In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, the typical Solidarity Fridays format is switched up yet again, this time with Joe interviewing author of best-selling book, The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name, and recent Joe Rogan Experience guest, Brian Muraresku. Because where do you go after Joe Rogan? Psychedelics Today, of course.
Muraresku discusses how his fascination with Latin and Greek and the 1978 book, The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck) and its proposal of a psychedelic sacrament of sorts being imbibed at the Rites of Eleusis led him to spend about 12 years searching for evidence to prove it. From the idea of "graveyard beer," to Alcibiades and the profanation of mysteries, to wine parties to interact with the dead called refrigeriums, Muraresku dives deep into his findings: that the wine they drank was, at the least, spiked with herbs and spices to create something very different and likely hallucinogenic, that participants were seeking immortality, a euphoric ecstasy, and communion with both God and the dead, that both the Dionysian Gospel and Christianity are heavily related to the Rites of Eleusis, and that these ceremonies don't appear to have been isolated to Eleusis- that people took what they learned and practiced elsewhere, in what Denise Demetriou refers to as "open-access sanctuaries."
“Some of the legacies of this civilization, from democracy and the arts and sciences to literature and philosophy and the very concept of a university- all these inheritances are the things that we associate with the very literate Greeks. And there stands Euelisis at the center of it all. ...And they [the Rites] were seen as so important, so central, so integral to life at the time, that even Cicero, a Roman in the first century B.C.- he referred to Euelisis as ‘the most exceptional and divine thing that Athens ever produced.’ So it wasn’t democracy, the arts, sciences, etc. It was Eleusis.”
“They saw something. The thinking for a long time was that maybe it was a theatrical performance- maybe there was something happening in this temple that has been lost to time. And then that book I mentioned in 1978, The Road to Eleusis, was saying as long as we’re talking about a vision, why can’t it be something that was produced internally? Why couldn’t it be one of these great epiphanic psychedelic visions? And so, as a hypothesis, it makes sense just based on the way people talked about this experience. It was a once in a lifetime experience that essentially erased the fear of death and made these initiates immortals. And weirdly, which is why I picked this up in the first place, it’s very, very similar to the testimony that comes from the volunteers in the Johns Hopkins experiments with psilocybin. It’s again, a once in a lifetime single dose of psilocybin [that] seems to result in these profound, mystical transformations in people; including atheists, who will describe it as among the most meaningful experiences of their lives.”
“I think that there was a historical Jesus, and I think that we have these relatively conflicting accounts of what he was and what the message was in the canonical gospels that have come down to us. But we have these other gospels and this Gnostic literature that didn’t make it in The Bible, and the gospel of Mary Magdalene. And what comes across to me, time and again, are people trying to find ecstasy, people looking for communion with Jesus. And again, you don’t have to look off into all this esoteric stuff just to focus on the very simple proposition that the Eucharist is an immortality potion, plain and simple.”
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, the typical Solidarity Fridays format is switched up again, this time with Joe interviewing podcast host and psychiatrist specializing in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, Craig Heacock.
Will Hall's 2 recent SF episodes spurred a lot of conversation, and led to Heacock reaching out to Psychedelics Today to counter some of Hall's points, and stand up a bit on behalf of psychiatry. He feels that while psychiatry isn't perfect, saying to replace it isn't helpful, and doesn't feel that anyone in psychiatry is saying a pill will fix anything, but rather, that if psychedelics can help people get in touch with buried trauma (something that typically takes a lot of time and relationship/trust-building and often still doesn't work), then shouldn't we not only be treating them like medicine, but also learning as much as we possibly can about them?
He points out some of the most obvious flaws with our model of psychiatry (and how we deal with mental health in general), discusses the barriers stopping physicians from learning more about ketamine, looks at the "spiritual emergency vs. psychotic break" argument from a different perspective, talks about what he sees in his practice and how much ketamine has helped his clients, and really brings home one of Will Hall's main points from a different perspective- while Hall talked about how science isn't always the answer because of how much nuance there is from person to person, he points out the amount of nuance in how mental health physicians treat clients, how clients arrived at their mental state in the first place, and how differently they respond, both with or without psychedelics.
