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Book Description

The first major compilation of narratives
about psychedelic experiences

The psychedelic state has been both demonized and mythologized, but what is it really like to trip? In Tripping, Charles Hayes has gathered fifty narratives about unforgettable psychedelic experiences from an international array of subjects representing all walks of life -- respectable Baby Boomers, aging hippies, young ravers, and accomplished writers such as John Perry Barlow, Anne Waldman, Tim Page, Steven Martin Cohen, Stephen Kessler, Robert Charles Wilson, Bruce Eisner, and Paul Devereux.

Taking a balanced, objective approach, the book depicts a broad spectrum of altered states, from the sublime to the terrifying. Hayes' supplemental essays provide a synopsis of the history and culture of psychedelics and a discussion of the kinetics of tripping. Specially featured is an interview with the late Terence McKenna, who was perhaps the pre-eminent psychedelic spokesperson of our time.

Illustrations are provided by renowned visionary artist Alex Grey and four computer graphics masters.

A storehouse of astonishing, often otherworldly tales, Tripping is a vox populi of forbidden memories that enables readers to trip vicariously or compare notes on their own experiences.

The author
Charles Hayes worked for fifteen years in publishing. Since 1990 he has been a journalist whose work has appeared in Shaman's Drum, Tikkun, The Oxford American, High Times, Heads, The Earth Times, and E Magazine. He is also a writer/editor for a variety of businesses and organizations, a Website designer, and a communications manager for a marketing firm. Tripping  is his first book.

The editors
David Stanford
bought the project for Viking Penguin in 1997 and helped shape the book through the end of 1998, when he left the company to work independently. He has edited books by Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Robert Hunter, Charles Schulz, and G.B. Trudeau.

Paul Slovak, Senior Editor, VP of Publicity, and Associate Publisher, Viking Penguin, has been editor for Tripping since January 1999.

Author's literary agent:
Sheree Bykofsky Associates, Inc. E-mail Sheree at shereebee@aol.com.


 Notable features

Ř   Tripping is the first major compilation of narratives -- not clinical case studies -- about psychedelic experiences. The book contains narratives by 50 people of various nationalities and  walks of life about their most unforgettable psychedelic experiences.

Ř   Included is a lengthy conversation with the late Terence McKenna, on trips and tripping, psychedelic consciousness, cultural issues, Novelty Theory, and the End of History.

Ř   Narratives by several accomplished writers and artists are presented.

Ř   Most narratives are by anonymous “ordinary” people for whom their anonymity brings out a confessional dimension that gives their stories an intensely personal character, permitting forbidden, “unspeakable” memories and experiences to be liberated and brought to light.

Ř   A balanced, objective perspective portrays both positive and negative impacts of psychedelic experiences. A wide range of such  experiences is covered, ranging from the sublime to the terrifying -- good and bum trips both.

Ř   Types of experiences include spiritual ecstasy, encounters with discarnate entities, I-know-what-it’s-like-to-be-dead or out-of-body experiences, freak-outs, flashbacks, psychosis (momentary and otherwise), and acts or events of apparent magic or miracle.

Ř   A broad age range is represented; narrators were eighteen to seventy-something at the time their stories were related.

Ř   Experiences were catalyzed not just by classic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, but by a wide array of psythotropic substances ranging from the sacred plants of indigenous societies to the latest synthetic “smart drugs.”

Ř     Aside from the trip narratives, additional texts include:

            A succinct synopsis of the history and culture of psychedelics

An exposition on the basic features of the psychedelic experience

A concise index of psychedelic substances

A Bibliography and Resources section, including  Websites

Sample plotlines

  • At a Rainbow Gathering, a tripper believes he’s participating in the final celebration of the gods and that his urgent mission is to mate with his chosen one before the entire tribe moves on to a higher sphere at the climax of the “orgasm death dance." (See Jason).

    A young man eats some peyote buttons on a hike in the Grand Canyon, and stumbles upon a near-death experience. (See Carl.)


  • After an afternoon in his room stricken with the terror of damnation, seeing demons – literally -- in every corner, an Australian chap wanders out into the family garden, where he beholds a pagan wonderland in the trunk of a tree; he drops to his knees groaning in ecstasy as his dear mum and dad watch aghast from the kitchen window. (See James).

  • A college student wanders into a forest where he’s drawn to an inviting glen, whereupon he is visited by a vision of God Himself, who anoints him the Sun King and asks him to perform some ritual labors ahead of appointing himself some disciples. (See Marcel).

  • A non-specific psychedelic ingested at the notorious Altamont concert of 1969 triggers a bizarre odyssey through the San Francisco city jail and mental health system for a fellow under the delusion that he’s a member of an elite corps of angelic revolutionaries armed with poetry and pacifist principles, bent on transforming a violent and materialistic society. (See Stephen Kessler).

  • After being seized by a déjŕ vu of godliness during which he begins speaking in tongues, a tripper plummets into the flipside of that experience in an episode of horrific eternal recurrence that revisits him in flashbacks for many years to come. (See Jeremy).


  • As a fellow leans over to kiss his wife, she turns into a snake, and he crashes through a phantom windshield, emerging in spiritual realm where he is now psychically free of two phobias that had been haunting him, one for snakes and one for car crashes. (See Herbie Greene).


  • After chewing up 75 datura seeds in India, an American seeker begins conversing with a corpse, hallucinates the beating hearts of his companions under a pile of dirt, and finally concludes that life’s an illusion, joining ranks with a group of wandering sadhus. (See Matthew S. Kent).

  • A wooden carving of Christ speaks out loud to a seminary student during a church service, reshaping her theology and the depth of her faith, and later inspiring her to use psilocybin mushrooms at a service she is officiating, when she's seized by an out-of-the-blue urge to deliver a prophesy about a member of the congregation. (See Reverend Marianne).


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