2.2 Psychedelics

Psychedelics #

Textbook Definition: These are substances which alter perception and cognition, creating an experience which is different to ordinary consciousness. The psychedelic state is often related to forms such as meditation, dreaming, yoga, near-death or out-of-body experiences, and access to other realms or dimensions of reality.

The following chemicals have been sampled and researched for inclusion within this section:

Psychedelics produce the most dramatic of experiences, sometimes with life changing influence. They tend to be amongst the safest of chemicals in terms of risk profile, and indeed, at time of writing are increasingly used to treat addiction and other self-destructive behavioural issues.

A huge volume of literature covering their spiritual and therapeutic aspects is also available, and distinctive genres of art and music have been inspired via the psychedelic experience itself.

In terms of a personal journey, psychedelic trips have provided some of the most profound and beneficial experiences of my life. I share the school of thought that sets psychedelics apart from all other psychoactive materials.

The consciousness expanding capability of psychedelics is frequently documented, but rarely in such scientific depth as that presented by Timothy Leary in the 1970’s. In his Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness he proposed a framework for consciousness, in which the various levels were articulated in scientifically relevant terms. Robert Anton Wilson later expanded upon this in his (highly recommended) book Prometheus Rising.

The eight levels of this model were also presented with reference to ancient philosophies, belief systems and theories, including Hinduism, Buddhism and the chakra system. Perhaps of greater relevance to many readers of this book is that the eight levels have also been associated with psychoactive drugs, in terms of their activation, intensification or enhancement. Thus we have opioids and alcohol, for example, associated with lower levels of consciousness, and psychedelics such as DMT and LSD with higher levels.

The following table represents a broad approximation of mappings as extracted from the literature:

Timothy Leary Robert Anton-Wilson Chakra Example Drug Stimuli
1 The vegetative-invertebrate circuit The oral bio-survival circuit Muladhara Opioids, Many Sedatives
2 The emotional-locomotion circuit The anal territorial circuit Svadhishthana Alcohol
3 The laryngeal-manual symbolic circuit The semantic time-binding circuit Svadhishthana
Stimulants (amphetamine, cocaine, caffeine, etc)
4 The socio-sexual domestication circuit The socio-sexual circuit Manipura
Hormones, Entactogens (MDMA, etc)
5 The neurosomatic circuit The neurosomatic circuit Anahata
Cannabis, MDMA, Low Dose LSD
6 The neuro-electric circuit The metaprogramming circuit Vishuddha
LSD, Mescaline, Psilocybin DMT
7 The neurogenetic circuit The morphogenetic circuit Ajna
LSD, Psilocybin, DMT (all higher doses)
8 The neuro-atomic metaphysiological The non-local quantum circuit Sahasrara DMT, Ketamine

For the lower circuits, mappings have also been created between this model and the work of psychoanalysts like Jung and Freud. For example: Circuit1/Sensation/Oral; Circuit2/Feeling/Anal; Circuit3/Reason/Latency; etc. This is a rich and fascinating field.

Needless to say, this sort of positive scientific research and boundless investigation has always been subject to hostility by the established order. Indeed, Leary himself stated that he had written his book, Science Faction, in “various prisons to which the author had been sentenced for dangerous ideology and violations of Newtonian and religious laws”.

Despite this flagrant and medieval proscription of science, the use of psychedelics for self-exploration has continued. A lengthy list of individuals who have recorded their work via unorthodox methods has emerged, none more prominent or persuasive than Terence McKenna. McKenna used what he referred to as “heroic doses”, usually of botanicals, and his books, and indeed countless YouTube videos, have documented his experiences and theories in significant depth.

Another aspect suppressed via prohibition is the use of psychedelics in a medical context, to alleviate human suffering and misery. I refer here to ailments such as addiction, depression and mental illness.

As I write these words, after generations of brutal indifference to lost knowledge and remedy, the fruits of another periodic study have slipped through the cracks into the public domain: psilocybin mushrooms can be successfully used to treat depression. This is presented as though the revelation is actually news.

Despite this flicker of scientific fact reaching the populace, the cruelty of denial continues unabated.

