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By Peter T. Furst

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Hallucinogens and Culture

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Harmaline is of special interest, writes Naranjo … because of its close resemblance to substances derived from the pineal gland of mammals. In particular, 10-methoxy-harmaline, which may be obtained in vitro from the incubation of serotonin in pineal tissue, resembles harmaline in its subjective effects and is of greater activity than the latter. * Among the typical harmaline trance symbols or experiences that many of Naranjo's subjects reported were felines, snakes, dragons, birds, flight, sun, passage through perilous regions, descent and ascent, death and rebirth.

Nutmeg and Psychotherapy The two drugs mentioned above, MDA and MMDA, do not occur in nature. They are the result of amination of the essential oils of nutmeg. If similar processes occur naturally in the human body it would help to explain the subjective effects of nutmeg. MDA (methylene dioxyamphetamine) is an amination product of safrol, and the closely related MMDA (3methoxy-4,5-methylene dioxyphenyl isopropylamine) is a synthetic compound derived from the addition of ammonia to myristicin, the most important primary constituent of nutmeg.

Harner's The Jivaro: People of the Sacred Waterfalls (1972) and Hallucinogens and Shamanism, M. J. Harner, ed. (1973). For those who read German, Koch-Grünberg's Vom Roraima wm Orinoco (1917-1928) contains much information on Banisteriopsis and other hallucinogenic plants in the mythology and practice of shamanism in Venezuela, the Guianas, and Brazil, and of course R. E. Schultes's many publications are an essential source not only of botanical and pharmacological but also ethnographic data. * 45 According to our informants of the Vaupes, the purpose of taking yajé is to return to the uterus, to thefons et origo of all things, where the individual "sees" the tribal divinities, the creation of the universe and humanity, the first human couple, the creation of the animals, and the establishment of the social order, with particular reference to the laws of exogamy.

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