To Possible Futures…

David A. Hardy

An Introduction:

Well, here we are. Oregon saw an interesting year, with some good, some bad. I am going to concentrate on the good. The big one for me, was seeing all manner of drugs decriminalized.(see above!) (microdosing, dosing, is legal!) Heavens, sane drug policies. Changes can happen.
On the personal front, we are well. Missing folks, work etc., yet the days are filled somehow with wonderful times. Mary and I have found a quiet and beautiful place together, I have no regrets in the days and nights that have passed. Lots of love, laughter, good moments. We will be glad when the present situation eases. Oh, there will be parties!
I am going to skip links on this entry, there is enough here to digest without me adding extraneous information flow.

Enjoy Your Visit!
On The Menu:
On Missing Blog Post & Other Phenomena
Radio EarthRites Updates
Gil Scott-Heron “Gun”
The Poetry of Ursula Le Guin
The White Trout
Gil Scott-Heron “Work For Peace”
On Missing Blog Post & Other Phenomena:
The last few months has been a remarkable ride.

Along the way, by concentrating on the media circus, I short circuited the creative part of my being by indulging the paranoid bit(s) in my mind.  More than indulged, it took root, grew, blossomed… and withered away. Finally.  (I hope)

I was going to write about the events in the body politics of the last few months, but truly I am done with it at this point. That blog post just sat there waiting to be done, but it never came to fruition. I have driven friends crazy with my postings from Reddit and other sources. I have been swimming in the tides of various rightwing political sites trying to figure out what was happening. I am no closer than when I started, must give it all a great rest

I’ve decided to return to source.  Source for me is Art, Poetry, and living an Authentic Life as possible.  Sometimes I achieve it, other times, not.  Not for lack of trying, I assure you. I have to say that on occasion I have been attending an online Zendo on Wednesdays, which has helped with centering. Wood working has helped. Getting Radio EarthRites going with 10gb of storage rather than 2gb. Returning to the publishing. Restoring focus, on the real.

I do have great concerns for the US, and the world situation, but my dwelling on it doesn’t solve it.  People have enough on their plate with the Virus, and the chaos that has swirled around us all as of late. I will not add to it.

I am here to speak if I can, for possible futures. We all are I feel, each individuation of being. We have lots to do to secure the world now, and I do have that rare feeling of presque vu, that tingling of something just beyond, waiting that is now coursing through me at the present.  There are visions I must attend to, and try to make them manifest.

I would like to apologize to those who I bombarded with endless links, pictures, etc. Wanting connection, in a disconnected time.

Much Love,
Radio EarthRites Updates:
Well, we have taken the plunge and upgraded the server at the provider going from 2gb of online material to 10gb.  Quite excited about this! It makes it easier to work with, and to grow shows, etc. Still trying to figure out how to do a schedule with WP without tearing my hair out.
The first of the Spoken Word shows is up, Tuesdays & Fridays, “Terence Incognita”. This will be an ongoing service. Terence delivers a brilliant mélange of language, concept and possible futures. Still a heady mix all these years on.
Expect Poetry, Storytelling, Philosophy as well. Stay Tuned!

Terence Incognita

Gil was always a great inspiration. I started listening to his works over a half century ago.  His political observations, stories, chants, dreams informed my life over decades. I was going to write about the current times, and use his works to illustrate some of my parallel thoughts & observations. The gun thing is a uniquely American vision.  The US was actually born out of the attempted seizure of weapons from militias in Massachusetts at Lexington & Concord.  Gil addresses some of this all very brilliantly in the dialogue before the song, and within it as well…
Gil Scott Heron: Gun

The Poetry of Ursula Le Guin

I first came across her works in the late 60s early 70s. Her take on gender roles and on anarchist theory informed my life from then on. The first book of hers that I recall reading was, “The Left Hand of Darkness”. It was an interesting tale of sexuality and fluid gender roles.  I think I was about 19 when I read it.  Profound, and deeply human, it is a great work.  She could of died right after publishing it, and her place would of still been cemented in the Pantheon of American Literature.  Yet, her influence on my life didn’t stop there.

When I reached the age of 25-26, I found her book, “The Dispossessed”. This is a tale of Anarchism, free will, sacrifice & conscience.  I read it in just under two days.  I wept after I read it, as it incapsulated much of what had been going on inside of my mind regarding my pov around what I wanted for the world, and myself.  It was shattering in that I had no idea that others had similar thoughts. I was ignorant of Anarchist theory, it wasn’t like it was taught in school, or readily available in book stores.  This of course was pre-public internet. The concept of no hierarchies, the concept of gifting the world your attention, life, talents was a breath of fresh air.  I had no idea that such freedom could exist, even if just in theory.

I was always going to write her and thank her for the influences that she had on the various aspects of my life. Of course as I usually do I put it off thinking everyone immortal to some degree or another.

On one spring afternoon on Hawthorne boulevard in Portland at the Fred Meyers store Mary &  I were sitting upstairs by the escalators  checking out the yard furniture and dreaming of what we could do with what was available. Suddenly Ursula and her husband came up the escalator heading to the parking lot, and my mouth dropped  as she was rushing him out the door telling her husband to hurry they had other things to do and I sat there in absolute heroine worship mode. I thought to get up, and go thank her for her works, but I didn’t, not wanting to intrude on her day.

I can name a few writers/poets who have influenced me; Robert Graves, J.R.R.R Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, Ibn Arabi, William Butler Yeats, Ray Bradbury to name but a few.  Their books, writings, poetry have all added to my life over the years.

I am grateful for Ursula’s place in my literary world.  Here are a few poems of hers, an area I haven’t explored enough.

The Poetry…

Six Quatrains


gold of amber
red of ember
brown of umber
all September


Over the bright shallows
now no flights of swallows.
Leaves of the sheltering willow
dangle thin and yellow.


At four in the morning the west wind
moved in the leaves of the beech tree
with a long rush and patter of water,
first wave of the dark tide coming in.


On the longest night of all the year
in the forests up the hill,
the little owl spoke soft and clear
to bid the night be longer still.


are soft and restless
in their leafy garments
that rustle and sway
making every moment movement.


The dogwood cowered under the thunder
and the lilacs burned like light itself
against the storm-black sky until the hail
whitened the grass with petals.
Come to Dust

Spirit, rehearse the journeys of the body
that are to come, the motions
of the matter that held you.
Rise up in the smoke of palo santo.
Fall to the earth in the falling rain.
Sink in, sink down to the farthest roots.
Mount slowly in the rising sap
to the branches, the crown, the leaf-tips.
Come down to earth as leaves in autumn
to lie in the patient rot of winter.
Rise again in spring’s green fountains.
Drift in sunlight with the sacred pollen
to fall in blessing.

All earth’s dust
has been life, held soul, is holy.

I’m half unseen,
to me, my skin
a screen
to all within.
My eyes can see a star,
but not my mind.
The I think, the more
I am unfamiliar.
Insight is half blind
and surface-bounded.
Where is my core?
What inwardnesses are
unseen, unsounded?

Mother rain, manifold, measureless,
falling on fallow, on field and forest,
on house-roof, low hovel, high tower,
downwelling waters all-washing, wider
than cities, softer than sisterhood, vaster
than countrysides, calming, recalling:
return to us, teaching our troubled
souls in your ceaseless descent
to fall, to be fellow, to feel to the root,
to sink in, to heal, to sweeten the sea.

High Desert

Out here, there is another way to be.
There is a rising brightness in the rock,
a singing in the silence of the tree.
Something is always moving, running free,
as quick and still as quail move in a flock.
The hills out here know a hard way to be.
I have to listen for it patiently:
a drumming canter slowing to a walk,
a flutter in the silence of a tree.
The owl’s call from the rimrock changes key.
What door will open to the flicker’s knock?
Out here there is another way to be,
described by the high circles of a hawk
above what hides in silence in the tree.
The cottonwoods in their simplicity
talk softly on, as hidden waters talk,
an almost silent singing in the tree
that says, here is another way to be.
How it Seems to Me

In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free anc can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.
An Irish Fairy Tale… in the vernacular. 

The White Trout – P J Lynch

The White Trout; A Legend of Cong
BY S. Lover
There was wanst upon a time, long ago, a beautiful lady that lived in a castle upon the lake beyant, and they say she was promised to a king’s son, and they war to be married, when all of a sudden he was murthered, the crathur (Lord help us), and threwn into the lake above, and so, of course, he couldn’t keep his promise to the fair lady–and more’s the pity.

Well, the story goes that she went out iv her mind, bekase av loosin’ the king’s son–for she was tendher-hearted, God help her, like the rest iv us!–and pined away after him, until at last, no one about seen her, good or bad; and the story wint that the fairies took her away.

Well, sir, in coarse a’ time, the White Throut, God bless it, was seen in the sthrame beyant, and sure the people didn’t know what to think av the crathur, seein’ as how a white throut was never heard av afar, nor since; and years upon years the throut was there, just where you seen it this blessed minit, longer nor I can tell–aye throth, and beyant the memory a’ th’ ouldest in the village.

At last the people began to think it must be a fairy; for what else could it be?–and no hurt nor harm was iver put an the white throut, until some wicked sinners of sojers kem to these parts, and laughed at all the people, and gibed and jeered them for thinkin’ a’ the likes; and one a’ them in partic’lar (bad luck to him; God forgi’ me for saying it!) swore he’d catch the throut and ate it for his dinner–the blackguard!

Well, what would you think o’ the villainy of the sojer? Sure enough he catch the throut, and away wid him home, and puts an the fryin’-pan, and into it he pitches the purty little thing. The throut squeeled all as one as a christian crathur, and, my dear, you’d think the sojer id split his sides laughin’–for he was a harden’d villain; and when he thought one side was done, he turns it over to fly the other; and, what would you think, but the divil a taste of a burn was an it all at all; and sure the sojer thought it was a quare throut that could not be briled. “But,” says he, ‘I’ll give it another turn by-and-by,” little thinkin’ what was in store for him, the haythen.

Well, when he thought that side was done he turns it agin, and lo and behould you, the divil a taste more done that side was nor the other. “Bad luck to me,” says the sojer, “but that bates the world,” says he; “but I’ll thry you agin, my darlint,” says he, “as cunnin’ as you think yourself;” and so with that he turns it over, but not a sign of the fire was on the purty throut. “Well,” says the desperate villain–(for sure, sir, only he was a desperate villain entirely, he might know he was doing a wrong thing, seein’ that all his endeavours was no good)–“Well,” says he, “my jolly little throut, maybe you’re fried enough, though you don’t seem over well dress’d; but you may be better than you look, like a singed cat, and a tit-bit afther all,” says he; and with that he ups with his knife and fork to taste a piece a’ the throut; but, my jew’l, the minit he puts his knife into the fish, there was a murtherin’ screech, that you’d think the life id lave you if you hurd it, and away jumps the throut out av the fryin’-pan into the middle a’ the flure; and an the spot where it fell, up riz a lovely lady–the beautifullest crathur that eyes ever seen, dressed in white, and a band a’ goold in her hair, and a sthrame a’ blood runnin’ down her arm.

“Look where you cut me, you villain,” says she, and she held out her arm to him–and, my dear, he thought the sight id lave his eyes.

“Couldn’t you lave me cool and comfortable in the river where you snared me, and not disturb me in my duty?” says she.

Well, he thrimbled like a dog in a wet sack, and at last he stammered out somethin’, and begged for his life, and ax’d her ladyship’s pardin, and said he didn’t know she was on duty, or he was too good a sojer not to know betther nor to meddle wid her.

“I was on duty, then,” says the lady; “I was watchin’ for my true love that is comin’ by wather to me,” says she, “an’ if he comes while I’m away, an’ that I miss iv him, I’ll turn you into a pinkeen, and I’ll hunt you up and down for evermore, while grass grows or wather runs.”

Well the sojer thought the life id lave him, at the thoughts iv his bein’ turned into a pinkeen, and begged for mercy; and with that says the lady–

“Renounce your evil coorses,” says she, “you villain, or you’ll repint it too late; be a good man for the futhur, and go to your duty 1 reg’lar, and now,” says she, “take me back and put me into the river again, where you found me.”

“Oh, my lady,” says the sojer, “how could I have the heart to drownd a beautiful lady like you?”

But before he could say another word, the lady was vanished, and there he saw the little throut an the ground. Well he put it in a clean plate, and away he runs for the bare life, for fear her lover would come while she was away; and he run, and he run, even till he came to the cave agin, and threw the throut into the river. The minit he did, the wather was as red as blood for a little while, by rayson av the cut, I suppose, until the sthrame washed the stain away; and to this day there’s a little red mark an the throut’s side, where it was cut. 2

Well, sir, from that day out the sojer was an altered man, and reformed his ways, and went to his duty reg’lar, and fasted three times a-week–though it was never fish he tuk an fastin’ days, for afther the fright he got, fish id never rest an his stomach–savin’ your presence.

But anyhow, he was an altered man, as I said before, and in coorse o’ time he left the army, and turned hermit at last; and they say he used to pray evermore for the soul of the White Throut.

[These trout stories are common all over Ireland. Many holy wells are haunted by such blessed trout. There is a trout in a well on the border of Lough Gill, Sligo, that some paganish person put once on the gridiron. It carries the marks to this day. Long ago, the saint who sanctified the well put that trout there. Nowadays it is only visible to the pious, who have done due penance.]
Another of Gil’s works that I find pertinent to our times, timeless his work truly is.
Gil Scott Heron: Work For Peace

No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.
Francis of Assisi

St. Lepus In The Gardens Of Paradise

The Bardo Bop

Everybody Is Doin'”The Bardo Bop”

A musical magickal release to coincide with the full moon…
The Ritual/Show Starts 2:05 PCT. October 1st
Hendrix Remixes, Kush, Grails, Morphine, The Limanas, ReStoned, Om, and much, much more!
9 plus hours of music! #internetradio #chill #psychedelic

The Spilled Cup

The Spilled Cup:
The Universe: His wine cellar;
the atom’s heart: His measuring cup.
Intellect is drunk, earth drunk, sky drunk
heaven perplexed with Him, restlessly seeking,
Love in its heart, hoping at least
for a single whiff of the fragrance
of that wine, that clear wine the angels drank
from that immaterial pot, a sip of the dregs-
the rest poured out upon the dust:
one sip, and the Elements whirl in drunken dance
falling now into water, now in blazing fire.
And from the smell of that spilled cup
man rises from the dust and soars to heaven.
– Mahmud Shabestari

Berber – Gwyllm

A Brief Introduction:

Gwyllm Speaking @ Exploring Psychedelics

Well it has been a heck of a month and especially this last week…. We were under orders for possible evacuation for the last five days due to fires in Oregon which thankfully now have been rescinded as the fires are retreating to the south. One of my favorite towns, Estacada is still under threat 16 miles to the east of us. Much of the central Cascades have been burned including a good part of Brietenbush (a warm springs retreat) in the Beachie Fire. The road from Estacada down to Detroit Lake (past Brietenbush) is one of my favorite drives, it’s been reduced to cinders if reports are correct.

Currently we are sheltering at home inside due to abnormally bad air from the smoke. Portland metro last night and this morning had the worst air worldwide according to news reports.
I have been working on this entry for a few weeks (since August 13th) and it is out now only because I’m making an effort to get work done. With all of the health crisis and political mess as of late, I’ve had a hard time concentrating on the creative side of my nature being easily distracted. I am at the present constructing the 11th edition of The Invisible College though, so I have that going for me. 😉
With all of the social unrest, I’ve been researching the movement of Turkish protesters who’ve been using silent nonviolent demonstrations since 2013. I believe this form of protest is solidly grounded in Ahimsa; and maybe a model for going forward to implement the societal changes that are long overdue. It seems to me that there are a lot of great ideas coming from the younger generations;  and this of course is not unlike what has transpired for time out of mind. The youth is ever forward thinking as they are going to be living in the world that many of us will soon leave behind. Truly, we must find ways to make the future bearable for our young ones, and those who we will never know.

If I may wax metaphysical for a moment, I believe we’ve possibly incarnated in this period for a reason. Perhaps to be agents of change for the preservation of our families, our friends, our communities and the greater world. If we are to get through the next few years and have the species and planet survive, we are going to have to up our game and involvement with all that is transpiring.
Last week I turned 69 years old which to me is a miracle as I hadn’t expected to live much past 30. I have lived a blessed life in so many ways with great friends, lovers, family and my beloved wife Mary most of all. We had a great weekend, with a social distancing birthday with Rowan, his beloved Suzanne, and her parents, Rick & Dana.

I want to thank you all for sticking with me on this journey over the last couple of decades online, and for those who have known me previous to my online incarnation. I plan to stay for the duration, or at least until I have done all that I have come for, which still looks like a huge list.

May the Bodhisattva be made evident in all of us.
On The Menu:
The Links
Tom Beckett: In Memory
The Perfect Face Of The Beloved
The Links:
Neanderthal Flute!
America Dying?
Don’t Call Donald Names!
The Secret Under Arthur’s Seat…
Lately, as perhaps some of you as well, I have had an up swelling of dream activity. My nights are filled with activity that I can only hope to mirror in my day time. Some of the dreams stick with me, instead of disappearing with the morning light. This dream, in particular:

First Dream: Printing
A couple of months back, I dreamed I was in my studio, working on a book. I was printing on parchment, or vellum using the serigraph/silkscreen method. The ink was made of platinum, or silver. You had to hold the printed page up to catch it in the right light. In the dream, it was the penultimate art piece of my life… in the dream. This of course is all open to interpretation.  Perhaps it reveals the fact that I miss working with serigraphic work, or that there is a piece of art yet to come, or there is a process in motion with my inner life?

The jury is still out on that.  It has resurfaced again and again though in my thoughts, so I am saying process at this point.

Second Dream: Salvia
Another dream I had came after I gave my talk on salvia for the Portland Psychedelic Society.

It has been a while since I accessed the salvia space and this dream took me by surprise. She had been on my mind, but it didn’t register just how deeply those thoughts were, and what the thoughts were stirring up.

In preparing for the talk I had recently taken the salvia plants out of their pots and put them into soil.  They’ve had a hard time the last couple of years (cold winters, spider mites, and I had a bit of the guilts going on regarding my neglect of an ally that I love. They responded immediately perking up immensely and  growing like mad. Talking to them and fussing over them as well seems to grow the bond that I had let slip.

A bit of background: During the last couple of years I had stepped back from coddling and maintaining my teacher plants as family health issues to deal with along with business, art and publishing projects were demanding more of my time. I’d lost touch with getting my hands into the dirt as well as paying deep attention. to my green charges.

Azure – Gwyllm

Onto the dream:  The dream that I had regarding salvia started around 12:30. I know this as I had woken up just at the beginning and realized what I was dreaming about or with I might say (salvia). In the dream salvia was growing through me around me in my mind and spirit. The dialog went back and forth. It was highly ecstatic with a great sense of reconnection and joy. The dream came in waves all night and when I woke up at 6:30 the next morning I was still in that space. As I awoke I could feel Salvia’s tendrils still around me, in my head, my body, my mind.

It was like spending a long night with a friend talking about all kinds of subjects and sharing the news with each other. This is a pretty inadequate vision of what transpired, as the whole experience was transformative on multiple layers.

Tom Beckett – In Memory
“No self is of itself alone.” – Erwin Schrödinger

Tom, with his sons Dylan & Stryder At DaVinci Middle School.

This is a memorial for my friend Tom who took his life in May.  He was in his early 50’s, a Gulf War Veteran, an amazing man, teacher (who taught my son in Middle School), someone I counseled over the years. His passing has left a huge hole in our community. I have been mulling this over for a couple of months, and it is not an easy one…

I first met Tom at DaVinci Middle School (which was an art’s magnet School) where Rowan was attending.  Tom became the theater teacher for DaVinci middle School in Rowan’s 2nd year there.

Tom was perhaps one of the most enthusiastic educators’ I ever had the chance to communicate with. All of the students seemed enthralled with him. His teaching methods were incredibly engaging and effective. I would often come to the rehearsals as I volunteered for construction on scrims and various aspects of the sets.

Tom touched the hearts and minds of his students making each one of them understand that they were an important part of theatre production no matter what their role was. He didn’t play favorites like one would see in the usual theatre department.

He would draw out the innate talent of the cast and crew and each of the productions I witnessed over the years. There was never a dull moment in plays or rehearsals. He actively sought out youngsters opinions, and listened carefully and respectively never dismissing anyone’s input. He had a rare and wonderful talent being present with his students.

(He was also an avid dungeons & dragons player a great dungeon master as well which was right up the alley of Rowan and his friends.)

Tom transferred to Rowan’s High School after Rowan graduated. Rowan helped Tom on projects there, as he had at DaVinci after he moved on to High School. Their collaboration went on for several years.

Tom’s popularity did not extend to the administration of Cleveland HS, or to the district. He pushed for greater funding for his department as well as safety and other upgrades to the theater facilities.

About 8 years ago, he came to me and talked about wanting change… at that point he said he wanted out from the public school system. We had many talks along this line, and I urged him to make a leap, but he held back. This was one of many conversations that we had, and not the only one on the subject of him leaving traditional teaching.

On occasion people do come to talk with me on a variety of subjects and ideas. Tom felt comfortable with me, and talking with him was never a burden. Quite the opposite, we would laugh often and frequently. He was so engaging.

As I mentioned previously, Tom was a veteran of the Gulf War. From what I could tell, he was dealing with PTSD; from a rough  upbringing to a rough little war, to losing a job he loved and more.  Even with his troubles his thoughts were about others, and the community of Portland that we both shared a love of…. Frequently we talked about the fascist marching in our streets, and discussed how we as older guys could help protect our town from what we both knew was/is coming.

All the different elements that compose our life stories add up to make us who we are and how we react to the world for good or ill. Tom was no different.

In my memories, we still run into each other at demonstrations, he with his veteran group, me with the raggle-taggle family of friends and anarchist. He came to our Solstice Gatherings, bringing a huge bundle of happiness and energy. His former students would all flock to him, and they would talk for hours. It was a joy to see.

The last time I saw Tom was 3 days before he walked into the ocean and didn’t come back. He and I sat outside talking for 4 hours about his future plans… he gave me a hint of what he was thinking of doing in his conversation with me but I didn’t pick up on it. It was a what if statement…  We made plans for the coming month to prep him for his new plans of moving up to Alaska to teach. I missed his hint. Jesus. He left behind a widow and 2 sons.

As I mentioned, he left a wide community gutted and grieving for the loss of him. We all still feel it.

These are hard times, and I have come to believe we need hard times to hone, and sharpen our minds. I sure wish he had stayed. I have been trying to free my friend in my mind.  It is harder for my son and his friends.  This is the first suicide for them all.

Tom, we miss you.


Mahmud Shabestari’s Tomb

Mahmud Shabestari -The Perfect Face Of The Beloved 

The Eye and The Lip
What is the nature of the eye and the lip?
Let us consider.

Coquettish and intoxicating glances shine from His eye.
The essence of existence issues from His ruby lip.
Hearts burn with desire because of His eye,
And are healed again by the smile of His lip.

Because of His eye hearts are aching and drunken.
His ruby lip gives soul-garments to men.
His eye does not perceive this visible world,
Yet often His lip quivers with compassion.

Sometimes He charms us with a touch of humanity,
And gives help to the despairing.
It is His smile that gives life to man’s water and clay;
It is His breath that opens heaven’s gate for us.
A corn-baited snare is each glance of that eye,
And a wine-shop lurks in each corner.

When He frowns the wide world is laid waste,
But is restored every moment by His kiss.
Our blood is at fever point because of His eye,
Our souls demented because of His lip.

How He has despoiled our hearts by a frown!
How He has uplifted our souls by a smile!
If you ask of Him an embrace,
His eye will say “Yea,” His lip “Nay.”
He finished the creation of the world by a frown,
Now and then the soul is revived by a kiss.
We would give up our lives with despair at His frown,
But would rise from the dead at his kiss.

. . . When the world meditates on His eye and His lip,
It yields itself to the intoxication of wine.

The Mole
The single point of the mole in His cheek
Is a centre from which circles
A circumference.
The two worlds circle round that centre.
The heart and soul of Adam evolved from there.

. . . Hearts bleed because they are a reflection
Of the point of that black mole,
And both are stagnant; for there is no escape
Of the reflection from the reflect.

Unity will not embrace Plurality,
For the point of Unity has one root only.

. . . I wonder if His mole is the reflection of my heart,
Or my heart the reflection of His mole.
Was my heart created from His mole’s reflection?
Or may it be seen shining in His mole?
I wonder if my heart is in His face,
Or if His mole abides in my heart.
But this is a deep secret hidden, alas! from me.

