Psychedelia Past, Present and Future
A censored and taboo aspect of human culture that has always existed from since time immemorial to the present day and which may be a forbidden doorway to divine realities.
This section deals with what is certainly one of the most controversial topics in the broad and diverse world of spirituality, religion and mysticism. It concerns the idea that certain plant extracts, fungaloid or cacti preparations and also specific chemical formulations; can induce various and varying states of connection with that which one may or may not want to call God. At the outset, I'll say here that in no way do I wish to recommend, condone or promote the use of these powerful and sometimes harmful substances. It is necessary however to explore the role and nature of psychedelic substances; if we are to fully understand the early history of world religion and also some aspects of the spiritual landscape today.
When we explore the early history of religion and examine the various holy scriptures of different faiths, then we find mentioned mysterious substances with divine connotations, which were either eaten or drunk. So in the Bible we have the enigmatic manna or the food that fell from heaven. In the Bhagavad Gita and the Rig Veda we find described the Soma drink, which allowed people to enter into the divine. And in early Zoroastrianism we find mention of the mysterious Huoma, used by the Magi for their sacred rituals. When we examine the mystery traditions of ancient Greece we discover the Kykeon, the beverage that played a central role in the Eleusian mysteries. And the Greek Oracles of Delphi and the Roman Sybil of Cumae are believed to have achieved their prophetic states of mind through the inhalation of mind altering volcanic hydrocarbon gases emanating from the depths of the earth. Going over to ancient Egypt we correspondingly find the use of the plant, the Blue Lotus of the Nile, by the Egyptian high priests. This Blue Lotus plant may be related to the lotus of the 'Lotus eaters' in the classical Greek myth Odysseus. When mythology is understood as spiritual allegory then this would make perfect sense. If the journey of the mythological hero is a journey of spiritual development and discovery then a visit to the land of the lotus eaters can be understood as a reference to some psychedelic substance. Also it is worth mentioning here that 'Soma' which was mentioned earlier, means 'to press out and extract' in Sanskrit. And there exist ancient Sanskrit texts that describe the Lotus plant as soma. So it is reasonable to deduce that in antiquity, something was pressed out and extracted from lotus plants, which was then prepared as a beverage and ingested. It is very possible that the Lotus eaters and the Soma drinkers were actually partaking of the same psychoactive ingredient. Moving on to the ancient civilization of Babylon we find the myth of Gilgamesh, which is the oldest recorded story known to man. In the tale, the hero Gilgamesh is told to seek out the plant of immortality, another obvious reference to a psychedelic plant.
When we examine all these facts together then a clear picture emerges. It is one where we can see that early religion or proto-religion involved the use of psychedelic substances in order to facilitate communion with the divine. This view is further supported by the use of psychedelic substances in many primitive indigenous religions practiced by native tribes in the world today. Also many scholars believe that Taoism, which is the native spiritual tradition of China, was derived from Siberian Shamanism. Almost without exception, shamanistic practice goes hand in hand with the use of these facilitator substances i.e. psychedelics. So at the dawn of civilization, our primitive ancestors discovered a door into the divine, that seems almost purposefully set up by the Cosmic Intelligence, in order that we may enter it. That is certain plants and fungi acted as gateways to the transcendent. The visions and mystical insights obtained through using these substances certainly found their way into the primitive systems of religious thinking that would later evolve to become the great faith traditions of the World.
The lotus flower. An enduring and recurring spiritual icon much featured in Hindu, Buddhist and also ancient Egyptian art. On one level it symbolizes the process of spiritual development and the attainment of enlightenment. As the pure petals of the lotus unfold out from the muddy waters below, so the spiritual aspirant may emerge pure and illuminated from the murky waters of the human condition. But there is also a hidden meaning behind the lotus plant. This secret meaning relates to a property possessed by certain species of the lotus plant. It is that preparations made from the roots of these lotuses, act as powerfullyl psychedelic, that is 'mind manifesting', potions. For this reason it was used in ancient India and Egypt as a secret doorway to divine realities.
