The non-cme track will have presentations about a variety of topics related to psychedelic research, psychedelic psychotherapy, applied science, neurobiology, issues relevant to healthcare, and social, cultural, and psychological issues surrounding the therapeutic and spiritual uses of psychedelics.
The call for proposals to present is closed. The following presenters have been selected (in alphabetical order):
|Peter Addy, Ph.D. (cand.)||Salvia divinorum|
|Allan Ajaya, Ph.D.||LSD-Assisted Myofacial Therapy: A Case Study|
|Brian Anderson||The treatment and handling of substance dependence with Ayahuasca: reflections on current and future research|
|Sylvia C. Bagge, R.N.||Psychedelic Therapy and the Alexander Technique|
|Paulo Cesar Ribeiro Barbosa, Ph.D.||A Six-Month Prospective Evaluation of Personality Traits, Psychiatric Symptoms, and Quality of Life in Ayahuasca-Naive Subjects, and The treatment and handling of substance dependence with Ayahuasca: reflections on current and future research|
|Simon Brandt, Ph.D.||The Chemical Anaysis of Hallucinogenic Tryptamines Obtained from Organic Synthesis|
|Tom Kingsley Brown, Ph.D.||Ibogaine Treatment for Drug Dependence: a Study of Quality of Life|
|Susana Bustos, Ph.D.||Icaros: Song and Healing in Ayahuasca Ceremonies|
|Shannon Campbell, M.S.||Enhanced Mysticism, Perception, and Cognition of Psychedelic States of Consciousness: Assessment of a New Questionnaire|
|Clinton Canal, Ph.D.||Hallucinogenic behavioral response in rodents: role of serotonin 2A and 2C receptors|
|Henry Cox, Ph.D. (cand.)||Pituri: Identity and Effect|
|David Coyote||Waking Up Together: The Intertwining of Buddhism and Ayahuasca|
|Nicholas Cozzi, Ph.D.||Recent developments in N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) pharmacology|
|Jag Davies||Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Policy|
|Frank Echenhofer, Ph.D.||Shamanic EEGs and Adult Development|
|Earth and Fire Erowid||Connecting the Microdots|
|Yalila Espinoza||Erotic Healing Experiences with Ayahuasca|
|Josep Maria Fabregas, M.D.||Long Term Effects on Mental Health of Ayahuasca Ritual Use|
|James Fadiman, Ph.D.||Psychedelics as Entheogens: How to Create and Guide Successful Sessions|
|Kevin Feeney, J.D.||Revisiting Wasson’s Soma: Exploring the Effects of Preparation on the Chemistry of Amanita muscaria, and Re-examining the role of muscarine in the chemistry of amanita muscaria|
|Amanda Feilding||Director of The Beckley Foundation|
|Robert Forte||Ayahuasca, Indigenous Medicine, and Cancer: Preliminary Findings|
|Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia||The Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead, and avoiding another backlash|
|Neal Goldsmith, Ph.D.||Psychedelic Therapy and Change: Research, Challenges, Implications|
|Alex and Allyson Grey||Better Religion Through Science and Art|
|Alberto Groisman, Ph.D.||Ayahuasca Religions in Contemporary Society: Law, Health, and Cultural Implications|
|Jeffrey Guss, M.D.||The NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Research Project’s Psychedelic Psychotherapy Training Program|
|Rachel Harris, Ph.D.||Ayahuasca in North America|
|Andreas Hernandez, Ph.D.||Cultural Trauma, Capitalist Modernity, and the Global Expansion of Santo Daime: 1930-2009|
|Scott Hill, Ph.D.||Implications of Jungian Psychology for Psychedelic Psychotherapy|
|Bob Jesse||The Council on Spiritual Practices|
|Henrik Jungaberle, Ph.D.||Learning from the Best (and also from the Rest): The Development of a Professional Rule Culture in Psychedelic Therapy|
|James Kent||The Mechanics of Hallucination|
|Mark Kleiman, Ph.D.||Regulating the Hallucinogens|
|Beatriz Caiuby Labate||The treatment and handling of substance dependence with Ayahuasca: reflections on current and future research|
|David Lukoff, Ph.D.||Implications of Jungian Psychology for Psychedelic Psychotherapy|
|Marcelo Mercante, Ph.D.||Ayahuasca, Spontaneous Mental Imagery, Homeless People, and the Treatment of Drug Addiction and Alcoholism, and The treatment and handling of substance dependence with Ayahuasca: reflections on current and future research|
|Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.||Psychedelic, Psychoactive and Addictive Drugs and States of Consciousness|
|Michael Montagne, Ph.D.||Metaphors and Meanings: How We Interpret and Understand Psychedelic Drug Experiences|
|Levente Moro, Ph.D. (cand.)||Autognosis, Life Quality, and Spirituality in Psychedelic Drug Users|
|Tom Pinkson, Ph.D.||Psychedelics and Death: Exercising the ‘Letting Go’ Muscle|
|Silvia Polivoy, Ph.D.||Ayahuasca: Handle with Utmost Care|
|Alexandre Quaranta, Ph.D.||Psychedelics Use and Lucid Dreaming: The Providential Synergy|
|Deborah Quevedo, R.N., Ph.D.||Psychospiritual Integration of an Ayahuasca Retreat Experience|
|Maggi Quinlan, Ph.D.||Healing from the Gods: Ayahuasca and the Curing of Disease States|
|Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D.||Public Education: A University Course in Psychedelics|
|Zeno Sanchez-Ramos, M.D.||Effects of Psilocybin and other Selective Serotonin Agonists on Hippocampal-Dependent Learning and Neurogenesis|
|Ben Sessa, M.D., B.Sc., M.R.C.Psych.||History of Psychedelic Research in the United Kingdom|
|Bruce Sewick, LCPC, RDDP, CADC||Public Education: A University Course in Psychedelics|
|Benny Shanon, Ph.D.||The Antipodes of the Mind|
|Diana Slattery, Ph.D. (cand)||Ecstatic Significations: Psychedelics and Language|
|Kaleb Smith||Hyper-Sensitive States and Indirect Semantic Priming: Inferring The Mechanics of Psilocybin’s Novel Association Effect|
|Leanna Standish, N.D., Ph.D., L.Acup, FABNO||Ayahuasca, Science and Medicine|
|Luis Fernando Tofoli, M.D., Ph.D.||Mental health safety of Ayahuasca religious use: results from an epidemiological surveillance system by the União do Vegetal in Brazil|
