Psychedelics Today

Psychedelics Today is the planetary leader in psychedelic education, media, and advocacy. Covering up-to-the-minute developments and diving deep into crucial topics bridging the scientific, academic, philosophical, societal, and cultural, Psychedelics Today is leading the discussion in this rapidly evolving ecosystem.
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Now displaying: December, 2018
Dec 25, 2018


In this unique episode, Joe brings Tom Hatsis and Dr. Jerry Brown together for a psychedelic debate. They go back in forth in conversation on whether there was psychedelic use in medieval or ancient Christianity and if so, was there a secret tradition of including art of mushrooms or psychedelic substances in cathedrals and castles.

3 Key Points:

  1. Jerry Brown makes the claim that there is evidence of visionary plants in Christianity and the life of Jesus found in medieval art and biblical scripture.
  2. Tom Hatsis makes the claim that Christianity is not hiding a giant secret inside the biblical texts about the true hallucinogen at the root of the religion being an Amanita Muscaria.
  3. Jerry and Tom debate back and forth, pulling from art and textual evidence (and lack thereof) to support or deny the claim that Psychedelic Mushrooms are the root of Christian religion.

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Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

Jerry B. Brown PhD.

Anthropologist, Author and Activist
Served as the Prof of Anthropology at FIU in Miami
He designed and taught a course on hallucinogens and culture
He is the Co-Author of Sacred Plants and the Gnostic Church: Speculations on Entheogen use in Early Christian Ritual
The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity

Tom Hatsis

Author, Public Speaker, Roller Derby Player and Potion Maker
He is the Author of three books in Psychedelia;
The Witches Ointment: the Secret History of Psychedelic Magic
Psychedelic Mystery Traditions; Spirit Plants, Magical Practices and Psychedelic States Microdosing Magic: A Psychedelic Spellbook
Partnered with event organizer and short film maker, Eden Woodruff, who runs Psanctum Psychedelia in Portland in the process of winning the Guinness Book of World Record in Magic


  • The debate is around the early Christian use of psychedelics and mushrooms in Christian art
  • The conversation is on the validity on whether or not psychedelics were used in early Christianity

Dr. Jerry Brown on Psychedelics in Christianity

  • The Miracle of Marsh Chapel - a double-blind experiment conducted by Walter Pahnky in 1962 where 20 students were divided into two groups, half received niacin and the other half received psilocybin
    • 9 out of 10 who took psilocybin had a profound psychedelic experience
    • Brown explains that this is an important part in the entire history of psychedelics
  • After discovering the Amanita Muscaria mushroom (confirmed by Paul Stamets) in a 15th Century Church in Scotland, he realized that there were many entheogenic images in Christian art
  • He says that most church historians do not have training in mycology to recognize entheogens and mushrooms
  • He brings up an image of Adam and Eve standing next to a large Amanita Muscaria mushroom
  • He went to a Parish Church and saw an image of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a Donkey, and one of the youths welcoming Jesus is holding a long mushroom cap
  • He went to churches in England, Germany and France
    • In the drawing of Genesis, he saw God creating plants (psilocybin mushrooms)
  • "When you go back beyond the 3rd century, there are no visual images or Christian art due to poverty and persecution" - Jerry
  • Jerry reads a passage,
    “Jesus said to his disciples, “compare me to someone and tell me who I am like” Thomas said to him, “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.” Jesus said “I am not your master, because you have drunk you have become intoxicated from the bubbling wellspring that I have personally measured out. He who will drink from my mouth will become like me, I shall become like he, and the things that are hidden, should be revealed to him.”
    • He interprets the passage as a reference to drinking a psychoactive mushroom substance
    • Jerry goes on to explain that Jesus realized his feeling of eternal life through the use of psychoactive entheogens
    • He says that this is not a means of dismissing Christianity, but instead to reintroduce Christianity with its original roots