. . . If my heart is a reflection,
Why is it ever so changing?

Sometimes tired like His brilliant eye,
Sometimes waving to and fro as His curl waves,
Sometimes a shining moonbeam like His face,
Sometimes a dark shadow like His mole,
Sometimes it is a mosque, sometimes a synagogue,
Sometimes a hell, sometimes a heaven,
Sometimes soaring above the seventh heaven,
Sometimes buried far below this earth.

. . . After a spell the devotee and ascetic
Turns again to wine, lamp, and beauty.

The Curl
IF you ask of me the long story
Of the Beloved’s curl,
I cannot answer, for it contains a mystery
Which only true lovers understand,
And they, maddened by its beauty,
Are held captive as by a golden chain.
I spoke too openly of that graceful form,
But the end of the curl told me to hide its glory,
So that the path to it should be twisted
And crooked and difficult.

That curl enchains lovers’ hearts,
And bears their souls to and fro
In the sea of desire. A hundred thousand hearts
Are tightly bound, not one escapes, alas!

No single infidel would remain in the world
If he could see the shaking aside
Of those black curls,
And on the earth there would not remain a faithful soul
If they were always in their place.
Suppose they were shorn. . . . No matter,
Day would increase and the night disappear.

As a spider spreads its nets to ensnare,
So does the Beloved in wantonness
Shake His locks from off His face.

Behold His hands plundering Reason’s caravan
And with knots binding it tight.

Never at rest is that curl,
Ever moving to and fro
Making now night, making now morning,
Playing with the seasons in wonder.

Adam was created when the perfume of that
amber-scented curl
Was blown by the wind on his clay.

And I too possess an ensample;
I cannot wait for a moment,
But breathlessly start working anew
To tear my heart out of my breast.
. . . Sore troubled am I by that curl
Which veils my longing soul from His face.

The Cheek and the Down
The theatre of Divine beauty is the cheek,
And the down is the entrance to His holy presence.
Beauty is erased by His cheek, who says,
“Without my presence you are non-existent.”
In the unseen world the down is as green meadows
Leading to the mansion of Eternal Life.
The blackness of His curl turns day into night,
The down of His cheek holds the secret of life.
If only you can glimpse His face and its down,
You will understand the meaning of plurality and unity.
His curl will teach you the knowledge of this world,
His down will reveal hidden paths.

Imagine seven verses in which each letter
Contains oceans of mysteries;
Such is His cheek.
And imagine, hidden beneath each hair of His cheek,
Thousands of oceans of mysteries;
Such is His down.

As the heart is God’s throne in the water,
So is the down the ornament of the soul.

The Chamber of Your Heart

Go sweep out the chamber of your heart.
Make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved.
When you depart out,
He will enter it.
In you,
void of yourself,
will He display His beauties.

The tavern-haunter wanders alone in a desolate place,
seeing the whole world as a mirage.

The tavern-haunter is a seeker of Unity,
a soul freed from the shackles of himself.

Through the chamber of the heart is small,
it’s large enough for the Lord of both worlds
to gladly make His home there.
-Mahmud Shabestari

Vision Tree – Gwyllm

The Way Of The Plant

‘I’ and ‘you’ are but the lattices,
in the niches of a lamp,
through which the One Light shines.
‘I’ and ‘you’ are the veil
between heaven and earth;
lift this veil and you will see
no longer the bonds of sects and creeds.
When ‘I’ and ‘you’ do not exist,
what is mosque, what is synagogue?
What is the Temple of Fire?
– Mahmud Shabistari

Welcome to this edition of “The Hare’s Tales”.

I’ve assembled this entry around Salvia Divinorum and Salvinorin A having given a talk this past Wednesday night for the Portland Psychedelic Society on the subject of Salvia Divinorum. That Video is included on this entry BTW…

This entries purpose is to flesh out and give information to those who attended and to those who have seen the video online, as well as to all who are interested in the Plant Allies/Poison Path and Salvia Divinorum in particular.

During the later part of the talk I read part of an article which I wrote on my high-end Salvinorin A Bioassays back in the late 1990s. You can find the article below…

There’s also some good poetry (Mahmud Shabistari!!), as well as pertinent music to the Salvinorin A article….

I have long been an advocate for the understanding on our part of the vast realm of the plant allies.
Everything begins and ends in this sacred cycle of the plant and life’s interaction.

I hope you enjoy this entry and please share this out to your friends if you still desire and we will be back soon with more to engage you.

If you have questions about Salvia, or other Plant Allies, I will try my best to answer. Just put it in the comment section!

Bright Blessings,
On The Menu:
Salvia Links
Dale Pendell’s Pharmako Poeia
The Magnificent Void – Steve Roach
Salvinorin A Journeys – Gwyllm
Salvia Divinorum Presentation by Gwyllm Llwydd
Poesy – Mahmud Shabistari
Dante’s Prayer – Loreena McKennitt
Salvia Links:
From 1994
Leander Valdes:The Early History of Salvia divinorum
Sagewisdom… Daniel Seibert’s Site
Salvia Plants For Sale:
Salvia Plants…
More Salvia…

Dale Pendell’s Pharmako Poeia:
The Poet of Plants. This is a must have book for the budding ethnobotanist/entheogenic researcher/advocate. Wonderful work!
Buy Pharmako Poeia Here!

Excerpt: On Salvia from Pharmako Poeia:

The Ally:

Sometimes the sage whispers, sometimes it shouts.
Sometimes it tells you to sing, sometimes
it takes your voice, walks off, leaving you
rooted, eyeless, and with the kind of voice
a plant has.

The Plant:
Enthusiasm. Entheos.
The plant of the gods, brought within.

La planta de los dioses.
La planta amada de los dioses.

The wise plant, the sage plant,
the plant of the Savioress.
La planta sabia.
La salvia de las adivinas.
La salvia sabia.

We welcome the plant.
La planta que salva.
La Salvadora de los sabios
We are not different from the plant.
It is we who must save the gods.
It is we who must be diviners.
Somos nosotros que debemos que ser adivinos.
Dale Pendell Quote:
“One does not have to ingest plant substances to communicate with them.

One can use plant substances as purifiers, offerings, in other capacities, and also commune with them in natural settings. This is why it is common to shift state of mind and state of being when spending time in nature. What is unfolding energetically is not always registered by the physical senses. Accessing altered states of consciousness allows one to encounter and interact with the Spirit World and channel these transcendental energies into ordinary reality. Plants can facilitate this process in a conscious individual yet tuning into yourself is also possible. To be truly aware is to commune with everything consciously now.”

Dale’s adroit assessments of the Plant World & our interaction with it helped me to be able to frame my thoughts around this amazingly beautiful subject. He will always be “The Poet of Plants” in my heart and mind.

When You Get A Chance: Los Angeles Times Article On Dale

Dale, I miss the conversations. See you on the other side, in a garden I pray.

The Magnificent Void – Steve Roach


Salvia Eyes – Gwyllm

This is an article of mine on high end Salvinorin A experiences/experiments from the late 1990’s published graciously in the Entheogen Review. Much thanks to those that provided the Salvinorin A, and to Jon Hanna & Associates who published my works on bio-assays.

~1.00–1.25 mg Salvinorin A.
Ingested with tin foil/straw/ lighter method.
Immediate and strong effects. Mouth quickly
dries, I have never had this experience with salvinorin A before.
The taste is very apparent, and seems to permeate my
whole system. I know I am in for it for sure—I turn off the
light and lie down in bed.

Listening to STEVE ROACH’S “The Magnificent Void.” The
music has strong tidal effect on the direction that the experience
flows towards, and can be seen as an overriding factor
in the early part of the experiment.

There is a subtle interplay within sound structures and I observe
that one of the most telling of conditions for salvinorin
A is sonic. Sounds absolutely shape the experience for good
or for distraction. If the sound structure impedes the flow,
go without it. Nevertheless, a skilled guide could lead one
deeply into trance with the correct vocalizations.

Sinking into revelry, my thoughts take on hues of purple and
blues that border into green. Thoughts appear as a latticework,
discreetly patterned as if they were the finest handworked
lace. Moving forward through the patterns, the loss
of ego deepens but body sensation heightens, so there is no
loss of somatic awareness. Calm, warm detachment—
thoughts flow with incredible beauty and beingness.
Walking through cool undergrowth, pushing through various
plant forms—purple, blue, and green, with myriads of
eyes within leaves. All aware of presence—plant “beings” flow
and merge through shared thought fields and dissolve.

Everything is tidal now—that which is aware, that which perceives
and is perceived—all partaking of the essence of the
eternal now. Joy and subtle pleasure is taken in each thought
that is shared across the vastness of this hall of beings. Faces,
faces everywhere, oscillating into a kaleidoscope of personages
that flow and morph in and out of thought shapes into
mandalic friezes; they dissolve into themselves again, regenerating
over and over until passed through into the singing

Then the universe arches over, redolent with the smell of
plant and animal life, vibrant with beauty and being. Experiences
flow in infinite directions—twisting, turning, with
the patina of consciousness etched into everything with infinite
detail and depth. Everything, every being, held in consummate
beauty; the essence of deity flowing through all simultaneously.
Every thought is transparent and filled with
Slowly, across eons of time and bliss, the self reasserts itself
surfacing after an hour and a half, a trailing wisp of the various
thought forms it had been submerged in. Great peace
and warmth pervades the system of being. Sleep slowly rises
up and recaptures the self, again to submerge it into the
salvinorin A flow that moves steadily through the depths of
the soul and subconscious. The night is filled with various
dream shapes. Morning comes as a pleasant surprise.
In hindsight one finds that you can get up out of bed, attend
to any business with high clarity and return into the revelry
of the salvinorin A space by laying down again and turning
inward with the ally. While I have heard about this phenomena
when using the leaves, this contradicts much that I have
read regarding salvinorin A. Maybe at a higher dose immobility

Also, as mentioned before, sounds have a big influence on
this experience. There is an interesting side to this: during
the duration of the various experiences there has begun to
be inexplicable knocking going on in our house. I actually
got up to investigate, and walked through the house trying
to find the locus of the noise. It is as if someone or something
is vying for attention. There are other sounds also occurring
that are yet indescribable but reoccur again and
again. This is a phenomenon that no one has reported in my
knowledge, it is as if one was opening up to presences that
surround us which we normally don’t recognize. I am beginning
to feel that they anticipate and are eager for these forays,
for some acknowledgment and communication.

As the familiarity with the territory grows, so does the ways
I can express it. The psychic phenomena is interesting. I realized
that I had been hearing these noises pretty much all
along with the Salvinorin A and occasionally with Salvia Divinorum leaves.
What can this portend? I will be moving up to 1.5 mg next.

I am beginning to get the sensation of mapping out this
realm. For a while I didn’t seem to get much past certain areas,
and now these walls are crumbling. The “psychedelic
nature” of this substance is phenomenally different than any
of the other hosts that I have tried. It is noisy like the
lysergamides, but in a bantering, gabby way instead of issuing
large, almost solemn, profundities. The beginning is almost
always hilarious, shapes, noises, bells, whistles—a veritable
‘toontown of characters jumping out of the woodwork.

Very irreverent! Then it moves on of course, but not before
the entity amuses itself at your expense.

1.25–1.50 mg of Salvinorin A.
Very apparent taste immediately.
Unlike previous salvinorin A experiments, this one
seizes me before I can get the light off and my eyes covered
with blindfold (new addition). My being is quickly hived
into infinite parts, flailing all over the place in what appears
to be a very bizarre 1950s scenario filled with textures, smells,
visuals of that time predominated by a female presence. The
presence bears the most striking resemblance to DONNA REED
or the archetypal “American Mother” and a myriad of other
female expressions of that era. In fact there is infinite variations
on this theme occurring in a fractualizing frenzy. This
manifestation is very loquacious, wagging her finger into my
infinite faces and making cryptically rude remarks! This
strikes me as very hilarious, my whole being lights up with
laughter. This quickly dissipates into another cascade of cartoon-
like thoughts and emerging patterns. There seems to
be very little of the usual cavern/tunnel effect, more of a restless
roving over fields of thought and consciousness.

Feelings shift and change. This experience is incredibly
strong. A mild panic rears its pointed little head in greeting,
and then disappears when I relax more into it and allow the
salvinorin A to take me where it wants. Then the salvinorin
A state takes off at a gallop, it seems to be the most intense
cartoonish psychedelic experience… feelings magnify into
absolute grotesque parodies and psychic pratfalls. Constant,
rapid shifting is going on, too quick to grasp.
The flailing finally dissipates about 15 minutes into the experience
and my thoughts become more focused. It seems
very playful at this time, taunting and teasing me deeper into
its web, yet for some odd reason the loss of self is not so pronounced.
There is a strong twisting sensation to the right,
accompanied by a prickly sensation through my system. I take off
the blindfold as it seems to be sinking deeply into
my skull, my skin is literally swimming in warmth except for
my feet, which are taking on an arctic feeling. I become aware
of my flesh as being an entity unto itself, conscious unto its
own being, holding its own wisdoms and somatic dreams.
Visions of beauty and sensation roll over it. Every cell seems
to have an eye, peering out and at itself replicated into infinity.
Undulating currents of desire wash over it and through
it, a deep hunger for sensation and interplay.

Slowly, the cavern appears, but instead of going into it, it
plays to my being as if it is an audience. Warm ambers,
browns and traces of green predominate Faces appear and
reappear, twisting into wondrous shapes that have sparkling
eyes of red and gold that flick away in an instance.

Over great lengths of time, the self reasserts itself. Feelings
are very relaxed, tensions are gone. No great insights, it was
too rapid for that, but a truly unique experience. As quickly
as it came on, it is slower to leave. After an hour, I move about,
with haloes of color encrusting every object and space
throughout the house. The experience rides on me, I feel it
still coursing through out my being as I head off for sleep. I
am amazed at the gifts this plant’s substance offers up. Of all
the plant entheogens, it is the most playful—almost, should
I say, dryadic in nature? Something profound moves under
her surface humor. A lustrous joy and knowledge is revealing
itself as I venture further in her company.

~ 1.5 mg–1.75 mg Salvinorin A.
Slight feeling of trepidation.
This is a hallmark feeling for me, carrying meanings and
thought that are complex, redundant of fear and discovery.
Fear, as the dose level is working upward, discovery as something
is about to be revealed. Music playing, LOREENA
MCKENNITT’S “Dantes’ Prayer,” just so appropriate at this
nexus… Ingested the salvinorin A with slight modification,
used a straw that was longer this time, about 3.5 inches instead
of 2 inches. Sitting on the edge of the bed, watching
the crystals melt and the salvinorin A slithers up the straw—
even before I can taste it, everything slowwwsss down. This
is strange, stronger than before, it has grabbed me before I
am ready. Why am I so surprised? I reach over to turn the
light off and my hand stretches like rubber. Warmth envelops
me in a crescendo of light-blue and cream streams of luminous
ribbon of light. After what seems a decade, my head
feels the pillow reaching up and taking it gently.

As my head settles down, the top part divides and hives, again
and again, it is hydra-like, whipping back and forth in a gale
force wind of consciousness, until it is medusa-like, every part
of the head now snake-like, writhing with faster and faster
force. Everything is cream and light-blue, cartoonish and gibberish
as each head sends back images and sensations into
the central part of the being. It is a form of collective consciousness;
I’m aware of myself and the room with my love
lying beside me. At the same time it’s a maelstrom—a hydra,
a thousand upon thousand headed serpent-being under a
huge dome of sky, writhing in an ever quickening and slowing
dance on a plane that stretches into infinity.

The music calls out, a familiarity to hold to. I wanted to let
entirely go but it calls with such infinite sadness. My love’s
breathing echoes and resounds, voluminous and full of
beauty. Pinioned between these two sonic anchors, the serpent
heads slowly morph into each other until singularity
occurs. Then, for a moment—utter peace. All of a sudden,
an entity rockets into consciousness from behind, pulling all
along with it and into it from the right side as it streaks past.
All thoughts and self runs into it like mercury pooling, silvery
and voluptuous with movement. Beingness flowed out
as the observer self watched with detachment… This being
that has appeared takes on the appearance of a man in
middle-age, bent on going somewhere quick. Had the beingness
that moments before been hydra-like now attached to
an astral traveler passing through a shared zone, a place
where all of this plays out? Then, as quickly as it had come,
the being looks back into me with deep detachment and departs,
streaking away leaving trails of our shared momentary
consciousness bubbling, to coalesce into moving pools
of light.

The mind moves from thought to thought, like a sailing craft
on a sea, tacking back and forth, into whirlpools and out
again. All flows with such ease and warmth, in and out of
different beings and states of consciousness. The universe is
liquid and malleable, all life flows with a harmonious ringing—
how would it be best expressed? A sloshing sound? Liquid
sounds take form everywhere and whip and pull consciousness
into pools and depths, blending away personality
and recreating beingness into myriad creatures and situations
all going on simultaneously. All moves and reshapes
into new and unique beings, momentary expressions of life
form for beauty’s sake and then submerge back into the
oceans of consciousness. Evolution is played out over and
over—not as predator and prey, but as co-players in a dance
of delight and shared mutual joy and recognition.

Awareness flickers off and on, beingness strobes on and off.
Day into night, into infinite play and dance. Consciousness
winks out, then refocuses back over and over. Within the
strobing, the salvinorin A exposing itself as it opens up and I
see within it a flow, a river of Salvia-consciousness, and how
it has established a strata within my being that is now ever present.
It is a flowing universe, river and sky-like, both liquid
and cloud. As if I’ve opened up a trap door, just below
everyday thoughts. Ever-present, exalting consciousness:
teaching, playing and guiding. It is a love that flows into my
being whether I allow it to or not. Her face is revealed, glowing,
entrancing, singular.

I cannot recall how it all ended. I drifted into sleep during
the night, but as I write this now today I feel the flow still. I
think it has always been a part of me. Now I know that entheogenic
flow we all become aware of—it has been with me
most of my life. But this has distinct elements of something
new. A different creature all together. It is present in the trees,
in the land, in the sky, but also as part of shared awareness.
It envelops and comes whispering up through consciousness
like smoke. An is-ness, ever-present, an Acadian stream, behind
thought seen in faces, shared since the beginning. It is
the river within the soul—intertwined with all thought, conscious,
loving and completely enveloping. A capricious being,
who is only too happy to come along with you—as the
guide, as a light, as the teacher to creatures of thought and
desire. — GWYLLM

Salvia Universe – Gwyllm

Salvia Divinorum Presentation by Gwyllm Llwydd

Poesy – Mahmud Shabistari

Go sweep out the chamber of your heart.
Make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved.
When you depart out,
He will enter it.
In you,
void of yourself,
will He display His beauties.

The tavern-haunter wanders alone in a desolate place,
seeing the whole world as a mirage.

The tavern-haunter is a seeker of Unity,
a soul freed from the shackles of himself.

Through the chamber of the heart is small,
it’s large enough for the Lord of both worlds
to gladly make His home there.

What is pure wine?
It is self-purification.
What sweetness! what intoxication! what blissful ecstasy!
Oh! happy moment when ourselves we quit,
When fallen in the dust, drunken and amazed,
In utter poverty we shall be rich and free.
Of what use then will be paradise and houris?
For no alien can find entrance to that mystic room.

I know not what will happen after
I have seen this vision and imbibed this cup,
But after all intoxication comes headache,
Anguish drowns my soul remembering this!

THE tavern is the abode of lovers,
The place where the bird of the soul nests,
The rest-house that has no existence
In a world that has no form.
The tavern-haunter is desolate in a lonely desert,
Where he sees the world as a mirage.
The desert is limitless and endless,
For no man has seen its beginning or ending.
Though you feverishly wander for a hundred years
You will be always alone.
For the dwellers there are headless and footless,
Neither the faithful nor infidels,
They have renounced both good and evil,
And have cast away name and fame,
From drinking the cup of selflessness;

Without lips or mouth,
And are beyond traditions, visions, and states,
Beyond dreaming of secret rooms, of lights and miracles.

They are lying drunken through the smell of the wine-dregs,
And have given as ransom
Pilgrim’s staff and cruse,
Dentifrice and rosary.

Sometimes rising to the world of bliss,
With necks exalted as racers,
Or with blackened faces turned to the wall,
Sometimes with reddened faces tied to the stake.

Now in the mystic dance of joy in the Beloved,
Losing head and foot like the revolving heavens.
In every strain which they hear from the minstrel
Comes to them rapture from the unseen world.

For within the mere words and sounds
Of the mystic song
Lies a precious mystery.

From drinking one cup of the pure wine,
From sweeping the dust of dung-hills from their souls,
From grasping the skirts of drunkards,
They have become Sūfīs.

Dante’s Prayer – Loreena McKennitt


Salvia Vision… Gwyllm

The Great Practice

Angel of Ragnarok (Wings)

So this edition contains an important announcement on the site, update of the Mask Fundraiser, some great music, as well as poesy from Whit Griffin, and last but not least an interview done a couple of years ago from Reality Sandwich  (in case you missed it) and although it is worthy in itself it is a place holder of sorts… as I work on new projects, etc.

Lots of good feedback on the direction of the radio station as of late, that is much appreciated.

I have found that I am moving through clouds or fog a bit with all of the current events. Trying to stay grounded isn’t that hard when your movements are less, but trying to get stuff done seems like moving mountains at times.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this entry!

On The Menu:
Podcast Coming!
The Links
Mask Fund Raiser UpDate
Solar Fields – The Missing
Poesy: Whit Griffin
Reality Sandwich Interviews Gwyllm
Simon Posford – Flux & Contemplation

So, after lots of consideration over the last few months I have decided to put out podcast… As if I needed more on my  plate at this time… Yet, it is a project that I have been thinking about for a long time.

Some of the podcast will deal with the Poison Path, Plants, Stories of my various adventures, meeting with remarkable beings, incarnate, or otherwise, two legged, four legged and more.

I hope that when I announce and put the Podcast that you will give them a listen.  Feedback and comments are deeply appreciated! So, stay tuned the Podcast are coming soon!
The Links:
Struggle For Socialism
Ibram Kendi (Thanks to Rowan for this!)
Desert Solitaire
So You Are In Love With An Angel…
Mask Fund Raiser UpDate

Gwyllm here… So, good news on the Mask Fund Raiser.  Dropped off a check this past Thursday for $350.00 dollars (we get 20% of the sales from Redbubble) for the initial month of the fund raiser To Esther’s Pantry, a local Food Bank here in Milwaukie Oregon.  Esther’s has been serving the local LGBTQ community since 1985, and while it serves that community, it also serves the local low income community as well.  The choice of Esther’s was based on the fact that they have low overhead, so more of the money goes to feeding those in need.

I applaud and thank all of you who have purchased your mask; you are serving the community in two ways, keeping yourself and others healthy by the use of your mask, and with your purchase providing a much needed service in feeding people.

Please tell your friends, about the mask if you will, and share this link:
Gwyllm’s Mask
If you are interested in supporting Esther’s Pantry directly, the link is:
Esther’s Pantry

Esther’s Pantry

Thank you for your support. We can do wonderful things by working together.
Bright Blessings,






Solar Fields – The Missing

Poesy: Whit Griffin
I have had the pleasure to correspond with Whit Griffin for awhile. His poetry is exquisite, hallucinogenic, packed with imagery… Goddess/God Invoking.  Here are some extracts from his works.

Extract: The Great Practice

The ferocious alligator pisses the tobacco
plant. The crying baboons who piss each
hour during the equinoxes. Urinating on cereal
grains to test for pregnancy.

The birth of the divine child, whether
he bears the name Horus, Osiris, Helios,
Dionysus, or Aeon, was celebrated in the
Koreion in Alexandria, in the temple dedicated
to Kore, on the day of the winter solstice, when
the new divine light is born.

The Great Central Sun of Sacred Power.

I am perception and Knowledge,
uttering a Voice by means of Thought.
I am the real Voice.

The voice of the sun. The ring of deliverance.
The silver apples of wisdom. A wisdom of loving

The tortoise stands in opposition
to the sun. In the mythology of the oldest
known Semitic-Babylonian calendar, the moon
signifies life; the sun signifies death.

Some say poets invented the gods,
the Trojan War was directed by hallucinations.
Was the Israelite exodus from Egypt
contemporaneous with the Trojan War?
The lotus blossom of psychic
flowering. Energy with the quality of mind.
The blond moon. The soul is hundreds
of thousands of times finer and
more powerful than intelligence.

