Friday, 26 December 2008

Can liberty caps liberate remote memories?

Well much like the myth of Santa Claus being based upon the shamanic use of the psychedelic mushrooms, Christmas has generously provided us with the announcement of the first official UK research project into the use of psychedelic mushrooms with humans since prohibition. After a long hiatus of about 40 years, official human research with psychedelics is about to resume in the UK following a collaboration between a leading London research institute (presently undisclosed to deter negative media) and the Beckley Foundation of Oxford, a leading drug policy think tank and foundation for the research of consciousness and its altered states.

Certain types of magic mushrooms such as Psilocybe semilanceata (known as the 'liberty cap'), in which the chemical psilocybin is found, grow naturally in the UK, one of the country’s few indigenous psychoactive plants. Yet the consumption of dried mushrooms in the UK has been illegal for decades and, tying up a loophole in the law, the picking and consumption of fresh psilocybin-containing mushrooms was made illegal in 2005.

Resuming the scientific psychedelic research that was stopped by prohibition virtually the world over in the late 1960s, the Beckley Foundation (logo pictured above) has initiated a research project at a leading London academic institution into the potentially beneficial effects of psilocybin on psychophysiology and consciousness.

The project is entitled “A study investigating changes in blood flow and remote memory access brought about by psilocybin” and aims to investigate the reported effects that psilocybin has in helping people access forgotten memories, which, along with the profound mystical experiences that can be occasioned with psilocybin may have great potential in helping people in psychotherapy, particularly for resolving trauma-related anxiety disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In their Christmas newsletter the Beckley Foundation wrote “This study will investigate, with the latest brain imaging technology, both the changes in cerebral blood flow brought about by psilocybin and how psilocybin affects regional activation and emotional responses. In so doing, this study will help inform the psychotherapeutic applications for this fascinating and important compound.

Santa rides 'high' on (mushroom) clouds

At Christmas time it is always worthwhile pondering the origins of certain myths, such as our dear old philanthropic friend Santa Claus. Over the years similarities have been made between Santa’s antics and the activities of Siberian shamans, who consume the red and white-spotted psychedelic mushroom, Amanita muscaria, for 'magical' purposes.

For instance it is known that reindeer eat the mushroom and that eating the flesh or even drinking the urine (the liver transforms the mushrooms’ ibotenic acid into the even more psychoactive muscimol) of such ‘flying’ reindeer can give rise to 'profound' changes in consciousness. So not only do the reindeer fly, but with their help so can the Siberian shaman. One of the roles of the shaman is to bring back wisdom and healing from the other side (the underworld or the upperworld), and these can be considered as 'gifts' for the health of the community. So why does Santa wear that silly red and white outfit, and why is he helped by elves? Surely there can’t be anything shamanic about old Santa,... can there?