Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 15 March 2015





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Trippy tales

"There is a wealth of information built into us ... tucked away in the genetic material in every one of our cells ... without some means of access, there is no way even to begin to guess at the extent and quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow exploration of this interior world, and insights into its nature."

- Alexander Theodore Shulgin, known informally as Sasha Shulgin - an American medicinal chemist, biochemist, pharmacologist, psycho pharmacologist and author.

The above quotation certainly is, not meant to advocate the use of psychedelic drugs. I consider my readers more intelligent than that. If not, they will not be reading this column. Therefore, assuming that you know that you know, what I would like to see is that you know 'you' when you know that you know that you know. Now that may appear confusing and sound like a riddle; but I assure you that it is not. It conveys a specified impression when read thoughtfully with a concentrated and focused mind - a task not impossible. Nevertheless, most readers must be wondering what I am up to since it all sounds very trippy. And for my readers who are not familiar with the term trippy, it is a word that was first used in the sixties to mean: of, relating to, or suggestive of a trip on psychedelic drugs or the culture associated with such drugs such as trippy music, a trippy experience, and so on.


In short, it implies to reflect the effect produced by taking a psychedelic drug; one that affects the mind and the way that someone sees things. When used as an adjective, it also means cool, freaky, groovy, amazing, mind blowing; or all of the above, depending on the context of its use. Although "trippy" is a fairly new word, the root word, "trip," refers to soft psychedelic trips that were a common feature amongst the flower children of the period - the 60's decade - of my time as a student in good old Blighty: another British English slang term for Britain or often specifically England. First used during the Boer War, it was not until World War I that the word spread widely. Blighty derives from bilayati, a regional variant of the Urdu word vilayati, meaning "foreign", "British", "English" or "European. In India, vilayati was a term used to mean European and specifically English or British.

With regard to the use of psychedelics; trippy tales have been the fashion from time immemorial - time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition, indefinitely ancient and ancient beyond memory or record.

Humans have been ingesting mind-altering substances for a very long time. Hallucinogen-huffing bowls that were dated to be 2,500 years old, have been found on islands in the Lesser Antilles and traditional cultures from the Americas to Africa to the Indian sub continent have used hallucinogenic substances for spiritual purposes.

Followers of Hindu religion are aware that the popular Hindu deity Shiva, considered the supreme god and one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism was an ardent fan of the Chillum.

It is a pipe used for smoking marijuana: the cannabis plant or the dried flower clusters and leaves of this plant, smoked or ingested as an illicit drug to induce euphoria. Certain jurisdictions permit its use for its presumed benefits in treating symptoms associated primarily with Cancer and AIDS, such as nausea and loss of appetite.


Elisa Guerra-Doce, an associate professor of prehistory at the University of Valladolid in Spain, says that the evidence shows that people have been consuming psychoactive substances for centuries, or even millennia, in many regions of the world.

Her research, published online Jan. 2 in Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture, showed the use of psychoactive substances in prehistoric Eurasia. The new review brings together data related to the early use of drug plants and fermented beverages all over the world.

Opium, "magic" mushrooms, and other psychoactive substances have been in use since prehistoric times all over the world, according to a new review of archaeological findings. For example, the evidence shows that people have been chewing the leaves of a plant called the betel since at least 2660 B.C., according to Guerra-Doce's report.

The plant contains chemicals that have stimulant- and euphoria-inducing properties. Nowadays the consumption of the leaf is, confined mostly to Asia, including Sri Lanka.

Researchers have found the remains of human teeth that have the characteristic reddish, bloodlike "betel stains" in a burial pit in Duyong Cave on Palawan Island in the southern Philippines.

Researchers have also found the reddish stains on the teeth of human remains that date between 2400 and 2000 B.C., and that were excavated from the Bronze Age site of Nui Nap in Vietnam. In that case, the teeth were, stained by betel nuts, and it is possible that its use was for aesthetic reasons, as opposed to its psychoactive properties.


Here are some notable substances that send the mind tripping:

San Pedro cactus, which contains chemicals with hallucinogenic properties, was in use in healing ceremonies by people living in the Andean mountains of South America, primarily in northern Peru. The earliest evidence of use of the cactus, researchers found was in the parts of the cave occupied by people that date back to between 8600 and 5600 B.C.

'Magic' mushrooms. The use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mesoamerica has been documented, thanks to the discovery of so-called mushroom stones, which are small sculptures resembling a mushroom.

The sculptures have been found at numerous sites dating back to between 500 B.C. and A.D. 900 in Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. There are also mushroom-looking pictographs in the prehistoric mural paintings found at Villar del Humo in Cuenca, Spain, which may represent hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Other, better-known, hallucinogens are the Opium Poppy, which is also a food plant in certain countries; Tobacco, though proved harmful its use is permitted, of course with a warning, but is not banned; and our very own Beatle Leaf used for its digestive aiding properties but can cause cancer of the mouth.

A hallucinogen after all is only a drug, a chemical compound. Like all medication that constitutes chemical compounds, there are the good ones and the bad. There are the ones that in controlled usage can be good, but could become addictive.

The law of the land will regulate its use or its non-use. The problem comes in when people take the law into their hands and behave in an anti social manner. No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society.

If we are looking for the source of our troubles, we should not look to drugs; instead, we should test the people for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power and ill-gotten wealth.

In the final analysis, there is nothing more worth than the sum of our experiences to put things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness; and to the healthy, intellectual mind. It will outweigh all other lucid existence, including those induced by hallucinogens.

For views, reviews, encomiums, and brickbats:

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