Tom Hatsis on Psychedelics in Christianity

  • Tom says that Jerry makes a lot of assertions, but does not present any evidence. He talks about art, but not anything in scripture
  • Tom is curious why the only artwork that Jerry brings his assertions about mushrooms are from a time where we can’t ask them about it
  • Tom brings up Julie and Jerry’s book and that the first chapter has nothing to do with Christian History at all
  • Tom uses an example of stone mushrooms. Someone doing a cross cultural analysis, might agree that they are mushrooms based on the other findings of cannabis and opioids
    • But, as a historian, Tom looks for evidence and in this case, there are eye witness accounts of its use
  • He brings up the example, the infamous plaincourault fresco of Adam and Eve at the tree of good and evil with the forbidden fruit
    • Using this one example, he wants to prove how critical historical methodology is used to prove unsubstantiated claims on Christian art as wrong
    • Tom urges listeners to view the unaltered versions of the plaincourault fresco at Georgio Samorini’s Flikr page 
    • The paradise tree is a mix of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and a symbol of Christ's victory over Adam’s transgression. In the play, it was tradition to place small Eucharist wafers on the tree branches so that’s what the white dots are on the tree branches
    • The tree's shape is not a mushroom cap, it is a parasol of victory

Jerry’s Rebuttle

  • Jerry says that the absence of evidence, is not equal, or proof of evidence of absence (just because it’s not written in text, doesn't mean that its not there in the art)
  • Jerry’s issue with the fresco is that “The Fall” is a New Testament creation, not all the way back in Genesis
  • He says that on their website, they do not ‘alter’ the image, they ‘enhance’ it
  • He says that Tom claims the fruit doesn't matter, but the fruit does matter (it could be a psychedelic mushroom)
  • He touches on the skeletal appearance of Eve and the meaning of renewal of life
  • Jerry thinks this image is the beginning of the religious experience and symbolism that the soul is immortal and will continue to exist after death
  • He says the serpent is not a depiction of evil entering Eden, but instead a source of knowledge and a spiritual guide to the feminine to help bring man into higher awareness

Tom’s Rebuttle

  • Tom says he didn't hear any evidence from Jerry, he heard arguments to authority
  • He says that Jerry uses anthropology to uncover history, and opinions of art historians, but medieval historians agree that the mushroom is not present in Christian art
  • He also says he did agree with Jerry about the mushroom in art, but that was last year and he has proven himself wrong and that the mushroom caps are parasols of victory
  • Jerry says that Amanita Muscaria was in the Soma, but Tom says cannabis was, and mushrooms were not
    Chris Bennett's book on Soma
  • There is zero evidence for mushroom art during medieval times
  • In Jerry’s book, he writes about the Basilica di Aquilea, saying that they are Amanita Muscaria, but Tom says they are not that type of mushroom






  • Tom also says that in the play depicted in the plaincourault, that the script literally says the wafers are hung on the tree, and that the little white dots are not the dots from an Amanita Muscaria

Jerry’s Closing Remarks

  • He says that this isn't just cultural analysis, this is about fieldwork and looking at how native people view this artwork
  • The problem he has with Tom and Church historians is that it is not taking evidence from Ethnobotanists
  • Jerry says he believes that there is a long tradition of entheogenic mushrooms in Christian art and would like this debate to continue

Tom’s Closing Remarks

  • Tom says he still isn't hearing evidence, he is only hearing assertions and argument to authority and eminent scholars
  • Tom says that Genesis doesn't matter in the plaincourault, because we know that it's about the play
  • He has multiple articles debunking these images on his website
  • Tom says the holy mushroom hypothesis fails against all the claims Jerry has made


Tom's Website
Jerry's Website

Check out our online course, "Introduction to Psychedelics"

About Jerry

Jerry B. Brown, Ph.D., is an anthropologist, author and activist. From 1972-2014, he served as Founding Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University in Miami, where he designed and taught a course on “Hallucinogens and Culture.” The course examines the use of psychoactive plants by tribal and classical cultures, including Ancient India and Greece, and by and discusses the discoveries of the modern mind-explorers, the “psychonauts of the twentieth century.”

