9 Animal Species That Use Psychoactive Substances In The Wild

1524815_185511901649386_324707819_nDear Friends,
from day to day now, we are tapping deeper into the awareness of our shared reality with the Animal Kingdom. More and more people receive messages by the other world, transported by animal spirits. Reading this article I can’t help but ask myself if this facts might not be helpful for the human race, when we harmonize our energy field with the Animal Kingdom.
Many of the below mentioned animals are well known helper for us, in indigenous traditions identified as Power animals. I like to think, that the Dolphin in it’s  “trance-like state” is able to tap into the energetic field of humanity to charge us with the amazing qualities their lives represent to us. Same for the Jaguars – who are royal animals to many cultures, the Horse – part of Native American inheritance, the Reindeer the same 
for the Nordic countries and Pics  , part of cultural believes worldwide.
So couldn’t it be possible that animals in altered states of awareness also use the same highways of information than humans do and therefor are channeling their characteristics, love and support to us, when consuming psychoactive substances!?? What Do you think? Anybody who can share such an experience?

Wishing you loving and nurturing connections with the animal world!!
Edith

2401829514by Gonzo Nieto
For millennia, our ancestors have enjoyed, and even regarded as sacred, a variety of mind-altering substances. Cultural artifacts, visionary artwork and rituals in many indigenous cultures and past civilizations point to this fact. As Ethan Nadelmann remarked in a recent TED talk, “Our desire to alter our consciousness may be as fundamental as our desires for food, companionship, and sex.”

While Homo sapien consumption for consciousness-expanding purposes is well-documented throughout anthropology and history, ample evidence suggests we are not the only creatures who seek mind-altering plants and substances in their environment.
Indeed, plenty of our animal friends enjoy mind-altering substances: Some eat fermented fruits, psychoactive mushrooms, and opium poppies. Others rub themselves with crushed ants or angry millipedes.
The initial attraction to these substances might not be just to get high, but for nutritional or protective purposes. For example, fermenting fruits might be attractive to certain species because the process signifies the fruit is at its highest caloric value, and is also going to rot soon. In other cases, naturally occurring intoxicants might serve some curative function or contain nutrients that are otherwise scarce in the environment.
But, there’s compelling evidence to suggest that altering one’s state of mind for the simple purposes of experiencing that altered state is a natural drive common to many inhabitants of the animal kingdom. See for yourself.

1. Lemurs and capuchin monkeys get high off of millipedes.

The idea that some animals get high off other animals is an intriguing one, and lemurs and capuchin monkeys seem to be doing just this with poisonous millipedes. The millipedes store toxic chemicals, including cyanide, which they release in defense when provoked. The primates pick up and agitate millipedes and then rub them all over their bodies, coating themselves in the defensive secretions — here’s a BBC documentary clip on this. As mentioned in the video, the primary reason for this seem to be protection against a variety of parasites, but the monkeys and lemurs also seem to enjoy a thoroughly blissful intoxication as a result. The monkeys, being more social animals, have been seen passing a millipede around, reminiscent of a group of people passing around a joint.

images (1)2. Dolphins enjoy the psychoactive effects of poisonous pufferfish.

Similar to the lemurs and monkeys above, dolphins have been observed hanging out in groups of four to seven, passing around an angry pufferfish. The pufferfish releases an extremely potent poison called tetrodotoxin which is more deadly than nerve gas or the venom of the black widow spider, and thus is one of the most toxic compounds known to man. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Christie Wilcox is skeptical of the theory that dolphins are intentionally doing this for the purpose of intoxication and pleasure, but there is some compelling evidence to the contrary. For example, the BBC documentary Spy in the Pod showed dolphins passing around a pufferfish and then floating near the surface of the water, apparently in a “trance-like state.”

3. Many species of birds do what is called “anting.”

A seemingly odd behavior, ravens, myna birds, jays, magpies, and other birds sometimes either rub themselves with ants or get intimate with anthills to coat themselves in ants (see a jay do it here). This is called anting, and its purpose remains unclear.
An article published in the journal of the American Ornithologist’s Union in 1974 reviewed the possible explanations for anting. One theory is that the birds are coating themselves with the ant’s defensive chemical secretions, thus applying a protective coating much like when we apply insect repellent.
Another possibility is that the secretions serve to soothe the bird’s body during molting season. Others point to the curious movement sometimes observed during anting (described by one ecologist as “a curious dance that involved flopping around on the grass with its wings outstretched and its beak open”) as proof of an intoxicated state, suggesting that anting is pleasurable for the birds.
Perhaps the answer is a combination of these theories. Similar to how humans use cannabis, anting may at times serve a protective or curative purpose, while at other times be done mainly for the enjoyment of the altered state it brings about.

