1) Sisters of The Extreme,
Women Writing on the Drug Experience
2) Chögyam Trungpa, Great Eastern Sun
3) Nina Graboi photograph
4) Steven Harrison, Getting To Where You Are
5) Alex Grey, The Mission of Art
6) David jay Brown, Virus, the Alien Strain
7) Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
8) Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization
9) Lao Tse, The Tao te Ching
10) Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Millionth Circle,
How to Change Ourselves and the World
11) Nick Herbert, Physics on all Fours
12) Stephen Gaskin, Cannabis Spirituality
13)_Rosenthal, Dieringer, Mikuriya: 
14) Saul Rubin:  OFFBEAT MARIJUANA, 
The Life and Times of the World's Grooviest Plant.
15) Chøgyam Trungpa:  THE PATH IS THE GOAL, A Basic Handbook of Buddhist Meditation.
17) W.Y. Evans-Wentz: 


Cynthia Palmer and Michael Horowitz:  Park Street Press Rochester, Vermont

Louisa May Alcott,   Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anais Nin,  Mabel Dodge Luhan,  Maya Angelou,  Lenore Kandel,  Billie Holiday,   Edith Piaf,   Diane di Prima and Many Others -

I am both humbled and proud to be one of the "many others", sandwiched between the wise  words of Anita Hoffman (from Trashing) and the lovely words of Rosemary Woodruff Leary, (Peyote Equinox).

What have you read about women in the world of psychedelics?  Probably very little.  Perhaps something about the  great Eleusinian mysteries of ancient Greece, mysteries dedicated to the Goddess Demeter which centered around  the use of "kykeon" a drink made of ergot (LSD) soaked  grain.  Something about the Inquisition and witches brews?  You might have heard of the women today unjustly imprisoned with long sentences for being around illegal sacramental substances.

Well, this wonderful book, a very expanded version of the author's previous book, Shaman Woman, Mainline Lady,  makes up for the dearth of information. It is amazingly complete.  Some of the women it references, will amaze you, such as Louisa May Alcott. From the Goddess Isis, one of the great herbalists of all time, to Simone Garrigues who initiates us into the kind of LSD communication possible between a pregnant woman (her mother) and the fetus she is carrying, (herself, Simone),  there is a richness of sharing. "My mother and I achieved a union that was more vast, more seamless than even our circumstances… myearly introduction to psychedelics, two weeks after conception, is not remarkable. … we grew out of, around and into drugs.  The stuff is in our very chromosomes…(and later when she herself took peyote) I understood that inevitably my mind would return to its old habits if I did not keep the gates open.  So I began meditation practise."
    These first hand accounts carry us into the heavens, hells and purgatories of women who ingest consciousness changing substances. There is a pushing of the boundaries of honesty. Great waves of consciousness open the reader to feel the kinds of trips possible with many kinds of sacraments:  this book is not a moral tractate but an unfolding of layer after layer of experience.  Until all that is left are the fascinating words.
    " I know of some women, not Indians, who wear a peyote button nestled high in their vaginas like a cervical cap.  … the women who tell me about this say this is an exquisite way to 'suspend' ordinary consciousness … I first began searching for God with LSD as the introductionto the realm of the invisible and have come to celebrating with mushrooms the presence of all the Gods and Goddesses.  Gods and Goddesses are my name for forces that move through me, and are not exclusive of monotheism at all.  There are just many faces of the Supreme Spirit."  (Jeannine Parvatifrom Hygieia:  A Woman's Herbal)
 And the experience itself.  It is exactly because these are women that the sharing of emotions and knowledge is awesome.

                    My "forever friend", Nina Graboi, who died last year,
                    is one of the last entries in a rich book
 filled with woman after woman whose pioneering 
                    explorations open up vistas of new consciousness.
          She wrote: Today is my 80th birthday.  I have
          taken LSD to celebrate it.………… Watching my
          body transform from young and vigorous to old
          and frail removes the last illusions of a me-ness
          confined to a physical body.

