Tripping out with Shamans

Bombast and Flitterflop take a trip into the bizarre world of New Age Shamanism

PART SIX of Astral Conversations—an unusual series of investigations into the occult with a humorous twist.


Some of our readers have experimented with Shamanism and mind-altering drugs. Many more have been tempted to. There are people claim to have benefited from taking ayahuasca. But we would say they benefited despite their drug-taking, not because of it. Other people have quite literally lost their minds and even their lives through their involvement in Shamanism and the hallucinogenic drugs associated with it.

New Age Shamanism is the illegitimate child of Spiritualism which wrecked the lives of millions and did nothing to enlighten those involved with it. The present fad is far more dangerous because it involves the use of powerful, mind-altering drugs, especially among the jaded youth of the West in search of anything to fill the spiritual and emotional vacuum of their lives and solve their personal problems.

We apologise to our regular readers for the dearth of humour in this particular conversation, which is inevitable given the seriousness of the subject Bombast and Flitterflop have chosen to investigate.

FLITTERFLOP: "Shamanism is such an old religion—if not the oldest—and so many of my friends are raving about the amazing benefits of it that I really think it's time I went on one of these pukka Shaman retreats in Peru. You know, the secret places where the real Shamans are, not the low charlatans you get over here."

BOMBAST (chuckling softly to himself): " couldn't do better than to sit at the holy feet of a high charlatan of Shamanism. At least then you'd stand half a chance of becoming a wise fool."

FLITTERFLOP: "Are you saying my idea is half-baked?"

BOMBAST: "No—it's completely baked. I can think of nothing more enjoyable and spiritually uplifting than throwing up for several hours whilst simultaneously shitting yourself in a snake-infested Amazonian jungle surrounded by a circle of grinning natives having a jolly good laugh at your expense."

FLITTERFLOP: "But seriously. What do you think?"

BOMBAST (incredulously): "What do I think? Firstly, Shamanism is not a religion. It's a rag-bag of native magical practices and beliefs which have been hijacked by New Age numpties, dressed up in pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, laced with a heady cocktail of mysticism and psychotherapy, and sold as a short cut to self-discovery and enlightenment. You would need to be 'raving' to get involved with it. Come to think of it, many of the kids who trip out in Peru are raving or have addiction problems. Though why they believe that taking another drug is going to magically sort out the mental and emotional mess caused by taking other drugs is beyond my feeble comprehension!"

FLITTERFLOP: "That seems a bit harsh. The articles I've read and the videos I've watched all seem pretty harmless."

BOMBAST: "Well, they would be, wouldn't they? There is a very profitable industry feeding off the witches' brew of Shamanism. It's poster-boys aren't going to mention ayahuasca can seriously damage your health, are they?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Don't you believe there is genuine healing and real spiritual understanding to be gained from ayahuasca? Especially if the intentions of all those taking part are pure, genuine and altruistic?"

BOMBAST: "You've taken it, haven't you?"

FLITTERFLOP (sheepishly): "I might have done DMT——once. Well...once or twice actually."


FLITTERFLOP: "And what?"

BOMBAST: "Out with it. What happened."

FLITTERFLOP (reluctantly): "Well...not much really...I was overwhelmed with visual imagery which changed so rapidly it was impossible to make sense of it. I struggled to remember where I was, who I was...or even if I was. At one point there were these machine elves chucking all kinds of weird stuff at me. Then the scene changed and I found myself trapped inside a snake where I met an angry, greyish entity with three heads and no legs...and then it all got a bit weird..."

BOMBAST: "A bit weird!? Machine elves, snakes and greys? I'm surprised you didn't see green, shape-shifting lizards as well!"

FLITTERFLOP: " that you come to mention it, I think I might have done..."

BOMBAST: "Did it never occur to you that all these hobgoblins were drawn from the astral light?"

FLITTERFLOP: "How do you mean?"

BOMBAST: "Have you learned nothing from our previous conversations? Have M's teachings been in vain?"

FLITTERFLOP: "I'm not with you."

BOMBAST: "Doesn't it strike you that what you saw, with minor differences, is what every other deluded DMT tripper has seen? Why is that?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Maybe these weird creatures are dynamically contorting topological modules that were somehow distinct from the surrounding background, which was itself undergoing a continuous transformation?"

BOMBAST (rolling his eyes): "You really have been away with the machine elves, haven't you?"


BOMBAST: "How else would you explain the New Age gibberish you've just spouted? The reason you all experience the same fantasies and see the same 'contorting topological modules' and other assorted inhabitants of DMT la-la land can be summed up in two words."

FLITTERFLOP: "Which are?"

