Ten Must Read Books about Psychedelics
We gathered for you ten must read books about psychedelics. They come from researchers, doctors, chemists, prophets, social leaders, comedians, historians. They talk about the psychedelic experience, about experiments with psychedelics, about the history of psychedelics, and about their effect on society. They tell a story.
Modern psychedelic culture started at the 50s & 60s, but governments soon made psychedelics illegal, and so the culture was pushed out of the mainstream and became more esoteric and less organized. One of the outcomes was the lack of organized knowledge. And without knowledge a culture cannot develop. So here are ten must read books about psychedelics that hold a lot of knowledge.
One of the outcomes was the lack of organized knowledge. And without knowledge a culture cannot develop.
Yes, we know some of you would choose otherwise. We tried here to give also a wide perspective from different angles, different times, different disciplines and different psychedelics, and cover many aspects of psychedelic culture. Please add your own must read books about psychedelics in the comments for other readers who want to expand their knowledge.
LSD, My Problem Child / Albert Hofmann
Albert Hofmann, inventor of LSD and discoverer of psilocybin, the active ingredient of the “magic mushroom,” recounts the history of his discoveries. Hofmann takes us into the heart of the process that lead to the discovery of the most famous psychedelic substance, LSD. The book is very detailed about the chemical and cultural aspects of hallucinogens, with a personal take on the spiritual and metaphysical properties of the psychedelic drugs and the spiritual benefits of hallucinogens, of course with careful considerations of tragic events related to its misuse.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead / Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner & Richard Alpert
The Psychedelic Experience is a manual designed to be used as part of any psychedelic journey. A fascinating explanation and step-by-step account of hallucination, it creates and explains an interesting philosophy of what occurs in the mind when it is in a hallucinogenic state. It contains an easy to comprehend, translation of “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, a manual on how to live and how to die. And also tries to give a structured frame to the psychedelic experience.
The Doors of Perception / Aldous Huxley
The name of the book comes from William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” The Doors of Perception explores Huxley’s first hand experiments with mescaline in the 1950s, from its immediate properties, to the long lasting effects it had on his awareness and way of thinking. The book has strong influence on many, among them Timothy Leary, Jim Morrison and The Beatles.
The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test / Tom Wolfe
The modern psychedelic culture was born in the 60s, and Tom Wolfe was there to experience it with Ken kesey and his Merry Pranksters at the birth of the American West Coast psychedelic movement. The book doesn’t give take a cold objective approach, but takes the psychedelic approach of its characters, and is a great reading experience. They say that if you missed the 60s, this is the closest you can get to experience it. A true insight into the origins of modern psychedelic culture.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule / Rick Strassman
For many reasons, there are very few scientific accounts from a medical point of view on the subject of psychedelics since the days of Timothy Leary. Rick Strassman, MD, is one of the only people to perform DEA sanctioned research on DMT, one of the most powerful psychedelic substances there are. DMT raises some valid questions about our brain, our consciousness, and their relations to reality, and Strassman deals with all these. The book also shows all too well, that sciences doesn’t always have the answers.
The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia / Paul Devereux
Experimentation with hallucinogens did not begin with Timothy Leary and the psychedelic revolution of the fifties and sixties. In fact, as this book shows, psychedelics have been used by human societies in every part of the world for ritual and spiritual purposes for more than a millennia. The book is full of evidence for the psychedelic experiences of various prehistoric cultures, and ponders the implications and effects of psychedelic revelations on our contemporary worldview. It also shows that we are probably experiencing a rare time in human history, where we don’t have a cultural structure for the use of psychedelics in human society.
Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna / Dennis McKenna
Terrance McKenna was one of the most influential people to the philosophical, intellectual, and scientific aspects of the modern psychedelic movement. The Screaming Abyss reveals the story of the McKenna brothers’ in a very honest way. A Kickstarter project by Dr. Dennis McKenna, this biography not only explores the lives of Dennis and his more famous brother, Terrence, but also contains a fair amount of philosophy and science.
Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution / Kevin Booth & Michael Bertin
People who are part of the psychedelic culture will not be surprised to see this book here. Comedy fans might. While psychedelics might have faded from popular culture after the 60s, they kept on being an important influence on many people, who in turn, were a great influence on society. Bill Hicks is one such man. His biography written about him by his good friend shows the importance of psychedelics in his life and message to the world. “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves…”
What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry / John Markoff
For people within the psychedelic culture it should be no surprise to learn it was important in shaping our present technological world, especially in connection to computers and The Internet. After all it was the natural place for this culture to meet. This is one of the first books to look at the effect the psychedelic culture of the 60s had on computers and how they shaped our lives. It was Steve Jobs who said that taking LSD was one of the “two or three most important things” he has ever done.
Tryptamine Palace / James Oroc
Author James Oroc discusses and explores the effects of 5-MeO-DMT (Yes, psychedelic toads) on his personal growth, his place within culture, as well of the role of theoretical physics within psychedelics. He suggest how 5-MeO-DMT triggers the human capacity for higher knowledge through direct contact with the zero-point field. The book might be a bit too ambitious, but is a very interesting read and provokes deep thoughts.