Since my body, at 78, is shutting down piece by piece, I, too can really relate to that - and thank you, Nina.  I had a death ceremony for my 78th birthday, a beautiful celebration conducted by AumDoc and Steve.  A few weeks later, I went to a Goa Gil trance dance in the mountains and took LSD. Alas, my old body, pushing valiently to stay up all night, went in and out of dream states from 2 or so on.   I also discovered what I should have known after all these years of ingesting sacrament -
taking LSD while attached to an oxygen tank with the cannula buzzing noisily in my nose every few seconds was mightily unwise., not the proper setting. But in spite of it all, love came and calmed the fears - with a little help from my friends!  At dawn I woke in time to see a huge aum  come electronically flying out of the video screen, the
sun came up over the hills, and Goa Gil's voice said, "In the future, remember this moment ofjoy."

 I want to thank Park Street Press for having the courage to publish this wonderful book.
Certainly I want to thank Cynthia Palmer and Michael Horowitz.  Especially for including a chapter from my book, The Scrapbook of a Haight Ashbury Pilgrim!

This is a book for reference, for spiritual openings, for delight in reading.  Savor it.

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Short Raves of Fabulous Books

Chøgyam Trungpa, Dorje Dradul of Mukpo: Great Eastern Sun, The Wisdom of Shambala - edited by Carlyn Rose Gimian - SHAMBALA PUBLICATIONS 1999

    Chogyam Trungpa was the perfect example of Timothy Leary’s great line, “The lesson of the Tao is more likely to be found among ………smiling men with bad reputations. ”  His wisdom slices through hypocrisy and empty ritual.   In fact two of his books, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism  and Crazy Wisdom are seminal for the  spiritual seeker.
His remarkable teachings of Shambala can be accessed through Shambala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior, and this book called The Great Eastern Sun. “The Shambala training is based on developing gentleness and genuiness so that we can help ourselves and develop tenderness in our hearts … it is about time that we did something to help the world.”
    In my next collection of reviews I promise to go over all of Trungpa’s books in my possession (lots).  For now this is not only highly recommended but some acquaintance with Trungpa is suggested as a basis for sanity in the often confusing world of “spiritual” paths.
"Heaven is anything that is spacious.  It includes your lofty ideas, your beliefs, your metaphysics, your wishes, your desires.  It is anything you hold as sacred, anything you might put in your safe-deposit box …

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Steven Harrison: Getting To Where You Are, The Life of Meditation - TARCHER/PUTNAM 1999

    Steven Harrison is a delightful and dedicated man whose life-work seems to be guiding the seeker into recognition of non-action as ultimate enlightenment. Enlightenment is our excuse to live in time, to live from thought , and to navigate our life from a self centered perspective.  …… If there is no enlightenment, then all we have is the actuality of our life.  This is not convenient.
    A Tibetan Buddhist named Saraha said that centuries ago, but it needs to be shouted for our times.
    Harrison is giving weekend seminars in how to Do Nothing, the title of his first book.  I suppose if he were really serious about his message, he’d probably garden more and teach less.  But his heart is very open, and so are his books.  He giggles and wisdoms you to self examination.  Probably in the end, you will take a bike ride or a toke and love yourself and this amazing universe for exactly what it is, not what you want to make of it.
 You’ll love him, too.
States of mind come and go.  Thoughts and feelings arise and pass away.  Weíre not going anywhere, thought is going somewhere.  We donít have anywhere to go that isnít where we already are.
Harrison walks his talk.  All author profits from his books are donated to charity through All Together Now International,  … providing aid to street children and the destitute in Nepal.                  

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Alex Grey:  The Mission of Art, 
Foreword by Ken Wilber - SHAMBALA 1998