A stream of wind is blowing
through the tube of the sun. As the Gorgon
is the night sun. As the moon
is the night snake that walks in the water.
The nude goddess and the crescent
moon. Chandra is the moon’s predominating

Some day we will be gods and goddesses,
connected to planets, working
toward the higher evolution of those
still on Gaia, or perhaps on other planets in the universe.

Infinite planets, in infinite universes.

The crab-Gorgon goddess of the night
gives birth to the sun. The boar’s tusk
of the Gorgon, a negative form of the moon.

The great world lotus,
out of which rose the sun
for the first time. The first
woman to have borne twins. Mehurt,
goddess of the beginning. The tree
goddess gives birth to the sun. The
tap of the tree is the place of
the sun’s birth. Goddess of the Tree
of Life. The corn tree with the hummingbird.
Birds in the canopy, spirits
in the trunk. The light fruit of
the night tree. What the seer of the oaks
sees. As it is said the oak
is struck by lightning more often than
any other tree. As the cedar embraces
Osiris. To die like Osiris
and be awakened by Isis. Nut embraces
the dead man. Nut, goddess of rebirth.
Extract:  “We Who Saw Everything”

All these worlds are transformed
by thy hand bearing fire. Worshippers of the solar fire.
Savitri revealed herself in the sacrificial fire. A tiger
was created in the sacrificial fire. The business of
the torch. Nine days she wandered over the earth,
with flaming torches in her hands. The glittering glassy
plains. The waste-places flowed with honey. Tapio,
Lord of the Forest. In the forest of Taragam dwelt
multitudes of heretical rishis. Those who blow on knots.
The master, the provost and the scholar. The
assembly of the wonderful head. And his severed
head they strung on the skull-rack. Ye shall leave
with him all your heads. As it is said Thor had a
piece of whetstone in his forehead.

[Balder Waits
For The Old
Order To Be

From the left eye of Izanagi is born the sun goddess, and
from his right eye the moon god. Yellow like the amber body of
the goddess with the sapphire eyes. When the child
had ceased speaking, the king’s right eye was no
longer blind. The child is protected against the malice
of his brother. The bush is hidden. He lived the life
of a saint until his evil brother led him into sin.
Then he fled his city, Tula. He followed the word
of the scorpion-man. A scorpion will not go near
a filbert. I shall be so valuable that there will be
whole towns without one of me. Coral tree, tree of
the red puma. As Adonis to the myrrh tree. Born
from a hollow mulberry tree. The rim of the
shaman’s drum is cut from a living larch. On
March 22 a pine tree was brought into the
sanctuary of Cybele. Graybeard with the pineleaf hat.
He bled the calf of his right leg to
stain thorns with blood. He who has come to
us, his body is the flesh of gods! Born rather
than flourished. Let me take birth in the
Dhanakosha Lake. The code of Handsome Lake.
Hymns on the divine origin of water. Osiris
of the mysteries, who sprang from the returning
waters. Waiting beyond the breakers. Why
are the stone images of the ship destroyed?
Reuben is said to be as unstable as water. A
tea of ephedra and fennel. An ephedra beverage
in the home of Zoroaster. Olaf the Quiet
introduced cups to replace animal horns. Grim
the Good, a drinking horn that could foretell
the future. Grim, one of Odin’s many names.
No mention of drinking horns in Beowulf. As
it was once thought Solomon wrote the Iliad.
Philites composed a glossary of obscure archaic
words. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote on the Trojan
origin of Britain. Paper was introduced to the west
by Chinese POWs from the Battle of Talas.
Pancrates convinced Hadrian to name a lotus
after Antinous. Pan hid his pipe from the Satyrs,
but they stole it nevertheless. The pipe is the
universe. We are microscopic instances of a
macrocosmic event. Ghost constellations. Leo
was the domicile of Osiris. Long after Taurus
had ceased to be the first of the signs. A
calendar is a pile of stones. Zeus’ semen fell
upon the Agdos rock. A new way down the
mountain. The Mountain Mother protects the
hunt. The protection of Horus is the great dwarf
who goes about the Netherworld at twilight.


The Art of Divine Inebriation: An Interview with Gwyllm Llwydd

The Interviewer:
Ronnie Pontiac:
In the 1980s, Ronnie Pontiac was mentored by Manly Palmer Hall, becoming his assistant and designated substitute lecturer. In the 1990s, Ronnie was a member of the underground alternative rock band Lucid Nation, which was popular on college radio, and made the list Alternative Press 100 Bands You Need to Know. In the 2000s he became Poet in Residence at Newtopia Magazine. In the 2010s his blogs on American Metaphysical Religion for the relaunch of Newtopia Magazine were a BookForum pick. He then wrote for the original Reality Sandwich. Ronnie has also produced documentary films including the award winning Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War and Exile Nation: The Plastic People, which was executive produced and narrated by Edward James Olmos. He is currently completing The Unobstructed Way, a book about the lives and works of Stewart Edward White and his wife Betty, which documents perhaps the most impressive experiment ever achieved in communication from the afterlife.


When Gwyllm Llwydd was a boy a first offense marijuana possession carried a minimum sentence of two to ten years with a fine of up to 20,000 dollars – around 500,000 dollars today. Few could have imagined that in 2018 an adult would be able to stroll into a shop on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and browse a generous variety of concentrates in forms quite different from the bricks of hash that had remained unchanged for generations. Yet few of the many customers in the many legal pot shops in America and the world have any idea of the rich cultural history of their favorite recreational or medicinal plant. New books by Chris Bennett and Thomas Hatsis lay bare the profound and pervading cultural influence of entheogens in general and cannabis in particular. The reissue of the classic book The Hasheesh Eaters illustrated and published by Gwyllm would be an ideal edition to any short shelf on the history, and the spiritual and artistic implications. of the herb superb and its derivatives.

But there’s much more to Gwyllm Lwydd than that. Gwyllm’s experience is the American Experience. From metal wheeled skateboards to living next door to the Grateful Dead, from an 80s new wave band with iconic guitarist Nels Cline to the psychedelic music and spoken word stream Radio EarthRites, from famed acid blotter art to publishing an arts journal so beautiful it can be called an artifact, Gwyllm exemplifies a certain kind of renaissance man receiving too little attention in the media and perhaps in history as well. Historians and consumers prefer singular brands that achieve fame. But the true story of cultural change is in the hands of many. Some have no interest in fame. Some practice many crafts and trades. Their experiences help us appreciate the richness of life while inspiring us to make the most of our own lives. Welcome to the world of Gwyllm Lwydd, a man who heard Charlie Manson play, had his life changed by an unexpected talk with Ginsberg and Leary, and who was inspired to take his art seriously by Allyson and Alex Grey.

The Interview:

Ronnie Pontiac: You were a skateboarder before it became a professional sport. What was skateboarding like then?

Gwyllm: I started skateboarding back in 1962-63. Metal Wheels. Some commercial boards, but lots handmade. I still have road rash scars on my left hand and side from eating a piece of gravel traveling down a long hill in Colorado. We were virtually alone where ever we boarded. The culture really didn’t take off until compound wheels. I think the real time of innovative boarding came about in the mid 70’s on. I left off after a few years, and then picked up skates in the 1970’s. I was even a skating waiter, working at the Sidewalk Cafe in Venice. Fun fact, I first met Robby Krieger outside of my girlfriend’s (at the time) Frozen Yogurt Store in Century City. They were old friends from the Whiskey days. He came sliding up, and Pam was all smiles to see him. He got all over West L.A. on that board.

All those guys in the Dog Town Documentary worked as busboys or hung around outside. Busboys on boards, waiters on skates and foot. The Sidewalk Cafe was lovely chaos, it was a great time to be alive in Venice. I skated Europe later. Any idea how difficult that can be on cobblestones? Ha! Along the way I did the skateboard parks in London with my skates. The locals couldn’t get their heads around it. Skated through Amsterdam, Germany, France. I love skateboards and skates, just haven’t been there in a long time.
I got my son a board when he was 8. Never used it as none of his friends were into it. Hopefully I will be around for his kids, so I can get them boards. It may just jump a generation. I watch board videos occasionally on YouTube. Amazed at the skill level. Good times!

RP: You had some narrow escapes and other adventures as a young man that are worth telling? Care to share a couple here?

G: So many stories… I could start with the one where at 14 I hitchhiked from Denver up to Wyoming and caught a freight train to Salt Lake, and then another to Marysville California on the way to San Francisco to see The Jefferson Airplane. We ransacked a public bomb shelter (yeah, in case of nuclear war) for dried crackers and rock candy for our supplies. We hopped on the train outside of Cheyenne and rode inside the Refrigerator section of a freight car. No ice, so it was okay.

Got into Salt Lake, dodged and ran from rail dicks and hopped onto a flat bed with a truck trailer. Nearly lost my friend when he opened the door of the trailer, and got blown over the rails holding on for dear life. Hauled him back and we got inside the trailer to find it was full of something noxious, back out to below the trailer by the wheels. Did I mention we had no water? Oh yeah no water. Going across the desert at 70 miles an hour, being buffeted by the hot wind all of the way. Such thirst!

Finally went through Sparks Nevada, and then into the Sierra Nevada…which included a lengthy tunnel and a few short ones. We hit the lengthy tunnel and the smoke from the engine ahead of us made us cover our heads with our shirts so we could breath. It seemed like forever, acrid smoke billowing over us. I thought we would suffocate. (A week later a body would be found in that tunnel with the throat cut, thrown from a train. Was it on our train? I have thought of that for years. The ride down to Marysville took us past Grass Valley, and other parts of California that I would come to love years later.

When we arrived in Marysville, a rail worker gave us a watermelon, a true act of kindness. We were exceedingly filthy from the 2+ days of traveling that no amount of water seemed to clean us, but oh, I drank so much I thought I might flounder. Later we caught a truck ride down to Berkeley, to a commune of friends that we both knew. A week or two in to our stay there I dosed on LSD for the first time, ending up for awhile sitting underneath Country Joe and the Fish’s Farfisa organ as I came on at The Jabberwocky Cafe on Telegraph Avenue. I have a long tale of that night, but that is for another time. I ended working in the central valley picking crops during the day in August, and busking on the streets to make ends meet before I headed back to Denver. Didn’t get to see the Jefferson Airplane then, that would come later.

When I came back to Denver, I got busted by Detective John Grey. I can remember the police coming through the door and The Who’s “My Generation” on the record player. This began a year + of probation, 6 months in detention for being…myself and being busted multiple times.

After I moved to California (but didn’t stay there as a condition to get off of probation) I ended up as a mule for awhile for a consortium out of Austin carrying suitcases of Mescaline (extracted from Peyote) to exchange for Owsley Acid to bring back to Denver for distribution in Texas. If we had only known that Mr. Owsley was living in Denver about 2 miles away from the commune I was living in… At that point Mescaline was legal as was LSD, except in California. I never got paid in money, wasn’t my goal, but I gave away lots of Mescaline up and down the coast of California and in Colorado.

I recall one flight that I made. I dropped acid twice before getting on the airplane, smoking DMT for the first time, dropping again on the plane; ever see lightening erupt upwards and downwards from a cloud at night flying over the desert 36 thousand feet up? Dropped again at the airport, and in Berkeley. I kinda lost it about 24 hours in with that one. Found myself in a Volkswagen the morning after heading back to Colorado, sick as a dog, still peaking. I hitchhiked from outside of Salt Lake back to Denver. The guy who picked me up was packing a .45 and had a bottle of vodka between his legs which when he swigged he would hit the accelerator. He had me open the glove compartment, where he had a ounce
or so of weed. I rolled joints the whole way, terrified for my life. He was okay, but the gun was a real bummer.

I was bouncing back and forth between the Haight, L.A. and Denver all through that Summer into the early parts of 1968. I lived for a while 3 doors up and across the street from the Grateful Dead’s house. We would step out in the morning or when ever, check the streets for cops and light one up. Often times Pigpen, and Phil etc would be on the porch. They would wave, we would wave back.

Stayed for awhile at Superspade’s place after he got topped. We were cutting up kilos when the FBI pounded on the door late at night. You never saw so many people try to get out of a back door in so short of a time. “We are not interested in what you are doing, just want information” Poor Superspade had been found hanging off of a cliff in Point Reyes. He had gone to Sausalito with 35K to score, and never made it back. After the FBI came to the place, I was spooked, and left soon after.

Just before my 16th birthday I let the Mescaline connection go. Things were a bit weird and all enough. I made it back to Denver just before The Denver Be-In. I was down at 17th and Pearl when I bumped into Tim Leary and Allen Ginsberg in front of The Green Spider Coffee house, midway down the block from the where The Folklore Center was (now moved and still going). I had worked at the Green Spider the year before, anyway, I walked up to Tim and Allen and started talking to them. They spent an hour with me. It was the first time I think that adults had given me full attention. They both were kindness incarnate. One of those meetings that change your life forever. I have never forgotten that afternoon, or ever will. Saw them again the next day at the Be In. The Dead were playing, Allen was dancing, and there is a photo of me somewhere in a musty copy of the Denver Post dancing with a giant God’s Eye completely baked on Acid on a late summer’s afternoon.

The Awakening 

Later in the fall with my friend Georgia, running into a couple of old Beats (well around the age of 35) driving an MG around the country turning people on to Opium. Spending a long weekend smoking and listening to their tales of San Francisco, India, Morocco. Taking hits on the pipe and racing to the back bedroom to fall into the bed in slow motion with Georgia as motes of dust glinted slowly dancing in the shafts of light cascading across the room. Dreaming.
So many tales. Getting shot at by a cop as I was trying to escape out a back door during a bust in Boulder in January 1968, escaping from detention and heading back to The Haight in a desperate run with friends, 9 of us in a 1950 Chevrolet with a platform to the front seat where the back and trunk used to be. Stopping on the continental divide, flat tire. Stars below us on the horizon lines, the nearest car perhaps 25 miles away. Breathtaking. A speed freak in the back talking nonstop for 16 hours, regardless of how many times he is asked to stop.

Getting busted for Jaywalking in the Haight. Getting busted for hitchhiking in Malibu. Running into the Manson women in front of the Drogg Store, where Charlies was playing inside. Such a creepy moment. The hackles stood up on my neck, and all I saw was darkness around them. That was pretty much the last straw so I finally giving up on the Haight, and moving to Lyme Kiln Creek in South Big Sur, but that is another tale altogether. After Big Sur, I dropped out of the scene for several years living deep in Northern California, pursuing Occult and Sufism studies before moving to Los Angeles in 1972. Lots more stories, lots of adventures.

RP: How did you first encounter Ludlow’s The Hasheesh Eater? What was it about the book that captured your imagination?

G: Ah, skating again, in Venice. High probably, rolled into a bookstore, and there it sat on a shelf, beckoning to me. This is the Sätty /Michael Horowitz version. Sätty being a German artist who did collage work, living in San Francisco. His “Ship of Fools” print/poster was the first piece I ever bought…in 1966. Michael Horowitz, founding member of The Fitz Hugh Memorial Library/Tim Leary’s archivist/friend. (My friend as well and who I consider a mentor regarding all things publishing). Gorgeous cover, Silver and Black, a Sätty dream illustration, with David Singer’s font work. Did I say gorgeous? I opened it and discovered a world I had no idea about, the Victorian world of Hasheesh Eaters/Visionaries. I still have my copy. A prized volume.

The art work, the tales were so enthralling. I was using lots of Lebanese and Afghani Hash at that point, exploring it by eating, smoking, etc. The tales paralleled my experiences that I was having with Hash at that time. I was exploring inner landscapes that often, actually almost always were either North African or West Asian. It was uncanny.

The more I read, the more I started to eat Hash. It was quite the affair. Mind you, I had never been to North Africa, or West Asia. Still it felt authentic. I recall sitting on a sand dune, with the tingling of bells from a caravan of camels passed behind me. There was a blazing sun (which seemed to be a central theme in all of these experiences time and again) overhead. Years later I heard those same bells, but in a field recording from North Africa.

Dust Storm

RP: What inspired you to illustrate and publish a new edition of The Hasheesh Eater? in the first place, and now this even more lavish edition?

G: I realized that no one had stepped up to the challenge that Sätty/Michael Horowitz had lain down. There is a brilliant version from I think 1905 with the art of Aubrey Beardsley used to illustrate it . That is a collectors dream, out of my league.

I like projects. Weirdly, the more complicated and detailed the better. Fucking Virgo Sun and Libra Moon playing havoc in my life time and again. It also involves what I value highly: aesthetics. I cannot fathom how one would not approach this work without the visual component tied into it, and not designing the work to make a statement visually, and dare I say spiritually in that Ludlow’s work is highly charged with that.

So, I put together the original version, which is very comprehensive, and visually rich. Then, I realized I had to take it further. There are about 10 more illustrations in the Limited Editions along with almost 30 more pages of text. I could of gone on, but had to draw the line somewhere along the way.

This project has taken over two years of work, but more of dreaming of. I wanted to honour Fitz Hugh Ludlow’s influence and artistry, but I wanted to also pay homage to the workings of Sätty/Michael Horowitz for the dream that they produced together. One must tip the hat to ones influences and artistic progenitors.

RP: What inspired you to begin your gorgeous art, poetry and essay journal and to name The Invisible College?

G: This is a nice story. I met Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffmann at Mind States, a conference I was coordinating/managing floor and stage. They were there with Allyson and Alex Grey as well as Pablo Amaringo, Mark Henson. Quite a stellar line up. This event was kind of a watershed moment for me. I became friends with Robert and Martina, hanging with them and the Greys. We discussed art quite a bit and a germ of an idea was formed in my head at that point.

It jelled further when they came to visit our home in Portland. They ended up being the first two artists to be featured in the first two editions of The Invisible College. They encouraged me to put together the whole thing when I told them I had a dream of a publication that would cover multiple disciplines in the arts and literature. I am still friends with Martina, I love her dearly. I miss Robert, he was an amazing person. Studied under Mati Klarwein, Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dali, actually living at Dali’s compound in Cadaques, Spain for 6 years. He was the real deal. When I think of Renaissance Man, Roberto always comes to mind. Perhaps the key artist in the whole visionary school, having practically
invented it.

Anyway, the first two editions were in PDF form. I hope one day to recreate them on paper. It is a labour of love. Never made a profit off of it. Don’t care, but it would be a bonus. If you love what you do, keep doing it. We have had the most amazing artist, writers, poets partake in its creation. All of the early ones were put together in Photoshop and Word. It was like lithography/printmaking in a way. Slow, slow process. Thank the Muse for InDesign. Life is easier.

I spend hundreds of hours on the minutia of the project. You will never find a plain white sheet of paper in any of the editions. The concept of design is actually quite old, based on my love of the illuminated manuscript, and such notable journals from the past as the San Francisco Oracle, that beautiful work of art edited by Allen Cohen and Michael Bowen. Oz was another, with founders Richard Neville, the fabulous Martin Sharp and Jim Anderson. I am moved by such journals as The Yellow Book; as well, predominant publications from the Fin de siècle in Europe I want it to be a feast, a revelry, a sensual delight. I might get carried away at times, aesthetics overrides lots of considerations: time involved, making anything off the project etc. It is a work of love.

The name… well, I am a student of history, and certain parts of Occult and Metaphysical History. The name comes from a society based on the earlier studies of the great British magician John Dee, who served at the court of Elizabeth the First. So many stories could be told about him. He made a pact with the Witches of The New Forest in Southern England to raise a storm against the Spanish Armada or so it is told. I tend to believe it. Along with his friend Edward Kelley, had Alchemical adventures in Central Europe after Dee fell out of favour with Elizabeth.

Later on (1648) a society was established along the lines of the studies of John Dee. It was called The Invisible College, which was quite a remarkable institution with crossovers of several disciplines within it. Some of the seminal members were Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, William Petty and others. Being quite eclectic, with such disciplines investigated as Astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics, Alchemical meanderings, emerging scientific, botanical and other studies. The society suffered persecution from Oliver Cromwell’s troops, who viewed it and the members with suspicion. It later was renamed The Royal Society, and exists to this day.

In that it was multi-disciplined and played along the lines of both science and magic, The Invisible College was indeed the model I wanted to follow for the publication. I could have picked a better name, but this one was apt in my view.

RP: How do you achieve such a high quality of printing in your publications? The colors you achieve are astounding.

G: It has been a real learning experience. First, I cannot afford (at this time) to privately print anything. I rely on POD (print on demand vendors)… Createspace, IngramSpark, Lulu… It was all down to trial and error. I would submit work, and if it didn’t come up to snuff, I would tweak it until it was right. The old method of trial and error, with the added terrors of printing in the digital age. There are always variants that go with digital printing. Colour can be so tricky, especially with screens and the fact that what one screen shows another won’t. A cosmic crap shoot. It is not like it was when I started out putting books out; we compiled and printed them, or were there when they were printed. Now, everything is remote.

RP: How did you become an artist and how has art changed for you in the digital age?

I actually remember the first piece I did at around the age of 5, a finger painting of a storm with a streak of lightening. My first real urges for art was actually music. I wanted to be a drummer, but I drew all of the time. I was put into art classes at college at the age of 11-12 years old. Kinda the talented and gifted model… I got into mandalas through the influence of Bardo Matrix’s publications in Boulder in 1966. I started drawing mandalas from there… which led to pointillism, where I would do large pieces, mandalas mind you with dots… I would work for days on them. After my discovery of Wilfred Sätty, I became enamored with collages, which in reality weren’t that great but satisfying to construct. I played around for many years as I got side tracked into poetry, dance, and music. It was difficult to find the focus. I started working with water colours along the way in the 1970’s as well.

Part of my challenge was settling into projects. I made 16mm films, photographed, designed books. Always a project of some sort. Eventually in the late 80′ visual arts became the main focus. I started with Serigraph work (silk screen), and then mixed media using ink, watercolour, airbrush. This occupied me for a very long time, and then I got involved deeper with computers beyond synthesizers etc.

I was thrashing around this whole time. So as a tangent to all of this, Allyson Grey plays a part in my development as an artist, and what I am doing today. Robert, Martina, Alex and Allyson and I were having breakfast one morning at the conference (Mind States) Allyson asks me, “Are you an artist?” I said something along the line, “Well sometimes, mumble, mumble” embarrassed really at the question. She pressed me on it asking “Why are you holding back?” That was close to the end of that conversation, but it struck with me. Why was I holding back? It was a lost cause to fight it. I had been working with Photoshop a bit, and I decided that beyond tweaking photos, it had a lot of promise.

Gods of Divine Inebriation

RP: How did you first become involved in making blotter art?

G: Oh, I got an offer from the late Adam Stanhope. He financed the first 3 pieces: Mantis Head, Indra’s Web and Moiré Eyes. He was among the first to show an interest in my art outside of what I had done as a T-Shirt Illustrator/Collagist. Mantis Head is a classic collage, with layer upon layer of Mantis Heads, layered out as a Mandala. Complex, but simple in its way. A nod to my DMT experiences over the years. Indra’s Web is a homage to Tim Leary, who as I mentioned I met a few times over the years. It has proved to be the most popular of these early ones. Moiré Eyes… one of my favourite pieces. It has an interesting history. It was hijacked by someone who I will not mention directly, who was involved in the production of it… and sold in Europe to dealers who soaked the prints in a magical concoction. I heard about this 3rd hand from a collector. You would of thought that someone would of gifted me with at least one sheet, wouldn’t you? As an artist I was both flattered and pissed off that my work was used, but via being hijacked without my say so. This is a problem for many of us. Over the years I have found people reproducing my various designs from T-Shirts (Salvia Goddess) to other pieces claiming my art as theirs. It boggles the mind, and is dismaying. I have had to be unpleasant a couple of times about this. What a wacky world!

RP: I understand you’ve been studying the intoxication techniques of Victorian occultists? Care to share an interesting discovery?

G: How much they had. How much they did, and how much it affected literature and especially poetry. Everything from ether, to laudanum, nitrous oxide, opium of course and hasheesh as a starting point. The big ones we often think of were Opium & its derivatives, Hasheesh, along with Coca. Opium has a special place in the scheme of things. It plays a huge role in literature throughout the century from Georgian times until the demise of the Victorian Era. From Anne and Charlotte Brontë, up to the writings of Oscar Wilde (and earlier of course, Coleridge, etc. Dickens, Makepeace, across the spectrum of literature Opium, Laudanum plays a crucial roll. This is of course most noted in the UK and the US at those times. Casting our nets further one mustn’t forget Absinthe. Don’t let this one slip by. It was a great mover and shaker in the arts and literature of the times. So, stepping more into the European world of the 19th century the main axis was Opium, Absinthe and Hasheesh. Coca and its derivatives of course play a part as well, more so in the latter part of the century.

