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Reader's High: 17 Potent Books About the Trippy World of Psychedelics

These books are no hallucination. 


When you think of psychedelics, you likely have the image of peace-loving hippies gazing at tie-dye tapestries as the colors bleed and blend in a psychotropic wonderland.

Psychedelic drugs and/or medicines come in many forms, such as acid/LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, ayahuasca, and even cannabis. All have been long associated with the underground counterculture movement during various times in history—such as the 1960s.

But these substances have also been used in spiritual ceremonies, religious rituals, mystical rites, and therapeutic treatments for thousands of years. They are 

The world of psychedelics is a fascinating one. These seventeen books about psychedelics explore how these substances can alter the mind, promote healing, elevate consciousness, and assist with rewiring unhelpful brain patterns via mystical experiences and other transformative psychological phenomena. They break down the myths, dispel the misconceptions, and really get to the heart of the healing that is possible with the assistance of these mysterious psychotropic medicines.

Note: We recommend reading these books for information purposes only.

Seattle Mystic Alfred M. Hubbard

Seattle Mystic Alfred M. Hubbard

By Brad Holden

In 1919, Alfred M. Hubbard first made headlines as a young inventor who claimed to be harness the energy from the Earth’s atmosphere to propel a perpetual motion machine. From there, his career took multiple twists and turns, from bootlegger and radio pioneer to a spy and uranium entrepreneur. But after discovering the mind-altering effects of a psychedelic drug, he became known as the “Johnny Appleseed of LSD”. From his humble beginnings to the hallucinogenic end, this is the story of his life.

Acid Dreams

Acid Dreams

By Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain

In the 1950s, the CIA became hyper-fixated on LSD and the potential to use it as an effective weapon in their espionage arsenal. Thousands of citizens took part in a covert research program unknowingly as they tested the wide-reaching effects of the drug. But they didn’t expect it to spread in popularity and be embraced by the counterculture.

Taken from the government’s own files and meticulously researched, Acid Dreams follows the long-lasting impact LSD had on politics and society as it changed America.

Rational Mysticism

Rational Mysticism

By John Horgan

How do mystical experiences like prayer, visions, and trances work? Is there a scientific explanation? By exploring multiple fields of science, consulting a range of experts, researching a number of modern technologies touted as inducing the mystical, and even participating in experiments attempting to find the neurological connection to spiritual experiences, Horgan sets out to document his journey to enlightenment.

the book of highs

The Book of Highs

By Edward Rosenfeld

Okay so this one isn't about psychedelic substances per se, but it is fascinating because it explores alternative ways to induce psychedelic states without any substances.

There are numerous ways you can alter your consciousness—without mind-altering substances. It covers everything from positive practices like skydiving, prayer, transcendental meditation, and tantric sex, to the negative with sleep deprivation, fire walking, and even self-flagellation. Taken from religions, cultures, and practices all over the world, The Book of Highs is an encyclopedia designed to change your state of mind.

dmt the spirit molecule

DMT: The Spirit Molecule

By Rick Strassman

For five years, Dr. Rick Strassman injected 60 volunteers with the most powerful psychedelic drug: DMT. His detailed research accounts for the collective experiences of these volunteers. Linked with the pineal gland, it’s considered the seventh chakra and is associated with birth, near-death, mystical, and even alien encounters. Strassman believes this research indicates that if used appropriately, DMT could unlock a profound scientific and spiritual revolution of the human mind.

sacred knowledge

Sacred Knowledge

By William A. Richards

In the 1960s, the explosion of recreational drug use took away the validity of studying psychedelics in scientific labs. But there is a lot of potential that psychedelics can offer to biological, spiritual, and religious experiences. Scared Knowledge covers over three decades of research and analysis on how these substances can better the humanities, as well as make advances in mental health, psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology.

the psychedelic explorer's guide

The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide

By James Fadiman

Over 23 million people have tried psychedelics, with more trying the substances every day. Since the 1960s, they’ve been used in various experiments. From spiritual awakenings, healing and self-discovery, to improving cognitive functioning and emotional balance, psychedelics can be a useful tool in improving your health on multiple levels.