We have already established that in the early development of the oldest world religions, psychedelic plants, fungi and cactoids were certainly used to various extents. As we go forwards in time then we find the use of psychedelic substances progressively being sidelined and pushed into the background. We see a pattern where the use of psychedelics becomes suppressed and made taboo. While this is happening, gradually new mystical practices such as the various meditation techniques, yoga, breathing exercises and contemplation, replace the use of psychedelics. One obvious reason why this state of affairs should have come about, is that the deleterious effects of using psychedelic substances would have become matters of great concern. It is generally accepted by psychiatric experts and also some contemporary proponents of psychedelics, that using these substances can cause a person to literally lose his or her mind. That is go mad. It is easy to imagine that perhaps the sages of ancient India invented yoga and devised their various meditation techniques, in response to a situation where too many of the priestly caste were destroying their minds with Soma. So the harmful effects of psychedelic use necessitated the search for safer alternatives, and so replacement means of achieving mystic states were introduced.
Another reason why the use of psychedelics would have been suppressed in the various societies of ancient times is this. Sometimes using psychedelics can give people inspired, innovative and revolutionary ideas. Often these ideas are of the sort which facilitate the cultural and spiritual evolution of humankind. But also psychedelic visions can be of the sort that inspire the desire for political changes and dreams of a better society. Therefore there is a distinctly subversive side to the use of psychedelic substances. This is another probable reason why all through history and all around the world, the use of psychedelics would have been prohibited or else its use reserved for an exclusive priestly elite. From my own experience of people that I've interviewed, psychedelic use can quite often give people messianic ideas. And also sometimes the inspiration to try and realize these ideas. It is for these reasons mentioned and others, that psychedelics can sometimes act as a social catalyst of remarkable potency. This reason alone is sufficient to motivate the dominant authorities of any society to ban and outlaw the use of psychedelics.
I'll also mention here that in just about all primitive societies both in the past and in modern times, there have existed and exist strong taboos regarding the use of psychedelic substances. In these cases, the use of psychedelics would have been and would be restricted to the shaman or the witch doctor. So the controls that we have today on the use of psychedelic agents is something that has always existed throughout history and in all different kinds of human society both primitive and civilized. Also the reasons why these prohibitions exist in contemporaneous times, are the same ones as those already discussed; which caused prohibitions to be placed upon the use of psychedelics in the past.
This is the peyote cactus. The plant contains a psychedelic agent called mescaline and is consumed by various indigenous peoples of the Americas during religious ceremonies, in order to facilitate communion with the divine. It was through experimentation with mescaline that the celebrated writer Aldous Huxley inadvertently became one of the pioneers of the modern psychedelic movement. His book 'The doors of perception' is still read by many of those with an affinity for taking psychedelic drugs.
If we now turn to consider the contemporary spiritual landscape, we see a remarkable recapitulation of the process played out in ancient history. It is as if what has happened historically has repeated itself in more contemporaneous times, but in a more compressed time frame. We have already put forward the argument that it was the use of psychedelic substances that initially gave an important impetus to the early development of the Worlds religions. We may also similarly argue that much of the resurgent interest in mysticism and spirituality that we see in the World today has likewise been catalysed by visions and mystical experiences provided by psychedelics. Without a doubt the upheavals that took place in the 60's and early 70's and the associated movements that became very active during that time i.e. the peace, ecological and antiwar movements; also a resurgent feminist movement, were to a very significant degree, fueled and inspired by the use of psychedelics. As was the growing interest in Eastern mysticism that developed in the 60s and the contemporary New Age scene which emerged around this time. One substance in particular would play a very prominent role in this process, this is the drug LSD. A lot of what we see and hear today in contemporary culture was shaped and influenced by the hippy and radical counter culture of the 60's and 70's. Everything from personal computers and science to popular music, TV, cinema, art and design. But what is of particular interest to us in the current context of discussion is the role that psychedelic substances like LSD have played in helping to bring about certain aspects of today's religious and spiritual landscape.
