four to eight of them to get off. An embargo was placed on the importation of this plant into the continental U.S. to curtail its use as a psychedelic and as a source of LSD manufacture, 1 but the seeds are currently available again from a domestic company at $13 per 100. The large Hawaiian wood-rose (Ipotnoea tuberosa) is similar to the baby variety in dosage and effects. 1. cornea is another species of hallucinogenic morning-glory seeds used in Ecuadorean folk medicine. Morning-glory and Hawaiian wood-rose seeds are not, of course, illegal, but it is against the law to grind them into a powder for sale or consumption.
PSILOCIN Retired banker and ethnomycological genius R. Gordon Wasson theorized that earJy man fust developed the concept of God after accidently eating certain species of mushrooms while foraging for food, and that "all the religions of Eurasia, and of the New-World as well, sprang out of cults that employed natural plant products to arrive at a mystical end." Wasson has exhaustively studied the history, folklore and myths of Psilocybe and Amanita muscaria mushroom cults. Once Wassou's theory is accepted, some famous historical myths may be rewritten. The fruit of the Tree of Life, the apple in the Garden of Eden, the bo tree under which Buddha meditated for 40 days, the entree served at
Early Christian fresco showing Amanita muscaria
THE PSILOCYBE LIFEBOAT "There were a number of small boats tossing on the raging sea. Alice, Sam, Steve and I weie in one of these vessels. We clung to the sides of the boat as it lurched with the waves. We had no paddles, no oars, no sail, nothing to direct our course. Our1 plight seemed hopeless. If the sea repiesented the universe, and if the boats repiesented life, what rational purpose could there possibly be to it all?
As our lifeboat tossed and turned from one wave to the next, we came upon a gigantic figure standing waist-deep in the churning waters His facial features were graced by an unforgettable look of compassion, love and concern^ We knew that this was the image of God
We knew that, for the most part, our course could not be controlled, our destination could not be directed. However, we also knew that we were able to love, and that in the act of loving we could partake of divinity."
Stanley Krippner "An Adventure in Psilocybin," 1970
Christls Last Supper, the magic potion imbibed in the Eleusinian Mystery Rite, the elixir of the ancient Aiyans of the Indus Valley and the Tibetan tantric cultists high in the Himalayas-any or all of these may have been, or may have symbolized, species of psychoactive mushrooms.
Mushroom stones one foot high have been found in the highlands of Guatemala and the southeastern Mexican states of Tabasco and Vera Cruz, indicating divine ceremonial use of the magic mushroom by both Mayan and Aztec civilizations. The earliest stones date back to about 1500 b.c. These artifacts usually depict a "'bemushroomed'" native, a mushroom God or an ancient astronaut. . The mushroom comes straight and phaUuslike out of the figure's head, like the mushroom cloud of a psychic explosion. The Aztec name is teonanacatl, meaning ,fthe mushroom of the Gods'" or flesh of the Gods.,f Documentary evidence for the ritualistic, use of sacred mushrooms goes back to the coronation of Montezuma II in Mexico City in 1503. The psychedelic fungi were imbibed by the Aztec priests and populace at that event, and were even offered to strangers. The Catholic priests traveling with Cortes during the Spanish Conquest were horrified by. this heathen pastime and tried to supplant the mushroom god with the trinity, the stone with the crucifix. In the seventeenth century the Spanish cleric Sahagun gave the establishment view of mushroom eaters as those who ,fsaw visions, feel a faintness of heart and are provoked to lust..'1 Hernandez recorded three types of varieties worshiped. Even then psychedelic^ were subject to a form of price and quality controls.
There was the "'lawny'' kind eaten by princes for their festivals and banquets. The shamans and partisans ale those that, "without inducing laughter, bring before the eyes all sorts of things, such as wars and the likenesses of demons/' And Aztec skid-row dwellers, using the "'deep yellow and acrid'" mushrooms, achieved ''madness that on occasion is lasting, of which the chief symptom is a kind of uncontrollable laughter."
LTptight inquisitorial judges carried out an auto-da-te ' against the Aztec priests in the late sixteenth century. Official edicts posted from time to lime during the next iwo centuries threatening hereiics who proclaimed visions afier eating illicit, herbs (namely, mushrooms, peyote and morning-glory seeds) show ihe difficulty of completely suppressing wild, free-growing psychedelic, substances. A few mushroom cults survived, unknown lo the rest of civilization until the 1950s. The official view in the eauly part of the twentieth century was that the magic mushroom did not exist-it _ was just another name for peyote.
Mexican anthropologist Bias Pablo Reko disputed this theory. An engineer named Roberto Weitjaner was the first while man in modern times to score teonanacatl, but the specimens he sent lo Harvard in .1936rotied before they arrived and could not be identified. In 1938 Weitlaner's daughter attended a magic mushroom ceremony. The same year Schultes identified two species of teonanacati-Strophana cubensis and Panaeolus sphinctrinus-and no led one form of Psilocybe. Fifteen years later Weitlaner escoiied the Wassons to the remote mountain village of Huautla de Jimenez in Oaxaca, where they observed the sacred mushroom rite. They met the now legendary curandera Maria Sabina, who courageously overturned cultural barriers by
A WORLD UNTO ITSELF "Compelled by the investigator to analyze and report on what I was doing ... i realized that I was deliberately avoiding the eyes of those who were with me in the room, deliberately refraining from being too much aware of them. One was my wife, the other a man I respected and gready liked; hut both belonged to the would from which, for the moment, mescaline had delivered mc-thc would of selves, of time, of moral judgments and utilitarian considerations, the world (and it was this aspect of human life which I wished, above all else, to forget) of self-assertion, of cock«ureness, of overvalued words and ¿dolatrousiy worshipped notions."
