Page 26 Origins of Ayahuasca and its spread to the West
Entangled, by Graham Hancock, reference pp 3-435
Background briefing notes on Consciousness, Quantum Physics, Parallel Realms, Time Travel and Telepathy.A central proposition of Entangled, in tune with the latest findings of quantum physics, is that consciousness exists independently of the brain and may be projected into other dimensions and even into other timeframes. Telepathy, out of body journeys, time travel – all become possible.
In the mid-19th Century, Sir Oliver Lodge, who helped demonstrate the existence of electrical waves, noted that if wireless telegraphy was possible, then so too should “wireless telepathy” be possible.1
In the earliest days of 20th Century physics, Albert Einstein, in coming up with his theory of relativity, showed that space and time are “intertwined” and that matter itself is inseparable from an “ever present quantum energy field and this is the sole reality underlying all appearances.”2 “Now here the theories become impossibly vague and untestable,” wrote Victor Stenger in the mid 1990s, “so I can only indicate some of the language. In some sense, the wave function of the universe is an etheric cosmic mind spread throughout the universe that acts to collapse itself in some unknown way. The human mind (spirit, soul) is, of course, holistically linked to the cosmic mind and so exists in all space and time. Once again we have an example of what Paul Kurtz calls the "transcendental temptation."3 One of the more intriguing ideas involving quantum physics and subjective reality is the following: That until the actual human observation of an event, like a quasar exploding billions of lights years from Earth, that event can be said not to have existed during all those billions of years until seen by a human being on Earth. The same is as valid for the entire universe according to this viewpoint. “Our observation had a retrospective effect on events in the distant past of the universe,” wrote C. John Taylor.4
The more one studies quantum weirdness, as Timothy Ferris calls it in his bestselling book The Whole Shebang, “it’s not just a matter of getting used to Alice-in-Wonderland oddities of a world in which particles are waves and can leap from one place to another without traversing the intervening space. Quantum weirdness goes deeper; It implies that the logical foundations of classical science are violated in the quantum realm, and it opens up a glimpse of an unfamiliar and perhaps older aspect of nature that some call the implicate universe.”5
“With all the breakthroughs in the dynamics of our natural world, the topic of physics and consciousness is becoming more well renowned (sic) by physicists. In the spring of 2003, the Quantum Mind Conference on Consciousness, Quantum Physics and The Brain was held in Arizona, USA. Their web site states, “recent experimental evidence suggests quantum nonlocality occurring in conscious and subconscious brain function, and functional quantum processes in molecular biology are becoming more and more apparent. Moreover macroscopic quantum processes are being proposed as intrinsic features in cosmology, evolution and social interactions.”6 The two main characters of Graham Hancock’s latest book, Entangled meet one another in what most people would call an impossible situation, becoming linked to one another across vast distances of time. The title of the book is meant specifically to evoke the quantum physics notion of entanglement.
The theories that involve consciousness and how it relates to the human mind are many and varied. One of the better places to find most of these theories at their most recent stages of development is at the Roots of Consciousness: Theory, Consciousness, and the New Physics web page. This website lays out the development of quantum theory, from its beginnings in the mid-19th Century through to today and is very helpful in assimilating to the complex field of quantum theories.7
Entangled, by Graham Hancock, reference pp 3-345
Background briefing notes on THE NEANDERTHALS.
The archaic human species known as the Neanderthals are the model for “the Uglies” in Entangled.
Neanderthals first appeared in the fossil record about 300,000 years ago, then died out approximately 24,000 years or so ago. Hence, for many years modern human beings shared the Earth with another species of human. The questions about this now extinct human species continue to nag and inspire theory after theory.
Did Homo sapiens and Neanderthals mate with one another? How advanced were the Neanderthals? Did they have speech? Did they have art, jewelry, body painting, as seems to be the case from some limited evidence turned up in recent digs?8 Did humans and Neanderthals coexist peacefully, or did Homo sapiens commit mass genocide upon their close relatives?
