Healing Powers of Psychedelics & Other Mindful Practices

Join Mareesa Stertz, intrepid adventurer, filmmaker, and yoga teacher, who fearlessly guides us on this psychedelic adventure of healing. We travel around the world to work with these medicines, explore the underground, and meet the indigenous communities that have stewarded these medicines since ancient times. We witness first-hand how these medicines help regular folks struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD, and see how their lives change for the better, through their use of these mind-altering practices.

Rave and religion? A contemporary youth phenomenon as seen through the lens of religious studies

This article examines the contemporary phenomenon of raves. Although explicit religious references abound in rave culture and also in scholarly interpretations of raves, these references are generally analogous and avoid direct mention of “religion” proper. In this article, we apply the theory of displacement of religious experience and the sacred to draw out the structural and phenomenological religious homology of raves and set the study of this youth phenomenon and the subculture which surrounds it firmly within the field of religious studies. We also propose avenues for further investigation. The article begins with a brief history and definition of “rave.” Then it turns to the symbolic and religious references found in raves as well as the meanings both participants and commentators attribute to this phenomenon. Third, it presents and discusses the ritual structure of rave, using the theory of the mechanism and dynamics of the transgression-fuelled festal ritual (la fête), as defined by Georges Bataille. Its purpose is to contribute to an understanding of how contemporary religious economy develops, particularly a religious economy that concerns a now largely secularized youth.

Electronic Dance Music Events as Modern-Day Ritual

Electronic dance music (EDM) events may function as a ritual space for psycho-spiritual exploration and personal development, often linked to the occurrence of non-ordinary states of consciousness in participants. This paper reviews the literature addressing the spiritual, religious, and transpersonal facets of participants’ experiences at EDM events, with an emphasis on the subsequent integration of these experiences into daily life. Several empirical studies conducted in the past two decades, of which the most recent was conducted by the first author of the present paper (Redfield, 2017, this issue), provides grounds to argue that EDM events can be vectors for enhancing personal and psychosocial wellbeing for their participants—a discussion that was omitted in previous studies that strictly emphasized either the dangers or the purely hedonistic nature of EDM participation. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research into the specific ways in which EDM events may benefit individual participants.

“Legalize Spiritual Discovery: The Trials of Dr. Timothy Leary”

Beginning with his arrest for possession of marijuana December 24, 1965, Dr. Timothy Leary became embroiled in a very public series of court cases that sought initially to utilize the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution to challenge established United States drug laws regarding marijuana. Though Leary’s attempts at using the Free Exercise Clause were unsuccessful, his case was eventually heard by the United States Supreme Court, who, in 1969, found major elements of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Law unconstitutional and overturned Leary’s conviction. This chapter will trace evolution of Leary’s defense argument from one based on religious freedom to one based on due process and the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. Leary’s initial freedom of religion defense was based on the success of the Native American Church’s 1964 California State Supreme Court ruling that protected that group’s sacramental use of peyote within its religious ceremonies. This chapter will also describe how the success of Native American Church case led Leary to popularize and speak out in favor of small groups of psychedelic users establishing their own “official” religions. Leary followed his own advice by creating the League for Spiritual Discovery in 1966 and was seen as a religious leader by the founder of the Neo-American Church (another psychedelic quasi-religion) as well. Seeing themselves as a persecuted people under legal attack for their spiritual and experimental practices, both the Neo-American Church and the League for Spiritual Discovery sought to emulate the Native American Church and establish legal protections for the use of illegal substances.

A Psychedelic Experience – Fact Or Fantasy?

Since at least 1500 B.C. men have, from time to time, held the view that our normal vision of the world is a hallucination—a dream, a figment of the mind, or, to use the Hindu word which means both art and illusion, a maya. The implication is that, if this is so, life need never be taken seriously. It is a fantasy, a play, a drama to be enjoyed. It does not really matter, for one day (perhaps in the moment of death) the illusion will dissolve, and each one of us will awaken to discover that he himself is what there is and all that there is—the very root and ground of the universe, or the ultimate and eternal space in which things and events come and go.

Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul

On a quest for spiritual awakening and healing, a naturopathic doctor and an accountant join others in the Amazon to drink a hallucinogenic brew called ayahuasca or ‘Vine of the Soul’. Their dramatic encounters with the sacred medicine offer new insights into the nature of faith and self-healing through a heightened state of consciousness.

“A Question of Balance: Health and Pathology in New Religious Movements.” in Anthony, D.; Ecker, B. & Wilber, K, Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths To Inner Transformation

This article was written after I participated in a research seminar sponsored by the Center for the Study of New Religious Movements, Berkeley, California. As part of our research, we interviewed members and former members of spiritual groups over a period of eight months. The topic of health and pathology in new religious movements was of particular interest to me as a practicing psychotherapist, and I discuss it here from a transpersonal perspective. Current popular interest in spiritual alternatives is viewed in terms of psychological development. Motivation for joining groups is varied, and participation in such groups may be either healthy or pathogenic for individual development. Distinctions are made between ego mastery and spiritual mastery, and characteristics of genuine spiritual mastery are delineated. Choosing a teacher and recognizing groups that are potentially detrimental requires both self-awareness and the ability to evaluate levels of development beyond ego. A balanced use of intuition and reason, and willingness to recognize personal limitations, can contribute to adequate evaluation.

A Gratuitous Grace: The Influence of Religious Set and Intent on the Psychedelic Experience

Psychedelic drugs, or entheogens, have been used for religious purposes among various cultures for thousands of years. Recently, these substances have caught the attention of Westerners for many reasons, including their propensity to induce mystical experiences. This study examined the relationship between religion and having mystical experiences. A total of 119 participants were drawn from psychedelic-related websites and asked to complete an anonymous online questionnaire containing items regarding history of psychedelic use, set and setting for psychedelic use, and a measure for mystical experiences. A majority of respondents were White males who displayed at least some level of post-secondary education. The findings indicated that respondents who used psychedelics for specifically religious purposes, as well as those who identified with a religion, were more likely to score higher on the Mysticism Scale than those who did not.

Buddhism and Psychedelics. [Review of the Book Zig Zag, Zen, by A. Badiner]

Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (hereafter abbreviated as ZZZ ) is an attractive book, coffee table in design though not in size. The cover shows what at first appears to be a seated Buddha but is actually Padmasambhava from a 1992 painting by Gana Lama (73). Swirling colors radiate from the nose and the solar plexus, giving a psychedelic effect. Within are reproductions of attractive works by established modernists such as Odilon Redon and Mark Rothko, as well as recent ones by an emerging Buddhist avant garde represented by Mariko Mori, Alex Grey (who is co-editor) and the virtuoso Robert Beer. Lest we still fail to appreciate that this is a work of advanced consciousness, the typography indulges in such computer age quirks as upside-down headings. ZZZ ’s publisher, Chronicle Books, specializes in lavish illustrated volumes, often on Asian subjects. Lest anyone be offended by the conspicuous consumption implied by the books lavish production, its editor, Allan Hunt Badiner, begins by assuring the trees used to produce the book that they are “wholeheartedly thanked, honored, and appreciated.”

The Entheogen Reformation

In addition to promising leads for treating PTSD, addictions, depression, and death anxiety, 21 st Century research at medical schools finds that with careful screening, insightful attention to the variables of set, setting, and dosage, psychedelic drug administration often facilitates significant spiritual experiences, meaningfulness, altruism, well-being, and similar pro-spiritual effects. This article calls for theologians, professors of religious studies, philosophy, sociology, and psychology to update their courses. It challenges leaders of religious organizations, ‘‘How can your institution incorporate these practices and benefit from them?’’