|Steven Toth, R.M.T.||Incorporating Bodywork into the Psychedelic Journey|
|Stephen Trichter, Ph.D.||Out of the Jungle and onto the Couch: Applying Ayahuasca’s Lessons to the Therapy Room|
|Kenneth Tupper, Ph.D. (cand.)||Psychedelics, Entheogens, and Public Policy|
|Bryan West||Education and Training|
|Bob Wold||Cluster Busters|
Peter Addy, Ph.D. (cand.) – Salvia divinorum
I performed basic scientific research administering the psychedelic plant Salvia divinorum to 30 human participants. I utilized a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study design that incorporated both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis in my attempt to study the subjective experience of S. divinorum and consequences of use after 8 weeks. Participants were screened for medical and psychological issues in order to minimize the chance of a negative reaction. An Emergency Medical Technician was present during administration of either 1000 mcg salvinorin A or placebo dose. I found that smoking salvinorin A in a controlled research setting facilitated psychedelic and transpersonal experiences with few negative experiences reported. The effects were sudden, fleeting, and incomparable to the effects facilitated by other psychoactive. During an 8-week follow-up interview no participants met DSM criteria for substance abuse or dependence of S. divinorum. Use of this plant is increasing, and medical professionals should be aware of what an S. divinorum experience can look like and how to treat a user. This presentation will serve as both an introduction to the plant, its use as a psychedelic, my research findings, and suggestions for future research.
Allan Ajaya, Ph.D. – LSD-Assisted Myofacial Therapy: A Case Study
Wilhelm Reich and his successors have elucidated the way in which childhood and other traumas lead to the formation of body armoring and character structure. Dissociation or disembodiment, emotional and physical frozenness, identification with the intellect, denial of the body, and heartlessness are consequences of avoiding the pain of past traumas. A host of therapies have evolved that work with the body to release such long held reactions to traumas. While hundreds of reports, research studies and books have documented the effectiveness of LSD in facilitating psychotherapy, this presenter has not found any in-depth reports that demonstrate the use of LSD to enhance the effectiveness of body centered therapies. This is a case presentation of an adult male who undertook weekly sessions of myofacial therapy over the course of eighteen months. Most of these sessions were experienced after ingesting mild to moderate dose of LSD. The progression of his unfolding is described from his perspective. The way in which these experiences differed from myofacial sessions when he had not ingested LSD is considered. Effects of myofacial release that he was unaware of during sessions without LSD became vivid. His capacity to shift from an observing awareness to direct participation in the bodily, emotional, and energetic releases was made possible by LSD. He was able to open and become more responsive to touch, experience safety, being nurtured and to experience a greater sense of embodiment and presence in ways that did not occur in sessions that were not facilitated by LSD.
Brian Anderson – The treatment and handling of substance dependence with Ayahuasca: reflections on current and future research. With Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Rafael Guimarães dos Santos, Marcelo Mercante, and Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa.
The treatment and handling of substance dependence with Ayahuasca: reflections on current and future research This discussion will present a series of reflections on the therapeutic potential of the ritual use of Ayahuasca in the treatment and handling of substance dependence problems. Anthropological and psychiatric data on the ritual use of Ayahuasca for “healing” dependence in psychotherapeutic centers (in Peru and Brazil), as well as in Ayahuasca religions (in Brazil), are reviewed and critiqued. Methodological, ethical and political considerations for current and future research in this area are then discussed, and an interdisciplinary agenda for studies on the use of Ayahuasca to treat or handle substance dependence is proposed.
Sylvia C. Bagge, R.N. – Psychedelic Therapy and the Alexander Technique
I am a registered nurse working in an AIDS hospice in San Francisco called Maitri. I am currently working on a paper that addresses the potential relationship between psychedelic therapies and the Alexander Technique aimed at the resolving of musculoskeletal pain and the restoration the body’s functional organization following traumatic injury, repetitive strain injury, and scoliosis. This paper explores the possibilities of re-patterning unconscious habits of “harmful use” of the body through the experience the spine’s natural energetics rapidly through psychedelic insight. The method of F. Matthias Alexander is particularly suited for use with psychedelic therapies because of its focus upon the cessation of “fixing” ourselves, and its insistence upon awakening the body’s natural flow of movement through the zen-like mental discipline of “not trying.” Aldous Huxley himself studied the technique in London in the 1930’s and stated “…we cannot ask for more from any system.” I am enthusiastic about this paper because I observe the allopathic medical model pathologizing pain in a way that locks people into pain replicating patterns. This encourages the sometimes unnecessary long-term or permanent use of pharmaceutical opiates, anti-inflammatories, and medications for neuropathic pain that are associated with many serious side-effects.
