Psychedelic Mushrooms and You, Part Two

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“A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of spacetime dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures.” The Psychedelic Experience

This is an extension to my earlier post Psychedelic Mushrooms and You, which covered the process of finding, identifying, drying, and storing magic mushrooms found in the wild. That guide was written with the intention of making psychedelics more readily available to those seeking it with the hope that the information might open doors for those who were wanting to explore different planes of consciousness and not just get high for kicks. It also served the purpose of helping others become more capable in avoiding poisonous lookalikes, thus avoiding potential unnecessary deaths. Psychedelics can be a real game changer as far as your life is concerned; they can be fun, exciting, playful, weird, tense, frightening, expanding, contracting and everything else on the spectrum. At times taking psychedelics can be like putting your mind under under a microscope, or plugging it into an amplifier – it can and probably will confront you with yourself, and this can either enlighten or frighten the shit out of you depending on your level of preparation. It is for this reason that it is important to treat psychedelics with a great deal of respect, and one way of doing this is to mentally prepare yourself for the experience before you have it.

Note: a lot of the photos in this post were taken on an amazing mushroom trip I had in the spring of 2012, whilst road ‘tripping’ with two close friends through the great alpine road in a rented winnebago, which we affectionately named the ‘dojo’.

Contents

  • Page 1 - This page (Planning a session).
  • Page 2 - Choosing a psychedelic that’s right for you.
  • Page 3 - Preparing for takeoff.
  • Page 4 - Floating downstream.

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Child Development 101 – History and Theory

history and theory

The last subject we covered in university before I dropped out was child development – an area of psychology overflowing with zany theories and crazy ideas (cough, Freud, cough). In all seriousness though, child development is one of the most interesting topics in psychology to learn about and is also, arguably, the most important, as just about everything that we think and do today as adults has its roots dug firmly in our childhood.

While it might be too late for you to change your past, with some fundamental training in developmental psychology you should be able to raise your current or future children the best way they can be raised. Also, knowing how your past has shaped the person you are in the present is essential to mending history’s mistakes and moving on so that when the time comes to have children you are better equipped for the challenge. First, like with most things in life, we have to start slow, that is we gotta talk about the history! Walk with me, take the blue pill, and listen closely while I explain to you the fascinating story of psychology’s obsession with children, and their life journey from birth to neurosis.

By the end of this post on Child Development 101, you should be able to:

  1. Differentiate between the periods of development in one’s life.
  2. Understand the history of developmental psychology.
  3. Explain the different theories of development (eg: Freud’s psychosexual theory)
  4. Compare and contrast the different schools of thought in regards to development.

Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga (1985)

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‘Hammer of the Gods’ is the cult classic Led Zeppelin biography, famous for its unflinching portrayal of the band’s legendary exploits with groupies, orgies, violence, hotel destruction, black magic, and drugs. With this book, Stephen Davis captures the true spirit of the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” philosophy of the 70s and vomits it up on the curb for all to see. If you have an aversion to seeing the word ‘fuck’ in print, or to reading descriptions of groupies getting fucked by dead sharks and whipped by live octopi, then definitely do not read Hammer of the Gods. Wild offstage behaviour aside, Stephen Davis expertly documents the bands musical career from their Yardbirds beginnings right through to their tragic breakup after John Bonham’s death in 1980 and Page’s descent into a daily heroin addiction that lasted seven years. Stephen Davis covers the musical side of the Led Zeppelin saga very well and dissects each of the albums they put out song by song, and also details the set lists of some of their key live performances out of the 600+ they performed during 1968-1971 and their tours in 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1979. The author has updated the book since its original publication to include extra chapters detailing the post-Zeppelin days, up to and including their 2007 reunion concert; however, most of this material is boring and unnecessary (it mainly focuses on Robert Plant’s solo career because Page was too strung out on heroin and John Paul Jones was too much of a recluse for either of them to have done anything interesting) and I found myself speed reading the rest of it till I hit the finish line. Besides the boring new material (Part 3: Hammer of Robert Plant) the rock biography lives up to all its hype and made for a very entertaining travel read (I read it in Japan). I’ll close by recommending a couple of Led Zeppelin live albums to buy or download should your ears be unfortunate enough to not have met with their music.

