Last week, we posted part 1 of the interview with writer and poet Hans Plomp (1944). Together with Gerben Hellinga he wrote ‘Out of your mind’ (‘Uit je bol’ - Ed.) in 1994. In this guidebook for psychonauts all kinds of substances are discussed: from khat to cocaine and from LSD to the fly agaric.
Did you try out all substances before writing?
Plomp: "Yes, we’ve tried everything. Even heroin for example. Of course with a substance like that, you know in advance you really don’t want to do anything serious with it. But we were definitely wondering what it was like.
When we started there was little information available: on some substances we couldn’t find anything at all. There was only one American guidebook, the High Times Encyclopaedia of Recreational Drugs, and a few scientific publications. The Internet didn’t exist. With a circle of friends we tried out everything and described the responses."
The tree of knowledge
"We started with the most common substances. The first edition was still quite thin. Over the years the book expanded and became increasingly thicker. Meanwhile, websites like Erowid appeared. However, our focus is different: more culturally oriented.
We felt it was important to show that substance use is not something of the past decade. It has existed for thousands of years. Actually it’s the core of all religions. On page one of the Bible they’re already banned. When Eve ate the forbidden apple from the tree of knowledge: obviously that refers to psychedelics! The story is about a shamanic culture that already existed and was forcefully replaced by Christianity."
"I'm a bit done exploring other worlds. Currently, I have a strong focus on the earth, on life itself. That’s the biggest secret there is!"
"My parents are Christian, but it never interested me. When I started tripping, I suddenly entered worlds I was always told do not exist. I discovered that other cultures do recognize and explain these experiences. There are many traditions that can show you the way: Buddhism, shamanism, traditions from ancient times. I started exploring the other worlds via many different paths."
Medicine or sacrament?
"For me, psychedelics are essentially magic tools, you could call them sacraments or power plants. In traditional cultures, they’re called "the flesh of the gods." Such fascinating names highlight the contacts you can make with them.
I certainly believe they have medicinal properties, but I'm sceptical about the fact that you can only use morphine while dying, cannabis when you have cancer and magic mushrooms if you suffer from cluster headaches. If that’s the case we’re missing the point, I would say. "
How would the ideal society deal with psychedelics?
"I would like to see the re-establishment of mystery schools, where people can learn how to use these substances. In ancient times people were introduced to other dimensions during a special ritual called the Eleusinian Mysteries. Nowadays something like that is happening at ayahuasca ceremonies.
Basically, we’re all pioneers: we’re still discovering the usefulness of different herbs and substances and how we should deal with them. I think eventually the result is more important than the way you use them: you can also go for a walk in the woods with a friend, eat mushrooms or truffles and have the most wonderful experience. Or stay at home and listen to good music, or be in silence."
Have you ever had an experience that was too extreme?
"Well, there’s one experience I found quite scary. With salvia tincture, a strong dose. I was in the bedroom with a friend and suddenly a hole in the wall opened. A voice said, ‘Come in,’ with a slurping sound. And we were drawn into the hole. We held hands, but that wasn’t allowed: ‘You can only go in here alone.’ So I put my leg on the side of the hole to prevent being drawn in!
Fortunately it lasted only briefly. I found it creepy. That's really the only time. I have had intense experiences and difficult trips, but those were always about issues in myself that had to be resolved, or that I had to work through. The salvia evoked a world that I didn’t feel like exploring further."
"That’s the work of psychonauts: to discover the magic, love and beauty of life."
"I'm a bit done exploring other worlds. Currently, I’ve a strong focus on the earth, on life itself. That’s the biggest secret there is! Of course I still take one substance or another once in a while, but I often happen to arrive at places that I’ve already been before.
I try to find a way to make ancient wisdom available to our times. I’d like to share the insights of my trips with all people. I'd like to tell them that life has meaning and that cosmic justice exists. That life doesn’t end when you die and that it's just fantastic: a great adventure with lots of love and creativity."
What would you like to pass on to the new generation of psychonauts?
"I think our world is yearning for a new consciousness. We need to discover the greatness of this planet and its possibilities. That’s the work of psychonauts: to discover the magic, love and beauty of life. I think we’re shaping the spirituality of the new age. We are the unnamed priests and priestesses of our time. If we become aware of our capabilities, we can bring the world to fruition again."
Written by: Juniper