Paulo Cesar Ribeiro Barbosa, Ph.D. – A Six-Month Prospective Evaluation of Personality Traits, Psychiatric Symptoms, and Quality of Life in Ayahuasca-Naive Subjects
The authors assessed 23 subjects immediately before and six months (27.5 weeks) after their first Ayahuasca session experienced within the urban Brazilian religious context of Santo Daime (N = 15) and União do Vegetal (N = 8). The measures applied included: 1) the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised Edition (CIS-R), which is designed to assess minor psychiatric symptoms; 2) the Short Form–36 items Health Survey (SF-36), a questionnaire designed to measure eight dimensions of general health and well-being (physical functioning, role-physical, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, role-emotional and mental health); 3) the Temperament and Character Inventory–125 items (TCI-125), which measures four domains of temperament (novelty seeking, reward dependence, harm avoidance and persistence) and character (self-directedness, cooperativeness and self-transcendence). Independent variables were the frequency of Ayahuasca use throughout the period and the length of Ayahuasca wash-out after six months. Santo Daime subjects showed a significant reduction of minor psychiatric symptoms, improvement of mental health, and a change in character traits towards decreased harm avoidance behavior (i.e. less anxious and pessimistic and more outgoing and optimistic). The União do Vegetal group showed a significant decrease in physical pain, and temperament change towards less reward-dependent behavior (i.e. less social approval-seeker and more cold and aloof). Changes in reward dependence was positively correlated with the frequency of Ayahuasca use and negatively correlated with the length of wash-out period. We discuss possible mechanisms by which these changes may have occurred and suggest areas for future research.
Simon Brandt, Ph.D. – The Chemical Anaysis of Hallucinogenic Tryptamines Obtained from Organic Synthesis
Several N,N-dialkylated tryptamine derivatives are known to induce altered states of consciousness and the term ‘‘hallucinogens’’ is commonly used in an attempt to describe their powerful impact on the human mind. These compounds have generated growing interest in the psychiatry, neuroscience, psychopharmacology and recreational communities. Recent representatives that have been used in human clinical studies include N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and psilocybin. A large number of these derivatives are classified as controlled substances and one predictable consequence of prohibition by legislation is the creation of a clandestine trade. The corollary of this is the inability to exercise quality control over the illegally prepared compounds which often leads to low quality drugs with unpredictable biological activity and ill-defined impurity profiles. One reason for the analytical characterization of synthetic procedures is to install proper pharmaceutical quality control protocols in order to comply with regulative issues when clinical use is concerned. Another reason is based on the necessity to provide information about the principal drugs and their impurities to the clinical welfare, forensic or drug rehabilitation communities. An introduction to the topic is presented and a few representative examples from research experience are provided. It is also aimed to include an example about the incorporation into university teaching.
Tom Kingsley Brown, Ph.D. – Ibogaine Treatment for Drug Dependence: a Study of Quality of Life
The current study examines life narratives and changes in quality of life for patients receiving ibogaine treatment for drug dependence. The patients all received residential treatment at the Pangea Biomedics clinic in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico. To assess changes in quality of life the generic version of the Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index is used; preliminary results are discussed. Using ethnographic interviews, the lives of patients prior to treatment, their motives for seeking ibogaine treatment, their experiences of the ibogaine treatment itself, and post-treatment outcomes are examined. Another study, currently in the planning stages, is discussed. This study would compare outcomes for different treatments of opioid drug dependence. Outcomes and methods for ibogaine treatment at the Pangea Biomedics clinic will be compared with outcomes at clinics using methadone or suboxone substitution treatment.
Tom Kingsley Brown, Ph.D. graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He received his M.S. in Chemistry from CalTech with research on the neurochemistry of learning and memory. While earning his doctorate from UCSD in Anthropology with an emphasis on psychological anthropology, he studied altered states of consciousness and religious conversion. He has taught anthropology courses on religion, the environmental crisis, and mental illness and deviance. He currently lives with his partner and their two sons in San Diego. He runs a research program at UCSD and is studying the lives and experiences of patients undergoing ibogaine treatment at the Pangea Biomedics clinic in Baja California.
Susana Bustos, Ph.D. – Icaros: Song and Healing in Ayahuasca Ceremonies
This paper discusses some of the results of an exploratory study of healing experiences attributed to an icaro (a type of shamanic song) by individuals who participated in Ayahuasca ceremonies in the context of the Peruvian vegetalismo tradition (Bustos, 2008). The data were collected in Peru during an eight-month fieldwork period. Participants in this study were 5 adult men and women with extensive past experience with Ayahuasca, who reported their healing experiences after a sound-recorded ceremony and identified the icaros that were significant to them. The method of analysis was Giorgi’s (1986, 1997) descriptive phenomenology as it pertains to psychology, which uncovered the essential structure of meaning of the phenomenon under study, as it emerged in lived experience. This paper discusses the connections between musical perception and meaning constituents, thus aiming to contribute to the larger understanding of the use of singing in facilitating therapeutic states of consciousness under psychotropic effects in a controlled setting.
