August 21, 2006 at 9:13 am #16686
I know Intelligence has already been plugging Narby’s book, which I read long ago and liked.
But I never knew that DNA was discovered on LSD (see second article below) by Crick.
The book review gives good overview of the book. But of course, having tested many hallucinogens in the past, you don’t need them once you master inner alchemy. They might open a few doors more quickly, if used judiciiously. But they do burn up your jing at an alarming rate.
The double serpent can be DNA, or the ren and du channels of the orbit….
THE DNA/WORLD SERPENT ENIGMA
Book Review By Justin Case
July 30, 2006
THE COSMIC SERPENT:
DNA & THE ORIGINS OF KNOWLEDGE
By Jeremy Narby
Tarcher; New Ed edition (April 5, 1999)
“The first time an Ashaninca man told me that he had learned the medicinal
properties of plants by drinking a hallucinogenic brew, I thought he was
— Anthropologist Jeremy Narby, The Cosmic Serpent
“The Cosmic Serpent” is doubly themed. One theme is that of the symbol of
the creator serpent (or twin serpents) as the source of knowledge and of all
life itself. The other theme is that of DNA which in our modern western
world-view is the source of all life and all organic information. These two
threads are wound about in a spiraling narrative like the double helix of
the DNA molecule or the twin serpents found in the timeless myths of
cultures the world over.
The myths involving the serpent or twin serpents as the source of life and
knowledge emerge from the ancient past with their tails hidden in the mists
of prehistory. At the head of modern knowledge we have molecular biology and
genetics; the study of that most serpentine of molecules — DNA. Like the
Ouroboros, the cosmic snake of time and eternity that encircles the world
swallowing its tail in a symbol of both unity and infinity, this book is an
attempt to merge this cutting edge of scientific knowledge with the ancient
source of wisdom steeped deeply in the shadows of our past.
The author, Jeremy Narby, holds a PH.D. in anthropology from Stanford
University. In 1985 he began his fieldwork of 2 years in the Peruvian Amazon
to earn his doctorate in anthropology. He wanted to show the Western world
that the indigenous people of the Amazon basin knew best how to use their
own land because international “development” agencies typically assert that
indigenous people do not know how to use their own land “rationally” and use
this rationalization to justify the “confiscation” (theft) of these people’s
lands to use and exploit for their own greed and in the process destroy
crucial ecosystems forever. Narby’s agenda was to establish protection of
the territories of these Amazonian people by demonstrating that only they
know how to best use their own land because they had intimate, sophisticated
and pragmatic knowledge of their land. To appeal to Western civilization for
support of his efforts, Narby had to emphasize the practical nature of these
people’s knowledge of their land.
However, it was inevitable that in the course of his study with these people
Narby would come up against the enigma of ayahuasca, the plant-based
entheogenic brew par excellence of the Western Amazon rain forest. Commonly,
the various ayahuasca using people of the Amazon tell us that they gain
their knowledge of the many properties and uses of their local plants by
consulting ayahuasca. In the visionary state induced by this brew, they are
told many practical things; which plants to combine and use as a
tranquilizer in which to dip their hunting darts, which plants to use to
cure a given disease and how to use them, what plant to use to treat
poisonous snake bites and so on. Narby felt that he had to avoid mentioning
the fundamentally irrational origins of these people’s pragmatic knowledge
because it would undermine his basic assertion that these people were
perfectly rational and practical people.
As Narby points out, these people are very practical. But from our modern
materialist perspectives, the source of their pharmacological knowledge is
not at all rational because this knowledge is derived from what we would
The modern Western view would deny that hallucinations could provide
reliable and practical information, but if the knowledge these people gain
from ayahuasca is merely delusional then how is it that this knowledge is so
practical? Why does it work? If pharmaceutical companies make millions from
the pharmacological knowledge gained from these people can we really dismiss
their botanical knowledge as irrational or superstitious? Yet lawmakers in
Europe and the United States assure us that ayahuasca is a dangerous drug
with no medical or spiritual value.
While conducting his fieldwork, Narby stayed with the Ashaninca and
Quirishari people of the Peruvian Amazon. When he questioned them about how
they learned all they knew about their local plants they would tell him that
they learned what they knew from ayahuasca. Of course, Narby could not
believe that a hallucinogen could impart real knowledge.
