A dazzling work of personal travelogue and cultural criticism that ranges from the primitive to the postmodern in a quest for the promise and meaning of the psychedelic experience.

While psychedelics of all sorts are demonized in America today, the visionary compounds found in plants are the spiritual sacraments of tribal cultures around the world. From the iboga of the Bwiti in Gabon, to the Mazatecs of Mexico, these plants are sacred because they awaken the mind to other levels of awareness--to a holographic vision of the universe.

Breaking Open the Head is a passionate, multilayered, and sometimes rashly personal inquiry into this deep division. On one level, Daniel Pinchbeck tells the story of the encounters between the modern consciousness of the West and these sacramental substances, including such thinkers as Allen Ginsberg, Antonin Artaud, Walter Benjamin, and Terence McKenna, and a new underground of present-day ethnobotanists, chemists, psychonauts, and philosophers. It is also a scrupulous recording of the author's wide-ranging investigation with these outlaw compounds, including a thirty-hour tribal initiation in West Africa; an all-night encounter with the master shamans of the South American rain forest; and a report from a psychedelic utopia in the Black Rock Desert that is the Burning Man Festival.

Breaking Open the Head is brave participatory journalism at its best, a vivid account of psychic and intellectual experiences that opened doors in the wall of Western rationalism and completed Daniel Pinchbeck's personal transformation from a jaded Manhattan journalist to shamanic initiate and grateful citizen of the cosmos.
In this unsparing tour of the perils and promises of the current era, visionary author Daniel Pinchbeck helps us understand that we don't need to wait for the dawning of the next age to radically change our perspectives.

In the years since his pioneering work 2012, Daniel Pinchbeck has touched a legion of readers hungry for insight and guidance about new ways of living amid the crises of the current moment.

Notes from the Edge Times collects Pinchbeck's most penetrating recent columns, articles, and essays that amount to an extraordinary mosaic view of the hopes, nightmares, and signs of breakthrough that mark our present era. Pinchbeck examines the current economic collapse (an event he had foreseen by many months), radical political and ecological alternatives, the uses of psychedelics for spiritual insight, the revival of the sexual revolution, unexplained phenomena such as crop circles and the Norway spiral, the imminent (and often-misunderstood) question of 2012, and what it means to be an artist in a time of radical change.

Pinchbeck's virtuosity as a social critic, on full display in these pieces, is his ability to illuminate real and serious questions within unconventional topics that most literary intellects are unwilling to touch, from secret weapons systems to extrasensory abilities to the intelligence of plant life. In Notes from the Edge Times, Pinchbeck does more than critique present-day questions and conflicts; he provides fresh ideas for living more consciously now, and for constructing our own more enlightened futures, even as the world around us faces profound environmental, social, and spiritual challenges

Ayahuasca is a powerful tool for transformation, that more and more Westerners are flocking to drink in a quest for greater self-knowledge, healing and reconnection with the natural world. This formerly esoteric, little-known brew is now a growth industry. But why?

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive tea that has a long history of ritual use among indigenous groups of the Upper Amazon. Made from the ayahuasca vine and the leaves of a shrub, ayahuasca is associated with healing in collective ceremonies and in more intimate contexts, generally under the direction of specialist - an ayahuasquero. These are experienced practitioners who guide the ceremony and the "drinkers'" experience.

Ayahuasca has gained significant popularity these days in cities around the world. Ceremonies happen nightly and Hollywood stars, Wall Street players and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs now drink the brew. Why? What effect might ayahuasca be having on our culture? Could it be the LSD of our time? Does the brew, which seems to inspire environmental action, simplified lifestyles and more communitarian behaviour, act as an antidote to frenzied consumerist culture?

In When Plants Dream, Pinchbeck and Rokhlin explore the economic, social, political, cultural and environmental impact that ayahuasca is having on society. "Part One" covers the background; what ayahuasca is, where it is found, and its cultural origins. "Part Two" explores the role and practices of the ayahuasquero in both Amazonian and Western cultures. "Part Three" examines the medicinal plants of the Amazon, looking particularly at the ingredients in ayahuasca and their therapeutic qualities, covering the most up-to-date biomedical research, psychedelic science, and psychopharmacology. "Part Four" looks more closely at how ayahuasca is perceived and used today, covering law, the drug wars, media and money. Lastly, in "Part Five", Pinchbeck and Rokhlin question the future of ayahuasca.

When Plants Dream is the first book of its kind to look at the science and expanding culture of ayahuasca, from its historical use to its appropriation by the West and the impact it is having on cultures beyond the Amazon.

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