Shannon Campbell, M.S. – Enhanced Mysticism, Perception, and Cognition of Psychedelic States of Consciousness: Assessment of a New Questionnaire
Natural psychedelics have been used by indigenous cultures for centuries for spiritual, medicinal, and educational use. So far current research is limited regarding the full range of possible uses. The new Cognitive Tool Questionnaire was created to assess the self perceived changes and enhancements in the cognitive effects of psychoactive cacti and psilocybin mushrooms using Gardner’s multiple intelligences as a framework. Strassman’s Hallucinogen Rating Scale and Hood’s Mysticism scale were also included in the survey given to 215 participants on the internet to assess the physiological and mystical effects of natural psychedelics. Results showed little increase in the physiological effects of the experience over time, but a greater enhancement of mystical experiences and cognitive benefits for those users with a healthy diet, a more traditional or non-traditional religious affiliation, and those users with the most experience with the natural psychedelics. These results highlighted the importance of not only the vegetarian diet of many South American shamans, but also how the natural psychedelics have greater spiritual significance as entheogens. This study also found that these natural psychedelics can be used as cognitive tools to aid in human development.
Clinton Canal, PhD – Hallucinogenic behavioral response in rodents: role of serotonin 2A and 2C receptors
Hallucinogenic serotonin 2A (5HT2A) receptor partial agonists, such as 1-[2,5dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl]-2-aminopropane (DOI), induce a frontal cortex-dependent head-twitch response (HTR) in rats and mice that is blocked by 5HT2A receptor antagonists. In addition to 5HT2A receptors, DOI and most other serotonin-like hallucinogens have high affinity and potency as partial agonists at 5HT2C receptors. We tested for involvement of 5HT2C receptors in DOI-induced head-twitch, a behavioral proxy of a hallucinogenic response in mice. Comparison of 5HT2C receptor knock-out and wild-type littermates revealed an approximately 50% reduction in DOI-induced HTR in knock-out mice. We conclude that the HTR to DOI in mice is strongly modulated by 5HT2C receptor activity. This novel finding invites reassessment of hallucinogenic mechanisms involving 5HT2A receptor function in human clinical populations.
Henry Cox, Ph.D. (cand.) – Pituri: Identity and Effect
Australian Aboriginal people have relied on their Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) for some 50,000 years in the Australian landscape. They have utilised a natural larder known in Australia as “bush-tucker” and “Pituri”, a plant-based chewing product from Duboisia hopwoodii, an inland desert plant in the Solanaceae family, is one of these items. It was traded across the continent and even at the time of British Sovereignty was regarded by Aboriginal people as the most valuable trade item in the country. It was initially investigated in the 19th Century by Australian doctors and described as a ‘narcotic’; it kept a low profile until the late 20th century, where it is even credited as having played a significant role in “D-Day”. In the 1980’s it was re-described by visiting American anthropologist Marlene Dobkin de Rios as a ‘hallucinogen’. What then does this transition in nomenclature tell us about the plant and substance, and more importantly, western science? Is the change in identity simply a matter of an incremental advance in a positivist epistemological field of endeavour, or is there something else at play behind the overt science involved? What indeed are some of the cultural constructions which surround not only this case study of pituri use, but the hallucinogens in general? How is it, that if one assumes that modern western medicine is founded on principles of an evidence -based approach, and risk management, that substantial Traditional data and early western research into the therapeutic uses of the hallucinogens (and associated chemicals) clearly showing potential benefits, was curtailed worldwide. How is it that an international regulatory framework denies the legitimacy of current day human research? This paper examines the historical and present day cultural constructions of pituri use through a deconstruction of the terms ‘hallucinogen’, ‘narcotic’ and ‘Aboriginal’, and a Foucauldian analysis of the associated power relations.
David Coyote – Waking Up Together: The Intertwining of Buddhism and Ayahuasca
As we walk deeper into the third millennia CE, the Buddhist wisdom tradition of Asia and Ayahuasca shamanism from the Amazon basin of South America are growing here in the same cultural soil. Buddhist meditators are sitting in shamanic ceremonies and shamanic practitioners are sitting in meditation retreats. The experiences are powerful and productive. The Buddhists find Ayahuasca to be a powerful tool to look deep into the nature of mind and to clear away attachments to afflictive mental and emotional states. In Buddhist teachings shamanic practitioners find an effective and supportive framework for the medicine experience and in meditation a way to integrate the intensely compressed and sometimes overwhelming ceremonial experiences into their daily life. This presentation will explore this spiritual encounter and discuss some basic questions such as: Do these traditions work well together? What specifically are the benefits or problems that may come from participating in both practices? What is their right relationship and how can they best serve us in waking up as individuals and as a species?
Nicholas Cozzi, Ph.D. – Recent developments in N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) pharmacology
Background: The plant hallucinogen N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) has been used for religious and other purposes for many centuries. The psychological effects of ingested DMT are characterized as an intense dream-like state with fantastic visual imagery, altered time and space perceptions, changes in body image and sensations, and feelings ranging from euphoria to sadness to amazement. Over the past several decades, scientists have linked the psychoactive effects of DMT to various neurochemical processes including binding to serotonin receptors, serotonin uptake transporters, and monoamine oxidase enzymes.
