To say that a psychonaut is "A person who enjoys the exploration of states of altered consciousness" is not to give a complete description. At least, not in my mind.

The meaning of of this word is something that I have given much thought to, ever since the day that I first had directed at me the phrase "Welcome fellow psychonaut". What is it to be a psychonaut?

It almost goes without saying that the word is taken from the term Astronaut. It litterally means "One who explores the mind". One who embarks on an inner journy to the the limits of the mind.

I supose each of us has a little bit of a psychonaut in us. Who has never grappled with those fundamental questions that philosophers have thought about since the begining of time?

What is self? What is I? Is there more than me? What is the nature of that internal dialog in my head?

Its not about taking drugs, its about pushing the limits of the mind. Its about seeing the realms of existance that it can be coaxed into showing us. Its about going to the places of the shamans and other mystics. To throw wide the doors of perception, and see whats on the other side. To experiance existance in a new way, a way that we can't normally; and hopefully to take back, into our normal lives, the lessons that await there for us.

Perhaps there is nothing there. Perhaps its all a lie. Perhaps we risk madness over a pipe dream. Perhaps we are just hopeless romantics who need to brave the abyss of the mind in search of some mythic paradise.

That, I think, is the nature of the path of the psychonaut. The nature of the beast.

Its almost an afterthought (ok it is) but - there are those who do not use mind altering drugs that I would consider to be psychonauts, just as there are many drug users who are not. To the psychonaut, drugs are just tools.