Psychonauts are explorers of the mind or psyche who use psychedelics to attain altered states of consciousness. The word Psychonaut comes from Greek Words 'Psyche' (Mind or Soul) and 'Naut' (Sailor) which means "Sailor of the Mind". Most civilizations on Earth have used psychedelics and plant based hallucinogens for spiritual and shamanic pursuits much before recorded history. Psychonauts believe that these spiritual experiences lead to long-term positive benefits in their everyday lives. By tuning into higher realms of inner awareness Psychonauts can master great powers much like the Ascended Masters or the Sadhus of the Himalayas.
Psychonaut is a modern term used to describe one who uses trance technologies and, more specifically mind-altering substances, more for their ability to act as entheogens than for their inebriating (or social) effect. In effect, they are used as a means to achieve states of mind in which different perceptions, unhindered by everyday mental filters and processes, can arise. Psychonauts believe that when a mind-altering substance is used with this intent, its effects can be life altering and are not mere hallucinations. An alternate description is that while some aspects of the experience may be hallucinatory, the realizations caused by those hallucinations and the mental, emotional and long term impact of the experience are real, usually positive, and enduring.
The term is often associated with neoshamanic practices, however, many distinguish between the mental exploration of the psychonaut and healing-oriented shamanic practice. Psychonauts often use entheogens coupled with other mind altering techniques to get into a state of trance or deep states of meditation. These techniques include Sleep Deprivation, Fasting, Isolation Tank, Sensory Deprivation, Hypnosis, Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, Sex, Music and Dance. Ritual is often employed for purposes of grounding and centering one's self, to set one's focus and intentions, and to instill a conception of the significance and depth of psychonautical practice. Repeated use of ritual may also train the brain to associate certain activities and states of consciousness with specific situations, creating deeper experiences and allowing one to more easily enter altered states of consciousness.
Psychonauts is also a game based on the exploits of Raz, a young boy gifted with psychic abilities who runs away from the circus to try to sneak into a summer camp for those with similar powers in order to become a "Psychonaut", a "Mental Marine", a "Psychic Soldier" as Coach Oleander describes them ...
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