Latest findings: We recently identified the sigma-1 receptor as the latest molecular target for DMT. We reported that DMT binds to sigma-1 receptors at low micromolar concentrations, inhibits sigma-1 receptor-regulated sodium ion channels at higher concentrations, and induces a hypermobility response in wild-type mice that is abolished in sigma-1 receptor knockout mice (Fontanilla et al. 2009). In a later study, we reported that DMT and other psychedelic tryptamines exhibit substrate behavior at plasma membrane and synaptic vesicle uptake transporters (Cozzi et al. 2009). We hypothesize that these uptake processes may allow the accumulation of DMT within neurons to reach relatively high levels and, when stored in synaptic vesicles, to function as a releasable transmitter. We have now obtained direct experimental evidence in support of this hypothesis by observing that DMT can be taken up by model neuronal cells (PC12 cells) and subsequently released by these cells under conditions of controlled depolarization. The psychedelic effects of DMT and related compounds likely arise from a complex interplay among all of these enzyme, receptor, and transporter mechanisms.
Jag Davies– Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Policy
Harm reduction is a public health philosophy that aims to lessen the dangers that drug use – and our drug policies – cause to society. Because some drugs, such as psychedelics and marijuana, have proven therapeutic and medicinal uses, a harm reduction strategy not only seeks to reduce the harms that drugs can cause, but also to maximize their potential benefits.
People who use psychedelics sometimes have challenging emotional experiences that can become dangerous when they lead to counterproductive medical interventions or contact with law enforcement. In response, some harm reduction services aim to empower people who use psychedelics and their peers with techniques for assisting others through difficult experiences – and, in doing so, to provide a new framework for looking at “bad trips” as opportunities for psychological growth.
What are the policy implications of psychedelic harm reduction services? And how might the scientific research community, policy advocates, and harm reduction practitioners work together to improve and expand existing theoretical models and on-the-ground practices?
Jag Davies is the publications manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs. DPA’s mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies. Beforehand, Davies was the policy researcher for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Drug Law Reform Project, where he coordinated local, state, and federal efforts to end punitive drug policies that cause the widespread violation of constitutional and human rights. He also previously worked as director of communications and other positions for MAPS from 2003-07.
Frank Echenhofer, Ph.D. – Shamanic EEGs and Adult Development
The Amazonian psychoactive brew ayahuasca induces shamanic journey experiences and is reported to facilitate psychological and physical healing, creativity, and spiritual development. A new model regarding the experiences, functions, and neural processes of ayahuasca, that integrates evidence from neuroscience and the human sciences, suggests ayahuasca facilitates three main sequential psychophysical change process stages of form dismantling and healing processes, form creation processes, and form expression processes. Dominant experiential ayahuasca themes will be summarized and related to similar process themes in psychotherapy, mythology and religion. Our EEG research shows ayahuasca significantly alters global EEG frequency coherence patterns across widely distributed neural networks. The reported neural changes and benefits of ayahuasca may arise through the enhancement of a normal although rare state of consciousness involving widespread neural networks combining both deliberative thought and spontaneous thought processes within a unified field of consciousness where highly complex and creative cognition emerges spontaneously.
Earth and Fire Erowid – Connecting the Microdots
Fire Erowid and Earth Erowid are the co-founders of Erowid Center, an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization that collects, reviews, and publishes data about psychoactive plants, drugs, technologies, and practices. Their primary project is the Erowid.org website, established in 1995 as an independent public library of information about psychoactives. The site hosts more than 50,000 public documents and images and receives around 12 million unique visitors each year. Earth and Fire have spoken at conferences sponsored by groups as diverse as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the North American Association of Clinical Toxicologists, the Mycological Society of San Francisco, and Mind States.
Where does science meet subculture? Earth and Fire will discuss novel developments in the underground recreational drug bazaar as well as questions about the state of the visionary sphere. Now is the bridge between psychedelic history and future minds. Psychedelic subcultures have complex relationships to science, spirituality, media, and the Internet. With technologies of sharing at a historical peak and worldwide distribution of both products and thoughts being the norm, access to altered states of consciousness is mushrooming. Where does the evolution of psychedelic knowledge go from here?
Yalila Espinoza – Erotic Healing Experiences with Ayahuasca
This presentation will explain how the spiritual guidance inherent in the practice of vegetalismo (entheogenic plant medicines) provides the individual with erotic experiences that can transform the quality of his/her spiritual life. I argue that the multi-dimensional energies of plant medicines are a pathway to eroticism, and that plant-induced trances and dream-time are altered states of consciousness in which spiritual learning can occur. The work in vegetalismo involves energetic openings and realignments that inspire transformation on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. “Eroticism” for the purpose of this presentation, means an intimate energetic union between physical beings in the worldly realm and non-physical entities in the cosmic realm. This study’s focus on women’s experience is intended to empower the valuable female voice within vegetalismo practices, and the goal of this presentation is to affirm the erotic nature of reality, the feminine, and women’s embodied wisdom.
Josep Maria Fabregas, M.D. – Long Term Effects on Mental Health of Ayahuasca Ritual Use
Scientific research regarding the long-term effects of the use of hallucinogens is scarce. Only few well-designed studies have thoroughly researched this topic. In 2004, our research team went to different Brazilians communities in order to initiate long-term studies with the objective of assessing the effects of the chronic consumption of Ayahuasca on user’s mental health. We administered tests to assess personality, neuropsychological functions, psychosocial wellbeing, purpose of life, and spirituality to 120 Ayahuasca practitioners and then were compared them to 115 control subjects. Eight months later, the same tests were administered with the objective of assessing the stability of the results. The results found in these studies will be showed in this talk.
