Thursday, November 29, 2012

mushroom men mashup...,

realitysandwich | I recently put my foot in it. I stepped, as they say, on a hornet's nest. All hell broke loose and verbal fury was loosed upon me. Here's what happened.

Some months ago, a chap called Jan Irvin, who runs Gnostic Media, put out a request for funds to help him pursue a project concerned with unveiling a sinister Elite/CIA/NWO conspiracy. Mind you, this was not just any old sinister Elite/CIA/NWO conspiracy. This one involved, allegedly, a vast labyrinthine PSYOPS involving psychedelic mushrooms, Gordon Wasson, Aldous Huxley, The Esalen Institute, Teilhard De Chardin, 2012 eschatology, Alan Watts, Terence McKenna, and all manner of other psychedelic spokesmen and counter-culture luminaries. The gist of it is that the whole hippy psychedelic movement was stage managed by the CIA/Elite/NWO and that the malign manipulations of these ultra-powerful puppet masters stretch back further even than Albert Hofmann's infamous LSD trip bicycle ride (Irvin even thinks Hofmann's bicycle trip was a "fabrication" and "BS"). Thus, Irvin is attempting nothing less than a total rewrite of psychedelic history. Believe me, with everything being bent into an infernal conspiracy shape, it's scary bad trip stuff. Of course, one might simply dismiss all this as the lunatic fringe, yet Irvin is backed and supported by numerous fans and supporters. Indeed, he has already managed to raise 3,000 bucks to fund this latest work.

What originally got me involved were Irvin's insinuations about Gordon Wasson. Recall that Wasson was the ethnomycological scholar who published a groundbreaking article about psilocybin mushrooms in Life magazine in 1957. This article was just as significant as Aldous Huxley's 1954 book The Doors of Perception in sparking the West's interest in psychedelics. Wasson was instrumental in channeling the psilocybin mushroom's mind expanding influence from the backwaters of Mexico to the very heart of the West. If you have ever experienced "magic mushrooms," then you have Gordon Wasson to thank -- at least in part.

Now, the conventional view of Wasson is that there was indeed a connection with dodgy mischief-makers -- in this case the thin-tied, shade-wearing CIA. But this connection was minor and indirect. The conventional view, which has been well documented, is that the CIA got an agent to infiltrate one of Wasson's mushroom hunting trips to Mexico. Here is what I wrote about it in my book The Psilocybin Solution:

"In his book The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate,' John Marks tells us of the CIA's covert involvement with our hero Wasson. In its relentless and arguably psychotic search for ever-more effective weaponry, the CIA had, by the 1950s, initiated a massive twenty-five million dollar long-term program called MKULTRA. True to its suspicious-sounding name, Project MKULTRA involved finding chemical and biological materials for use in "mind kontrol" and other psychological unpleasantries. Despite the morally questionable nature of such an unsavory federal project, its dogmatic pursuit meant that it was soon to pick up on rumors of sacred Mexican mushrooms. After learning of Wasson's 1955 experiences with the mushroom, an unscrupulous chemist named James Moore immediately began to work undercover for the conspiratorial agency. Presumably dollars changed hands surreptitiously. At any rate, in 1956, Moore craftily wrote to Wasson informing him that he knew of a foundation willing to finance another Mexican trip in order that he and Wasson bring back some of the legendary mushrooms. Moore innocently claimed that, as a chemist, he simply wanted to study the chemical structure of the mushroom's active constituents. The foundation was the CIA-backed Geschwickter Fund for Medical Research, and they were offering a two-thousand dollar grant. Would Wasson be interested?

Understandably, Wasson took the bait, and so it came to pass that the CIA's secret quest for the sacred mushroom became Subproject 58 of the MKULTRA program, possibly representing the most crass approach to psilocybin to date. It was as if the CIA were lobbing stones at angels. Fittingly, it transpired that the double-dealing Moore was well out of his comfort zone in Mexico and loathed the entire episode. Wasson later recalled that Moore had absolutely no empathy for what was going on. Whereas Wasson was sensitive to the customs of the native Mexican Indians and respectful of their cultural beliefs about the mushroom, Moore was there merely as a CIA pawn.

Once again, all those who were in Wasson's party took part in a mushroom ceremony hosted by the shaman Maria Sabina, though it was Moore alone who had a bad experience. Despite this, Moore was still able to bring back some of the fungi to the United States in the hope of isolating the active ingredient. Thankfully, however, he was beaten in his pharmaceutical pursuit by Roger Heim, an eminent French mycologist and coworker of Wasson, who managed to grow a supply of the mushroom from spore prints that he had taken in Mexico. Heim sent his newly cultivated samples to Albert Hofmann of Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, and it was Hofmann, a highly distinguished chemist who had originally synthesized LSD, who, in 1958, first isolated and then named the entheogenic alkaloid within the mushroom. Psilocybin was thus officially born, a name devoid of the weaponry connotations the CIA would invariably have conferred upon the substance had they successfully isolated it first."

The thing to bear in mind is that Wasson did not know that he was being duped by the CIA. It is also worth driving home the point that all these events took place during the paranoid anti-Communist McCarthyism Cold War era of the 1950s, when the CIA had an active interest in mind control drugs for use in espionage. However, things never worked out that well for the CIA, as psilocybin cannot be used as a mind control "truth drug." As users will know, psychedelic drugs are more like de-conditioning agents that can make one challenge orthodoxy and cultural control structures. Indeed, that is probably one principal reason why psilocybin has been demonized and illegalized by the authorities. If you wish to control someone and extract information, or get them to do your dirty espionage work or whatever, then the psilocybin mushroom is not a tool for your arsenal.