Whether you felt Will Hall brought a lot of interesting ideas to the table or hated those episodes, this is the yin to those episodes' yang.
“I think a lot of psychiatrists are just trying to keep their head above water, which, I think, they would much more enjoyably keep their head above water if they would use ketamine in their practices.”
“We may never understand the mind-brain connection fully, but don’t we want to try?”
“We’re finding with ayahuasca work (a lot of psychedelic work) that some people are going to these sessions and their conscious brain is saying ‘oh yea, there’s no trauma,’ and we’re finding out that there’s some serious trauma that’s just underneath the surface. And again, if we don’t know that, how can we get to the roots of anything? ...Almost like we use a CT scan to see what’s happening in your innermost self, it’d be interesting to think of using psychedelics as sort of a psychological diagnostic tool to say: 'Is there trauma in there?'”
“When Will is saying, ‘Why are we trying to address trauma with a pill?’ I don’t think any of us are. I don’t think anybody on the MAPS study or I don’t know, people in the psilocybin studies- I really don’t think anybody is thinking, 'Ooo we’re going to fix PTSD with psilocybin!' or 'We’re going to fix trauma with this 150 mg MDMA capsule!’ Nobody’s thinking that. What we’re thinking is: this is a catalyst, [and] resources are limited. ...We need to get in there quickly and get working on this, and that’s what’s so exciting to me about psychedelics coming online with mental health, is that we can get down to business quickly and not have to spend so much time trying to get past these defenses.”
“Capitalism is messy and psychiatry is messy and psychedelics are messy and people are messy, and isn’t that ok? Can’t we just accept that and not default to this sort of pan-negativism and finger-pointing and blaming? Because, again, we’re all on the same team. We want the same thing. We want people to thrive and we want to dial down psychological despair as much as we can.”
In this episode, Joe interviews Psychedelics Today's first 3-time guest, Dena Justice of the Ecstatic Collective.
They discuss the ins and outs of something we're all too familiar with: anxiety. They talk about how Western society's lack of community and focus on doing things yourself (and not asking for help) mixed with a weird pride in being overworked and stressed has created a world where we all deal with daily anxiety, and deal with it differently. She first became addicted to exercise, but realized that learning to slow down, ignoring FOMO and embracing JOMO (the joy of missing out), having fewer goals in favor of more accomplishment, embracing play as a way of finding flow state, celebrating accomplishments instead of failures, and tuning her frequency towards happiness has helped her change her life drastically for the better.
She talks about more ways to combat anxiety, and her new program where you can sign up for these kinds of tips and tricks to be emailed to you on a regular basis (sign up here). She is also offering a valuable discounted bundle of courses in partnership with Psychedelics Today, which includes 2 Ecstatic Collective courses and 2 Psychedelics Today courses.
“The best thing you can do is learn to be uncomfortable.”
“Talking about playful things is just tapping into the inner child inside of us, giving ourselves permission to play. Go to the playground. Ignore the sign that says ‘this playspace is designated for 12-year-olds and under.’ F that! Your tax dollars paid for that playground. Go play on that playground!”
“Look at all these non-ordinary states of consciousness and how they tie in here- meditation, breathwork, exercise, early childhood (because that’s pure receptivity), psychedelics, every single orgasm. ...Every single one of these things is putting us in flow state. It’s bringing us to the present moment, where anxiety cannot exist because we’re in the present. Anxiety is fear of the future, depression is being caught up on the past. ...but when we’re in the present, all of that goes away.”
“Email is a tool for efficiency, not necessarily effectiveness. What’s effective? Real communication. I think a lot of anxiety comes from the lack of true communication these days. ...7% of what our communication is is the actual words we say to each other. 55% is our physiology and 38% is our tonality. That means we’re losing 93% of our communication when we put it in an email or a text message or on social media.”
