So I was hanging off of a 30 foot roof scraping moss during a rain and the beginning of a passing thunderstorm. Nothing like being on an aluminium ladder in those situations for you to realize that it may be time to find another way of entertaining/making a living. Really, no reasonable offer refused at this point. If it can have good art and poetry thrown in… that would cinch that deal in a moment.
We watched the recent release of “Tristan and Isolde” this weekend. I enjoyed it, and thought it a worthy effort. If you get a chance check it out. Good cast, and the story is pretty close to what you find in the mythology books, as opposed to lots of the Hollywood tripe that is out there…
Muggy and Wet -I have not seen a June quite like this one in Oregon. It reminds me more of the East Coast than here. Usually some rain, but not weeks of it. I think a trend is developing. We had rain last year as well, not as long, but longer than before… It is warming up a bit.
On The Menu:
Art Education & Happenings This Summer and Fall with Martina & Roberto
The Article: inna bug conference: Bad Shaman Interview
The Poetry: Hafiz!
I have gotten enquiries into where the &@%(!!! is the Magazine? It will be here soon dear readers. I ran out of steam and inspiration. It happens. My relation to the Muse is a complicated one. I have just a bit more to do and it will all be here… patience please!
Thanks For Looking in on this ongoing project & thanks for the feedback, it means much to me!
I wanted to alert you to some great art and people happenings… Roberto Venosa and Martina Hoffmann teach classes every year in some quite wonderful places… If you have the time, and you want to make a leap forward with you art, these are idea situations! Great Locations, excellent company, and Art with a capital “A”.
The String Chees Incident Show, and Burning Man are unique happenings, take a chance on a wonderful opportunity!
Martina & Roberto’s Summer Schedule…
+ Our annual Cadaques, Spain painting workshop (September 17 30, 2006) is now almost filled with
the exception of three spaces remaining.
To see images of the villa and to find detailed workshop information please visit:
+ Beginning this Sunday we will be teaching a 7 day class at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY
June 18, 2006 – June 25, 2006
For Workshop info:
+ From July 8 21, 2006 we will be on the gorgeous Island of Skyros in Greece at the Skyros
Institute for a 2 week painting workshop and to celebrate Mediterranean life:
+ On July 2, 2006 we will be painting live on stage with String Cheese Incident at the fabulous Red
Rocks amphitheater. It would be great to see you there! We hear that tickets are selling quickly.
+ August 28 September 4, 2006 we will be at Burning Man with an exhibition/installation in a 40 dome
as part of the MAPS village. If you dont do anything else crazy this Summer than this could be your
opportunity to feed your counter-culture needs:
Insectoidal Nourishment and the Bad Shaman
The Bad Shaman, while barely known, needs nor wants little introduction. He’s a hard-working American ayahuascero. A successful entrepreneur. Conscientious psychonaut. Researcher of arcane plants, animals and insects. He remains perfectly comfortable surfing the edge of obscurity. Like the shaman in many of history’s archaic societies, he lives and works on the outskirts. We visit the shaman as a last resort. His ways elude sense and nonsense. His mojo works, but never as we expect and always at a price. He would be the first to push you down the stairs, if it might cure what ailed you. He may even ask to eat your brains, but that’s another story.
humans eating bugs
Trip: What’s the history of bug eating?
Bad Shaman: Primates and humans have consumed insects since Neolithic and Prehistoric times. Only recently, within the last 100 years, has insect eating gone out of fashion, except in small rural areas of Mexico, China and a handful of other remote areas. Throughout history, insect eating has been a main source of food for most mammals and birds.
How do bugs taste?
Of the 70 species of insects that I’ve sampled, the only ones that weren’t very appetizing were ladybugs. And I’ve eaten grubs, larvae, beetles, wasps, sow bugs (roly-poly bugs), mealworms, pine grubs, post beetles, earwigs… Insects are surprisingly tasty and comprise the spectrum of flavors, from nuts to vegetables.
Earwigs couldn’t be too tasty.
They are surprisingly tasty. Stir fried with rice and snow peas. Very yummy. I’d like to order some take-out right now.
Which bugs are the yummiest?
The roly-poly bugs. They can taste like anything from spinach to oysters depending upon habitat. And if you cook them, they can be made to taste like just about anything.
If folks could get over the base level aversion, it sounds like roly-poly bugs could usurp tofu.
