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The Marriage of the Sun and Moon
by Andrew Weil
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Co 
Year:
1980, 1998 
ISBN:
0395911540 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Erowid, 9/17/1998

The Marriage of the Sun and Moon is an absorbing and fun meander through Weil’s thoughts about altered states of consciousness. Using the loose structure of discussing his yin/yang moon/sun theory of human awareness and his 1971 driving trip from the U.S. to South America, Weil discusses intentional vomiting, caffeine, eating mangoes, hot chile peppers, laughing, Uri Geller, solar eclipses, among other topics in terms of altered states of consciousness.

His wit and writing style makes the book an easy and enjoyable read. He only once or twice walks into interpretations which made my cynicism flare up, while the bulk of the book balances his natural ebullience with a good measure of careful thinking and charisma.

The book is slightly dated by its discussions of mushrooms not in field guides, which are now well documented by Aurora and Stamets and its view of cocaine from the crest of its initial reintroduction to North American upper middle class culture, but this is mostly a tale of his personal experiences, grounded in the view of the world through his eyes.

I found the chapters on his experience of Uri Geller, solar eclipses, mangoes, and coca to be particularly interesting and enjoyable to me. In the chapter on Uri Geller, he goes from first viewing him on stage to spending two evenings in his apartment having Uri read his mind and bend his house keys to his total faith in Geller as a genuine mentalist to spending an afternoon with James “The Amazing” Randi to a strong conviction that Uri Geller is a magician. He uses the story to illustrate the way perception is shaped and the distinctly altered states magical performances can induce.

Dr. Weil talks about the enraptured, glazed eye pleasure of eating a fresh, tropically-ripened mango, the ‘right’ way to relax into the euphoric jalapeno buzz, the dreamlike/druglike effects of viewing a complete eclipse, and the disparity in effects between chewed coca leaf and snorted cocaine powder. He includes stories about the social settings of the different subjects, going into detail on such things as the bizarre and hilarious ‘blindness’ scares that accompanied solar eclipses. He documents fearful government memoes and Canadian schools keeping children inside with the curtains drawn to protect them from the dangerous event.

Overall The Marriage of the Sun and Moon is quite enjoyable, a little informative, well written, not overly political.

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