It’s been established that in a clinical setting, psychedelics can inspire a mystical-type experience in almost 7/10 people. That’s wonderful, but it’s also creating a kind of psychedelic Tower of Babel, where everyone is having their individual experiences, but nobody can really communicate them and contribute to our collective understanding of the Mystery. For one thing, most people don’t have the facility with symbolic language necessary to convey perceptions of consciousness contents that transcend conceptual thought. For another, they have no skill: as dosages increase, they lose lucidity, and thus can’t retain what it is they’ve seen. (This could be related to one’s ability to recall dreams; comparing waking up in the morning to write down what you remember, versus waking up in the middle of the night after a vivid dream to immediately record your perceptions.)
So anyway it’s likely that at some point, people will begin trying to gather for group experiences, and for that effort to be successful, there will have to be structure. For one thing, people will have to be able to keep their shit together. If they act out, they’ll disrupt the experiences of the people around them. For another, there’s the question of, “Well, what are we going to do?” Grateful Dead shows and raves were an answer: let’s party! Which is fine, but the sole emphasis on achieving ecstatic joy via identification with the group severely limits the possibilities for growth the group psychedelic experience affords.
Entheotainments are, as far as I know, the first fully mapped out attempt to create a group experience that builds skill with psychedelics in a progressing manner, allows people to engage in challenging psychological tasks that advance the process of individuation, create a safe container in which the experienced can push their limits as they seek knowledge about the Divine that they can then share with others, and establishes an ordeal people can go through together with the intention of building communitas.
I’ve been granted a vision of the future. I saw a football stadium filled with 50,000 people, all there to see a titantic stage spectacle that was like a Van Halen concert crossed with Moulin Rouge crossed with Cirque du Soleil, and every participant was on mushrooms. I thought about the kind of society that could produce 50,000 adults with the psychological maturity and emotional self-control to be on mushrooms in public and discipline themselves to take part in an ritual in an altered state of consciousness, no fights, no misbehavior, no freaking out, and thought, I want to live there. Creating that society might be the only way we can survive the trials of the next couple centuries and graduate into the science fictional future we deserve.
This whole thing exists in imaginal reality. I see it so clearly. But it’s so new, so seemingly outlandish, that it’s difficult to convey to people, let alone get them on board.
Imagine you are a person alive in 1850. One night, you have a dream. You see a coliseum, like the ancient Romans had. In it is the biggest crowd you’ve ever seen, orders of magnitude larger than any you’ve ever seen. The large field in the center of the arena is mostly grass. It’s cut by dirt paths and marked by white boxes and lines. They are nine men arranged across the field in a kind of pyramidal pattern. They are wearing uniforms of a certain color. A man in a uniform of a different color steps to the head of the pyramid. He has a club in his hand. The man at the center of the pyramidal arrangement throws a ball at him. The man swings the club and hits the ball, sending it out into the field, and then runs up a dirt path. The men scurry. One recovers the ball and throws it to someone in a similar uniform.
You get the idea. You see the whole game, and somehow you know this is the World Series (even though you don’t know what that means). You can feel the pressure, the drama, the excitement. You can feel the crowd’s alternating through huge expressions of joy and disappointment. You feel those emotions too—they are bigger than any you’ve ever felt. The whole situation builds and builds until finally one of the men hits the ball so hard it actually flies out of the arena. The crowd goes wild. The uniformed men rush the field. You feel a sense of triumph and relief so powerful you burst into tears. Lights are flashing, confetti is falling. You’ve never been so happy.
And then you wake up. Somehow, some way, the rules for the game of baseball are in your head. And not just the game. You now have a context for what you’ve seen: this was a scene from one hundred years from now. It’s 1952, and the Brooklyn Dodgers have just won the pennant. You ever have a vague sense of all the historical events leading up to this. Something about a huge and terrible war.
But mostly you are beyond excited to actually play baseball. You saw how much fun those men were having. Running, throwing, jumping—they were beautiful. You want to be beautiful like that. So you start trying to get your friends to play baseball. But, incredibly, none of them seem interested. You want to play catch, fine, but why do you need a leather glove? You want to try to hit the ball with the stick, great, but why run? I don’t feel like running. I’m tired from plowing the fields. You need how many guys to do this? 18? Yeah, good luck with that. You want us to stand outside in the sun for two hours? I’ve got other things to do, guy. Throwing like that makes my shoulder hurt. Okay, it’s fun, but why would anybody sit and watch other us go through this whole rigamarole?
And etc. You can see it so clearly. You know it’ll work. Somebody just has to create the game of baseball. And you’ve got the whole plan. A plan for something that will change society. Give people a reason to come together and celebrate. Give little kids heroes to look up to. Give everyone moments of intense despair and uplift that utterly enrich their inner lives. It can work! If only you could get some people to try it.