Wednesday, November 30, 2005

burning man comic book

This is wonderful!

Monday, November 28, 2005

aliens on their way?

What will the aliens be like? Will we want to invite them to dinner?

According to this yahoo story, a former Canadian Minister of Defense believes we had better start thinking about this. I agree with him:

PRWEB) - OTTAWA, CANADA (PRWEB) November 24, 2005 -- A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.”

By “ETs,” Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, "The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today."

I agree with the perspective of William Irwin Thompson, who wrote: “The meeting we are expecting in front of us in linear time has already occurred, is now occurring, and will continue to occur." Advanced aliens “do not talk to us, they play with us through our history. ... Our subjective-objective distinctions about reality are incorrect. As in the world view of the Hopi Indians, Matter, Energy, and Consciousness form a continuum.”

Friday, November 25, 2005

Schell on The Fall of Empire

Reading Jonathan Schell's new piece in The Nation, Fall of the One-Party Empire, I get that familiar creeping sensation again, the one warning me that most liberal and progressive commentators have a wrong angle on what is happening these days, and are spewing their volumes of punditry into the void. Schell is correct that
... the aim of Republican strategy has been a Republican Party that permanently runs the United States and a United States that permanently runs the world. The two aims have been driven by a common purpose: to steadily and irreversibly increase and consolidate power in GOP hands, leading in the direction of a one-party state at home and a global American empire abroad.
But the notion that a handful of indictments and a bit of assertiveness on the part of the Justice Department means that "democracy, after years of decline, has gained the upper hand," is absurd wish-fulfillment.

For the purposes of this Blog entry, I cannot go into the many factors and analyses that have led me to conclude that the underlying institutions of our country are so deeply compromised and corrupted that no reform is possible. That is a determination that each individual must make for themselves, after reviewing the available data and utilizing their intuition as well as their sharpest reasoning faculties. While Schell argues,
The institutions of government and the economy, drawn like iron filings into the magnetic field of power, failed at first to check the Administration. But the public, represented by opinion polls, has stepped in, and the institutions are following. Not since the Soviet Union fell fourteen years ago have we witnessed a greater reversal of fortune.
I would say we should reserve judgment, and await further reversals. The cards of military power, media might, surveillance, and subterfuge are all in the hands of the GOP, who will no dount play them as they see fit. A surprise military strike on an "Axis of Evil" country, a terrorist attack in a major U.S. city, or some similar unpleasant surprise would quickly revert the national mood to one of cowed sullenness.

Instead of focusing their entire energies on on the unlikely possibility of reform of the current system, progressive and liberal intellectuals might begin to build the new institutions and community infrastructures that will be necessary as the current structure disintegrates. The federal response to the Katrina disaster, creating a template for the institution of martial law and the kneejerk revoking of basic citizen rights, should serve as a fair warning for what lies ahead.

Part of what progressive commentators such as Schell are entirely lacking, in my opinion, is any understanding of the shamanic dimensions of consciousness - of psychic, mystical, occult, and prophetic aspects of reality - which are required to gain any true understanding of what is taking place. Of course, that is a topic for a much longer discussion - one I make in my books and articles and will continue in this Blog.

To look at a group that is directly engaged in reinventing community activism in New Orleans, check out CommonGround.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

drawing of me in popocculture

Tim Boucher recently interviewed me for popocculture, accompanied by this quirky sketch by Jared Drew Moody:

Daniel Pinchbeck Interview

The Mayan Apocalypse

I wrote this piece for nprophet, a blog.

The Mayan Apocalypse
Daniel Pinchbeck

Over the past decade, I have engaged in an intellectual and spiritual odyssey that began when I was in my late twenties, in the depths of an existential crisis. At that time I was a journalist whose work had appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, among others, and the editor of a New York-based literary magazine, Open City. I was brought up as an atheist in a countercultural milieu – my mother was a novelist, book editor, and former member of the Beat Generation; my father was an abstract painter living in SoHo. I had internalized the modern scientific view of a world lacking a sacred or transcendent dimension – the “universe in ruins” described by Bertrand Russell. Suffering from nihilism, I found that I desperately needed to interrogate my world view, and to see if there were any other options.

The only events in my life that suggested the possibility of other forms of consciousness or other realms of being were my psychedelic journeys on mushrooms and LSD, back in college. I decided to return to psychedelics and systematically study this culturally suppressed and forbidden area. I explored the substances I had known, and learned about many I had never heard of before. I tried ayahuasca, the sacred “medicine” of the Amazon basin, brewed from two jungle plants, in a ceremony in downtown Manhattan. I also took an assignment from a music magazine to go through a tribal initiation in Gabon, on the West African equator, using a psychedelic rootbark, iboga, that sent me on a long trip back through my childhood, also featuring prophetic hints and telepathic views. I wrote about these experiences, and many others, in my first book, Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, published by Random House, in 2002.

