Tupper, K.W. (2002). Entheogenic education: An interdisciplinary investigation into the educational potential of plant teachers. Simon Fraser University. Unpublished masters thesis.

This thesis investigates the educational possibilities of entheogens (i.e. psychoactive plants and chemicals used as spiritual sacraments). Contemporary educational practices in modern (post)industrial societies privilege modes of thinking that perpetuate a status quo of materialism while neglecting those that stimulate existential or cosmological understanding and experiences of wonder and awe. Such an imbalance in educational practice becomes particularly problematic in light of present ecological concerns and the lack of any deep-rooted connection to the Earth and its ecosystems. The use of entheogens as cognitive or spiritual tools to provide a richer cosmological understanding of the world has a long tradition in human history. Indigenous American cultures have revered “plant teachers” such as psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and ayahuasca, which are used in shamanic practices of deep cultural significance. Similarly, in the history of Eurasia, entheogens such as the mythical Soma of the Indo-Aryans, kykeon of the Eleusinian mysteries of Hellenistic Greece, the hexing herbs of Medieval “witches,” and the psychedelics of the modern era have offered many a deeper understanding of the cosmos. I explore the educational potential of entheogenic practices in light of contemporary theories such as Howard Gardner’s suggestion of an “existential” intelligence, Kieran Egan’s conception of forms of understanding based on our facility with cognitive tools, and Richard Shusterman’s proposed cognitive discipline of somaesthetics. I offer Aldous Huxley’s vision of an educational practice using entheogens in his novel Island as an artistic representation of what a contemporary practice might look like and the experiential educational program of Outward Bound as a potential practical model. Finally, I recount a personal experience participating in a modern entheogenic spiritual ceremony with a Santo Daime community in Brazil.

Tupper, K.W. (2002). Entheogens and existential intelligence: The use of plant teachers as cognitive tools. Canadian Journal of Education. 27(4), 499-516.

In light of recent specific liberalizations in drug laws in some countries, I have investigated the potential of entheogens (i.e., psychoactive plants used as spiritual sacraments) as tools to facilitate existential intelligence. “Plant teachers” from the Americas such as ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, and peyote, and the Indo-Aryan soma of Eurasia, are examples of entheogens that have been used used in both the past and present. These have all been revered as spiritual or cognitive tools to provide a richer cosmological understanding of the world for both individuals and cultures. I used Gardner’s (1999a) revised multipleintelligence theory and his postulation of an “existential” intelligence as a theoretical lens through which to account for the cognitive possibilities of entheogens and explore potential ramifications for education.

Tupper, K. W. (2003). Entheogens and education: Exploring the potential of psychoactives as educational tools. Journal of Drug Education and Awareness. 1(2), 145–161.

This paper looks at the possible applications of entheogens (i.e. psychoactive plants and chemicals used as spiritual sacraments) as potential educational tools to stimulate foundational types of understanding. The prescient observations of Aldous Huxley concerning what he saw as a malaise in contemporary education—no less relevant today in the 21st century than when he first made them fifty years ago—offer an impetus to reconsider the value of traditionally-used “plant teachers.” I outline the ideas of educational theorist Kieran Egan and philosopher Richard Shusterman, who portray mythic and somatic forms of understanding as foundational, yet largely neglected in modern pedagogy and philosophy, and show how entheogens might function within their theoretical frameworks to provide richer educational experiences.

To get in touch with Ken Tupper: ktupper@telus.net

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