4. Many animals seek out fermented fruits in the wild.

It has been widely reported that elephants get themselves drunk from the marula tree’s fermented fruit. Anecdotal reports of these stumbling elephants go back over a century, and the phenomenon was portrayed in the film Animals are Beautiful People by James Uys (Uys also made The Gods Must Be Crazy). The idea is that the fallen fruit ferments either on the ground before being eaten, or in the elephant’s digestive system, yielding one drunk pachyderm.
As fun as it is to think about inebriated elephants, this theory has been debunked by an article published in the Physiological and Biochemical Zoology journal in 2006, and it’s been suggested that the clips shown in the above video were staged by artificially sedating the elephants. For starters, elephants don’t eat the rotten fruit from the ground, instead preferring to ram the tree trunk to shake loose the ripe fruit, even when there’s fruit on the ground available. Another hypothesis, which suggests that the fruit ferments in the digestive system, is also out of the question; the fruits are not in the digestive system long enough for that to happen, and the sugars needed for fermentation are metabolized by the elephant before they can be converted to alcohol by yeast. And, in order to get drunk an elephant would need to eat 1,400 fully fermented marula fruits — an unlikely feat. Despite its improbability, the myth, and convincing videos of seemingly drunk elephants, persist.

images (2)However, there have been confirmed reports of other animals that regularly consume fermented fruit. The pen-tailed treeshrew, native to Thailand and Malaysia, is known to regularly snack on the nectar of the bertam palm tree, sharing this indulgence with the slow loris and several other mammals native to that area, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2008. The palm’s flower bud houses a species of yeast that ferments the nectar, bringing it to a beer-like alcohol content of up to 3.8%. It is estimated that, in one night, the treeshrew can consume the equivalent of nine alcoholic beverages. However, they show no overt signs of intoxication because their bodies use more efficient ways of breaking down alcohol than we do, preventing the accumulation of alcohol necessary for getting drunk. Similarly, bats regularly encounter and consume fermented fruits in the wild. Like the treeshrew, they show no signs of intoxication. When scientists gave bats an alcohol solution and made them fly an obstacle course, they performed no worse than their sober counterparts.

Monkeys also have a taste for alcohol — not only do they seek out fermented fruits, but they also like to steal alcoholic drinks from tourists. And their taste for alcohol has allowed for some pretty interesting research on their drinking habits. Vervet monkeys that were given access to alcohol in a social setting show some striking parallels to the drinking patterns of humans.
The monkeys could be grouped into social drinkers, which prefer sweetened drinks and only drink in the company of others; regular drinkers, which prefer their drinks straight, make good leaders, and are socially dominant; binge drinkers, which are aggressive and can drink themselves to death within months if given unrestricted access to alcohol; and abstainers. What’s more, not only the types of drinkers similar to humans, but the proportions of each of these behavior patterns in the monkeys studied reflects those found in human populations. These findings raise the possibility that our patterns of drug consumption are more fundamental aspects of our animal nature than we might think.

wacky-horse-570x3675. Horses seek out locoweed for its intoxicating effects.

Locoweed refers to any plant that produces the chemical swainsonine. It is thought that horses are initially attracted to these plants because they remain green longer than other plants once winter comes around. However, they begin to seek it out for its intoxicating effects, increasing their use over time. Farmers do their best to eliminate locoweed from their properties, as its frequent consumption is damaging to the animal’s health. A study published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2003 found that horses that ate the weed for two weeks developed significant weight loss and signs of depression. Swainsonine interferes with a metabolic enzyme, resulting in the buildup of the simple sugar mannose in neural cells. If severe, this buildup can lead to heart problems, reproductive difficulties, and neurological damage to the horses.

