Breaking Open the Head

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

4.04 (2,639 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 and the ayahuasca of the Secoya in Ecuador to the psilocybin mushrooms of the Mazatecs in Mexico, these plants are revered because of their potential to awaken the mind to other levels of awareness and to act as gateways to other dimensions - bringing about a holographic vision of the universe.Breaking Open the Head is a passionate, multilayered, and sometimes rash personal inquiry into this deep division between views. On one level, Daniel Pinchbeck tells of encounters between the modern consciousness of the West and these sacramental substances, highlighting such thinkers and seekers as Allen Ginsberg, Antonin Artaud, Walter Benjamin, and Terence McKenna as well as a new underground of present-day ethnobotanists, chemists, psychonauts, and philosophers. It is also a scrupulous recording of the author's wide-ranging investigation into these outlaw compounds. We witness Pinchbeck's thirty-hour tribal initiation in West Africa; an encounter with the master shamans of the south American rain forest; and sleepless nights in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, at the "Archaic Revival" that is the Burning Man Festival - all part of his effort to grasp the meaning of shamanism as well as the stages of his own spiritual quest.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 jaded Manhattan journalist to shamanic initiate and grateful citizen of the cosmos.
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2,639 ratings
4.04 out of 5 stars
5 38% (990)
4 37% (987)
3 19% (496)
2 5% (131)
1 1% (35)
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