20 Books on Psychedelics: A Curated Selection for Consciousness Explorers

Steadfast allies in the quest for knowledge

As curiosity ignites within us on a new subject, our instinct often drives us to seek answers through search engines and social media platforms. While these methods provide easy access to information, they may not always yield the most reliable or in-depth content. Despite being more time-consuming, books invariably prove to be our steadfast allies in the quest for knowledge.

As an eager reader delving into the realm of psychedelics, you’ll find yourself drawn to the wealth of literature available on the subject. It quickly becomes apparent that exploring books is an ideal starting point. These carefully crafted tomes offer comprehensive knowledge that encompasses historical, cultural, scientific, and spiritual aspects of psychedelics. By reading, you’ll learn about responsible use, potential risks, and benefits associated with these mind-altering substances.

Books provide diverse perspectives, giving you a well-rounded understanding of the topic and its implications. This introspective journey allows you to engage with the material at your own pace, promoting personal growth and a better understanding of your own psyche. The accessibility and timelessness of books on psychedelics make them an invaluable resource for anyone looking to expand their horizons and venture into this fascinating world.

Here are some interesting books on the subject of psychedelics that you might find worth reading.

πŸ“– How to Change Your Mind

"How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan

“How to Change Your Mind” by Michael Pollan is a book that chronicles the history of psychedelics, their rise and fall, and their recent resurgence in medical research. Pollan, who was born too late to experience the psychedelic era, takes the reader on a self-deprecating travelog of his own cautious but transformative adventures as a middle-aged psychedelic novice. The book explores the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics for the terminally ill, alcoholics, and those with “treatment-resistant” depression, which can’t be separated from the mystical experiences they give rise to.

Pollan argues that psychedelics were banned because of the threat they posed to the established social order. The book also delves into the neuroscience of tripping and the question of what psychedelics do to the brain. Ultimately, Pollan allows himself to wonder if psychedelic-induced spiritual experiences might actually be true, rather than just illusions.

πŸ“– LSD My Problem Child

"LSD: My Problem Child" by Albert Hofmann

The book “LSD: My Problem Child” by Albert Hofmann is an autobiography and collection of essays that tells the story of the chemist who first synthesized LSD and explores its therapeutic potential, as well as the cultural and legal impact of the drug. Hofmann’s work with LSD and related compounds sheds light on how pharmaceutical discoveries are made and highlights the risks of searching for performance-enhancing drugs without fully evaluating their dangers. Despite Hofmann’s infectious enthusiasm for the potential benefits of LSD, readers should be aware of its widespread harm and the dangers it poses to the psychiatrically vulnerable. The book is a captivating and intriguing read, but caution should be exercised in interpreting Hofmann’s claims.

πŸ“– The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley, the author of The Doors of Perception, suffered from a debilitating eye condition called keratitis while studying at Eton. His vision deteriorated over the next 20 years, and in 1939, he tried the controversial Bates Method to improve his eyesight, claiming impressive results. However, some doubted that he could see much at all, and his vision was a source of controversy and speculation throughout his life. The Doors of Perception was Huxley’s account of his experiences with the psychedelic drug mescaline, which he believed offered insight into the nature of reality.

He was a dedicated psychonaut and wrote about his experiences with LSD in his book Island. Huxley’s psychedelic experiments had a significant impact on popular culture and the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

πŸ“– Plants of the Gods

Plants of the Gods by Christian Ratsch

Christian Ratsch, along with two other famous researchers, Albert Hofmann and Richard Schultes, has updated the classic text on psychoactive flora in their book “Plants of the Gods.” The book explores the use of hallucinogenic plants in shamanic rituals around the world and is cross-referenced by plant, illness, preparation, season of collection, and chemical constituents. The updated version features numerous new and rare color photographs, and the authors detail the uses of hallucinogens in sacred shamanic rites while providing lucid explanations of the biochemistry of these plants and the cultural prayers, songs, and dances associated with them. The book is lavishly illustrated with 400 rare photographs of plants, people, ceremonies, and art related to the ritual use of the world’s sacred psychoactive flora.

πŸ“– DMT: The Spirit Molecule

DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences

This book, written by Rick Strassman, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, explores the effects and possible evolutionary and psychological function of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a short-acting and powerful plant-derived psychedelic chemical that is endogenously produced in the human brain. Strassman describes his research into the drug, including the history of psychedelic research, his methods and results, and the dangers and possible benefits of experimentation with psychedelics. He hypothesizes that DMT is produced by the pineal gland and is released during naturally occurring psychedelic states, including childbirth, the dying process, dreams, and mystical experiences.

