I have absorbed a lot of information concerning psychedelic substances during the past 13 years. Some sources took a scientific approach, full of statistics, surveys, and other assorted data. Others have focused on the spiritual use of these substances, which include direction for practices like meditation, yoga, and breathwork. There are also accounts of recreational use, which clearly illustrate the possibilities of both positive and negative outcomes of using and abusing these substances. I ate up as many books, movies, podcasts, YouTube clips, and audio lectures as I possibly could.
I also have my own experiences with several of these substances, and had already come to my personal opinion that they have the potential to awaken in me unexpected paths in my life, greater self-understanding, an ability to engage in self-healing, and a stronger connection with the Universe and the inhabitants of our planet that we call Earth.
Over the years, I learned a lot about psychedelics and often come noticed myself thinking to myself, "Oh, I've learned that already" while reading a book or watching a documentary. However, when I read James Fadiman's The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys back in 2012 I found it to be the first work in quite a while that had so many new things to teach me. This book covers many aspects concerning psychedelic use that I was previously unaware of, such as the concept of sub-perceptual dosing and the importance of listening to non-vocal music such as Classical during the beginning of a psychedelic experience.
I first heard of this book from Lorenzo Hagerty's "Psychedelic Salon," a podcast that I have listened to since 2006. Fadiman is the guest on episode 302, during which Lorenzo interviews him about the book and his experience in the psychedelic research field. After hearing Fadiman speak about these things, I put the book on my "To-Read" list and purchased it a few months later. My intention when reading this book was to learn how to become a guide for others undergoing psychedelic experiences. I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of information contained in the book afforded to those of us who wish to better integrate our psychedelic journeys into ordinary reality as well as learn to be a better guide to others. Following my reading of this book, I identified some aspects of my own psychedelic practice that I ended up changing in an effort to focus more on the therapeutic and spiritual uses of these substances, rather than my previous goal of just having a good time. While I still believe that the recreational use of these substances can have a positive outcome, this is the book that sold on the concept of using them in a more intelligent manner.
The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide does a great job of dispelling some of the myths about psychedelics, offers a practical and positive itinerary for a successful experience, introduces several important people in this field, and does so in a way that is unbiased and helpful. It is important for the psychedelic community to have truth on its side, and Fadiman does an excellent job of collecting both scientific and anecdotal evidence and arranging it in a way that is easily understood. I commend him on his work and look forward to more coming from him in the near future.
5/5 stars. 352 pages.
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