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Man, Culture and Hallucinogens: An Overview PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Cannabis and Culture
Written by Marlene Dobkin de Rios   

This paper, a summary of a monograph prepared for the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, on the non-Western use of hallucinatory agents, assembles data on a dozen societies of the world where plant hallucinogens have been central to religious and healing activity. The societies have been chosen with regard to their placement along an evolutionary continuum, as well as the adequacy of available data on drug use. The paper delineates themes common to many drug-using societies, especially insofar as cultural variables such as belief systems, values, expectations and attitude,s contribute to the structuring of one of the most subjective experiences available to scientific inquiry.

In recent decades, there has been a resurgent interest in hallucinogenic drugs. In particular, scholars have seen a need to reexamine the anthro-pological record in order to assess the global significance of drug-induced hallucinatory phenomena. Unlike their scientific colleagues interested in hallucinatory phenomena, anthropologists are less able to design re-search experiments to measure the effects of cultural variables on drug-induced altered states of consciousness due to the very nature of the fieldwork method. Although engrossed in a natural laboratory study where primitive and peasant peoples of the world utilize plants to induce visionary experience for specific cultural goals, the anthropologist none-theless can still contribute to a general theory of hallucinations.

This paper will address itself to several topics : first, the important role of cultural variables such as belief systems, attitudes, expectations and values in structuring the patterning of drug-induced hallucinatory ex-perience; second, some common themes linked to traditional societies that use plant hallucinogens. These pandemic themes emerged from a recent report prepared for the National Comission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse on the non-Western use of hallucinatory agents (Dobkin de Rios 1973a). Finally, in order to obtain a more predictable index of collective visionary experience in diverse societies where plant halluci-nogens are used, a model of drug effects is developed to take into account the importance of antecedent cultural variables, first discussed by Wal-lace (1959).


To those involved in studies of drug-induced hallucinations in a Western clinical setting, the idea that hallucinations are culturally patterned may appear to be something of an anomaly. Certainly, even a casual perusal of published drug effects in Western middle-class patients indicates a most idiosyncratic series of reports (cf. Ebin 1961; Aaronson and Osmond 1970). Yet, individuals who are reared in a society where hallucinatory drugs have been used traditionally, enter a drug experience witIrtertain expectations about the content and form of drug-induced visionary experience : this is especially so when specific beliefs are held and the individual's experience is programmed by a skillful shaman or priest.

In this section, I would like to summarize my research on hallucinogen-ic use in traditional society, as well as my field research in the Peruvian coast, and in the Amazon city of Iquitos where a transitional Indian group used an hallucinogen, ayahuasca (containing various Banisteriopsis species) in folk healing. I will also focus on a few studies that validate the hypothesis that culture is a determinant of the stereotyping of hallu-cinatory visons. These expected drug visions have been found among a diverse number of the world's people who have used plants for their un-usual properties, as a way to identify the source of bewitchment in illness; to see special divinities; to learn the ways of the animals they hunt; to divine the future ; and in general, to place oneself in communication with the supernatural.

The following societies will be discussed to illustrate the production of stereotypic visions among individuals who use hallucinatory plants for cultural goal-oriented behavior : the Siberian reindeer herders, the Shagana-Tsonga of the Transvaal, the Amahuaca of the northwest Amazon, the Mestizos of the north coast of Peru, and the Peruvian rain forest transitional Indians.

Many more can be added to the list, while still others can only be guessed at, because the use of hallucinogens often leaves only a faint tremor in the archeological record (Dobkin de Rios 1973b, 1974). As Blum (1969) has shown in an attempt to utilize the Human Relations Area File (with a sample of 247 societies coded for easy retrieval of pertinent drug information), data on hallucinogenic drugs were both inadequate when available and frequently distorted or unclear. Cultural bias on the part of the Western observer who was often sensitive only to the mind-altering substances of alcohol and tobacco (Janiger and Dobkin de Rios 1973) has led to a real problem in cross-cultural analysis. It is only in recent years that these problems are being overcome, as a series of publications focusing in depth on drug use in traditional non-Western societies are being published (Castaneda 1968, 1971, 1972; Fernandez 1972; Emboden 1972; Dobkin de Rios 1972a, b, c; Furst 1972; Heim and Wasson 1958; Harner 1968, 1973). Moreover, anthropologists are beginning to get their feet wet, so to speak, by trying the plant halluci-nogens that their informants speak of, and reporting their own experi-ences in contrast to those of their subjects (Dobkin de Rios 1972a; Harner 1968). Others like Castaneda have become apprentices to drug-dispensing shamans in a long-term, truly heroic attempt to obtain the insiders' view.

