The Puppet Shaman – An Ouroboros Short Story

“Einstein proved that time is relative and that there’s no reason why time should always be moving forward. There’s the time’s arrow thing; that something happened before and it caused this. But, what if they’re not sequential moments in time but are momentary snapshots that we, because we have memory, phase into and out of in a linear way,” Alex said excitedly.

“Okay, maybe I’m just high, but I didn’t understand any of that, Alex,” Greg giggled. After the service, those of the Mokeyists who indulged in hallucinogens stayed behind for a kind of second service. Usually, it was only Alex, his girlfriend Faith, and Greg. Nathan and Laura usually attended the second service but he hadn’t heard from Laura since the breakup and Nathan would only just be arriving in Korea.

“Okay,” Alex paused. “What if every moment in time exists simultaneously however we can only experience one snapshot at any one time and after we phase through that one snapshot it goes back to the whole where every snapshot in time exists simultaneously.”

“Sweet!” Greg’s unfocused eyes were almost completely dilated. Alex knew Greg had grey eyes. But the three of them had just taken mushrooms so now the colour was swallowed by pupil. Part of Alex wanted to check the mirror to see if his eyes looked like Greg’s but he knew that mirrors were often unfriendly on psychedelics. While all that was going on inside his head, he’d forgotten that he had a body outside of his thoughts and just sat there with a slack spine, staring into Greg’s eyes.

“Posture!” Faith reminded him sweetly, stroking his shoulder lovingly. Continue reading

Advertisements

‘Magic Mushrooms’ Can Improve Psychological Health Long Term

Via TIME

Image Source: Getty Images

The psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits, according to new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The mushroom-derived hallucinogen, called psilocybin, is known to trigger transformative spiritual states, but at high doses it can also result in “bad trips” marked by terror and panic. The trick is to get the dose just right, which the Johns Hopkins researchers report having accomplished.

In their study, the Hopkins scientists were able to reliably induce transcendental experiences in volunteers, which offered long-lasting psychological growth and helped people find peace in their lives — without the negative effects.

(PHOTOS: Inside Colorado’s Marijuana Industry)

“The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and can be quite disruptive,” says lead author Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins.

Giffiths’ study involved 18 healthy adults, average age 46, who participated in five eight-hour drug sessions with either psilocybin — at varying doses — or placebo. Nearly all the volunteers were college graduates and 78% participated regularly in religious activities; all were interested in spiritual experience.

Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.

Critically, however, the participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.

Ultimately, Griffiths and his colleagues want to see if the same kind of psychedelic experience could help ease anxiety and fear over the long term in cancer patients or others facing death. And following up on tantalizing clues from early research on hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, mescaline and psilocybin in the 1960s (which are all now illegal), researchers are also studying whether transcendental experiences could help spur recovery from addiction and treat other psychological problems like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

For Griffiths’ current experiment, participants were housed in a living room-like setting designed to be calm, comfortable and attractive. While under the influence, they listened to classical music on headphones, wore eyeshades and were instructed to “direct their attention inward.”

Each participant was accompanied by two other research-team members: a “monitor” and an “assistant monitor,” who both had previous experience with people on psychedelic drugs and were empathetic and supportive. Before the drug sessions, the volunteers became acquainted enough with their team so that they felt familiar and safe. Although the experiments took place in the Hopkins hospital complex in order to ensure prompt medical attention in the event that it was needed, it never was.

As described by early advocates of the use of psychedelics — from ancient shamans to Timothy Leary and the Grateful Dead — the psilocybin experience typically involves a sense of oneness with the universe and with others, a feeling of transcending time, space and other limitations, coupled with a sense of holiness and sacredness. Overwhelmingly, these experiences are difficult to put into words, but many of Griffiths’ participants said they were left with the sense that they understood themselves and others better and therefore had greater compassion and patience.

(MORE: A Mystery Partly Solved: How the ‘Club Drug’ Ketamine Lifts Depression So Quickly)

“I feel that I relate better in my marriage. There is more empathy — a greater understanding of people and understanding their difficulties and less judgment,” said one participant. “Less judging of myself, too.”

Another said: “I have better interaction with close friends and family and with acquaintances and strangers. … My alcohol use has diminished dramatically.”

To zero in on the “sweet spot” of dosing, Griffiths started half the volunteers on a low dose and gradually increased their doses over time (with placebo sessions randomly interspersed); the other half started on a high dose and worked their way down.

Those who started on a low dose found that their experiences tended to get better as the dose increased, probably because they learned what to expect and how to handle it. But people who started with high doses were more likely to experience anxiety and fear (though these feeling didn’t last long and sometimes resolved into euphoria or a sense of transcendence).

