Levente Móró obtained his PhD finally in 2017 at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Turku, Finland, on the topic of hallucinatory altered states of consciousness. Within his main research area psychedelics, his special interests are online drug-user communities (psychonauts), sacramental and spiritual drug use (entheogens), and Salvia divinorum. Residing in Budapest at the moment since a long time, he is the coordinator of the party/festival harm reduction and crisis intervention (psycare) volunteer team DÁT2 Psy Help, the leader of the Hungarian psychedelic community Daath.hu, and the current president of the Hungarian MAPS organisation.
How (Not) To Have a Bad Trip? A Systematic Categorisation of Difficult Psychedelic Experiences
Psychonauts are mind explorers who journey into their psyche by using hallucinogenic drugs or other consciousness altering techniques. Properly planned and duly integrated, these exceptional experiences may indeed lead to long-term and positive benefits in everyday life. Nevertheless, psychedelic substance use may occasionally go wrong and cause ‘train wrecks & trip disasters’ (to quote Erowid’s categorisation). Plausible causes for a difficult experience may vary widely and include drug, set, and setting factors. Inadequate information about drugs and their usage, careless pre-planning of the trip environment, and a reckless attitude toward serious mind-alteration may all lead into unexpected troubles. Our study examined difficult psychedelic experiences by using a mixed-method (qualitative and quantitative) approach. Data was collected from multiple sources, such as first-person trip self-reports and third-person crisis intervention case reports. We carried out a systematic charting and categorisation of this data, considering the user’s mindset, intention, preparation, environment, substance use parameters, and activities or happenings during the trip which might have contributed to the troubles experienced. In our presentation, we describe preliminary results that hopefully help fellow psychonauts to avoid, handle, and/or integrate difficult experiences.
Entheogenic Churches – Sacramental Religions or Druggie Sects?
Altered states of consciousness, along with their inducing methods and techniques (e.g. contemplation, prayer, meditation, fasting, chanting, trance dance) are essential parts of religious ceremonies worldwide. For directly experiencing the transcendental dimension, plant-based mind-altering substances have always played an important role. According to archeological findings and historical documentation, some of the psychoactive drugs that have been utilised in a ritual-ceremonial context – i.e., as ‘entheogens’ – were the ‘soma’ mentioned in the Hindu Vedas, certain Psilocybe spp. mushrooms in Meso-American cultures, the enigmatic ‘kykeon’ drink of the Eleusinian mysteries in ancient Greece, and the fly agaric mushroom used by Siberian shamans. The best known modern examples for sacramentally used substances are peyote cacti among Native American Church members, and the ayahuasca decoction of South American syncretistic Christian churches. From historical and phenomenological points of view, the purpose and depth of entheogen-assisted direct mystical experiences are indistinguishable from otherwise induced religious experiences. Albeit the relationship between drugs and religion remains a controversial topic in modern societies, the concept of entheogenic religions may well fit into an extended bio-psycho-socio-spiritual framework of human nature, hence sacramental use of otherwise illegal drugs may be justified by redefining the notion of religion.