BOMBAST: "Astral light. The occultist Bulwer-Lytton describes all the phenomena you saw in his occult novel Zanoni, in which he wrote: 'Now, in space there are millions of beings not literally spiritual, for they have all...certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtle, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer that clothes the spirit...some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven.' Moreover, the astral light is the repository of all the thoughts of mankind, so it follows that Western kids, reared on tall tales of extra-terrestrials and shape-shifting elves, and conditioned by the technologies of scientific materialism which informs their thinking and world view, will see just what they expect to see. Their ancestors saw angels and demons, while Peruvian Shamans see their animal spirits and 'gods'. Each sees the empty phantoms of his own preconceptions, thrown back to him by the mirror of the astral light."

FLITTERFLOP: "I hadn't thought of it like that."

BOMBAST: "Meaning you hadn't thought it through at all, had you?"

FLITTERFLOP: "—but..."

BOMBAST (mirthfully): "But what? You still fancy tripping out with Shamans in the Amazonian jungle and dancing with machine elves?"

FLITTTERFLOP (hesitantly): " exactly, no. But so many people say that ayahuasca opens up our inner world and facilitates deep spiritual cleansing that I find it hard to believe they're all completely wrong."

BOMBAST: "The fact that a lot of people believe in something is no guarantee that they're right. Lots of people believed that Prozac was a miracle cure for depression but most are now calling for it to be banned. If ayahuasca is supposed to 'expand' and 'deepen' consciousness why is it that those who take it have contributed nothing of value to human knowledge?"

FLITTERFLOP: "That may be true, but it doesn't mean it has no benefits."

BOMBAST: "Such as?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Well...cleansing and purification for one."

BOMBAST: "Are you seriously suggesting that synchronised vomiting and diarrhoea in a snake-infested Peruvian jungle will purify you?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Well...perhaps not when you put it like that."

BOMBAST (warming to his theme): "How else would you describe it? Vomiting and defecating your way to New Age Nirvana? You could do that in the comfort of your own home by taking a dose of Epsom Salts. What's more, so long as you continue to stuff your face with whatever junk you were eating and drinking before you took ayahuasca, and living the same old life, you'll be back to square one in no time. What's the point? Next benefit please!"

FLITTERFLOP: " and emotional healing..."

BOMBAST: "Ah—healing! I thought we'd get onto that. You New Age numpties are obsessed with it: crystal healing, chakra healing, candle healing, aura-healing, drum-healing and for all I know, lucky rabbit's foot healing. Anything but self-healing by eating a sensible, balanced diet, living a natural, balanced life, and following a tried and tested system of mental training under a genuine spiritual teacher."

FLITTERFLOP: "I'm not into that stuff any more."

BOMBAST: "Well, you could have fooled me. Anyway, let's examine the claim that there are 'countless numbers of people who have experienced incredible healings from drinking ayahuasca.' The phrase 'incredible healings' trips off the tongues of these brokers of balderdash with monotonous regularity, yet there's not a scrap of scientific evidence to back up their claims. It's classic advertising puffery, peppered with generalisations and New Age neologisms, all designed to convince the unthinking of the miraculous properties of this wonder-working potion."

FLITTERFLOP: "I've heard that people have been cured of depression by drinking ayahuasca."

BOMBAST: "You wouldn't be referring to a study carried out by so-called researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in 2015, would you? I'd call a study with only six subjects and no control group about as scientific as the claim that drinking your own urine makes you younger. But that only takes the piss out of you, whereas the apologists for ayahuasca are taking it out of everyone who listens to them."

FLITTERFLOP: "What do you mean?"

BOMBAST: "At least one occultist has stated that even a single dose of a drug like ayahuasca can damage the brain and prevent any real spiritual progress in one's lifetime. It seems he was right when we consider that Terence McKenna, the world's leading advocate of mind-altering drugs, who was also an enthusiastic exponent of the daily use of cannabis, died at the grand old age of just 53 from a brain tumour shaped exactly like the magic mushrooms he used to eat."

FLITTERFLOP (deeply concerned): "I didn't know that. That's really shocking. If I stop now, will I be OK?"

BOMBAST (peering at Flitterflop): "Apart from the fungus on your upper lip that passes for a designer moustache, I don't see any obvious signs of mushroom-poisoning."

FLITTERFLOP: "Very droll. But seriously, will I be OK?"

BOMBAST: "Probably. The human body is remarkably resilient. If it were not, most of us would be dead before the age of forty considering the abuses we subject our bodies to."

FLITTERFLOP: "That's a relief. Can I do anything to help undo the damage I may have done to my brain?"

BOMBAST: "Peaceful, silent meditation is by far the most effective treatment. As is consciously drawing the universal life force into your body with every breath you take, and mentally directing it toward your brain."

FLITTERFLOP: "Wasn't it Terence McKenna who came up with the 'stoned ape theory', 'mushroom intelligence' and the 'mushroom teacher?"