“If we back the dose down a little, we have just as much of the same positive effects. The properties of the mystical experience remain the same, but there’s a fivefold drop in anxiety and fearfulness,” Griffiths says.

Some past experiments with psychedelics in the ’60s used initial high doses of the drugs — the “blast people away with a high dose” model, says Griffiths — to try to treat addiction. “Some of the early work in addictions was done with the idea of, ‘O.K., let’s model the ‘bottoming-out’ crisis and make use of the dark side of [psychedelic] compounds. That didn’t work,” Griffiths says.

It may even have backfired: other research on addictions shows that coercion, humiliation and other attempts to produce a sense of “powerlessness,” tend to increase relapse and treatment dropout, not recovery. (And the notorious naked LSD encounter sessions conducted with psychopaths made them worse, too.)

Griffiths is currently seeking patients with terminal cancer to participate in his next set of experiments (for more information on these studies, click here); because psychedelics often produce a feeling of going beyond life and death, they are thought to be especially likely to help those facing the end of life. Griffiths is also studying whether psilocybin can help smokers quit.

Griffiths and other researchers like him are hoping to bring the study of psychedelics into the future. They want to build on the promise that some of the early research showed, while avoiding the bad rep and exaggerated claims — for example, that LSD was harmless and could usher in world peace — that became associated with the drugs when people started using them recreationally in the 1960s. The resulting negative publicity helped shut down the burgeoning research.

This time around, caution may be paying off. Dr. Jerome Jaffe, America’s first drug czar, who was not involved with the research, said in a statement, “The Hopkins psilocybin studies clearly demonstrate that this route to the mystical is not to be walked alone. But they have also demonstrated significant and lasting benefits. That raises two questions: could psilocybin-occasioned experiences prove therapeutically useful, for example in dealing with the psychological distress experienced by some terminal patients?

“And should properly-informed citizens, not in distress, be allowed to receive psilocybin for its possible spiritual benefits, as we now allow them to pursue other possibly risky activities such as cosmetic surgery and mountain-climbing?”

The study was published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

Bonging with the Bard: Shakespeare Smoked Marijuana?

Via Harvard Magazine

Perhaps the second-most-cultivated plant in Elizabethan England, after wheat, was hemp—Cannabis sativa, also known as marijuana. The sovereign herself encouraged its growth. Hemp fibers were fashioned into rope, paper, garments, and sails. “Queen Elizabeth’s navy ran on that stuff,” says Clay professor of scientific archaeology Nikolaas J. van der Merwe, who recently helped focus high technology on fragments unearthed from a literary dig to suggest that the Elizabethans may also have smoked marijuana for its mind-altering effects. One smoker may even have been William Shakespeare.

With colleagues Francis Thackeray and Tommie van der Merwe (not a relation), van der Merwe analyzed scrapings from the bowls and stems of 24 pipes dug from sites in and about Stratford-on-Avon. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust provided fragments of kaolin (white clay) pipes, some unearthed from the garden at Shakespeare’s residence and all dating from the 1600s. “There’s an archaeological dating system for pipes, based on shape and the diameters of the bowl, stem, and stem bore,” van der Merwe explains. “I scraped things out of them—mostly soil—but you could see little black flecks on the inside of the bowls.”

When subjected to a chemical assay using gas chromatography and a mass spectrometer—as summarized in the South African Journal of Science—these flecks proved most interesting. Though cannabis itself degrades fairly quickly, cannabidiol and cannabinol are stable combustion products produced when it burns. (Van der Merwe has detected these substances in 600-year-old Ethiopian pipes.) Eight of the 24 pipe fragments showed evidence suggestive of such marijuana-related compounds.

Unexpectedly, cocaine also appeared on two specimens, including one from the Stratford home of John Harvard’s mother. Cocaine was introduced from South America to Europe during the sixteenth century, the authors explain, “initially through Spanish conquistadors who in turn were raided by English explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, a contemporary of Shakespeare.” Other pipes showed nicotine, implying the smoking of another New World plant, tobacco.

While no one knows whether Shakespeare himself smoked any of the pipes in question, the data of course provide fodder for speculation. The researchers muse on the phrase “noted weed” in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76, which also mentions “compounds strange.” They ask if the “Tenth Muse” of Sonnet 38 might refer to chemical inspiration.