The book includes detailed descriptions of what Strassman’s volunteers encountered during their sessions, including the exploration and resolution of personal psychological issues, out-of-body states, and contact with alien beings. Strassman also discusses the obstacles he faced in conducting his research and his hopes for future investigation. The book is recommended for researchers, clinicians, and laypeople interested in spiritual/mystical issues and/or psychedelics.

πŸ“– A Really Good Day

In her new memoir “A Really Good Day”, Ayelet Waldman writes about her experience with microdosing LSD to alleviate her symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a condition she has been struggling with for years. After exhausting all other treatment options, Waldman turned to microdosing, which involves taking a small, sub-perceptual dose of the drug every three days.

The book combines her personal experience with the research she’s done on the history of psychedelics and her thoughts on the legal implications of drug use. Waldman has been controversial in the past for her unfiltered and provocative opinions on various subjects, but the book has been received positively by critics.

πŸ“– Sacred Knowledge

Sacred Knowledge by William A. Richards

Sacred Knowledge by William A. Richards is a book that explores the role of psychoactive substances such as LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT, in treating addiction and terminal illness in patients. The author argues that these substances consistently produce positive results when administered in a controlled setting with proper clinical support. The book combines memoir, history of entheogen research, and philosophical meditation, and calls for practitioners to consider the potential uses of these substances and to take seriously what their patients say following psychedelic treatment. The author is a clinical psychologist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center who has been involved in entheogen research for over 16 years.

πŸ“– Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion

"Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion" by Michelle Janikian

The book “Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion” by Michelle Janikian is a guide to help those interested in psilocybin mushrooms use them in a safe and meaningful way. The book includes harm reduction tips, research on the substance, and advice on preparation and intentional use. Janikian also includes information on trip-sitting, microdosing, and potential health risks associated with psilocybin. Rather than telling readers what their experiences mean, Janikian “holds the space” and allows readers to draw their own conclusions.

Overall, Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion is a well-written and informative guide for anyone interested in exploring the use of psilocybin mushrooms. It provides a balanced approach that respects the power of the substance while also emphasizing harm reduction and responsible use.

πŸ“– When Plants Dream

“When Plants Dream” is a book that explores the growing popularity and impact of ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew with a long history of ritual use among indigenous groups of the Upper Amazon, on society. Written by authors Pinchbeck and Rokhlin, the book covers the background, role and practices of the ayahuasquero, the medicinal plants of the Amazon, the most up-to-date biomedical research, psychedelic science, psychopharmacology, and the legal aspects of ayahuasca use. It questions the future of ayahuasca and its impact on the world beyond the Amazon.

Overall, “When Plants Dream” offers a comprehensive and well-researched examination of the ayahuasca phenomenon and its impact on modern society. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the cultural, scientific, and spiritual implications of this powerful plant medicine.

πŸ“– Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal

 Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal by Tom Shroder

In “Acid Test,” author Tom Shroder details the stories of Rick Doblin, Michael Mithoefer, and Nicholas Blackston as they struggle to gain scientific and therapeutic approval for psychedelic drugs, particularly in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The book offers a convincing case for prescribable psychedelic therapies and argues that the government’s prohibitions on scientific investigations into these drugs should be loosened. It provides compelling evidence of the powerful healing potential contained in psychoactive drugs like LSD and MDMA and highlights the moral debt society owes to the PTSD-afflicted men and women who served in wars.

πŸ“– The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible

Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms

“Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms” provides advice and procedures for growing Psilocybe cubensis, but the presentation of the science, especially the mycological/biological material, is flawed. The authors seem to lack an understanding of fungal biology and the science that underlies successful cultivation. However, the step-by-step photos for the different parts of the grow process are effective, and the advice and procedures for growing P. cubensis seem sound. The book also includes a chapter on consuming magic mushrooms, which offers recipes to help reduce the nausea that many users experience. Although the book provides guidance for growing magic mushrooms, readers should be aware of errors in the presentation of the science.

πŸ“– The Ayahuasca Experience

This book is a comprehensive exploration of ayahuasca, a powerful shamanic hallucinogen used by indigenous cultures in South America for thousands of years. It includes contributions from leading scholars on the ethnopharmacology, psychology, phytochemistry, and neuropharmacology of ayahuasca. The book details the chemical, biological, psychological, and experiential dimensions of ayahuasca, and includes firsthand accounts of more than 20 people who have experienced major life changes as a result of participating in ayahuasca rituals. The author concludes with his own findings on ayahuasca’s applications in medicine and psychology, and compares the worldview revealed by ayahuasca visions to that of modern cultures.

