The Psychology of Initiation Rites

Initiation rites are an integral part of traditional societies. An initiation rite is a ritual or ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. In modern society, initiation ceremonies usually mark the transition into adulthood, as demarcated by the community. Examples of such ceremonies would include the Christian baptism, the Jewish Bar and…View Post

Schizophrenic or Shamanic? It Depends on the Cultural Context

An individual can display certain symptoms, but whether they are an indication of schizophrenia or shamanic abilities depends largely on the cultural context. By cultural context I mean the collective beliefs, values, expectations and responses of the community which shape the mentality and behaviour of the individuals within that community. Mental illness is heavily influenced…View Post

The Mysterious Origins of Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic brew, is a combination of two plants native to the Amazon rainforest: the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of Psychotria viridis. The caapi vine contains MAOIs which allow the DMT in the leaves of the Psychotria plant species to become orally active in the human body. If DMT-containing plants are taken…View Post

Is the Santa Claus Myth Based on Magic Mushrooms?

The story of Santa and his flying reindeer, which we have come to associate with Christmas, may actually have its roots in Siberian shamanism and the consumption of the hallucinogenic mushroom, Amanita muscaria (also known as fly agaric). This is the easily recognisable toadstool mushroom, with its white stem and red cap dotted with white…View Post

Peyote-Inspired Art From the Huichol People

Peyote is a cactus which contains mescaline, one of the classic psychedelic chemicals. Native North Americans have been using peyote for religious purposes for around 5,000 years. It is native to southwestern Texas and Mexico. Peyote art, art that is influenced by the visions from the peyote experience, is abundant in the Huichol culture of…View Post