6. Jaguars eat the ayahuasca vine.

According to this Discovery article, humans aren’t the only ones that use Banisteriopsis caapi (one of the two plants used to make ayahuasca) as a psychoactive. This Amazonian jungle vine contains several compounds called beta-carbolines that potentiate the DMT in the ayahuasca brew by inhibiting bodily enzymes that would otherwise be responsible for breaking down the DMT. It turns out that jaguars also seek out the leaves of this jungle vine.
Higher doses of harmala alkaloids often result in vomiting and diarrhea characteristic of ayahuasca, so one possibility is that they consume the vine to purge the intestinal tract of possible parasites; a study of the Amazonian Piaroa tribe published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs suggests that eating the leaves grants the jaguar heightened sensory perception, helping them hunt. However, the jaguars are also known to roll around in ecstasy after consuming the vine, suggesting to some that its use is primarily for pleasure. See it for yourself here.

images7. Reindeer eat the psychoactive Amanita muscaria mushrooms.

These red-and-white psychedelic mushrooms, native to temperate and boreal regions in the Northern Hemisphere and thought to be the sacrament referred to as Soma in one of Hinduism’s foundational texts, are also a favorite snack of reindeer. As Gordon Wasson relates in his book Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality, reindeer are reported to prance about after eating the fungi — which are commonly referred to as “fly agaric” — apparently reveling in their intoxicated state. Reindeer are also an integral part of the history of Amanita use by indigenous peoples of Northern Europe and Siberia. As Reset.me recently reported, a 2009 BBC video explains how the Sami people indigenous to the Arctic Circle have long used fly agaric mushrooms in their visionary rituals. It is theorized that the connection between reindeer, Sami and fly agaric mushrooms is the basis for the legend of Santa’s flying reindeer.

Not only did these people herd reindeer, the animal being their main source of food and clothing, but they also got high with a little help from their reindeer friends. The effects of Amanita muscaria are characterized by a certain unpredictability, as their ingestion can bring about a range of thoroughly unpleasant side-effects and physical symptoms. In time, it was discovered that muscimol, the active compound of the mushrooms, is not processed by the body but is instead flushed out through urination while the more toxic compounds responsible for the body load are broken down. This led to the practice in some places of drinking the psychoactive urine of the shaman who had eaten, and thus purified, the mushroom. Some shamans even drank the urine of reindeer that had eaten the mushrooms. It turns out that the reindeer, intelligent in their own right, also realized that they could get high from the urine of a human that had consumed the mushroom, leading to what Cracked humorously referred to as “The Circle of Piss.”

8. Wallabies ravage opium poppy fields.

Tasmania is a leading producer of opium poppies for the pharmaceutical industry, supplying the morphine necessary for the production of painkillers. There’s only one problem: wallabies love the poppies. They’ll raid a field, gorge themselves on poppies, and crush the plantations in the process. As reported by BBC in 2009, the issue of stoned wallabies was even discussed at a parliamentary hearing on the security of opium crops in Tasmania, with the country’s attorney general stating that wallabies were “entering poppy fields, getting high as a kite, and going around in circles.”

download9. Pigs dig up truffles containing cannabinoids.

Black truffles, a gourmet delicacy for us humans, are also a sought-after snack for pigs. These mushrooms grow exclusively below ground and are identified by pigs by their aroma, said to be reminiscent of wet earth, dried fruit, and cacao.  A recent article in the journal Phytochemistry revealed that the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) contains the cannabinoid anandamide, a compound structurally related to THC that is also found endogenously in the human body and is a key component of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Anandamide derives its name from the Sanskrit word ananda, meaning “bliss.” Researchers suggest that the anandamide in black truffles might be “an ancient attractant to truffle eaters that are well-equipped with with endocannabinoid receptors,” indirectly suggesting that humans might be drawn to truffles for the same reason.

Source: http://reset.me/story/psychoactive-substances-natural-8-animal-species-use-wild

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The Human Aura and the Seven Bodies

The Human Aura and the Seven Bodies

Just as there are seven dimensions of reality we have seven bodies. Each body corresponds to the seven dimensions of reality. We have a physical body, etheric body, astral body, mental body, soul or causal body, buddhic body, and atmic body. There are other bodies beyond this level which I call the celestial bodies, which are beyond our comprehension at this level of evolution.
Each body also has a characteristic or quality of energy associated with it. The physical body has to do with instinct. The etheric body with the vital force and vital energy. The astral body with desires, feelings and emotions. The mental body with the concrete mind. The soul or causal body with the abstract mind. The buddhic body with intuition. The atmic body with spiritual will.