In a Materialistic age where spiritual truths have been relegated to the status of outdated superstition, it perhaps needed something like the advent of the the drug LSD, to reintroduce a sense of the mystical to contemporary society. Its effects were first discovered in 1945, the same year that the atom bomb was first dropped and also the year that the gnostic gospel of Thomas was uncovered. A serendipitous discovery, the drug had seeped in through the skin of Swiss research chemist Albert Hoffman. The potency of the drug is such that even these tiny traces produced a massively altered state of consciousness. The experience it elicited in Hoffman, would completely alter the course of his life. There was no doubt in his mind that the full on LSD experience was and is identical with the mystical experience. And here is where a major controversy lies. The question is, 'Are the experiences produced by LSD the same as or on the same level as the mystical experiences of the saints and holy men of ages past?'. This debate has probably raged on from time immemorial, since it is the case that, as has already been discussed, various psychedelic substances have throughout history been systematically employed with the intention of inducing mystical experiences. This issue was made current again during the 50s and 60s of our current era, once people such as Aldous Huxley the writer and Timothy Leary the LSD promoter, among others, started to make claims for the spiritual and mystical properties of psychedelic substances. Many different kinds of people joined in the debate, from scientists and philosophers to theologians, writers and social commentators. However the issue was never resolved, and views became mostly polarized between two different camps. There were those who didn't consider the psychedelic experience to be a spiritually valid one, and those that did. There were also some who might be said to hold a middle view, that is those who thought the psychedelic experience was genuinely mystical, but also considered it to be one 'obtained on the cheap', or 'driving up the mountain instead of climbing it.' Anyway... because the debate cannot be conclusively settled one way or the other, currently it is a matter of taste, whether one believes in the potential of psychedelic agents to bring about true spiritual experiences. Unless a person has actually had a psychedelically induced mystical experience or until the time comes when mystical truths are universally accepted; there will always be doubt concerning the spiritual authenticity of the psychedelic experience.
We turn now to discuss the impact that psychedelic drugs have had on the contemporary spiritual scene. Though there will always be in the minds of many people doubt concerning the authenticity or validity of spiritual experiences produced by psychedelic substances; there is no denying that during the 60s and early 70s of the 20th century, the widespread use of psychedelics, especially the drug LSD, brought about resurgent interest in mysticism and spirituality. This phenomenon was also accompanied by a burgeoning interest in holistic medicine, environmentalism and alternative lifestyles. It can be argued that much of the current world wide New Age scene, had its roots in the world of psychedelia. Some of the leading lights of the New Age today have openly admitted their involvement with psychedelic substances. For instance, Fritjof Capra the respected New Age theorist wrote in the preface of his seminal work 'The Tao of physics', how the use of 'facilitator substances' as he called them, first inspired and catalyzed his spiritual quest. Also, Richard Alpert(AKA Ram Dass), another New Age luminary, first began his mystical odyssey after being involved, albeit indirectly, in the American CIA's MK-Ultra program, which sought to learn about the effects of the drug LSD.
Together with the interest in mysticism and spirituality that substances like LSD inspired, it would seem that the widespread use of psychedelic during the 60s and 70s, also produced among large numbers of people, particularly the young, an interest in prophesies and the expectation that a new age was indeed dawning. In the psychedelic counter culture there really was during this time, the feeling that the age of aquarius was finally upon us. Eastern gurus and a host of Western cult leaders emerged to tell us that the time had come and that they were the 'one'. This idea even penetrated the mainstream with the pop hit by Johnny Matthis, 'When a child is born', whose lyrics when listened to closely, talk about the expected one who is to come. However, the age of purity and light didn't arrive as expected and many people were disappointed when their gurus failed to manifest the golden age. Instead came the oil shocks of the 70s, and the world wide recession that came in its wake. This was followed by the materialistic and money oriented 80s and all the while the Cold War rolled on. The World at this time was certainly no spiritual utopia. So in the late 70s, 80s and 90s right up to the present time, the idealism and other worldliness of the 60s and early 70s really took a back seat. All the hippy and flower power sentiments of that time seem a world away from the realities of this period.