The upshot of my study – which included doing shamanic work with the Mazatec Indians in Mexico and the Secoya tribe in the Ecuadorean Amazon, visiting the Burning Man festival in Nevada, and exploring synthetic compounds invented in the last decades – was that I became convinced, through my experiences, that the shamanic, occult, or mystical worldview was more accurate than the materialist worldview I had inherited. I transferred my allegiances from Freud to Jung, whose acceptance of synchronicity, of archetypes belonging to a collective unconscious, and the “reality of the psyche,” seemed to support the shamanic worldview through the prism of modern depth psychology. Over the course of my research, I encountered extraordinary numbers of synchronicities and various forms of psychic phenomena in which I had no “belief” beforehand. My world view was forced to expand to allow for this new data.

Among the substances I tried was the superpotent fast-acting psychedelic, dimethyltryptamine, known as DMT. DMT was the subject of a 1990s study by Doctor Rick Strassman at the University of New Mexico, the results compiled in his book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Strassman noted that DMT was an endogamous chemical in human beings, naturally occurring in our brains (perhaps produced by the pineal gland) and spinal column. Strassman was a Buddhist, and he had noted that Buddhist texts described the soul reincarnating seven weeks after death. The pineal gland appeared in fetal development exactly forty-nine days after conception. Strassman wondered if this was a more than accidental conjunction – if DMT, or some other compound produced by the pineal gland could be the “spirit molecule,” a kind of conductive medium drawing the soul down into the body and releasing it at death. When I smoked DMT, I found that I completely lost contact with this reality, and entered another dimension or realm that seemed fully convincing, yet almost overwhelming in its otherness. The best I could describe this other realm was “Tibetan mandalas meets Disney World in the Twenty-Fifth Century” – it seemed simultaneously geometric, hyper-organic, hyperreal. I had the sensation of much higher levels of consciousness watching over this realm, and inspecting me as I passed through it – the entire trip lasted less than ten minutes. Although DMT is a naturally occurring compound in the human body and in many plants, it was made illegal by the US Government in the late 1960s.

I was left wondering why Western culture found it necessary to drastically repress not only psychedelic chemicals, but the entire worldview of shamanism with its focus on intuitive and magical aspects of reality, represented by the burning of witches in the Inquisition, and the destruction of native traditions during Colonialism. It seemed to me that this suppression masked some deep ontological threat to the modern mind. Since I had validated the precepts of shamanism for myself, I also began to wonder about the prophecies that many indigenous cultures hold about the time we are in right now – from the Hopi Indians of New Mexico, who believe we are on the verge of transitioning from one “world” to another, to the Classical Mayan civilization of the Yucatan, obsessed with time and astronomy, who seemed to predict that the imminently approaching year of 2012 represented a transformational threshold for human consciousness. I began to realize that prophecy was more than specious prediction – as Armin Geertz, a Hopi anthropologist, noted, “Prophecy is a thread in the total fabric of meaning, in the total worldview. In this way it can be seen as a way of life and of being.”

My investigation of prophecy became the core of my new book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, to be released in April by Viking-Penguin. Four years in the making, it synthesizes a vast range of philosophical ideas and approaches, outsider scholarship about the Mayan Calendar, and my own personal investigation of a range of phenomena that fall utterly outside the current mainstream paradigm, including the bizarre narratives of alien abductions, the UK-based evolution of the crop circles over the last thirty years, and the Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion that mixes Christian and indigenous elements and uses ayahuasca as its sacrament. For the book, I absorbed ideas from Carl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, the psychedelic pundit Terence McKenna, and the German philosopher Jean Gebser, author of The Ever-Present Origin, a study of the evolution of consciousness that influenced Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson, among others. I also evaluated the recent wave of mystical interpretations of the discoveries of quantum physics, including Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics and books by the Indian physicist Amit Goswami, The Self-Aware Universe and Physics of the Soul.

My perspective also takes the Judeo-Christian tradition into account, especially focusing on the Gnostic Christianity revealed by the “Gospel of Thomas,” discovered in the Naj Hammadi desert in 1945, but potentially dating from the same era as the canonical gospels. Over the last decades, there has been a great wave of interest, in progressive cultural circles, in spirituality and mysticism, but almost entirely of the Eastern and non-Western variety, from Hinduism and yoga to Buddhism, and now shamanism. For people in my secular world, the hardest tradition to examine or assimilate has been our own – partially, this is because of the destructive effects and blood-soaked character of this tradition, which proclaimed Christian values while committing genocide against indigenous populations across the world, and whose missionaries still seek to impose Christianity on tribal and non-Western cultures, even today.

Steiner and Jung gave me access to my own tradition. I consider Jung’s essay, "Answer to Job," one of the most important texts of the Twentieth Century, providing a psychoanalytic portrait of the Western "god-image," Jahweh, as he developed, in a dialectical relationship with his chosen people, the Jews, through the Old and the New Testaments. Jung notes that the Western god-image has been undergoing his own evolution – in the earlier works of the Old Testament, Jahweh often seems to have the personality of a primitive war-lord or despotic king, inciting increased consciousness by inflicting suffering on the Jews. Job is the first human being to recognize that the god-image is not simply beyond judgment and understanding, but contains antinomies, schisms within his own nature, that make him the "dark god" of the unconscious as well as a benevolent life-giving deity. According to Jung, Job’s realization forces a concomitant realization on the part of the god-image; the creator fears the skeptical gaze of his creature, and he is forced to incarnate as Christ, a manifestation of the "good god," as a dialectical compensation for his previous amorality. Jung realized that the incarnation of Christ was preparation – that the god-image intended to incarnate in the collective body of humanity, and that this event was approaching quickly. Jung saw the flying saucer phenomenon of the 1950s as a sign of an imminent transformation in the nature of the psyche.

