New Essays and Articles
The Völuspa is one of the poetic songs of the Elder Edda, which were first compiled and written down in the 13th century in Iceland. It is believed that many of the anonymous songs of the Elder Edda were composed and recited several hundred years before that, some perhaps as early as the fifth or sixth century CE. Since it was written in the Old Norse language and script, I have consulted several modern English and German translations to arrive at my version. Völuspa means “Visions of the Völva.” Völvas were clairvoyant prophetic seeresses in the pre-Christian Nordic culture. In this poem an unnamed völva is relating her visions in response to questions posed to her by Odin/Wodan, the knowledge-seeking god of shamans, warriors and poets.
Ever since I wrote about and quoted from the Völuspa in my book of The Well of Remembrance (Shambhala,1994), I have admired this poem with its awesome visions of the origins of the world, the creative activities and conflicts of gods and humans, and the stunning prophecies of planetary destruction and renewal that seem to be coming true in our time. (In the following, the section headings, in italics, are added by me to facilitate the following of the story. They are not part of the poem).
This text is used in the audio recording by Ralph Metzner and Byron Metcalf
Introduction to the German language edition of Birth of a Psychedelic Culture
In our book, which originated as a series of conversations recorded in 2004-2006, we describe the origins or birth of one strand of psychedelic culture in the US East Coast in the early 1960s environment of academic social science and psychotherapy. At the time of these conversations, we were both in our elder years, looking back at events in our personal history forty years before - tumultuous events that had roiled Western culture. (I wrote the introduction in English, which was then translated into German for the edition with Nachtschatten Verlag. This is my original English language historical review of the psychedelic sixties.)
Entheogenesis: Toward an Expanded Worldview for Our Time
Article by Ralph Metzner published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology
Vol 57, No. 5, pp 443-449. Published online Aug 2017. Print Sept 2017.
Whereas the terminology of psychedelics has acquired spurious cultural associations of “tripping”, the historically primal concept of consciousness expansion has two advantages. One, it connects psychedelic drugs with other modes of consciousness
expansion, such as meditation and creative visioning; and two it suggests contrasting comparison with the consciousness contraction involved in concentration and focus. Both expansions and contractions can be observed at the level of an individual’s state of consciousness and also at the level of the shared worldview of society. Contemporary world culture is moving toward an expanded worldview that recognizes both the material and the spiritual dimensions of our existence.
Varieties of Ritual Involving States of Consciousness
Article by Ralph Metzner published in the online journal Confluence
Ritual is the purposive, conscious arrangement of time, space, and action, according to specific intentions. In working with psychedelics rituals are the conscious arrangement of the set and setting. In this essay I discuss, for comparison, the rituals associated with drug consumption in general; the rituals of everyday life; institutionalized rituals in academia, religion and the military; healing and therapeutic rituals in Western medicine and indigenous shamanism; rituals associated with peyote, mushrooms, San Pedro cactus, ayahuasca, iboga in traditional and Western hybrid shamanic ceremonies; rituals of divination; rites of passage in transition and initiation ceremonies.