Case Studies of Cultural Patterning of Plant Hallucinatory Phenomena

Looking at a pastoral people first, the Siberian reindeer herdsmen of the Eurasian continent, we find reports of the cultural patterning of visionary experience due to the ingestion of the colorful mushroom, fly agaric (Amanita muscaria). Although Russian contact in 1589 drastically al-tered traditional culture and literally wiped out the use of the fly agaric mushroom (by replacing it with cheap and readily available vodka), some reports have come down, as early as the seventeenth century, which describe the last remains of drug use among these nomadic peoples. R. Gordon Wasson and his wife have written an important book (1957), Russia, mushrooms and history, in which they reproduce many of the early reports on the fly agaric. Some of these are summarized below (Ibid.: 233-338).

Visionary effects include the production of macropsia or micropsia, which entails seeing objects very large or quite small. Koryak shamans used the plants to communicate with malevolent beings, called nimvits. After consuming the plant, the shaman falls into a trance, at which time he enters another world and arranges meetings with dead kinsmen who give him instructions. Another group, the Chukchee, report a series of plant spirits who reside within the plant and tell the ingestor what to do.

The visions are seen to personify the mushroom and the mushroom men who appear are numbered according to the number of plants eaten. The shaman is taken by the arm and accompanied on a voyage through the world, filled with real and unreal forces. These creatures, reported by Bogaras, follow intricate paths and visit places where the dead reside (cited in Wasson and Wasson 1957 : 276).

The Yurak Samoyed, too, see man-like creatures appear before them when they ingest the fly agaric mushroom. The creatures run quickly along a path set by the sun and the intoxicated person follows closely behind them. To quote one author, Lehtisalo, "along the way the spirits of the fly agaric tell the shaman what he wants to know, e.g., the possibili-ties of curing a sick person. When they come out into the light again, there is a pole with seven holes and cords. After the magician ties up the spirits, the intoxication leaves him and he awakens. Now he sits down, takes in his hand the symbol of the Pillar of the World, the four-sided staff with seven slanting crosses cut into each side and he sings of what he has seen" (Wasson and Wasson 1957: 280).

Moving to the African continent, we find the Shagana-Tsonga, of the northern Transvaal, who use a plant hallucinogen, Datura Fatuosa to achieve a religious experience during female initiation at puberty. A student of mine, Johnston (1973) has written about a girl's puberty rite in which the plant is admir,istered to young women ceremonially, in order to ensure communication with an ancestor god who grants fertility. Johnston has pointed out how the utilization of the Datura plant in the puberty school is culturally patterned in the direction of fertility, and represents an attempt to ensure the attainment of this primary goal. Stereotypic visions as well as auditory hallucinations are important to the young women. Hearing ancestral voices while under the effects of the drug is a cultural goal highlighted during symbolic ceremonial activity.

During the ritual, an initiate lies in a quasi-foetal position on a palm-leaf mat at first, during a dance which simulates childbirth. This is the part of the life cycle emphasized by the puberty school in preparing initiates for marriage. A series of ritual activities ensue prior to the in-gestion of the plant which Johnston argues is done to condition the attitudes, expectancies and motivations of the initiates toward achieving certain culturally-valued goals — namely, the fertility god. The plant is administered to the initiates and the female leader officiating suggests to the girls that they will hear the voice of the ancestor god. Drumming and special music follows, while each initiate in turn is wrapped in a multi-colored blanket on the mat. Chanting continues, and the initiates report seeing mavalavala — bluish-green colored patterns, which are said to be fantasy journeys. Johnston likens this to a common house snake found in the area, believed to be a reincarnation of the ancestors. This vision is believed to hasten the hearing of the ancestral voices which assure the initiates of fertility.