Later came mescaline after the synthesis performed by Arthur Heffter in Germany. I have found reports of its use from the 1880’s on, but I would posit that it was being used in its natural form (peyote) by settlers etc. early on. Supposedly its use was prevalent in the Mormon community. High weirdness to even consider, right? I would suggest to the initiate to read Mordecai Cooke’s The Seven Sisters of Sleep, and of course Ludlow’s The Hasheesh Eater.

Our Victorian forbears were acutely aware of consciousness alteration. They also did not on the main see any need to regulate, or punish those that used various substances. Problems with addiction in the US exploded after the Civil War and the injecting of morphine due to wounds, pain etc. The temperance movement gained quite the headwind with that. There had been concern about Opiate use prior to the war, but nothing like what came later.

Poppy use, and other plants go back to the Paleolithic at least. We are no different than other creatures in that we have a drive to explore consciousness and to find surcease to suffering and healing on many levels. The difference now of course is the corporate medical state with its government enforcers. People should have greater control over their consciousness. We are no less mature or less able in this than peoples from the past. Thousands of years of her/history shows this. The last 100 years or so of prohibition has been incredibly harmful to the health of the species.

RP: You admit to magical and occult leanings. What books have most influenced you in those areas?

G: Funnily enough, I had training early on that influenced me greatly. The books showed up along the way as companions to that training. Books are great, yet sharing/learning techniques are perhaps the stronger method. With that said, read by all means, read everything that takes you forward. I think the most influential one would have to be The White Goddess by Robert Graves. We were in a book store in Santa Monica and it fell off the shelf into my hands! I took that as a sign. Absolutely changed my life in the way I viewed it. Graves take on the ancient Goddess and the round of the year,
zodiac mysteries, sacrifice etc. is very heady. Some of it is very spot on, and some of it is iffy. A side note in the”discovery” of magic mushrooms, Robert Graves gave Gordon L. Wasson a tip onto Oaxaca’ secrets if I recall. Many of Graves essays are worth their weight in gold, in The White Goddess and elsewhere in his numerous volumes. His poetry is top notch as well.

There are lots to choose from… My very first book along these lines was a book on Zen koans actually, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I was quite taken with that one when I was 13-14 years old. The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness by Alan Watts was a huge influence on my view of combining psychedelics with spiritual practices. The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier was highly influential in my late teens in that it talked of secret histories. The New View over Atlantis by John Michell was an eye opener, introducing me to the ideas of sacred
landscapes, and our place within that context.

The Gurdjieff books of course, as I was in a 4th way school early in my life. Doreen Valiente’s works helped me along the concepts that Wicca had to offer, the works of Gimbutas are essential. Dion Fortune’s books are a must read, and they come as novels. The Winged Bull, The Goat Footed God; among others. Wonderful stuff. Israelie Regardie’s The Golden Dawn should be on your shelf if it isn’t already.

John and Caitlin Matthews The Western Way: A Practical Guide to the Western Mystery Tradition Volumes 1 and 2 along with John Matthews Taliesin. Know the traditions we come out of. Crowley’s works were cool to run into along the way. Robert Anton Wilson’s books. Really, these are great.

Two volumes also come to mind that are not viewed as Occult/Metaphysical but should be are: Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, a fundamental book on understanding Anarchism and its spiritual roots. You can be a fundamentalist Christian or a die in the wool Atheist and still get value from this book. The Magus by John Fowles. Find the early editions before he revised it. Better in the original form in my viewpoints.

Dale Pendell’s works. His Pharmako Poeia trilogy stands as a giant in the literature. I have a large library, but not enough books, not enough time to read them all. I recommend The Temple of Perseus at Panopolis by Peter Lamborn Wilson if you want an overview of the transition/syncrestic of old Egypt into the Hermetic schools. Top notch.

Do you have hours? So many good books. I have poets as well along these lines.

RP: What was the story behind DIY Press?

G: DIY press was a project my friend Michael, his girlfriend at the time Vera, my wife Mary and I launched in 1978-79. Mary and I had just moved to L.A from London. Michael and I had been roommates previously who shared a love of poetry. Before I met Mary in London, Michael and I became enamored with the 19th century French poets, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Rimbaud. We would read the works aloud to each other when we were out of our trees… Michael and I both wrote poetry, recited to each other, shared similar taste in many things. My first go at writing had been in college, and I quite enjoyed it.

We get a hare-brained idea to start a small press. He was a printer at that point, and had access to a press. We published small poets (i.e. unknown) our own stuff, etc. I did most of the layouts and dark room stuff along with Mary. Vera was there with tea and sympathy. It was a rollicking good time. We sold the books on the boardwalk in Venice at a dollar a pop. It was around for a couple of years, and it laid the seed for other projects down the way.

RP: What was your involvement with Grey Pavilion, an early 80s electronica band? Did you play with Nels Cline?

G: Yes, Grey Pavilion grew out of two earlier formations: Ubahn, which included our friend Ley Thompson from the UK who came to the US to work with us, and The Voice. Grey Pavilion came about with Mary (wife and creative partner) and I sitting one night trying to think past such a clunker of a name as The Voice.


Mary & Gwyllm 1980


Nels was our guitarist over the years that we were in existence. He was a collaborator in the finest sense. Although not a member, he was very influential on our sound, especially in the studio. Here is a way collaborators work: full trust. I would give him a cassette of the rough mix, and he would go away and work on it. I don’t believe I ever had to nix anything he offered. Nels is incredibly intuitive with music and especially nuance within the context of a piece. Watching him grow as a musician (we first met when he was 21 playing nothing but acoustic jazz) until his latest tour that I saw here in Portland is an amazing sonic journey.
We were lucky to have him along, and lucky to have an 8 track studio in our flat. Lots of hours spent there just hashing sound and textures out. I think we have 2 albums in the can, yet to be released with his work with us.

A bit of history perhaps: Out of DIY press Mary and I decided to launch a band. She had been a sound engineer in the UK, who not only worked in studios, but toured as a sound person/engineer with various acts. She had been in RADA, first as an actress,and then stage management etc. until she settled on sound engineering.

I had been playing music off and on for years. I played several instruments none of them stellar as I was always thrashing about. I busked originally, then settled in to playing the blues, then jug band/skiffle stuff. I sang, played the dobro, bass guitar, mandolin, harmonica… I had a background in keyboards as my mother had been a jazz pianist/organist.

I had been deeply impressed with the rise of the synthesizer through the late 60’s and 70’s. At that point, such bands as Kraftwerk, Can, Roxy Music, Eno’ solo works, and other acts were just getting wilder and wilder with the sounds that I loved. Of course, then comes the Punk explosion in 1975-76. Out of New York Suicide shows up, there was Ultravox in the UK. It seemed a perfect moment, and a natural direction for us.

We went through some wonderful iterations over our 10+ year run. Starting out with a Roland CR-78 and a Korg PS3200 with a Tascam 4 track, we started recording. The band never had a drummer except in the studio, and that was Alex Cline, Nels’s twin brother. We worked our way through the TR808 for many years and then a Drumulator. The TR808 was amazing. The band grew and shrank over the years, but the core was my friend Mike on synths, Mary on vocals, and myself on synths and
rhythm programming. I believe the studio was our natural environment.

Night Flight to Moscow by Grey Pavilion
We moved back and forth from the US to the UK during that time, picking up new instruments, an eastern European hammer dulcimer with 4 strings per note, 3+ octaves, psalteries, regular dulcimers etc. In the end the synths had taken a backseat to the various dulcimers, etc.

We crash and burned in L.A. walking away from the whole scene, and finally leaving the city of Angels. Nels is still a very close friend. Love him very much, and the work he has done. A consummate musician/artist.

RP: You devoted the 9th edition of The Invisible College to “Arcadia” and you contributed a moving essay on the subject. What is Arcadia and why did it inspire you to dedicate an issue to it?

G: Arcadia as a physical location is in the heart of the Peloponnese peninsula (in Greece). As I stated in that article: “Arcadia, with her roots in the times before deliberate cultivation, before the plow ripped our mother’s flesh, rises up in visions, art, poesy again and again hearkening to the age when it was golden, verdant, a tumbling world of plant, animal, spirits, and gods… before the times of subservience, neolithic priest-craft, kings and corporations”.

As a reference point in Greek Myth, Renaissance Poetry, it contains the concept of the Golden Age, Pre-Hellenic, Pre-Pelagasian… stretching back to time out of mind when the Goddess was the central figure of the pantheon. Gods and Demi-Gods walked amongst the wild tribes, the Centaurs, the herders of goats and aurochs, the huntresses and hunters who shared the landscapes with all matter of creatures, and beings.

There is another undercurrent to “Arcadia”… the concept of an underground stream of knowledge, and teachings that flow from the most ancient of times, down through the ages, surfacing now and again, then re-submerging during times of repression and danger. Sometimes there is a flowering of knowledge, arts and expression, a freeing of consciousness. It has long been posited that the members of various secret societies operating beneath the gaze of the authorities nudges and pushes consciousness during these times to bring needed change about. This stream has been somewhat publicly acknowledged over the centuries…

Every age is defined by beings that rise above the morass and points the way with either a reveal of secret teachings or through art, literature, music. This is the Arcadian Stream to me. Call them what you will, Hermeticist out of Egypt and Greece, the Cathars, the Bogomils, Troubadours who brought the concept of Romantic Love to the French Courts from the Sufis in Andalusia, the Diggers preaching equality of the sexes in Cromwell’s England, the Hellfire Club in England in pursuit of excess, the Blakean crowd, Brook Farm, the Oneidians, the Club des Hashischins, the Transcendentalists, the Golden Dawn, the OTO, the Bohemians, the 4thWay Schools, the Beats… and on, and on. They will always surface, if but for a time. There is no choice in this, but function, pure function.

We live in a time where we have largely turned our backs and minds to the vastness of the Creation. The stars are blotted out by lights of our cities, we insulate our selves from the wide and tumbling world. We on the main interact with what? Screens? Stores? Freeways? There is a raging Universe that we are a part of and are seemingly blind to. No wonder there is such fragmentation and chaos. Yet, there is great hope, and great opportunity. We can and will change the world for those who come after with the work and art that we do.
Arcadia is the birthright of every child born. It takes a lot to shake it out of us, but it is there. Arcadia is our past, and I posit, our future.

The Hasheesh Eater illustrated by Gwyllm Llywdd
The Hasheesh Eater & Other Writings Link…

The Invisible College
Invisible College Publishing Link…

Gwyllm Art Found Here:
Gwyllm Art!
Simon Posford – Flux & Contemplation:

“Instead of resisting to changes, surrender. Let life be with you, not against you. If you think ‘My life will be upside down’ don’t worry. How do you know down is not better than upside?” – Shams of Tabrizi

Falak – Gwyllm

In The Time Of Dreams

“There is not a dream which may not come true, if we have the energy which makes, or chooses, our own fate…. It is only the dreams of those light sleepers who dream faintly that do not come true.”– Arthur Symons

Le Sacre du Printemps II

Well, it seems Gwyllm.Com is starting to wake up again. We have had some nice activity with The Elder Interviews, and with Radio EarthRites. Happy that people are tuning in a bit. With all that has gone on over the last couple of years (health concerns for family, business weirdness, etc) returning to this format makes me quite happy. I tend to fall back into habits if they are good.

Life is sweet here at the moment. Mary and I are busy all day long, and I have also been producing a ton of art work. Not enough time even in this time of no mechanical time. The days flow into each other, and that is good. Happy for that. I hope your days are full as well, and that you are finding yourself again amidst all of the clamor. I am staying away from news as much as possible, and that has served me well. Samsara by the bucket load!

Sending Love to You all!

The Two Of Us… Chillin’ like Villians

On The Menu:
Site UpDates
The Links
Fund Raiser For Food Banks!
Death Is The Road To Awe
In The Time Of Dreams
Poesy: Arthur Symons
L’estimat del corb – L’ham de Foc
Site UpDates:
New Content On The Way…
Well, is starting to go through some changes/upgrades. New projects etc. With the posting of The Elder Interviews with Jim Fadiman & Myron Stolaroff a page is being put together to permanently house all the interviews that we will be featuring, besides the blog post of them. Quicker access and all of that. I want to thank Diane Darling,
Jim Fadiman & Neal Goldsmith for their help on the first two entries. Stay Tuned!

Radio EarthRites…
Poets and Philosopher shows will be starting up again shortly. Also considering doing podcast if there is an interest in them. Weekly updates still going on with new music shows.

There has been discussions about collapsing all of our other sites into this one. Thoughts?
Fund Raiser For Food Banks!
So I have taken my designs/art works and put them on to mask via These are not medical grade mask, and we use them over other mask to cheer things up a bit. Profits will go to Food Banks. Lots of people in need at this time, so if you like any of these designs, please consider purchasing a couple or more.


Order Here!

Click on any of the pictures to go to the Gallery!

The Links:
Becoming Commodity, The Sacred
In the Ground of Our Unknowing
Female Husbands
The Great Healing
Death Is The Road To Awe:


In The Time Of Dreams:

So this has been a time of dreams… Have you felt it, have you experienced it?

As some of you may know I spent many years as a silk screen artist/printer.  I primarily printed T-shirts… (with air brushing thrown in) but my one great desire that I never really got to was printing posters and books.  I got caught up in the idea of wearable art… Perhaps now that’s going to change with the way the world is going.

So here is how this all ties into dreams. A few weeks ago at the beginning of the social distancing isolation period… I was having very restless nights as I am sure many of you were as well.

Dreams were becoming more and more vivid and as that was happening it seemed like I was diving deeper into that realm. (I have times when I think the dreamtime is where I really exist.) Some of my best art, at least in my opinion comes from dreams that I have had.

This is about one of the dreams I had…

In The Dream: I was in a bright sunny studio with my silk screen/serigraph setup and I was engaged in printing a book of art, dreams, thoughts, and philosophy. The sheets of vellum I was printing upon were of exquisite quality. I was printing with silver or platinum ink that reflected light. It was a moment in dreamtime that was… Perfection.  The sensations were all emotional. Producing something of great beauty  to which I had been striving for all of my life.

Dream state with me now like other important dreams have. Is this a moment of precognition?

Is it just the inner workings of a fevered mind during this time of pandemic?

Is it desire?

Maybe it is all of these. I do admit I have the desire to do silk screen work again and I love the idea a huge project it will take me weeks, maybe months to complete.

Of course the lack of funds is an obstruction but it has never stopped me before, nor would it stop me now if I choose to go down this path….

But let us enlarge a bit…

Dreamtime is where we often start a new life, the new ways of existing. I sincerely believe that we are at a juncture in time, if time even exist anymore… that is at a crossroads for humanity and the planet.

I do not want what was considered normal back again. I want a gentler world where people plant gardens for the present and fruit trees for the future and all the various iterations that these symbolically mean.

Everything we do in the creative that is not tied to survival has been said to be art.  A garden, a painting, a beautiful dwelling, a story whispered to a child falling asleep, a song sung alone or in chorus with others are all the most human of expressions. Perhaps a world more filled with art. Perhaps a world born anew, where the barriers of our sleeping awareness at last intermingles with the Dreamtime, with the Imaginal, with Original Mind.

If there is a dream to wake up from, it is the dream of the State. Not so much a dream, as a nightmare. (1)

But, Back To Dreams:
Let us, perhaps follow those messages that come unbidden. Let us, heed the voice that comes from the Sibyl within. Now is the time, now is our time to bring the dreaming into reality. Change the world for the better. Dreaming a new one into existence.

(1) History in general is a catalog of bad decisions, poorly thought out planning disagreements. It has little to do with the actual workings of the world. In the true world, As I see it (and of course this is just an opinion) 99.99 percent of humans get along fine with each other with the occasional disagreements.
Wars and violence are an anomaly and I have come to think truly symptomatic of hierarchy and outmoded neolithic behavioral patterns. (of course humans are capable of violence and there is plenty of evidence of pre-neolithic behaviours along these lines) I shan’t go into all details here but it does indeed start within the complex of religion married to state and those earlier civilizations….

Poesy Arthur Symons:

The Loom Of Dreams
I broider the world upon a loom,
I broider with dreams my tapestry;
Here in a little lonely room
I am master of earth and sea,
And the planets come to me.

I broider my life into the frame,
I broider my love, thread upon thread;
The world goes by with its glory and shame,
Crowns are bartered and blood is shed;
I sit and broider my dreams instead.

And the only world is the world of my dreams,
And my weaving the only happiness;
For what is the world but what it seems?
And who knows but that God, beyond our guess,
Sits weaving worlds out of loneliness?
Amends To Nature
I have loved colours, and not flowers;
Their motion, not the swallows wings;
And wasted more than half my hours
Without the comradeship of things.

How is it, now, that I can see,
With love and wonder and delight,
The children of the hedge and tree,
The little lords of day and night?

How is it that I see the roads,
No longer with usurping eyes,
A twilight meeting-place for toads,
A mid-day mart for butterflies?

I feel, in every midge that hums,
Life, fugitive and infinite,
And suddenly the world becomes
A part of me and I of it.
Love & Sleep
I have laid sorrow to sleep;
Love sleeps.
She who oft made me weep
Now weeps.

I loved, and have forgot,
And yet
Love tells me she will not

She it was bid me go;
Love goes
By what strange ways, ah! no
One knows.

Because I cease to weep,
She weeps.
Here by the sea in sleep,
Love sleeps.
De Profundis Clemadi
I did not know; child, child, I did not know,
Who now in lonely wayfare go,
Who wander lonely of you, O my child,
And by myself exiled.
I did not know, but, O white soul of youth,
So passionate of truth,
So amorous of duty, and so strong
To suffer, not to suffer wrong,
Is there for me no pity, who am weak?
Spare me this silence, speak!
I did not know: I wronged you; I repent:
But will you not relent?
Must I still wander, outlawed, and go on
The old weary ways alone,
As in the old intolerable days
Before I saw you face to face,
The doubly darkened ways since you withdraw
Your light, that was my law?
I charge you by your soul, pause, ere you hurl
Sheer to destruction, girl,
A poor soul that had midway struggled out,
Still midway clogged about,
And for the love of you had turned his back
Upon the miry track,
That had been as a grassy wood-way, dim
With violet-beds, to him.
I wronged you, but I loved you; and to me
Your love was purity;
I rose, because you called me, and I drew
Nearer to God, in you.
I fall, and if you leave me, I must fall
To that last depth of all,
Where not the miracle of even your eyes
Can bid the dead arise.
I charge you that you save not your own sense
Of lilied innocence,
By setting, at the roots of that fair stem,
A murdered thing, to nourish them.
L’estimat del corb – L’ham de Foc:

“A bodhisattva doesn’t have to be perfect. Anyone who is aware of what is happening and who tries to wake up other people is a bodhisattva. We are all bodhisattvas, doing our best.” – Nhat Hanh

Bodhisattva – Gwyllm

Elder Interviews: Myron Stolaroff 1998 Part I

Myron Stolaroff: “I feel very indebted to Albert Hoffman for inventing LSD. After my first LSD-experience I claimed that this was the greatest discovery that man had ever made, because after all the human mind is the most important attribute we have, and this lets us understand our mind and the enormous potential of mind.”

Kaleidoscope – Gwyllm

Second in our Elder Interview series… Myron Stolaroff.
This interview was kindly provided by Neal Goldsmith. (Thanks Neal!)

If you like/gather wisdom from these types of philosophical/psychological/psychedelic conversations, information, please help support this site.


Myron, Neal & George

A Conversation with:
George Greer and Myron Stolaroff November 13, 1998

Neal Goldsmith: Thank you Myron and George for joining us today. Perhaps the best way to get started would be for each of you to take a turn just telling us about your personal and professional backgrounds and how you got interested in this area.

George Greer: You go ahead, Myron.

Myron Stolaroff: All right. I was trained as an electrical engineer. But rather early in life – around the age of 30 or so – I got involved in activities that began to unfold the overriding importance of the spiritual aspect of reality. I’d come through readings – and maybe just some inherent understanding – to have an appreciation for divinity. So I was very fortunate in my life to make contact with Gerald Heard, and I used to visit him from time to time in Los Angeles. He’s the person who told me about LSD. What he had to say was remarkable. This led me to eventually look up Al Hubbard and I became absolutely fascinated with him and his tales. That led me to Canada and my first LSD experience.

Goldsmith: Approximately when?

Stolaroff: That was in 1956. That was a remarkable opening for me – a tremendous opening. I relived a very painful birth experience, that had determined almost all my personality features. But I also experienced the oneness of mankind, and the reality of God. I knew that from then on, that I would be totally committed to this work.

A few years later, in 1961, I resigned from Ampex and set up the International Foundation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park. We were fortunate to get Dr. Charles Savage as our medical director, and we gathered a research team – Willis Harman at Stanford University, Bob Mogar from San Francisco State College, and Jim Fadiman, a graduate student in psychology at Stanford. While we carried on our work, we also carried on research.

So over about three and a half years we processed some 350 people. I not only was able to witness how these people learned great skills and improved their lives, improved their relationships and well-being – but also, how some of them changed in profound and fundamental ways.

That work went on until the FDA began closing this research down in 1965. Of course, that was a crushing blow. But, fortunately, in 1970, another door opened. I discovered that there were many new compounds that were not illegal. So my wife and I spent the next approximately 20 years or so investigating these new compounds and how different people would react to them.

So I accumulated experience and the more I saw and the more I gained from my own personal experiences, I came to realize that these substances were probably the most powerful learning tools that we have available to us. This Is provided we learn how to use them properly, with intention, honesty, and a sincere desire to learn.

I think that about sums it up.

Greer: My involvement began when I was a sophomore in college and my roommate said that he’d learned things from taking mescaline. I had some experiences then and we learned quite a bit. In one experience, like Myron, I came to an appreciation of the reality of spirit and God. That was a definite, permanent life change for me, in terms of what’s real and what’s important.

Then, in 1980, I’d finished my psychiatry training and learned about MDMA being used for therapy and to help in relationships. So my wife and I had an experience that was very profound for us in terms of talking about issues in our relationship – forgiving each other for things that we had done – and sped up our decision to get married. We’ve been together – gosh, almost 20 years, at this point.

I did some regulatory research in California, where I was living, and found out that it was legal for me, as a physician, to prescribe and administer a medication if I manufactured it myself. So I met with Dr. Alexander Shulgin, Sasha Shulgin, and we manufactured MDMA in his laboratory. I also had to have peer review and informed consent to do these experimental sessions, all of which I had. We gave MDMA to about 80 people, and about 15 couples, over about five years – until it was scheduled in 1985.

One of the most unique effects we found was the enhancement of deep, intimate, emotional communication among couples. That seemed very different from other psychedelic drugs. Because MDMA didn’t distort thinking or perception – you know, no hallucinations or visual distortions – the mind is very clear; the ego is present.

The people we gave it to were not people who came because they were having a serious relationship problem – they were highly functional people who wanted to have a different perspective and explore their relationships. They got a lot of benefit out of it at the time, and also by the time we did follow-up up to two years later. They said that a lot of communication skills they learned with MDMA had persisted at least for that long.

One of the reasons we didn’t work with people with serious problems is that we really were not set up to do any kind of inpatient treatment, if the session triggered deep conflict. So we screened out anyone who had ever been incapacitated by mental illness. I never recommended MDMA to any of my psychiatry patients that I was seeing in my practice. People only came to have a session if they heard about it, word of mouth, through their friends. It was very separate from my practice. I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to recommend an experimental drug to my patients. That’s part of the reason that we didn’t see people with more serious problems.

Goldsmith: I got the outline for successful work with couples that you developed together for today’s conversation and I thought I’d take a minute or two to read it.

There are two parts to the recommendations you make. The first set of factors apply to individual self-realization – to make one a better partner in a relationship. The second part describes the parameters of the actual conduct of a psychedelic session, held to permit a couple to enhance their relationship.

The factors for developing one’s individual potential are:

  1. Become aware of the vast potential available to the human being.
  2. Discover the inherent nature of Reality and Mind, and their spiritual basis.
  3. Become one with all of creation.
  4. Discover love is the bottom line. One must first learn to love oneself.
  5. We create our life, so we must become fully responsible.
  6. Honor the cosmic gift of free will, in self and others.
  7. Learn how to learn. Involves being open, setting aside all preconditions, trusting, listening carefully.
  8. Confront restrictions and obstacles.
  9. Ask for the help that the Universe provides.
  10. Live what we learn.

