E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section
- 31 Through the Gateway of the Heart (book) published by Four
Trees Publications, San Francisco 1985
- This book is a collection of some 60 subjective accounts of positive
experiences by users and "guidelines for the sacramental use of empathogenic
substances". The accounts are divided into men's, women's and group
- Typically, the accounts are by well educated people in their thirties
who are 'into their feelings' and 'seeking awareness'. But there is also
the story of a 45 year-old man who was deeply in pain from arthritis entitled:
"Now I see pain as an ally, not as an enemy" and the account of
a 33 year-old woman who had been raped 8 years previously. She took 65mg
of MDMA, followed two hours later by 300 =B5g of LSD. The suppressed horror
of the rape scene came back so vividly that she mistook the person she was
with for the rapist, which, she says, helped her to get over the rape. She
vomited a great deal then and later, as though getting rid of her disgust
at the incident.
- The guidelines section is compiled from the collective experience of
about twenty or thirty therapists who have used MDMA in their work. Suggestions
include that participants should agree to ban sexual contact (even between
those who are already lovers) and that 'power objects' such as crystals
or photos of relevant people be brought to sessions.
- A serene and comfortable room is suggested and "a fire in the fireplace
serves as a reminder of the alchemical fires of inner purification".
Lower doses of MDMA could be taken outdoors. The slower baroque music of
Bach or Vivaldi became favourites with therapists. People guiding others
through an MDMA experience should conduct themselves with integrity and
sensitivity and avoid being caught up in verbal exchanges, as "most
people are able to do their own best therapy in these states".
- It is suggested that practices such as making affirmations, yoga, "guided
imagery" and "shamanic journey work" can aid the therapeutic
process triggered by MDMA.
- The guidelines present two models for group sessions. In the first,
people stay separate during the session, but share experiences before and
afterwards. They listen to music on earphones and communicate only with
the group's guides.
- In the second, users communicate during the session in a ritual fashion.
These sessions are usually residential and some are held at night. Typically,
the group will assemble on a Friday evening, when they share their intentions
for the trip. The session will start on Saturday morning; the group will
spend Saturday night together and get together on Sunday morning for a final
sharing of their experiences. All participants have to agree to keep all
the proceedings confidential.
- Sometimes MDMA will be combined with either LSD, psychedelic mushrooms,
Ketamine or 2CB by some or all of the participants. Most therapists say
it is necessary for participants to have previous experience of taking the
relevant drug on their own. A typical session lasts 40 minutes, starting
with inner exploration accompanied by music, andproceeding to people giving
monologues or singing into a conch shell.
- Other rituals that may be drawn up include: each participant finding
their own "power spot" before the session; offering prayers to
the 4 directions; group "rebirthing"; breathing activities or
movement disciplines such as Tai Chi. Rituals worked best on low doses.
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by Nicholas Saunders