In the book Narby says, “After about a year in Quirishari, I had come to see
that my hosts’ practical sense was much more reliable in their environment
than my academically informed understanding of reality. Their empirical
knowledge was undeniable. However, their explanations concerning the origins
of their knowledge was unbelievable to me.”
One day while inquiring about these matters he was told that if he wanted to
know the true answers to his questions he would simply have to take
ayahuasca with them and see for himself. Narby accepted this offer and had a
life changing experience. After drinking ayahuasca, Narby had a profound
life changing experience. His view on himself and reality shifted from an
intellectually superior know-it-all to a mere human being that has no real
understanding of reality at all. In his experience, these thoughts were
telepathically imparted to him by two giant snakes. There was more to his
ayahuasca experience, but these are the elements that had the important
impact on him.
In 1986 Narby returned to civilization to write his dissertation and two
years later he became a doctor of anthropology. Following this he traveled
around the Amazon working with indigenous organizations to earn them
official governmental recognition of their territories. To these ends he
also did fund-raising work in Europe. To appeal to benefactors Narby
emphasized the practical knowledge of these Amazonian people, deliberately
omitting the enigma of ayahuasca.
After some years of this kind of work, Narby set back to reflect upon and
write about the mystery of ayahuasca. Much of this book is the story of how
we came to write the book; a sort of boot-strapping process. Months of
research and note-taking led Narby to many different topics including
shamanism, ethnopharmacology, serpent myths, DNA, quantum physics and more.
As anyone who studies mythology, mysticism and occult traditions knows, the
symbol of the serpent of the twin serpents as the creator of life is
astoundingly ever-present as is what has been called the axis mundi or axis
of the world. This latter concept has been symbolized as the world tree, the
pillar of the worlds, the ladder connecting the earth to the upper and lower
realms and so on. Often we see this central axis of the macrocosm mirrored
in the central axis of the microcosm of the self in the form of the twin
serpents. Consider the kundalini snakes that spiral up the spine in eastern
mysticism or the spiraling snakes of the ancient Greek caduceus that is
still used as the symbol of the medical profession. These symbols are found
in ancient Egypt, in Sumerian and Babylonian frescos, among Siberian shamans
who have never seen real snakes in their lives; consider Quetzalcoatl, the
serpent-god of the Aztecs, the rainbow serpent and creator god of Australian
aborigines, the Midgard serpent of Nordic myths wound about the world tree,
the serpent and the Tree of Knowledge in the Judeo-Christian mythology and
Through chance, synchronicity or some other cause Narby encountered many
uncanny connections between this symbol complex and DNA without really
knowing what it all meant. Here is the main thrust of Narby’s book, fueled
by his own powerful experience with the two serpents he encountered in his
ayahuasca experience years earlier.
Narby developed the hypothesis that somehow, through what Eliade called
“archaic techniques of ecstasy” shamans receive information from DNA in the
form of visions. Indeed, it is almost a universal truism that shamans gain
their unique view on things by traveling up and down the axis mundi of the
macrocosm or the microcosmic axis of the self.
Through his studies, Narby became engrossed in the molecular biology of DNA
and he gives us many correlations between DNA and the shamanic world view.
Close minded readers may find these to be mere circumstantial coincidences
and gullible readers may find these to be proof that Narby’s hypothesis is
correct. These correlations are truly astounding but far from conclusive.
Narby does not pretend to have final answers but he definitely forces the
reader to take these questions seriously as correlation after correlation
pile up. These correlations or coincidences seemingly never end but Narby
actually misses a few; that the ancient Chinese system of divination known
as the I Ching there are 64 different symbols to cover the totality of
possible phenomena in the universe and that there are 64 different codons or
strands in DNA, or that DNA is made from 22 different amino acids and that
in the ancient Greco-Egyptian system of the Tarot there are 22 cards in the
major arcane sequence to cover the totality of possible phenomena in the
universe but I digress or that the final card in this series uses the
serpent as a symbol of the macrocosm of the world and eternity.
As many a student of the occult, mysticism and mythology has found, once you
start unraveling these uncanny correlations and connections, it just gets
deeper and deeper and that the more one looks for answers, the more
questions arise without answers. There seems to be no end to this sort of
inquiry. Indeed, as exhaustive as Narby seems to be in the exploration of
his hypothesis, his book really only scratches the surface of the seemingly
endless mystery we encounter in the shamanic realms.
