Psychedelic Shamanism
The Shamanic Tradition
Modern Shamans
Reference Works
The Shamanic Tradition

Anthropological studies among "primitive" peoples reveal a consistent pattern of Shamanism around the world and throughout history.  This is due to the universality of man's quest for knowledge and the need to explain things and events beyond our control.  It seems human society requires someone who voyages beyond this physical world into the mystical realms on a quest for knowledge.  These courageous individuals often find the truth that underlies the illusion we accept as reality.  The awareness they bring back sheds light upon our petty mortal existence and puts into perspective humanity's hopes and failings.  In these "primitive" cultures, the Shaman is a powerful figure, often acting as a balance to the tribal chief, who would often need to consult the shaman for important decisions.

There's always been a need for the shaman, but now more than ever, our society is losing touch with our greater purpose.  Unfortunately, rather than embracing the shamanic message, our society seeks to suppress it and those who would delve into those realms beyond social control.  Perhaps there is an intuition among the powerful that their power is based upon maintaining a false illusion about the nature of reality.  The Shamanic Message shatters this illusion, and therefore is seen as a threat.  Mind control has become a very important tool to keep the masses productively in the system. The Shamanic tradition releases those mental and cultural bonds we acquire, allowing us to see our own true nature, freed from cultural programming.

Despite political, moral and legal pressures, modern society has produced a number of shamans who with the help of psychedelic substances (part of the shamanic tradition) have broken through the social program and brought back an important message for those of us with open minds.  Many of these Psychedelic Shamans have had to go public, using modern media, to get the message out.  The most vocal of these have been vilified by the powers that be, in an attempt to squelch their message.

This webpage honors those brave enough to face public ridicule by openly acknowledging their shamanic status and encouraging others to become shamans.  We must spread their message so everyone can be motivated to free their minds.  In the immortal words of Timothy Leary, we must "turn on, tune in and drop out".  Only with greater awareness of our special place in this enormous universe can we hope to save our species from the inevitable result of unbridled materialistic greed.

Modern Shamans

Aldous Huxley - Its widely known that Huxley experimented with psychedelics including mescaline and LSD.  In fact he died tripping on acid (intentionally). His great works of fiction include Brave New World about test-tube babies, consumerism and Soma, the drug of choice. 

Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley. A classic of psychedelic literature.  Based on Huxley's experiences with mescaline and how it "opened the doors".  Yes, the Doors named their group after this book.

Timothy Leary - The high priest of LSD, Leary is clearly the King of Shamans.  His role as professor at Harvard University soon took a back seat to his public persona once he discovered for himself the powerful insights available through psychedelics.  Unable to restrain his enthusiasm, Harvard dismissed him, allowing Leary to experiment with psychedelics under his own terms.  Once freed of clinical restraints, Leary determined which factors enhanced and promoted "good trips".  Leary was quick to realize that the LSD trip was a religious experience that transformed the tripper for life.  He encouraged clergy, scientists, artists and many others to experiment with LSD and recorded their experiences.  His legendary sessions in Millbrook, N.Y. yielded much data, but more importantly pioneered the personal and interpersonal psychedelic experience as never before. 

Leary became the focus of public and private debate about the use of drugs, leading to the criminalization of LSD and other psychedelics.  Leary himself became the target of governmental repression, with Richard Nixon calling him "the most dangerous man in America".  Imprisoned, escaped, on-the-lam, returned from exile, Leary remained unfazed in his efforts to promote the psychedelic, shamanic experience.  His numerous books exhort the reader to discover for himself the mind expanding potential of psychedelics. 

The Politics of Ecstasy
In this book, Timothy Leary, the high priest of LSD, promotes the right to expand one's mind as he exhorts us to turn on, tune in and drop out!  He questions the government's growing power to prevent individual experimentation with psychedelics.  Includes the famous 1966 Playboy interview where he discusses LSD and sex. 
Chaos and Cyberculture the LSD guru has a lot to say about society, culture, technology and the human mind.  This book offers up thirty years of Leary's experience and knowledge.  A good retrospective and introduction to his work.

John Lennon - While John Lennon might have considered himself foremost an artist and musician, he nevertheless met the criteria of a shaman in today's society.  His great influence among young people was due to his expressive nature.  His experiences with psychedelics, particularly LSD, changed his view of the world and the way he expressed himself through his music.  Not only did he become more experimental and inventive, but his lyrics took on an otherworldly nature.  His songs inspired countless thousands to open their minds and experiment with psychedelics.  Some of his tunes were actually composed and recorded under the influence of LSD.  John was a tireless promoter of the shamanic message of peace, love and understanding.  His message reached the far corners of the planet.

Lennon Legend - The Very Best of John Lennon. This recording includes all his post Beatles hits.  An excellent collection.  Perhaps a better choice than the John Lennon Anthology.

Carlos Castaneda - Steeped in the shamanic tradition of the Nahuatl indians of Mexico, Castaneda weaves a tale of initiation, revelation, power and transcendence in his series of books.  The story of how Carlos meets and accepts his apprenticeship under the tutelage of brujo Don Juan is a masterpiece.  The endless debate about whether it's a work of fact or fiction is notwithstanding. The teachings underlying the work have great merit, as they give meaning to existence and provide a path, the warrior's, for those souls brave enough to confront their own weaknesses and transform themselves.

