Psychedelia: An Ancient Culture, A Modern Way Of Life – Youth’s book review in full
DMT is how you imagined LSD would be, but in reality isn’t. Although really only for the most experienced astronauts, it is – next to mescaline – the most powerful and spiritual psychedelic. It almost goes beyond the spiritual and sensual realms into dimensions unknown and unheard of. New colours, previously unimagined sounds and strange alien-like entities that have a playful sense of humour and mischief and – as Jeremy Narby discovered in the Amazon much later on – very, very useful information. Information so useful and undeniable that even the UK and US governments have allowed limited research into psychedelics to resume after a 30-year blanket ban.
As Brian Barritt once lamented to me “The rise in conflict in the world is proportional to the absence of psychedelics in society”. Well Lundborg cites that there are more people doing psychedelics now than ever before, just as there are more people practising magic than at any other time in history. Coincidence? Maybe… Or possibly it’s just more serendipity.
There are some great sections on literature where Lundborg really comes into his own: William Blake (“Eternity is in love with the productions of time”) rightly recurs frequently. Lundborg is often, reassuringly, contradictory. He magically delves into Shakespeare’s psychedelic hymn, The Tempest, penetrates Alchemy’s rich traditions, yet dismisses (in a simplistic and frankly uninformed way) the very rich wisdom of our own native shamanic traditions of Witchcraft, Druidry and the occult.
Elsewhere, amazingly, he draws parallels with Jessie Weston’s From Ritual To Romance (based on the Grail myth of The Fisher King) and TS Elliot’s The Wasteland, and brings them both together manifesting within the sub-plot of Apocalypse Now! very eloquently explaining some of the mysteries of that movie along the way that have beguiled me for years and years: it’s genius, and once explained/deciphered, obvious.
This guy is very intelligent, extremely well-read and tackles this labyrinthine subject with an easy flow.
Throughout he cherry picks choice quotes: from Alan Watts: “No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time, he is like a steel bridge without flexibility and the order of his life is rigid and brittle” to ambient meister Brian Eno: “Everyone I knew and worked with was very much into drugs as a creative tool as well as consciousness-expanding tool”.
There’s also a nice chunk on psychedelic art where he delves into the visionary art of Alex Grey. I remember DJing at an amazing party for Alex in San Fran in the late 90′s with all his art on the walls and naked waiters in bow ties serving cocktails. There’s also a good section on Kesey and his Merry Pranksters who again I met in the 1990′s when he toured the UK in a revamped bus with some of the original pranksters and a Channel 4 daily TV update on his exploits.
I had invited him to a Society for the Reformation of Ancient Enchantment event in the Boscawen stone circle in Cornwall (I was a co-founder of the group). The Society was honouring him as an honorary bard for services to enchantment. It was amazing, with 200 freaks and King Arthur (check CJ Stone’s fantastic book on this ex-Hells Angel and eco warrior, who believes he is the reincarnated future king!) putting various people under his sword to initiate into his war band. Then Kesey turned up with bus and new wife in tow. A druid ceremony was performed and he was presented with a crystal while his wife was presented with an English rose as a welcome by my young daughter. His wife steadfastly raised her palm in refusal stating she was a born-again Christian and couldn’t accept a ‘Pagan’ gift. There was a low mooing moan from the assembled freaks shocked at such outright rudeness and ignorance, Kesey turned beetroot red with embarrassment and we swiftly moved the ceremony on. Afterwards I invited them to a proper acid trance party organised by legendary party innovators Ahimsa that was up the road, it was hilarious.