The Physical Body
An explanation of the physical body is not needed for we are all very familiar with this body. The only thing I would add would be to say that the physical body is the temple for the incarnating Soul. It is an instrument and vehicle for the exploration of the physical world. The physical body is the vehicle for the manifestation of Soul on this plane of existence, and the Soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of Spirit or the Monad.

A great many people don’t realize the importance of evolving the physical body along with the other bodies. For it is impossible for those with coarse, dense bodies to contact high vibrations. The refinement of the physical body is essential. Many spiritual aspirants work on evolving the other bodies and not the physical body, and end up getting sick because of the discrepancy in vibrational frequency.
It is not the purpose of this chapter to be a manual on how to care for the physical vehicle. However, it is suffice to say that the following simple suggestions would be extremely helpful.

  • Physical fitness program.
  • Eating of pure food.
  • Proper sleep habits.
  • Sunshine, at least ten to twenty minutes a day if possible. The sun kills all germs and frees one from disease, as well as vitalizes the etheric body.
  • Cleanliness, much use of water both inwardly and outwardly.
  • Stay away from sugar as much as possible and artificial stimulants (coffee and tea) and drugs.
  • Make sure to create playtime.

 Stages-of-Conscious-AwakeningThe Etheric Body
The etheric body or the etheric double is an exact replica of the physical body. It is the archetype upon which the physical form is built. There is nothing in the manifested universe, solar, planetary or the various kingdoms of nature which does not possess an energy form or etheric body. This etheric body controls and governs and conditions the outer physical body.

The function of the etheric body is to store up the rays of radiatory light and heat which are secured from the sun, and to transmit them via the spleen chakra, to all parts of the physical body. The etheric body is a web or network of fine interlacing channels. These nerve channels are called “nadis”.This etheric web or network, during incarnation, forms a barrier between the physical and astral planes. People who have taken large amounts of drugs or psychedelics can cause this etheric webbing to be broken which can cause them to be unprotected from lower astral energies.

The etheric body can also be likened to the energy battery of the physical body. Etheric congestion in some part of the etheric body can lead to many forms of disease and mental unclarity. The etheric body is vitalized and controlled by thought, and can be brought into full functioning activity by right thinking.Most diseases that the physical body suffers from, have their roots in the etheric body, and astral bodies. The principal factors in establishing a healthy well flowing etheric body are sunshine, light diet, with emphasis upon proper proteins and vitamins, and the avoidance of fatigue and worry.

Astral Body
The astral body relates us to the astral plane and to our desires, feelings, and emotions. Most people in the world are run by their astral body. In other words they are run by their feelings, emotions and desires. The astral body ends up running the conscious mind, instead of the conscious mind having self mastery to the proper integration of their feelings and emotions.
Many people travel in this body when they “astral project”. We all do this when we sleep at night and often have dreams of flying in this body. Some people have developed the ability to travel in this body consciously. The limitation of this is that one is then limited to traveling only in the astral plane (which is not a very evolved place to be). If one would travel in their soul body or light body they would have greater range of dimensions in which to travel.

The great teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism emphasize the need to eliminate desire. What this means is to make one’s only desire the desire for liberation and God realization instead of all the material desires of the negative ego consciousness.
The astral body receives the impression of every passing desire it contacts in the environment. Every sound causes it to vibrate. The great need of the spiritual aspirant is to train the astral body to receive and register only those impressions which come from the level via the higher self.
The aim of the aspirant would be to so train the emotional body that it will become still and clear as a mirror, so that it reflects perfectly. The words that ideally describe the emotional body should be “still, serene, unruffled, quiet, at rest, clear.”

Djwhal-Khul_The-TibetanPonder on This
Djwhal Khul, in the Alice Bailey books, has elucidated how this should be accomplished:

1. “By the constant watching of all desires, motives and wishes, that cross the horizon daily, and by the subsequent emphasizing of all those that are of a high order, and by inhibition of the lower.”

2. “By a constant daily attempt to contact the Higher Self, and to reflect its wishes in the life.”

3. “By definite periods of meditation daily, directed to the stilling of the emotional body… Each aspirant must discover for himself when he yields most easily to violent vibrations, such as fear, worry, personality desire of any kind, personality love of anything or anyone, discouragement, over sensitiveness to public opinion: Then he or she must overcome that vibration by imposing on it a new rhythm, definitely eliminating and reconstructing.”