A Separate Reality Don Juan is Carlos' guide into the world of the brujo, the sorcerer.  With Don Juan's careful tutoring, Carlos is initially given mind altering drugs to enable him to perceive the Separate Reality.  Naive Carlos is forever making a fool of himself, but Don Juan is patient and has much to teach about the world beyond the veil.
These are just a couple more books in 
Castaneda's series about Don Juan.

Tales of PowerThe Fire From Within

Terence McKenna - At the time of this writing, Terence McKenna lies in a hospital bed awaiting his final destiny.  He is a man who, like Gordon Wasson, lived with the natives and learned their shamanistic ways.  Along with his brother, they added much to our knowledge of ethnobotany, the native uses of psychedelic plants.  McKenna's book, Food of the Gods, was a landmark in this field. 

Food of the Gods : The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge : A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution - by Terence McKenna. Terence McKenna is the guru of botanical psychoactives.  His shamanic approach to plants and human consciousness enhances our connection to the world beyond the five senses.  If you're into expanding your awareness via plants this will help put it all in context. 

True Hallucinations : Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise - by Terence McKenna

Jim Morrison - Jim was an iconoclast who used his fame to get his message across.  A poet and philosopher, Jim felt it necessary to push the envelope and society as far as you could to find freedom.  He knew that drugs were just "Doors" to other worlds where few explorers ventured. His music, his lyrics and his passion took us to some dark places in our personal and collective psyches.  Like any good shaman, Jim's real talent was taking us along on his journeys into these forbidden realms and opening our minds with his vivid perceptions.

Break on Through : The Life and Death of Jim Morrison.  Biography of this poet, philosopher, iconoclast, musician.
The Best of the Doors - Jim Morrison still lives on as a rock icon.  His sensuous voice, defiant attitude and iconoclastic lyrics along with Ray Manzarek's great keyboard work propelled the Doors to the top of the charts. This two disk set contains the Doors biggest hits including "Light My Fire", "Riders on the Storm" and "L.A. Woman".

Alexander & Ann Shulgin - This husband and wife team have explored the whole range of psychedelic drugs including some that few if any have tried.  They are known as the parents of Ecstacy.

Pihkal : A Chemical Love Story by Alexander Shulgin. Pihkal stands for Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved.  Indeed, the Shulgins know of what they speak and they tell the story of psychedelics and designer drugs including their child, Ecstacy.  If you're a talented chemist you might appreciate the 179 recipes included.  Tihkal is their book about Triptamines.

Ken Kesey - In contrast to Timothy Leary's experimental approach to psychedelics, Kesey explored the experiential.  Along with his Merry Pranksters, Kesey felt that psychedelics were a new way to experience the world.  Inviting diverse friends from Allen Ginsberg to the Hell's Angels to his place in La Honda he was able to transform groups of people via the communal "trip".  After turning on hundreds, he decided to take his show on the road in a day-glo bus.  Kesey and the Pranksters went on a psychedelic cross country "trip" that inspired many including the Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour) to try to duplicate.  The famous Acid-Test parties where LSD laced Kool-Aid was dispensed accompanied by music (by such notables as the Grateful Dead) and light shows were modern day correlates to the shamanic rituals of old.

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe's book about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. One of the great books about how LSD invaded America's consciousness, peaking during the Summer of Love. A tribute to Kesey, the Pranksters (including Neal Cassady, Ken Babbs, Mountain Girl and Wavy Gravy), and the whole psychedelic generation. Good insight into how the torch was passed from the Beats to the hippies. It also contrasts Kesey's "up front", experiential movement versus Timothy Leary's experimental, insightful approach to the LSD trip.

Reference Works
In addition to the books mentioned above, here are some books that delve into psychedelics and shamanism.

Psychedelic Shamanism: The Cultivation, Preparation and Shamanic Use of Psychotropic Plants - Jim DeKorne This books covers a wide range of psychedelic plants including mushrooms, cacti, ayahuasca, syrian rue and many others.  Interesting stories about the use of psychotropics including encounters with "entities".  Useful explanations on how to extract such substances as DMT.

The Little Book of Acid - Cam Cloud
This small book covers the history of LSD from Albert Hoffman and the Sandoz Laboratories to Owsley, Timothy Leary, and delves into the psychedelic and cultural impact.  Includes information about natural alternatives including Hawaiian Woodrose and Morning Glory seeds.
Green Psychology: Cultivating a Spiritual Connection with the Natural World by Ralph, Ph.D. Metzner 1999.  Dr. Metzner is well known for his work at Harvard University with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.  In this new book he discusses how humans have lost touch with the natural world and how we can use the Shamanic teachings to regain the lost knowledge.
The Way of the Shaman by Michael J. Harner  A guidebook for those on the Shamanic path and a primer for the curious.  Harner explores the shamanism in various cultures. Learn how to make the most of your shamanic journey.
Herbs of the Northern Shaman, A Guide to Mind Altering Plants of the Northern Hemisphere by Steve Andrews.  Andrews describes in clear, understandable terms the plants, their active constituents, the dosages, and their effects on the human mind and body. Many photos and illustrations are included. You will find information on the expected plants such as Cannabis, Datura, and Peyote as well as the unexpected effects of such common garden favorites as Buttercup, Sassafras and Water Lily.