Altbus Huxley The Doors ot Perception. 1954
permitting them (and the Life magazine photographer who filmed it) to experience the bemushioomed state and thus become the first non-Indians since the days of Cortez to turn on with hallucinogenic mushrooms. The following year Parisian mycologist Roger Heim accompanied Wasson to Mexico and identified 14 species and several subspecies belonging to three genera: Psilocybe, Stropharia and Conocybe, Some were new to mycology, but all produced the characteristic effects of the LSD high- For this reason Heim gave some specimens to Hofmann, who confirmed their psychedelic effects by tripping on a moderate dose in his Swiss lab»
"Everything turned Mexican" to the Swiss chemist . (This proved to be a characteristic . effect of the drug.) The supervising physician even turned into a knife-wielding Aztec priest at one point, and Hofmann expected to be sacrificed. At the same time his detachment allowed him to feel amused at the absurdity of the hallucination. The peak of intoxication left, him reeling "in a whirlpool of form and color," for psilocybin (and mescaline) gives far more colorful visions than LSD, and for Americans and Europeans presents images from an earthier, more primitive past..
Maiia Sabina's generosity was repaid in 1962 when Hofmann brought her some psilocybin pills he had synthesized in Sandoz labs. She found the pijls to be just as effective as the mushrooms and was no longer limited to the mushroom-growing season for performing her healing arts.
In Native American use, the mushroom ceremony (or agape: love feast) is convened only when a serious problem has to be resolved,; „ that is, when a prophecy is needed to diagnose an illness, provide information about a missing person or object, or predict the future. The mushroom eater's mental set is further defined by his abstaining from food and sex prior to the trip. The setting is the curandera's hut.. In keeping with the legacy of prohibition, the ceremony is only held at night, behind dosed doors. Dosage is relative to body weight and age; raw, unwashed mushrooms are eaten. The curandera, who directs the agape, may take twice as many, or none at alL. She chants veiadm (mushroom songs) intermittently. during the night., The ceremony ends with a restful sleep and a communal morning meal..
Some dozen different species of Psilocybe (the best known being P. mexicana), along with some others of the closely related genera Stropharia (S. cu ben sis, "sacred mushroom of cow dung" or San Isidro, has recently been reclassified as P. cubensis), Conocybe and Pan oeolus, comprise the known sacred mushrooms stili having ritualistic use among nine Mexican tribes. Hut that's not the whole story. Psilocybian (psilocybin-containing) mushrooms have been found in regions as diverse as the Pacific Northwest and the southeastern U.S. (particularly.. around the Gulf Coast), England (where they are called Liberty Caps), Australia, Colombia and Cambodia. A common but not definitive test for psilocybin content is to see if a bruised mushroom turns blue at the place of injury in about 30 minutes. (A few other species do as well* including one or two that are poisonous, and field guides should always be brought along on a mushroom hunt.).
The two active agents in psilocybian mushrooms were identified by Hofmann in 1958 as psilocybin (4-p h osphory 1 ox y -dimeth y It ryptam i ne) and psilocio, a highly unstable derivative (chemically the same, without the added phosphor group). Psilocybin apparently converts to psilocin in the body. Both are indole hallucinogens derived from iryptamine, an important metabolite of tryptophan, the only indole amino acid and the potential precursor of the indole alkaloids-compounds which include LSD, DMT, bufotinene, ibogaine, harmine and yohimbine, as well as serotonin, the neural transmitter substance. All but the last are hallucinogenic. Psilocybin and psilocin are of the second type of natural indoles, which have either a hydroxyl or a phosphate group in position four (the one most involved in psychedelic activity) of the benzene ring. In the Sixties chemists created homologues of psilocybin (CZ-74, CMY-16, CEY-19) and psilocin (CY-39, CX-59), which were available to "4 wtaltfied" lesearchers through the NIMH.
The effects of the psilocybian mushroom and of synthetic psilocybin are very similar, indicating that there is nothing else in the mushroom to inhibit its psychoactive, effects. In lower doses (less than four milligrams of psilocybin, or anywhere from two to four - mushrooms, depending on size) one becomes relaxed, euphoric, dream iLy introspective, emotionally, detached from the environment. . Four to eight milligrams are considered the range for moderate effects. With doses of from ten to 12 milligrams the effects are profound, with strong alterations in the perception of time and space and in awareness of self- and body-image. There are powerful visual and auditory hallucinations often composed of colorful Mexican or Aztec imagery-hard-edged, highly articulated, abstract geometrical forms, fantastic landscapes and vistas. There is sometimes extreme hilarity. Time-travel into the remote past, during which the subject remains a detached observer, is not uncommon. A sense of the oneness of the self, the mushroom and the god-in-the-mushroom usually develops.
Psilocybin has about 11200 the gram potency of LSD, but acts more quickly, producing effects within 15 or 30 minutes of ingestion that are quite pronounced in an hour or an hour and a half. The
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