The Entheogenic Evolution by Martin W. Ball
Originally published in 2008 ‘The Entheogenic Evolution: Psychedelics, Consciousness and Awakening the Human Spirit’ by Martin W. Ball, PhD, is a work of exploratory non-fiction. Ball examines and intertextualizes a range of topics – social, scientific, religious and philosophical – that maps out the entheogenic plateau. The construction of the work is underpinned by the knowledge and experiences he has garnered from psychedelic drugs.
Entheogen – meaning ‘generating God within’ – was first coined as a term by Gordon Wasson et alin the late Seventies but as a reading of the psychedelic experience it has a much longer history. Presently, it appears, the entheogenic reading has become the dominant paradigm for the counterculture and, as one might expect, the production of texts leaning toward this discourse have greatly increased. This offering from Martin Ball is one such text; an entheogenic treatise.
For Ball, the ‘God’ that is generated within has nothing to do with the traditional Abrahamic God. Firmly rooted in the entheogenic perspective, the text reveals the experience as an epistemological source, in and of itself, that communicates via an inner ‘voice’: “In many respects, this book is the product of my seeking to come to terms with the voice and the incredible depth of experience that has accompanied it. My striving to fully express what I have learned and come to know is written down in these pages.” The text ends with Ball’s description of his own journey and it serves as the grounding for his treatise.
A variety of different psychedelics are discussed including psilocybin, ayahuasca, N,N-DMT and MDMA but it is 5-MeO-DMT that acts as the central hub. When reading about Ball’s own journey, his experimentation with psychedelics, one feels a real sense of pace; as against the backdrop of a problematic romantic life he comes to a new ‘self’ through various sequential psychedelic experiences.
“The vibrations start early and continue through the night. As I sit in my chair, with Portuguese hymns being sung all around me, the daime tells me very clearly, as it shows me archetypal patterns of energy in rainbows of infinite complexity, ‘You are remembering who you are . . .’ I have a definite sense of coming into my purpose – whatever choice it was that I made in deciding to incarnate in this body and in this life.”
Ball discusses a variety of journeys that people can experience with 5-Meo-DMT, as part of the instructional element of the text, including The Primal Screamer, The Talker, The Purge, The Cage of Fear etc.. One of these he calls The Higher Self and although the above quote is about an ayahuasca session, it demonstrates that the journeys can be inter-psychedelic. This Higher Self allows one a new perspective on the social self and Ball states: “Be forewarned! Getting in touch with your higher self can lead to radical life alterations…” Essentially, this appears to be Ball’s own experience and this book is the communication of that new knowledge.
I mentioned earlier the epistemological value, in and of itself, in the entheogenic reading of the psychedelic experience. Ball further explores the notion by evaluating the works of both Terence McKenna and Daniel Pinchbeck in regard to the concept of Logos: “The Logos is both the word of God as well as God itself.” Ball identifies the commonality of the Logos in both their ideas and in shamanism and his own meeting with the ‘voice’ is comparable. He identifies the essential message delivered in McKenna and Pinchbeck’s work as being “it is time for humanity to awaken.”
The entheogenic evolution is about experiential spirituality becoming part of the make-up of society and, through which, Ball believes humanity can evolve and be healed. This isn’t simply a pipe-dream however as the entheogenic perspective has already begun to be ingratiated into society. Ball talks about his own association with a number of working groups like the Temple of Awakening Divinity (who use 5-MeO-DMT as a sacrament) and Santo Daime (a syncretic tradition that includes elements of Catholicism and Amazonian shamanism and uses ayahuasca as sacrament.)
There is a socio-historical relationship between the mystical and shamanic cultures that Ball explores, underpinned by a perennial philosophy of sorts, which Ball uses as an introduction to the entheogenic treatise. And, aside from the purely spiritual thread, there is also the relationship between the State (or law) and psychedelics, in which ayahuasca has come to represent a religious freedom. This social painting forms the groundwork from which the entheogenic evolution is discussed.
Martin Ball’s treatise is about the interconnectedness of the many threads that have come together to form this ‘entheogenic evolution’ but, above all, it’s about what he has come to understand by generating God within himself. It demonstrates the great effect that psychedelics have had, and are still having, on society whilst never losing sight of what it can do for the individual.