Yep, and that leads me to my basic assertion: If you eat shrimp and you can’t eat grasshoppers, you better re-examine your taxonomy and zoology.
Tell us about psychoactive insects.
Psychoactivity in insects is esoteric at best. Certainly there have been reports of psychoactive honeys from bees in the new world and the old world. Rumors and stories abound. There is a tradition in southern California and the Southwest of eating red harvester ants for their hallucinogenic psychoactivity in the acquisition of spirit helpers.
How did you come upon such esoteric knowledge?
I have been interested in ant consumption by humans in different cultures around the world for over 25 years, and I read scientific papers. For example, ants are no longer an imaginary food source. There are serious papers being presented by entomologists suggesting that eating more insects may solve some world hunger problems and be an excellent source of nutrients for humans.
Traditionally, insect information and lore have been considered a female knowledge since the hunter-gatherer societies didn’t share equally in the vertebrate proteins. That is, men would kill the animals and thus procure most of the vertebrate proteins, leaving women to gathering plants. In doing so the women would also learn about what bugs you could eat. They knew that since insects and plants co-evolved in such a similar environment and parallel evolutionary scheme, their ability to transform plant products into insect poisons is an evolutionary strategy that nature has tried again and again successfully. Insect and arachnid poisons are currently being researched in venom therapies, much like the bee venom therapies used by the Greeks and Romans for thousands of years.
Where do the ants come in?
Primarily in central and southern California. Several tribes used the Pogo for their spirit helper acquisition powers. A person ate a prescribed number of ants and went into a dream state for a couple of hours in which (God willing) a spirit helper would appear in the form of an animal.
So this isn’t recreational bug use.
No, their use was mostly therapeutic. Ants have had therapeutic values with the tribes in southern California and other native peoples throughout the Americas. I met a Dr. Rodriguez from the University of California at Irvine who told me, 25 years ago, that there are 20,000 species of ants in Columbia. And Columbia is already the mother source of many of the poisons that the world is aware of today: tobacco, coca, those sorts of things…
How have you used the red harvester ants?
Over the years I have eaten ants both therapeutically and for the psychoactive effects. I had heard tales of ants being used for arthritis and rheumatism for years. And I have found sources indicating that indigenous cultures from South, Central, and North America have used ants in that way. So I would capture and eat a small quantity of ants for their beneficial effects with rheumatism. The ant that we have in New Mexico is a particular harvester ant in the species Pogonomyrmex californicus, which is specifically known for its venom. There are so many types of ants and each ant has a different ability to produce different types of chemicals and venoms.
Ants have the oldest history of farming. They invented agriculture over 60,000 years ago. They are able to grow funguses on harvested plant materials and control the growth of unwanted fungi and microorganisms with antiseptic sprays that they produce with their bodies.
The particular ant of which I currently speak has a historical tradition, and people at the turn of the last century knew about it. J.P. Harrington, a researcher who worked and lived at that time in the Santa Barbara area, documented two matching ceremonial accounts of ant consumption.
Have the venoms been analyzed for their active constituents?
To a small degree. But since there are so many compounds in ant venoms, it’s a process that’s ongoing. I suspect that even in the back annals of scientific literature, this is probably not a popular subject. But it is becoming more popular (see references).
Please explain the traditional ceremonial techniques.
In the recorded anecdotes of native peoples giving ants in a prescribed way, that is, ceremonially, eagle down or cotton is used. The ants would be collected from the ant hive, four or five per cotton ball or feather. The cotton ball was then bitten and swallowed. The person would then wait a period of time, and then with the help of an administrator, would go into a sleep state for a couple of hours, after which they would be administered warm water which would help them regurgitate whatever ants might be left in their stomach. It was important that they consume ants while they were still alive.
I’ve eaten a couple of hundred ants and I find that there certainly is a neurotoxic or psychoactive effect. But as far as going into a dream state, passing out, and acquiring spirit helpers, I have yet to reach that level of saturation.
Can one obtain the same prescribed effect from dead ants or the extract? What has been your most successful experimental technique to date?
Ants are plentiful and easy to collect. I’ve found that using a glass pie pan with beer, water, juice or mescal, one can collect a rather large amount of ants in a short amount of time. The LD50, i.e., the lethal dose of ants, is about 1000, swallowing live ants, so a participant would want to consume about a third to half that amount. Be aware that there is a lethal toxicity to the harvester ants which have been traditionally used, and which I have been consuming.