About Tom

Thomas Hatsis is an author, lecturer, and historian of witchcraft, magic, Western religions, contemporary psychedelia, entheogens, and medieval pharmacopeia. In his spare time he visits rare archives, slings elixirs, and coaches roller derby.

Dec 18, 2018


In this episode, Joe interviews Duncan Autrey, a conflict transformation catalyst and educator. He runs a podcast, Fractal Friends, that covers topics of self-similarity across our diversity. During their conversation, Joe and Duncan discuss ways of resolving conflict in our relationships and society.

3 Key Points:

  1. Duncan Autrey is a conflict transformation educator, working for peace and cultural change.
  2. Conflict happens when one person wants to be heard so much that they stop listening to the other side. It is a product of living in a diverse world.
  3. We have more rights than we think we do when facing law enforcement.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

What is Conflict?

  • Conflict is a product of living in a diverse world
  • Conflict resolution is about how to get different perspectives working together
  • Conflict happens when someone is really passionate about their side of the topic
  • Conflict also happens when one person wants to be heard so much that they stop listening to the other side
  • The ARC of conversation
    • A stands for acknowledge
    • R stands for reflect back
    • C stands for be curious

Resolving Conflict

  • Its okay to be certain about your own experiences, but someone might also be certain about their experiences and the key is to find a mutual ground
  • "How do we understand ecological issues better and work with each other to find how to create better conversation around it?" - Joe
  • In a conversation of conflict, the other side may be the antidote to your extreme
    • Interdependent Polarity - each side has something positive and negative, and each side should acknowledge the negative but aim to pull out the positive of the other side
    • Iceers
  • “It's better to find a way to navigate the question, rather than to answer the question” - Duncan
  • In a hierarchy of permanence, laws are really low. Laws come and go
  • 3 ways we resolve conflict over time; power, violence and laws
    • But the interest based model includes everyone and all sides and works through conflict to live in and share the same planet with each other

Impressive Resilience in Humans

  • “Shifts happen”
  • People that Duncan works with start thinking to themselves “I'm a good guy facing a bad guy” and the person on the other side of conflict also thinks “I'm a good guy facing a bad guy”
    • Helping guide the people in conflict to just listen to the other person fully is what starts the shift

Law Enforcement and Conflict

  • It's important to recognize the difference between the system and the individuals
    • Our whole system of television, movies, everything is all feeding into this
  • There are sociopaths in the world (5% of the population), and they are falling into roles like prison guards and CEO’s
  • Duncan brings up a story where he was in a car with someone who got pulled over, and the car got completely searched
    • He had vitamins on him, and the police assumed it was MDMA, so he was arrested and spent 4 days in jail
    • “This is a place where the people who are on the right side of the law, are being treated like assholes, and where people on the bad side of the law, are on their best behavior” - Duncan
    • This is a systemic issue, where the society says that you are a good person for doing something good, and are a bad person for doing something bad
    • But we shouldn't be defined by what we are ‘caught’ doing, either good or bad
    • People should be able to hold onto their humanity (not be locked up for life) for something like possession of a drug
    • “If we're going to care about our shared humanity and our right for everyone to be here, we have to figure out the path of restoration” - Duncan
    • “Slavery isn't okay, unless someone gets convicted of a crime”
    • Victoria’s Secret has people in prison slavery making lingerie in South Carolina
    • People have to pay off debt from their incarceration, before they get a license, to get a job, that they have to apply to as a criminal
    • Society doesn't make it easy to be human after prison
    • People in grad school with the same amount of debt, have an education, (usually) a job, and have hope for the future

Rights When Getting Pulled Over

  • Right to remain silent is real
  • Right to consent for search - you don't have to say yes
    • Law enforcement tries to use the fact that you think you're guilty and will let the search happen
  • You can't be detained without probable cause (4th Amendment)
    • You can be detained long enough for a traffic citation, but not enough to be caught for another crime
  • Smoke smell in the car is probable cause, even in s state where it is legal
  • Joe mentions dash cams so that there can be recordings on both ends, not just one end (the police’s evidence)
  • Duncan had the thought that maybe once they realize that his vitamins were not MDMA, that they might try to switch out the vitamins with MDMA
    • His attorney said they aren't that corrupt, or smart