The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide walks you through the benefits of high-dose, medium-dose, and low-dose therapies relying on over forty years of research and experience, while dispelling myths and misperceptions widely accepted in the mainstream.

inner paths to outer space

Inner Paths to Outer Space

By Rick Strassman, Slawek Wojtowicz, Luis Eduardo Luna, & Ede Frecska

People have reported connections with alien and mystical beings when in altered states of human awareness. The search for the otherworldly has been misguided and misdirected. Instead of going out, we should have been going in. With over sixty years of combined experience, the authors detail how psychedelic substances can take a user out of their five senses into a multidimensional realm where communication and connection with other beings become possible.

psychedelics and spirituality

Psychedelics and Spirituality

By Thomas B. Roberts

For thousands of years, spiritual advisors and religious leaders have used psychedelic substances as a way to transcend this plane and commune with the holy. Psychedelics and Spirituality examines how these substances can be used safely and effectively to provide a catalyst for faith by cultivating personal spiritual experiences. In addition, it has personal accounts from participants in the Good Friday experiment conducted by Walter Pahnke and a twenty-five-year follow-up.

quantum science of psychedelics

Quantum Science of Psychedelics

By Carl Johan Calleman

In a science now lost to modern civilization, the ancient Mayan people understood the nature of multidimensional reality and how those forces evolved human consciousness. Quantum waves were part of the Mayan Calendar and radiated throughout history and into the future, predicting various states of consciousness. By helping us tap into the power of the pineal gland, psychedelics can foster healing, enable spiritual connection, and help usher in the evolution of human perception.

the psychedelic path

The Psychedelic Path

By Richard L. Haight

If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like being on a psychedelic journey, meditation expert and bestselling author Richard L. Haight takes you through his personal experiences with three ancient shamanic plants found in North, South, and Central America. Through his encounters, you can decide if psychedelics are right for you, the power of a bad trip, and how to open the door to your inner awareness.

psychedelic cannabis

Psychedelic Cannabis

By Daniel McQueen

There are a multitude of therapeutic benefits you can use cannabis for. But rather than stumble through figuring out how to use this drug on your own, Daniel McQueen walks you through the methods and strains to ensure you minimize side effects and enhance the healing benefits. By understanding how certain blends can induce various experiences, you can use cannabis to heal trauma and shift your mindset.

how to change your mind

How to Change Your Mind

By Michael Pollan

LSD was first discovered in the 1940s, and scientists were excited at the promise the drug held. Fast forward twenty years and the excessive use of the substance by the counterculture quickly induced a severe backlash that saw it banned on all levels—including research of any kind. But over the last few years, research has quietly started again, looking into how LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, and DMT can improve the lives and mental health of many people.

How to Change Your Mind takes you through the history of these drugs and the incredible potential they might hold for the future. There is also a fascinating Netflix series by the same name that brings the book to life.

dmt & my occult mind

DMT & My Occult Mind - LITE

By Dick Kahn

DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is known as the spirit molecule. It’s believed to bring about almost near-death experiences—without the dying, of course. Upon waking, users profess an altered awareness, a state-of-mind that expands and changes their entire worldview. 

Dick Khan set out to discover this change of consciousness and document his experience along the way. Is the world a reality we should question? And if we move past the physical, what might humans actually be capable of achieving? Through his journey, Khan combines rational focus with a sense of awe and wonder in the mundane, encouraging you to look at the world with a sense of wonder and joy.

ayahuasca medicine

Ayahuasca Medicine

By Alan Shoemaker

An ayahuasquero is a shaman who heals through the mystical plant, ayahuasca. For more than twenty years, Alan Shoemaker trained and studied with shamans in Peru and Ecuador, learning traditional methods of preparation, ceremonial rituals, and how to use the sacred plant for healing.

Ayahuasca Medicine takes you through his journey with various plants, two mentors, and numerous cases of using ayahuasca’s ability to reveal the cause of an illness to heal individuals, including his mother’s liver cancer.

when plants dream

When Plants Dream

By Daniel Pinchbeck and Sophia Rokhlin

Ayahuasca is a plant with a long history of being used for various healing properties and spiritual ceremonies by the indigenous people of the Amazon. But why is a plant that has been used for thousands of years suddenly seeing Westerners flock to South America in search of healing, reconnection, and enlightenment.

When Plants Dream takes you through the long history of this vine, the role of the shaman in both Amazonian and Western culture, and how it’s being researched and used in various fields today.

the psychedelic revival

The Psychedelic Revival

By Sean P. Lawlor

Psychedelics have lived in the cloudy mythos of illegal drug use for decades. And now that research is beginning to show the benefits of the substances, it’s difficult to decipher what’s real and what’s nonsense. The Psychedelic Revival goes through a solid and meticulous exploration of both the history of psychedelics and the future landscape of what these drugs might actually offer. Lawlor covers the good, the bad, and everything in between, painting a realistic view of how to navigate this new field while avoiding the downfalls.