4. “By work done on the emotional body at night, under the direction of more advanced souls, working under the guidance of a Master.”

When illusion and glamour have been overcome, the astral body fades out in the human consciousness. There is no desire left for the separated self. Ego disappears, and man is then regarded as consisting essentially of Soul, mind, and brain within the physical body nature.

The Mental Body
The mental body is associated with the mental plane and the concrete mind. The refinement and development of this body is the result of hard work and discrimination. There is a great need for clear thinking, not on subjects where interest is aroused, but on all matters affecting one’s life and humanity. It means the ability to make thought forms out of thought matter, and to utilize these thought forms for the helping of one’s fellow man.

One of the great needs in respect to the mental body is to learn to still the mental body so that thoughts from abstract levels and from the intuitional planes can find a receptive mind whereon they may inscribe themselves.
Two qualities should be developed above all else in respect to the mental body. First is an unshaken perseverance, and fortitude. The second being a progress that is made without undue self-analysis. Pull not your selves up by the roots to see if there is growth.

The capacity of perseverance explains why the non-spectacular man or woman often attains initiation before the genius.
The mental body remains clear because of keeping a good mental diet. Every thought that comes from your subconscious mind or from other people should be discerned and discriminated against to determine if it is of God or not of God, and if it is truth or illusion.

If it is positive and of God, the idea is to let it into your mind, like you would good food into the stomach. If it is negative and not of God, then the idea is to deny its entrance into your mind. It is the ongoing process of remaining conscious and vigilant and not going on automatic pilot that will keep your mental body clear. By keeping your mental body clear it will help to keep your emotional body, etheric body, and physical body clear, for it is your thoughts that create your reality. This last point cannot be emphasized enough!

The Soul and/or Causal Body
The Soul body or causal body is on the higher mental plane and the quality or characteristic of it is the abstract mind. The causal body is the temple of the Soul. The causal body is the storage house of all our good karma and virtue from all our past lives and our present life.
The causal body is a collection of three permanent atoms enclosed in an envelope of mental essence. The three permanent atoms are recording devices for our physical, astral, and mental bodies. These permanent atoms record our karma.

In our very first incarnations on earth our causal body was a colorless ovoid holding the Soul like a yolk within an egg shell. As we incarnated over and over again we began to build good karma and virtue into our causal body and it began to become a thing of rare beauty, containing within itself all the colors of the rainbow. Djwhal Khul has called this a form of “divine vampirism” where the Soul sucks the good out of the personal life, and stores it in the body of the Soul.
This building proceeds slowly at first, but towards the end of incarnation when one steps more firmly on the path of probation and initiation, the work proceeds rapidly. It is at the fourth initiation that the causal body is burned up and merges back into the monad, and the evolving Soul then receives guidance directly from the monad. This is a great marker point in the initiation of a Soul on the Spiritual path.

imagesThe Buddhic Body
The buddhic body is associated with the buddhic plane and the characteristic quality of it is intuition. After passing the fourth initiation one lives in the buddhic body.

The Atmic Body
The atmic body is associated with the atmic plane and the characteristic and quality of it is spiritual will. This is the body one inhabits upon passing the fifth initiation.

The Glorified Light Body
There is one other body which I have not mentioned, which bears great importance on the Spiritual path, and that is the importance of creating one’s “Light Body”.

The light body or body of light is the body we will inhabit at the time of our ascension. The ascension being the complete merger with the monad and/or I Am Presence on earth. It is at this time our entire being merges into light. It is the light body that we will officially step into. It is in a sense, the “wedding garment” that we are building day by day as we travel the path of initiation. It is created by the light that we are creating in our daily lives. This body is not fully complete until right before ascension itself.

The Aura
Everything that has been created has an aura of some kind. In human beings the aura surrounds the central nucleus or soul fragment or extension of the Overshadowing Soul.
The aura is composed of four basic fields. These are the physical health aura, the astral or emotional aura, the mental aura and the etheric body aura. The astral aura is usually most dominant in most people on our planet although this is beginning to change as we move deeper into the Aryan root race which is a mental attunement.
The mental aura is usually very small in the average person, however, develops rapidly once the disciple becomes polarized in the mental body at the latter stages of the second and beginning of the third initiation. Djwhal Khul says in “Ponder on This”, that the “mental aura will eventually obliterate the emotional or astral aura and then the soul quality of love will create a substitute, that is of a higher nature.”