James Fadiman, Ph.D. – Psychedelics as Entheogens: How to Create and Guide Successful Sessions
98 % + of people using psychedelics worldwide use them illegally. In the United States alone, there are 600, 000 new users of LSD each year. Restrictive laws have not led to any less use. Many users can only guess at how to prevent harm and maximize the benefits of their experiences. Manuals have been developed to teach how these experiences can be made safe and supportive by the proper understanding of set, setting, sitter, substance, session and support. We will consider the advantages and limitations of the use of guides and discuss how to establish the best possible conditions for spiritual or entheogenic (as distinct from psychotherapeutic and other uses) experiences. Other manuals have been developed for psychotherapeutic use, as well as for scientific or technical problem solving. These will be presented and discussed as time allows.
Kevin Feeney, J.D. – Revisiting Wasson’s Soma: Exploring the Effects of Preparation on the Chemistry of Amanita muscaria
In 1968 R. Gordon Wasson first proposed his groundbreaking theory identifying Soma, the hallucinogenic sacrament of the Vedas, as the Amanita muscaria mushroom. While Wasson’s theory has since garnered much acclaim, it is not without its faults. One omission in Wasson’s theory is his failure to explain how the pressing and filtering of Soma, as described in the Rig Veda, supports his theory of Soma’s identity. Several critics have reasoned that such preparation should be unnecessary if equivalent results can be obtained “by simply chewing the plant materials, as is the case with psychotropic mushrooms.” While many areas of Wasson’s theory have been subject to criticism, it is my contention that a proper understanding of the chemical properties of Amanita muscaria, and how they are altered by the preparations described in the Rig Veda, will lend further credence to Wasson’s theory. To determine the importance of preparation on Amanita muscaria inebriation I have collected and analyzed hundreds of anecdotal reports detailing various preparations of Amanita muscaria and the resulting effects. While the chemistry of Amanita muscaria is not yet fully understood, my findings help explain the significance of preparation on the effects of this mushroom.
Kevin Feeney, J.D. – Re-examining the role of muscarine in the chemistry of amanita muscaria
The chemistry of the Amanita muscaria mushroom has long been a puzzle for scientists, and many pieces of this puzzle remain in dispute. One recurrent dispute centers on the role of muscarine in Amanita muscaria inebriations and poisonings. Currently, it is widely (and mistakenly) believed that muscarine does not occur in Amanita muscaria in pharmacologically active levels. While muscarine is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier, and contributes no psychoactive effects to Amanita muscaria inebriation, a review of anecdotal case reports suggests that muscarine is present in sufficient quantities to have a physiological effect when moderate amounts of this mushroom are consumed. Failing to recognize the physiological contribution of muscarine to the Amanita muscaria experience leaves us with an incomplete picture of the properties of this mushroom and how it was perceived by the cultures who revered it.
Amanda Feilding – Director of The Beckley Foundation
Amanda Feilding founded the Beckley Foundation in 1998 with the purpose of investigating the neurophysiological changes underlying altered states of consciousness in order to expand our understanding of consciousness, and how to use these compounds to the benefit of the individual and society. The second aim of the Beckley Foundation is to work towards the rationalization of international drug policies, which currently are ineffective and harmful, and also obstruct scientific research into the potential benefits of psychoactive substances.
Amanda has built up a collaborative network of leading scientists around the world, with whom she works on a wide range of projects. Recent projects include: the first neuroscientific study in recent times to use LSD and human participants; the first study in the UK to investigate the neurophysiological effects of a psychedelic, using fMRI to assess how psilocybin affects cerebral blood flow and access to remote memories, thereby shedding light on why psychedelics may offer such potential benefits when used with psychotherapy; in the USA a ground breaking pilot study into the use of psilocybin as an aid in the treatment of resistant addiction. Key studies involving cannabis include: research into the physiological effects of THC and the therapeutic potential of CBD; the effects of cannabis use on creativity; investigating the chemical content of differing strains of cannabis in medical use, and a study investigating the neurophysiological changes underlying the ‘high’ users find beneficial.
The Beckley Foundation investigates how psychoactive substances work, why people use them, and what is the best way for society to control and integrate their inevitable presence. Towards this aim, the Beckley Foundation Press and Oxford University Press have recently published a new book, researched and written by a group of the world’s leading drug policy analysts, entitled ‘Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate’, which concludes that cannabis prohibition policies have comprehensively failed, and outlines alternative policies from depenalisation to a fully regulated legal market. A second book currently being published with OUP is entitled the ‘Pharmacology of LSD’. The Beckley Foundation Press has also recently published ‘Hofmann’s Elixir: LSD and the New Eleusis’.