Turning now to the cultural patterning of drug visions in Peru, I would like to cite two studies of mine, one among a Mestizo agricultural group in the north coast, and another among a transitional Indian group in the Peruvian Amazon city of Iquitos (Dobkin de Rios 1968a, b, 1970a, b, 1972a, c, 1973b). In both areas, plant hallucinogens are used in folk healing. In the north coast of Peru, a mescaline cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi), along with v arious Datura plants are used. In the tropical rain forest, ayahuasca (various Banisteriopsis species) is made into a drink used to heal illness. The plants are not viewed as curative agents, per se, in both areas, but rather as important divinatory and revelatory aids. Both coastal and rain forest healers use the mescaline and harmine substances to diagnose the cause of illness set within a magical framework of disease etiology. In the coastal region, healers use the halrucinogenic drink made from the cactus to obtain visions of which remedies, herbs, or pharma-ceutical medicines they should prescribe for their patients. Coastal healers report that ritual polished stones, present on their healing table (mesa) can assume forms of plants and animal familiars to do their bidding in retribu-tion against the cause of evil responsible for their client's illness. In the rain forest,- the plants are used mainly to reveal the agent or person respon-sible for bewitching the patient before any therapeutic action can be taken.

Cultural stereotypic visions are most complete for the ayahuasca materials. Informants report a series of stereotypic visions with great frequency and jungle creatures such as boa constrictors and viperous snakes are said to appear before a man or woman while under the effects of ayahuasca. Although some people claim that the plant did not cause any visionary effects, most spoke of river and forest animals that filled their mind's eye. Often, the person responsible for bewitching them would appear in front of them. Others reported a panorama of activity in which a person would express his innermost thoughts toward the patient, such as sexual desire, vengeance or hate. At times, reports appeared of a person manufacturing a medicine which he slipped into a drink at a party, or threw across a doorstep late at night. In all cases, however, these patterned visions had to be interpreted by an experienced ayahuasca healer, so that he could lay the blame for the cause of illness definitely at the foot of some evildoer or maleficent spirit. The healer was not believed able to deflect the evil magic or neutralize its effects until it was clearly established what or who was responsible for its origin.

A frequent occurrence would be the appearance of a friend or acquaint-ance, or perhaps a relative, who might laugh sardonically at the patient. At times, only part of a body would appear in the vision and would later be identified by the healer. Part of the effectiveness of the healer was his omnipotence and the generally held belief that he would be able to re-turn the evil to its sender and cure the person of the powerful magic that was responsible for this illness.

A particularly important stereotypic vision concerned the boa:

... A commonly reported vision is that a very large snake enters the circle around which a person is seated in the jungle or else enters a room where one is taking ayahuasca. If the patient is not frightened by this creature, the snake begins to teach the person his song... A frightening vision is often described in which a boa enters the patient's mouth. Often identified as the Yacumama of folklore, these boa constrictors are, in everyday life, enough to cause horror to the most stout-hearted person. Although poisonless, such a creature measures over 25 feet long and one foot wide. Its force is prodigious and people say it can eat animals of great size. If a person is able to remain cool and not panic, this is a sign that he will be cured. As the boa enters one's body, it is a further omen to the man or woman with such expectations that he will be protected by the ayahuasca spirit. (Dobkin de Rios 1972a :120.)