The following passages sum up Narby’s hypothesis and position, “I began my
investigation with the enigma of “plant communication.” I went on to accept
the idea that hallucinations could be the source of verifiable information.
And I ended up with a hypothesis suggesting that a human mind can
communicate in defocalized consciousness with the global network of
DNA-based life. All this contradicts principles of Western knowledge.
Nevertheless, my hypothesis is testable. A test would consist of seeing
whether institutionally respected biologists could find biomolecular
information in the hallucinatory world of ayahuasqueros… My hypothesis
suggests that what scientists call DNA corresponds to the animate essences
that shamans say communicate with them and animate all life forms. Modern
biology, however, is founded on the notion that nature is not animated by an
intelligence and therefore cannot communicate.” (page 132)
“To sum up: My hypothesis is based on the idea that DNA in particular and
nature in general are minded.” (page 145)
Along the way, we are given a dizzying dose of the mysterious nature of
molecular biology. It is easy for the non-biologist to assume that this
science is all tedious details of well-understood mechanisms but as Narby
shows us, this science is just now tapping into the truly miraculous,
bizarre and still fundamentally puzzling inner workings of the core of life.
It can not go unmentioned here that René Descartes became the “founder of
modern philosophy” and the “father of modern mathematics” (as he is
generally considered) after being inspired by a dream revelation in which an
angel came to him and told him that “the conquest of nature is to be
achieved through measure and number” and that this angelic revelation is the
basis for the modern scientific method. Also, we should note that Kekulé
discovered the benzene ring after dreaming about the Ouroboric serpent in
the shape of a circle, swallowing its own tail. The idea that dreams could
be a verifiable source of important scientific knowledge seems contradictory
to science itself, yet many scientists have gained important knowledge this
way. Here’s an even more startling example that brings us closer to the dual
theme of Narby’s book; towards the end of his life, Francis Crick, the
nobel-prize winning father of modern genetics confided a secret he kept for
almost 50 years — that he hit upon the double helix structure of DNA while
on LSD (see reference below). With this example of scientific knowledge
derived from a hallucinogen, we see the snake swallowing its tail.
“The Cosmic Serpent” is similar to Terence McKenna’s “True Hallucinations”
to the extent that both books give us accounts of Amazon excursions and
experiences with plant hallucinogens imparting visions and ideas fecund with
profound hypotheses involving the molecular biology of DNA. “The Cosmic
Serpent” is similar to “The Invisible Landscape” by Terence and Dennis
McKenna in that both of these books extrapolate upon such hypotheses in
It should be noted that “The Cosmic Serpent” contains little in the way of
descriptions of the ayahuasca experience. Readers looking for good trip
stories would do better to look elsewhere.
This book is by no means light reading. Though not nearly as dense with
complex details and wild extrapolations as the McKenna brother’s “The
Invisible Landscape”, “The Cosmic Serpent” may contain far too detailed a
discussion of molecular biology for many readers, though one certainly does
not need a background in biology to understand Narby’s book, only an
appreciation for the fascinating mysteries this science is just scratching
the surface of.
Also, this book contains many long footnotes that some readers may find
distracting or tedious while others may appreciate these details. Personally
I found these details interesting but distracting. Many pages had multiple
footnotes and sometimes the footnotes for a given page were longer than the
Overall, however, it is my opinion that this is a fascinating book. It
brings up correlations or coincidences, raises questions and suggests
ramifications that are too profound and challenging to go unexamined. The
intelligent, discerning, but open-minded reader with a passion for the
deepest mysteries of life and with an interest in both shamanism and science
would be likely to find this book to be both important and amazing.
It is perhaps fitting to close this review with a quote from the book, “All
things considered, wisdom requires not only the investigation of many
things, but contemplation of the mystery.”
NOBEL PRIZE GENIUS CRICK WAS HIGH ON LSD
WHEN HE DISCOVERED THE SECRET OF LIFE
By Alun Rees
Mail on Sunday
August 8, 2004
Francis Crick, the Nobel Prize-winning father of modern genetics, was under
the influence of LSD when he first deduced thedouble-helix structure of DNA
nearly 50 years ago.
The abrasive and unorthodox Crick and his brilliant American co-researcher
James Watson famously celebrated their eureka moment in March 1953 by
running from the now legendary Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge to the
nearby Eagle pub, where they announced over pints of bitter that they had
discovered the secret of life.
