Thursday, February 24, 2005


I cant help but notice how some ancient tribal rituals have a lot in common with rave parties: driving, repetitive rhythms, gyrations... and mind-altering drugs.

The forerunners of the rave parties were the so-called Acid Tests; those LSD-25 influenced parties run by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters chronicled by Tom Wolfe in the book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Today, the parties run on Ecstasy and electronica instead of LSD and psychedelia, but it's basically the same thing. And on the surface, one would be hard-pressed to spot the difference between a rave party and a Brazilian umbanda ritual, or an American Indian vision quest ritual. If you didnt take into account the designer outfits and the heavy use of power amps.

But there is a huge difference. In the ancient rituals, the participants are trying to connect with something: the earth spirits, the gods, whatever--something beyond oneself. All the rave participants want to connect with is whatever makes them feel good. The lights and the music all serve the narcissictic purpose of hightening whatever theyre experiencing for its own sake.

LSD was synthesized from the naturally-occuring substance in the sacred peyote mushroom used by the Native Americans in their vison quest rituals. The gift of the earth spirits have been stolen by technicians in labcoats to be used in treating mental illness and even mind-control experiments, and make a tidy profit in the process. What was once a direct line to the gods is now just another chemical in a beaker. Anybody who wants to can access the visions that were once restricted only to the worthy. With LSD and Ecstasy, one can now connect... to what? The god theyre connecting to is dead. What's left is its festering remains.

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