    One after another, the paintings of Alex Grey open us up to the electron energy that pervades and underlies the material plane.
    This book is a compendium of wisdom and  honesty, astounding art that reveals the intensity of the universe in every blazing line and a deep inquiry into the nature and meaning of art.  It opens with a line drawing of Beethoven whose third eye radiates fire, energy and musical notes.  Under the painting, one I had never seen of Grey’s, is the quotation from Beethoven: "There is no loftier mission than to approach the Godhead nearer than other people, and to disseminate the divine rays among humanity.”
The last words of the book are:
Shaman, yogi, devotional prayer
  all break through with the visionary cure,
Take the artist to the heights and depths
  needed to find the medicine of the moment,
A new image of the Infinite One,
  the God of creation
Manifesting effulgently,
With the same empty fullness
  that Buddha knew
And the same compassionate healing
  that Jesus spread.
Krishna plays his flute
  and the Goddess dances
And the whole tree of life vibrates
  with the power of love.
A mosaic and tile maker inspired by Rumi
  finds infinite patterns of connectivity
In the garden of spiritual interplay
As the World Spirit awaits its portraist.
 Grey writes of art as informational and inspirational.  He opens his life to let us see his own search in both a dark and brilliant way and how the sacramental use of LSD opened him to his own heart. The heart is the altar of the body.  The heart is consecrated by its association with love and the living light of the soul.
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David Jay Brown - Virus, The Alien Strain - NEW FALCON PUBLICATIONS

Painting with  words that shoot emotions, colors, events at  you in a psychedelic science fiction(??) intense and rapid melodrama, Brown wins the “Best Novel that is Really a Psychedelic Trip award.  Who is Who?  Whose brain  splinters into the electron dance?  Yours??  Hers??  Is she a her or a him?  Is she/he one of the many characters inhabiting your/mine/mind or are these really characters dancing along inside the pages of a book?  Too real to be real.  Could we REALLY experience an alien virus that would open us to expanded brownian movement?  Do you want to know what it is like to be smarter and faster than the rest of humanity?
Is the hero/heroine insane, and can there really be a virus transmitted by kissing?  Come on and try - letís see what happens.
Good story, good sex,  fantastic (literally) idea.
A miracle in action.  A glorious time to be alive in the universe.  Pulsars and quasars winked rainbows knowingly at us.  Nodding nebulae slowly drifted by, as we sailed - in all of our wonderful magnificence - across the vast oceans of interstellar space.
Reads a little like a trip I once had, or maybe several trips I once had.
Although this is easy reading, good for a hot summer afternoon or a cold winter night, it dissolves realities until, ego shaking, you yearn to experience it and are grateful it is a story in a paperback book.  By the way, the cover is a magnificent painting of a heroine rising, fingers in a v-for-victory sign, towards the light of the One carried on the spiral of forever-change.
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Mark Nepo - The Book of Awakening, Having the Life You Want By Being Present to the Life You Have - CONARI PRESS, 2000

    Although I'm a little burned out on the innumerable Book of Days that have been published in the last year,  I must admit that the honest personal simplicity of Mark Nepo is inspiring.  Most authors tell us what we should or shouldn't think from the heights of their years of psychotherapeutic practice of spiritual know-how.  Nepo's illustrations often come from his own subjective experiences.  Today,  he recommends helping each other through inquiring into our needs for understanding or support.
 Suppose, instead of vacuously asking an acquaintance on the street “How ARE you?”, not really caring, we asked, “Do you need any understanding, clarity, support?”.  What a welcome change!
All these day books have Thoughts For The Day.  (By the way, you can get pithy, sometimes humerous, thoughts for the day by joining - for free, of course -  from http://www.changes org in your e-mail if you care to do so! Try it; it's interactive and you can contribute a few yourselves!)
Nepo's thought for today is: Thereís no need to seek the truth, just put a stop to your opinions. Of course, if I put a stop to my opinions, I could hardly write book reviews!
If you enjoy waking up in the morning and turning to a poetically and spiritually inspiring passage that includes a quotation, a commentary and some meditation suggestions, Nepo's book is one of the better of the best of the many that have come my way.
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Daniel Quinn - Beyond Civilization, Humanity’s Next Great Adventure - HARMONY BOOKS, RANDOM HOUSE

(Although very late in reviewing this important book.)  Its short and pithy chapters are like Maxwell’s silver hammer in the Beetle's song - they hit you in your meme-driven assumptions of what social life is and what it could be if we’d just let go.  …we shouldn't be alarmed solely by the one percent who live like lords of the universe.  We must be equally alarmed by the other ninety nine percent who are hoping to live like lords of the Universe.