Crick, who died ten days ago, aged 88, later told a fellow scientist that he
often used small doses of LSD then an experimental drug used in
psychotherapy to boost his powers of thought. He said it was LSD, not the
Eagle’s warm beer, that helped him to unravel the structure of DNA, the
discovery that won him the Nobel Prize.
Despite his Establishment image, Crick was a devotee of novelist Aldous
Huxley, whose accounts of his experiments with LSD and another hallucinogen,
mescaline, in the short stories The Doors Of Perception and Heaven And Hell
became cult texts for the hippies of the Sixties and Seventies. In the late
Sixties, Crick was a founder member of Soma, a legalise-cannabis group named
after the drug in Huxley’s novel Brave New World. He even put his name to a
famous letter to The Times in 1967 calling for a reform in the drugs laws.
It was through his membership of Soma that Crick inadvertently became the
inspiration for the biggest LSD manufacturing conspiracy-the world has ever
seen the multimillion-pound drug factory in a remote farmhouse in Wales that
was smashed by the Operation Julie raids of the late Seventies.
Crick’s involvement with the gang was fleeting but crucial. The revered
scientist had been invited to the Cambridge home of freewheeling American
writer David Solomon a friend of hippie LSD guru Timothy Leary who had come
to Britain in 1967 on a quest to discover a method for manufacturing pure
THC, the active ingredient of cannabis.
It was Crick’s presence in Solomon’s social circle that attracted a
brilliant young biochemist, Richard Kemp, who soon became a convert to the
attractions of both cannabis and LSD. Kemp was recruited to the THC project
in 1968, but soon afterwards devised the world’s first foolproof method of
producing cheap, pure LSD. Solomon and Kemp went into business,
manufacturing acid in a succession of rented houses before setting up their
laboratory in a cottage on a hillside near Tregaron, Carmarthenshire, in
1973. It is estimated that Kemp manufactured drugs worth Pounds 2.5 million
an astonishing amount in the Seventies before police stormed the building in
1977 and seized enough pure LSD and its constituent chemicals to make two
million LSD ‘tabs’.
The arrest and conviction of Solomon, Kemp and a string of co-conspirators
dominated the headlines for months. I was covering the case as a reporter at
the time and it was then that I met Kemp’s close friend, Garrod Harker,
whose home had been raided by police but who had not been arrested. Harker
told me that Kemp and his girlfriend Christine Bott by then in jail were
hippie idealists who were completely uninterested in the money they were
They gave away thousands to pet causes such as the Glastonbury pop festival
and the drugs charity Release.
‘They have a philosophy,’ Harker told me at the time. ‘They believe
industrial society will collapse when the oil runs out and that the answer
is to change people’s mindsets using acid. They believe LSD can help people
to see that a return to a natural society based on self-sufficiency is the
only way to save themselves.
‘Dick Kemp told me he met Francis Crick at Cambridge. Crick had told him
that some Cambridge academics used LSD in tiny amounts as a thinking tool,
to liberate them from preconceptions and let their genius wander freely to
new ideas. Crick told him he had perceived the double-helix shape while on
‘It was clear that Dick Kemp was highly impressed and probably bowled over
by what Crick had told him. He told me that if a man like Crick, who had
gone to the heart of human existence, had used LSD, then it was worth using.
Crick was certainly Dick Kemp’s inspiration.’ Shortly afterwards I visited
Crick at his home, Golden Helix, in Cambridge.
He listened with rapt, amused attention to what I told him about the role of
LSD in his Nobel Prize-winning discovery. He gave no intimation of surprise.
When I had finished, he said: ‘Print a word of it and I’ll sue.’
PREVIOUS NHNE NEWS LIST ARTICLE:
AYAHUASCA: A HALLUCINOGENIC TICKET TO HEAVEN AND/OR HELL (8/18/2006):
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nhnenews/message/11696August 21, 2006 at 9:28 am #16687
ONe of the most important questions for modern biochem.. neurotransmitter intercalation within DNA RNA transmission dialogue allowing downloads from species database AND uploads into immortality (?)August 21, 2006 at 11:55 am #16689
Let’s all go Neurogenetic…
serotonin and LSD probably BOTH intercalate and may even link us to the Hydrogen bond!
Let’s upload ourselves into the DNA mainframe!
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