BOMBAST: "The very same. He got most of his ideas from John Allegro's The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, published in 1970, which first promoted the nonsensical notion that Christianity and other religions arose out of the visionary experiences of hallucinogenic mushroom-eaters. To believe that something as holy, inspiring and spiritually authentic as the New Testament Gospels were the product of the minds of those bombed out of their heads on magic mushrooms is on a par with believing that shape-shifting lizards are in control of the world."

FLITTERFLOP: "I realised what complete nonsense it was when I read that our supposed ape-ancestors developed intelligence after eating magic mushrooms. If that were true, why aren't modern anthropoids just as smart as we are, if not smarter? They've had millions of years to nibble their way into the top ranks of MENSA! The idea that mushrooms develop intelligence is too silly for words."

BOMBAST: "What else would you expect from parasites which grow in the dark and feed on decaying matter?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Mushrooms, you mean?"

BOMBAST: "No, I meant the nincompoops who believe that human beings are descended from mushroom-eating monkeys. Such silly theories will always pander to the appetites of unthinking seekers after fantasy whilst the few who are genuinely in search of the truth will nourish themselves at its fountainhead in such books as The Secret Doctrine in which the true origins of mankind and monkeys were stated more than 100 years ago."

FLITTERFLOP: "There really is nothing new under the Sun, is there?"

BOMBAST: "No. The claims made for ayahuasca are the same as the claims made for LSD and other hallucinogens in the 1960's. Millions took such drugs then and are still taking them today. Timothy Leary, the hippy guru of psychedelia, who died in 1996, famously told his deluded fans to 'turn on, tune in and drop out'. All they 'turned on' was the muddy outflow of the material dross within their own minds. What they 'tuned' into were the fantasies of the dwellers in the lower astral world, wrongly called 'spirits' by those who know no better. What they 'dropped out' of was any hope of real enlightenment, for that does not come out of potions or pills, but from years of dedicated study, meditation and rigorous self-control.

"The best the advocates of ayahuasca can come up with is that 'it raises profound questions about the nature of reality itself', whilst admitting that: 'there are, as yet, no definite answers to those questions—perhaps there never will be.' If that is not the remark of a fool, I don't know what is. The 'nature of reality' has been fully explained by all the great spiritual Masters from Krishna to Gautama Buddha and Jesus, but only to those capable of understanding them, which someone tripped out on magic mushrooms is unlikely to be."

"Having extolled the virtues of ayahuasca, these snake-oil salesmen then add, usually in very small type, that such experiences may not be all sweetness and light. Disingenuous does not begin to describe such mental sleight-of-hand. It is precisely the naïve and inexperienced, often mentally unbalanced, seeker who is most likely to sign up for a trip to magic mushroom la-la land. The wise will steer well clear, knowing intuitively that illumination comes from within, not without. It is to be sought in the pure waters of the great spiritual teachings of all times, in the beauties of Nature and in the smile of an innocent child, fresh from its Heavenly Home, not in the bottom of a gourd filled with the aptly-named fruits of the 'Vine of the Dead."

FLITTERFLOP: "I can see clearly now that it is not so much the drugs themselves—though they can be dangerous enough—but the toxic combination of them with magical practices and pseudo-scientific mysticism that makes New Age Shamanism so very perilous."

BOMBAST: "More perilous than you realise. Particularly if one is in a negative state of mind before taking part in these Shamanistic ceremonies."

FLITTERFLOP: "Why is that significant?"

BOMBAST: "Because negative thoughts draw negative conditions and evil entities toward the thinker. Just as positive thoughts attract positive powers and beings. Were this elementary occult truth better known, people would not only guard their thoughts, but train themselves into thinking good and wholesome thoughts at all times. The fact that they don't accounts for most, if not all, of the 'bad trips' resulting from the use of hallucinogenic drugs, whether ayahuasca, DMT, or anything else."

"One foolish experimenter described at great length how he concentrated on all the terrible conditions in the world today, singling out the Middle East in particular, little realising that concentrated thought is one of the most potent of all magical powers. He then went on to say what a good thing it would be if every military leader, religious fanatic and dictator were to undergo ten sessions of ayahuasca before being allowed to make a single decision."

FLITTERFLOP: "Didn't he realise that taking ayahuasca might encourage the evil in them and give it even greater opportunities for expression?"

BOMBAST: "Apparently not, or he would have remembered the wise words of Pythagoras not to 'stir the fire with a sword."

FLITTERFLOP: "What sort of entity did he meet?"

BOMBAST: "From his description it was probably the astral body of a black magician. He describes it as having a human form, with a long, thin, sensual face. He quickly realised he was completely out of his depth and avoided a lifetime in a lunatic asylum by a hairsbreadth."

FLITTERFLOP: "Why do they do it? They must be mad!"