The factors for the couple’s session are:

  1. Sharing an explicitly expressed common goal/purpose for the relationship, and psychedelic session is required before the session.
  2. Participants make a list of issues they wish to resolve, both joint and personal.
  3. Being explicit about agreements is also required. When will it be over? Don’t make phone calls, other agreements about the structure, etc.
  4. Making sure that both people have checked into themselves, emotionally and intuitively, and are sure that having a session at this time is the right thing for them to do for themselves.
  5. No attachment to outcome or changes expected in the other person. You know, this is a particularly deadly one if not at least mutually attempted.
  6. No personal sacrifice is expected, or given, if there is a possibility that it could lead to later resentment. No care giving from the other can be expected, while, at the same time, people can be present and as available as possible for each other.
  7. It is best to have a trained therapist or sitter available to take care of practical things, at least the first time, as well as hold hands, etc., if needed – so the partner is not called upon to do care giving. Not having a sitter places more demands and can prevent a deep letting go if the person feels he or she has to be on duty for someone else.
  8. Use the non-defensiveness provided by MDMA to clear up differences.

Myron, I think you were going to take us through the first set.

Stolaroff: Very good. We were asked to talk about work with couples and I had mentioned that I’m not a therapist and so haven’t conducted couples therapy. But my own experience using these substances in my own relationships and assisting others work through relationship issues – and the experience of many, many others who are familiar with these substances – indicates that the best way to be in a relationship is to be all the person that you can be. So what I would like to do is run through a number of aspects that contribute to our discovering and realizing our full potential.

The first factor – “Become aware of the vast potential available to the human being” – most people are unaware of the absolutely vast potential that we have in being a human being. This is apparent the first time anybody takes one of the stronger psychedelics, like LSD. One of the amazing things is the way barriers to perception fall away and you become aware of more and more that you’ve never perceived before – a remarkable opening. As you continue to use these substances, these openings can continue and grow, until you become convinced that the process is practically limitless. That as long as you’re willing to explore with integrity – and I might say courage – because sometimes it takes a lot of courage – you can continue to explore in almost any area. There seems to be no end to learning. So it would seem that we truly are infinite and that there’s no end to the amount that we can learn and grow.

Greer: As you’re talking Myron, I’m having the image of someone living in a box, and of all the sides of the box falling away. They discover that they’re a completely different sort of being than they thought they were and that all the decisions they’ve made about how to live their lives – including: “What can I do in a relationship?” and “What’s possible in a relationship?” – all those have to be considered again, because all the rules have changed.

Stolaroff: That’s so true and it’s just wonderful finding people discover that. How great they feel when they’re able to do that. I think a very important part of this is discovering the inherent nature of reality, the inherent nature of time – and the fact that it is a spiritual thing. I think that’s one of the reasons there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the world – especially with scientists. Whereas the polls show that about 90% of the people believe in God, according to a Newsweek article about scientists and God, only about 40% of scientists do. I think scientists are appalled by the discovery of the transpersonal aspect of ourselves, even though, as you continue to discover, this aspect becomes the most real part, because it is so satisfying and so vast.

Greer: In my early experience, I struggled with that duality – between the scientific model of the Universe — including scientific human psychology — and the realization that we, as human beings, have a tremendously greater degrees of freedom than would be the case if we think of ourselves as simply personalities, with the familiar structures and forms. It’s important to understand the different levels of reality that the natural scientists apply to physical things – you need to have that – but it doesn’t work to apply those to yourself.


Outline For Successful Psychedelic Work With Couples

Factors for Developing One’s Individual Potential

  1. Become aware of the vast potential available to the human being.
  2. Discover the inherent nature of Reality and Mind, and their spiritual basis.
  3. Become one with all of creation.
  4. Discover love is the bottom line. One must first learn to love oneself.
  5. We create our life, so we must become fully responsible.
  6. Honor the cosmic gift of free will, in self and others.
  7. Learn how to learn. Involves being open, setting aside all preconditions, trusting, listening carefully.
  8. Confront restrictions and obstacles.
  9. Ask for the help that the Universe provides.
  10. Live what we learn.

Factors for The Couple’s Session

  1. Sharing an explicitly expressed common goal/purpose for the relationship, and psychedelic session is required before the session.
  2. Participants make a list of issues they wish to resolve, both joint and personal.
  3. Being explicit about agreements is also required. When will it be over? Don’t make phone calls, other agreements about the structure, etc.
  4. Making sure that both people have checked into themselves, emotionally and intuitively, and are sure that having a session at this time is the right thing for them to do for themselves.
  5. No attachment to outcome or changes expected in the other person. This is a particularly deadly one if not at least mutually attempted.
  6. No personal sacrifice is expected, or given, if there is a possibility that it could lead to later resentment. No care giving from the other can be expected, while, at the same time, people can be present and as available as possible for each other.
  7. It is best to have a trained therapist or sitter available to take care of practical things, at least the first time, as well as hold hands, etc., if needed – so the partner is not called upon to do care giving. Not having a sitter places more demands and can prevent a deep letting go if the person feels he or she has to be on duty for someone else.
  8. Use the non-defensiveness provided by MDMA to clear up differences.

Goldsmith: I might add — that this paradigm battle going on between traditional psychology and transpersonal psychology is very similar to the paradigm shift earlier in the century that took place in physics. It seems to be the way we get this new world view. Each discipline goes through it, at its own historical stage, but the transformation is quite similar. In each case, it is toward certain ways of thinking about reality that don’t jibe with a more deterministic or mechanistic perspective.

Greer: I think that captures it nicely.

Stolaroff: I like to think that this essence within us is really a core of wisdom, almost like an embryo that wants to grow and get out. I think there is an essential drive within us to expand, learn and grow, so that hopefully, these kinds of discoveries and insights will continue to permeate throughout all of society, in due time. Especially if we’re willing to accept and allow it to happen in other people.

Bodhisattva – Gwyllm

Greer: Yes and if both members of the couple have that kind of core life goal, they’ll both be headed in the same direction. Having that common purpose is going to resolve lots of relationship conflicts.

Goldsmith: You’ve been talking here about the inherent nature of reality and mind, and of their spiritual basis – which is the second factor. Could you tell us about how the third factor – “Become one with all of creation” – influences the relationship? Do we even need a relationship if we’re one with all of creation?

Stolaroff: What this is saying is that when you become one with all of creation, all the barriers that we have created and all the defense mechanisms, all the attachments and judgments that we’ve created, that keep us from relating effectively with everything around us, all of these things are somehow dissolved and out of the way. What we discover is this absolutely remarkable, indescribable state of oneness with absolutely everything in creation. It’s a state of supreme bliss.

Goldsmith: How does one even relate to the concept of “relationship” in that state?

Stolaroff: Although I might have experienced this oneness at times, I am very quickly pulled back into my body and my habits and expressions. In a real, meaningful relationship, if a couple can open up to the essential cores of each other and share that, it’s one of the most satisfying things that we can do and that, then, can become a model for extending that connection to other people and to everything else.

Greer: For me, becoming one with creation is a state of mind experienced briefly in deep meditation or in a psychedelic experience. Being in a relationship can be a reminder of the psychedelic state in every day life. Being one with a partner in a spiritual way can remind us of this connection with all creation.

That, for me, leads to the next point, “Love is the bottom line,” and loving oneself. If you have an experience of being one with creation and you completely love yourself, that type of peak experience – that type of deep, emotional belief – can stay with you. Then you can begin to come from a place of basic love when approaching your partner.

Goldsmith: Maybe this would be a good point to explain what MDMA does and why it is therapeutic.

Greer: It really has to do more with what MDMA doesn’t do – in that it doesn’t distort perception; it doesn’t distort thinking; it doesn’t make a person feel dissociated from the physical world around them, from people around them. Since it’s so close to the normal state of mind, there seems that there can be more carryover of insights after the experience.

What MDMA does that allows the connection – that experience of love – to happen is it blocks the neurophysiology of the fear response. If your nervous system isn’t responding with fear, out of survival instincts, then this feeling of connection – or in some, even of becoming one with creation, certainly with a partner – can be experienced.

Stolaroff: Well said! I have the feeling that MDMA takes you right down to the core of your being, into your essence, and you’re able to live in that place for a while. It allows you to bypass all the other stuff in the unconscious, which the more powerful psychedelics uncover and can result in discomfort until dealt with and resolved. It’s remarkable that MDMA can take you right into your center, where you feel the oneness, where you feel so completely at peace with yourself and others – and it allows you to function from there. That’s why, I think, Sasha Shulgin early coined the word “window” for it – because it’s like looking out of the window onto creation the way it really is.

Greer: I agree. I don’t think the MDMA creates anything – it just removes the blocks to our perceiving what is there all the time. Our essence is, by definition, always present – if we just had the ability to attain that perspective. So it helps one discover that such a thing is even possible.

Goldsmith: This then leads into numbers five and six. Myron, maybe you can help us understand individual responsibility and free will in the face of this all-encompassing cosmic oneness.

Stolaroff: One of the discoveries that I have found to be really important is that the bottom line for our functioning is intent. Most of us, in the condition we find ourselves in the world, are a composite of a lot of different aspects of character and being. Many of these are often conflicting things. For example, maybe we’d like to lose weight – but, at the same time, we love to eat rich desserts. So, we’re filled with a lot of conflicting desires.

But if our intent is deep enough, it will actually pull all of these conflicting areas into alignment. In other words, our deepest intent will override other considerations and become the source of our behavior. I think we can discover that the life that happens to us – in the way that we function, respond and so on – really comes out of this very, very deep intent, whether it be conscious or unconscious With proper use of psychedelics we can discover that our deepest intent, down where our essence is, is number four: It is love. So the best thing that we can do, then, is to come out of that place of love.

Revelation – Gwyllm

Greer: I’m relating this to this number five here, because I feel like an intention and willingness are the two main things that are required to have a good psychedelic session. To form a clear intention of the highest order. Having the intention to create your life – that’s a very great purpose to have. The responsibility comes in with the willingness to experience whatever happens to you on the way to fulfilling that intention or that purpose. If our intention is to be the best human being we can be, we need to be willing to experience pain, suffering, confusion – everything on that path. The responsibility is: I’m responsible for what I create, and I’m willing to experience the consequences of it.

Goldsmith: So it’s that mind-set of that intentionality that brings us to a point where we can experience number four – that deep love. Which is then the healing factor, Myron, that you were talking about, that brings the two disparate sides together – in this fearless state, the state where you don’t have the psychological fear response.

Stolaroff: Yes, that’s right. But another aspect is that we can develop inner strength. Because once we recognize that what is being carried out in our life comes from our intention, by deepening our intention, we can then make choices – and find that, with intent, those choices become fulfilled. Which is the same as saying that we’ve created our life.

But, along with this – and I’ve had a chance to observe this over a number of decades now, – there is such a thing as just becoming our essence. I think, as humans, we’re expected to do more. We do have faculties, and we do have muscles; we can develop and train these faculties and muscles so that as we choose to live with intent, we can develop the characteristics for carrying out that intent – and therefore live more and more successfully.

Greer: You mention in your number six, the cosmic gift of free will – it really is a gift, because from one perspective, there’s no reason that we should necessarily have free will. But free will makes it possible to have our own intention, to actually accomplish it and carry it out.

Stolaroff: If you look at the world, you see that a tremendous amount of the harm in the world is caused by people being unwilling to let others have free will. There’s a desire to control and manipulate, to assert one’s own position. I love a phrase that’s in Ken Keyes’s book, The Power of Unconditional Love, where he says: We have the right to state our preferences, but we don’t have the right to make demands on our partners or other people.

Greer: And it won’t work, anyway.

Stolaroff: (Laughs) Well, as a matter of fact, it usually makes things worse, doesn’t it?

Greer: Especially in a psychedelic session, where the sensitivity is turned up maybe 10 or a hundred-fold. Any attempts to have the other person’s life or experience fit in your own agenda is a setup for wasting a lot of time and energy that you will have to recover from all over again. We’ll get into that more later, I believe.

Goldsmith: You both seem to be alluding to these nested levels – first, being inside the self and then taking that out to the dyad, the relationship, then out to everyone else – the larger community, and ultimately to the Universe as a whole. At each of those levels, you’re talking about the same two things – love and free will, or responsibility. So, responsibility at the level of the individual has a certain form, and responsibility at the level of a couple has another character; responsibility as part of the community, or as part of the Universe – each has its responsibility, call it “self-will,” or “free will.” The more nested – the more you look at it in its larger perspective – the more free will and responsibility turns into something bigger. Call it love.

Greer: I think these principles of love and free will and responsibility actually do apply, both to deep, mystical experience, as well as to getting along with your co-workers. It applies no matter what we’re doing.

Stolaroff: Yes.

Goldsmith: So how do we get there? How do we learn to learn and confront the restrictions and obstacles that so many of us find in our way and encounter professionally?

Stolaroff: This next item – “Learning how to learn” – is very essential. George mentioned earlier a number of the factors involved – being willing to keep open. In using the psychedelics, one of the hardest things to learn is to just be simply open to what’s happening, and just allow it to happen.

A problem, as I see it, is that there are a lot of things that we’ve made unconscious that are uncomfortable and we really are not too keen to experience. If you let go to the experience, these things want to come up, and we have a tendency to put the brakes on. There’s a dynamic described in Buddhism that I think is quite appropriate and widespread, and I find that I’ve done it a lot – it’s called “grasping.” This is trying to make reality what you want it to be, instead of simply allowing it to be what it is.

Learning requires this kind of openness – the willingness not to grasp, not to prevent things from happening. As a matter of fact, once you’re open to the normal flow, it almost immediately becomes more comfortable. It’s in this state that you learn really important things – that the unconscious really does become conscious.

Another very important issue in being willing to allow things to emerge is fear. Fear is probably what holds us back the most. But once you experience this larger realm, or have an experience with divinity, then you begin to trust it and the more you trust, the more willing you are to open yourself to whatever it is that happens. So you become more willing to set aside your preconditions, your judgments, your attachments, and so on, and pay careful attention to what’s happening. This leads to the most effective kind of learning.

I like to think of it in another sense, also – that the surface mind is in partnership with the inner self. An excellent way to learn is to consciously focus on an object or issue. Then let go so completely that your inner self – which is the source of wisdom and understanding – can manifest and show you what you’ve asked for.

At this point I’d like to introduce another Buddhist term — “aversion.” When something painful or objectionable wants to come up, we often avoid it or shut it down. This is aversion. It is a principal reason we don’t experience what we ask for. We have to be willing to experience whatever is involved in receiving our answer.

Salvia Eyes – Gwyllm

Goldsmith: There is a standard frustration or paradox – you’re an engineer, Myron, and so you know what bootstrapping means – lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps is impossible in terms of gravity – and in self-exploration and psychotherapy, it likewise seems that we are hobbled by the paradox that we need to get past our defenses – but our defenses won’t let us do that very thing.

Stolaroff: Yes.

Goldsmith: So it speaks, then, to the value of this sort of chemical intervention, that enables one to peer over through the window that you were describing earlier.

Greer: That’s exactly right. Particularly with MDMA, the reduction in fear enables us to be aware of our preconceptions; to just to be aware that they’re there, but not to then grasp them out of fear. Because we form personalities and beliefs and , psychological “assumptions,” to protect us from feeling fear and anxiety. That’s what defense mechanisms are for and they’re very functional, but they’re not helpful to learning new perspectives. You’re right, Neal – to bootstrap yourself, you must either have a traumatic life experience that forces you out of a preconception about reality, some other sort of life confrontation, an experience of grace, or a psychedelic experience that you take with this kind of intention and willingness.

Under those conditions, all your mistakes and limited, illusory preconceptions are shown to you. So then, through free will, you can make choices to maintain that belief or to let it go. Especially with MDMA – without the fear – you can listen to your partner do the same thing and help each other gain an enhanced perspective.

Stolaroff: I think one of the really hard things to learn – of course, this isn’t true with MDMA, because the specific function of MDMA, as you mentioned earlier, George, is to somehow nullify or shut off fear. But with other psychedelics, fear can become very present. Just being willing to be afraid is one of the really important things to learn – being willing to be afraid and trust so that the basis of the fear can reveal itself – which most always is a wonderful accomplishment.

Greer: Right – that’s right.

Goldsmith: It’s difficult to see the distortions that the fear and defensiveness make. That’s so prominent in relationships, when your partner says something and you respond from your own personal issues and don’t really hear what your partner is actually trying to say, which many times will be coming from their own personal issues. Fear distorts seeing the partner, so when the fear is removed in an MDMA session, being able to see the partner more clearly is a powerful experience.

Greer: Right. And the reduction of fear also enables you to be more honest – with yourself and with your partner. During my first experience with my wife, at a certain point she asked if I minded something that she had done. In a normal state – being a nice person, I like to be liked – I would have said: “Oh, no – that’s okay.” But at that moment I said: “Yes, I really didn’t like that – and I can forgive you for it.” That was a novel experience for me at that time. It’s not that people need MDMA or psychedelics to do this – or, really, any of the things we’ve been talking about – but it certainly can help tremendously if life doesn’t provide the opportunity to resolve these issues.

Stolaroff: In watching couples under MDMA, one of the things I’ve been amazed at is that this kind of judgmental defensiveness is so subdued that a person can bring up something that before might have been a very loaded topic about which each partner would have immediately established their position against each other. Under MDMA it’s remarkable how they can really listen to each other – maybe for the first time.

Greer: Yes and I would only add the issue of intention – if one has the intention to reach the goal, then, when you meet a restriction or an obstacle, you just refuse to give into it, in order to maintain that intention. If it’s just fear, you just sit there and watch it and your attention can outlast the fear – especially if, like in an MDMA or psychedelic state, there’s a lot more energy available. It’s like calling the bluff of your fears and obstacles.

Stolaroff: Oh, that’s wonderful – yes.

Goldsmith: Which kind of leads us, in a way, to the next factor. If I may. I want to confront you, Myron, with a particular angle on this one. I know that you’ve talked about asking for and receiving help from the Universe and from God. Speaking specifically to our readership of students, scientists and scholars, as an engineer, tell us in concrete terms, how to ask for the help that the Universe provides.

Stolaroff: [Laughs.] Well, gosh – it’s really simple. First of all, my own dynamic is that I’ve always felt totally responsible. As a matter of fact, one can get thrown off base because sometimes people, very early in their experience, have a very profound experience of being God and therefore of being in control of the Universe – which makes you feel very responsible for everything. So I always felt that I had to do everything myself – that I had to figure it out, or had to be willing to look or take responsibility. Then it’s quite astonishing that sometimes, all of a sudden you say: “My gosh – I can’t find my way through this. I don’t know what’s happening or what these feelings are – please help.” Sometimes the answer comes almost instantaneously, miraculously. For so long – and I’ve seen other people operate this way, too — I’ve had such a sense that I alone have to accomplish it, that it doesn’t occur to me to lay back and ask for help.

This can also include asking others for help – I had to learn that my companions oftentimes had answers I was looking for. I’ve learned to be much more willing to ask others for help and be open to what they have to say.

But I do feel that our essence is the container of practically infinite wisdom – that we have almost all knowledge and all wisdom. Of course, all this isn’t accessible to us, because of various conditions we’ve created. But one of the ways of overcoming those conditions is recognizing that that information is there, and asking for it and being open to its coming.

Goldsmith: Isn’t that why people sometimes use these substances to get in touch with the external, the vastness of the Universe and at other times to get in touch with the vastness of the internal Universe: that both are a source of the same resonance or truth.

Greer: Yes, the same continuum.

Stolaroff: Yes. I like word “continuum,” George – because I really don’t see any kind of separation.

Greer: Right. In terms of me, asking for help the Universe provides, it is the ego opening the door to something outside itself.

Stolaroff: Oh, yes – very good.

Greer: If the ego is in a bind and can’t move forward, it can’t answer its own questions. I had an experience like this, where I discovered my mind was trying to answer its own question, and it, by definition, didn’t know the answer. By asking for help outside – and it can be God, the Universe – it doesn’t really matter what you call it – and all the 12-Step programs relate to this, the “Higher Power” – it’s all the same thing. It is critical for the transformation of the personality for the ego to open to input from outside of itself – from intuition. That’s when the magic happens, if you will.

Stolaroff: I’d like to quote Jesus on this point. Early in a search, it may not seem so, but with pursuit and intention, I believe we do find this statement to be true: “Seek and ye shall find; knock and ye shall enter; ask and it shall be given unto you.”

Greer: This reminds me of the whole concept of prayer. In my earlier adulthood I thought of myself more as a Buddhist, into meditation, and prayer really wasn’t something real to me. But later, I came to see the whole concept of prayer and praying as directly addressing this issue – because prayer is a method of asking for help from outside oneself, from outside the ego. I don’t think it really matters what you pray to – it’s the process of praying – psychologically, at least – that opens one up for this kind of transformation.

Stolaroff: Yes – I think that’s very, very true, and I’m glad you brought it up. I think prayer is important. As you say, you don’t have to have any specific kind of understanding – except one, I think, and that is to have confidence that the answer is out there somewhere.

Greer: Right.

Stolaroff: Of course, if you try this and you get the answer, that convinces you that it’s there and you get to trust it more. That continues to make it more effective.

Goldsmith: So this method of bootstrapping – not the chemical one – for transforming one’s life, seems to result from a kind of focused intentionality – through prayer or even meditation. Applying this then to our factor number ten: live what we learn – which is, of course, the hard part – it seems like there can be a personal bootstrapping effect that comes from this kind of focus or intentionality. Would that be a fair statement?

Greer: I think so. The bootstrapping results from asking and getting help from outside of one’s ego. Living what we learn – what’s the point of any of this unless it manifests in your life? If you just have these great experiences of insight, but then you don’t express this in the world of nature and human beings – then it might be nice for you, but it’s really no good to society or culture.

Goldsmith: Yes, and can it really be good for you, if it’s cut off from society?

Buddha – Gwyllm 2011

Greer: True – I think a lot of the skills that one learns in a psychedelic experience can carry over to living what you learn, or practicing what you preach. These inner skills can lead to outer skills, but that’s a whole other place and so your most intimate interpersonal relationship is the first place that this externalization of skill will manifest.

Stolaroff: That’s very well put, really that’s the essence. [Laughs.] It’s great to have these wonderful experiences – but if we don’t put them into effect in our life, we’re throwing away so much.

I’d like to further comment on one aspect of this issue. I think a lot of people get fooled by their psychedelic experiences, because they are so wonderful, they’ve had such openings and such increases in understanding, that they feel that they can rest on their laurels. On the contrary, what I have found – and, in fact, have been quite surprised at – is how easy it is to regress to old habits. What has surprised me is the amount of effort and intention I’ve had to muster to actually live these things in life. I don’t know whether it’s true with others or not – it is something I’d like to bring up at the psychedelic elders conference [Michigan, November, 1998] we’re going to.

Greer: I’ve never had anybody tell me it was easy.

Stolaroff: Oh, well, thank you. [Laughs.]

Goldsmith: Well, there were some who said it was easy – people like Leary, in the early days.

Greer: Yes.

Goldsmith: There’s always this sort of undercurrent – especially, perhaps, in the public perception – that psychedelics are a magic pill – you know, instant enlightenment; chemical Satori. Those are all old terms that were used in the early ’60s – by the press, mostly. But it’s a very interesting comment you make, Myron, about your own personal experience – about how easy it is to fall back. It will be interesting to see what the elders have to say. One would like to think that people who were active in the use of psychedelics would become wise old Buddhas. To be frank, I wonder how these tools help us – by providing insight, or rather, by helping to focus us on the path, which is what then provides the insights. Are these tools more effective in changing one’s life, than someone else might be, using intentionality and focus, but without these substances?

Stolaroff: Now that we’re on this subject, I must say that there are some experiences that are so profound and have such deep impact, that there is instant change. There are some things that happen that you just can’t retreat from.

Goldsmith: Like your early experience you mentioned at the beginning.

Stolaroff: Yes. If the experience isn’t retained, perhaps we haven’t experienced deeply enough, or we require deeper processing. If you want to play the violin or the piano, you have to fit in many hours of practicing and developing skills, making the appropriate nerve connections and movements until it becomes spontaneous. I think there is part of our organism that simply has to be trained to search effectively for these great truths.

Greer: What you’ve raised here, Neal, touches on a couple of things for me. One, the abuse of psychedelics and two, to segue into our next set of factors, the actual conduct of a session. I’ve seen a lot of patients who abuse lots of drugs – including LSD and MDMA – and don’t learn much of anything. I believe the reason they don’t is the whole issue of set and setting. Abusers don’t have the intention to learn from the experience – they’re using it for the intention of escaping.

