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Full Review
Tryptamine Palace
by James Oroc
Park Street Press 
Book Reviews
Reviewed by David Arnson, 8/28/2010

    I fully inhale the smoke, generally holding it in until my vision of my physical surroundings has begun to break into fractals, and then I exhale. Virtually immediately upon exhalation, my vision experiences a field of light-fractals. My mind then dissolves into this white light, until the external vision of my eyes is no longer relevant (or at least no longer recognizes my physical environment). […] I believe that what I have experienced is the universal state of consciousness before the knowledge of ego and self, a state of undifferentiated cosmic consciousness….

In 2006 at the Burning Man Festival, I came across a freshly printed copy of a little green paperback book someone had left in center camp. The title was Tryptamine Palace and there was a photograph of a toad in the center of the cover. The author had written an entire treatise centered around the entheogenic properties of the fascinating compound 5-MeO-DMT, detailing his subsequent awakening to the ineffable experience of God (or as he puts it, “G/d”). Three years and two editions later (all of which I’ve read), Oroc has given the world a completely fascinating and wide-ranging tour de force of a book that encompasses autobiography, chemistry, spirituality, modern culture, physics, and even (of course) Burning Man! Oroc is an “extreme sportsman” (I’ve met him; imagine a larger-than-life Mr. Clean in a kilt) and has skied, hiked, and paraglided all over the world. Once a “devout atheist”, his introduction to 5-MeO-DMT left him searching and researching for answers on how he came to experience such an intense spiritual awakening. He fortunately does not proselytize too much, making it clear that this is his own personal journey.

Like Erik Davis, Zoe Seven, and Daniel Pinchbeck, Oroc is an author who refers to and quotes from scores of different philosophers and scientists to help illustrate his points. (While this is a good thing, Oroc often falls just short of plagiarism!) If nothing else, this book serves as an excellent template for grounding a conscious and conscientious psychedelic (and world) community, as well as being a fascinating collection of autobiographical anecdotes. The point is made clear that the catalyzing substance in question is definitely 5-MeO-DMT, and not N,N-DMT, the better-known molecule championed by the late, great Terence McKenna. Oroc gives a brief history of 5-MeO-DMT’s thousands-of-years usage by South American cultures, as well as its notable presence in the toad Bufo alvarius. There is a great chapter in the book on Oroc’s quest into the Arizona desert to find and “milk” the psychoactive toad for its secretions. And don’t lick them, folks! We also follow the author on his journeys to New Orleans, with its secret masquerade balls and its flooded aftermath, and even as far as earthquakes in India for his journeys into molecule-inspired self-awareness (and some paragliding!). Oroc also does some interesting research into the zero-point field, the theorized source and interface of quantum light, energy, and—very possibly—god-consciousness. He illustrates how many Eastern thought disciplines are increasingly resembling modern quantum physics research concepts (and vice versa), and his bibliography is a real treasure. In the chapter “A Transcendent Future For Humanity?” he delineates insights into how psychedelic consciousness can be a model for survival in light of our increasingly chaotic world.

With Tryptamine Palace, Oroc has presented a kind of syllabus or roadmap for not just 5-MeO-DMT, but most “true entheogens”, those substances that generate “the god within”. His book is, I think, an important work in the field of psychedelic literature. This is due to the astonishingly multifaceted approach to its subject, from science to culture to even just being a basic “operator’s manual”. In fact, the only thing that I might criticize about the book is that it does jump around a bit, with Oroc’s personal adventures being broken up by various chapters on “The Zero-Point Field”, then “The Quantum God”, etc. But that is a minor quibble, and this much-refined third edition of Tryptamine Palace is an essential addition to any entheophile’s library. At one point Oroc states that he is “looking for his tribe”. In response to that, I’ll paraphrase The Cacophony Society’s motto: “You may already be a member”.


  1. David Arnson makes some great insights here! Sounds like an interesting book, for sure.

    Comment by Mary Leary — 9/19/2010 @ 11:02 pm

  2. In retrospect, I could amend my ‘just short of plagiarism’ comment on Oroc’s many references. To be fair, he does indeed give specific credit where credit is due , even while quoting verbatim.

    Comment by David Arnson — 6/21/2012 @ 1:52 pm

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