πŸ“– The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey

The Wild Kindness by Bett Williams

The Wild Kindness by Bett Williams is a memoir exploring her experiences with psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogens. The book includes accounts of Williams’ trips, personal life, and political commentary. Williams presents herself as an adventurer rather than an academic, and her book offers readers a peek into a world they would never have otherwise known. Her narrative style reflects how the personal and political intertwine in the ambivalent realm of social media, and she questions a lot of social norms emerging from the psychedelic renaissance with plain-spoken self-awareness and sophisticated analysis.

Overall, The Wild Kindness is a well-written, insightful, and thought-provoking exploration of the author’s personal experiences with psilocybin and the larger cultural and societal implications of the psychedelic renaissance. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the history, science, and culture of psychedelics.

πŸ“– Breaking Open the Head

The book, Breaking Open the Head, by Daniel Pinchbeck, explores the encounter between the modern Western consciousness and the sacramental substances of tribal cultures worldwide. It includes personal experiences of the author with outlaw compounds, such as a tribal initiation in West Africa and a report from the Burning Man Festival, and presents a multilayered inquiry into the promise and meaning of the psychedelic experience. This book is a brave and vivid account of participatory journalism that has completed the author’s personal transformation from a jaded Manhattan journalist to shamanic initiate and grateful citizen of the cosmos.

πŸ“– Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change

Tao Lin's Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change

Tao Lin’s “Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change,” is a collection of loosely connected experiences, including the author’s own firsthand accounts of experiences with psychedelic substances such as salvia, psilocybin, and DMT. The most thought-provoking parts of the book are these firsthand accounts, but Lin’s claims that psychedelics have no negative effects and are absolutely not dangerous are questionable. The book is better read as a collection of interesting stories, although some long sections that have little relevance to psychedelics detract from a central focus. The book may be useful to further conversations around the perceptions and use of psychedelics, but it is not the best source for rigorous literature review or thorough journalism.

πŸ“– Drug Use for Grown-Ups

In “Drug Use for Grown-Ups,” Dr. Carl L. Hart argues that drug use should be a matter of personal choice and that personal choice can lead to positive outcomes. The negative public image of drugs is partly due to racism, and addiction is not as common as people think. According to Hart, a pre-existing personal vulnerability, psychological and/or circumstantial, leads to addiction. When addiction does occur, there should be safe spaces for people to get help, and the Swiss model for heroin addiction is a successful treatment. Hart’s book challenges the long-running association between drugs and addiction and is an eye-opening read.

πŸ“– Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca

Dr. Richard Louis Miller’s work explores the potential of psychedelics as medicine and discusses the tumultuous history of psychedelic research, the efforts to restore psychedelic therapies, and the links between psychiatric drugs and mental illness.

He offers non-technical summaries of the most recent studies with MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, and ayahuasca and interviews top researchers and thinkers in this field. The book covers the biochemistry of consciousness and the use of psychedelics for self-discovery and healing, as well as the ongoing efforts to restore psychedelic therapies to the health field and the push for new research.

πŸ“– Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine

This book explores the connections between feminine consciousness and altered states, from ancient times to the present day. It includes contributions from scholars, artists, psychotherapists, and policy makers, and covers topics such as goddess consciousness, the dark feminine, the role of women in shamanism, and the healing potential of plant medicines.

The book examines how entheogens give us open access to ancient archetypes, and discusses feminist psychedelic activism and the need for more female voices in the psychedelic research community. Overall, the book explores the transformative power of feminine consciousness and altered states to help heal and evolve society.

πŸ“– Food of the Gods

Terence McKenna, the author of “Food of the Gods”, argues for the legalization of all proscribed drugs, including psychedelic ones, to be taxed, regulated, and administered by medico-spiritual therapists. He claims that modern people are as ignorant and superstitious about the addictive substances that drive them as the Victorian middle classes were about sex.

McKenna advocates a 200% tax on tobacco and sugar, the slashing of subsidies, and warnings on packets and in school curricula. His proposals include a legalisation of psychedelic therapy, a huge research initiative on mind-altering substances, and ultimately the decriminalisation of all drugs. He argues that various plant hallucinogens that occur all over the world can cure alcoholism, alleviate alienation and heal despair. McKenna believes that psychedelic substances have been used as sacraments of humanity for thousands of years and may even have triggered human evolution.

πŸ“– Singing to the Plants

“Singing to the Plants” explores the shamanistic culture of mestizos in the Upper Amazon, who have blended folk Catholicism, Hispanic medicine, and Amazonian religious traditions to create a unique shamanistic culture that employs plant hallucinogens like ayahuasca.

The book details the practices of ayahuasca healing ceremonies, the relationship between apprentice shamans and plant spirits, and the use of plants in healing, love magic, and sorcery. This shamanism has now become a part of global culture, as ayahuasca shamans perform their healing rituals in various parts of the world.

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