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Animals and Psychedelics

Animals and Psychedelics

The Natural World and the Instinct to Alter Consciousness

Foreword by: Rob Montgomery
An Italian ethnobotanist explores the remarkable propensity of wild animals to seek out and use psychoactive substances.

• Throws out behaviorist theories that claim animals have no consciousness.

• Offers a completely new understanding of the role psychedelics play in the development of consciousness in all species.

• Reveals drug use to be a natural instinct.

From caffeine-dependent goats to nectar addicted ants, the animal kingdom offers amazing examples of wild animals and insects seeking out and consuming the psychoactive substances in their environments. Author Giorgio Samorini explores this little-known phenomenon and suggests that, far from being confined to humans, the desire to experience altered states of consciousness is a natural drive shared by all living beings and that animals engage in these behaviors deliberately. Rejecting the Western cultural assumption that using drugs is a negative action or the result of an illness, Samorini opens our eyes to the possibility that beings who consume psychedelics--whether humans or animals--contribute to the evolution of their species by creating entirely new patterns of behavior that eventually will be adopted by other members of that species. The author's fascinating accounts of mushroom-loving reindeer, intoxicated birds, and drunken elephants ensure that readers will never view the animal world in quite the same way again.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 112 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780892819867 | 
  • August 2002
List Price $12.95
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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter Six
The most famous example of "collective drunkenness" in birds is that of American robins during their annual February migration to California, and in particular to the small town of Pleasant Hill. The amazing behavior of these birds on their arrival first made news in the 1930s.
Once they reach California, flocks of thousands of robins (the species Turdus migratorius) perch on small ornamental trees popularly known as California holly, though the Native Americans of the region call this scarlet fruit toyon. At this time of year the trees are laden with scarlet fruits called Christmas or holly berries. The robins,... see more

About the Author

Giorgio Samorini

Ethnobotanist and ethnomycologist Giorgio Samorini has studied the use of psychoactive substances for more than 20 years, conducting research in Africa, Latin America, India, and Europe. He is editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Eleusis, Plants and Psychoactive Compounds. He lives in Italy.

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