The Toad of Dawn: 5-MeO-DMT and the Rise of Cosmic Consciousness by Dr Octavio Rettig Hinojosa
Dr. Octavio Rettig Hinojosa is a Mexican doctor who works with the psychedelic compound 5-MeO-DMT. This substance is found in the secretion from glands of the Bufo Alvarius toad, which lives in the Sonoran Desert. He has worked with the Seri Tribe in conjunction with this healing substance to help treat addiction, with particular focus on methamphetamine. With authorisation from the council of Seri elders, Dr. Rettig has used this medicine in the Western world, and has been to various countries including the US and Australia to lead ceremonies and share his knowledge.
I was very happy to receive this book, as I had previously heard about Dr. Rettig in early 2015 when watching a Vice documentary about the healing ceremonies which he provides. This documentary painted Octavio in a very compassionate light, and I was eager to explore further through his writings. However, with no experience with the compound 5-MeO-DMT, and very little experience with a similar substance NN-DMT, I am writing this review from an outside perspective, which can create some difficulty when exploring experiences that aren’t so easy to put into words. Due to my limited experience with such substances, I have not indulged in a vast amount of literature regarding DMT-like molecules—however, this book has ignited my interest, and brought with it a unique literary experience of what feels more like an enticing conversation than just words on a page. There is an obvious desire from Dr. Rettig to make a connection with the reader, and the warmth and love that so effortlessly shine through made it difficult to put the book down. It seems odd to say, but I have never felt so comforted and intrigued before by psychedelic literature, and I believe this perfect mix makes The Toad of Dawn like nothing else.
There is a strong focus on the unique source of 5-MeO-DMT, in that is the only psychedelic in common use which is derived from an animal. This notion is very apparent throughout, and we are always reminded of the healing power of the toad. It is this healing potential which Octavio constantly expresses, and the powerful reverence of this medicine over other traditional medicines which makes this substance so intriguing. On one hand, my lack of experience with this medicine has, by default, only allowed my perception to stretch so far; yet on the other hand, the intensity of the 5-MeO-DMT experience described in comparison to other traditional psychedelic substances (some of which I have had many experiences with) reveals that it is not an experience to take lightly, even for those who have journeyed many times with other various psychedelics substances who may still find themselves overwhelmed. This notion has allowed me some understanding, in the sense that it is like nothing else I have ever experienced. The intensity of this substance is seemingly in line with its incredible healing potential.
The cultural context of the toad is just as important for Octavio as the experience itself, and throughout the book he is clear to posit this animal and the substance it secretes in a different light to anything else. In a country like Mexico which is so rich in powerful healing medicines, there is clearly something special about the substance which Dr. Rettig refers to as ‘toad medicine’, for it to be so highly regarded. He is clear to draw a distinction further between substances which have the power to corrupt and destroy the mind—such as cocaine, and those which have the power to heal—such as peyote, ayahuasca, or more importantly the inhaled vapours of 5-MeO-DMT. As a former addict himself, Octavio has experienced first-hand the healing power of this medicine, but his desire to heal seems to stretch further than helping individuals to overcome various issues or problems in their life. It is a substance like no other, which has the potential to open our global spiritual awareness to the point where we can unify to create a more viable planet for our existence, rather than one which is being continuously destroyed.
Combined with fascinating personal stories of different experiences, and an enthralling take on psychedelic consciousness, the message within this book is beautifully expressed to the point where you feel like Dr. Rettig is in the room with you. You sit up, and take notice with every turn of the page. Almost as if, like the psychedelic experience itself, this book has provoked new thoughts, awoken my senses, and shifted my perceptions in a way that I have found rare when reading about similar topics. Octavio tackles the seemingly overwhelming in a manner which allows this knowledge to be tangible, even to those who may have no experience of psychedelic substances. This book should be on the shelf of anyone with even the slightest interest in this area of knowledge, and I encourage everyone to experience the wonderful gift that Dr. Rettig has given to the world of psychedelic literature.
This book review was written by Oli Genn-Bash and was originally published in the Psychedelic Press journal.