Date: Wed, 03 Jul 96 15:45:35 EDT
From: Kevin Jones <100621.17@CompuServe.COM>
To: Subscribers to the maili <TWC-L@HALMARAX.DEMON.CO.UK>
Subject: A few thoughts on terminal Wing-dings!
I have been watching the development of the conversation on this list with some
interest, especially as Tony and I have been sporadically discussing matters
relating to it for the last year.
Firstly the problems of access only apply to pharmaceutical hallucinogens. There
are many herbs which are hallucinogenic and which are either freely available or
can be easily grown. Many have a long history of ritual use. Some eg: Fennel,
Sweet Flag, metabolise to hallucinogenic amphetamines. Others eg: Barley ergot,
Ipomea tricolour, contain lysergic acid ethylamide. Others eg: Syrian Rue,
contain harmala alkaloids. This is only a very small selection - I could cover
pages with various herbs and their pharmacology.
The problem is not necessarily obtaining them - even LSD is not that difficult
to find - but which one to use. This in turn may be dictated by what medication
is being given. For example, mixing MAO inhibitors with amphetamines is
extremely unpleasant and is usually fatal due to cerebral haemorrhage.
As to the 'failures', well if you are going to die somewhere in the next hour or
two, I think we can discount any long term damage or risk (hypothetical or
otherwise) of addiction. My only concern would be a bad trip. The problem is
that some people are not going to be very relaxed knowing death is imminent -
they will be very afraid. Possibly not the best conditions for a good trip.
Which brings me to the question of why administer hallucinogens to the dying in
the first place. Are there any alternative methods? I suppose this will largely
depend on what you think happens after death.
It is recorded that when the Neoplatonist Plotinus knew he was dying, he went
with a friend to a sunny hillside and sat down with his back against a tree. He
told his friend that his time had come and that he was going to close his eyes,
consciously seek the Source of everything, travel to it and leave his body
behind. Then he did exactly that. He chose the time and manner of his death and
consciously left his body behind.
Similar things turn up in many cultures. The shaman or whatever that culture
calls them, choose their time and consciously step from 'one dream to another'.
In Castaneda's books Don Juan is quite specific that it is the sorcerer's way of
'avoiding' death. Whether or not you wish to get involved in the controversy
concerning Castaneda is irrelevant. He does know what he is talking about and
other traditions have similar approaches. I recall a similar idea in a Philip K
Dick book, but it is as old as mankind. The idea is to cross from here, which is
then viewed as a dream, to there, waking up to a new reality, and firmly shut
the door so there's no way back.
Unfortunately the ability to step from 'one dream to another' is not something
you learn overnight. It takes a considerable amount of practice to develop the
ability, let alone develop a stable, powerful 'dreaming place'. You could say
that it is related to lucid dreaming.
There are some places that seem to have an independent sort of existence
inasmuch as they've been reported by different and unconnected cultures and
people throughout all of history. There are references to one place in
preChristian Celtic imrama, Greek paganism, Chaldean mysteries, early
Christianity, some tribal African tales, some native American legends,
Qabalistic teachings and various oriental and Indian sources. Many elements of
this place also turn up in accounts of near-death experiences. It is generally a
place that people like shaman visit early on for both power and knowledge. To be
more accurate, it is the place that only a shaman would or could visit and he is
not a fully fledged shaman until he has done so. Judging from some of his
writings (and he was notorious for leaving things out) Crowley had also been
there. It would be quite possible to head to this place rather than sort out
Given the lack of time to coach someone in this, hallucinogens would be an
alternative - or maybe hypnosis. However, I would suggest that the patient and
prospective ex-human would need to be coached for several weeks if not months
beforehand about what this was intended to achieve. Then, as suggested, setting
is important. Plotinus chose his own setting.
Of course it could be argued that this is a subjective experience that will end
at the point of death. Shades of 'The Incident at Owl Creek Bridge'! After all
consciousness can't exist without a body can it? Well, you'l have to find
answers to that one that suit you.The universe seems to be much odder than we
think it is - and it usually works 180 degrees out to how we think it does. For
example, following a few recent experiments concerning Schrodinger's Cat, one
physicist remarked that 'reality doesn't exist until you measure it'. It matters
little whether that measurement is by instruments, senses or consciousness. The
act of measurement, of observation, forces it to assume one state or another. As
one Nobel prize-winning physicist commented, he suspected that quantum physics
would not be complete until it took account of consciousness. I'll leave you
sort it out.
For myself, if your new reality is 100% solid and self-contained and the old one
is now forgotten or regarded as last nights dream, I don't see why it should end
at the point of death. After all, in the new reality the old body doesn't exist.
OK, you could have some serious fun with this. You could even bugger around
postulating parallel existences if you wished. Unfortunately it is not really
possible to undertake the experiment and be able to enlighten your fellow
>From practical experience, related techniques have produced - shall we say - odd
effects on what we popularly concieve as reality. If they work on a limited
scale, they should work on this one. It could be that umpteen millenia of
mystics, shaman and mages are right - yet again.
Which leads me to one last thought. If this traditional view is correct, you
want to avoid a bad trip like the plague! It could become the new reality! There
have been a few NDE's that are negative - not many but some. Oddly enough, these
largely seem to be connected with nearly succesful suicides. The person
concerned often fled back from what was there rather than being sent back.
Anyway, those are a few thoughts to be going on with! It should provoke a bit of