A-WpdlGCAAEapwgEvery person lives and moves within their fourfold aura. This living, vital aura serves as a recording agent of all impressions of both an objective and subjective nature. It is the aura which creates the effects upon other people. Not so much the words as some people think. It is also the aura which the Master watches. Specifically, the Master is looking for the light of the Soul within the aura to determine whether the disciple is nearing the path of discipleship. As the emotional reactions lessen, and the mental apparatus clears, the progress of the aspirant is noted.
The aura is radiatory in nature and extends from all the bodies in every direction. The seven chakras also have a great effect on the nature of a person’s aura. A highly emotional person working through an overdeveloped and uncontrolled solar plexus chakra can wreck havoc in a home or office. On the other side of the coin, a disciple consciously using the heart or throat center can carry inspirations to hundreds and thousands and more.

The aura is brought into right radiatory condition by right living, high thinking, and loving activity. This leads the initiate to become a center of living light where all seven of the chakras are merged into one light. Each person looks out into the world through their aura.
The four words that best describe the human aura are color, light, quality, and sphere of influence. Most psychics or clairvoyants are just seeing the astral range of the aura. In reality there are seven layers to the aura.

Christ’s aura was so powerful that all people had to do was touch Him and the virtue would pour out of Him and heal. Every person’s aura either attracts or repels depending on the programming and patterning within the individual. Groups have an aura, countries have an aura, and the earth, as a whole, has an aura. A Master only has to look at the light reflected in a person’s aura to determine their level of evolution.

Source: http://iamuniversity.org/the-human-aura-and-the-seven-bodies

6 Visionary Artists and Writers Into Psychedelics & Mysticism

Alex Grey

Art, mysticism and psychedelics are deeply interwoven forces—here’s six writers and artists that have combined all three.

Here’s six artists and writers who have tapped altered states of consciousness, whether through mysticism or chemical methods—which has directly contributed to the profundity and impact of their work.

W. B. Yeats

1. W. B. Yeats
William Butler Yeats was a noble laureate, Irish nationalist and public figure—and by all accounts one of the finest writers of his generation. He was also a Hermetic magician. Yeats’ pursuit of esoteric and mystical studies was as devout as his pursuit of literature. The two often intertwined, with Yeats often using symbols from Celtic mythology and Rosicrucianism in his writings. Yeats was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret society dedicated to the study of ritual magic and mysticism. All of his magical work informed his poetry. Later in his life, he would experiment with spiritualism and communicating with the dead. Reportedly, his wife Georgie Hyde Lees would “channel the spirits” in order to bring Yeats “metaphors for poetry.” As Yeats said himself, “The mystical life is the center of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.” (Check out Yeats’ best work here.)

William Blake

2. William Blake
William Blake is one of those artists who, like so many others, is far less known than those he has influenced. He’s probably one of the least read poets of the English Romantic movement, and his paintings do not have a detailed history of commentary and appreciation—but his art, ideas and visions have influenced countless artists, from Allen Ginsberg to Alan Moore to Nick Drake. And when I say visions, I don’t just mean in the sense that he had forward looking ideas. I mean literal, ecstatic, transcendent visions of a higher spiritual reality. Blake was a committed Christian his entire life, and saw visions of God, angels and spirits from the age of four. His Christianity, however, was not the dogmatic, orthodox faith of the time. It was visionary, mystical and free. He wrote in his poem, “The Garden of Love” of”‘men in black gowns/walking their rounds/and binding with briars/my joys and desires.” He saw ecstasy, joy and rapture as natural elements of the human connection with God, and thought the stifling, institutional church was preventing this natural contact with the divine. Prophetic vision was a regular feature of both his powerful poetry and his symbolically resonant painting. Blake was deeply interested in the Gnostics, the early Christian mystical sect, and much of his work is influenced by Gnostic ideas that have continued to influence generations of esotericists, writers, artists and thinkers. (Check out Blake’s incredible illuminated poetry here.)