The Song Remains the Same
How the West Was Won

* * * * 4 stars 

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‘King Crimson’ in 7 Songs

King_Crimson_Islands_CoverKing Crimson were a progressive rock band from the late 60s spearheaded by the eccentric and musically gifted Robert Fripp on lead guitar. The band went through a few key lineup changes and were constantly pushing the envelope with their sound. They were also primarily a live band and produced their most powerful and exciting music on the stage, something that cannot be replicated in the studio, but the magic is still there. Seeing as their true greatness was heard and seen live (something few people getting into the band realise) I’ll only use live performances to paint a canvas of the greatness that was/is King Crimson. The rules are simple, only 7 songs and they must highlight the band’s peak musical period. If you are not a fan after listening to these songs then King Crimson are definitely not for you. Enjoy.

1. 21st Century Schizoid Man [1968] - From their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, it is arguably their most famous song, and certainly the one that put them in the limelight. The great thing about this song is how it disguises itself as a typical rock song but develops into an intricately woven masterpiece. The song alternates between standard 4/4 timing and 6/8, and towards the end is entirely in free form.

For more great live versions check out the albums ‘Nightwatch‘ (possibly their best live album) and USA. The best version I’ve ever heard is on their album ‘Earthbound‘, but unfortunately it also has the poorest quality; however the sax solo more than makes up for this minor shortcoming as it will likely send shivers down your spine.

2. Ladies of the Road [1971] - The first lineup put out two more albums and then made its first personnel change, resulting in the album Islands. This song is a funky rock n roll number that captures the band’s live sound at the time quite well.

3. Larks’ Tongue in Aspic Part II [1973] - In 1973 the lineup changed again, and this third lineup is widely regarded as the ‘golden era’ of King Crimson and I certainly agree. It was radically different from the other incarnations and was the first without saxophone or woodwind instruments, and the first to really embrace dynamic improvisation. The band now consisted of Robert Fripp on guitar, both Jamie Muir and Bill Bruford (of Yes) on drums, John Wetton on bass and vocals, and David Cross on violin. The album Larks’ Tongue in Aspic was highly experimental and progressive, and the song I’m showcasing, part two of a four-part suite, shows a very early seed of Heavy Metal.

4. Easy Money [1973]

This song, also from the Larks’ Tongue in Aspic album displays three things, 1. the band’s ability to create atmosphere, 2. their knack for improvising, and 3. the powerful rhythm section of Wetton and Bruford.

5. Fracture [1974] - After the release of the previous album, percussionist Jamie Muir left the band for personal reasons and left King Crimson as a quartet. Their next album, Starless and Bible Black, was sculpted from live performances and refined to sound like a studio album. This is the era of King Crimson at their most mind-blowing, and features their best live work. A box set titled ‘The Great Deceiver’ showcases all of their standout live shows from this period. The song Fracture is a brilliant showcase of Robert Fripp’s total virtuosity on the guitar and often sounds like two guitars are playing at the same time. How he played this live without making any mistakes is something that keeps me up at night.

6. Starless [1974] - Their next album, Red, is easily their most commercial and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. It is very easy accessible and regarded as one of their best; Kurt Cobain of Nirvana cited it as one his favourite albums. It resulted from Robert Fripp’s temporary ego loss due his following of the Gurdjieff Self Observation method and his subsequent lack of involvement in the band for the duration of the album’s recording. He gave the reigns to the other members and without Fripp’s iron fist they produced a diamond.
The song Starless is sad in tone but builds up to an explosive crescendo leading to an even more potent climax. Watch the chemistry between the players, the interaction between drums, bass, guitar and violin is second to none.