Check out our online course, "Introduction to Psychedelics"

About Duncan

Duncan Autrey has worked in facilitation and conflict resolution for over fifteen years in diverse contexts ranging from rural Paraguay and Colombia to cities of Seattle, Washington, DC, Cuenca and Buenos Aires. He approaches conflict from a belief that it arises from the diverse cultural experiences of common human needs. Every conflict or complicated situation, large or small, is an opportunity for deepening our relationships and improving the world we live in. Duncan currently runs a podcast called Fractal Friends covering topics on exploring our self-similarity across our diversity.

Dec 11, 2018


In this episode, Joe interviews Steve Hupp, the Host of Kentucky Ayahuasca, a new series on Viceland. Topics include Steve’s background and how he wants to impact the American Ayahuasca scene through his work.

3 Key Points:

  1. Kentucky Ayahuasca is a docu-series on Viceland about Shaman, Steve Hupp as he works with people seeking healing from severe emotional and physical issues.
  2. Steve comes from an unusual background of career criminal and bank robber, and because of his time in prison with a Peruvian Shaman, has decided to bring the tradition to the United States.
  3. Steve is careful not to mock what shamanism is by creating ceremony in the States. He wants facilitation to be done as safely as possible and is simply trying to help people through Ayahuasca ceremony.

Support the show

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Show Notes

About Steve

  • He was a career criminal who robbed banks
    • It landed him in prison and put him into the same cell of a Peruvian shaman who had overstayed his visa and was probably doing some facilitating in the States
    • His name was Guadalupe and Steve called him Loopy because of the things he was talking about
    • But here and there Guadalupe would say something that would resonate with Steve days and weeks later that just made sense


  • He spent 4 years in prison
    • He got into the federal system because he had beaten the state system so the federal system picked up the case
    • Steve pleaded guilty and made a deal with them to give them their money back
    • He also agreed not to sue the police for opening fire on him
    • He was one of the first bank robbers released on a bond

Religion and Spirituality

  • Up to that point he was an Atheist
    • He decided that something else was keeping him alive for something because of what he survived during the police chase
  • Steve says he's seen how religious law worked by seeing gangs turn into congregations
  • He says he is no longer an Atheist after having experience with Ayahuasca
  • He had an epiphany that “anything is possible” and he decided he wanted to bring this to everyone
  • He started to have coincidences that led him to facilitation


  • Steve isn't trying to defraud what Shamanism is, but he is trying to tailor it to the American way of life
    • He says the Shaman in the jungle has a different context than an American does
  • Joe mentions that people get upset about how the word ‘shaman’ is used
    • Steve says ‘shaman’ comes from the Siberian word, ‘saman’, which means “to know” but has been branded by anthropologists
    • He also says shamanism is the oldest world religion
  • Joe brings up that so many people suggest doing Ayahuasca in the Amazon because that's where the spirit of the plant is, but he also mentions that the same type of biodiversity exists in Kentucky too


  • Steve says they face reverse-racism because they can't work with native tribes because they are white, but he’s just looking to bring everyone together
  • “If we don’t start helping our little blue sphere heal, it's all we've got” - Steve
  • He said he had more fear transitioning into Ayahuasca facilitation than any bank he’s robbed because he had to put his name on it
  • His intent is not to build a cult, he believes we are at the dawn of a new world and we are all in this together

Helping Addiction with Ayahuasca

  • Steve says he believes there are no addicts, just unbalanced humans
    • Joe says he read recently that the term “addict” keeps people in their problems
    • When he helps people who are addicted to drugs, and they drink Ayahuasca, they realize the drug is not the problem, but the guilt and the shame about using the drug is the problem

