When I first heard about Dragibus magazine, I saw potential in the concept but was skeptical of whether the end-product would actually live up to this vision. I had an idea in mind. But I’d have to see it to know what to think. For those of you who have not yet heard about this new publication, it is a quarterly print magazine focusing on entheogens, specifically the botany, history and cultivation of such. After receiving my copy of the first ever issue in the mail, I am happy to admit that the product has the potential to live up to that vision.
Much of the information circulating about the entho community has been recycled many times. Much of the “common knowledge” that people share is based on information that people have originally drawn from what I consider to be a considerably limited number of print sources. And although we regard a lot of the authors of these publications as experts, the authors themselves would tell you that the real experts are indigenous people who have much longer histories with plants we’re (comparatively) just beginning to discover. This is where experts themselves are going to learn. At the same time, modern society also has an affinity for scientific methods that can take this knowledge to the next level. So really, expanding the collective knowledge about entheogens comes about by researching more into historical use and by doing scientific research with plants.
A periodical on the subject of ethnobotanicals offers a forum for this type of activity to take place and a mode of disseminating the knowledge. Unlike print books, the periodical format offers the unique opportunity for the progressive exploration of topics. Each issue builds upon what has previously been printed, and new knowledge determines what topics are “current”. So I guess to put it simply, my vision involves a progressive flow of current topics and new research that will expand the collective knowledge of enthos even further.
On an aesthetic level, Dragibus is printed on high-quality paper with a sturdy cover that exceeds what most well-established magazines have to offer. Aside from this, the outside and inside covers at both ends of the magazine are designed with high-quality photography. The latter half of the issue is also generously packed with images of acacia confusa in Taiwan as they pertain to an article on exactly that. This gives the feel that you are reading a book that you’d keep in your library, not a magazine that you’d keep on your toilet and then discard.
Dragibus, judging by the first issue, has a satisfying diversity of topics. The first article, “Trichocereus and the Chavin: A Love Story” offers a look into the Chavin culture that once existed in modern-day Ancash, Peru. The article presents specific factual information regarding the archaeology and history of the temple of Chavin de Huantar, changing pace in the latter part of the article as it gives way to a creative interpretation of what an experience in the temple might have been like. If this article were a liberal arts student, it would major in history and minor in creative writing.
Another article, “Kratom Te’j: A modern Approach to an Ancient Beverage”, introduces the topic of using medicinal herbs to replace hops in the brewing process. This article may be appealing simply on its insight into the brewing process. But the article also introduces readers to the Ethiopian beverage called T’ej, a traditional type of alcoholic beverage. What you cannot expect to find anywhere else, though, is a recipe that modifies the process for making this traditional beverage using kratom (mitragyna speciosa) as a bittering agent. Hopefully this is the type of progressive knowledge we can expect from a publication like Dragibus, and with plans for follow-up articles centering on additional herbal brewing recipes, it would seem promising that we can.
Dragibus ends by taking us offshore, with a 9-page article on Acacia Confusa in Taiwan. Aside from the high-quality photos, this article offers far more than what you’re likely to get out of a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia is relevant not just because it epitomizes what the collective knowledge on a subject usually is, but because this article is also arranged by subject headings. In this case, the article covers seven different aspects of the tree. “Traditional Use in Taiwan” is among these subjects. Although the article indicates there being a fairly limited tradition of entheogenic use for this plant in Taiwan, the article does offer brief insight into the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan based on the author’s actualinteractions with these people. An anecdote involving another plant and the author’s interaction with an aborigine man is humorous in its depiction of their rudimentary attempt at communication. But the limitations on communication coupled with what actually seems to have been conveyed leaves further room for study of the culture. Few of us have access to this type of experience ourselves. We’re not likely to find aborigines surfing the internet posting their firsthand accounts. But with plans for follow-up articles on the subject, Dragibus at least offers access to where we cannot personally go.
We can all look back on classic articles by pioneers like Gordon Wasson and Richard Evan Shultes and see what kinds of profound contributions they made to modern knowledge of entheogens. Original copies of these articles, such as the May 1957 copy ofLife magazine featuring Gordon Wasson’s work with psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico, are considered collectible today. They are part of history. But every discipline thrives on continuing education and discussion of current events within that field. What will be theLife articles of today when we look back in fifty years? With only one issue in circulation,Dragibus is certainly in its infancy. It would be premature to make any type of predictions about its future. But we’re here following from Day One, and we would certainly recommend that anyone with a genuine interest in entheogens have a look at Dragibus.
You can find out more about Dragibus at http://www.dragibusmag.com/