Psychonautics comes from the Greek and it means navigation of the soul. It combines two words like ψυχή (psyche = soul / spirit / mind) and ναύτηké (nautiké = to navigate). Let's see how this concept translates into concrete and sometimes useful practices to increase our degree of physical and general well-being.
We talk about psychonaut to indicate a method used in describing and explaining the subjective effects of the altered states of human consciousness. There are various types and degrees of altered states into which a person can voluntarily immerse themselves, usually with the purpose, or excuse, of explore human experience and existence.
We find this term with both negative meanings, and with other positive ones, because it is associated with every most varied kind of techniques that induce us altered states of consciousness. Techniques that work alone or only when combined with other practices. The psychonaut usually does not dive into exploration for therapeutic purposes and not even for recreational or religious purposes.
There are some very different experiences that can induce altered states, so it is difficult to get an idea of psychonautics "in general". This term defines practices such asoneironautics and hypnosis, others of meditation, concentration, contemplation, but also experiences like rebirthing.
Some prayers, mantras, certain songs are used by psychonauts and the same is true for devices such as stimulators of neural activities equipped with lights, sounds and electrical impulses.
To start flying, you need to do some "Flight tests" and this is the title of the “Elementary Psychonautics Manual” which I recommend for those who wish to learn more. The book, which can also be purchased online, collects a series of short writings that had already been disseminated byUniversity of Aristan.
Initially they were divertissements for Luca Pani, author of the volume, who then deepened the study. In the pages of Flight tests there are also paintings of Filippo Martinez, which make it not a boring book but an interesting collection of thoughts and images.
So far I have mentioned some experiences of psychonautics that, whether they like it or not, are at least testable. There are others that require for example l’Use of entheogens, obtained from plants and fungi (Echinopsis pachanoi, Peyote, Cannabis, hallucinogenic mushrooms, ayahuasca, Anadenanthera seeds, Salvia divinorum, Datura stramonium, Ipomea violacea, Argyreia nervosa, Rivea corymbosa, iboga etc.).
They can also obtain from pure substances, extracts and tinctures (DMT, mescaline, psilocybin, bufotenin, ibogaine, salvinorin A, 5-MeO-DMT, etc.) or other synthetic or semi-synthetic (LSD, ketamine, 2C-B etc.) Here the advice is to stay away from these paths that lead to psychonautics, the same is true for methods that require you to practice sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, fasting.
There are also practices on which it is good to keep reserves. Better to check before totally relying on them thinking that they can make us feel good. With a healthy skepticism you can also know the breath control (pranayama, holotropic breathing) and some religious, yogic and shamanic rituals such as sacraments, rites of passage and initiation, sweat lodge, vision seeking, puja, dance and sacred music. There are also substances contained in some particular plants, which can help us enter states of altered consciousness, one of them is the Calea Zacatechichi
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