However even after the psychedelically saturated 60s and early 70s, the use of psychedelic drugs though declining massively, at the same time never totally ceased . Its use became restricted to a deviant counter culture and a variety of other special interest groups. The ecstasy fueled rave culture of the late 80s and 90s through to the present, probably initially revived a more widespread interest in psychedelics. But statistics for the United Kingdom at least, show a marked drop in the use of LSD recorded over the past few years. Though there exists around the world a psychedelic hardcore consisting of a variety of different groups and subcultures, the scale and extent of this current scene is probably minuscule compared to the time when the band the Beatles released their extremely psychedelically influenced album, 'Sergeant Peppers lonely hearts club band', and when the LSD promoter Timothy Leary told the world to 'Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.' So the use of psychedelic drugs today is very much a fringe activity, existing very much on the outer periphery of popular culture.
Depicted here is the LSD molecule. One of the most potent psycho-active drugs known to mankind, the substance can exert its effects even at microgram doses. During the late 60s and early 70s of the last century, the drug became synonymous with the popular counter culture. LSD opened doors to whole new realities and introduced people to new modes of thinking. It also gave a lot of people access to direct mystical experiences.
So what role is there if any for psychedelics today? Perhaps it is the case that they have already served their main purpose for us by sowing the seeds that have sprouted into the partial reawakening to mystical ideas that exists today in some people. It does seem that history will repeat itself. If the use of psychedelic substances at the dawn of human civilization provided the earliest visions which would give birth to the early religions; then this process has repeated itself in modern times. It is as if history has repeated itself though in a more compressed time frame so that modern psychedelics have served to provide modern people with these same glimpses into the eternal. These visions then going on to give rise to some of the more mystical and prophetic aspects of the contemporary spiritual scene. Much in the same way that the psychedelics of ancient times served to stimulate the early formation of World religion.
An interesting analogy which helps us to understand the role that psychedelics have played in shaping contemporary culture and also the purpose that they may usefully serve for the individual, is the meaning behind the name of the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava was the holy man who introduced Tantric Buddhism from India to Tibet in the 8th century. His name literally means 'lotus born'. Legend has it that he was so named because as a baby he descended onto the Earth carried in a giant lotus flower. This legend is fantastical but we may sensibly deduce the truth behind the real meaning of his name. I have to explain at this point what Tantra and Tantric Buddhism is. Tantra is an indian school of philosophy and also a system of mystical practices. The central truth behind Tantra is that a person's real identity is God, or put another way, that the microcosmic and the macrocosmic are one and the same. In Tantra the whole idea is that when we learn the correct way of understanding things and also master the appropriate techniques and mystical practices then we are able to directly experience this central truth, i.e. become 'one with God'. Also Tantra has always been associated with the use of psychedelic substances. This has been the case historically and even today in India Tantric practitioners will combine spiritual practices such as meditation and yoga with the use of psychedelic agents.
Now, it has already been mentioned earlier, that certain varieties of the lotus plant have powerful psychedelic properties, when preparations are made from their roots. When we look at all these facts together then we are able to gain insight into the real meaning behind the name of the Buddhist saint 'Padmasambhava'. We learn what it really means to be 'lotus born'. What I am suggesting here is that Padmasambhava was 'lotus born' because somewhere along the line, his spiritual journey towards sainthood, was catalyzed and facilitated by the use of the lotus plant as a psychedelic agent. Perhaps it gave him the initial glimpse of the divine which initially inspired him on his quest, one can only speculate. But it makes sense to suppose that his spiritual odyssey incorporated the use of psychedelic substances, somewhere along the way. So this idea of being 'lotus born' i.e. 'psychedelic born' is useful for understanding the role that psychedelics can have on the development of the individual. That is, psychedelic use may lead to a radical personal transformation where a subject feels born again to a new life and spiritual path.
