We’re excited to announce the acceptance for publication of a paper documenting the presence of DMT in the pineal glands of live rodents. The paper will appear in the journal Biomedical Chromatography and describes experiments that took place in Dr. Jimo Borjigin’s laboratory at the University of Michigan, where samples were collected. These samples were analyzed in Dr. Steven Barker’s laboratory at Louisiana State University, using methods that funding from the Cottonwood Research Foundation helped develop.
The pineal gland has been an object of great interest regarding consciousness for thousands of years, and a pineal source of DMT would help support a role for this enigmatic gland in unusual states of consciousness. Research at the University of Wisconsin has recently demonstrated the presence of the DMT-synthesizing enzyme as well as activity of the gene responsible for the enzyme in pineal (and retina). Our new data now establish that the enzyme actively produces DMT in the pineal.
The next step is to determine the presence of DMT in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that bathes the brain and pineal. CSF is a possible route for pineal-synthesized DMT to effect changes in brain function. Successfully establishing DMT’s presence in this gland adds another link in the chain between the pineal and consciousness and opens new avenues for research.
Fascinating mental states can be attained through meditation, but Buddhists don’t really go for an attitude of exploring trippy phenomena. The purpose is to get over the endless craving for pleasurable mind states. So adding more uncontrollable stimulation is basically just adding more confusion. Of course, you can turn any situation into a practice, so if you find yourself dosed with DMT, don’t panic – just actualize great prajna wisdom and stay grounded in the hara!
I’m reading Grant Morrison’s Supergods right now, and I’ll probably have more to say on it in the future. But I’ve just passed a part in the book where he talks about the Sekhmet Hypothesis, and wanted to get some thoughts down right now.
The gist of the Sekhmet Hypothesis, as explained by Morrison, is that every 11 years culture shifts as sunspot activity waxes and wains. At one pole is “hippie” culture characterized by longer pop songs, longer hair baggy clothes, psychedelics and an emphasis on peace and love. At the other pole is punk culture, which is characterized by shorter pop songs, short hair, tight clothes, stimulants and an emphasis on anger and rebellion.
Update:Iain Spence, the originator of the Sekhmet Hypothesis and author of a book on the subject left a long comment that’s worth reading. It appears, first of all, that Morrison’s punk/hippie description of the hypothesis is much oversimplified (or perhaps I misunderstood his interpretation of it, this is like a game of telephone – if you want the real scoop on the hypothesis, go to the source). Second, Spence has updated the hypothesis having admitted that he was wrong about the solar cycle aspect of it, among other things.
So it would go:
1966: LSD, psychedelic rock, hippies, happenings, peace and love.
1977: Punk, new wave, shaved heads, cocaine, rock shows, nihilism.
1988: Rave, long electronic dance tracks, shoegaze, Brit pop, MDMA, “Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.”
1999: The Matrix, nu-metal, emo, screamo, cutting going mainstream, Red Bull, Starbucks, cocaine and meth making a come back, 9/11, Law & Order.
2010: Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and the “dandyishness” of the vampires of Twilight and True Blood (not sure I swallow that last part).
I could add the surge of mind fuck movies in the 90s, and their come back in the 10s, but as some readers pointed out in my earlier post on the subject, those types of movies didn’t entirely die out in the 00s. Also:
The 60s were also marked by outrage and protest, some of quite violent. A lot of hippies and mods wore tight clothes.
The late 70s and early 80s also had disco (and later house), psychedelic post-punk, butt rock, epic metal etc.
The 90s had the Rodney King riots, gangsta rap, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, plenty of metal, the militia movement, hyperviolent video games and movies.
Rave didn’t completely die out in the 90s, instead it turned into teknival with a strong emphasis on the hippie-ish psytrance wing. Burning Man grew larger than ever. Not to mention Massively multiplayer online role playing games and Second Life. Tool put Alex Grey’s art on their album cover and his career exploded. Daniel Pinchbeck sold a bazillion books. And what about the popularity of bands like Radiohead, Coldplay and Muse? A bit more underground, but what to make of doom metal, dubstep and BPitchControl, or the hipster cred of Arthur Magazine?
It’s really hard for me to accept that “punk” is the opposite of “hippie.” The 60s counterculture wasn’t always peaceful and non-violent, and the punks, with their love of Jamaican music, antiwar songs and their vegan and vegetarianism were a lot more hippie-ish than many gave them credit for.
It’s hard, given the number of exceptions to the formula, to swallow the idea that there’s a real, society-wide pull between punk and hippie every 11 years. Others have critiqued historicity before, and I don’t need to go there.
But there may be pattern of rising and falling tides of psychedelia, perhaps accompanied by a sense of optimism and energy that eventually dissipates. The 60s had acid, the 90s had ecstasy. And I’m hearing that DMT is becoming a common strong street drugs these days, and the new cool thing to listen to is apparently the sound of a modem slowed way down. We could be in for some weird times indeed.
You can take drugs legally only if you pretend to believe in the right imaginary creatures:
An Ashland church can import and brew a hallucinogenic tea for its religious services, according to a U.S. District Court ruling.
Judge Owen M. Panner issued a permanent injunction Thursday barring the federal government from penalizing or prohibiting the Church of the Holy Light of the Queen from sacramental use of “Daime” tea.
