Wednesday, October 16, 2013

entheogens and the development of culture



psypressuk | Originally published in 2013 ‘Entheogens and the Development of Culture: The Anthropology and Neurobiology of Ecstatic Experience’ is a collection of essays edited by John A. Rush. Rush has previously authored the books ‘The Mushroom in Christian Art: The Identity of Jesus in the Development of Christianity’, ‘Failed God: Fractured Myth in a Fragile World’ and ‘The Twelve Gates: A Spiritual Passage through the Egyptian Books of the Dead’. This work has been published by North Atlantic Books.
 
As a collection, Entheogens and the Development of Culture: The Anthropology and Neurobiology of Ecstatic Experience proposes that psychoactive substances have been key components in the development of both human culture and the human brain. The fourteen essays that are included in the collection are written by a number of researchers from across various disciplines, including anthropology, mycology, classics, cultural historians, psychology and biology. While, academically and perspectively, the writers often appear to be coming from altogether totally different theoretical places, with a myriad of intentions laced within them, they do share the common goal of examining the role of psychoactive substances in the history of human culture. And, as such, provides an interesting argument when taken in its totality.

The question regarding the entheogenic effect on the development of the human brain, while bolstered to some degree by the cultural chapters, is largely formulated in Michael Winkelman’s essay Altered Consciousness and Drugs in Human Evolution. Holding the position that our brains have evolved alongside, and as a result of certain plants and altered states, by way of the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems that can be stimulated by exogenous neurotransmitters—such as those found in Psilocybe mushrooms. Winkleman writes:
“The role of drugs in the evolution of human consciousness must be understood in relationship to effects on the serotonergic system and its roles in overall brain functioning. The alterations of consciousness enhance paleomammilian brain functions and their coordination and integration with the entire brain. Enhanced serotonergic mechanisms contributed to experiences of altered consciousness in humans, embodied in visionary experiences” (Rush 45)
So, the theory goes, the evolution of human consciousness has been, in part, mediated by the exogenous neurotransmitters that humans have sought out and consumed, thereby taking a hand in their own evolution. Taking the theory at face value, for the moment, this leads Winkleman to postulate that, “this expanded associational area improved the brain’s capacity to interface with a variety of other neural mechanisms, including those involved in learning, problem-solving, and memory function” (ibid.). Here, therefore, is the window into culture. From these improved brain functions, art, society and, indeed, organization generally, could develop. However, as we shall see, the remainder of the essays are less about the role of entheogens generating the capability for culture-creation in humans, but more about the role of entheogens within culture itself. Indeed, if entheogens created the capacity for culture, culture itself embarked on a process of reintegrating entheogens from the newly evolved perspective.

Entheogen discourse is primarily driven by historical analysis, and particularly the religious use of mushrooms within human culture, and while this is also very true of this collection, a number of other substances are discussed, which are worth mentioning first. Chris Bennett and Neil McQueen, both having written extensively on drugs and the bible, offer a chapter entitled Cannabis and the Hebrew Bible, which makes use of Sula Benet’s identification of kaneh bosm—an anointing oil used as an initiatory rite—with cannabis.

6 comments:

ken said...

you probably figured out kem was me..

"Let's pause
a moment and level-set, shall we?"

Sorry I had to rewrite the same post because it didn't show and now it appears
to show up twice. But anyway you answered both as if they were different post.
I see your credentials all listed above. Good and I guess that gives you great
knowledge. But when this little three or 4 post discussion started, all I asked
your view on what you thought the resurrection meant in
the text I questioned about. It never got answered. We went on to eternal,
we went on to time, we argued if eternal was inside of time or time inside of
eternal, the resurrection question was left unanswered. You of course should
know with the list you provided us, the resurrection of Christ and later his
saints is essential Christian doctrine. And the text talking about "the resurrection"
wasn't talking of Christ, but of inhabitants of the earth.

CN-"I've got 30 years of intentional active study of the material in
question, coupled with involvement with legitimate groups, and buttressed by
years of meticulous experimental mysticism, one might say I'm unusually
experienced. Ken, what exactly are your qualifications for critically
commenting on this topic?"