Plant Teacher

  • Steve believes we are intergalactic children
  • We could use our technology and knowledge to better us rather than being so distracted by the ‘lines in the sand’
    • He says we could feed everyone on the planet with land the size of Texas
  • What Ayahuasca is trying to teach us is to be kind to each other and we have that choice everyday
  • We need to get past this barbaric attitude of domination
  • “I know I've got grandchildren that I may never see, but I've got to try to leave them a world better than the one I've found” - Steve
    • If we were to teach our kids to teach our grandkids something, we wouldn't be handing them millions of dollars in national debt
    • Its a non-violent change
    • “What if we collectively manifested accountability in our government?” - Steve

Law Enforcement

  • Steve believes law enforcement shouldn't be able to have more power than soldiers at war
    • Soldiers in Iraq can't fire unless they have been fired upon

Shaman University

  • No one has ever done this before, Steve wants to put together a structure to make sure this operation is done ethically
    • He wants to lay the foundation for people to participate in Ayahuasca ceremony safely
    • He says anybody can brew Ayahuasca, but doing it safely and properly is key
  • Joe encourages viewers to check out the series on Viceland
  • Steve also encourages listeners who want to do Ayahuasca abroad to do tons of research before attending to make sure there are proper facilitators, ethical procedures and quality emergency response techniques and resources


Kentucky Ayahusca on Viceland

Check out our online course, "Introduction to Psychedelics"

About Steve

Steve Hupp had spent time in the Military. He was lost in materialism, drug abuse, alcoholism and pride that led him on a 5 year bank robbing spree that ended with him in Federal Prison, where he met his first Shaman, a cellmate. Now he is an Ayahuasca Shaman performing psychedelic healing ceremonies in Kentucky. Steve has worked with Ayahuasca for 15 years, trained by a Shaman from South America on how to work with Ayahuasca. He has spent much of that time working alone and experiencing many visions and entities that called him to found Aya Quest.

Dec 4, 2018


In this episode, Joe sits down with Kevin Matthews, Campaign Manager of Decriminalize Denver, the group looking to decriminalize magic mushrooms. During the show, they cover topics such as the Right to Try Act, therapeutic success and what it might look like to have Psilocybin decriminalized in Denver.

3 Key Points:

  1. Decriminalize Denver’s efforts are aimed to decriminalize Psilocybin Mushrooms in the city of Denver, CO., and are currently getting signatures to be on the May 2019 ballot.
  2. The Federal Right to Try Act allows a person with a life-threatening illness to use any substance that has passed phase one clinical trials.
  3. There is so much research and data on the benefits of Psilocybin Mushrooms, and being in an age of social media sharing, people are waking up to the idea of mushroom decriminalization.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

About Kevin

  • Kevin is a part of the group, Decriminalize Denver
    • The group submitted the ballot initiative called the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative and they are getting signatures to make the May 2019 ballot
  • Kevin became interested in mushrooms after leaving as a Cadet at the US Military Academy due to major depression
    • He was interested in Psilocybin Mushrooms impact on depression

Talking Publicly about Psilocybin Use

  • “Self-healing from psychedelics” is something most people want to be careful talking about
    • Does it uninspire therapists?
    • Does it ruin the medical model?
  • Kevin states that people are afraid to talk about it because they are a schedule 1 substance
    • Those who are willing to take the risk to talk about it are because they believe that mushrooms might have the best impact on them

Right to Try Act

  • Kevin knows someone with PTSD and tumors who is prescribed to Psilocybin under the Federal Right to Try Act
    • Anyone who has a life-threatening illness can use any substance that has passed phase one under clinical trials
    • His psychiatrist said that the psilocybin has been nothing short of miraculous in its effects
    • He takes 1.5-2 grams of dried mushrooms every 7-10 days
      It puts him in control of his own protocol
    • Trump just signed the Federal Right to Try Act this summer, Colorado has had their own since 2014

Generational Mushroom Use

  • Joe says that the media landscape has really changed in the past few years and so much more research and information is becoming accessible to everyone
  • Veterans for Natural Rights group is supporting this mushroom movement
  • After the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, a lot of people went underground with their use
    • 30 million people in the country have used psychedelics in the last decade
    • More young people now are using psychedelics than the same age group used psychedelics in the 60’s