Aldous Huxley

3. Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley is one of the most well known intellectuals and writers of the past century. His dystopian novel Brave New World, so often mentioned in the same breath as that other dystopian heavyweight—Orwell’s 1984continues to influence social critics with its sharp, clever and increasingly relevant portrayal of a society where the masses are manipulated by mass-produced entertainment and chemicals. Less well known, however, are his other books, including The Doors of Perception and Island, which both explore the influence that psychedelics and transcendent states can have on consciousness and on society more broadly. The Doors of Perception is a must-read for anyone interested in consciousness alteration. Huxley’s little book adeptly chronicles his first experience with mescaline, the psychedelic drug produced by the San Pedro cactus, as well as offering a concise and insightful history of some Eastern and Western mystical attitudes, religious practices and traditions. Island is sort of the utopian counterpart to Brave New World’s dystopia. It concerns a strange island where all the people live harmonious lives connected by the oneness of consciousness created by a natural psychedelic referred to as Moksha Medicine. Huxley clearly saw altered states as methods of intellectual, artistic and social discovery, and was so dedicated to this goal of transcendence that he’s reported to have had his wife dose him with LSD as he died.  (Check out Huxley’s Doors of Perception here.)

Herman Hesse

4. Herman Hesse
Few writers can be said to have brought Eastern ideas and traditions to the Western World more effectively than Herman Hesse. Hesse was an early 20th century German writer whose novel Siddhartha, which tells the story of a man named after the Buddha who goes on a quest for enlightenment. The book proved popular in Germany at the time, but it found its real wings while inspiring much of the 1960s counterculture, including figures such as Ken Kesey, and introducing a generation of Americans to Eastern mysticism and the idea of a journey to transcendence—with Hesse’s Steppenwolf providing similar inspiration. But Eastern religious tradition was not the only kind of mystical, transcendental knowledge that influenced Hesse. The works of Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung were also important to Hesse. Jung’s depth psychology includes many profoundly mystical elements, and Jung himself was fascinated by the mystic and the occult activities of man, seeing them as surfacings of the power of the unconscious mind. Jung’s influence can be seen in much of Hesse’s early work, especially his novel Demian, which includes Jungian themes such as psychological archetypes and the unconscious mind. (Check out Herman Hesse’s books here.)

Allen Ginsberg

5. Allen Ginsberg
Reading Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem Howl was a transformative for me, as it is for so many other young people on their journey toward greater spiritual awareness and understanding of consciousness. Ginsberg, arch-poet of the legendary American Beat movement, is probably once of the most influential psychedelic and transcendent artists of all time. His influences were wide and varied, and he was fascinated by religious tradition and spiritual and esoteric movements that had reached for enlightenment. While much of his work was touched with the “peyote solidities of halls” that represented the transcendent experience of psychedelics, all of his psychedelic experiences were filtered through a deep and abiding love of other visionary artists, especially Blake and Yeats, and the esoteric religious traditions he found himself drawn to. The Jewish Ginsberg was fascinated by the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, and would regularly insert references to it in his writing. He studied this tradition extensively, and often synthesized it with Eastern mystical beliefs, including elements of Buddhism and Hinduism. Indeed, it can argued that it was Allen’s fascination with esotericism, the occult and religion that gave the 1960s counterculture its spiritual dimension. Ginsberg, through his engagement with visionary artists and mystical traditions, managed to define the spirituality of a whole youth culture, with many of the New Age ideas that emerged from the time bearing Ginsberg’s distinctive mystical and syncretic stamp.
(Check out Allen Ginsberg’s collected works here.)

Alex Grey

6. Alex Grey
To transport things to more modern times, one of the most well-known artists currently exploring mysticism and altered states of consciousness is Alex Grey. Grey is a self-described “visionary painter” who is both renowned for his paintings, which are inspired by psychedelic visions, and also a leading figure in organizations such as the Centre for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Grey tirelessly advocates for a greater degree of understanding and less prejudice surrounding the free exploration of personal consciousness through psychedelics and entheogens. Grey attempts to express the profundity and beauty of these transcendent states through his art, which is colorful, bold and visionary, utilizing sacred symbols and gorgeous fractals to recreate and promote the experience of altered states. (Check out Alex Grey’s incredible artwork here.)

For more information on how you can tap into altered states of consciousness to achieve incredible artistic inspiration, please check out Ultraculture’s online course “Magick and Art: Sacred Techniques for a Sacred Quest!”

November 12, 2014 by