Scholars like Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt, an authority on Shakespeare and general editor of the Norton Shakespeare, are amused but not persuaded. “I suppose it’s remotely possible that Shakespeare and his family were getting a buzz from what they were smoking, but I very much doubt that it played any meaningful role in his life,” Greenblatt says. “Shakespeare never mentions pipes, tobacco, or smoking anywhere in his poems or plays, in contrast with Edmund Spenser and other writers of the period. Alcohol is a much more likely stimulant for Shakespeare’s imagination, and even that is probably unimportant. The seventeenth-century gossip John Aubrey described Shakespeare as not much of a partygoer—when he was invited to a debauch, he’d beg off, saying he was in pain. More likely, he was working on another play.”

~Craig Lambert

Ouroboros – Cylcle One (Novel)

If you’re interested in what the story of my Ouroboros webisode series is going to be like I made the first season (or Cycle One) into novel form.  There will be four Cycles and each Cycle is the same time period, just from the point of view of a different character.  Cycle One revolves around Ava Fields.  Let me know what you think.  

 

______________

OUROBOROS

– Cycle One –

Chapter 1

 

The apartment door opened sending a rush of fresh air down the hallway and into the kitchen where he was sitting; staring forward.

The door creaked lazily closed and Ava Fields entered the kitchen.

“What’s the matter sweetie?” He called to her from the table.

Ava walked over to the kitchen sink and began washing her hands.

Ava sighed.  The bright bubbles sparkled in the dim light. The warm water coaxed the soap from her hands, landing loudly in the metal sink.  The sparkling, red foam circled the drain and finally disappeared beyond the metal grate.  Ava poured more soap into her hands and resumed lathering.

“Is that,” he paused, “blood?”

The thunderous sound of the water landing hard against the metal lulled Ava’s racing thoughts, until she remembered her husband had asked her a question.

“I hit a dog,” she almost couldn’t get the words past her quivering lips.

“When?” He asked, staring forward.

“On the way home.”

“Did you kill it?”

“Eventually.”

“What do you mean?”

She watched the waves of soap circle and blend with the pink water in the sink before it slipped down the drain, into darkness.

“It was still alive when I got out to check on it, but it was bad,” she paused to lather up her hands again, “Really bad.”

She stood in silence for a few moments, watching the light pink, now nearly all white, bubbles as they swirled around the sink, waiting to be devoured by the drain.

“I’d run over its stomach,” she began, “and its insides were spilling out the hole in his skin.  There wasn’t anything I could do.  I had to kill it!”

“So what’d you do?”

Ava stopped the water and watched the last of the now completely white soap slide down into the drain.  There was still the sparkle of a few bubbles at the edge of the drain and Ava started the water again to make sure they didn’t escape.

“I hit it a couple times with the tire iron in our trunk.”

“Nice.”

“Steven!” Ava whipped around to stare at her husband. “That’s awful.”

She noticed her breathing was coming in ragged gasps.  She ripped open her purse and pulled a small pill bottle from the centre compartment.  She downed two pills and chased them with a glass of water.

“I didn’t want to hurt it, but it was already dying and I . . .”

“Did it have any tags on it?  Do you know whose dog it was?”

Ava turns back to face the back of Steven’s head.

“No,” she swallowed. “There were no tags.  He was quite large though.  It was probably an outside dog.  It took me a long time to drag it down to the River.

“You dumped it in the river?”

“What else was I supposed to do?  Leave it there?”

“And you’re sure it didn’t have any tags.”

“Steven, I’m sure,” she tried to calm her rapid breathing and took a few more sips of water. “But I’ll ask around to see if anyone in the building is missing a dog.”
Their dog, Charlie, looked up from his place on the couch.  That was his favourite place; lying on top of the seat cushion with his head dangling slightly over the side.  His big eyes were what did it to Ava.  She began sobbing.

“Hey.  I’m sorry,” Steven consoled from his seat at the kitchen table, still staring forward. “It must’ve been an awful feeling to have to kill that dog.”

“I just kept thinking about Charlie and how I would feel if he were missing and I didn’t know what had happened to him.  Someone’s missing their dog tonight and it’s all my fault.”

“No, it’s not,” his voice was soft and reassuring.  “What was the dog doing without tags or a leash and where were the owners?  It sounds like you hit a stray and if they’re caught by the humane society; a lot of them are euthanized anyway.  It’s not your fault.”

Muffled music began to thud its way through the thin walls of the apartment.  She could feel anger welling up inside her chest.  The dissonant thudding happened quite frequently, and Ava hated it.

“They’re playing that awful music again.”

She wasn’t aware of it, but she was gritting her teeth together so tightly as to be audible.

“Come on, Sweetie. It’s not that bad.”