Decriminalize Denver

  • The goal of the group is to decriminalize the personal use and personal possession of Psilocybin mushrooms, including the propagation of mushrooms for personal use
  • “Our main goal with this is to keep individuals out of prison, help our vets, and help our loved ones who suffer from these traumas” - Kevin

Colorado Always Making Progress

  • Right now, Colorado state legislature is looking at safe injection sites and different kinds of penalty such as rehab instead of incarceration
    • Joe says Denver is a kind of microcosm of the whole nation, it has an interest in both sides of an issue, instead of just one sided
  • “Mushrooms help, in a very profound way. And opening that door is the first step to changing people’s minds, both metaphorically and physically.” - Kevin
    • The medical applications of Psilocybin are huge such as for a stutter, autoimmune issues, anxiety and depression

Talking about Psilocybin

  • Kevin says you can't have a conversation without two opposing sides
    • He is excited for when the conversation starts because there is a ton of points on why Psilocybin is proven to be effective
    • John’s Hopkins said that Psilocybin should at a minimum be a Schedule 4 (same level as prescription sleep aids) source
  • Schedule 1 means “no medical value and high risk of abuse”
    • From the clinical research and population studies alone on Psilocybin, we know that's false

Decriminalize Denver’s Current Focus

  • Getting all 5,000 signatures (2,000 so far) by January 7th
  • Coalition building, doing some fundraising
  • Getting volunteers activated
  • After getting all the signatures, then they will be on the ballot. Once on the ballot, the campaign and outreach starts

Using Psilocybin for Therapy

  • Joe brings up a story about his teacher Lenny Gibson who had multiple bouts of cancer and is a psychedelic scholar. Lenny was incredibly mad at Tim Leary because he was in cancer support groups and imagines how many more options cancer patients would have for pain if drugs were not made illegal
  • Looking at decreasing suffering, it would be special for the Denver population to find relief in anxiety and depression before going into a life-threatening surgery, etc.
  • If this turns into a regulatory medical paradigm, licensure is important
    • How do we create the paradigm to open the work in a professional therapeutic manner?

Grand Rounds

  • Doctors will get together around a case study and share it within the medical community
    • It's a way to share and practice case studies organically and internally
  • With social media alone 30,000 people can be reached a month
    • Typing in to Google “benefits of mushrooms” brings up a ton of research
  • When people hear about John Hopkins, NYU, Harvard, UCLA Medical Center, and all of these companies that have already been doing the research they become more interested
    • Medicalization does not equal rescheduling
    • Carl Hart
  • It takes the breaking up of a family after prison time of a drug offense, 7 generations to recover
    • Joe knows of a case where someone in Colorado who got busted for having mushrooms only ended up serving 2 weeks and didn't get a felony for it
  • In 2005 New Mexico Court of Appeal said that cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms does not qualify as the manufacture of a controlled substance, as long as they aren't dried

Mushrooms are Beneficial, Not Harmful

  • How do we ruin fewer lives by legalizing mushrooms and keeping people out from behind bars?
  • Mushrooms can put you in touch with yourself and help connect yourself to others


  • Most of the responses are, “Hell yeah I’m going to sign this!” or “This saved my life”
    • Kevin says when someone says no, it's all about educating them
  • They had 45% support it and 20% maybes

Working with the City

  • The bill would include a Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, a city level committee made up of health professionals, Police, Denver Sheriff's office, city attorneys, etc

Final Thoughts

  • Kevin wants as many people as possible willing to participate to volunteer
  • They will be starting public Q&A twice a month (and live streaming them)



Check out our online course, "Introduction to Psychedelics"

About Kevin

Kevin Matthews is leading the decriminalization of Psilocybin mushrooms in Denver, Colorado. He and his group of dedicated volunteers are currently collecting signatures to make the May 2019 Ballot.