Robert Forte – Ayahuasca, Indigenous Medicine, and Cancer: Preliminary Findings
There are many ways to do research with psychedelics that are legal, valid, important, and outside the domain of the FDA regulations. This presentation offers one example that shows the merits and drawbacks of what we might call “guerilla” research. Inspired by a growing number of compelling anecdotes which showed positive effects of Ayahuasca and other elements of indigenous medicine on cancer, for this project, we recruited two cancer patients and embarked on a month long immersion in traditional medicine at the astonishingly beautiful Mayantuyacu, deep in the jungle of northern Peru. There, under the guidance of the acclaimed ayahuascero-curandero, Maestro Juan Flores Salzaar, we participated in Ayahuasca ceremonies nearly every other night, in addition to consuming two other botanical medicines of the traditional Ashanika pharmacopoeia three times a day. This presentation begins with a presentation of background anecdotes that inspired the study, 3 case histories, and includes many beautiful slides of the Mayantuyacu expedition, as well as digital recordings of the icaros, the sacred songs, that guided the Ayahuasca journeys. Projects like this can point the way to further, more systematic inquiries into the healing potential of psychedelics.
Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia – The Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead, and avoiding another backlash
Psychedelic veteran Carolyn Garcia aka Mountain Girl joined the Merry Pranksters in 1964 and traveled on Ken Kesey’s bus “Furthur” presenting “Acid Tests” in California. She joined the Grateful Dead family in the Haight Ashbury in 1967. Jerry Garcia and Carolyn have two daughters.
She has been on the board of Rex Foundation among others, for many years, and keeps up with psychedelic and cannabis issues and developments as best she can. Currently she serves as President of the Women’s Visionary Council, which presents the annual Women’s Visionary Congress and other educational events investigating the marvelous. Carolyn will discuss her experience with the Grateful Dead and the Merry Pranksters, and she will talk about how the future of the psychedelic community can avoid a backlash similar to the 1960s.
Neal Goldsmith, Ph.D. – Psychedelic Therapy and Change: Research, Challenges, Implications
This talk will introduce tracks 2 and 3 for the conference, and so will be part about my research, but very much about the theme and focus of the tracks. I’ll start by describing the tracks, and the history it comes from and contributes to. I’ll then outline the research environment, focus, and results from 1947 to the present, outlining how the climate has changed over the decades, the key research areas (substance abuse, end-of-life, etc.) and findings, and the current research underway and planned. Next, I’d like to focus on key open questions (e.g., Can psychedelics provide lasting cures? Is psychedelic spirituality real; helpful? Should we take a medical, sacramental, or some other approach to this work? Is double blind effective; necessary? How will psychedelic researchers and therapists be trained? What should be done about re-scheduling psychedelics? How can we introduce psychedelics into mainstream medicine; society?) I’d then like to move to a discussion of how medicine, science, and Western culture as a whole will be changed by the re-integration of psychedelics into society. I’d like to close with a review of the Therapy/Cultural track, it’s aims and approaches, outlining the panels in the track and how they will help us address the issues raised in this talk.
Biography: Neal M. Goldsmith, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice, specializing in psychospiritual development – seeing “neurosis” as the natural unfolding of human maturation. Dr. Goldsmith’s psychotherapy training includes Imago Relationship Therapy, Psychosynthesis, yoga psychology, regressive psychotherapies, Rogerian client-centered counseling, and other humanistic, transpersonal and eastern traditions (in addition to the lessons found in the research literature on psychedelics). He is also an applied research psychologist and strategic planner working with institutions such as Princeton University, AT&T, American Express, and Gartner to foster innovation and change.
Dr. Goldsmith has a master’s degree in counseling from New York University and a Ph.D. in public affairs psychology from Claremont Graduate University, with an orientation toward action science in the tradition of Kurt Lewin. He conducted his dissertation research, on the factors that facilitate or inhibit the successful utilization of mental health policy research, as a federally-funded doctoral research assistant at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. During this period, Dr. Goldsmith was also deputy principal investigator of a four-year, nation-wide study of the utilization of mental health policy research.
Dr. Goldsmith is a frequent speaker on spiritual emergence, resistance to change, drug policy reform and the post-modern future of society. Among Dr. Goldsmith’s publications, he is perhaps proudest of “The Ten Lessons of Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered” (in the Psychedelic Medicine textbook, Praeger, 2007), his affidavit to the California Superior Court in Santa Cruz on “Rescheduling Psilocybin: A Review of the Clinical Research,” and the frequently-cited, “The Utilization of Policy Research.” He is a founder of several salon discussion groups in New York City and of quality improvement councils at American Express Company and AT&T. While still a graduate student, he was an affiliate of the Center for Policy Research at Columbia University, a founder of the Claremont Center for Applied Social Research, and an invited member of the Network of Consultants on Planned Change at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Dr. Goldsmith may be reached via his Web site, www.nealgoldsmith.com.
Other: This talk is based on my forthcoming book: “Psychedelic Healing: Psychotherapy, Entheogens, and Change” (Inner Traditions, in press).
Alex and Allyson Grey – Better Religion Through Science and Art
Creativity is a spiritual path for many artists. Entheo-art, art that points to the God within, is a sacred creative manifestation of visionary culture. Entheo-artists paint the transcendental realms from observation. The viewer, especially one with a dilated psyche, comes into contact with the visionary source through contemplation of the artwork, uniting with the transformative evolutionary creative force working through the artist.
After a life of studying the rise and fall of civilizations, Arnold Toynbee commented that civilizations exist to give birth to better religions. In Roland Griffith’s Johns Hopkins study, a majority of spiritually inclined subjects had a full-blown mystical experience after a single dose of psilocybin. The mystical experience is the foundation of all religion. Visions that glimpse divine imagination catalyze the primary religious experience. Religion is not just tradition and dogma. At the heart of religion is a life lived in relation to the creative force of the Divine.
