Breaking Open the Head by Daniel Pinchbeck
A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism

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A dazzling work of personal travelogue and cultural criticism that ranges from the primitive to the postmodern in a quest for the promise and meaning of the psychedelic experience.

While psychedelics of all sorts are demonized in America today, the visionary compounds found in plants are the spiritual sacraments of tribal cultures around the world. From the iboga of the Bwiti in Gabon, to the Mazatecs of Mexico, these plants are sacred because they awaken the mind to other levels of awareness--to a holographic vision of the universe.

Breaking Open the Head is a passionate, multilayered, and sometimes rashly personal inquiry into this deep division. On one level, Daniel Pinchbeck tells the story of the encounters between the modern consciousness of the West and these sacramental substances, including such thinkers as Allen Ginsberg, Antonin Artaud, Walter Benjamin, and Terence McKenna, and a new underground of present-day ethnobotanists, chemists, psychonauts, and philosophers. It is also a scrupulous recording of the author's wide-ranging investigation with these outlaw compounds, including a thirty-hour tribal initiation in West Africa; an all-night encounter with the master shamans of the South American rain forest; and a report from a psychedelic utopia in the Black Rock Desert that is the Burning Man Festival.

Breaking Open the Head is brave participatory journalism at its best, a vivid account of psychic and intellectual experiences that opened doors in the wall of Western rationalism and completed Daniel Pinchbeck's personal transformation from a jaded Manhattan journalist to shamanic initiate and grateful citizen of the cosmos.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Daniel Pinchbeck

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DANIEL PINCHBECK is a founding editor of Open City, and he has written for such publications as Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and The Village Voice, where sections of his book have previously appeared.From the Hardcover edition.
Published August 6, 2002 by Three Rivers Press. 272 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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A quest after the possibilities of psychedelics and a case history of one man’s forays into the hands of these supernatural emissaries, from journalist and Open City founder Pinchbeck.

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The New York Times

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These views may go over well among Gabon's Bwiti tribe -- they are also widely held by many people who have taken the same drugs Pinchbeck did, an intriguing fact in itself -- but in America they tend to be a neon sign flashing ''Mad acidhead -- harmless when not out of his tree.'' Pinchbeck does...

Nov 10 2002 | Read Full Review of Breaking Open the Head: A Psy...

The Guardian

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Breaking Open the Head: A Visionary Journey from Cynicism to Shamanism Daniel Pinchbeck 322pp, Flamingo, £12 What does an obscure West African psychedelic herb named iboga have in common with Walter Benjamin?

Feb 08 2003 | Read Full Review of Breaking Open the Head: A Psy...

Entertainment Weekly

The author of this ''journey into the heart of contemporary shamanism'' is not some hippy-dippy hedonist staggering down the road of excess but rather a skeptical philosopher of consciousness seeking the enlightened path.

Sep 27 2002 | Read Full Review of Breaking Open the Head: A Psy...

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