“And I can smell their incense through the wall.  I bet they only burn those to cover the smell of the pot.”  She walked over to the kitchen wall and gave it two firm raps with bed of her palm. “You’re not fooling anybody!”

“Relax, Ava.  Let’s just go into the other room and watch Leno.”

She exhaled and her body slumped, resting against the kitchen counter. “Yah, okay.”

“I’ll be in right away.”

“Come ‘ere, Charlie.  We’re going to watch Headlines on Leno.  Do you like Headlines?  Yes you do.”

Charlie raised his head in a curious manner, only to lay it back down again, letting it dangle over the edge of the couch.

Chapter 2

      The sound of the thudding dubstep surrounded Seth more completely than the crowd of people sandwiched in around him. Strobe lights flickered and their bodies seemed to move in dislocated, jerky ways along to the poly-rhythms.

Seth closed his eyes, and then realized, he was so stoned that he was closing his eyes in his head.

His eyes shot open and Seth Brock was standing against the wall in Alex Sunderland’s apartment.  They were listening to music while Alex’s roommate Nathan played Dynasty Warriors 4.

Seth closed his eyes again, and he was transported back to the rave. All the people were dancing, and he felt an odd sense of community in that moment.  Of belonging.

      Do I belong in my dreams? The electricity in his brain wondered.

The dancers suddenly stopped and turned to stare at Seth, who was now sitting on a couch in the middle of the dance floor.

They all turned their heads at the same time to a space on the couch, just beside him.  He shifted to see what they were looking at.

It was a dog.

There was a dog sitting on the couch beside him.

The dog opened its mouth but the sound that escaped was not a bark as much as it was a searing pain on the inside of his ears; as though someone were digging their nails into his brain while simultaneously shaking his head from side to side.

“What are you?”

Beneath the dog’s white collar a sentence appeared in white text; and in Helvetica no less.

<<I am nothing, I am everything>>

“What do you want?”

<<Video Games = Porn>>

The dog moved closer to him, and Seth tensed.

“What?”

<<You are a tiny insignificant nothing>>
The pain returned inside his head.
<<You should kill yourself>>

“What?”

<<You’re not going to listen to a dog are you?>>

The white text dissolved away and another sentence blurred itself into existence.

<<Cause that would be crazy>>

Alex’s voice jolted him out of his meandering thoughts.  He was back in the apartment. Continue reading

Drug-Bashing Republican Lawmaker Charged For Marijuana

*urgh, what a dick!​

Via Toke Of The Town

bobwatson flip.jpg
Photo: Franky Benitez
Rep. Robert Watson likes making fun of marijuana. Oh, and smoking it.

In the latest fine example of Republican high-pocrisy when it comes to cannabis, a high-ranking GOP legislator in Rhode Island is squirming after being charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, possession of marijuana, and possession of “drug paraphernalia.”

An embarrassing pot bust would be bad enough for any politician, but this guy — Rep. Robert Watson — is a real piece of work who is remembered for making offensive anti-drug, anti-gay and anti-immigrant remarks, reports Kase Wickman at The Raw Story.
In February, Watson said the Rhode Island Legislature had their priorities right — “if you are a Guatemalan gay man who likes to gamble and smokes marijuana.”
Rather than just apologize and move on, Watson — while a guest on a radio show soon after that misstep, and in response to the understandable outcry over his comments — said, “I reject the suggestion that it’s insulting.”
Watson continued to refuse to say he was sorry. “I apologize when appropriate and/or necessary,” Watson told the Providence Journal in February. “I identify this situation as representing neither circumstance.”
The East Greenwich, R.I., politician recently pooh-poohed debate over the decriminalization of marijuana as not worthy of legislators’ time, reports The Associated Press.
Watson was pulled over at a police checkpoint on Friday, according to East Haven police. Officers noted a “strong odor of marijuana” coming from the nervous Republican’s car, and charged him with possession and driving under the influence after a search.
The loud-mouthed, bigoted legislator seems to have suddenly gotten a lot quieter.
But his office finally released a statement on Monday in which he denied he was driving under the influence. He claimed he was in Connecticut to help a friend move, and was driving home from dinner when he was stopped.
“Trace evidence of marijuana was discovered and I was charged with operating under the influence, a charge I vehemently deny,” Watson said in a prepared statement.
Watson won’t face immediate political consequences for his little adventure. Rhode Island’s Ethic’s Commission won’t investigate allegations that fall outside a lawmaker’s public duties. So it looks like this two-faced THC-hound will continue having a bully pulpit to badmouth marijuana despite the fact that he enjoys it himself.
He’s been released after signing a $500 bond and promising to appear in court on May 11.