As a master manifester, Dena has created a beautiful life for herself. She been financially responsible since age 15 including putting herself through college, two masters degrees and purchasing her own home in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has made over $1M in her life through a fulfilling career as a facilitator, educator, trainer, mentor and coach working with thousands of people across the country. She loved her career, yet hit a point where she felt empty. Near the top of her career ladder, she was a classic case of a high performer and leader hitting burnout. She chose a powerful pivot out of her J-O-B and into her own business. Now, she helps other high performers who have hit burnout and are scared to admit they’ve hit a plateau or a wall. She helps them get the eff out of their own way and move to the next level to increase their impact so they feel fulfilled and inspired again, as well as helping them create more wealth and the relationships they want in their lives. She helps people experience new levels of success, increase/improve focus and performance, abolish FOMO, evolve communication skills, develop transformational leadership skills, create amazing relationships, increase financial abundance and live life on their own terms.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle review all of the big wins from the U.S. election, from Oregon decriminalizing drug possession and legalizing psilocybin therapy, to 4 states legalizing cannabis use for adults, to the most surprising (in terms of how far this movement has come), Washington D.C. decriminalizing plant medicines with an overwhelming 76% of voters in favor.
And they talk about the other side of this good- how Oregon memes show just how little the majority of people understand, how there are still huge issues with stigma, drug exceptionalism, and labeling, how liability and the rules of healthcare get in the way of compassion and humane treatment, and how those same issues will unfortunately extend into psychedelics.
They also do a brief deep dive into breathwork- its history, its various versions, its building blocks (accelerated breathing, evocative music, focused bodywork, group process, and safety), and the risks and likely loss in benefit in attempting to do this kind of work online.
And, lastly, exciting news: the next round of the live, 8-week (CE-approved) version of Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists will be starting up on January 7th, so sign up now!
“I remember just watching all of this stuff come in on election night and just thinking, ‘Wow, it feels like plants have really won the election here.’ ...All of the initiatives that were up there passed during this election cycle, which is pretty phenomenal and a huge kind of shift.” -Kyle
“These different institutions have different rules, different liabilities. Like, a VA doc is probably going to be a lot more protected than a private practice doc, but the VA doc is going to be on a lot tighter regulations on what they can do, just based on the healthcare system they’re in. It’s a complicated deal. I don’t envy doctors for having to be in that situation. It’s really not an easy job. And I know they’re doing the best they can; it’s just, you know, their rules get in the way of their compassion and interest in healing people sometimes.” -Joe
“I had and still have a ferocious case of ADD that’s never been diagnosed. I’ve been extraordinarily productive if I ever needed to use something like Adderall. It works great. But there’s so much stigma around saying something like that in the psychedelic world. We’re often a little too judgy, is kind of my position. ...There’s cases when it’s appropriate, there’s cases when it’s not appropriate, and as long as there’s informed consent and decent education, it should be up to the individuals, and we should stay the fuck out of people’s business.” -Joe
On breathwork: “It’s my favorite. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long that it’s my most comfortable, somehow least scary method of going inside and doing inner work, because I know I have this safe cultural container- a safe container with people I trust and love, and it’s always helpful and amazing. Even if I don’t get the experience I want, just being there in community is still medicine enough.” -Joe
In this episode, Joe interviews Ph.D., Professor at the University of Saskatchewan, and author specializing in the history of psychedelics and their relation to the medical industry, Erika Dyck.
Dyck talks about her interest in Canadian history and specifically Saskatchewan, which was the first jurisdiction in North America to elect a socialist government. She talks about how it was clear in the early days of governmental support that they were reaching out to people with bold ideas, leading to Humphry Osmand coming there in 1951 to commence research that he felt was being stifled in London.
They talk extensively about the work of Osmand and Abram Hoffer, early experiments with giving staff in mental hospitals LSD to encourage empathy toward patients, a hospital architect taking LSD and learning that tiled, checkerboard-esque floors may be a challenge to patients with depth perception issues, a “Hollywood hospital” where wealthy film stars were flown to deal with addiction largely in secret, the concept of having patients write out an autobiography before a medicine session in order to reflect back on their life afterward, Osmond's participation in a peyote ceremony and his subsequent report, why the Timothy Leary model of dropping out of the scientific/academic world isn't helpful, why time passed and changed public opinion have led to old research coming to light, and why it's more important to talk to people who aren't sold on psychedelics yet instead of those who are already bought in and live in our psychedelic bubble.