 Inspired by the possibilities of a new tribal society right here in the middle of “civilization” (oh, boy) as we know it and by the possibilities of really new ways of living our lives differently in the Taker economy that surrounds us , Quinn promises no miracles.  He does not say that a few people changing can change the world. He does say that a few people changing can can change more people into changing can eventually change the world.
 There is no real ending - just endless beginnings.  As Quinn wrote: The dynamite ending is for YOU to write.
This simple but complex book with its mandala of bees cooperating around a honey comb is important if you have any aspirations to march to the beat of a different drummer.
Highly recommended.
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Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching - translated by John C.H. Wu - SHAMBALA, originally published by St. John’s Press 1961

A marvelous translation.  Whether Lao Tzu actually existed or is a compendium of Taoists, whether he put down these words before disappearing over the Great Wall of China into ‘barbarian’ lands is immaterial.  I'm going to simply copy a few verses.++++++++(the above crosses were entered by my cat, Cheetah who wants me to get up from the computer and let her out!)
Heaven-and-Earth is not sentimental;
It treats all things as straw-dogs,
The Sage is not sentimental;
He treats all people as straw-dogs.
Between Heaven-and-Earth,
There seems to be a Bellows:
It is empty, and yet it is inexhaustible;
The more it works, the more comes out of it.
No amount of words can fathom it:
Better look for it within you.
   (straw dogs, by the way, were dogs made of straw and thrown by the  hundreds into graves when people died.
  Puts a spin on how nature sees us.)
More:  the first verse of #78:
Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water;
But, for attacking the hard and strong, there is nothing like it!
For nothing can take its place.
That the weak overcomes the strong, and  the soft overcomes the hard,
This is something known by all, but practiced by none.

Enough quoted to give you an idea of the poetry and precision of this translation.

I want to add that the beauty of Shambala’s Dragon Editions gives a whole new status to the idea of “paper backs”.  Shambala says of themselves  The dragon is an age old symbol of the highest spiritual essence……Shambala Dragon Editions offers a treasury of readings in the sacred knowledge of Asia.  In presenting the works of authors both ancient and modern, we seek to make these teachings accessible to lovers of wisdom everywhere.
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Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.  - The Millionth Circle, How to Change Ourselves and The World - CONARI PRESS 1999

This extraordinary little book is another example of how to express deep wisdom with few words.  Although written ostensibly for women’s circles, it is applicable to all circles.  And we hope there are more and more circles of people in growing understanding and fewer and fewer of the anachronistic, medieval pyramid with a Teacher at the top, whether talking heads at the countless and usually expensive seminars and workshops or university teachers. (oops, my prejudices just surfaced again).
Shinoda writes so precisely, with so few words, that her book itself is a testament to a new way of communicating.
The circle is a principle as well as a shape.
It goes counter to the social order, pecking order,
superior/inferior, ranking order
that compares each individual woman to others.
Sitting in a circle, each woman has a physical position that is equal
to every other woman in the circle.
She takes her turn and the circle turns,
she speaks up and is heard.
Still old habits prevail, until the practice of equality
makes equality the expected norm.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. is a Jungian analyst as well as author and teacher.
This book and Quinn’s book are complementary.
As she says, When a critical mass - the hundredth monkey or the millionth circle, tips the scales, a new era will be ushered in and patriarchy will be over.
In the meantime, let us work for its end and the concomitant end of mindless ecological disaster and violence as a means of international politics.
There is also an on-line forum for millionth circle readers ;  FOR A CATALOG OF CONARI BOOKS,   http://
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Physics on All Fours, 

    Nick was for years the brilliant, barefoot physicist whose books like Faster Than Light, Elemental Mind etc. unveiled the secrets of quantum physics. Recently he has been undergoing a mid-life rebirth into the joys of Quantum Tantra, the Science of the New Millennium.  Quantum Tantra aims to contact Nature directly, not  by external observation as our present physics does so well, but by joining our inner lives to the inner lives of what we now regard as objects.

Herbert’s poetry is a geyser of love for What Is.

A melding of rhythm and word leads to a melting together of consciousness and the world out there, rocks, electrons, star systems and Her, the created and creator.  Or is it Creatress?

These poems are wonderful, wondrous,  magical zen exercises, a lover's loving embrace of Everything and beyond.  I laugh with love reading them.

