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Author Archives: Kat Grasso

About Kat Grasso

Kat Grasso is a poet, creator, creature, and devoted witch currently dancing up and down the west coast. You can drop into some zines on poetsareprophets.com. Her happy obsessions include occultism, prophecy, the female gaze x practice / voice, and having an excellent fucking time.

Psychedelic Consciousness, by Daniel Grauer

Psychedelic Consciousness: Plant Intelligence for Healing Ourselves and Our Fragmented World, by Daniel Grauer
Park Street Press, 9781644110300,  256 pages, July 2020

Daniel Grauer’s book Psychedelic Consciousness: Plant Intelligence for Healing Ourselves and Our Fragmented World goes as wide as it does deep. This book is an inspired inter-mixed odyssey of both the historical and personal in relation to psychedelics, the culture of usage and practice, and the implications and opportunities present to us today. The best thing about this book is that it lacks the usual pretense, which is part of its charm. At it’s heart, this book is a testament to the author’s desire to relay the message that a meaningful, modern personal journey with psychedelics as a spiritual path is both possible and presently available to us all.

In an era where first hand experience trumps all and the very nature of psychedelic experimentalism is often a solo pilgrimage to begin, this book is wonderfully timely. The jump between subjects occasionally feels like leaps, but the author’s aim is evident and reflective here in the book’s construction, providing a landscape that doesn’t sink us into theory but rather invites us into understanding. Psychedelic Consciousness is an optimistic book — one that looks towards the reader with an open-ended invitation.

This book lends itself to thought-work relating both to becoming-aware-of and dismantling our current biases on psychedelic culture and plant medicine. There is an intimate communion with Grauer as he shares his unique path into his own understandings. He offers practical tips for journeying along with a myriad of personal findings through his explorations.

I think many a psychedelic journeyer has reached the moment of desiring to leap into authentic journey into the jungle or connect with indigenous practices, casting aside the nihilistic and/or purely hedonistic usage and entering a deeper mystery, meaning, and mythology of these sacred medicines. It is natural to start longing for something transpersonal, restorative, and spirited. Grauer, in sharing his experience, offers a lens into what this longing can offer and how it influenced him in his own work, his own dream, and his own hope for bridging the indigenous world with the modern practitioner. 

Psychedelic Consciousness calls the reader to the question what it actually means to be on an integrative, integral journey with our plant teachers. Grauer poses the question to us that he asked of himself: If I were to die, what song would I be playing? If the world were to end tomorrow, would I be happy with who I am?

Beyond the individual in relationship to journeying and practice, Grauer calls readers to lean into our relationship with the unseen, which takes both courage and maturity. Trauma and oppressive ideologies bring fragmentation to the psyche, and Grauer posits that it’s our plant allies that can aid us in restoration. Grauer’s pathways of explorations and guidance offer an opportunity to explore how we ourselves relate to our plant teachers and what our journeying is all about.

The ending of the book is an invitation to connect with Grauer personally through his website — a testament to the book’s weaving qualities and the author’s desire to instigate and inspire an ongoing, evolving, experiential conversation. 

Overall, Psychedelic Consciousness is a wonderful resource for the tidal wave of people who are new to psychedelics and contemplating consciousness. It’s especially geared for Western minds who have had mystical experiences, or perhaps simply *an experience* with psychedelics and wondered what it was all about. I think it’s best for people experimenting or new to their journeys, though people who have been on a medicine path can also benefit from the questions it poses throughout to further refine their own practice and dream of what the possibilities and potentials are.

Sex Magicians, by Michael William West

Sex Magicians: The Lives and Spiritual Practices of Paschal Beverly Randolph, Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, Marjorie Cameron, Anton LaVey, and Others, by Michael William West
Destiny Books, 1644111632,  256 pages, March 2021

Riveting and yet delightfully easy to devour, Michael William West’s book Sex Magicians: The Lives and Spiritual Practices of Paschal Beverly Randolph, Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, Marjorie Cameron, Anton LaVey, and Others is a spirited collection of biographies of history’s most renowned sex magicians. Vice, voice, and breakthrough come together for the quite young yet practice of sex magic in the West, with the usual suspects of Aleister Crowley and Marjorie Cameron dancing side by side with the lesser known names such as the tragic leviathan Ida Craddock. West captures the personality and quirks of each magician with a finesse and sense of fun that perhaps only a fellow practicing sex magician could bring to the table. 

West drops us squarely into the lives of renowned practitioners with such a unique immediacy—it’s a joy to gallop along with him as he recounts the meandering and often mad loves and appetites of the spirited way showers and metaphysicians of the Western tradition. 

As a female-identifying practitioner, I’m fascinated by female identity and sex magic / eros in relationship to magic and gender, specifically female eroticism and occultism. I’m a student of my body in this way. Ecstatic personal rites and experiences are fascinating to me, as is the sovereign tantric path of sexual tantra and sacred sexuality. What struck me most in reading this book was the singular path each magician discovered, having developed their own lexicon, practice, and walked their own oft misunderstood path to illumination. Sex magic is a living tradition, as is magic, one that requires a certain diablesse and courage. 

I loved Sex Magicians for it’s deep and windy dives into the lives of actual practitioners, and there’s something beautiful about a book that’s about sacred sexuality and not interested in virtue signaling or defining the ‘sacred’, but rather moving in the realms of exploration of the profane. It was a refreshing lens, a colorful one that adds dimension to the conversation on sacred sexuality. I have a soft spot in my heart for the colorful characters whose faustian will is so consuming that they use everything they can (sex included) to illuminate, inspire, and instigate their own awakenings, trials, tribulations, tragedy and all.

West’s obvious enjoyment of the topic shines through in his recounting. Beyond the sensationalism, sex magic’s major gift to us (or as West calls it, “The Open Path,”) in the here-present is a different way to the rancid landscape and psychic poverty inherent in modernity’s modus operandi of hook up culture. As West shares in the introduction, “Utilizing (sex) magic to know thyself and change your reality is a personal journey that requires imagination, creativity, and doing things your own way.”1

Anyone who is interested in — or practicing — at any level— will enjoy this benchmark book. West gives context, but the text also instigates in its own way an inner journey for the reader to contemplate what to take from the past, what to leave behind, and perhaps where their own sovereign journey will bring them.