One interesting theory about why the Neanderthals died out is because they’d been cut off from the rest of humanity in Africa, as they’d moved up and into Europe 150,000 years before modern humans began their own migration. Therefore, the argument goes, Neanderthal immune systems could not cope with the many diseases that had evolved during their absence from Africa, leaving them defenseless and eventually, dead.9 There are intriguing traces in the archaeological evidence that confirm Neanderthals were not stupid, uncreative, nor uncultured. In the Shanidar Cave, in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq, excavated in the 1950’s, Smithsonian archaeologist Ralph Solecki, along with Kurdish workers and a team from Colombia University uncovered Neanderthal skeletons, children and adults. One of the Neanderthal skeletons showed definite evidence that he had been buried with flowers, due to pollen traces discovered in his carefully dug grave.10
There is plenty of evidence that Neanderthals took care of the infirm and injured, and cared for their elders as well. They also seem to have developed music and created complicated flute-like instruments as portrayed in Entangled. In 2000, a 50,000-year-old flute was found in the Neanderthal section of a cave in Slovenia, most likely of the recorder type.11 To create such an instrument would call for levels of dexterity, intelligence and creativity that most mainstream archaeology has been hesitant to grant to the Neanderthals.12
Recent evidence has confirmed that Neanderthals may even have decorated their bodies, not just with body paints but with actual makeup and jewelry, as described in Entangled. Make up containers belonging to Neanderthals have been found in two separate archaeological sites in Murcia, Spain, by a team from Bristol University.13 New DNA evidence released on 6 May 2010 proves conclusively that Neanderthals and humans did interbreed and that modern humans owe between 1 and 4 per cent of their DNA to Neanderthals.14 The causes of the extinction of the Neanderthals around 24,000 years ago remain unknown.
Entangled, by Graham Hancock, reference pp 8-51
Background briefing notes on NEAR DEATH AND OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCES.
There have been literally scores of studies and surveys conducted by scientists, private researchers’ think tanks, hospitals, and universities, on the topic of Near Death Experiences and Out of Body Experiences. In Graham Hancock’s new book Entangled, the main characters initially come into contact with one another after one of the two suffers a near-fatal accident. During a brief spell of brain death resulting in a Near Death Experience in the emergency room, she experiences her own veridical (verifiable) OBE.
Ever since the phrase “Out Of Body Experience” was coined in 1943 by G.N.M Tyrrell in his book Apparitions, public attention has grown ever more conscious of this phenomenon. At this stage, it almost appears that many of the studies have moved past the “do these phenomena exist?” question, to “what makes them possible and how do they work?”
The earliest study to collect first-hand accounts of OBEs was conducted by Celia Green in 1968, containing 400 personal stories gathered by appeals placed in national media. Up to 80 percent of the respondents claimed to have experienced disembodied consciousness during their OBEs, completely removed from having any connection to a body what so ever. Numerous other surveys have been undertaken by a variety of hospitals, universities, and researchers.15
One of the more prestigious experiments examined the reported experiences of cardiac arrest sufferers. The study, which took place in the Netherlands, was conducted by Pim Van Lommel, a cardiologist, along with his team. They published an article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet in 2001, in which they acknowledged there was enough evidence to warrant further study and definitely a mystery going on.16,17
Twenty-five UK and US hospitals agreed in 2008 to undertake a study involving 1,500 patients who’d suffered cardiac arrest, to see how many would report having an out of body experience. The study, put together by Dr. Sam Parnia and Southampton University, involved placing messages in positions near the ceiling where they would be visible only by someone outside of their body.18
Shamans have been speaking of leaving their bodies for ages, and returning to them with veridical information that could only be gained by a genuine OBE. Usually occurring spontaneously and unpredictably in others, shamans are often able to enter the OBE state at will. Sometimes shamans speak of going on OBEs together, meeting in another realm and traveling back intentionally. Dr. Dean Sheils, after studying reports from 70 non-Western cultures, decided that due to the many similarities reported from culture to culture that there must be some validity to the experiences.19
All in all, the phenomenon is so pervasive around the world that it is increasingly difficult to deny its reality. 20
Entangled, by Graham Hancock, reference pp 56-108
Background briefing notes on the involuntary commitment of sane people to mental asylums. Leoni, one of the two heroines of Entangled is involuntarily committed to a mental asylum by her parents. Such things continue to happen in the real world.
The ability to differentiate between the sane and insane is the job of specially trained professionals. But what happens if the professionals get it wrong? What if they really can’t in all instances tell the difference between the sane and insane?
