Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Apology for Wonder.
Keen, Sam. (1969).
New York: Harper & Row.
Description: 218 pages.
Contents: Preface, 7
Excerpt(s): In the last
chapter of Life Against Death [Norman O. Brown]
proposes the creation of a Dionysian consciousness which would
be based upon a body ego of the polymorphously perverse body.
... The unrepressed man would be free to live and to die because
he would have overcome anxiety and guilt. He would also be free
from obsession with genital sexuality and would exist in a world
which was totally eroticized. Being oriented toward delight and
play, he would lose the money complex and would demand happiness
rather than power and use-value rather than exchange-value. (page
It would seem that much of the material coming from
the psychedelic revolution is relevant to evaluating the Dionysian
consciousness induced by ingestion of mild hallucinogenic such
as marijuana and hashish and stronger agents such as LSD, DMT,
and mescaline, the psychedelic experience seems to qualify as
pure Dionysian consciousness. LSD produces the polymorphous perverse
body in short order with such intensity that even the desire to
play with language is dissolved in the pleasure of immediate experience.
... (page 185)
The distortion of the normal sense of time and of
the boundaries between the senses is a part of the more radical
dissolving of the ego which takes place in the psychedelic experience.
When the rider of self-consciousness falls away, leaving pure
awareness, the I or ego is left behind, as is the distinction
between subject and object, inside and outside, or here and there.
This loss of a sense of the distinctiveness and separateness of
the experiencing self accounts for both the aesthetic and the
religious aspects of psychedelic experience. ... The self is reduced
to a focused awareness of the objects, events, and sensations
that flow ceaselessly in the moving mandala of reality. Ego transcendence
is often reported in religious terms, especially by those persons
who have some knowledge of Eastern religions; the one becomes
caught up in the flow of the All; the alienation caused by the
illusion of atomic selfhood is dispelled, and painful self-awareness
gives way to the ecstasy of being included in a moving reality.
Another aspect of the psychedelic experience which
leads us to believe it is a candidate for Brown's Dionysian consciousness
is its erotic component. ... the psychedelic places one in a more
erotic but less genital world. Where there is much to wonder at,
sex becomes a delight among delights. LSD doesn't take the pot
of gold from under the tree of sex; it merely, like Rumpelstiltskin,
in the children's fairy tale, ties a scarf around every tree in
... The reverse side of the ecstasy of self-transcendence
and ego loss is the terror of losing all those values and delights
that are a part of our rootedness in a particular time, place
and situation. The loss of boundaries promises the release from
chains of limitation, but it threatens destruction of the treasures
which the boundaries encompass and keep safe. (pages 185-187)
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