The seers and oracles

An evocative passage from the 1976 book Hallucinogens and Shamanism about the use of the hallucinogenic Psilocybe mexicana mushroom by the Mazatec people of Mexico.

The Mazatecs say that the mushrooms speak. If you ask a shaman where his imagery comes from, he is likely to reply: I didn’t say it, the mushrooms did. The shamans who eat them; their function is to speak, they are the speakers who chant and sing the truth, they are the oral poets of their people, the doctors of the word, they who tell what is wrong and how to remedy it, the seers and oracles, the ones possessed by the voice.


Link to details of book.

3 thoughts on “The seers and oracles”

  1. This is a nice fit with ideas along the lines of “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”. Homer’s heroes supposedly are never described as feeling anger, etc.: where we would expect that, there is a description of a god speaking, like the mushrooms.
    If our descendants make a transition to self-perception as a “Society of Mind”, they will be as alien to us as we are to shamans and Agamemnon.

    1. Provocative idea, Tim, especially combining concepts from both Julian Jaynes and Marvin Minsky! Perhaps a missing component for this “evolution”, that’s already on the horizon, is the apparent rapid increase in the birth of Aspergers children (aka, hi-functioning Autism). This is mostly occurring in places like Silicon Valley where their similarly Aspie parents gifts for memory, obsession with detail and “over-focus”, are being well-rewarded in fields like computer technology and programming.
      Only it’s recently been noticed that now aprox. 1-in-every-10 of these newer generations of Aspie kids, has all the usual “gifts”, often including photographic memory and very high IQ’s (sometimes off the charts)… except now they no longer have the autistic “disabilities”, like the pronounced withdrawal or lack of social communication skills. In other words our technology seems to be evolving us! And one can only imagine what it will be like as these new Aspie “hybrid” kids age and start reproducing in sufficient numbers to become a self-sustaining “culture” of their own…. perhaps not unlike the way Homo Sapiens once overtook Neanderthals.

      1. maybe they’ll become a mutant class like the alphas & deltas. They’ll be represented (exploited?) by a facilitator/ leasing company that offers special functions like honeypot or soldier ants. Humans put a lot of stock in mental ability, it seems unlikely they would pass up possible marketability, maybe an autistic think tank to orient the geeks at DARPA.

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