New Release Excerpt: The Psilocybin Connection

Posted by – April 04, 2022
Categories: Excerpt Health & Healing

The Introduction to The Psilocybin Connection: Psychedelics, the Transformation of Consciousness, and Evolution on the Planet – An Integral Approach by Jahan Khamsehzadeh, PhD

My intention in this book is to expand the context of the conversations about psychedelics to fully explore their potential for individual and collective transformation. Though the philosophical and systems views I provide can be applied to most psychedelics, I focus on psilocybin mushrooms for several reasons:

  • Evidence suggests psilocybin mushrooms may have played a unique role in the evolution of early humanity.
  • Psilocybin mushrooms are widely available and grow in ecosystems worldwide (they are endemic to six continents, can be cultivated privately in one’s home, and exist in over two hundred species), and thus their accessibility to humanity may provide large scale of transformation in comparison to other psychedelics.
  • A wave of decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms is taking place across the United States, with federal medical legalization projected in a few years, and other countries may soon follow suit.
  • I have a deep practical, academic, and professional knowledge of psilocybin, having trained within the Mazatec mushroom lineage and having worked as a legal facilitator of psilocybin ceremonies in Jamaica.
  • I have a deep personal connection to psilocybin—it is the psychedelic that first helped me heal and gave my life direction.

This book is separated into three sections: Present, Past, and Future. The format is inspired by a quote from George Orwell’s 1984: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” The hope is that by rewriting our human history (based on emerging scientific evidence and a potentially more accurate explanation of the origins of humanity) we can break through the cultural and ecological stalemates that our species faces. The format is also in resonance with my Hakomi somatic psychotherapy training (meet the client in the present moment, before uncovering their beliefs that are rooted in their past, so that we can transform their future trajectory). Chapters 1 through 3 address the present, chapters 4 and 5 focus on the past, and chapters 6 and 7 speculate on our future. By shedding light on the present state of psychedelics and by looking at humanity’s evolutionary past through the lens of our present knowledge, I hope to help re-envision our collective understanding of our human identity.

Chapter 1, “The State of (the) Union,” is meant to serve as a comprehensive overview of the current understanding of psilocybin. This includes presenting and describing common characteristics of the psilocybin experience. I then consider all the major studies on psilocybin in the United States over the last sixty years, though I save a discussion on neuroscience for chapter 5 in order to inform the section on human evolution. After presenting a synthesis of the science regarding psilocybin, I continue by sharing a brief modern history of psilocybin within Western culture.

Chapter 2, “An Integral Approach to Psychedelics,” provides the philosophical and metaphysical framework for the remainder of the text. The reader may skip this chapter if they find it too abstract (the rest of the work will read fine without it). Though it is slightly more technical and introduces many concepts to the reader, it presents the logic by which one can most readily grasp a deeper understanding of psychedelics. The chapter situates psychedelics within a context of an understanding of human evolution that includes consciousness as an integral part of the process. The aim is to bring a more comprehensive model to better comprehend the paradigm-transforming psychedelic phenomenon.

Chapter 3, “An Ecology of Synergy,” situates psychedelics within a living systems framework. Psychedelic compounds, which produce complex states of consciousness (often without biological toxicity), naturally evolved in thousands of plant and hundreds of fungus species. I examine how and why such molecules may grow in the environment. It is my contention that the role and effects of psychedelics are a chief anomaly in the materialistic paradigm. Looking through the lens of an integral approach (provided in the previous chapter) may enable the reader to see why such molecules may exist in most ecosystems on the planet. An integral approach situates consciousness as a fundamental facet of ecology, and psychedelic experiences generally allow one to realize that the world is pervaded by consciousness and that we live in a complex living system. It is only through such a realization that we may come to understand how and why psychedelics grow in our environment.

With the primary concepts of the processes of evolution presented in chapters 2 and 3 in mind, chapter 4 focuses on the concrete story of evolution, starting with the Big Bang until the Agricultural Revolution. Specific focus is given to primate psychology and early tribal life, especially in areas concerning sex and diet. The chapter paints a picture for the reader, based on modern scientific understanding, of what life and social dynamics may have been like for our ancestors before the rise of settlements. It shows that our ancestors lived a lifestyle that predisposed them to psychedelic use.

Chapter 5, “The Mycelial Mind,” is the heart of this work and is meant to be superimposed over the previous chapter. Building off the research of dozens of scientists and intellectuals, I speculate on how the psilocybin mushrooms naturally growing in our ancestors’ environment may have been beneficial in five domains of early human life— group dynamics, spirituality, creativity, language, and brain development. I then compare the mushroom theory of human evolution with other leading theories that attempt to explain the origins of humanity. The section ends with a brief summary of humanity’s psychedelics history, based on anthropological evidence, from the archaic period up until our modern era.

Chapter 6, “Creativity, Healing, and Economics,” takes a detailed look at the current cultural processes catalyzed by psychedelics that serve as intimations of transformations to come. This chapter is divided into four sections. The first, “Psychotherapy and Guides,” serves as a presentation of and advice to an emerging industry focused on professionally held psychedelic experiences. Within as little as five years, there may be hundreds of psychedelic psychotherapy clinics opening worldwide. In a decade, the number could be in the thousands. “Visionary Art and Culture” presents accounts of how psychedelics have dramatically impacted visual art, music, and movies, even giving rise the field of visionary art itself. The next section is an overview of how psychedelics have and may continue to influence innovation in both philosophy and science. The last section, “Psychedelic Economics,” focuses on the similarities between blockchain (the technology underlying cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin) and how blockchain can help support the safe integration of psychedelics into society.

The final chapter, “Strange Attractors,” takes a teleological approach to the future. Psychedelic experiences often give the subject a sense that something big is about to happen in our world. This chapter begins with presenting how complexity within systems evolves and how psychedelics increase the complexity within both the brain and society, leading to novel connections and creative expressions that further accelerate the evolution of our species. Following is a presentation of visions of the future that people experienced in psychedelic states. I suggest that psychedelics may be tools of communication between the individual and the collective unconscious that may awaken visions of the future. These visions may help humanity become clear about what direction to move toward so that we can evolve consciously. The closing section, “Psychedelic (Re)Evolution,” serves as a summary for this work and presents the major implications.

About the Author

North Atlantic Books (NAB) is an independent nonprofit publisher committed to a bold exploration of the relationships between mind, body, spirit, culture, and nature. Founded in Vermont in 1974 and operating in Berkeley since 1977, NAB has been at the forefront of publishing a diverse range of original books in bodywork and somatics, ecology and sustainability, health and healing, Indigenous cultures and anthropology, psychology and personal growth, social justice and engaged activism, and spirituality and liminality. NAB’s Blue Snake Books imprint is one of the largest sources of internal and historical martial-arts books in the world.