BOMBAST: "Oh it gets much worse. The same individual, whom I won't name, but is quite famous and looked upon as a leading guru by his fellow ayahuasca advocates, went on to describe what happened next. One of the female members of the group was accosted by a male participant who made several strange hand gestures in front of her whilst simultaneously breathing hard into her face."

FLITTERFLOP: "That's pure black magic, isn't it?"

BOMBAST: "Yes. Every grubby little sorcerer worthy of the name, including at least one infamous self-styled 'magician' of the 20th century knows this secret, so I'm not surprised that it is known to the Shamans of the Amazon too."

FLITTERFLOP: "What happened then?"

BOMBAST: "The woman asked the man why he'd done what he did. He replied that it was a 'blessing.' When she persisted in her questions, he turned his back on her and told her airily that she wouldn't understand. Nor would she, unless she was a trained occultist, which none of the misguided mystics who meddle with forces they do not understand and have no protection against, are, or they wouldn't get involved in these dangerous practices."

FLITTERFLOP: "That's the problem, isn't it? Those promoting ayahuasca as a quick-fix cure for all that ails us are mostly sincere and well-meaning, and that lulls the unwary seeker into a false sense of security. Then, before he knows it, he's out of his depth and his troubles are multiplied."

BOMBAST: "Well put. It begins innocently enough by reading about ayahuasca, DMT or Shamanism, just as you did. The courses that promote Shamanism are very well presented and slickly marketed. The instructors are generally friendly and well meaning and convey the message that anybody can enjoy the benefits of Shamanism with little or no risk. In short, they present it as a new and exciting kind of leisure activity. But drugs are not the only danger. Shamanic drumming and chanting are becoming increasingly popular and are even more dangerous for the unwary experimenter who dabbles with them."


BOMBAST: "Because sound is one of the most potent of all occult forces. At first nothing may happen, but if the drummer persists and especially if his teacher has some genuine occult knowledge, whether consciously acquired or not, the sounds he produces will begin to attract negative conditions toward him. He may be overwhelmed with sadness, have dark thoughts and experience unreasoning fears. If he continues he may hear voices or see evil faces floating in the air."

FLITTERFLOP: "Is that the end of the story?"

BOMBAST: "Only if the dabbler stops there. If he does, the unpleasant feelings will disappear and may never return again. If he doesn't, the negative conditions he has drawn towards him will eventually control every aspect of his life, both waking and sleeping, especially if drugs are involved too. He will be well on his way to the lunatic asylum, or worse, a promising career as a second-rate black magician."

FLITTERFLOP: "Why is sound so very dangerous?"

BOMBAST: "Because all that exists has been produced through the creative use of the WORD. As it creates, so too can it destroy, as you may read in The Secret Doctrine."

"Sound is a tremendous Occult power, a stupendous force, of which the electricity generated by a million of Niagaras could never counteract the smallest potentiality when directed with occult knowledge. Sound may be produced of such a nature that the pyramid of Cheops would be raised in the air, or that a dying man, nay, one at his last breath, would be revived and filled with new energy and vigour."

BOMBAST: "Sound is either a blessing or a curse, and this is why the ignorance which prevails among those who meddle with it is so often fatal to themselves and others."

FLITERFLOP: "So all this talk of shamanistic drumming facilitating shape-shifting, astral journeying, summoning spirits and healing is not nonsense?"

BOMBAST: "No, it's magic, pure and simple. In the right hands it's white magic. In the wrong hands or employed for selfish purposes, it's black magic. In the hands of the New Age dabbler it's the most dangerous of all the occult arts, precisely because such lunatics have no idea what they're doing or the hidden forces they employ in their dire ignorance."

FLITTERFLOP: "Well, I'm having nothing more to do with New Age Shamanism, drugs or mushrooms."

BOMBAST: "Not even truffles?"

FLITTERFLOP: "Only if they're made of chocolate."

BOMBAST: "You do know that chocolate contains several psychoactive chemicals, such as cannabinoids, caffeine and tryptophan, don't you?"

FLITTERFLOP: "I'll risk it."

BOMBAST: "Well, it's a very small risk compared to the howls of protest this conversation will elicit from the apologists for Shamanism if it's ever published."

FLIITERFLOP: "I'll risk that too, if it wakes up just one seeker and discourages others from endorsing Shamanism and ayahuasca."

BOMBAST: "Amen to that."

On that brave and encouraging note, we must bid farewell to our two dispellers of fantasy who seem to have grown considerably in all sorts of good ways since we first encountered them. Until we hear from them again, we wish them and you—dear reader—a safe trip in whatever direction destiny should take you.


You can find a complete list and brief descriptions of all the conversation between these two colourful occult students on the introductory page to these Astral conversations. Although these conversations can be read on their own, they are best read in chronological sequence as they form an ascending scale of revelation.

© Copyright Article added 2 April 2016. Updated 11 February 2024.

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