“Even people like Humphry Osmond or Abram Hoffer who were on the frontlines of that psychedelic heyday in the 1950s- they were quite careful (and obviously they were sort of practiced at this), but they were quite careful about how I might characterize their work with psychedelics, and they insisted that what they were doing was not unethical, they did not have money from the C.I.A., they had lots of checks and balances, and they were clearly responding to that very heavy reputation and characterization of psychedelics. And I reflect on that every once in a while, and wonder, ‘what would they would say today?’”
On Osmond and peyote: “It was the question of whether or not these chemicals and these rituals using chemicals should be allowed more broadly. And I think that the federal government in Canada was thinking that, again, this white-coated British guy would walk in and behave like the colonialist that they expected him to be, and come out and say ‘these are rotten ceremonies,’ but that was absolutely not who Humphry Osmond was. He participated fully. He chewed the buttons, he threw up, he participated in the feast afterwards, he participated in the drumming circle. ...So Osmond then made a statement (and he’s published about this in a variety of different places) saying this was an absolutely beautiful ceremony, it was absolutely sacred, it should be protected, it should be promoted, [and] people should be given access to peyote so that they continue this sacred ceremony. And the Canadian government was not impressed with this reaction.”
“Our governments are addicted to the war on drugs.”
“I think that part of what the psychedelic world needs to do, in my humble opinion, is to reach out and seek these kinds of bridges and these alliances, because I think that there’s a risk that we can just convince ourselves that psychedelics are good and that it won’t actually break through the psychedelic bubble, if you will, to convince regulators that in fact, there is real merit here. There’s still a sense that-- even just saying LSD- I gave a presentation last week to a group of retired physicians and these are people with medical training and who’ve spent their careers doing medical education and medical work, clinical work. And they’re like ‘oh, but LSD, that’s the one that fries your brain, right?’ I mean, these were disproven studies in the 70s, and yet it’s very interesting that that characterization is so strong.”
Erika Dyck is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Her work focuses on 20th century medical history, especially the history of psychedelics, psychiatry, eugenics and population control. Her books include Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (2008); Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice (2013); Managing Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada(2017); and she is editor of A Culture’s Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote and the Native American Church in Canada (2016) and co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (2018). She is a guest editor at the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. You can email her at Erika.firstname.lastname@example.org.
In today’s Solidarity Fridays episode, Joe and Kyle continue their conversation from last week with Will Hall: therapist, host of the Madness Radio podcast, author of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness, and previous psychiatric patient diagnosed with schizophrenia.
This week, Hall compares how the medical industry treats those seeking therapy and growth vs. how they treat the homeless and victims of sexual abuse, how the framework for mental disorders disrespects the individual, neoliberalism and why capitalism and the free market shouldn’t be the answer for everything, Grof's focus on etiology and why his model of spiritual emergence is problematic, the future of psychedelic advertising in a world where anything that can be sold will be sold, and the 3 biggest factors towards successful therapy.
And he focuses a lot on what we should be doing: creating and promoting individualized medicines and healing techniques over mass-produced Band-aid medicine, not reducing a difficult psychedelic experience to biology and instead focusing on getting to the root of what is causing the issue and working through it, not solely researching the effects of drugs, and most importantly, researching how people have bettered themselves without drugs- if the long-lasting effects of psychedelics and integration work are the catalyst for change, how can we get to those effects and integrations without the drug?
“Drugs are drugs. I don’t believe in psychedelic exceptionalism. I don’t believe in psychiatric drug exceptionalism. Drugs are drugs. There’s no exceptionalism for drugs. If they change your consciousness, they’re getting you high in one way or another, and that is what is either beneficial or nonbeneficial to you, based on your experience.”
“The people who are having successful treatment with MDMA psychotherapy- they aren’t just reporting ‘oh, my depression is down;’ they’re reporting all these wonderful benefits of MDMA. Why should we wait until you have a diagnosis of PTSD to give access to MDMA [to someone] if they want to experience those benefits as well? The people who are having the experiences of psychedelics are not having the experiences of disease-treatment, they’re having the experiences of psychedelics, which can be, for many people, very positive. So why are we gate-keeping the access? And if we don’t gate-keep the access, then we have to admit that, actually, it’s not a disease treatment; it’s actually something that many people find beneficial and some people don’t.”
