The RiverStyx Foundation

The RiverStyx Foundation is a charitable organization that strives to work at this boundary place. Through grant-making and seeding non-profits, Riverstyx attends to the places in society and our psychology which have been relegated to the shadows- out of fear, ignorance, and puritan influence- recognizing that which is repressed only festers and breeds pathology in its unnatural separation.

The goal is not to rid life of its darkness, but rather to reconcile it into our lives, to make relationship, and to honor both light and dark as necessarily two sides of the same coin.

In doing so, may we come into greater balance, beauty, and belonging.

What Happens When Psychedelic Treatment for PTSD Turns Into a Bad Trip

I lay flat on my back, pouring sweat and heart racing, in a hotel room with a woman who had just overdosed me.

Let’s call her Sarah. To be clear: Neither of us was here to party. Sarah, in fact, was a therapist, a licensed clinician. Outside of her office hours, she offered patients like me psilocybin and MDMA, for PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. She did this at fairly extreme risk to her career, because, as she said, she believed in it. This was my second time trying a guided, high-dosage cocktail of psychedelics to address my ongoing PTSD, a result of my surviving the 2008 terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

The goal with such an experience is to “go inside” yourself, surrender the trappings of the ego, and through that process transcend or soothe damage caused by a fundamental trauma. The idea is fairly simple: By letting go of yourself (commonly known as ego loss, or ego death), you become one with everything else. Put another way, you can experience a sense of wholeness that transcends yourself, and that wholeness can be very healing. In conversations with underground practitioners, I learned this was achieved through taking a combination of “medicines.” (For example: MDMA, the main ingredient in what is commonly referred to as ecstasy, paired with psilocybin, otherwise known as magic mushrooms.) But equally important, they said, was the guided support for the experience itself, followed by integration (processing of the experience) with that same guide. My first trip had been very positive and had resulted in a sense of peace and calm with respect to the particular anguish I had been experiencing for years. Indeed, recent scientific research increasingly supports the potential for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to be “an innovative, efficacious treatment” for PTSD.

Novel Psychopharmacological Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders: Psilocybin and MDMA

4-phosphorloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (psilocybin) and methylenedioxymethamfetamine (MDMA), best known for their illegal use as psychedelic drugs, are showing promise as therapeutics in a resurgence of clinical research during the past 10 years. Psilocybin is being tested for alcoholism, smoking cessation, and in patients with advanced cancer with anxiety. MDMA is showing encouraging results as a treatment for refractory post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety in autistic adults, and anxiety associated with a life-threatening illness. Both drugs are studied as adjuncts or catalysts to psychotherapy, rather than as stand-alone drug treatments. This model of drug-assisted psychotherapy is a possible alternative to existing pharmacological and psychological treatments in psychiatry. Further research is needed to fully assess the potential of these compounds in the management of these common disorders that are difficult to treat with existing methods.

The 21st Century Psychedelic Renaissance: Heroic Steps Forward on the Back of An Elephant

Given the plethora of new studies and published papers in the scientific press and the increasingly emerging presence of articles about positive psychedelic experiences appearing in the popular media, there is little doubt that we are in the midst of a Psychedelic Renaissance. The classical psychedelic drugs LSD and psilocybin and the entactogen MDMA are showing promise as tools to assist psychotherapy for a wide range of mental disorders, with multiple pilot studies demonstrating their safety and efficacy. In this article, the author describes how MDMA in particular has inherent characteristics that make it well suited for assisting trauma-focused psychotherapy in a population of patients who have experienced child abuse. But despite these advances, there remain many obstacles ahead of the widespread mainstream acceptance of psychedelic medicines. The author argues that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is one such obstacle. Other impediments include a prevailing attitude of pseudoscience and rigidity from within the non-scientific psychedelic community itself. Resolution of these conflicts must be sought if medicine and society are to see psychedelics gaining a place in mainstream culture and science.

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.

Solidarity and Drug Use in The Electronic Dance Music Scene

Current research and theory on rave culture has articulated a link between solidarity and drug use, although the precise nature of this relationship remains unclear. Work conducted in the field of cultural studies contends that while rave participants engage in drug use, it is by no means the exclusive source of solidarity. However, work in the fields of public health and medical science portrays rave culture as a site of extensive drug consumption and personal risk, where solidarity is dismissed or dubiously acknowledged as chemically induced. Prior research has not sought to reconcile this tension, or to consider how the relationship between drug use and solidarity may have changed over time. Using data from a multimethod ethnography of the rave scene in Philadelphia, we found the drug use–solidarity relationship substantially more complicated than prior scholarship has articulated. Our discoveries, consequently, provide clarification of this relationship as well as advance the literatures on solidarity, collective identity, youth culture, and music scenes.

The Shaman and the Rave Party: Social Pharmacology of Ecstasy

Current psychobiological models of drug addiction are focused on the capability of drugs to cause a pathological exploitation of the neural rewarding system. This approach has emphasized the role of hedonistic factors in the etiology of drug addiction. Comparing primitive and modern settings of intoxication, such as shamanic rituals and rave parties, it is possible to confute this assumption. The archaic way of perceiving and elaborating drug effects mainly determined their use as being for supernatural purposes and excluded recreational purposes. Only after a completely profane setting of drug use was developed, did psychoactive drugs express all their hedonistic potentialities. This development, however, has been a slow process.