022: Response to A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin by Joe

This is Entheogen. Talk about tools for generating the divine within.

Today is January 7, 2016, and we are discussing A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin.

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We discussed this film and interviewed its producer, Robert Barnhart back in August 2015 before the film’s release. Since then, the film has been released and you can rent or buy it on online. We’ve all had a chance to watch it again and we wanted to reflect on our impressions of the film.

We’ll start with a quote from Alex Grey:

"A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin puts an original face on psychedelics. Not the typical faces in the media of delusional drop-outs associated with drugs, but the faces of normal Americans, some suffering from the final stages of terminal cancer. After one dose of psilocybin the face of joy, relief and peace is nothing short of miraculous. A medical mystical miracle is in our midst, and this film beautifully describes the facts! Bravo to Robert Barnhart and all the production team, the courageous chemists, doctors and patients who are helping our society re-evaluate Psilocybin as a medicine for the Soul." ~Alex Grey

Hofmann discovered LSD, creating the modern psychedelic movement; not many people know he also isolated and synthesized psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms.

Shutting down of research. Schedule 1. “No medicinal value, addictive”

Kevin purports that Maria Sabina had given Albert Hofmann an “academic boner” over his successful synthesis of the active alkaloid in her magic mushrooms, psilocybin.

“Throughout history, people have been able to have this mystical experience. The drug is a reliable way of getting one, but it's not about the drug, it's about the experience.” - Anthony Bossis

Ann Levy’s son’s eulogy for her

How does the experience help you confront death?

“We’re all star stuff.” - Carl Sagan

Bill Richards: 6 basic categories of a "core religious experience":
1. Unity
2. Transcendence of time and space
3. Noetic / intuitive knowledge
4. Sense of sacredness / awesomeness
5. Deeply felt positive mood / joy / peace / love
6. Ineffability / paradoxicality (difficult to put into words)

Psilocybin and LSD as aphrodisiacs

Why not? Why can’t we provide the relief these treatments offer?

Brad: “word.”

Wikipedia: List of Schedule I drugs and Schedule II drugs

Rent or buy the film on Vimeo

When you rent you can also watch DMT The Spirit Molecule

The film’s website has a convenient “who’s who” of psychedelic researchers on the participants tab, with names, titles and photos, and a short bio when clicked

021: Psychedelic First Aid with Special Guest, Sara Gael of MAPS and the Zendo Project by Joe

This is Entheogen. Talk about tools for generating the divine within.

Today is December 14th, 2015, and we are discussing the Zendo Project with special guest, Sara Gael, Harm Reduction Coordinator for MAPS.

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Our guest, Sara Gael, has been involved with the Zendo Project since its inception in 2012. Since then she has helped coordinate harm reduction services at festivals all over the world including Burning Man, Afrika Burn, Envision Festival, and Lightning in a Bottle. She is also an intern investigator in the Boulder, Colorado Phase II Clinical Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy. Sara works as a psychotherapist in private practice and received her Master’s in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University.


  • What is the Zendo Project?

  • Zendo is billed as Psychedelic First Aid for Festivals & Events: “The Zendo Project provides a supportive environment and specialized care designed to transform difficult psychedelic experiences into valuable learning opportunities, and even potentially offer healing and growth. In turn, our work reduces the number of drug-related hospitalizations and arrests.”

  • Safe Space

  • Talk through, not down

  • Sitting, not guiding

  • Difficult is not bad

  • What type of training does the “sitter” or “facilitator” receive?

  • Benefits of human contact, touch

  • How to volunteer with Zendo

    • Volunteers are needed for Burning Man, Afrika Burn, other festivals

  • Sara discusses experience in the field at Burning Man, BOOM, Cannabis Cup, etc.

  • How does Zendo work with medical and other support services

    • KosmiCare at BOOM in Portugal, where drugs are decriminalized, provides a glimpse of a post-prohibition future: their efforts are sponsored by the local government and festival, and they include onsite testing of pills.

    • Erowid Center helps bridge the gap with which features pill testing results database, in addition to the psychoactive vaults of

  • What’s the deal with folk remedies (bananas, oranges?)

  • Nice things that smell good, art supplies, beautiful space, pillows, blankets, tea – your Psychedelic Grandma’s house


017: Modern Shamanism by Joe

This is Entheogen. We talk about tools for generating the divine within. It's October 15, 2015. We're talking about Modern Shamanism with special guest, Micah.

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This episode we are grateful to be joined by special guest, Micah, to discuss the use of Ayahuasca in a modern context, as well as in the traditional setting.


Erowid Ayahuasca Vault: Basics


- the traditional preparation vs. a chemical extraction

- the traditional context vs. modern comforts

- shaman vs. therapist

- jungle fauna, icaros vs. modern metaphors and music

- other psychoactive plant medicine: tobacco, chocolate/cacao, wine, sassafras, black pepper

- creating a container for deep experience


Santo Daime

União do Vegetal

Controversy Brews Over Church's Hallucinogenic Tea Ritual

013: Interview with Robert J. Barnhart about his new film, A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin by Joe

This is Entheogen. We talk about tools for generating the divine within. It's August 21, 2015. We're talking about A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin with Robert J. Barnhart.

We are honored to be joined by Robert J. Barnhart, producer of A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin.

For historical context, we review the groundwork laid in the 1980's by organizations such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and Heffter Research Institute. Robert serves on the Boards of Directors of both organizations.

Basic research began as early as the 1940's and continued through the '50's and '60's, until Nixon's Drug Control Act of 1970 when the highly promising research was extinguished. In the words of Roland Griffiths, "Can you think of another area of science regarded as so dangerous and taboo that all research gets shut down for decades? It’s unprecedented in modern science."

Only as recently as in the last decade, thanks entirely to private fundraising by organizations like MAPS and Heffter, researchers have completed Phase I and Phase II studies. Plans for Phase III trials are on the horizon, and by some predictions, entheogens like psilocybin could be rescheduled to Schedule II (from Schedule I) perhaps as soon as 2020.

At $10/pill an effective one-time-dose treatment like an entheogen might not be economically feasible or lucrative enough for today's pharmaceutical companies to pursue taking to market. But what about regular, ongoing "microdosing" of something like LSD? And moreover, the potentially vast application of entheogens toward the "betterment of well people" (in the words of Bob Jesse) would seem to be highly interesting to a pharmaceutical company.

In addition to supporting MAPS and Heffter, Robert recommends the Beckley Foundation in England. Also, write to Congress and talk to people about your own entheogenic experiences.

Bonus: Robert recounts the story of how his would-be high school film project about the psychedelic experience may have serendipitously inspired his new film.

For more about the studies, check out Anthroposophia: A different kind of love story: One woman's psilocybin experience by Sandy Lundahl.

Thanks again to Robert Barnhart for joining us. Stay tuned for the release of A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin.

011: Enduring Personality Changes from Entheogens by Joe

This is Entheogen: three human beings discussing generating the divine within while still being human beings. In this episode, recorded on April 20, 2015, we discuss Enduring Personality Changes from Entheogens.

This show we are joined by special guest, Ingo, to explore the topic of how psychedelics can change one's personality.

Ingo explains how in traditional psychology, one's personality typically doesn't change after the age of 30 years. And yet in his experience, he has grown more as a person since he began using psychedelics than ever before.

How does a psychedelic experience change one's personality? In the peak entheogenic experience? During the afterglow? Cumulatively over the years?

Ingo reminds us of the Roland Griffiths we study discussed in Entheogen 008: The Trip Treatment.

How psychedelics reintroduce us to the joy, wonder, and awe of a child's perspective.

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