Experiences of Jean Houston
Houston first became known as a dedicated researcher
into the inner effects of LSD and mescaline. She has
gone onto to write and present ways in which one can
become involved with myth and ritual.
and exhausted, I wandered over to the bay window and
sat there, drawing up my legs and looking out at the
fig tree blooming in the backyard. Sitting there,
drowsy and unfocused, I must in my innocence have
unwittingly tapped into the appropriate spiritual
doorway, for suddenly the key turned and the door
to the universe opened. Nothing changed in my outward
perceptions. There were no visions, no sprays of golden
light, certainly no appearances by the Virgin Mary.
The world remained as it had been. Yet everything
around me, including myself, moved into meaning. Everything
became part of a single Unity, a glorious symphonic
resonance in which every part of the universe was
a part of and illuminated every other part, and I
knew that in some way it all worked together and was
mind dropped its shutters. I was no longer just
a little local "I", Jean Houston age six,
sitting on a windowsill in Brooklyn in the 1940s.
I had awakened to a consciousness that spanned centuries
and was on intimate terms with the universe. Everything
mattered. Nothing was alien or irrelevant or distant.
The farthest star knew everything, as if I was everything.
Everything--the fig tree, the plane in the sky,
the pups in the closet, the planents, Joey Mangiabella's
ribs, Linda Darnell, the Atcheson, Topeka, and the
Santa Fe Railroad, Uncle Henry, the little boy fishing
in the lake who waved to me on the train when I
was crossing Kansas, the chipped paint on the ceiling,
the mind of God, the Virgin Mary, my Nana's special
stuffed artichokes, my Mary Jane shoes, galaxies,
pencil stubs, my father's typewriter, the silky
ears of corn in a Texas cornfield, my Dick and Jane
reader, and all the music that ever was---was in
a state of resonance and of the most immense and
ecstatic kinship. I was in a universe of friendship
and fellow feeling, a companionable universe filled
with interwoven presence and the dance of life.
This went on forever, but it was actually only about
two seconds, for the plane had moved only slightly
across the sky.
Somewhere downstairs a door slammed, and my father
entered the house laughing. Instantly, the whole
universe joined in. Great roars of hilarity sounded
from sun to sun. Field mice tittered, and so did
angels and rainbows. Laughter leavened every atom
and every star until I saw a universe inspirited
and spiraled by joy, not unlike the one I read of
years later when Dante describes his great vision
in paradise, "D'el riso d'el universo"
(the joy that spins the universe). This was a knowledge
of the way everything worked. It worked through
love and joy and the utter interpenetration and
union of everything with the All That Is."
Houston, Jean. A Mythic Life, (New York.: Harper
Collins, 1996) p. 65.
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