Review: The Divine Spark – Psychedelics, Consciousness and the Birth of Civilisation – by Graham Hancock

This book, edited by one of my literary heroes, Graham Hancock, is a collection of stories focussed mainly on the expansion of consciousness by the use of psychedelics, especially the Amazonian, ‘Vine of the Soul’, Ayahuasca. The authors range from Hancock himself to the well-renowned Dennis McKenna, to British social celebrity Russell Brand. The essays range widely in subject from quantum physics to overcoming addiction, to religious mysticism experiments and detailed DMT experiences after Ayahuasca sessions. Most of the authors are very thought-provoking and explore radical ideas which are inspiring and informative. I particularly enjoyed Hancock’s personal revelations about how Ayahuasca helped him overcome a serious cannabis addiction. The use of psychedelics is becoming more widely accepted in modern society after the post-Leary backlash in 1960s America which led to a global blanket ban. It is interesting looking at the details of some of the academic studies now being performed where the medicinal advantages of treatment with psychedelics. The message from Ayahuasca can sometimes be mysterious and daunting yet it is clear, especially from many of these essays that this plant is conscious and is trying to send a message to modern humanity in the same way as it has educated and shaped the lives of shamanic communities in the Amazon for millenia. Entheogens I feel offer us an alternative to our Western traditions and most probably reveal the mysterious lost ancient knowledge that our distant ancestors possessed which gave birth to civilisation in the first place. The book content is radical and might perhaps shock the uninitiated yet I feel it is an important body of work which I shall certainly use for reference on my own transcendental journey as an Ayahuasca shaman.

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