In the entheogenic state, our perception of self-existence is altered and our life path and the way we relate to others and the world is transformed. For those that have a mystical experience, an enhanced moral compass may play a part in activating stewardship of the ailing planet. Entheogens have catalyzed reconnection with and compassion for all life. This awakened “ecology of being” translates from the spiritual world to the physical, promoting creative, even visionary ways of remediating our ailing environment and aesthetically transmitting unitive consciousness. Many who have experienced infinite Oneness claim to have seen themselves as a part of a light web of souls. Co-recognizing our interrelatedness is at the heart of visionary culture and is a harbinger of universal spirituality and the dawning of planetary civilization.
Alberto Groisman, Ph.D. – Ayahuasca Religions in Contemporary Society: Law, Health, and Cultural Implications
Motivated by the fundamentals of the transubstantiation doctrine, as researchers like Jonathan Ott have argued, Christianity nowadays may experience a relevant paradigmatic controversy with the emergence in Contemporary Society of a set of Christian Religions known as Entheogenic Religions. These religious systems, most of them founded in the Americas, reunite people around the ritual use of psychoactive substances, classified pharmacologically as hallucinogenic, but more recently conceptualized as entheogenic sacraments. This paper has as an aim to present and discuss the contemporary impact of the emergence, increasing visibility of, and the growth of the number of participants at, the Brazilian Ayahuasca Religions, worldwide. It has also as a particular interest to raise and discuss the implicit implications which the emergence and visibility of these religious systems may have in to influence the way different cultures and specifically their legal systems may develop to deal with the use of psychoactive substances in general.
Jeffrey Guss, M.D. – The NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Research Project’s Psychedelic Psychotherapy Training Program
In September 2008, the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Research Project began a training program for study therapists. The program integrated training in the basics of palliative care with preparation to become psychedelic psychotherapists in preparation to work with subjects enrolled in our research study. In this presentation, I will present: 1) Goals of the training program; 2) Structure of the training program (didactic, experiential and supervisory) and 3) Feedback from therapists regarding the components of the training and relevance to work with subjects.
Rachel Harris, Ph.D. – Ayahuasca in North America
This research explores how Ayahuasca is being used in North America. The sample will be described in terms of gender, age and education. The focus is not on the Ayahuasca experience, itself, but on the impact the experience has in a person’s on-going life. How do people prepare for the experience? How do they change as a result of their Ayahuasca experiences? How do their lives change? Is there a difference in their moods, self-acceptance or spiritual experiences? How do their relationships with others change? Most people report using Ayahuasca with great care given to set and setting. The context is usually spiritual with careful attention to preparation and intention. People report that their Ayahuasca experience leads to greater self-acceptance and compassion, often mentioning a sense of heart opening. They also describe improvement in health habits like giving up drinking and smoking. Some mention stopping habitual use of marijuana. Many report a personal relationship with the spirit of Ayahuasca that continues and develops beyond the experience. Preliminary findings from the quantitative scale adapted from the Persisting Effects Questionnaire used in the Hopkins psilocybin study will be described.
Andreas Hernandez, Ph.D. – Cultural Trauma, Capitalist Modernity, and the Global Expansion of Santo Daime: 1930-2009
This paper is a historically grounded analysis of the political economy associated with the expansion of the Ayahuasca based Santo Daime religious movement. Analyzing Santo Daime’s expansion historically, this paper argues that Santo Daime has transformed from a counter-modern to post-modern movement, through a series of adaptive and innovative responses to crisis moments in capitalist modernity. The paper interprets these crisis moments as ‘cultural trauma’- impacts which ‘tear’ the tissue of the ‘social body’. It concludes that Santo Daime’s expansion has not only been a restitutive response to the cultural, psychological and subjective fractures of capitalist modernity, but also increasingly an attempt to reconstruct culture beyond this modernity.
Scott Hill, Ph.D. – Implications of Jungian Psychology for Psychedelic Psychotherapy
Scott Hill will discuss how Jung’s therapeutic method of integrating unconscious material into consciousness can contribute to the theory and practice of psychedelic psychotherapy, especially work with difficult psychedelic experiences occurring in response to overwhelming material released from the deepest layers of the unconscious. Scott will also discuss the role that therapists can play in mediating ego-consciousness on behalf of the individual undergoing psychedelic psychotherapy. Drawing on the unique and extensive clinical experience of two pioneering Jungian-oriented British psychedelic therapists, Margot Cutner and Ronald Sandison (who coined the term psycholytic therapy), Scott will discuss the issue of using Jungian integration to increase conscious participation by individuals during psychedelic psychotherapy, potentially enhancing the inherent healing effects of the psychedelic experience itself.
Bob Jesse – the Council on Spiritual Practices
Bob Jesse is convenor of the Council on Spiritual Practices , which aims to shift modernity’s awareness and practices with respect to primary religious experience (www.csp.org/PRE). CSP also encourages people to imagine and develop social contexts to contain such experiences and help them yield lasting benefit. Through CSP, Bob and his colleagues initiated a study, conducted at Johns Hopkins and reported around the world, of the psycho-spiritual effects of psilocybin in healthy volunteers (www.csp.org/psilocybin). This expands the emphasis in hallucinogen research beyond the medical treatment of ill people to include the betterment of well people, contributing to a science of pro-social development.