Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism

Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism

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.

Title:Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780767907439
Format Type:

    Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism Reviews

  • Shivatva Beniwal

    Actually, the Hebraic-Babylonian concept of God is very premature. They imagine God as an object, a person, and not as a quality. And that's why Jews claim God's official name is Yahuha and Muslims cl...

  • aloveiz

    The least insulting thing I can say about this book is maybe that Pinchbeck was too young to write this when he did. It's a complicated topic and he deserves some credit for addressing its intrigue. I...

  • Nina  H

    Reading through Pinchbeck's incredibly well-documented experiences with various plant substances such as iboga and ayahuasca, along with his quest for knowledge in understanding the dwindling shamanic...

  • blakeR

    Wow, I have rarely seen such an arrogrant prick writing so lazily. If the subject matter hadn't been absolutely fascinating, it would have gotten 1 star. Because of the subject matter, I only hated it...

  • masttek

    Pinchbeck is the type of person that gives psychedelics a bad image. While the book starts off with a rational Pinchbeck, one can already tell his rationality is more of a misplaced materialism. By th...

  • Nicholas

    Since November of 2007 to present day August 27, 2009 I have read an estimated 160 books. Daniel Pinchbeck is a voice that speaks to me more than any I've encountered along my self-developmental path....

  • Gnarly Authenticity .

    Deeply and fundamentally bogue if taken on its own terms. Three and a half stars if read as a confession by an aging horndog and failed artiste attempting to found a dope/occult cult in order to slake...

  • Joseph Y

    this is one of the few books I've ever thrown across a room...

  • Brandon Wicke

    Alright, I’ve gotta call it quits on this one.Probably just read Castaneida instead. Or drop acid and cut out the middle man. ...

  • Brian

    I enjoyed this perspective on modern/ancient psychedelic experiences. The author has a frank honesty about the rationale for his drug use and seeks out spiritual experiences throughout this novel for ...