Another rain forest group, the Amahuaca, is reported in a personal narrative of some beauty by a man who was captured by the Indians and eventually became an ayahuasca-using shaman (Cordova-Rios 1971). Describing the widespread use of the plant hallucinogen among these semi-nomadic, horticultural and hunting people, Cordova-Rios indicates how cultural antecedent variables played an important role in Amahuaca drug visions. He points out that the Indians used the plant for culturally-specified goals, namely, to obtain insight into the habits and peculiarities of the animals they hunt as well as to facilitate inter-group relations and aid them in achieving political harmony. Poetically, Cordova-Rios gives us a chant used to evoke stereotypic visions, which shows how the Ama-huaca used ayahuasca "to acquire the stealth of the boa, the sight of the hawk, the acute hearing of the deer, the endurance of the tapir, the strength of the jaguar, and the knowledge and tranquility of the moon" (1971:81).

This brief summary points out that various cultures which have utilized hallucinogenic plants often expect and indeed report hallucinatory visions that have definite cultural tuition, and that these visions, it must be once again stressed, are patterned and stereotypic. One might even state that a study of hallucinogenic use in Western society where so-called idio-syncratic reports occur, would turn up some kind of patterning from multitudinous reports. Grof (1972) has made a first step in this direction in his analysis of LSD intoxication among over 2,000 patients he treated.

Given the occurrence of cultural determinants of the patterning of visionary experience, it is interesting to examine a series of common themes among such drug-using societies.


It is quite possible that the reasons similar themes have emerged among a dozen societies of the world may be due to coincidence. Possibly, diffusion may be at work. A third explanation is that the biological parameters of psychotropic drugs affect man's central nervous system in a similar fashion This may set the stage for similarities in cultural elaboration of a finite number of symbols.2 Physiological factors such as increased pulse rate and tachycardia may find their way into a mytho-poetic theme of aerial voyage or floating through the air. However, I would choose not to take the simple biochemical reductionist route. Fernandez' (1972: 239) discussion of man's behavior as either instrument-al or expressive is pertinent here. While instrumental behavior may change nature, the latter is a reflection of man's inner states which are projected outward onto nature.

Still-another explanation is possible and comes from the work of Cas-taneda. He argues that we are indeed victimized by our culture (in this case the scientific paradigm of what is reality) and in fact, there are other ways of perceiving the world. Perhaps, one might argue, we should be paying more attention to the content of belief systems rather than their structure, in that beliefs concerning paranormal phenomena in Western culture are only just beginning to be amenable to technologically-sophis-ticated analysis. For example, many would agree that acupunture achieves healing results, although we have no acceptable explanation within the scientific paradigm for how it operates. Discussions of hallucinogenic drug use as a threshold to paranormal phenomena are beginning to re-ceive serious treatment in the literature (Grof 1972, cited in Long 1973). The years ahead may find verification that indeed primitive man had the inside track in some areas whose present validity is subject to doubt.

A. Perception of Time and Hallucinogenic Drug Use

As Eliade (1957:170) has written, one of the major characteristics of the sacred realm in traditional religions deals with man's experiencing of time. Perhaps the circularity and reversible elements of time, in which an eter-nal mythical present exists which primitive man periodically reintegrated into his religious rites, has been influenced by the use of plant hallucinogens in various societies. One of the foremost characteristics of such drug use entails the perception of time, which slows up almost to an imperceptible flow, or else is experienced indescribably fast (Ludwig 1969:13-14).

B. Animals and Hallucinogenic Drug Use

Animals seem to have played a vital role in teaching or revealing to man the properties of plant hallucinogens. Evidence is growing that animals indeed seek out psychotropic experiences (Ron Siegel, U.C.L.A., personal communication). Several societies who use plant hallucinogens have reported learning about drug plants from deer, reindeer or wileboars in their environment. Despite the apparent non-adaptive aspects of such animal behavior, this behavior is widespread. The observation by man of psychotropic drug use in animals is interesting to examine and may point out the antiquity of drug use in human society, since hunters and gatherers may have been the ones to observe animal plant use most care-fully and imitate this behavior.

C. Music and Hallucinogenic Drug Use

A recurrent theme is the important role of music as an accompaniment to hallucinogenic drug sessions. In some reports, we find that healers or sorcerers claim that their musical productions evoke certain stereo-typic visions.