 Once I took LSD or maybe it was mushrooms in the Oregon woods.  After struggling through a patch of blackberry vines that tore at me in their fear of being violated, I threw myself down exhausted in a meadow patch with great warm rocks.  There the earth  took me for Herself.  In the victory of her loving arms, I had a spontaneous total orgasm.
Nick’s book is an on-going celebration of that experience;  a paean to love.  Not just love of women, although that is graphically here.  This is love for all that exists, the manifold mystery.
Here is just the tiniest bit of a quote - but each poem is different - and each poem full of that love:
The last few verses of a poem called  Virtual Reality
Let's pretend we are gods
That run this whole show
And whatever we please
Is the way it will go

Let's play we are separate
Let's play we are One
Let's play we are dying
Pretending is fun

Let's pretend we are suffering
From a wound that won’t heal
Let's forget weíre pretending
Let'spretend it's all real.

That doesn’t really give you a good idea of the depths of Herbert’s poetry, but I hope it's enough to make you want to buy this book.  It will tickle you into a new kind of ‘higher’ consciousness and titillate your love juices on the way.
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Stephen Gaskin:  CANNABIS SPIRITUALITY, With 13 Guidelines for Sanity and Safety.  Thank you, Stephen, for having the courage to jump the medical/industrial cannabis barriers and speak openly about the remarkable spiritual uses of marijuana.  Personally I use marijuana to calm my guts, to allay the muscle spasms I get from the allopathic meds I must use,  but it's dearest use to me is as an aid in transcendence.   ……  it's what makes it possible for us to make it on the planet, that we can look around and catch somebody's eye and know that we're all really in this together. Sometimes I take a joint and go out into the woods and smoke it. I see everything that's there …… I go into communication with God and the universe.  Again thank you, Stephen Gaskin.

High Times Corporation 1997

Rosenthal, Dierginger, Mikuriya:  MARIJUANA MEDICAL HANDBOOK - from medicinal uses of marijuana (Mikuriya is an M.D.) to how to roll a joint, this book ranges over an enormous amount of material. 1997 Quick American Archives .  Excellent resource book.  Recommended.  Many patients find marijuana essential to their daily functioning, relieving them from the distractions of pain, discomfort and debilitating suffering.

Saul Rubin:  OFFBEAT MARIJUANA, The Life and Times of the World's Grooviest Plant.  From the history to the pop culture surrounding marijuana, this is a zingy book, laid out to catch your (stoned?) eye.  The information, researched, amusing and often amazing,  tickles the sensibilities.  What they say is true, many people who smoke marijuana move on to harder things, graduate school, for example.  A NORML POSTER)

Chøgyam Trungpa:  THE PATH IS THE GOAL, A Basic Handbook of Buddhist Meditation.  As always Trungpa cuts through what Fritz Perl calaled "the elephant shit" as he shows his students how to meditate - watch  the observer/playwright/actors/set and setting of their (our) melodramas.  The teacher should be a traveler too, someone who is traveling with you. ……… Rather than being stuck with enlightenment and unable to go beyond it.

Shambala 1995 - all of Trungpa's books are Highly Recommended.

Rebecca McClen Novick:  FUNDAMENTALS OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM.   Novick lays out  the basic tenets of Tibetan Buddhism so elegantly and simply that while we can absorb them easily, we don't feel cheated of accuracy and depth.  Recommended for those unfamiliar with this highly evolved Buddhism or wanting to re-engage in its basic principles.  Only when one's compassion is spontaneous can it be called "great compassion",  Having generated such compassion, the Mahayana practitioner then makes it her/his personal goal to develop spiritually in order to help others overcome their suffering.

 Crossing Press 1999

W.Y. Evans-Wentz: THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE GREAT LIBERATION or The Method of Realizing Nirvana Through Knowing the Mind. (commentary by C.G. Jung)  This book was one of four illustrious works by Evans-Wentz.  All four were of seminal importance during the great awakening of the Haight Ashbury's Summer of Love.  In this book the life and teachings of Padma Sambhava are the background for far reaching information on the nature of reality. Oxford University Press 1954  (I don't don't know if this has been re-issued.) The yogin must come to realize that the world of human concepts is merely a product of the micro-cosmic mind even as the Cosmos is the product of the macro-cosmic mind.
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