You know, when I was in college having those early experiences, I didn’t take it until my roommate said you can learn something. So that was always my basic intention. In fact, I found it a very poor tool for escaping anything – all your unconscious problems are right in your face. But I do know people who would go out and take LSD, drink beer, drive around and look at the pretty lights – and they never got anything out of it, except for a few hours of entertainment.

Part II…. Continues.

Eclipse – Gwyllm

Elder Interviews, Myron Stolaroff 1998 Part II

Ophanim – Gwyllm

Goldsmith: Contrariwise, there are individuals who have such wonderful focus and intentionality that they make wonderful progress without the substances. But the substances do provide, however, a spur or intervention, window, opportunity, a temporary suspension of defenses – effects of that nature – that can help jump-start or intervene, or even give, as Myron suggested, a profound, long-lasting change in your world view.

Greer: Yes. For example, confronting death is a real wake-up call and can shift one’s consciousness. So you can do something really dangerous to confront death – like mountain climbing, or getting involved in a risky relationship, but that can have a lot of negative consequences. I believe that a psychedelic session in a controlled setting is a much safer way to confront death, to confront oneself with all these things and, ultimately, to facilitate a transformation.

Stolaroff: One of the tragedies of our drug laws is that with the prohibition and the lack of research, this kind of understanding isn’t widespread, where it could readily help a lot of people who are fooling around with these things and not knowing what they’re doing.

Goldsmith: This is a wonderful segue to talking about the psychedelic session itself, because that type of research and practice is the kind of self-conscious, careful, professional approach that is impossible today. Practically speaking, the only avenue of exploration, is clearly illicit in societal terms.

So, George, I think you were primarily responsible for putting together the eight factors on conducting a psychedelic session with couples. Why don’t you just introduce it as you see fit.

Greer: Sure. Just as an aside here, the whole procedure that I used for conducting sessions with MDMA is published in a journal article in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs [Greer, G. And Tolbert, R. “A Method for Conducting Therapeutic Sessions with MDMA.” J. of Psychoactive Drugs, October – December 1998, Volume 30, Number 4].

Regarding our current list of factors involved in the conduct of a session, my first thought goes back to something we’ve talked about, which is sharing an explicitly expressed common goal or purpose, for the relationship and for the session and to have done this before the session, sets it up for success, because if the participants have different goals – say, one person wants to explore their childhood and the other person wants to explore the relationship – well, that’s not a common purpose for the session, and it’s not going to work out. This needs to be explicitly expressed in words, so that everybody – including the therapist or sitter – knows what everybody else knows: Why are we doing this? This sets you out with the shared intention that we talked about earlier.

Goldsmith: Is that your second factor, “Participants make a list of issues they wish to resolve, both joint and personal”?

Greer: The list of issues would derive from the common singular purpose. Like if our purpose is to know ourselves, then you might have a list of issues and ways in which you want to know yourself more. If our purpose is to know each other better – you know, the general purpose is something very general and abstract and that really has to be almost the same for the participants, or a least well aligned. Otherwise, I think it’s probably not a good idea to do a session, without a common purpose. The list of issues are the specific goals within that larger purpose.

Stolaroff: Good.

Greer: Any special comments on that, Myron?

Stolaroff: Gosh, it’s a real basic part of undertaking a session. I’ve seen it violated so much and I think it’s a shame, because, without this, I think you miss the opportunity to clear up a lot, learn a lot, and understand a lot. So, I think these requirements are very well put, George.

Greer: And it can take a while to even come to a common purpose – and that’s great. If it takes days or weeks to agree on why you’re going to do the session, that’s really good for the relationship.

Stolaroff: Absolutely.

Goldsmith: Myron, let me ask you about the methodology you used at the International Foundation for Advanced Studies in the ’50s and ’60s. Did you have an explicit way of doing this – with lists, for example?

Stolaroff: Oh, yes, yes. First of all, we didn’t have MDMA, so we’re talking about an in-depth, overwhelming-dose experience with LSD.

Goldsmith: What dosage was it?

Stolaroff: It depended on the individual. Charles Savage, our psychiatrist, usually came up with a recommended dose. There used to be a lot of talk about body weight, but we found that what was really important was the psychic armor that a person had – the more armor, the higher the dose. Of course, you always have the possibility of supplementing. So if you didn’t get it right at first, you could add more during the experience.

Goldsmith: Could you give us a general idea of the microgram range?

Stolaroff: I think a good guide is what “Jacob” used. [Note: “Jacob” is the pseudonym for an influential psychologist who practiced psychedelic psychotherapy clandestinely for many years. “Jacob” was profiled in the book The Secret Chief, (MAPS, 1998) written by Myron Stolaroff.] He generally started off with a couple hundred micrograms of LSD. Then, after an hour or so, if the person felt that he wasn’t into it as much as he wanted to be, he would add a 125-microgram booster. He’d ask every 30 minutes or so whether the person was really as deeply into the experience as he’d like to be and he would keep adding in those increments. I think that’s as good a guide as we have.

Goldsmith: Thank you.

The Witching Hours – Iteration /Gwyllm

Greer: For the MDMA, we would vary between 75 and 150 milligrams, generally giving more to men – and I’m not sure if it was body weight, because men are heavier, or other factors. Then we would let the person decide if they subjectively wanted a low, medium or high dose so that they had some control over it and we could advise them of the range.

Goldsmith: I would point out at this juncture, that there’s been some research showing neurotoxicity with MDMA at high doses in rats. However, the researcher who’s done much of this research – George Ricaurte of Johns Hopkins – also gave a normal therapeutic dose similar to what you indicate, George – and on a weekly basis – and found no detectable neurotoxic effects at all.

Greer: That’s correct – and those normal doses were administered to primates, that are more similar to us than the rats. We’re in the middle of a huge controversy over this entire issue and we don’t need to get into it in any detail, but the people I’ve known who have given MDMA therapeutically – even in underground settings – for many, many years, have not noticed any problems, anecdotally. That’s all we can say, really.

Goldsmith: Again, even among those who have done the research on neurotoxicity – no one claims to have found any ill effects of any sort in normal therapeutic doses.

Greer: Right. Most of the human toxicity studies are done with recreational users, who are generally abusing other drugs and are using huge and frequent amounts of MDMA – hundreds of milligrams, hundreds of times – often every week. So it’s just a completely other world from providing a therapeutic dose maybe every few months.

Goldsmith: I also wanted to ask you if you could generalize about the kinds of people or conditions that are most amenable to MDMA in relationship work.

Greer: I think the general criteria would be the same for couples therapy as for couples therapy with MDMA. First, they both have a genuine goal to have the relationship continue, to work hard and to be good to each other – sharing that intention.

The second criteria would be in the screening out of people who have severe personality disorders, that could be exaggerated or just get into even greater denial in the fear-free state of MDMA. Someone with a serious personality disorder or another kind of psychiatric disorder that removes insight, like a psychotic, manic, or dissociative type of problem, may feel the freedom to project even more. It’s a continuum – if people with more severe problems need to do it, the therapist needs to have spent much more time with them beforehand – maybe starting with a lower dose. Fifty milligrams or even 25 milligrams of MDMA probably wouldn’t bother almost anybody.

The core though, is just sharing a common goal to have the relationship work. Beyond that, it can be sexual incompatibilities, work style, lifestyle, bad breath, you name it. An MDMA session could really help any couples therapy in those areas.

Goldsmith: Because they’re really generalized tools, I guess, that operate on a deeper level – that enable the relationship work to be effective.

Greer: Yes. It really enables the couple to solve their own problems. It might end up where one or both of them say: “Gee, I really need to do my own individual therapy on this sort of thing. To deal with the baggage I’m bringing into the relationship, and stop the projecting and expectations.”

Shall we go on with the session factors? In the framework I laid out here, first you agree on a general purpose for the session – which, in Leary’s framework, we would call the “set” of the session or the mind-set of the participant. Once that’s done, you then need to establish the setting – the context or situation – and develop explicit agreements about the structure of the session setting. Things like when the session is going to be over; that we’re not going to make phone calls; that we’re not going to be violent; that the therapist will be here. We commit to keeping these agreements, until we both agree that the session’s over.

It’s very important to make these explicit agreements, because they allow the ego to take a break. If you take care of all the ego-survival concerns beforehand, in the normal state of mind, you then have this sacred time and space to explore your relationship and consciousness in yourself, without worrying about the details of life. Worrying about the details during a session calls up a whole set of fear-based, survival-based instincts to the ego. So, it’s important to be very concrete about those agreements in advance.

In Myron’s book, The Secret Chief, the sets of agreements are very good. With a couple, there are some special issues. For example, there can be sexuality in a session with a couple and that’s really up to that couple, but it certainly can be very positive. Sex certainly should not occur with people who are not a couple and certainly not with any sitter or therapist. So, a no-sex agreement in that regard is critical – and no violence, no destructive behavior, and an agreement on not communicating with people outside the session. Those are all excellent and, as Myron relates in the book, “Jacob” used those agreements for many years and felt they were very effective.

Anything that you want to say about that, Myron, on agreements?

Stolaroff: Gee, George, I think you’ve covered it beautifully, and I have nothing to add. I just want to reinforce that these things are very important to agree to.

Greer: Yes. Stan Grof was really one of the first people to discover how to make LSD work. A lot of psychiatrists did a lot of LSD therapy and published on it, but Grof really developed an effective therapeutic method and wrote books on it. I know others learned how to make it work, for example, I don’t know a lot about the work of Al Hubbard – just what I’ve heard from you and people that had contact with him, but it sounds like he certainly knew, too. These are hard-won methods and I certainly don’t want to claim that “This is the only method,” but it is a method that’s been generally used and tried over about 30 years, and it’s a good place for any therapist or psychiatrist to start in doing further research – or even in taking things a next step further, which certainly you’d do.

So, we’ve now covered the shared purpose, the setting, and the agreement. So the couple is ready to have a session – and I think it’s good one more time just to have the participants look into themselves, to check inside, emotionally and intuitively, at that moment and make sure that having a session is still the right thing for them to do in that time frame. This is because we know things can change – emotions in life change. Once the person and the couple put themselves on this launching pad, when the external world and intellectual purpose, as well as the inner emotional world and intuition all say we’re go for a liftoff – then that really sets one up to have the best possible session that one can have.

Goldsmith: So, these agreements and lists are most valuable for how they can tune the mind-set before a session.

Visions – Gwyllm

Greer: Exactly. In fact, if you have a strong urge to call your old partner, or a relative and that’s not the agreed structure, then confronting that urge is the same as confronting any other urge in yourself that is not going to lead somewhere and so lots of learning can happen. Some people, particularly with MDMA, just feel open and released and can have strong attractions to someone in the session – such as a therapist through strong transference – and want to be intimate or sexual. Just sitting with that desire, and not acting out in that way, can also be a tremendous learning experience and an opportunity to heal sexual issues from the past.

A lot of these factors are beliefs that are simply offered to the person. A therapist can’t tell a person what to believe, but these factors act as suggestions of beliefs to have for a particular therapeutic mind-set. In this context, our next important factor or belief is that there should be no attachment, no grasping, or expectation about what the outcome of the session will be. Especially about how the other person is going to change: “Gee, if we just do this MDMA session, then my husband will be the kind of person I know that he really wants to be, and that’s really good for him and will be good for me, too.” That’s an expectation that can be deadly to the relationship, because generally neither person in the couple knows what the deepest unknown core or direction of the other is.

Earlier, we were talking about being open – setting aside all preconditions and this is very critical to overcoming projections in relationships. People can definitely project on each other in psychedelics. Maybe a little less so with MDMA, because it doesn’t distort cognition. But I have heard of people having sessions with MDMA, having a wonderful experience of each other and resolving all their differences during the session – this is even more likely with high doses. Then, two weeks later, the relationship’s a mess. So they’re really only relating well on MDMA – it’s not a panacea. In fact, lower doses of MDMA are probably better for relating and communicating and high doses are better for more being alone and getting in touch with one’s spiritual essence.

Generally, the way we did the sessions, the people would start out by themselves, and they’d have an experience of themselves in that state, and grounded themselves spiritually and emotionally. Then, when they felt ready to talk – when both are ready to talk – then they would start relating – maybe after an hour and a half or a couple of hours.

Goldsmith: Oh, that’s very interesting. The entire experience is relatively short, as well – so is that past the peak of the experience?

Greer: Yes. The peak of MDMA is usually between one and two hours. So either during the peak, or as the peak is subsiding, is generally when people would come together and start to talk. And you encourage them to just completely ground themselves in that fearless and loving state – before they try to engage in any explicit “therapy.” This is because when you try to act and do something – to work your cognitive capacity – it takes vital attention away from your core. So it’s important for each participant to really fill up on that primary focus, to just drink from that essence and feel completely satisfied – then they can come into the relating from the best possible place and more easily work through the difficulties.

As people begin to come down from the MDMA, that’s when the difficult part – and the learning, therapeutic part – happens. That’s when the therapeutic changes take place. At about three to six hours, during the coming-down phase, people can feel bad, they can feel waves of depression or even despair or hopelessness, or just a lack of energy. For the couple, being with each other in the peaks and the valleys – “in sickness and in health” – that’s what relationships are about. Having a couple experience each other in the whole range of experience is really a wonderful way to expand the capacity of the relationship.

Goldsmith: So, what we were talking about earlier with Myron about the more individual side of personal development as a grounding for the couples work – applies here. The benefit in the actual session comes, in part, because each party establishes an individual, pychospiritual grounding first.

Greer: That’s exactly right.

Goldsmith: That’s interesting. Myron, a question about couples work. When you had the International Foundation for Advanced Studies and were doing treatment and research, did you ever work either with couples, or with both members of a couple separately?

Stolaroff: We did have a lot of couples go through, but they went through individually. They learned enough so that they became much better as a couple. So we didn’t actually work with couples. If we did, it was rare, but we did follow many of the procedures that George mentioned. We had each person write out a complete autobiography and an outline – this procedure was actually developed by Al Hubbard and Ross McLean at the Hollywood Hospital near Vancouver.

The questions we asked in preparation were of a nature to point out all their relationships and problem areas, beliefs, and the like. Then they saw a therapist several times and went through these factors – to discuss and get a better understanding of the individual’s key issues. Then, before the session, they were asked to write a list of all the things they wanted to accomplish during the session.

Basically, that was our preparation. You have to remember, this is quite a while ago, and we were just kind of feeling our way into these things.

Goldsmith: I imagine seeing both members of a couple, even in series, would have beneficial effects on the relationship similar to a joint session.

Stolaroff: It had very beneficial effects – because each one got a better view, both of themselves and how they were functioning – if they were doing anything to disrupt the relationship – and of the other person. So, for example, when there was a lot of resentment, very often they found that deep down they truly loved the other person and could see ways of expressing that love and overcoming some of the issues that caused dissension between them. So, when both members of the couple had that as individual experiences, when they came together, they were very much better off as a couple as well.

Greer: Also, we should point out here that you were working with LSD, which has tremendous cognitive distortion, compared to MDMA. I wouldn’t say that LSD is an enhancer of coherent verbal communication between couples. It’s just a whole different type of experience.

Goldsmith: Can you tell us a little bit about your later research, when you worked with couples and sometimes groups and moved more to MDMA?

Stolaroff: Well, this point hasn’t been made and I think this is important: in a group – even in a small group, as small as a couple – there is a group energy that develops. There is an energy field or a mind field that develops as the day goes on, in that each person comes to terms with his own individual issues and releases material from the unconscious which has been in the way. This always leads to a jump in awareness, a heightened energy and heightened joy and it begins to move through the whole group. So at the end of the day, everybody is quite in love with each other. [Laughs.] Everything is so wonderful – it’s pretty hard to find anything wrong, anywhere. I believe that happened lots of times.

Greer: That’s a great experience to have with a group of people and then it comes to be more your normal state. I think there can be a lot of carryover from that kind of group bonding. People actually can get along and live together.

Stolaroff: Right and also, when you have a group like that, individual differences show up and you find yourself confronting people with characteristics and dynamics that you haven’t experienced before and it may take a little while to resolve that, but it expands your own experience and understanding. I think “Jacob” was very wise in moving from the individual to the group experiences – because the way that he did it, you still had your individual experience and toward the end of the experience have emotion to relate with others. You could do this on a personal-choice basis, and sometimes maybe several people would get together. It offers a lot of dimensions for deepening relationships and understanding.

Greer: On the other hand, factor six is that neither member of the couple should be expected to make personal sacrifices for the other or expect them – if it could lead to later resentment. What I’m talking about here – if one member in the couple is going through a difficult experience, there can be a felt obligation to hold their hand, to hug them, to focus on what’s happening with them instead of with oneself. For example, if the wife is having a difficult time, the husband might focus his attention on her, as opposed to his own process, because: “She needs my help now.” That’s fine to do if the husband checks into himself and says: “Okay, yes – I really do want to do this. I’m not going to resent it later and if I do, I’m willing to deal with that.” Basically, if he can just release himself from the obligation of guilt he’ll have a healthier relationship. Because, it’s not really necessary to help each other. We’re all here in the world, and the Universe will provide, according to or not according to our expectations. So whether you get help or comforted from your partner or not, it still can be a great learning experience.

Stolaroff: In a stressful situation, people can become more aware of the potential that they have. If they can get into the position of committing themselves to achieving that potential, they will need to learn how to do it all on their own.

Greer: Exactly.

Stolaroff: Sometimes – in fact, I see this with my grandkids – if the parents are over-solicitous – if they want to help too much – they can prevent the child from growing in areas that require challenge.

Greer: Yes, exactly. I understand that “Jacob” went through many stages, doing various kinds of therapy and work during sessions, but ended up where people just lie down and have their experience. Even if the person doesn’t get help – and this is true for traditional psychotherapy, as well – they still have the experience of: “I did this myself and so I can handle anything in life myself.” If a person is self-sufficient, he or she is much better equipped to be in a relationship than if they depend on the other person to fulfill something about their life that they can’t fill themselves.

This takes us into the next session factor, the importance of having a trained and experienced therapist or sitter, who has taken MDMA before with a similar set and setting, available to take care of practical things and do the care giving that might be needed: holding hands; bringing a glass of water; helping you to the bathroom; talking to you to release your partner from having to do that all the time. It’s a lot more work and effort, but it really is worthwhile to have that third person there who is not taking the drug, at least the first time the couple has a session.

Stolaroff: Someone who is qualified as a guide.

Greer: A guide, yes.

The Gift – Gwyllm

Stolaroff: I’d like to emphasize this point even more strongly – that one of the real problems often encountered in undergoing these experiences is the fear and resistance to having deep-seated psychological issues come up. So, if you have a sitter who is genuinely and effectively supportive and is really doing everything possible for you to be safe, so you can do whatever you wish – then you can begin to experience “whatever you wish” without judgment or criticism. That’s what opens the door to allowing yourself to have a deeper experience.

Greer: Right. Now, a lot of people obviously have had wonderful and valuable experiences without a third person present and generally I feel those people are more experienced and have already done a lot of work, or therapy, in this format, and know themselves very well. So, it’s not that it can’t work unless there’s someone else there – but I think it really takes a person more experienced with these states to have a session work out without the third person.

Goldsmith: This is very intriguing – just to drop back a bit for a moment and talk on the policy level – what you describe is not what you would consider the AMA approach to the use of pharmaceuticals in psychiatric practice. We’re talking about how valuable these substances can be to experienced people with right intentionality – even alone under certain circumstances. It needs to be acknowledged that ultimately there’s a policy issue here. George, you said that for a number of reasons, your work had been primarily with people without serious problems.

Greer: Right.

Goldsmith: That raises the issue of using drugs with normal people to make them even better and to do so in a context that while not recreational, also isn’t fully medicalized. I wonder if you both could comment on this. It’s especially relevant, in light of all the underground work that’s been undertaken over the past 25 years or so.

Greer: There is a tremendous amount of underground work that goes on and, hopefully, people who do that will read this and benefit whatever from what we’re saying here. When I was doing the MDMA work, people would have the session with me and/or my wife, Requa Tolbert, a Master’s psychiatric nurse, present. Once I became confident that they could do this on their own, I would give them a dose – either for that individual or for that couple – for them to take on their own, without one of us there. That was only after I had worked with them and knew them well and so had screened them. Most people had one or two sessions, maybe three – where sometimes a second or third would be without me or my wife there. That worked out very well, but only after careful screening and preparation.

In essence, I would prescribe a dose. I wouldn’t prescribe a bottle of 30: “Here, take ’em when you want.” It was more like the couple would say: “We want to plan this one session; this is our intention for this session” and we would go through a lot of these things beforehand over the phone and maybe in person. So they would be given the medication, the MDMA, for one session – and then they would report back to me. That’s the extent of it.

So, that was the medical model of treatment. It was perhaps a little unorthodox, but it wasn’t simply: “Oh, here’s some MDMA for you to have around when you feel like it.” None of that.

Goldsmith: Nor was it just a methodology arrived at willy-nilly, but after consideration of the character of not just the individuals, but of the drug itself. Someone might suggest a similar progression enabling people to take the classic hallucinogens – LSD, for example – on their own.

Greer: Sure. Obviously, millions of people do this on their own all the time and they don’t have a problem with it. So what I’m describing is just another approach. Even so, as a physician there is another level of responsibility in the doctor-patient relationship – people who get the drugs underground don’t have that relationship. It’s another level of responsibility. Any comments on this, Myron?

Stolaroff: Yes, I have a couple things to add. First, I think you know that one of the things that I really want to get across – and I use every opportunity in publication to set this forth – is the concept of the trained user. I consider these substances to be amazing and powerful learning tools – and if we’re learning, then we should be able to learn how to use them better and better.

In general, I think the movement into being a trained user and being able to use these substances more and more on your own, requires that the really difficult areas in the unconscious – places of repressed pain and anger, judgment, all these things – have been pretty well worked through. If you take something like LSD, in the early stages, it’s almost impossible to try to hold your focus on any particular thing – because the pressure of the unconscious wants to release itself, so that there’s an intense flow of imagery.

I think the flow of all this material, sort of like dreams, is relieving the unconscious and exposing and resolving a lot of the things that we keep there. Then, as this material gets cleared out of the way, we find that we have more and more volition and that we can focus more on where we want to focus and learn in specific areas. So this would come into play in developing the ability to work more independently.

At the same time, I also want to point out that there is a potential trap there, too, that one should always be aware of, in that you never know when, with a powerful psychedelic, that some subconscious door isn’t going to open that you never suspected – and then you would be very, very glad to have another person around.

So, in general, I think there are times one can benefit from doing these substances alone, but I think it’s well to have a safety precaution. If anything develops, there should be somebody you can call, bring to the scene. I’ve had rather powerful experiences that indicate that this might be a wise idea.

Greer: I would agree with that, Myron, and I was certainly available when people were having these experiences.

I guess there’s only one more factor here, but we may have completely covered it: Using the non-defensiveness of MDMA to clear up differences. That’s the lack of fear. You can communicate, directly and honestly, positive and negative things and then remember how to do that.

There’s one more point to make here. I’m reminded of Stephen Levine, who’s a meditation teacher and a speaker-writer on death-and-dying issues and meditation. His point about relationships is that if the goal of the relationship is truth, anything is workable. If the purpose of your relationship – and your session – is to know the truth in its most basic way, and you share that goal, then any differences the two of you have about reaching that goal can be cleared up.

Stolaroff: Isn’t that the truth!

City Of The Golden Road – Gwyllm

Greer: It may take a while – it may not feel good – but you’re not putting anything in the way of eventually getting there.

Goldsmith: That’s a beautiful way to sort of round out those issues. Are there any other thoughts or issues I’ve left out?

Greer: Not me – I feel very satisfied. I’m surprised that we covered the meaning of life in the Universe – and how to do therapy – in an hour and a half. [Laughter.] I’m sure there’s always more to say, but I feel we’ve laid down the basics. I just thank you for this opportunity to get it out there more.

Stolaroff: I feel very good about the coverage and, George, I really want to thank you. I’ve learned a great deal from you, and really appreciate the experience and wisdom that you have.

Greer: Thanks for saying that, Myron. I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of you and other people, who had to learn the hard way – in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s – to get to where we were when I started in 1980.

Goldsmith: I would like to close by saying how thoroughly charmed and fascinated and educated I’ve been by hearing you two speak. It’s been a real honor and a privilege for me to participate and I thank you both very much for your time and wisdom.