The church, which blends Christian and indigenous religious beliefs in Brazil, uses tea brewed from the ayahuasca plant in their services. The tea contains trace amounts of the chemical dimethyltryptamine or DMT.
According to the church’s lawsuit, the tea is the central ritual and sacrament of the religion where members believe “only by taking the tea can a church member have direct experience with Jesus Christ.”
Richard: Human beings seem to find it hard enough to get on with other humans, never mind post-humans. What sort of relationship do you think will exist between us and post-humans? Will they be our slaves or will we be their pets?
Mac Tonnies: Neither. A posthuman civilization will probably have enough to think about without harassing its neighbors — especially if they pose no threat. When I see the Amish, I’m tempted to speculate along similar lines. Almost invariably, some of us will eschew transhumanism for various philosophical or metaphysical reasons, but that doesn’t necessarily entail antagonism or hostility.
An excellent interview with Rick Strassman in which he talks about his new book, and reflects on his DMT research and experiences with Zen Buddhism with more hindsight than he did in his book DMT: the Spirit Molecule:
It’s a multi-authored book, non-fiction. It’s pretty much the brain-child of the second author, whose name is Slavic Wojtowicz, who is an oncology researcher for a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey, and who also happens to be a big science fiction buff and illustrator. He read my book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, and felt that there was a lot of overlap between the material we presented there and the kinds of things that people read and write about in science fiction. He felt it would be a fun and helpful thing to educate people in the science-fiction community about some of these overlaps and areas of similar interests.
He asked me if I’d like to collaborate with him, and I agreed. I asked another colleague of mine, Louis Eduardo Luna, who is a South American anthropologist who divides his time between Brazil and Helsinki and has been working with Ayahuasca for a few decades now. He has probably got one of the more balanced and sophisticated overviews of how to look at and apply the states and plant wisdom information that is associated with Ayahuasca. And so Louis Eduardo agreed to collaborate, and then Louis had a friend in Budapest Hungary named Ede Frecska, who is a Hungarian psychiatrist and has written a lot on new science views on shamanism – having to do with quantum mechanics and non-local theories of information transfer and storage – and so Louis Eduardo asked Ede if he’d like to collaborate. So that’s how the four of us came together to collaborate on writing the book.
A documentary based on the research of Rick Strassman is in the works, featuring interviews with Erik Davis, Alex and Allyson Grey, Dennis McKenna, Joe Rogan, Douglas Rushkoff, and, of course, Strassman himself.
“I am deep in the Amazon rainforest, anxiously losing my mind as the world begins to disintegrate. Around me, all sense of distance is wrapping itself up like spatial origami, slowly shrinking until an entire dimension has disappeared. A moment ago, I was surrounded by 200 people dressed in white and singing like angels, but now they occupy the same space as me… if that makes any sense.
Wherever I look, that is where I am. I can see everything from every angle, all at the same time. In fact, I feel I am everywhere. Outside, in the forest, the thrum of frogs and cicadas drowns out the sound of shrieking monkeys. Below me, the floor is shimmering, vanishing in waves like a spent mirage. Behind, I feel a cold vibration on my neck and sense a growling malevolence. I turn and see a red door, bulging at the hinges. Overcome with dread, I push hard to keep it closed, and all the while I feel a horrible nausea.
When will this end, I am thinking. And, with sweat running down my forehead, how can I survive it? Welcome to the Church of Santo Daime, one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Its mixture of Christianity, South American shamanism and African animism is proving irresistible to thousands of new believers across the globe. But it is its central sacrament, ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic brew made from rainforest plants – a brew that I have just drunk – that makes the Church so appealing to some yet so controversial to others.”
Scientific American is running a broad overview of past and present research with hallucinogens:
Before 1972, close to 700 studies with psychedelic drugs took place. The research suggested that psychedelics offered significant benefits: they helped recovering alcoholics abstain, soothed the anxieties of terminal cancer patients, and eased the symptoms of many difficult-to-treat psychiatric illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
For example, between 1967 and 1972 studies in terminal cancer patients by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and his colleagues at Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore showed that LSD combined with psychotherapy could alleviate symptoms of depression, tension, anxiety, sleep disturbances, psychological withdrawal and even severe physical pain. Other investigators during this era found that LSD may have some interesting potential as a means to facilitate creative problem solving.
Between 1972 and 1990 there were no human studies with psychedelic drugs. Their disappearance was the result of a political backlash that followed the promotion of these drugs by the 1960s counterculture. This reaction not only made these substances illegal for personal use but also made it extremely difficult for researchers to get government approval to study them.
Things began to change in 1990, when ‘open-minded regulators at the FDA decided to put science before politics when it came to psychedelic and medical marijuana research,’ says Rick Doblin, a public policy expert and head of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). ‘FDA openness to research is really the key factor. Also, senior researchers who were influenced by psychedelics in the sixties now are speaking up before they retire and have earned credibility.’ Chemist and neuropharmacologist David E. Nichols of Purdue University adds, ‘Baby boomers who experienced the psychedelic sixties are now mature scientists and clinicians who have retained their curiosity but only recently had the opportunity to reexplore these substances.’