Answer to Daedalus: A Review of Psychedelic Integration

There’s an old Greek tale about a master craftsman named Daedalus who built a labyrinth to contain a monster, a half-man, half-beast who consumed offerings of human flesh. When the beast was slain, suspicion fell upon Daedalus as an accomplice and he was imprisoned in a tower along with his son, Icarus. There Daedalus turned his genius to fashioning wings, which he assembled with feathers, rags, and wax. As he fitted the wings to his son’s arms, he warned him: “Don’t fly too near to the sun, my boy, lest the wings melt and you plummet to your death.”

For Icarus, escaping the labyrinth and sailing into the empyrean was so enrapturing that he became reckless, flying closer and closer to the sun. Finally, the sinews of his wings melted in the searing heat, and he fell into the depths, leaving his father to grieve over his broken body.

Marc B. Aixalà’s Psychedelic Integration might be subtitled, “An Answer to Daedalus,” so sincere and thoroughgoing is its quest for answers to the grieving father holding the shattered ego of his youth in his arms.

How many readers of this review have sat unaccompanied after an ayahuasca retreat or psychedelic experience, Daedalus-like, grieving their fallen self without real hope of resurrection? And how many have, nonetheless, painstakingly (or miraculously) reintegrated their shattered being, and found their wings no longer quite so waxen in the aftermath? Most would, no doubt, say such deep work is not possible alone – and that finding someone skillful in the art of integration straight away could have spared them and others much suffering. Continue reading “Answer to Daedalus: A Review of Psychedelic Integration”

Remembering Persephone and the Eleusinian Mysteries

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The loss of the daughter to mother, the mother to the daughter, is the essential female tragedy. It was expressed in the religious mystery of Eleusis, which constituted the spiritual foundation of Greek life for two thousand years…

The separation of Demeter and Kore is an unwilling one; it is neither a question of the daughter’s rebellion against the mother, nor the mother’s rejection of the daughter… Each daughter, even in the millennia before Christ, must have longed for a mother whose love for her and whose power were so great as to undo rape and bring her back from death. And every mother must have longed for the power of Demeter, the efficacy of her anger, the reconciliation with her lost self.
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born

One definition of “myth” might be: “A once sacred narrative which has lost its original context.” Like the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwreck on the high seas, we encounter fragments of myth, such as in Hesiod’s Theogony, drifting about detached from their original cultural setting and so read them as curious stories, quaint remnants, or illogical accounts of the cosmos.

What is lost in such fragments is the original wholeness of mythos, symbol, and ritual within which the myth had its transformative power. Continue reading “Remembering Persephone and the Eleusinian Mysteries”