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Recent Reviews
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Sage Spirit: Salvia divinorum and the Entheogenic Experience
by Martin W. Ball
Publisher:
Kyandara Publishing 
Year:
2007 
Reviewed by David Arnson
11/17/2011

Much of Sage Spirit: Salvia divinorum and the Entheogenic Experience is comprised of journal-style descriptions and subsequent analyses of the author’s Salvia divinorum journeys, wherein he encounters a realm of other consciousnesses, beings, and intentions. A central element to his ritual is the use of rhythmic, patterned sound. The book concludes with thoughtful guidelines on how to conduct a salvia ceremony for groups or for the individual. [ read more ]

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Salvinorin: The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia divinorum
by D. M. Turner
Publisher:
Panther Press 
Year:
1996 
Reviewed by David Arnson
11/17/2011

D. M. Turner, late author of The Essential Psychedelic Guide, produced the first slim book on the topic of Salvia divinorum. Thoughtfully and cogently written, Turner takes care to point out potential hazards from using the substance, such as severe-but-temporary disorientation. Although this book was written at the beginning of the salvia renaissance, it remains an excellent general treatment on the subject. [ read more ]

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The Cracking Tower: A Strategy for Transcending 2012
by Jim DeKorne
Publisher:
North Atlantic Books 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by David Arnson
8/10/2011

DeKorne, author of the influential Psychedelic Shamanism (1994), has written a masterful follow-up to his observations and insights, especially in regard to a spiritual and self-realizing path. I consider this work essential reading for anyone remotely interested in the metaphysical aspects of psychedelics. It’s also a very useful guide towards a non-dogmatic model of looking at the universe, and, as the book is subtitled, a way to transcend the 2012 myth. [ read more ]

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High Society: The Central Role of Mind-Altering Drugs in History, Science, and Culture
by Mike Jay
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2010 
Reviewed by Jonathan Taylor
7/20/2011

Only 150 pages or so long, with color or black and white glossy illustrations on almost every page, High Society is presented as a visual history of the use of psychoactive substances, but Jay’s narrative transcends this. Such are Jay’s talents in telling this story and in picking what fascinating tidbits to include and what not to, this book would be almost as good without any illustrations whatsoever. [ read more ]

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Birth of a Psychedelic Culture: Conversations about Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties
by Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner with Gary Bravo
Publisher:
Synergetic Press 
Year:
2010 
Reviewed by David Bey
7/6/2011

One of the most interesting features of this book is the fact that joining Ram Dass and Metzner—whose conversations with Bravo form the bulk of the text—are a rich assortment of shorter but no less personal statements by a wide selection of surviving individuals who were involved with psychedelics in the 1960s. If Leary, Ram Dass, and Metzner were the “fathers” of the movement, then these other folks were the mothers, foster-parents, midwives, baby-sitters, mischievous aunts and uncles, fellow travelers, and simple eyewitnesses to the growth of the culture that was birthed during that time. [ read more ]

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Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon
by Stephan Beyer
Publisher:
University of New Mexico Press 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by Erik Davis
6/24/2011

Beyer’s book offers broad discussions more than new data or highly focused arguments; despite some arcane and fascinating discussions of magic stones and sex with plant spirits, I suspect that ethnobotanists and anthropologists familiar with the Amazon will find relatively few surprises. But the ant hills of detail are not the point. Singing to the Plants is designed to inform a wider audience–and gently bust some myths–by presenting this almost literally kaleidoscopic phenomenon through a number of distinct lenses: anthropology, ethnobotany, pharmacology, psychology, international law, cultural politics, and magic both crafty and occult. [ read more ]

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Nightmare Drugs
by Donald Louria, MD
Publisher:
Donald Louria 
Year:
1966 
Reviewed by RNA
6/18/2011

A lengthy pamphlet could be written concerning the attitudinizing, the lack of documentation, the bias, the plain errors in these chapters, but it would be unfair to a conscientious public servant trying to deal level-headedly with the grave social problem of narcotics addiction. But psychedelics have nothing to do with narcotics addiction. We can only wonder at Dr. Louria’s orientation when he implies that the threat of general hedonism is a problem in the same category. This book is only of value for a knowledge of the context out of which so many of the future attacks on the use of psychedelics will be taken. [ read more ]

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Cocaine Nation: How the White Trade Took Over the World
by Tom Feiling
Publisher:
Pegasus Books 
Year:
2010 
Reviewed by Jonathan Taylor
6/7/2011

This is the first book for Feiling, a British documentary-filmmaker, and it is a rollicking work of muckraking advocacy journalism. He seems to have interviewed numerous people, from heads of state to street-level users and dealers, and everyone in-between. The conversational snippets he includes are elucidating and entertaining. Not really just a book about cocaine, this is a book about the stupidity and corruption that exemplify governance of our modern world, viewed through the lens of the cocaine trade. [ read more ]

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The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
by James Fadiman, PhD
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2011 
Reviewed by Chris Mays
5/19/2011

Fadiman gets right to the guided session instruction without disclaimers and apologies—a courteous gesture considering we’ve waited for more than a generation already. The guidebook is replete with suggestions for both guide and voyager regarding everything from music, food and lighting to finer aesthetic points. The six aspects of the well-conceived voyage are set and setting (which you knew), but also: substance, sitter, session and situation. The six stages of a voyaging session are all simple and easily spelled out, as well, but this is rather like saying most of the paintings in the Louvre are made with canvas, brushes and paint: within Fadiman’s simple protocol exists a universe of possibilities. [ read more ]

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The Emerald Forest
by Rospo Pallenberg
Publisher:
Christel Films 
Year:
1985 
Reviewed by Pedro
5/14/2011

Psychedelics are featured in this movie as part of a rainforest tribe’s culture. While they play a secondary role in a movie whose primary message is an environmental one, drug usage by indigenous tribes is well represented. [ read more ]

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