Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism

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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.
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About the author

DANIEL PINCHBECK is a founding editor of Open City, and he has written for such publications as Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and The Village Voice, where sections of his book have previously appeared.
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4.3
18 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Three Rivers Press
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Published on
Aug 6, 2002
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780767911528
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Language
English
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Genres
Body, Mind & Spirit / Entheogens & Visionary Substances
Body, Mind & Spirit / Shamanism
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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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
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