George Greer, M.D. is the Medical Director of the Heffter Research Institute,, and a psychiatrist in private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1992 to 1998, he was the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services for the New Mexico Corrections Department. From 1980 to 1985, he and his wife, Requa Tolbert, a psychiatric nurse, conducted over 100 therapeutic sessions with MDMA for 80 individuals. Their review of this work remains the largest published study of the therapeutic use of MDMA as of 2004. Dr. Greer was involved in hearings with the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1985 to keep MDMA available for medical research and coordinated a lobbying campaign in Congress to prevent restrictions on research with new psychedelic drugs. Dr. Greer is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Past President of the Psychiatric Medical Association of New Mexico.

Myron Stolaroff holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. In industry, he reached the position of assistant to the president in charge of long range planning at Ampex Corporation. From this perspective of the technical world, he declared, after his first experience with LSD in 1956, that LSD was the most important discovery of mankind. In 1961, he founded the International Foundation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park, California, where research with LSD and mescaline was conducted for 3½ years, processing some 350 participants and resulting in six professional papers. Additional work continued after 1970 with a variety of unscheduled phenethylamine compounds until the Analogue Drug Bill of 1986. Stolaroff is especially interested in how appropriate knowledge of psychedelics can enhance meditation practice. He is the author of two books as well as several papers on psychedelics.

Golden Dawn – Gwyllm

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Elder Interviews: Jim Fadiman, 1998 Part 1

Spring Rites… Available Here (logo is reduced size btw) Spring Rites

Going with a different format this time around on the Blog…

Elder Interviews: Jim Fadiman, 1998 Part 1
Part 2 will be published tomorrow…There will be an dedicated page to these interviews coming up.

We are happy to host this Interview with Jim Fadiman.
A big shout out to Diane Darling for doing the original transcriptions.
All Illustrations, yers truly. Just click on them for enlarged view…

This is a great read. For those of us who weren’t there/born yet, this is first person accounts of a time of great change, that influences the world to this day. (There are more stories out there, and they should be told!) I am pleased that Jim decided to let this interview be published.


This is my homage to the Human Be In… January 14th, 1967 Golden Gate Park…

Elders -Jim Fadiman
: This is July 18th, 1998. We’re here today with Jim Fadiman in Menlo Park. And I’m Charlie Grob, here along with Gary Bravo and Alise Agar. Jim, I’d like to thank you for agreeing to spill your guts today.

JF: So far, it’s a pleasure.

: I really do want to thank you for spending the time with us to talk about your early experiences in this field and your current views. In a sense, this is a follow-up meeting. We met with you ten years ago, Gay and myself, and we had a similar conversation. So, one thing to look at is how have things changed. But perhaps first we can start with: How did you get involved with psychedelics and the work you did with psychedelics?

JF: You know, I’d say I’m one of the inadvertent pioneers because I was an undergraduate at Harvard and I ended up in a small tutorial with a young, dynamic, and – at that time – somewhat neurotic professor named Richard Alpert. Out of my being an undergraduate and Dick being an assistant
professor, we got to be friendly.   Then I was offered a summer internship at Stanford where Ralph Metzner and Dick and I were all involved in a research project that had been ongoing for some years about children and the Thematic Apperception test for children, and cognitive skills, and, various psychological stuff.  I was very much the junior partner on the project.  As it worked out Dick Alpert and I rented a house together for the summer, so we really did become quite close. Then I went on in my senior year at Harvard. Nothing psychedelic was happening for either of us.

I went off to live in Europe. At the end of a certain amount of time in Europe Dick Alpert showed up in Paris with Timothy Leary and Madison Presnell, who was an African-American psychiatrist. They were off to go to Copenhagen to deliver the first paper on some work with low-dose psilocybin.  Basically Dick Alpert was in wonderful condition. I had known him, and he was enchanted that I was this young man bopping about Paris, as he was someone who had never really been to Europe. He said to me, “The most wonderful thing in the world has happened, and I want to share it with you.” I said, as anyone would, “Of course.” Then he reached in his breast pocket of the jacket and took out a little bottle of pills. I thought, “Pills? Drugs? What kind of weirdness is this?” I really had no idea what he was talking about. However, that evening I took some psilocybin, sitting in a cafe on the … [pause while aircraft passes overhead] Literally I took some psilocybin from this little bottle, sitting in a cafe on a main street in Paris. As I’m sitting there, I said to Dick, “I’m feeling a little awkward because the colors are so bright and sounds are so piercing.” He had not taken any material, but he said to me, “Well, that’s the way I feel just being in Paris.” So we withdrew to my hotel room where he was basically a sitter for this session. Out of that came a first realization that the universe was larger than I thought, and that my identity was smaller than I thought, and that a lot of my attachments seemed became more tenuous. There was something about human interaction that I had been missing. It was definitely what we would call a bonding experience, but it was not at all stripping away the levels of reality that came later.

However, whatever happened that week, one week later he was in Copenhagen and I had followed him, somewhat like kind of a dog that gets lost hundreds of miles from home and finds their master. I showed up in Copenhagen, and we had another evening session. The realization that night was that when human beings were close to one another, you could really ask anything of each other because you would take into account the other’s needs first. You would not ask anything that would be a true imposition even if you really needed something. There was a level of, The Three Musketeers that seemed to arise out of that. A while later I was traveling in Scotland with Arthur Kopit, the playwright, who was at that point a young genius, also just a year out of Harvard. I felt that Arthur really didn’t understand all the beautiful things I was experiencing. I was this incredibly open, loving little being at that point. So much so that a local Scottish lass who we came across ended up a while later as my fiancé. I was clearly radiating goodwill. I asked for some more material to show Arthur what life was all about, but, by the time it arrived Arthur had gone off in his life, while I was back in Paris doing other things. I ended up actually giving my brother a session, which led to his being much more open and getting engaged to someone shortly thereafter. That was all at the level of human closeness, authenticity- what the humanistic psychologists define themselves as. This was not looking at all at spiritual issues, at religious traditions, which didn’t interest me particularly then.

Due to some other things in my life such as the war in Vietnam and my draft board -I had a letter from them saying, “Would you like to join us in Viet Nam? “ I considered the alternatives open to me by law, one of which was graduate school. I’d been accepted to Stanford the year before and had said, “I’ll just put a hold on that because I would rather leave the country.” But after my draft board wrote me, graduate school looked really good. I saw it as much, much, much the lesser of two evils, but truly something that had no great value for me. I showed up at Stanford as a first-year graduate student somewhat embittered, because I was truly there as a way of dodging the draft. I really felt that the United States government would make a terrible mistake having me as a soldier. A combination of distaste for war, not wanting to kill people I didn’t know, cowardice, and a number of deep· philosophical truths which I hadn’t come across yet.

At this point, I’m starting my graduate work and feeling fairly disappointed with what psychology might be, because also, now I’d used psychedelics, and I knew there was a lot more. I didn’t know what “more” was, but I sure knew that psychology was not teaching it. In the book of university courses, hidden away in the back, were what are called “graduate specials.” Willis Harman taught one. It was called The Human Potential. In the little write-up it said, “What is the highest and best that human beings can aspire to?” It suggested various kinds of readings. I read it and I thought, “There is something about psychedelics in here. I don’t know what it is, but this man knows something of what I know. I was going around at that point dividing the world into people who knew what I knew – which wasn’t very much, but more than I’d known two weeks earlier and everyone else. I’d look at Impressionist paintings, and I’d think, “Did this person see what they were painting or are they copying other Impressionists?” And like- I knew. Whether I knew correctly or not was totally beside the point to me. Anyway, I wandered into Willis Harman’s office, which was a typical professor of electrical engineering’s office in a building that was as drab as a contemporary hospital. I said “I’d like to take your graduate special,” and he said, gently, “Well, it’s full this quarter, but I give it again. Perhaps you would be interested at a later date.” I looked at him and said, “I’ve had psilocybin three times.” He looked at me, and he got up, and he walked across his office past the engineering bookshelves and closed the door. Then we got down to business.

The Golden Road

As it turned out, I had guessed very correctly that this course was his way of dealing with how do you teach this material in a way that doesn’t get you either discovered or fired, because I don’t believe he was tenured by then. We agreed that I would not only take the class, but I would kind of co-teach it. Because I was totally willing to be open with what was happening with me, and he was not. I felt that I had much less to lose, which was probably true. So, we gave it together, and gradually we began to go through his “What is the best and highest that human beings can aspire to?” Near the end of the class, we read the mystics and then moved on to discuss personal experiences. At some point that fall, I was also starting to work with the International Foundation for Advanced Study that had been set up in Menlo Park as a way of working with psychedelics. Myron Stolaroff funded it from his time at Ampex Corporation, Willis Harman was involved, and a number of other people. They had no psychologist on their team, so I became their psychologist, which at the time was a little ludicrous since I was about two months into my first year of graduate work, having not been a psychologist as an undergraduate. We began to work on a paper called, “The Psychedelic Experience” for the Journal of Neuropsychiatry.  It reported the results of the sessions they’d been running for people, and it contained beautiful transformative experiences, and people who had discovered love and truth and goodness in each other, and also a great many mystical experiences. I went over this paper and I carefully noted all the mystical experiences, and took scissors – cut-and-paste in the pre-computer era – and cut them. Didn’t paste them anywhere, just put them aside. Willis said, “What are you doing?” I said, “No respectable journal is going to print that kind of stuff.” Willis looked at me; I looked at him, and he said, “That’s fine.” He took all my little scraps and carefully put them in a little appendix to this paper.  I said, “What are you going to do with that?” He said, “Well, I’ll just show that to some friends.” I said, “That’s fine.” So, he sent the paper and the appendix to the journal over my unknowing dead body, and they published it.

At some point during this time – because some months went by between acceptance and publication – Willis said “Maybe you’d like to have a session with us.” Because here I was, filled with my psilocybin-Dick Alpert-Tim Leary-human closeness-low dose experience. I said, “That’d be great!” So, I showed up on October 19th, 1961 at the Foundation’s headquarters, which were two living room-like suites above a beauty shop looking out over a parking lot. I was offered the opportunity to take some LSD with Willis as a male sitter, a lovely woman professor of electrical engineering as a female sitter, and a physician, who was Charlie Savage. The physician basically did his physicianness of giving me the material and then left to resume his private practice down the hall as a psychoanalyst. I took some material and looked around and said, “Well, aren’t you taking something?” Because that had been the model I had from Dick and Tim and the session I had with my brother and so forth. Willis, I think, took a little amphetamine to kind of keep me cool. I then put on some eye shades, lay down on a couch, listened to music – this being the method that they had developed through the work of Al Hubbard and others. Basically, I had my little mind washed away, much to my surprise.

The day went on in kind of classic psychedelic high-dose entheogenic fashion. I discovered that my disinterest in spiritual things was as valid as a ten-year old’s disinterest in sex. It came out of a total unawareness of what the rest of the world was built on. I went to a place where there was the total aloneness, the got-to-walk-this-valley-by-yourself deep awareness of separation from the universe, and that there really was nothing that you could hold onto. Which fortunately is very, very close to the place next to it where there is only one thing, and you’re part of it. At that point, there was what might be called songs of jubilation throughout the heavens at that moment another jerk wakes up to the realization of not who I, Jim Fadiman, was, but who/what I was part of. What a relief!  I then moved into a space of feeling that I was-not part of everything, but everything was part of everything and I was clearly part of that. It was obvious there is no death. It’s obvious that the fundamental waveform of the universe is best described in human terms as love.

This was all incredibly obvious. For some peculiar reason, which was unclear to me at the time, but was clearly a question, is I was being given this awakening to my true self.  From that place, for the rest of the day I looked at various structures in my life, and they were all – at best – amusing. That being a graduate student, avoiding the war, seemed to be a perfectly plausible thing to do since one had to do something in this incarnation, in this body. It was unclear whether I, Jim Fadiman, as a personality had lived before. But it was also not very important, because the Jim Fadiman that was in that room on October 19th wasn’t very important. He served as the box I came in. That evening, before going home with Willis, I went up to the top of Skyline and looked out, and the feeling I had of identification with Creation was such that I kind of walked around saying things like “I’ve really done a splendid job at all this.” The “I” was clearly not me, not Jim Fadiman, but the “I” was pleased with Creation, and pleased that part of me was observing part of me. Like singing songs of praise to the Lord is an Old Testament notion. You wonder, from a down-here position, why the Lord is at all interested in that, since He wrote the songs and so forth. But when you’re in the praising mode, it feels like a very nice way of congratulating yourself for jobs well done.

I saw an 80-year-old filmmaker the other night, looking at some of his films done 30 years ago. Someone said, “What do you think of when you look at your old-films?” He said, “Some of them are pretty good.” It was that feeling. I wasn’t into being the Creator, but having been the Creator it was a very nice place. I went home to Willis’s house to kind of come down for the evening, and looked into, among other people’s, eyes his son, who was crawling at that point, Dean Harman. Dean and I looked at each other, and it was one of those, “Hey man! Hey man! It’s cool, right?” He was an old soul, too, yeah. “You’re in just a little baby body.” “Yeah, that’s what I’m doing now, but don’t worry about it.” There was at feeling that the nature of personal identity was a fascinating topic, but not a way of identifying yourself. Eventually I was dropped back into my little graduate student hovel. I emerged the next day, wondering, “What do you do when you know all this?” Given that you’ve been reincarnated as a first-year graduate student at Stanford, a world not at all hostile to any of this, but totally oblivious.

I continued a rather delicate career as a graduate student, committed to making this more available to everybody, since, at that point there was no one, I could see who would not benefit from knowing what I would say was the fundamental truth of existence. I became a kind of dual agent, which is, I was a somewhat boring graduate student by day. I took to wearing a coat and tie. I was the only graduate student that looked the least like a hippie possible, since I felt that the department then would not assume that I was anything other than what I looked like (which was a great stratagem). Then, at night, I was reading what I needed for my education, which was the Gita, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and whatever Wasson had written by then. From time to time, I’d stop reading and go out and sit in front of a small tree and watch it begin to vibrate and look like energy in the shape of a tree. That would reunite me with what I was about. There’s also a huge beautiful church at Stanford with large stained glass windows that I would also spend time in and relax until the characters and colors were also in motion, which I identified with psychedelics. There is something called visual constancies, which we all have to keep the world from looking a little odd, so when people cross a room they don’t go from small to large. What I learned from psychedelics is you could relax your constancies and actually see things as they were, without the editing function thrown in. That turned out to be very useful.

That’s an initial answer to the question, because then I remained part of this team – Willis Harman, Myron Stolaroff, Charlie Savage and others, – but at a very different level, because now I knew what on Earth we were doing. The question was how we could do what we were doing and what was our vision? One of the things I did was say, the Harvard group really needs to be brought up to speed, because they’re still at the level of human closeness. I did manage to get some meetings of the two to happen, but it turned out that the Harvard group and the Menlo Park group had somewhat different ways of looking at the political structure. Tim, as we all know, had a habit of would trying to destroy any structure he was in. The group I was working with had a habit of cooperating with the federal government at whatever level seemed necessary, including letting them know what we were doing, and really being in touch with what were beginning to be the drug police of the United States. We were totally watched and investigated endlessly in our little research unit by the federal government. One of the nicest was at one point, they said “The mescaline you’re using needs to be assessed for its purity, because we’re sure that it may have problems.”

It turned out that the mescaline used by the federal government to calibrate ours was the other half of the same batch as ours. We were in this dance with the government. When they said you can’t use mescaline, then we would work with LSD, and back and forth. We actually became not substance-dependant for the work we were doing.  The work was determining that if you could give psychedelics in a totally supportive atmosphere, a non-medical setting, with a high enough dose to matter, could you facilitate what we would now call an entheogenic experience, and would that be beneficial? This was with total federal approval for a few years except for these little dances about materials and that we were being watched. Because our mentor was Al Hubbard, and Al Hubbard was this very mysterious character who was at various times a Canadian agent, a federal agent, and had through his own transformative experiences decided that this was what he was going to do with his life was to make this all possible. He was really the guiding light and certainly the major disturber, and kind of the shit-stirrer in our little world. Whenever Hubbard would come through, any of the convenient relationships that we had with one another would be disrupted by both his presence and what he would do. Also, advanced training as it came to be called was done with Hubbard, and was not done in Menlo Park. :
In Canada?

Eleusian Invocations

JF: No, it was usually done in Death Valley. Death Valley, from that standpoint, was the most kind of intense outdoor setting that existed, and that it allowed a kind of opening that didn’t seem to be as easily achieved in any other place.

: What was the set and setting there? Or how did you do it? What was the structure?

JF: Set and setting for Death Valley was very different. You went out in a car from Lone Pine and at some point you stopped and you took a bunch of material and then you drove to some locations and spent time there, usually ‘eyes open/dealing with what was visible- or visible on the invisible planes there, the notion (and this is things I didn’t experience) was that there are very large entities in Death Valley, entities half a mile high, some kind of energy beings from some other way of looking at the world. You also dealt with your own life much more directly because of literally, the harshness and the enormous beauty and enormous barrenness of that area. I actually only went out there once, but that was the advanced training center which was a major way of making sure you didn’t get caught in your belief systems.

I was also involved on the other end of things with the Ken Kesey world because Dorothy, my wife to be, had been involved with Ken, and I met her through that group. I was one of the few people who was deeply involved in totally legal experimentation, high-dose religious experience, and also hanging out with – not the psychedelic pioneers but the absolute first group of psychedelic outlaws, who were total explorers and had no restrictions on what they explored or how, and really did much more dangerous and exciting things. At one point, we discovered through research and Richard Evans Schultes’ writings that certain varieties of morning glory seeds contained an analog of LSD. This, I think, is representational of the kind of cheerful naïveté that I, at least, worked with. Some of the people in the outlaw world were thinking of taking these, and I thought that they also might have terrible side effects and might be poisonous and so forth. One morning Willis and I ground up a whole bunch of morning glory seeds that we bought from our local gardening store and ate them. I realized my intention was to see whether they were bad for you.

As I look back on that, that’s a kind of personal research I wouldn’t practice anymore. We then walked from Willis’s house up into the Biological Preserve above Stanford and lay around for the day. I did find that if you eat enough cellulose that you do feel sick. The seeds did contain an analog of LSD, which absolutely took you toward the same place. During that session I had one of those visions that forever colors the way you hold certain attitudes and ideas. The vision was that I, (being in the academic world, you have academic visions), was writing on this huge blackboard a very complicated and very sophisticated analysis of reality as I understood it with the help of psychedelics. With that, God came in and looked at this and said that it was just wonderful! – and then erased it all.  I said, with more than a little bit of concern, “Why have you erased it?” He says, “That was just wonderful. I just loved that. I certainly hope you’ll do others.” I realized that what I was being told is that the chances of me – in this body, in this lifetime, with these languages and in this civilization really understanding reality was zero. But it is extraordinarily entertaining and even nourishing – it was a good thing to invent these theoretical castles in the air. The transformation for me was that I, from that point on, was not committed to my deepest core beliefs. Because I began to see that my deepest core beliefs were among the beliefs that I was changing. If I looked back a few years, there had been real shifts in the beliefs that I now felt were core. So, since I was letting go of some core beliefs every few years, I had no reason to assume that the core beliefs that I had now were going to last any longer. There was a certain relief, a kind of letting go of pretentiousness. And a willingness to argue …

{Audio Tape goes haywire here: looks okay but sounds like it’s running fast forward! Must of happened in dubbing process – SL}

JF: We were just kind of finishing up the destruction of belief systems. That’s been partly, I think, my career of not being too attached to any given ideological stance was really clarified in that particular session, which is different from the experience that all systems are valuable that lead toward this fundamental experience. It’s a different way of looking at it. This was more understanding that my own personal take on things was always going to be personal, subjective, limited, and inaccurate.


: Would you say some more about Al Hubbard and the way he conducted sessions?

JF: Well, one of the things that interesting about Al Hubbard was that he came out of a kind of non-sophisticated Catholic background. One of the questions that he had originally had asked the Virgin Mary to give him something, a purpose in life. Out of certain visionary experiences he had, he then discovered psychedelics, which tied in, for him, what he’d been told he might work on. But one of his concerns was always dealing with the Catholic Church and the Catholic hierarchy. So, one of the things, for instance, in the work in Menlo Park, where we had a number of Catholics and we knew we were dealing obviously with fundamental religious experience, we had a letter from someone within the Catholic hierarchy that basically said yes, they understood what this experience was about, and it was acceptable for Catholics to have this experience. Now, for Catholics and Christians in general, one of the things that this living room had was one wall with a curtain. If you drew the curtain, what you saw was a mural of the Last Supper, without any features on any of the faces, but a very traditional Last Supper rendition. This was not mentioned before a session began. So, for people with a strong Christian issue or orientation or devotion, when you were in a certain level of psychedelic work and you have this to project through, some remarkable transformations occurred.

The other item that was used was a Salvador Dali painting of the Crucifixion, because this is an incredibly drawing taking you up through energy levels. With my, I think, iconoclastic orientation beforehand the vision I experienced on that October 19th included something with Jesus, where I was rising toward that light in the universe through which all love and all energy came through, and in front of me was a crucified Christ. However, as I continued on my journey I passed it. I was somewhat confused because I had been amazed to see it. As I looked back, it was clear that it was a cutout. It was like a set piece, and literally you’d see the structure of the set construction, you know, the 2x4s crossing where your set design was constructed, perhaps because I had a background in drama. What I realized is indeed Christ was “the way”, but if you think about it, you don’t stop on the way, it’s the way to something. For people for whom that was important, that was an opening. I also knew that Buddha was a way, and so forth and so on. Personally it made the Christian experience a little more a comfortable, a little more sensible. For Al Hubbard, I don’t think that one would say that Hubbard was a Catholic any more than one would say any of the major psychedelic pioneers have-any single identification. For example, to say that Zalman is just Jewish would be really a great disservice to him, and so forth. Does that answer that?

The Sacred Rites

: How long were you able to conduct this research with psychedelics at Stanford?

JF: I was able to complete my dissertation, which was “Behavior Change During Psychedelics (LSD) Therapy,” a title I that I came up with so that Stanford would not throw me out. My dissertation, if you really have no idea what I’m talking about, looks like a fairly ordinary dissertation. It took me two years to get a committee who would be willing to have their names on it, and about six or eight weeks to complete the dissertation after that, because I had most of it done. Later we were allowed by the federal government to do a totally different study on creativity, on the question of could psychedelics facilitate problem solving of a technical nature. Oscar Janiger and a lot of other people had done work with artists. However, with people like Willis and Myron, it was clear that we wanted to be able to do more scientistic science, as well as more scientific science. We were really not sure, if we could use these materials and get people to work on highly technical problems, when we knew that if you upped the dose enough, they would be much more interested in letting go of their personal identities, and letting go of time and space, and seeing God.

To put it to the test, was we got together one night – Myron and Willis and James Watt, our current physician, and I-and we took a very low dose of LSD, 25 mcg. We then played music to ourselves and waited until the walls were breathing just a little, and we were at a reasonable state of whatever the biochemistry is, and we were in flow. Then we worked on the study. Our reasoning was that if we could design a study under a low dose, then one could run the study, because we were doing exactly what we were asking people in the study to do, which was to focus down on the technical problems of research design, and not get caught up in the beauty and grandeur of the universe. Which we did. It was truly bootstrapping in the nicest form. Then we began to run this study. I was a PhD. By then and therefore had learned a certain amount of research design and blah, blah, blah. We began to run this gorgeous study where we had senior scientists from a number of companies – research scientists – and what we said to them is, “We will assist you in your most pressing technological problems, particularly if you’re stuck.” Our criteria for admission to that study were: “At least three problems that you have spent at least three months on.”

We had a range of people from hard sciences, theoretical mathematicians, architects, a number of people. We would work with four of them at a time. Because of our connections at Ampex, we had the best audio equipment available because, it turned out, good sound quality seemed to matter a lot – four sets of headphones. We basically would take them through the morning as we would for a high-dose experience, which is: relax, headphones, eyeshades, music, and don’t work on your problems. Then, we would pull them out around noon and ask them to work on their problems. They would have brought pens, pencils and, pads of paper. Someone did bring a slide rule, but decided it was not applicable after a while. They worked ’til maybe 4:00. Lunch was slipped in, but most people didn’t eat. Around 4:00, we would begin to basically get into more of a relaxation – not social, but convivial time. They would also begin to review their work and make such other notes as they needed to make. Their discussion was basically: How did it work? Out of those sessions, a number of patents emerged. One of my favorites was a lovely architect who had the task of designing a small block in Santa Cruz into a set of shopping, eating and sitting spaces.