David L. Rosenhan came up with a two-part experiment to test whether first, if hospital intake staff could tell whether a sane person reporting insane symptoms was faking, and how long it would take hospital staff to catch on and discharge the faking patient.21 The second part consisted of his informing one hospital which, when hearing of the first part of the experiment insisted they would not be fooled. Rosenhan informed the hospital that over an upcoming short span of time, he would be sending one or two fake patients to see if they could get into the hospital.
Rosenhan picked, including himself, eight pseudopatients to approach the hospital intake. One was a psychology student, and the rest were older adults in varying fields, including “three psychologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter, and a housewife. Three were women, five were men.”22 At their intake evaluations, each pseudopatient complained of hearing voices, which said as near as they could tell words like, “empty,” “hollow,” and “thud.” Besides falsifying name, occupation, and symptoms, nothing else the pseudopatients told hospital staff was untrue. All were admitted but immediately ceased all symptoms of insanity, and began to behave as they would normally in every day situations, telling doctors and staff that they felt perfectly fine and no longer heard voices. All were admitted to the hospitals with diagnosis of being schizophrenic and upon release were labeled as suffering “schizophrenia in remission.”23 The length of each patient’s stay varied from 7 to 52 days, averaging 19.
In the second part of the study Rosenhan retrieved information from the mental hospital about 193 patients who showed up at the hospital reporting symptoms indicating insanity. Out of those 193, at least 41 patients were judged by at least one member of the hospital staff in the intake procedure to be pseudopatients. Nineteen were judged pseudopatients by at least one psychiatrist and one other staff member. However, in reality, none of the 193 were pseudopatients.
Does this mean there are no definite symptoms that cover all mental illnesses, or that mental health professionals cannot always tell whether the patient is truly ill, or mentally deficient, or merely faking their symptoms? From Rosenhan’s study, this appears to be the case.
Then there is the practice of involuntarily committing sane people into institutions against their will and over their own protests.24 Many countries have laws governing the involuntary confinement of patients, often having a time limit of involuntary confinement on patients who are reevaluated periodically to be sure there are no sane people locked up against their will. However if after reevaluation and release into society, said mental patient inflicts harm upon another person, the psychiatrist is liable for harm done to the victim of the mental patient in question.25 It seems though, until harm is done, that how one doctor or court judge may determine if a potentially involuntarily committed patient is “out of control” or a “threat to others and him/herself” is not a mathematical equation and could be loosely defined.26 This is where the U.S. Constitution has a gray area of being able to protect the mentally ill. Statutes protecting the rights of patients are often being updated in various states and countries to better define the criteria for being involuntarily admitted as in the legislation adopted by the state of California in 2003 permitting the outpatient treatment of certain persons with mental illness.27
There is still the threat of untrained and unprofessional people in positions of power who exploit the mentally ill or use the laws to get rid of troublemakers, whether they be family members or political opponents. In a case in Texas, Peter Alexis, an executive with the privately owned mental institution National Medical Enterprises, was charged in 2004, with paying kickbacks for every patient referred into their hospitals.28 In another more recent hearing on September 9, 2009 a federal judge ruled that NY State "illegally discriminated against 4,300 people with mental illness by holding them in privately-run ‘adult homes’ that were just as restrictive as the state-run institutions they were intended to replace."29
Entangled depicts the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in a Neanderthal religious ceremony.
While ayahuasca is one of the few entheogens (meaning “creates god within”) tolerated as a religious sacrament in a number of countries, it is by no means the only one that has had effects on people and their religious viewpoints. 30
There are a few who theorize that use of entheogenic plants or mushrooms by humanity’s ancient ancestors was the spark that originated religious thinking and ritual. 31
In several countries the use of entheogens for religious purposes is legal or unregulated. Even in the United States, the powerful hallucinogen peyote is used legally in religious ceremonies by members of the Native American Church. Iboga (ibogaine) is consumed legally by indigenous tribes and by members of the Bwiti cult in the Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon in West Africa. Similarly Ayahuasca is used legally by the Sainto Daime and the Uniao do Vegetal in Brazil, the Netherlands, Peru, and elsewhere. 32
A number of scientific studies conducted over the past twenty-five years around the globe appear to “prove” that many subjects under the influence of one variety or other of strong psychedelic entheogen experienced what, to them, was a genuine religious experience that could not be denied by those conducting the studies. The debate still rages, of course.33
On Good Friday, 1962, in Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, as part of his doctoral thesis, Walter Phanke gathered twenty divinity students for the now famous Good Friday Experiment.34 Half of the subjects took a placebo, and the other 10 ate 30 milligrams of psilocybin, the active hallucination-inducing molecule in magic mushrooms. Immediately after the experiment, all 10 who got the psilocybin reported a genuine ecstatic religious experience. Twenty years later, all 10 continued to insist when interviewed that their experience that day was genuine and had a lasting effect upon their spiritual lives.