When the same idea is applied to wider society then we might say that a lot of what's new in contemporary spirituality and mysticism is 'lotus born', in the sense that it has been brought about by what happened in the psychedelically inspired 60s and 70s. Seen in this light, psychedelic use then becomes not an end in itself, but a means to the end. For the individual, the use of psychedelics will not produce enlightenment but will however give the spiritual aspirant useful glimpses of the ultimate goal that may guide and motivate. For society and the world at large, the widespread use of psychedelics by itself won't bring about utopia or Heaven on Earth. Of course not. However the visions and inspiring ideas that psychedelics are able to illicit, may motivate creative actions in large numbers of people and over long periods of time. It is this that creates the potential to help create a better and more perfect world.
We just discussed the idea that the name 'Padmasambhava' or 'lotus born' is a reference to the use of psychedelic agents in order to facilitate the spiritual journey. It is quite reasonable to suppose that this is also the same meaning behind the 'Island of the lotus eaters' in the myth Odysseus. When we understand that these types of myth are spiritual allegory that communicate truths about the mystical journey in symbolic form; then the 'island of the lotus eaters' becomes an obvious reference to the use of psychedelic substances. It is highly significant I believe, that the island of the lotus eaters is the first port of call on the journey of Odysseus and his men. This means here that psychedelic agents are something that a person perhaps uses early on in his or her spiritual development, but then abandons in order to be able to complete the rest of the journey to its destination. In the story of Odysseus, some of his sailors are sent to investigate the island of the lotus eaters. These sailors themselves partake of the lotus and as a result they fall into a deep sleep from which they are unable to awaken, and so become trapped on the island. They are freed when the hero Odysseus comes to their rescue and rouses them from their slumber. This part of the story neatly illustrates some of the pitfalls and hazards that accompany the use of psychedelic drugs. Though psychedelics may facilitate the journey of spiritual development and mystical discovery, if not used with care then these powerful substances can also cut short this odyssey of personal growth. The harmful and deleterious effects of psychedelics have already been mentioned. But also, apart from the possible brain damage and long term cognitive impairment; the use of psychedelics can also in some instances lead to premature death. The story of the island of the lotus eaters then, is not only a reference to something that has been a recurring feature of the spiritual and religious landscape since time immemorial, that is the use of psychedelic substances. But the story also serves as a warning and a reminder of the dangers associated with their use.
The use of Psychedelics mentioned in Christian and Zoroastrian Prophecies for the End Times
We’ll now examine some references made to Psychedelic substances in some from Prophecies from two of the Worlds major religions. A major theme in this website as the title of it suggests, is the notion that the Prophecies for the end times, that is the Prophecies which can be found in just about all the major faith traditions of the World, are talking about present times and circumstances in which we live today. Therefore given this assumption, which is one of the overall themes of this website, any mention made of Psychedelics in the Prophecies are particularly relevant to us here in this chapter. So next I’ll discuss two references to Psychedelics made in a prophecy taken from Christianity and also one from the Zoroastrian faith.
The first, a very interesting Christian prophecy is contained in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. It is a prophecy which bridges ancient psychedelia and the contemporary psychedelic scene. It is also a prophesy which brings together probably two of the most controversial subjects in the world of religion and mysticism. The first is what we have already been discussing, the use of psychedelics as a means of achieving mystical states. The second is the matter concerning the idea of the 'Expected One', a person prophesied to appear on Earth at the end of the age or cosmic cycle. A universal feature of all the main religions, here we are dealing with a prophesy for 'The Second Coming of Christ', contained in the Christian scriptures. Here is the prophecy itself...
'To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.' - Bible, Revelation 2:17
And here is another passage which occurs a few paragraphs further down in the Book of Revelation...
'To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter.' - Bible, Revelation 2:26
This prophesy clarifies the subject matter of the first. The term 'Second Coming of Christ' never actually occurs in the Bible. Instead the 'Second Coming' is referred to by various epithets. For instance, Christ's return is given various names such as 'The Lamb who was slain', 'The Rider on the White Horse' or 'The King of Kings and Lord of Lords'. In this instance the Second Coming of Christ is referred to as 'Him who overcomes'. So this prophecy makes it quite clear that the prophecy contained in the preceding passage is referring to the 'Second Coming'.
