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IN THIS DAY AND AGE, "copping a buzz" carries a certain moral stigma assigned to the lawless and godless. Still, the psychedelic experience has a long and fascinating relationship with human spirituality. We all are aware of the ancient Native American marriage between natural hallucinogens, rhythms, and religious ritual, but similar instances can be found sprinkled throughout history.
One intriguing argument for this can be found in the book Strange Fruit: Alchemy, Religion, and Magical Foods. The author, ethnobiologist/historian Clark Heinrich claims that most of man's early religions, from Zoroastrianism to Buddhism, and even Christianity, find their roots in the "spiritual awakenings" caused by nibbling on various ergot (or fungi). If you are to believe Heinrich, the burning bush wasn't the only "mystery plant" Moses encountered, and there was a little extra oomph in the manna god supplied to the Jews as they wandered the desert.
The '60s were clearly the birth of the modern psychedelic age, and the cultural shift that brought mind-altering drugs to the youth movement also brought a fascination with new forms of spirituality, particularly Hinduism and Zen Buddhism. Infamous "heads" Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary took the LSD trip to an essentially religious level of significance, but others pushed the envelope further still. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love were a postmodern sect/cultural terrorists whose doctrine was to "transform the world with LSD." The drugarific Los Angeles cult Yohawa was founded on axioms of organic foods, hedonism, and music.
Yahowa produced 10 albums of astral tribalism before founder Father Yod, the "first earthly spiritual father for the Aquarian Age" died unexpectedly in a hang gliding accident. (You can't make this stuff up!)
Not to be outdone, the Leftist Christian movement of the 1970s, including groups like the Jesus People, encouraged experimentation and social adaptation. While falling short of actually condoning psychotropic journeys, this strange trend spawned a short-lived genre of Christian psychedelic rock, with bands like the All Saved Freak Band, Glass Harp, and Azitis offering up some surprisingly solid albums to their Lord.
So, whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hippie, at least we can all agree on one thing... LET'S GET HIGH!