Sometimes the music (i.e., singing, whistling, drumming, etc.) may be viewed as necessary to attain certain cultural goals such as seeing the person responsible for bewitchment, aiding in curing, foreseeing the future, etcetera. Fred Katz, an ethnomusicologist, and I analyzed tropical rain forest music from ayahuasca sessions (1971) and found that music can play a crucial role in bridging ordinary and non-ordinary realms of consciousness. The production of acute anxiety often accompanies access to these non-ordinary realms. Since the physiological effects of halluci-nogenic plants tend to alter basic structures of perception, music, in a manner of speaking, replaces part of the structure and operates as what we have called a "jungle jim" of the unconscious, providing a series of pathways and banisters implicit in the unconscious structure of music itself (cf. Katz and Dobkin de Rios 1974).

D. Spiritual Animation of Hallucinogenic Plants

A common theme linked to hallucinogenic plant use deals with animated spirits of hallucinogenic plants. At times, these spirit animators are seen to be small — miniscule in size. Or else, they may be giant-like. Such visionary experience in psychiatric literature has been given the term micropsia or macropsia. Barber (1970) argues that the near universal reporting of small or very large figures in the wake of LSD-like experience can be related to a physiological phenomena where pupillary activity is altered in complex ways. Thus, we find reports of the yagé men, small people of the mushroom, tiny hekula spirits, etc. Hallucinogenic sub-stances also seem to enhance visual effects by changing retinal image, permitting the appearance of geometric forms and patterns almost universally reported in the wake of use of LSD-like substances. In effect, these perceptions are the physiological structures in one's own visual system, including lattices, cones, cylinders and other geometrics, now suddenly amenable to observation under the effects of the drug (Ibid.: 32).

E. Animal Familiars and Plant Hallucinogens

Shamanic transformations into animal familiars, aided by potions of hallucinogenic derivation, are common themes in drug-using societies, particularly in the New World. Pitt-Rivers has discussed some Cen-tral American beliefs in such spirit familiars and shamanic transfor-mations (1972) which are quite generalizable to the drug experience (Dobkin de Rios 1973a). Where these beliefs exist, we find the shaman certain that he can control and beckon a series of familiars for his own personal use in curing or bewitching. It is possible that themes of shaman-ic transformation may be related to drug reports when one image often remains in the mind's eye while a second is superimposed upon it. The first then fades away. Such an illusion of man-animal transformation may have given rise to this common theme. The relationship of the shaman to his animal familiar(s) may indicate a mirror into the shaman's psychic need, to have some ontological security to permit him to control the world in which he lives. The shaman's unconscious feelings and needs may have been projected outward to the forces of nature to enable him to believe that his world is understandable and chartered and that he will not founder on its shoals. In this context, belief in spirit helpers stereo-typically found in hallucinogenic visions enables man to put on a good face and go about the business of hunting, staying alive, curing illness and incapacitating one's enemies.

F. Cultural Evolution and Plant Hallucinogens

We can plot differences in hallucinogenic drug use from simple hunting and gathering societies to those of greater social stratification and com-plexity. With stratified societies, drug use seems to have been eliminated or in name, at least, removed from widespread use — usurped by special-ized segments who controlled drug use as part of their sumptuary laws. Unauthorized drug use under these circumstances may have become a crime against the commonwealth (Harner 1970, personal communica-tion). It may be that man's belief in his ability to bewitch an enemy and cause his death, the heritage of the power of the plant, could be dangerous to members of stratified society. In a state-level society, if a peasant shaman were permitted to continue using drug plants where beliefs existed that he could bewitch a state administrator, legitimate power may have been viewed as in jeopardy. Once usurpation of hallucinogens by higher ranking segn-ients of society occur, we find the quick demise of drug knowledge predictable once cultural change in the form of conquest, colonialism, etc., occurs. Esoteric knowledge may not diffuse to the folk level again from whence it surely originated. It is possible that histbrical reports of drug use tend to be most complete at societal levels where hallucinogenic plants are in general use rather than among larger, more complex societies where only special castes may have employed the drug for communal or private ends. This problem of elite use of drugs occurred in my study of the Maya (1973b) where the very nature of hieratic structure may have been responsible for our lack of knowledge about Maya drug use until an analysis of their art became the vehicle to speculate on such use.