“What is the commitment? Is the commitment to get psychedelic drugs accessible at all costs? And we’re going to lie, cheat, and steal our way to get there? Or is the commitment to trust that truth is the way? And if we just stick with the truth, that is how we change society?”
“I think you’re onto it. I mean, this is the key thing- psychedelics, in the best of contexts, is the pathway towards that. So why not study that? Why not research that? Why not invest the resources to exploring how we can create contexts for that which you’ve just described- create more spaces in society for successful encounters and engagements with openness, deeper relatedness, developing more trust, learning to communicate better, learning to form better community bonds, learning to develop our loyalties for each other, overcome our traumas together, tell our stories, overcome our shame, find ways that we can accept each other and support each other? That’s what we should be researching. That’s what we should be investigating, not psychedelic treatments that might have the effect of this, because this is what we’re really after.”
Will is a counselor and facilitator working with individuals, couples, families and groups via phone and web video (Zoom). He has taught and consulted on mental health, trauma, psychosis, medications, domestic violence, conflict resolution, and organizational development in more than 30 countries, and has been widely featured in the media for his advocacy efforts around mental health care. His work and learning arose from his experiences of recovery from madness, and today he is passionate about new visions of mind and what it means to be human.
In this episode, Joe interviews MD, attorney, host of the Plant Medicine podcast, and founder of the Psychedelic Medicine Association, Dr. Lynn Marie Morski.
She talks about her time working for the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and how her frustrations with not being able to recommend medicines she knew would help people led to her creating the Plant Medicine podcast, and how realizing that the podcast wasn't reaching enough doctors led to her creating the Psychedelic Medicine Association. She discusses their goal: to bring organizations, corporate entities, lawyers, and practitioners/therapists (really anyone in the medical field responsible for the wellbeing of another) together through forums and newsletters to bridge the enormous gap between those on the cutting edge of new medicines and modalities of healing and the more traditional doctors who don't know nearly enough about this emerging world.
She talks about her podcast and dedicating 4 full episodes to each drug, common misconceptions about doctors and healthcare, what it's like to be both a doctor and a lawyer, doctors who judge patients for using cannabis and the disservice that is, the complications of what comes after the FDA approves a drug, what’s necessary for getting psychedelics more into mainstream culture, and the silver lining that could come from COVID and COVID-related trauma.
“It should not be weighing job security vs. saving veterans’ lives, but that’s really the position a lot of us are put in, and I couldn’t take that anymore, and so I left the VA and made it my mission to undo the years of silence by speaking out a whole lot about it.”
“FDA approval, for example, of MDMA or psilocybin, is just step 1. What do you do when you’ve got a medicine now approved that doctors are afraid to recommend or prescribe because it came out of nowhere? They’re like, ‘Whoa, psychedelics were Schedule I and extremely dangerous and ‘Don’t do drugs!’ and now I’m supposed to be giving it to a patient?’ That is a barrier.”
“We’ve known about the 22 veteran suicides, and somehow, still, things haven’t gotten done in mental health. Maybe because, again, that’s ‘other.’ We have this whole issue with others, right? ‘That’s happening to these other people over here.’ The pandemic is one of the first things in... ever that has happened to everybody. It’s not ‘Oh, only the poor get this.’ Nope. Poor and rich. Tom Hanks got it right off the bat. Everybody’s getting it. Prime Ministers get it. And a lot of people are suffering the same mental health issues from the quarantine and so, it’s no longer where we can say ‘Oh, mental health struggles are for others.’ This has hit everybody. ...The suicide rate is rising for everybody. Mental health issues are rising for everybody. Is this the tipping point where the mental health system looks around and says ‘Ok, our tools aren’t sufficient. Can we start looking at these other modalities, including psychedelics, because we’ve got a second epidemic on our hands here?’”
“It should be absolutely crucial for anybody on the front lines of patient care to know at least the basics of these medicines. We’re not trying to get doctors to all want to do psychedelic medicine at all. That’s not our goal. If people learn about it and get excited and want to get trained and do that? Fantastic. But we just want a basic level of knowledge, and like you said, if just 20% of doctors knew, that’d be great. And then those doctors can talk to their colleagues in other areas. But that’s essentially the way that we’re impressing it on people: ‘This is coming. You, as a professional responsible for other people’s health need to educate yourself on this.’”