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DoubleBlind: A Psychedelic Creative Image of someone holding a book
DoubleBlind: A Psychedelic Creative Image of someone holding a book

3 Psychedelic Books to Have on Your Shelf

The essential Psychedelics 101 curriculum—with some deep cuts, too.

David Arnson // Feb. 12, 2020

DoubleBlind is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here. Editorially reviewed by Madison Margolin.

The New Psychedelic Revolution

James Oroc 2018, Park Street Press

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James Oroc, author of the acclaimed Tryptamine Palace, takes on a sizeable bite here in describing the history and evolution of the global psychedelic scene, from its roots over 100 years ago through the current presidential administration. The breadth of culture described is truly impressive. Keep in mind that the flow is a bit clunky at times, and it’s a shame that there are no illustrations for the scores of visionary artists mentioned here—but still, it’s a worthwhile read, with fascinating first-person details on the modern festival scene. Nobody has quite tackled a global psychedelic history with this breadth and depth before.

Magic Medicine

Cody Johnson 2018, Fair Winds Press

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This is an excellent overview of the compounds that have shaped today’s psychedelic milieu. Magic Medicine breaks down and describes 23 psychoactive substances under the categories of classical psychedelics (2-CB, 5MEO-DMT, ayahuasca, DMT, DOM, LSD, Morning Glory, peyote, psilocybin, San Pedro, and Yopo), empathogenic psychedelics (MDA, MDMA), dissociative psychedelics (DXM, ketamine, nitrous, salvia), and unique psychedelics (amanita, cannabis, DIPT, fish and sea sponges, iboga, “Mad Honey”). With you likely wondering what a few of those substances even are, this is overall a pretty decent guide (with just a few notable omissions)—and I’d argue that many of these compounds described are more psychoactive than psychedelic. The book details the history and modern use of mind-altering substances for anyone looking to go deep into the topic. 

Read: What Permaculture Teaches Us About Psychedelics(Opens in a new browser tab)

Amazon Magic

Jaya Bear 2000, Colibri Publishing

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Amazon Magic is fascinating autobiography of a Peruvian ayahuasca shaman who, as a young man,  got lost in the rainforest and lived with one of its remote communities for a year. Over the years, he repeatedly isolates himself in the jungle to familiarize himself with all kinds of healing plants. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to get to the root of indigenous ayahuasca traditions. A true classic.

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We started DoubleBlind two years ago at a time when even the largest magazines and media companies were cutting staff and going out of business. Friends and family said we were crazy. But we did it anyway, because we believe in it—deeply. We believe in the value of good journalism. And we believe in the extraordinary potential of psychedelics to reduce suffering. At the time we made a commitment: we will never have a paywall, we will never rely on advertisers we don’t believe in to fund our reporting, and we will always be accessible via email and social media to support people for free on their journeys with plant medicines.

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Zach Sokol is a writer, editor, and producer who’s based in New York. From 2017 through 2020, he worked as Features Editor and then Managing Editor of MERRY JANE, Snoop Dogg’s cannabis and culture publication. Sokol’s writing and photos have been published in a number of online and print publications, including Playboy, VICE, The Village Voice, ARTNews, Penthouse, Art in America, The Paris Review, FADER, i-D, and more. Visit his website www.zachsokol.com for his latest writing, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @zachsokol.

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