G. Paranormal Phenomena and Plant Hallucinogens
Although a near-universal theme linked to hallucinogenic plant use concerns the power of these plants to bestow divinatory success, there is little within the scientific paradigm to explain this often reported phe-nomenon. Grof claims to have isolated a brain wave pattern in LSD intoxication that operates as a threshold state to paranormal phenomena (cited in Long 1972); the years ahead should see further investigation of this area. Although there is no specific data on this point, the anthropo-logical record does provide an interesting mainspring for analysis, since one of the principal reasons that shamans use hallucinogenic plants is to predict the future.

H. Sexual Abstinence, Preparatory Diets, and Plant Hallucinogens
Sexual activity may be discouraged in drug-using societies in order to canalize libidinal energy toward interior states of contemplation. Perhaps discharge of such sexual energy is viewed as detracting from the drug experience itself. As far as diets are concerned, various drug-using societies are concerned about food ingested prior to hallucinogenic experiences, perhaps in an effort to heighten the effects of the drug. The main effect of both sexual restraint and particular diets and food taboos, at another level, however, seems to be to shroud the actual experience in an aura of the unusual, the special, the non-ordinary. Thus, when the initiate or shaman comes to the experience, his expectations of entry into distinctive realms of consciousness is high, and he is, in effect, psychologically as well as physically prepared to encounter the experiences shortly to unfold.


Although the above makes no pretense to be an exhaustive list of hallu-cinogenic themes, it should serve to make generally clear to the anthropol-ogist interested in recording hallucinogenic drug use in non-Western society certain themes that might be pursued.


As many writers since mid-century have pointed out, the ingestion of a plant hallucinogen is, in itself, hardly responsible for the ensuing drug effect. Since early reliable studies of hallucinogens, we know that the actual drug effects are mediated by setting and set, as well' as a host of additional factors such as belief systems and values connected to the plant's use. Following Barber's formulation (1970: 8), these antecedent variables interact with the consequent relations of the drug. It is only by subsuming the antecedent-consequent relations under general princi-ples which relate to previously established antecedent-consequent relations that one can attempt to predict new or not-yet-verified relations and ob-tain a useful theory of drug effects.

Certainly, social psychiatrists have, among others, attempted to develop theories of drug-induced hallucinations, taking into account these inter-acting variables. The anthropologist, however, working in a natural laboratory where hallucinogens are used ritually by shamans, can neither control nor adequately measure dependent variables such as somatic effects, reduced intellectual-motor proficiency, changes in visual percep-tion and other consequent effects. It is in the realm of antecedent variables, a somewhat overlooked area in contemporary theory building, that the anthropologist can indeed contribute. For one thing, as pointed out recently (Dobkin de Rios 1972b), the anthropologist can focus on the corpus of beliefs surrounding the groups' use of hallucinogens, the cog-nitive system dealing with the belief in the drug's efficacy and utilization of visionary content (especially when such plants are used for healing, witchcraft or religious activity), as well as the shared expectations of members of the community who expect to see certain visions and report them with frequency.

One of the main problems of anthropological theory building in this area of study is the lack of a shared paradigm. Harris (1968) poirits out that until recently, there was a lack of nomothetic approach in anthropol-ogy. In particular, he has lambasted idealistic as opposed to materialistic approaches to the study of man. While a phenomenological approach would view each event as unique, perhaps a cultural materialistic approach should be the umbrella under which theory is to be built in this area. Certainly, the verification in recent years of the hypothesis that culture is a determinant of the patterning of drug-induced visionary experience is an important step in this direction. Even Castaneda's fascinating studies of his apprenticeship to a drug-using Mexican shaman (1968, 1971, 1972) bring forth belief systems (e.g., the ally, the militaristic nature of shaman-ism) which have near-universal applicability. Anthropologists, whatever their theoretical approach, however, tend to acknowledge the super-organic nature of culture, whereby individuals recruited to a society by dint of birth are socialized in the total life ways of that group and from the beginning of language learning and even earlier acquire social character-istics. In the realm of drug-induced altered states of consciousness, we would be hard put indeed to explain the replication of stereotypic visions without such an overriding paradigm.

