Part 1 proposed that a new, ‘2nd Psychedelic Revolution’ utilizing different entheogens (both natural and synthetic), electronic music, and the World Wide Web, has emerged phoenix-like from the ashes of the original 1960’s LSD-and-Rock Revolution. Parts 2,3, and 4 examined the contributions of contemporary psychedelic culture’s principal architects; the chemist Alexander Shulgin (1925-2014), the mycologist Terence McKenna (1946-2000), and the visionary artist Alex Grey (1956- ). Part 5 proposed that rather than a 2nd Psychedelic Revolution, with the synthesis and creation of new psychedelic compounds at the beginning of the 20th Century, western culture has in fact entered into the 6th great entheogenic era in human history. In this, the final installment of the series, I ask ‘Why?’ (Find Parts 1-5 here.)
For those of you who have been reading this series from its beginning, I must apologize, since this final chapter has taken far longer than I anticipated for a number of different reasons, not the least of which being the fact that I have been grappling with the scope of my conclusions, and searching for the concise language with which to present them. Psychedelic History and Psychedelic Philosophy are both enormous, virtually neglected fields of scholarship, and there are days where I feel like I could write endless volumes about various complex facets of the Psychedelic Experience; thus any attempt to summarize the importance of psychedelics to our contemporary culture within the confines of a single article is somewhat doomed to generalizations. However, after the surprising publication of my book on the entheogenic experience Tryptamine Palace in 2009, and now more than six years of addressing audiences around the world on these complicated and diverse subjects, I have come to some definitive conclusions of my own about both the practical use of entheogens – psychedelics capable of providing a sacred or mystical experience – and the ultimate purpose of their surprising reappearance in contemporary western culture.