7. Elephant Talk [1981] – After 1975 King Crimson disbanded and wasn’t heard from again until 1980, with a new lineup featuring Fripp on guitar, Bruford on drums, Adrian Belew (Talking Heads/Frank Zappa) on guitars/vocals and Tony Levin on bass/chapman stick. By this stage King Crimson had abandoned its grungy edge in favour of a more 80s synth like approach. The band was injected with Adrian Belew’s ‘Talking Heads’ style and fused with Robert Fripp’s crazy polyrhythms and resulted in a totally unique synthesis. This is the era that influenced Tool the most because of the complex rhythm work, though they were also definitely influenced by the raw Larks’ Tongue in Aspic era sound.

King Crimson continued to play well into the 90s and are still playing today, but these 7 songs (I feel) capture the essence of the band at their best.

Prometheus Rising (1983)

PROM_RISE_TAPE Prometheus Rising (1983) by Robert Anton Wilson is a mind-blowing neuropsychological manual on how to reprogram your own brain. The book combines Timothy Leary’s Eight Circuit model of consciousness, psychological imprinting and conditioning theory, Gurdjief’s self-observation exercises, Quantum Mechanics, Yoga, Cybernetics, Freudian psychoanalysis, sociobiology, psychedelics, Alfred Korzybski’s general semantics and much more to construct a strange but enlightening lens for viewing the world and our place in it. Prometheus Rising began as Wilson’s Ph.D. dissertation called “The Evolution of Neuro-Sociological Circuits: A Contribution to the Sociobiology of Consciousness” in 1978-79 for University Paideia, but in 1982 Wilson rewrote the manuscript for commercial publication by removing footnotes, adding chapters and exercises, sketching out diagrams and illustrations, and injecting plenty of humour. Oh, and he threw in a chapter on how to brainwash yourself and others titled ‘How to Wash Brains and Robotize People’.

Each chapter in Prometheus Rising sets up and explains in detail one of the Eight Circuits of the brain that governs our consciousness and moulds the ego or sense of self that we identify with. Drawing from Piaget’s Stages of Development, Wilson suggests that at different points in our life we are subject to a period of ‘imprint vulnerability’, which is when our brains are susceptible to rapid hard-wired learning that shapes all subsequent learning or conditioning. At these moments a certain thought system or behaviour is imprinted in one of the eight circuits. For example, Konrad Loranz found that the newborn gosling (baby goose) is vulnerable to imprinting a protective mother entity immediately after hatching. During this vulnerable period, anything roughly matching the genetic archetype will be imprinted. These experiments resulted in Lorenz having geese following him around thinking he was their mother, and he also reported a gosling that imprinted a ping-pong ball and followed it about attempting to nest with it and vocalizing to it as it would toward a real Mother Goose. Evidently, the fact that the ping pong ball has a round white body, like a Mother Goose, was enough to trigger the genetic imprinting process.

Wilson insists that the model is not to be taken too seriously and is merely a map that can help guide us, and often reminds us that ‘the map is not the territory’, or ‘the menu is not the meal’. The eight circuits, as outlined by Wilson are as follows:

1 – The Oral Bio-Survival Circuit - This is imprinted by the mother or the first mothering object and conditioned by subsequent nourishment or threat. It is primarily concerned with sucking, feeding, cuddling, and body security. It retreats mechanically from the noxious or predatory – or from anything associated (by imprinting or conditioning) with the noxious or predatory.

2 – The Anal Emotional-Territorial Circuit - This is imprinted in the ‘Toddling’ stage when the infant rises up, walks about and begins to struggle for power within the family structure. This mostly mammalian circuit processes territorial rules, emotional games, or cons, pecking order and rituals for domination or submission.

