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The Psychonauts Reading Guide
Psychedelics have played a significant role in the development and evolution of human society and culture. Very few movements have influenced humanity's trajectory compared to psychedelics and their use among the different cultures and nations throughout history.
For those beginning their journey into the world of psychedelics and wanting to explore the science, tradition, and mythology behind one of the most exciting aspects of human history, we have good news!
This article lists some of the best and most informative books related to psychedelics that should be present on every psychonaut's bookshelf on the planet.
Read on to find answers to the most profound questions and concerns regarding psychedelics and their use through the most influential writers' works on the subject.
# 1 Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge by Terence McKenna
The most influential book on the subject has become the grounds for several documentaries, films, and other pop culture spin-offs since its release. The seminal work explores the origins of psychedelic use through the evolutionary history of humans and how certain mushrooms and other psychedelics may have influenced humans' progress as a species.
The book also explores the traditional foundations of many other psychedelic substances and how why they have become a highly controlled and restricted phenomenon in the present century.
# 2 DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman
As many will be familiar, DMT is a highly hallucinogenic psychedelic substance that produces profound experiences and sensations. In this book, the author shares and analyses the results he has drawn after conducting comprehensive experiments with DMT on willing volunteers and exploring its therapeutic and spiritual effects.
Produced naturally by the pineal gland, the author provides a reference to the cultural mentions of the substance and how it can be used wisely to bring about incredible advancements in science and technology for the future.
#3 The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Richard Alpert, Ram Dass
This book is authored by Harvard students who participated in academic research into psychedelic substances' effects on the mind and body. Through their experiences, they have found a parable between the writings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Psychedelic culture, arguing that the ancient text provides a manual for inducing highly spiritual psychedelic experiences.
The book continues to outline a safe process to encourage experimentation with psychedelic substances and how one can adequately explore their benefits.
#4 LSD: My Problem Child – Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism, and Science by Albert Hofmann
Written by the Godfather of Psychedelics himself, the book follows the author's journey of discovery and self-experimentation with LSD. The book narrates his exploration of the psychedelic effects and the creation of a negative narrative related to the substance that was unfairly sparked by public hysteria and misunderstanding.
The author argues that the solution to many social problems may lie in the responsible use of psychedelics and connecting with the spiritual side of the human experience.
# 5 How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
This book explores the author's personal experiences and narrates a detailed6 and descriptive history of the rise and fall of the psychedelic culture in the present century. The author highlights the social circumstances and psychological misconceptions that led to the restriction of scientific research into the nature of psychedelics and how this has negatively impacted society's progress.
With many excellent reviews, the book is a must-read for psychedelic enthusiasts and psychonauts.
# 6 Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson, Israel Regardie
Considered one of the defining works on psychedelics of the present century, the book is an amalgam and exploration of many realms of science, spirituality, and philosophy. While being incredibly intuitive in its narrative, the book provides the reader with a deep understanding of how significant thinkers across time have analyzed the nature and effect of psychedelic substances, and what humans can expect to learn from their responsible use.
The book combines philosophy, psychology, theology, evolution, religion, and many other facets of human society in a single detailed discourse and analysis.
# 7 Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, Christian Rätsch
Written by a renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist, the book explores the findings and research related to psychoactive plants and their traditional use across the globe.
The book explores the impact of the use of such psychoactive plants on the development of social interactions and cultures globally, and how these plants have influenced the propagation of ideas and concepts in a parallel manner across the globe.
The book contains analysis from three world-leading scientists who are experts within their field.
# 8 The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (The Teachings of Don Juan #1) by Carlos Castañeda
For those who prefer a fictional twist to their reading, this novel serves as a great way to explore psychedelic culture and tradition while offering a compelling narrative that is enjoyable to read.
The first in a short series of books, the narrative follows the protagonist's journey as he proceeds on his way to becoming a "man of knowledge" facilitated by psychedelic experiences and spiritual understanding.
The book provides a fascinating cultural insight into the history of psychedelic use and the cultural connections associated with their propagation.
This list is in no way exhaustive, and we are sure that there are many wonderful and exciting books available on the subject that are not included in this article. Nevertheless, this small list can serve as the starting point for your exploration into the world of psychedelics and provide a way to learn more about the history, culture, and traditions surrounding this phenomenon.