So what are we to make of this? We have suggested earlier that it is a reasonable guess to suppose that the mysterious 'manna' was some psychedelic agent used by the ancient Israelites. In the same way that all primitive cultures almost universally, have also employed various psychedelic agents as spiritual facilitants. In which case the implication is clear. The above prophecy referring to the 'Second Coming of Christ' and the 'hidden manna', is telling us that the 'Second Coming' will involve somewhere in its emergence the use of psychedelics. This applies whether one believes that the return of Christ is going to be some special person or else a collection of special people. This assumes the viewpoint that the second coming of Christ is not some kind of supernatural event, such as the widely held belief among Fundamentalist Christians, who are waiting for Jesus to literally appear in the sky. Instead what we are expecting here is something just as Earth shattering if not miraculous. What we are talking about here is the appearance of a person or persons who will play some critical role in catalyzing the process of the prophesies and bringing about the culmination of world history. The probably controversial suggestion being made here is that the prophecy contained in the Bible, currently being discussed, is telling us that some psychedelic substance will play a role in the unfolding of the prophesies at the end times.
So why does the prophecy refer to the 'hidden manna'? Why is it hidden? This part of the prophecy probably refers to the fact that a small quantity of manna was kept in a jar in the famous ark of the covenant. This is described in the Bible, in the book of Hebrews, and this small remnant was preserved as a reminder to the Israelites of their ancient past. The Bible also describes in book of Maccebees, how during the time of the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem in 586 BC, the prophet Jeremiah took the ark of the covenant and hid it along with its contents. Hence the 'hidden manna'. To this day the ark of the covenant has never been found and its discovery would surely be one of the greatest archeological finds of all time. Its discovery might also perhaps allow us to deduce more exactly what constituted the mysterious manna. But at present, we may only speculate.
The historian of religion Dan Merkur makes the case in his book 'The mystery of Manna', that the active ingredient in Manna was a type of fungus called Ergot, a known psychedelic agent. Though the arguments presented in his book are tenuous and a bit inconclusive, it would be remarkable if his hypothesis were true; because LSD was first synthesized and derived from ergot. In which case the 'hidden manna' would certainly have made its return in a roundabout way.
We turn now to our Zoroastrian Prophecy contained in Chapter 30 of The Bundahishn (“Creation”), or Knowledge from the Zand. In this prophecy is a reference to the Haoma concoction which was a psychedelic beverage in use during Zoroaster’s time, which was probably around 1200BC to 1000BC. The Saoshyant is the chosen one or the Zoroastrian equivalent to the Jewish Messiah or Christian Second Coming.
‘Saoshyant, with his assistants, performs a Yazishn ceremony in preparing the dead, and they slaughter the ox Hadhayosh in that Yazishn; from the fat of that ox and the white Haoma they prepare Hush, and give it to all men, and all men become immortal for ever and everlasting.’ - Verse 25 - Translated by E. W. West, from Sacred Books of the East, volume 5, Oxford University Press, 1897
Interestly there is correspondence with the physical description of the Manna, mentioned earlier, given in the Bible.
‘And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.’ - Exodus 16:31
A clue as to what was the active ingredient in Haoma is given by the description in Zoroastrian prophecy where it was prepared in the ‘fat of that ox’. This suggest some sort of substance that isn’t so water soluble but more readily dissolvable in some sort of fat or oil, a psychedelic Cannabinoid perhaps?
So when we consider these prophetic references to psychedelics, together with the assumption that the prophecies are unfolding in present times, then we may speculate as to the exact role that psychedelic substances are to play or have already played, in the unfolding of events leading up to the realization of the prophecies. In a later chapter, we discuss at length the prophecies from the Major religions of the World and show why it can be convincingly argued that they are referring to the current age and present circumstances. Perhaps the prophecies are referring to the psychedelic renaissance of the 60s and 70s referred to earlier on in this chapter. Or perhaps they are a reference to things still to come.