3 – The Time-Binding Semantic Circuit – This is imprinted and conditioned by human artifacts and symbol systems. It ‘handles’ and ‘packages’ the environment, classifying everything according to the local reality tunnel. Invention, calculation, prediction and transmitting signals across generations are its functions.

4 –  The ‘Moral’ Socio-Sexual Circuit – This is imprinted by the first orgasm-mating experiences at puberty and is conditioned by tribal taboos. It processes sexual pleasure, local definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, reproduction, adult-parental personality (sex role) and nurture of the young.

The development of these circuits as the brain evolved through evolution, and as each domesticated primate (human) brain recapitulates evolution in growing from infancy to adulthood, makes possible gene-pool survival, mammalian sociobiology (pecking order, or politics) and transmission of culture. The second group of four brain circuits is much newer, and each circuit exists at present only in minorities. Where the antique circuits recapitulate evolution-to-the-present, these futuristic circuits precapitulate our future evolution.

5 – The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit – This is imprinted by ecstatic experience, via biological or chemical yogas. It processes neurosomatic (‘mind-body’) feedback loops, somatic-sensory bliss, feeling ‘high’, ‘faith-healing,’ etc. Christian Science, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and holistic medicine consist of tricks or gimmicks to get this circuit into action at least temporarily; Tantra yoga is cocnerned with shifting consciousness entirely into this circuit.

6 – The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit - This is imprinted by advanced yogas (bio-chemical – electrical stresses). It processes DNA-RNA-brain feedback systems and is ‘collective’ in that it contains and has access to the whole evolutionary ‘script’, past and future. Experience of this circuit is numinous, ‘mystical,’ mind-shattering; here dwell the archetypes of Jung’s Collective Unconscious – Gods, Godesses, Demons, Hairy Dwarfs and other personifications of the DNA programs (instincts) that govern us.

7 – The Meta-programming Circuit – This is imprinted by very advanced yogas. It consists, in modern terms, of cybernetic consciousness, reprogramming and reimprinting all other circuits, even reprogramming itself, making possible conscious choice between alternative universes or reality tunnels.

8 – The Non-Local Quantum Circuit – This is imprinted by Shock, by ‘near-death’ or ‘clinical death’ experience, by OOBEs (out-of-body-experiences), by trans-time perceptions (‘precognition’), by trans-space visions (ESP), etc. It tunes the brain into the non-local quantum communication system suggested by physicists such as Bohm, Walker, Sarfatti, Bell, etc.

Prometheus Rising is a groundbreaking work that will make you rethink and reinterpret your belief systems and quite possibly transform your entire thought process from the ground up. If you dogmatically hold onto one map of reality then you might find the book confronting as it demands a flexible perspective. If this sounds like the book for you you can read it for free in pdf form here.

 * * * * * 5 stars 

DIY Effects Pedalboard

gormIf you’re a guitarist then you might agree that one of the most satisfying things about playing the instrument is getting a sweet tone. Whether you’re attempting to emulate the tone of a favourite guitarist, or sculpt a unique one for yourself, getting a good sound out of your guitar is probably the most essential aspect of playing, and so in your search for the ultimate tone you’ll likely find yourself hunting for some effects pedals to open up your sonic palette. Over the years I’ve acquired a decent collection of pedals, and while it was easily manageable when I only had a wah and overdrive pedal, once the rest started rolling in I found myself tangled in cables and power adaptors. I knew I needed a pedalboard but as didn’t want to spend $200+ on one I instead chose to deal with the chaos I had created. That was until a few weeks ago when I happened upon a post at the harmony central forums about a guy who constructed a pedal board using a $10 shelf unit from IKEA. The shelf in question is called a GORM (who the fuck names these things?) and this cheap DIY pedalboard has inspired literally hundreds of people to create their own.

gorm pedalboard

the original GORM pedalboard

Before I detail my little DIY odyssey I’ll quickly share with you the pedals I have in my collection and the order I’ve placed them in the signal chain. I’ll also say a few words about each pedal.

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