In 2006 John Hopkins University reported its own study on whether psilocybin could induce genuine, spontaneous religious experiences.35 Thirty-six participants were chosen, primarily for their regular participation in some religious practice in their lives. Thirty of the participants had two 8-hour sessions, where at one they received psilocybin and the other a placebo. The other six were given two placebos and then at a third session were informed they were being given psilocybin and were. All subjects reported feeling genuine religious epiphanies. When questioned, family and friends reported various positive changes in behavior on the part of the study participants, 79 percent of who reported two months after having taken the psilocybin that they still felt they’d experienced a genuine spiritual experience, and that their lives were positively changed.
Entangled, by Graham Hancock, reference pp 114-188
Background briefing notes on DMT and consciousness research.
Entangled features DMT as one of the mechanisms of out-of -body travel that ‘makes the veil between worlds thin’ and brings the two heroines together.
DMT – dimethyltryptamine – the active molecule in Ayahuasca, the psychedelic brew used by Amazonian shamans, is found in many plant species around the world. It is even found n, and produced in minute quantities, within the human body.
Many writers have discussed their own experiences and visions while under the influence of ayahuasca, or simply DMT itself. One of the most famous, Terence McKenna, ethno botanist, philosopher and author, wrote of meeting what he called “machine elves” (or “fractal elves” or ‘self-transforming elf machines”), who operated complicated looking machinery in a vast room when he’d first enter into a DMT state of consciousness.36
Dr. Rick Strassman, professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, obtained permission from the DEA and US government to conduct the first study with a major hallucinogen and human volunteers for more than 20 years. The hallucinogen he chose to test was DMT. He describes many hurdles he had to leap, and hoops he had to jump through.37 Dr. Strassman began the 5-year study in 1990, eventually injecting intravenously “approximately 400 doses of DMT to 60 human test subjects.”38
At the start his aim was strictly researching the effects of DMT in human subjects who were knowledgeable and experienced with strong psychedelic drugs. In the 1970s, a study was undertaken to see if schizophrenics had higher levels of naturally occurring DMT produced by their bodies, but this was proven to be untrue, so Strassman proposed a two front approach to the study protocols.39 It was beneficial to know how so-called “normals”, or non-schizophrenic subjects reacted to administered DMT. On a second front, he proposed looking at the use of DMT as a drug abuse question, as there had been steady use and presumed abuse of illegal DMT amongst mainly college students, aged 18-25. Understanding the effects of repeated use of the drug would, it was thought, be helpful in combating its abuse. Dr. Strassman describes explicitly the entire technical process of the experiment in the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ (MAPS) Newsletter, Autumn 1991 Volume 3.40
In summary Strassman’s research suggests – amongst other conclusions – that DMT might be produced by the pineal gland within the brain, and might be the link connecting our physical, concrete reality with the worlds of spirits, alien creatures, and the afterlife encountered by so many of his subjects. Certainly it is true that many people have reported not just similar, but precisely the same visitations, sounds, and sights while under the influence of entheogenic drugs. The subjects of Strassman’s study are not alone.
In a report by Kim Kristensen on an ayahuasca ceremony he participated in over the course of a few days in the Peruvian Amazon with a group of what he calls ayahuasca tourists, he notes some genuinely bizarre phenomenon, where all involved in the ceremony reported seeing identical visions for at least some of the session. 41
It appears quite possible that by entering altered states of consciousness, by whatever means, human beings may be changing the channel as it were, switching from the “normal” signal our senses take in, filter and send to our brains, which are basically receivers of consciousness like a television, to a drastically different signal that our brains do not have access to during “normal” states of consciousness.42 Graham Hancock covers the arguments and the evidence for this extensively in his most recent non-fiction book, Supernatural: Meetings With the Ancient Teachers of Mankind.43
There seems no denying that DMT plays a special role in human perceptions. The many interpersonal visual effects experienced by different people of different cultures under the influence of this molecule, require us to consider the possibility that these experiences are not hallucinations but sightings of real events and entities.