Communion Of Dreams

Legend of a Mind*

Almost 30 years ago I took psilocybin for the first time. I repeated the experience several times over the next couple of years, and have largely spent the time since making sense of the whole thing. Some of this is reflected in Communion of Dreams: descriptions of synesthesia in the book were based largely on my own experiences while under the influence of ‘shrooms, and the use of ‘auggies’ (drugs designed to increase neural processing) were also inspired by those experiences.

But the use of psychedelics was largely from another time. Not the first instance of my having been out-of-phase with the rest of society.

So it’s somewhat surprising to see new research being conducted using these drugs. Research which really should have been conducted decades ago, were it not for the paranoia of the “Just Say No!” years. This weekend’s edition of To The Best Of Our Knowledge provides a nice insight into this:

It’s taken decades for study of mind-altering drugs to be taken seriously. Now a handful of scientists are at the forefront of new research. One of them is Roland Griffiths is a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins. He’s just turned his attention to psilocybin, a classic hallucinogen commonly known as magic mushrooms. He tells Steve Paulson about his findings.


We hear a clip from Annie Levy who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the late stages she took part in an experimental study designed to see if taking psilocybin could help with the fear and panic about dying. In her case, taking a single dose was a life-changing experience in her final months.

It’s a shame, really, that the therapeutic use of hallucinogens has been stymied for so long. There is such a long tradition of using these drugs to access deeper insight and spirituality in many cultures that one is almost tempted to say that humankind’s evolution has been influenced by psychedelics as much as learning to use fire. That we have cut ourselves off from these natural psychotropics is a shame – and again is reflected in Communion of Dreams in how we have artificially lost part of our natural birthright.

Jim Downey

*From the Moody Blues, of course.

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