Jung’s follower Edward Edinger thought we had entered the archetypal frame of the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse, which he interpreted as, essentially, a momentous psychic event – the “coming of the Self” into conscious realization. I agree with this interpretation, which also fits the understanding of the Mayan Calendar developed by the visionary thinker Jose Arguelles (The Mayan Factor) and the Swedish biologist Carl Johan Calleman (The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness). According to Edinger, the “Book of Revelation” is a text of oppositions, suggesting the extraordinarily difficult task facing the Western psyche, of reconciling, and bringing to consciousness, the negative and positive poles of the psyche. He notes that the “Whore of Babylon” in the Book of Revelation drinks the “disgusting filth of her fornication” out of a “golden cup,” which is a symbol of the precious vessel of the higher self. We are being forced to recognize, and assimilate, all of the suppressed contents of the psyche, in order to evolve to a higher state of consciousness – Apocalypse literally means “uncovering” or “revealing.”

The process of Apocalypse involves a realization that Western civilization is founded on a fundamentally flawed conception of time. Through our solar calendars, desynchronized from natural cycles, and our technological projections, we have reified a conception of time as an unvarying linear extension akin to space, in which ultimate fulfillment or completion lies in a far-distant and undefined future condition. We are constantly projecting our hopes, dreams, and desires onto the future – acting as though the present moment is somehow insufficient, founded upon a lack or failure of being. Part of Christ’s mission on the earth was to directly challenge this misconception through his parables and elegant paradoxes. He said, for instance, “The hour is coming, and now is.” Christ spoke and acted from the perspective of what Gebser calls “origin,” the transcendent domain, outside of space and time, given rigorous formulation by quantum physics.

Indigenous groups such as the Hopi or the Australian Aboriginals live in a form of time that is vastly different from our modern conception of it. The Hopi have a “continuum consciousness” in which “all time is present now,” and events follow a pre-set pattern. `For the Aboriginals, there was never a “fall of man” into a degraded state. Every day is the “first day,” the origin point, and the purpose of their rituals and ceremonies is to maintain the perfection of creation.

I consider this revelation of the existence of other orders of time to be one of the great values of the psychedelic experience, as Aldous Huxley described it in his classic work on mescaline, The Doors of Perception: Psychedelics have the potential to act as tremendous deconditioning agents, revealing the numinous and eternal quality of the present moment, scrubbing away the accumulation of mental habits and conditioned responses that keep us wired into a delusory social reality based on perpetual postponement. This may be the main reason they are perceived as a threat – they threaten the value system of mainstream society, not peripherally, but directly and ontologically. They are, as Ralph Metzner noted, “Gnostic catalysts.”

While Christianity is certainly opposed to direct experience of non-ordinary states produced by psychedelic compounds found in plants, it is far less certain that Christ would have shared this perspective. “Open the doors for yourself, so you will know what is,” he proclaims in the “Gospel of Thomas.” I believe that Christ, as a revolutionary Gnostic figure, can be reclaimed for a progressive and contemporary spirituality that does not believe Christ somehow “saved our souls” through the crucifixion. Instead, by acting from the transcendent domain, he provided a model for the selfless action required in an Apocalyptic age. Christ only “saves our souls” if we follow his lead, which requires a tireless engagement with contemporary social and spiritual reality. His “doctrine” is one of immanence instead of transcendence.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Review of GenerationRx in LA Weekly

I reviewed Greg Critser's new book, Generation Rx, for LA Weekly this week. The piece is here. Actually, it is more of an overview than a review. I found the business story, which is the main focus of the book, to be tedious and repetitive. However, the issues raised by the book - about our propensity for medicalization of physical and psychological conditions, the corruption of regulatory agencies, and so on - are crucial ones.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iran Nuke Strike Imminent?

The question of whether or not the US Government plans an imminent nuclear strike against Iran has gotten little publicity in the mainstream press. This article from makes a good case for us to take this idea very seriously.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Welcome to my new blog. I am the author of Breaking Open the Head. I have recently completed a book on prophecy, which will come out in the Spring of 2006 from Viking-Penguin. The book is titled 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. We can discuss the subject of prophecy here in great depth. I am also the editorial director of a new media and membership organization, The Evolver Project. This project is related to my understanding of the meaning of the Mayan Calendar as a "time-table for the evolution of consciousness," in the words of Carl Johan Calleman. For those who haven't checked it out, I recommend taking a look at the Millenium Ecosystems Assessment, compiled by the UN. I believe we are in an accelerated evolutionary process leading to a transformation of consciousness - a shift in the nature of the psyche -- within the next five years.