“To fathom hell or soar angelic,
Just take a pinch of psychedelic”
– Dr. Humphry Osmond, 1956
The script of Hollywood movie ‘Constantine’ came so close to the reality of human mind the way it conceptualizes heaven, hell and beyond. Apparently its nothing beyond unless one is ready to loose the definiteness and gravity of his own self. Well after such an irrational start the flow of this article will get back again to where it started. But for the time being we need to illuminate some of the most distinctive period of the study of a new class of drugs. These are badly called hallucinogenics and goodly called Entheogens. *Though this article would use the term Entheogens as is, while throwing light on their hallucinogenic nature in its true aspect devoid of any commercial despise. Out of the closet of Entheogens the divine and the most revered one is Mescaline.
Mescaline is a naturally occurring natural psychedelic alkaloid obtained from the a small, spineless cactus Peyote (Lophophora williamsi). The presence of this drug in the scientific(psychologist and pharmacologist) community is not very old. The first systematic study of mescaline was first published in 1886 by German pharmacologist , Ludwig Levin.
This interesting chemical came under the influential study of many big league psychologists and psychiatrists since late 19th century till mid 1960’s . The most famous amongst them was Dr Humphry Osmond. His quite eccentric research played an important part in for inspiring researchers who saw drugs like L.S.D. , mescaline and psilocybin as potential treatments for psychological ailments.
It was also discovered that if ingested in suitable dosage, Mescaline can alter the quality of consciousness in most profound manner while still being considerably less toxic than any other substance in pharmacologist’s repository . Therefore it was assigned the honor of being most distinctive chemicals amongst the others in its class.
By the end of 19th century it was well known that mescaline shows close similarity with adrenaline. The discovery that adrenochrome which is a by product of adrenaline can produce symptoms almost identical to mescaline intoxication carried an enormous impact on the scientific fraternity. Since adrenochrome is a naturally occurring substance in human body, it could be inferred that each one of us is capable of producing a drug ,minute doses of which are actually known to cause acute changes to the human consciousness thus giving scientific credibility to the experiences of eastern mystics.
- The ability to remember and to “think straight” is little if at all reduced.
- Visual impressions are greatly intensified and the eye recovers some of the perceptual innocence of childhood, when the sensum was not immediately and automatically subordinated to the concept . Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero.
- Though the intellect remains unimpaired and perception enormously improved, the will suffers a profound change for worse. The mescaline taker sees no reason in doing anything in particular and finds most of other causes for which , at ordinary times he was prepared to act and suffer as uninteresting for he(as the subject says) has better things to think about.
- These better things may be experienced “out there ” or ” in here” or in both world’s outer and inner, simultaneously and successfully.
The admission of this drug empowers the subject to impair the efficiency of the cerebral reducing valve. When brain runs out of sugar, the undernourished ego grows weak . The most important sensitivities on which man is so much dependent for getting on this world i:e the spatial and temporal relationship is lost interest in. As the Mind At Large seeps though ‘no longer water tight’ valve, biologically useless things begin to happen. Extrasensory perceptions, glimpses of visually enchanting scapes . Some are revealed the eternal value and meaning-fullness of of naked existence of an unconceptualised events. In the ultimate stage of egolessness there is an obscure knowledge that “all is in all and that all is actually each”. “Tattvam assi”, as the Vedas says. This is as near a finite mind ever comes perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. Mescaline also heightens the color perceptions to an enormous levels such that it males the percipient aware of innumerable fine shades of difference to which at ordinary times he is completely blind. During the mescaline trip all secondary character of things seems primary. This color perception to him becomes even more important and better worth attending to than masses , positions and dimensions. There is a very strong longing to be left alone to the eternity avoiding any personal contacts. To the subject every thought of the self it had seemingly cease to be and the his relations to near and dear ones feels not indeed distasteful but utterly irrelevant. For him all the others belongs to the world of self assertion, over valued words and idolatrously worshipped notions.
A complete dissociation of body with mind takes place, the awareness of the transfigured outer world is no longer accompanied by an awareness of the physical body. Still the body looks like to be able to quite properly looks after itself as in general reality it normally does. All that the ‘conscious ego’ does is formulation of its wishes , which are then carried out by forces which it controls very little and understands not at all. When it does anything more and tries too hard for example when it worries and becomes apprehensive about the future , it lowers the effectiveness of those forces and may even cause the devitalized body to fall ill.
Most people today lead lives at worst , painful and at best monotonous ,poor and limited in experience. In prevalent lifestyle state of humanity has transformed to that of human doing from the original self pristine state of human being. A natural urge to bridge the difference of our initial self from acquired self and self transcendentalism has always been on of the principal appetite of the soul. For nourishment of this need man invented many rituals such as art, music, religion, saturnalia, carnivals , orgy etc. For everyday feed chemical intoxication such as alcohol, naturally occurring sedatives, narcotics and hallucinogenics served the purpose since time immemorial. To these natural modifiers of consciousness modern science has added a quota of synthetics such as benzedrine , barbiturates and LSD.
Out of these some are nearly as harmless but others very much poisonous. But our legal system has permitted only alcohol and tobacco for unrestricted use . All others (including the harmless and non addicting ones) are labeled as dope. Propagation of alcohol and tobacco smoking as the only escape from selfhood and dissatisfactory environment is making them thrive in a rampant manner. They are advertised as a noted act for demonstrating valor and gut. Lethal yet legal these two devils have engulfed the psyche of most human mind in a manner that in spite of the growing army of hopeless alcoholics, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of persons annually maimed or killed by drunken drivers and in spite of alarming lung cancer and asthma rates due to cigarettes ,alcohol consumption and smoking tobacco are practically considered hardly less normal and natural than eating.
Our fundamental duty now is not let ourselves to fall prey to forced oblivion under the influence of false propaganda. By sedating our inherent urge for righteousness we’ll just imitate the last minute act of that pigeon which on encountering the cat closes its eyes under an assumption that danger is averted but disregards from the fact that ‘ it’s my last god gifted chance to survive this peril or else perish forever’.
(excerpts mixed from “The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell” by Aldous Huxley