CN "lol, you and I do not share a common understanding of either Time, or,
Eternity. That said, I have held forth at length on the mystery of time, on the
problem of the fourth dimension - yet - I've never quite gotten traction on
that topic - even with my most deeply thinking correspondents."

My guess is I looked into this way beyond the average of most people you come
in contact with. And I am only giving my perspective and my misgivings about this
vein of beliefs. I made an assumption that when you moved my comment from one
of the other posts and put it here that you felt it was ok for me to still comment
on this even in my ignorance. So I will stop after this post and give you the last
word after this post.

The 4th ways and 4d's you have posted here all have the subject participating
in altering his mind to find out how to better know ourselves. Gurdjieff, with
his at least 8 illegitimate and having sex with many of his woman students and
his daily heavy drinking as a crutch (admitted by him), and his thirst for
financial contribution would have you throwing him aside with Ted Haggert if he
were alive today. Now if you want to say that today Gurdjieff groups are far
different than the manipulative drinking, eating and drug groups that Gurdgieff
use to organize to run test on his subjects. Go ahead.

But at the moment it seems it's still
about mind altering, and you can't verbalize how it edifies you or those around
you. You only say all we can do is do it. We can look at the lives of it's leaders. Both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky we take note they ended up not in very good terms with each other and heavy
drinkers if not powerless alcoholics.
Finally here is a pretty detailed story of the leaders breakup, who together
made a good team, but apart neither did as well.

http://solasishock.blogspot.com/2013/01/witw7-why-did-ouspensky-leave-gurdjieff.html

CNu said...

all I asked your view on what you thought the resurrection meant in the text I questioned about. It never got answered.

You received all the information you asked for and more. You've proven yourself unable to process the answers given.

We went on to eternal, we went on to time, we argued if eternal was inside of time or time inside of eternal, the resurrection question was left unanswered. You of course should know with the list you provided us, the resurrection of Christ and later his saints is essential Christian doctrine. And the text talking about "the resurrection" wasn't talking of Christ, but of inhabitants of the earth.

No amount of wishing that things were childishly simple will make them so. The idea and the fact of recurrence are the most difficult concepts with which humans can wrestle, requiring as they do a "dying to the world of the senses" and a deep dive into the interior world of self-remembering. There is no entering the kingdom of heaven, no recurrence without the fundamental capacity to remember oneself.

My guess is I looked into this way beyond the average of most people you come in contact with.

I tend to not associate with people who don't make responsible efforts to come to grips with these ideas.

And I am only giving my perspective and my misgivings about this vein of beliefs. I made an assumption that when you moved my comment from one of the other posts and put it here that you felt it was ok for me to still comment on this even in my ignorance. So I will stop after this post and give you the last word after this post.

Your generosity knows no bounds. But honestly, what perspective can you have formed concerning materials and methods about which you admittedly know nothing?

If you spent a fraction of the time and effort you've spent collecting slander on actually engaging the material, then perhaps you'd have acquired something of your own worth responding to. As things presently stand, you've mad no responsbile efforts to come to grips with any of the information freely presented hereabouts.

CNu said...

http://youtu.be/swxf6IeRgZw - in the mean-time in-between time...,

BigDonOne said...

Extremely profound culture item - IQ-75 Fuzzlimz (image below)

CNu said...

Terrifying from the perspective of military planners who have for the past 20 years understood in no uncertain terms that this is the most effective, consistent, and coherent social network in the world. It's not simply the case that the Muslim world has the misfortune of sitting on top of increasingly scarce and irreplaceable material resources, it's also the case that poor and disenfranchised people will flock in their increasing millions to the social network that is Islam for meaning, comfort, and collective security - in the process - grow a brick and mortar social network which has demonstrated in peer-reviewed terms that it is capable of command, control, communications and coordination far beyond the U.S. military. http://youtu.be/5Uoy6xy5AFM?t=1m7s

Vic78 said...

We have the shitty right wing in the US. They have been reliable foot soldiers through the decades. Have you heard Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell speak? Anyone in league with them can't malign anyone's intelligence.

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