The lack of shared paradigm aside, a concatenation schema which looks at the interaction of antecedent and consequent variables can be presented as follows :


Turning first to antecedent variables, I have set off four general areas, namely the biological, psychological, social-interactional and cultural as a purely heuristic device. Beginning with biological factors such as body weight, physical condition, etc., most shamans conducting drug sessions pay particular attention to these factors prior to drug ingestion. In addition, in many parts of the non-Western world, special diets and sexual abstinence accompany drug ingestion as mentioned above. Psycho-logical factors generally subsumed under the term "set," including personality factors, mood, past experience, attitudes, etc., have been amply discussed in the psychiatric literature. Anthropologists working in field situations have only been able to comment on this in a superficial way due to the fact that they are outsiders. This is not to fault the anthropologist under such circumstances, since far too often, he is present at a drug session by the gracious consent of a shaman, who will stand for little meddling with his ritual activity.

The structure of the group, how this will effect the potentiation of the drug, the relationships of the members present and their role interactions, the ritual performance itself and the presence of a guide skilled in the use of the drug are important factors to consider in any attempt to pre-dict drug effects. Shared enculturation in belief systems is another major area of concern, in that shared cognitive domains are important to the successful guiding of an experience (at least in non-Western cultures).

A shared symbolic system is indeed crucial to permit the guiding of individuals through a particular drug experience in order to achieve culturally-valued goals. Particular expectations of visionary experience are often the raison d'etre for non-Western drug experiences and prior socialization in this area is crucial to shamanic success. Non-verbal accompaniments to drug experience are widely utilized in non-Western societies to expand and fully exploit the drug experience. In particular, apart from pleasant odors which accompany many drug sessions, the vital role of music is worth re-emphasizing. The values and belief systems connected to the use of hallucinogens, finally, play an important role in evoking stereotypic visions which are used by different cultures for specific ends.

To be able to predict drug effects in man, we must consider the impor-tance of the antecedent variables. With the "rediscovery" of hallucinogens in post-Industrial society, far too often such antecedent variables have been lost sight of, nonetheless, as anthropological studies of hallucinatory behavior have shown, sociocultural variables play an extraordinarily important role in structuring the form and content of hallucinatory ex-perience. Perhaps the student of hallucinatory behavior might be best advised to pay particular attention to antecedent variables, even when the lack of cultural traditions and expectations are involved, in order to obtain a theory which predicts not only Western man's response to drug-induced altered states of consciousness, but rather, one which takes into account a more generalizable entity, namely all of mankind.

1 Drawing upon my report on the non-Western use of hallucinatory agents, in this section I would like to summarize common themes. The reader is referred to the orig-inal document for detailed information and bibliographic references.

2 A Jungian analysis of archetypes and hallucinogens is beyond the scope of this paper.


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1973 Suggestive hallucinogenic properties of tobacco. Medical Anthropology Newsletter. August (in press).

1973 Datura use in a Tsonga girls' puberty school. Economic Botany (in press).

1974 "Music, hallucinogens and the jungle jim of conciousness. "Manuscript in preparation.

1973 Shamanism: trance, hallucinogens and psychical events. 9th Interna-tional Congress of Anthropological and Etlmological Sciences. Chi-cago (in press).

1969 "Altered states of consciousness," in Altered states of consciousness.
Edited by Charles Tart. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

1972 "Spiritual power in Central America. The naguals of Chiapas," in Witchcraft confessions and accusations. Edited by Mary Douglas. New York: Tavistock Publications.

1959 Cultural determinants of response to hallucinatory experience. AMA Archives of General Psychiatry 1:58-69.

1957 Russia, mushrooms and history, two volumes. New York: Pantheon.


Our valuable member Marlene Dobkin de Rios has been with us since Tuesday, 21 February 2012.