It’s a bit like walking towards death…
People who are interested should research the literature before attempting to consume any ants. Again, it can be fatal and I don’t recommend it. The bite from this ant is extremely painful and will linger for hours, sometimes days.
Why are you using these particular liquids as the base for your extractions?
This is how we find out what solution is more likely to extract the ant’s psychoactive properties. The beer may extract qualities with alcohols that mescal doesn’t have. It may turn out that eating live ants is ultimately what has to be done to get them to exude their compounds in the time that you want and the quantity that you need.
Are the compounds oil-based?
There are high molecular weight compounds and low molecular weight ones. So I would think that they would have an affinity to many things because it is such a complex mix of proteins and histamines and seratonin-like compounds.
About an hour after I sampled the mescal extract, I was overcome with a severe heaviness. It was rather dark, but not particularly scary. Definitely a meet-your-maker heaviness. Is this typical?
I’m sure there’s a dose-response curve where at lower doses one could have physical benefits while at higher doses you could have psychoactivity, and at even higher doses one could have hallucinogenic activity. But this is an area of avant-garde research. Very basic work still needs to be done, but certainly here is an open field of potential for beginning to understand psychoactive insects as we have with psychoactive plants.
In Mexico, centipedes and wasps were commonly revered for their poisonous qualities and there were often beverages made from them.
How would you compare the ant buzz to a more commonly known psychoactive plant-based poison like datura?
Oh, it’s nothing like datura. And actually that’s not a fair comparison at all. It’s much more like the poison of the tarantella, the wolf spider of Europe.
Would you like to see some ants that I’ve collected?
This one has a very peculiar taste…
How would you describe the taste of ants?
Different ants have different tastes. These particular ants have a lemon-lime, Sprite-like taste. Not the formaldehyde and formic acid tastes of other types of ants. Nor the sweet buttery taste of black ants. Or the honey taste of honey pod ants.
While this is unexplored territory, it’s not for the faint or foolhardy.
No. It’s literally like playing in a wasp’s or hornet’s nest. Ants pack as powerful a venom and sting as those insects.
You’ve been bitten a few times playing in the nest.
When the ants bit my tongue it took about four or five hours for the burning sting to dissipate.
What about other psychoactive bugs?
These were gathered in the Mexican province of Chululah near Puebla. Terence McKenna speculated that the iridescent green was a signature of psychoactivity in bugs. These guys lived in an acacia tree at night and were attracted to the local poppies during the daytime. So I thought that may be a good indication that they were sequestering some psychoactive properties from the trees and flowers.
Have you tried them?
Well, we’ve smoked them and eaten them and there’s mild psychoactivity. But we really haven’t jumped into these bugs with both feet yet. We’re still trying to collect more background information before I start consuming something that could always be potentially lethal in its poison.
How does it compare to the ants?
That’s comparing apples and oranges. Beetles and wasp-like ants. I was reading, however, that there’s a beetle in Brazil that is raised in peanuts and eaten for rheumatism and arthritis. So I suppose there are a few parallels. Insects are often medicine in traditional cultures; the problem is the scarcity of professionally trained ethno-entomologists that can ask the question, “What insects were/are you using for medicines?” Interestingly, Merck currently has an agreement with Costa Rica to categorize not only all their plants but all of their insects, aware that insects are a possible source for chemicals and medicine. And why wouldn’t they be? Plants are certainly a source of medicine. Perhaps this is just the tip of an iceberg that we’ve yet to explore scientifically. It could hold a cure… perhaps even the cockroach holds the cure for cancer or some other unimaginable terminal disease.
Even so, do you have any moral issues with ant eating?
I do. I am concerned with the taking of life for certain solely psychoactive purposes, but for therapeutic purposes I find that it’s a medicine that’s worthwhile.
There’s a theory that the ant colony is a collective consciousness and that the living anima rests not within the individual ant, but with large groups of them…
Within their collective brain the ability to learn advances with each generation. The ants on this mound probably exist over a quarter acre or so. They know this environment so intimately because they are constantly searching to see what’s out there and what’s available. And the sheer quantity of them. We have no idea what it’s like. They’ve dug underneath all of this area. There are literally tens of thousands of them.
Hell, it’s more crowded in New York City, so humans do actually have an idea of what it’s like. What do you think about the ol’ role reversal, HG Wells’ Empire of the Ants and perhaps ants eating humans?
How do we know they don’t? Fuck this article, we should do a movie.
Spiros Antonopoulos was a contributing editor for the dearly departed Fringeware Review.
The Bad Shaman’s insect-eating reading list:
The Eat A Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon
Man Eating Bugs : The Art and Science of Eating Insects by Peter Menzel, Faith D’Aluisio
* Creepy Crawly Cuisine : The Gourmet Guide to Edible Insects by Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, Peter Menzel
Poetry: The Great Hafiz
LAST night I dreamed that angels stood without
The tavern door, and knocked in vain, and wept;
They took the clay of Adam, and, methought,
Moulded a cup therewith while all men slept.
Oh dwellers in the halls of Chastity!
You brought Love’s passionate red wine to me,
Down to the dust I am, your bright feet stept.
For Heaven’s self was all too weak, to bear
The burden of His love God laid on it,
He turned to seek a messenger elsewhere,
And in the Book of Fate my name was writ.
Between my Lord and me such concord lies.
As makes the Huris glad in Paradise,
With songs of praise through the green glades they flit.
A hundred dreams of Fancy’s garnered store
Assail me – Father Adam went astray
Tempted by one poor grain of corn! Wherefore
Absolve and pardon him that turns away
Though the soft breath of Truth reaches his ears,
For two-and-seventy Jangling creeds he hears,
And loud-voiced Fable calls him ceaselessly.
That, that is not the flame of Love’s true fire
Which makes the torchlight shadows dance in rings,
But where the radiance draws the moth’s desire
And send him fort with scorched and drooping wings.
The heart of one who dwells retired shall break,
Rememb’ring a black mole and a red cheek,
And his life ebb, sapped at its secret springs.
Yet since the earliest time that man has sought
To comb the locks of Speech, his goodly bride,
Not one, like Hafiz, from the face of Thought
Has torn the veil of Ignorance aside.
There is the righteous one, here is ruined me.
See how far it is from one to the other!
What link do piety and righteousness have to the rend’s way?
There is the sound of the sermon, here is the melody of the rabab.
My heart grew weary of the cloister, the hypocrite’s cloak.
Where is the monastery of the Magi? Where is pure wine?
The day of union are gone. Let them be a joyful memory.
Where is that amorous glance? Where is that reproach?
What can the enemy’s heart find in my love’s face?
There is that dead lamp, here is this sun candle.
Do not be seduced by her dimpled chin, there is a well in that road.
Where are you going, O heart, in such a hurry?
Since the kohl of our insight is the dust of your doorway,
Please tell us, where do we go from this threshold?
Do not cover rest and sleep from Hafiz, O friend.
What is rest? Which is patience? And where is sleep?
Oh Cup-bearer, set my glass afire
With the light of wine! oh minstrel, sing:
The world fulfilleth my heart’s desire!
Reflected within the goblet’s ring
I see the glow of my Love’s red cheek,
And scant of wit, ye who fail to seek
The pleasures that wine alone can bring!
Let not the blandishments be checked
That slender beauties lavish on me,
Until in the grace of the cypress decked,
Love shall come like a ruddy pine-tree
He cannot perish whose heart doth hold
The life love breathes – though my days are told,
In the Book of the World lives my constancy.
But when the Day of Reckoning is here,
I fancy little will be the gain
That accrues to the Sheikh for his lawful cheer,
Or to me for the drought forbidden I drain.
The drunken eyes of my comrades shine,
And I too, stretching my hand to the wine,
On the neck of drunkenness loosen the rein.
Oh wind, if thou passest the garden close
Of my heart’s dear master, carry for me
The message I send to him, wind that blows!
“Why hast thou thrust from thy memory
My hapless name?” breathe low in his ear;
“Knowest thou not that the day is near
When nor thou nor any shall think on me?”
If with tears, oh Hafiz, thine eyes are wet,
Scatter them round thee like grain, and snare
The Bird of joy when it comes to thy net.
As the tulip shrinks from the cold night air,
So shrank my heart and quailed in the shade;
Oh Song-bird Fortune, the toils are laid,
When shall thy bright wings lie pinioned there?
The heavens’ green sea and the bark therein,
The slender bark of the crescent moon,
Are lost in thy bounty’s radiant noon,
Vizir and pilgrim, Kawameddin!
An Infant in your Arms
The tide of my love
Has risen so high let me flood
Close your eyes for a moment
And maybe all your
fears and fantasies
If that happened
God would become an infant in your
And then you
Would have to nurse all