Psychedelics provide unique potential for medicine, for scientific knowledge, and many argue, for the evolution and survival of the human species. It is a tragedy and an outrage that they are damned and misrepresented by those whose motives are anything but altruistic.

However, even against a background of relentless hostility their fundamental value has long been recognised, and not only within the confines of academia and science:

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.” ~ Steve Jobs

It’s a very salutary thing to realize that the rather dull universe in which most of us spend most of our time is not the only universe there is. I think it’s healthy that people should have this experience.” ~ Aldous Huxley

The potential of the psychedelic drugs to provide access to the interior universe, is, I believe, their most valuable property.” ~ Alexander Shulgin

“They invented LSD to control people and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform.” ~ John Lennon

Perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that LSD can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.” ~ Senator Robert Kennedy

With psychedelics, if you’re fortunate and break through, you understand what is truly of value in life." ~ Gary Fisher

I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.” ~ Albert Hofmann

LSD is simply an exploratory instrument like a microscope or telescope, except this one is inside of you instead of outside of you.” ~ Alan Watts

Having stated all this, as with every other psychoactive, it is important to treat these remarkable substances with respect, and always follow the safety protocols documented earlier.


Imagine that you live your entire life on an express train. The windows and doors are locked and the track is straight. You are born at the start of the journey and you die on arrival at the destination; making it a 70 year ride (or however long you live). You know nothing other than the inside of the train and whatever is briefly seen through the windows. The same applies to all the other passengers.

Then, one day, you hop off the train at a station. You take a look around and then you hop back on.

Do you think that you will ever see your ride in the same way again, having seen the train from the outside? How will you now interact with other passengers, who are oblivious, and how will you handle the rest of your journey?

I suggest that this is a reasonable metaphor for the impact of a serious psychedelic experience. It’s not just the specific content of the trip that has to be processed; it’s the actual existence of the episode itself.

Your mind will have served an alternative and alien view of your world. Your rational and conscious awareness will have manifested outside of its normal parameters. On return, the simple knowledge of this phenomenon, that it was possible and it was real (for you), will require assimilation.

If you have had an immersive trip and yet are struggling to take anything from its actual unfoldment, it is likely that you will at least have exited your train; and it may take a while for you to recognize this and integrate it.

You now know that there are disparate conscious states, that your ongoing reality is simply the interpretation being modulated by your de facto chemical balance, and that it is neither complete nor definitive. It can be expanded and changed.

This realization can often trigger radical and permanent shifts in perspective, and can help to elevate you to a higher state of consciousness: consciousness exploring consciousness. It can help to initiate a path to engage a Buddhist-like or meditational detachment (less anchored to the train’s interior). In terms of the eight-circuit model it can even constitute a step towards the meta-programming circuit.

For many, whichever direction ensues, the actuality itself can be a life changing event.


Over recent years the microdosing of psychedelics has become increasingly popular. Specifically, this is the taking of a sub-threshold dose, typically of LSD or psilocybin, in pursuit of one or more widely claimed benefits. These vary, but those commonly cited include increased perception, greater creativity, decreased anxiety, higher motivation, sharpened focus, and generally better mood and mental health.

It is important to point out that the doses here are well below those required to invoke the classic effects of these substances, such as visuals or hallucinations. For example, for LSD somewhere around 10ug is generally specified, whereas for psilocybin mushrooms doses of around 0.2g - 0.3g are frequently referred to.

I’ve microdosed on a number of occasions, usually with LSD, although never on a regular basis. I invariably noticed a subtle difference in my disposition. I felt a little livelier and a tiny bit more alive, with senses operating slightly more effectively. I would argue that a number of the above list did in fact manifest.

Some might argue that I may have taken too much but I was always within the supposed microdose range, and indeed, occasionally acquired tabs as above, which were specifically marketed as being microdosed (at 10ug).

Regarding microdosing frequency some choose to dose perhaps every couple of days or so, others employ breaks of weeks or months, and others (myself included) dose irregularly; simply when the situation or circumstance seems to be appropriate.

Finally, it is also suggested that microdosing may be of particular help to old people, again like myself. Studies into the microdosing of psychedelics for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia are ongoing, and there is plenty of research to be found on the Internet.