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Observations placeholder

Masters and Houston - On forests



Type of Spiritual Experience


It is worth adding to the quote below that a forest conquered appears to become a very pleasant wood and that there is a connection symbolically with the clearing

The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience – Dr Robert Masters and Dr Jean Houston
One of the most frequently occurring settings for the symbolic drug state dramas is that of the  forest.  This is, of course, not surprising since, as Zimmer has put it, 'All that is dark and tempting in the world is to be found in the enchanted forest, where it springs from our deepest wishes and the soul's most ancient dreams'.... for many subjects the forest would seem to indicate the realm of the soul itself wherein the self may find its deepest meaning.

 ...............the experience of various drug subjects suggest that the forest … is peopled with ogres and other fearsome monsters about to the extent that the person [and perhaps culture], has become estranged …...... from Nature. 

...This sense of being estranged from one's own nature is a fairly common one with drug subjects.  What they mean by this, it would seem, is a sense of having been deflected away from proper goals, of having become bogged down in 'unnatural' pursuits i.e. artificial and meaningless entertainments, striving for status through acquisition of symbolic things – and of having relinquished candour for hypocrisy, individual freedom for the security of the collective irresponsibility of the mass.  The forest then, is a place where individuation is restored, while at the same time the individual regains his sense of being one with that Nature of which he is a part......
Individuality restored and the  sense of oneness with nature regained, the forest is depopulated of its monsters; then, if the experience is sufficiently profound, the person returns to a world that also has been depopulated of monsters, no longer experiencing himself as anxious or hostile where no threat or enmity exists........


A description of the experience

The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience – Dr Robert Masters and Dr Jean Houston


..............The subject ran for a long time through the darkness of the forest, her terror at first increased by glowing eyes and dim but sinister and threatening forms that appeared at the edges of the path along which she was running.........The experience of the forest, she felt,

“meant principally in my case a restoration to my own nature, through contact with Nature.  The forest was terrifying in the beginning because of my alienation from  Nature – both my own nature and Nature.  All of its terrors are products of such alienation.  It then follows that the closer one gets to one's nature and to one's basic roots in Nature, the more the forest becomes home and its plants and creatures take on a friendly and lovely appearance.  But man is something more than Nature, and must finally rise to some extent out of it, leaving behind him, although not without regret, some of its more primitive aspects – the things of the forest, for example.  We have to keep our rapport with Nature, even while our own nature has to rise above it."

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items





Science Items

Activities and commonsteps