The Future of Psychedelia
What is the future then for psychedelics? Today there are prohibitions on their possession and use in just about every society on the planet. As clearly pointed out earlier, there are some potential negative effects on a persons mental health which derive from the use of Psychedelic substances and other dangers as well. Though not a usual occurence, it is not unknown for people to suffer serious physical injury or even fatality whilst under the influence of powerful mind altering substances of any variety. So clearly there needs to be at least some level of regulation and care associated with the use of Psychedelics. Also a healthy society is one that is able to maintain the right balance between order and chaos. Without order there is no society and without a bit of chaos then there can be no innovation or creativity. The complete legalization of psychedelic drugs and their unregulated use may introduce a little too much chaos into society undermining its effective functioning. This might come about through the undermining of the inclination of people to hold down steady jobs and the impairment of peoples abilities to do their jobs properly. Perhaps.
What I envisage for the future is some sort of return of the Ancient Greek Eleusian mysteries for modern times. The Eleusian mysteries were a mystical rite of passage where the psychedelic sacrement called the Kykeon was taken. This all took place in Eleusis which is a place about 30 miles from Athens. Notable initiates into these ancient Mysteries include the likes of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Plutarch among many others. It was an aspect of Greek Civilization which at the time was accepted and widely known about but yet kept separate and at a distance from normal everyday Athenian society. In some way shape or form we might in the future see the creation of a similar sort of arrangement whereby the psychedelic flame is kept alive and respected but at the same time kept separate from the mainstream. So that those who actively seek may find, while at the same time a veil is maintained to stop people stumbling in by accident or for the wrong reasons.
In the future the definition of what is Psychedelic may expand to encompass other sorts of Mind Manifesting and Consiousness Altering physical interventions, beyond merely the process of ingesting, smoking or injecting various chemicals. We may see a much expanded repertoire of techniques and technologies which may fall under the label of Psychedelic. For instance by using powerful magnetic devices, Neuroscientists today believe they can produce profound alterations in brain activity and consciousness. Also in the more distant future Nanotechnology and a more complete understanding of Brain physiology may enable us to manipulate precisely the parameters of brain and mind thereby allowing us to specify and induce exactly various interesting states of consciousness. I furthur believe and should mention, that just as in the past, the most beneficial use of any or all of these sorts of future Psychedelic technologies; is best obtained when implemented in conjunction with various spiritual disciplines, i.e. Meditation, Yoga, Tantra and Philosophical contemplation etc. Ultimately one can only speculate on what is the future of Psychedelia for it is still in the process of being invented and formulated.
Summary and Conclusion
So the use of psychedelic substances for the purpose of obtaining mystical states has been with us since the dawn of human civilization and the beginning of recorded history. They are still being used for this purpose today by some of the various indigenous shamanic traditions found around the world. In more recent times, particularly in the late 60s and early 70s, Psychedelics have been a big and significant influence on contemporary culture, in the arts, in science and technology and in aspects of the modern spiritual landscape. This came about mainly through the relatively widespread use of the substance LSD. The prophecies we examined seem to be telling us that psychedelics will be playing or have already played, some sort of role at the end of this cycle of history as well; in helping to bring about the conditions and conclusion of the prophecies. In the future when there is wider recognition for mystical truths and more of an acceptance of the validity of psychedelic experiences, then we may see the formation of legalized and socially sanctioned psychedelic institutions, perhaps something along the lines of the Eleusian Mysteries of Ancient Greece.
The fly agaric mushroom or more officially known as amanita muscaria. A fungus that is used in various shamanistic traditions around the world. It is perhaps the one variety of mushroom that has had the most impact on popular culture and peoples imaginations. In fact this fungus even has a brain receptor named after it, the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor. So named because the functioning of the acetylcholine brain receptor is most modulated by the psychoactive constituents of this mushroom. Interestingly two other ancient psychedelic compounds i.e. scopolamine derived from the plant henbane and atropine derived from belladonna, both bind strongly to the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor.