Thursday, May 19, 2011

Psychedeli​c trance and visionary knowledge

"...Preserved in pockets of the undeveloped world, shielded from the rapid ravages of modernization by dense jungles and mountains, it is still possible to encounter intact shamanic cultures. Among these people, plants that induce visions are the center of spiritual life and tradition. They believe that these plants are sentient beings, supernatural emissaries. They ascribe their music and medicine, their cosmology and extensive botanical knowledge to the visions given to them in psychedelic trance. For tribes in Africa, Siberia, North and South America and many other regions, rejection of visionary knowledge offered by the botanical world would be a form of insanity.

While researching this book, I visited shamans in West Africa, Mexico, and the Ecuadorean Amazon. In Gabon, a small country on the equator, I went through a Bwiti initiation, eating iboga, a psychedelic root bark that induces a trance lasting for thirty hours. Some of the Bwiti call this ceremony "breaking open the head". The bark powder temporarily releases the soul from the body, allowing the initiate into the African spiritual cosmos, where he is shown the outline of his fate."

Page 2, 'Breaking Open the Head, A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism' by Daniel Pinchbeck

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