It was a task of complicated architectural possibilities. What he said was, at the end of the four hours, he’d seen the entire structure. He’d spent the afternoon making drawings. What was most exciting to him was he hadn’t seen the concept; he’d seen the buildings! He drew in the parking spaces; he was drawing in very kind of inside-the-walls specifications: size of beams, nature of bolts. For him this was just a total pleasure, because that is not the way he’d ever been able to do a project before. He literally had seen it and walked around in it. It was designed. It existed as a kind of platonic form. That was the kind of marvelous thing we were doing.

One morning we had four people running – It was between now the nine and noon, and I’d stepped out for a while. We got a letter from the federal government. It said, almost this curtly, “ As of the receipt of this letter, your experimental drug license is terminated.” We learned much later that over 60 psychedelic research projects had been canceled on the same day. Seemed counterintuitive for the government to shut down the only regulated uses while the counter culture was rapidly expanding. The theory that I came up with was that there was a meeting in Washington that went something like this: “We are now concerned that psychedelics are widely available and that people are misusing them. There are things happening in the youth culture, and we really can’t do, as far as we can tell, a thing about the things that bothers us. But we can stop somebody somewhere, and that will make us feel better. So, what we’ve decided to do this morning is stop all research in the United States. Our reasoning {my best guess here} is that was the only thing that we controlled, so at least we can stop somebody.”

Reading the letter with our little crew, we thought about the four people in the next room who represented major scientific minds, and agreed that we had gotten this letter tomorrow. However, that effectively ended our research. We did publish those results and there are a number of rather distinguished, very happy scientists in this area. One became the vice president of Hewlett­ Packard, another has won every major scientific award that the computer offers, and so forth- from that research. So, we in a sense … It’s as if you strike oil and you get that scene of the geyser spraying dirty oil on everyone, and everyone’s smiling and hugging each other and laughing, and then someone comes along and says ” Cap your well. No more oil in the United States.”  At the peak of our finding a way into the culture, totally acceptable, and also acceptable to us, not denying people’s spiritual values, because these were problems that people wanted to work on and mattered to them.

We were asked to please not only stop, but to – as we all know – to try and deny whatever we had already learned and to maintain as high level of ignorance as we could while millions of people then experimented without knowledge, help, support, etc.


: Given that you are instructed to terminate these activities, and given that you had had profound visionary experience yourself, what did you do with your psychedelic vision at that point?

JF: I really stepped back, and at that point… I was more aware of the absurdity of this moment in the drama than feeling personally affected, because I was at a place where things didn’t personally affect me much; they just happened and I did whatever I needed to do. And so I thought, “Well, what else is available?” At that point, because of the millions of people using psychedelics, numbers of other pathways were starting to open up. What had been the other traditions – of which meditation was the most obvious, speaking now – but it was not at all obvious in 1965: fasting, vision quests, self-immolation, the use of shamanistic practices, the peyote way. In a sense, given that I couldn’t use what seemed to be the cleanest, best, easiest way to work with myself and other people, I then said, ” What else is there? Since I’m not going to, you know, begin to sell life insurance.”

Given that I was this just fresh PhD without employment. I was offered a position as a counselor at San Francisco State – because they were desperate for someone who had experience with these materials and could work with students who came in with drug related issues. Until, however, they thought about it and realized that if they hired me or anybody like me, it would imply that there was some truth or legitimacy to what was going on. Rather than have someone who knew what was going on, they decided not to. I then realized that my career was on rather shaky grounds, since my dissertation exposed me as one of ‘them,’ whoever ‘them’ were.  I had snuck through Stanford. By the time I got done, Stanford’s great terror was that they would be known as the Harvard of the West, which would mean – since Tim and Dick had been fired by that time for doing research, less controversial than the research I’d been doing.


: So, what did you do with the psychedelic vision, then?

JF: I tried to make use of it in my life in a very simple-minded way, which was: If I knew or had learned anything, then I had to somehow in my life exhibit it. There’s a country & western tune that says: “If you’ve got religion, show it.” An even more wonderful song by Bessie Smith, that says, “If you got it, bring it in here or else you got to leave it out there.” One of the things I did was begin to work with what became the transpersonal, and – among other things – helped create the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, which was a place in which different religious traditions could talk, not about doctrine or differences, but about experience. We could cooperate with each other in a way that hadn’t really been possible in religious circles or in psychological circles. That whole association and journal came out of a meeting at Esalen that we put together with the help of Michael Murphy, where we brought together the best Catholics we could find – the most open, the most liberal, the most scholarly – and a number of us – we weren’t outlaws because there weren’t too many laws yet, but we were clearly beyond the fringe.

We had a meeting with them for a weekend. What we came away with is to realize that the bridge between spiritual experience and psychology had to be built, and that these Catholics weren’t going to lay a stone of it. So, it was up to us. We really felt that one model that existed was the humanistic journal, association, friendship group. We began to form that on a friendship basis, and we wrote to all the editors of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and said, “We’re moving on. There is more to the human condition than we have experienced in our humanistic orientation. We don’t quite know where we’re going, but here’s among the things that we’re going to look at. Would you like to join us?” About half of them said something like “I have some vague idea of where you’re going and I’ll go with you” or and the other half said, “Absolutely not.” The major “no”s that come to mind were Victor Frankl, who said “Total nonsense.” and Rollo May, who, for various reasons, became a enemy of the spiritual, willing to work against it. Particularly, what seemed to frighten him was adding the spiritual back into psychology. Along the way as a graduate student, I had become a devotee of William James. James basically not only invented psychology, but also the psychology he invented was the full transpersonal realm from the highest and most abstract or non-form spiritual experiences to human learning and personal interactions and how the visual system works under stress and so forth. Here was this incredibly full vision of psychology that turned out to be the foundation of psychology. In sharp contrast, there was what I’d had at Stanford, and then mainstream psychology has only become more shrunken since.


: I have a historical question that I put together. We interviewed Stan, who mentioned that Maslow his whole life had resisted taking any psychedelics.
JF: Uh-huh.

: And I guess Stan had talked to him, maybe you had talked to him, and other, xx [?] talked to him, and so on. And according to Stan, at the end of Maslow’s life, he had a heart attack.

JF: Right.

: After he had a heart attack he came either to Ram Dass or to Tim – we’re not sure who – and said “I’m ready sure I don’t have a lot of time left.” He then had a psychedelic experience and apparently personally made the leap between humanistic and the transpersonal. According to Stan, it was at that point that-. I think, and this is what I want to get clear and check out with you – I guess you and Stan and maybe Maslow began to really create what is now, put the seeds of the transpersonal xx [?] group together. So, I’d like to get a little bit of the historical from your sense.

JF: Let me give a different history. Tony Sutich is the unsung hero of both humanistic and transpersonal psychology. One man created two of the four psychologies. Tony Sutich did this while being almost totally physically paralyzed. Tony lived on a slant bed and had the use of muscles in one arm enough to turn the phone on and off with a little pull chain, and about half of his facial muscles. That’s about all he had. The internal organs worked well enough so he could live. Lying there he became friends with a lot of people. He also made a living as a psychotherapist. But lying there he created humanistic psychology and he created the Association for Humanistic Psychology as a covert way of getting more funding for the journal, because you could charge people twice for the same journal. It was Tony who began to realize that we needed to move on, that the highest and best were beyond what the humanists were talking about. It was around that time that I appeared with my little psychedelic fresh-scrubbed face.  Maslow was certainly on the fence in those years. But Maslow, as he got older, began to have what he called “plateau experiences.” which were that he would get very high off of something in Nature or in human beings, and he’d stay there for a while. He really had no framework.

At one point he was redoing The Psychology of Being. We were on our way to a Spring Grove conference, which was early consciousness researchers hiding out in the Midwest where no one would suspect us, and talking truly openly about everything. Abe and I were on a flight together, and he showed me the introduction. It had a footnote, which basically said the I Ching and astrology and Eastern thought in general was bunk and hokum and should not be looked upon by grownups.  I said, “Abe, I don’t think you want to put that in. Even if you don’t know, it’s not going to serve you.” And he took it out. But that’s where he was coming from; he is truly someone who had come through the Western mind. Originally, he was an animal researcher. So, he’s made more of an intellectual and growth leap than any of us ever had to do. Someone in Freud’s circle talks about standing on the shoulder of giants.  I think Freud’s retort was “And the giant still is a giant,” something like that. We could go beyond where Abe could go comfortably. Yes, it was near the end of his life that Abe became comfortable with all that. But it was a hard road for him.
To Be Continued….

Elder Interviews: Jim Fadiman, 1998 Part 2

On Sale Now! The Hasheesh Eater

Here we go with the second part!

Elder Interviews: Jim Fadiman, 1998 Part 2

Second Half Continued:
He died of a heart attack, running around his swimming pool in California, doing his exercises to prevent a heart attack.

: But do you know that he had a psychedelic experience?
JF: That’s correct, as Stan has told you.

: But you also found a certain level of hostility from some of the entrenched powers of the humanistic movement. Where was that resistance corning from? Because, in other respects, they were rather progressive for their time. Why was the psychedelic issue, the transpersonal movement, so antithetical to where their belief systems were?

JF: Since I made an interior move from their position to mine, I really have a good feeling for it, which is: If you have been brought up in a world where there is only this world, in a sense you’ve been brought up intellectually provincial. The only experiences you’ve had with religion have been with people who also have never had any spiritual experience. If, you’ve been brought up where there’s formal religion. You then have people who are speaking in all the metaphors of religion – because that’s the best language we have – but all it brings up for you is your own rather impoverished spiritual background. You then project onto them or to me that if I’m speaking about being a divine agent of God, that I’m clearly a paranoid schizophrenic about to knife you. Because paranoid schizophrenics talk about being the divine agents or angels of God. You get people who are truly dealing with the fear that their entire worldview is little. When you’re in a position of power and your entire worldview is little, it’s not unrealistic for you to say that the people who are attacking it must be wrong.

Psychology has a wonderful way of turning disagreement into derangement, into disability, into pathology. When I said I wore a coat and tie at Stanford that was a very conscious and deliberate effort to make sure that people did not even ask me what I knew. A very nice way of saying it is: Fear in the scientific world is usually called skepticism. The people who I ran into – and run into today- truly are saying, as Werner Erhard might say, “From my observation and experience, everything you’re talking about does not exist.” If you read ancient history and you get, Herodotus’s view of certain ancient peoples who lived in places he’d never been, maybe carried their heads under their arms – I believe that was one of the groups that he writes about. If I’ve had no experience with that it’s unlikely, it’s unlikely that if you’ve never seen a giraffe or an elephant, that either exists. If you’ve had a little bit of biology, it’s highly unlikely that a duckbilled platypus exists. If someone comes to you and says “I would like you to meet my friend the elephant who will carry us in his trunk into the jungle.” Correctly, you would say “I’d rather you go away, and I certainly don’t want to hire you in my school. I certainly don’t want to publish your articles.”

: Would you say that this is also reflective of why the culture at large became so hostile to psychedelics, and why, after the initial enthusiasm, there was a wave of repression which included shutting down your Stanford program?

JF: Well, the way I’ve looked at it is that psychedelics were a wave growing in magnitude, and Vietnam was this stone wall. When psychedelics met Vietnam, the country split apart, the old guard who had created and maintained a Vietnam and were into war and so forth were correctly, terribly threatened. Because the psychedelic people were saying “We are not really interested in any of your institutions, and we’re willing to do what’s necessary to tear them down. We’re willing to eliminate your university, not to add some courses. We’re willing to eliminate your military, not improve training. We’re willing to turn your churches into parks, because true religious experience does not work well in stone halls. Each of those institutions said, “I don’t know what you guys are up to, but I’m so deeply threatened, to the extent that I can stop you, I will. Basically, you saw got an amazing unity of the major institutions against the psychedelic wave. What the major institutions said was, “We control all the guns. We control all the universities. We control all the roads. We control medicine. And, by God, we are at war with these people who are not content to let us live our lives, but are determined through the most dangerous and most vulnerable part of us, our children, to take away the love and respect and support of our institutions and ourselves.” From their point of view, it’s hard to know what else they could have done.

The Feast

: … also, you’re a great storyteller.

JF: I once looked at my speaking patterns; they are closest to pre-stroke Ram Dass. I was listening to him a couple of times and I got “Whoo!”

: You’ve just got the tempo …

JF: Tempo, well, the use of timing, use of humor, only for serious points. For instance, I never tell jokes, and I can. I don’t do anything for humor, but I use humor continuously as a way of breaking frameworks.

JF: It can be, but it’s the way I see the world. I mean, I really do see the world in its dramatic potential.

.: Recently I looked through a listing of all the articles in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology over the years. In the first six or seven years are a great number of articles addressing the psychedelic issue. Then for about the next 12, 13, 14 years there’s not one article on psychedelics. What happened with the evolution of the transpersonal movement, and why did psychedelics fall out until relatively recently, when they re-entered?

JF: Let’s make the question just a little larger: Where did psychedelics really deeply influence parts of the culture? If you go down a list of the major people in transpersonal psychology, or spiritual psychologies in general, what you will find is: Almost everyone was deeply affected by their own psychedelic experience. Let me give you a parallel world, which is if you go to a conference of the great computer hackers and breakthrough computer people of the first wave of computer companies, all of them were deeply affected by psychedelics. You will not find any mention of psychedelics in the history of computers, because it didn’t serve them to mention it, except to one another. At some point there’ll be a great outing of those people. Many of them have been asked and they have said, no, they would rather not come out at this point. What you got were people who were working with consciousness in the transpersonal. We’re also creating and trying to define what this branch of psychology was. What we found is: As we expanded, there were more and more people who were deeply concerned with one or another aspects of a spiritual tradition and how that affected consciousness. In a sense, psychedelics were less and less important to filling in the puzzle.

While the major figures all were affected by psychedelics, maybe continued to use them, maybe not, what was transpersonal became far larger. The way I like to talk about it is: People say, “Well, what is transpersonal psychology versus conventional psychology?” I reply, “Conventional psychology is at least 150 years old, and transpersonal psychology is 5,000 years old. What we learned is there are a lot of people who had actually explored things for hundreds of years that we were just discovering. We tended to begin to look to the Buddhists and the Tibetans and the Hindus – not for exploring our own personal experience, but for seeing how the worldview was discoverable through these much longer and sophisticated lenses. I mean, one of the things, as my blackboard incident says, is my understanding of things was not very large. I understand the fundamental truth of the universe, but if you ask me to describe that, I will fall into one metaphorical system or another, because I don’t have any choice. Transpersonal began to realize that we were able to publish articles of incredible depth and sophistication by drawing on thousands of years of other people’s work, rather than our early issues where we were drawing on our own personal experience which was initially naive and certainly kind of wobbly.

If you look at Castaneda’s work, you know, the first book of Castaneda says “I am a jerky graduate student, and I fell into a bunch of people, some of whom were illiterate, but all of them knew about a thousand times as much as I ever will, and, at the end of my book, I will throw in a little anthropological nonsense to prove that I am still a graduate student.” Gradually you lose any possibility that Castaneda knows anything of relevance, and that he is working from a worldview unknown to the rest of us, of the Native Mexican-American tradition. As we learn, he begins to understand that he was given psychedelics a lot because he had such a thick head and had so many conceptual boundaries that the question is: What can we do to get him to understand anything at all? I think Charlie Tart says that there are some of us who need to be hit across the head with a 2×4 to get our attention. We basically moved from our own self-congratulatory explorations to a much wider version of the world. I’ve given lectures and written books on certain religious traditions. Can I find psychedelics in those traditions? Of course. Do I need to mention it? Not particularly. Also, of course, as psychedelics had worse and worse press, and became less associated with fundamental religious experience, and more and more connected to whatever the federal government’s dishonest take of the day was, it was just less useful. Now you meet people in the transpersonal world – particularly people from other countries – who have come to transpersonal entirely without psychedelic experience, through various spiritual traditions.

Dialogue Of Dreams

: I guess now in the last six or seven years you’re starting to once again see articles on psychedelics in the transpersonal literature, there are xx [?] on psychedelics at the transpersonal conferences. What are the implications of this latest turn?

JF: The trend in the culture is to gently begin to admit, that while the federal government has stopped research, and the journal stopped accepting articles, and the funding organizations dried up, that young people are still taking psychedelics. Young people, predominantly better educated, and they are beginning to kind of admit to each other that the decades of misinformation hasn’t really held as well as the makers of disinformation would like. Just as it is generally known among approximately 12 to 20 million people that marijuana is not bad for you. Ginsberg said many years ago, “Imagine, given the success of marijuana and other psychedelic drugs, given the entirely hostile and wrong information about marijuana – imagine if we were allowed to advertise like tobacco.” What you’re seeing is another generation, of which some of you are members, that say, “I honestly had to look at my own experience versus the walls of misinformation, and my own experience seemed to be more valid. It’s now not so terrible to talk about psychedelics, because if you say in any public forum, “The government is both misinformed and misinforming,” no one is upset. Hitler had a theory that the Big Lie would work. And it does, unless you have personal experience.

Twenty years of Grateful Dead concerts have left a kind of road on which the culture of people who’ve had personal experience travel. The reason that marijuana is now available for medical use, whether the State of California likes it or not, is because too many physicians were saying it was a good idea. In spite of all of the rules that said that you are not allowed to tell the truth if you are a physician. You’re not allowed to tell the truth if you’re a psychologist. I did a series of films on psychedelics many years ago for KQED. And what we learned is – this was in the mid-Sixties, ’67 or so – that young people already knew that if someone was introduced as a government official or a physician that they were about to be lied to. That was the starting place in ’67. That core understanding – that you cannot trust your government to tell you about your own inner experience – has been maintained. We’re now seeing a kind of another wave of people who are in positions of authority and knowledge and responsibility who are being asked – particularly again by their children, now the third generation: “What’s the truth?”

: Were you also saying that, back then at least, you could not trust your physician to tell you the truth about your health?

JF: Right. This was at a period when if you had cancer your physician wouldn’t tell you.

Dream Engine

: Well, what about today? Looking at this, we had the origins of the transpersonal movement, which were heavily grounded in the psychedelic experience.

JF: Right.

: A long maturing period where the great world traditions were embraced, incorporated. Now, there’s a sense that psychedelics are opening up again, a bit perhaps in a less dramatic way, a bit more subtle. Looking at the role of physician, let’s say, who seem to have monopoly over administering drugs, can you envision a phenomena, a transpersonal psychiatry which would more directly address psychedelic drug administration?

JF: Well, I think there are two contexts for psychedelic. One is psychedelic, and the other is entheogenic. Entheogenic is that one’s religion must be a private act, and that government suppression of private, internal events is fundamentally against humanity. President Clinton, on his first trip to China, said there are certain fundamental human freedoms. One of them has been, in the United States. the freedom of religion. That’s the entheogenic path. That’s the path that I am committed to, because I now realize that the government did not stop my research with that letter ending the research in the next room on creativity. It basically said, “You may not practice your religion, or we will physically imprison you.” That’s a rather striking departure from what the United States has historically done.

The other use, what my dissertation, for example, reports, which is the use of psychedelics to help people live better lives by having less neurosis, less psychosis, less fixations, less perversions, whatever. It’s a very different question. Maybe that should be in the hands of the people who historically in a culture administer interventions, which have been called ‘medical.’ Now I’m personally a lot more radical than that, because I recall in the United States around 1830, the laws were: Anyone could practice any kind of healing or medicine they wish. If you hurt people, you could be sued. If you didn’t hurt people, then you wouldn’t be sued. That’s where I’m coming from, which is the freedom to help people. We’ve lost that to many professions. I am not a licensed psychologist, which means that I cannot legally help people and charge them. With that said, I’m also a minister, and I can help people if I wish. I have that freedom to be helpful. If I were a psychologist I would have an enormous set of restrictions on how I could help them. If I were a physician, I would have a different set of restrictions on how I could help them. I’ve opted for the religious way, which gives me the maximum freedom to be of maximum use.


: Looking in your crystal ball, projecting ahead into the future, do you prognosticate a role for psychedelics, for entheogens? At least in these models?

JF: Until we get to the bottom of this current era of enormous moral repression, things will not change much. This is a real Inquisition era that we’ve moved into, where the goal of enormous number of people in this country is to prevent other peoples having the right to choose: the right to have children or not to have children, the right to have medicine or not to have medicine, the right to have religion or not to have religion. We’re reached reaching a pretty ugly place in terms of the decline of personal freedom. Hopefully, we’ll bottom out, and the next wave will not only allow psychedelics in the medical model, and entheogens in the spiritual model, but will really begin to set up structures that make sense. Just as there are now some religions coming out of Brazil which have found not only, very sensible structures for entheogen use, but are remarkably middle class – non socially disruptive, non tear-down-the-foundations-of­ society – groups. The problem that we had in the ’60s: It’s not that our vision of what the world could be was incorrect. It was, that by tearing down the buildings we happened to be standing in, we made it doubly difficult. It’s like Yugoslavia really has pushed itself back to about the 14th century by everybody shooting at everybody. Yes, they had some disagreements, but everyone lost enormously because everyone went too far. In a sense, that was the problem with the ’60s. That isn’t happening on this next round. The nice thing about the desire in the medical profession to alleviate human suffering is: that everyone at some point gets that they could be helped. The entheogenic route is a little more difficult, but will probably occur as country after country stops buying into the United States’ demands to have a drug policy that meets our morally conservative paranoia. The camel’s nose under the tent is really medical marijuana. Once you admit that a substance that your government says is unmitigated evil for all people at all times, no matter what, and we should not learn anything about it, should we be wrong has been wildly wrong, thing start to change. At some point, grownup nations start saying, “Golly, this really doesn’t sound like the way grownups behave. Even if the largest bully on the planet keeps saying, ‘You gotta do it our way,’ our own citizens really deserve better.” At this moment in England, the House of Lords is looking into if medical marijuana a good idea. Same time, the drug czar of England has recently busted his own son. Okay? We are dealing with a little bit of nuttiness here, at a very high level. But we’re not dealing with nuttiness in the House of Lords, because the House of Lords really doesn’t have a great stake in medical marijuana, for or against. We in this country have bought into such a set of lies that it’s very hard for a politician to say, “Huhh! All my colleagues and I have been lying to you for 30 years. All the people who I trusted for information when I was just a hustling attorney trying to get a job in Congress, lied to me and I continue to pay them.” Hard. It’s very hard to find grownup politicians who will say, “I was wrong.” We have Havel, Mandela, – a few great beings. But most politicians feel afraid to say, “I was wrong.” However, I think the future is basically bright-in cycles. In some ways, I’d like it to get to the worst as soon as possible, so we could get done with it.

: Jim what would you say to young people about psychedelics?

JF: I would basically give them my ’60s lecture on set and setting, which is: If you’re going to use psychedelics, do it with someone you love, and hopefully someone who’s been there before you, and be aware that you may find out that the world is even better than you ever thought. Sometimes people do ask me that. I recently was talking with a recent Stanford MBA, who was really asking that question. I saw that MBA about three months later, and she said, “The world is really wonderful!” She said, “And yeah, to think I was afraid.” I said, “Well, when you’re afraid, that’s not the right time.” Really, what I say is – If it feels correct then you’re going to go ahead, and by all means try and understand what the truth of these things are, which is that they are very powerful, and that you can indeed make a lot of mistakes. I can tell you about all of our mistakes, because, you need to make your own mistakes, while you’re on your own path.


: How would you say that the psychedelic experience in your own life has affected your personal views, about aging and death?

JF: Those are really two separate questions. Let’s take death, because that’s easy. My psychedelic experience is very clear that for Jim Fadiman death is certainly going to end a lot of interesting anecdotal material. As Jim Fadiman, I certainly think that’s terrible. But as I- this other I – big deal! -I deeply have the realization that my personality is like my shirt. When my shirt really gets ragged enough, I’ll take it off. There are other shirts. “In my house, there are many shirts,” to ruin a perfectly good quote from Edgar Cayce. Death is something that I don’t particularly look forward to it, even if, it’s as someone said, it will cure whatever ails you. Eventually all your troubles, whatever your conditions are, you don’t have to worry. So that’s fine.

As for aging, I haven’t found much going for it yet. That’s why I’m one of the psychedelic “pioneers’” and I’m very happy to be joining psychedelic “elders,” who are certainly considerably older than I am.

: I think one way of our looking at ‘elders’ was: What information would they want to pass on to younger people.

JF: I understand. The word ‘elder’ from a shamanistic position is the right word. Ram Dass used to use a different term – which I think is really more what pioneer is about- which is “explorer.” What he said is “Now and then you’d go back to the Explorers Club and they’d say: ‘Where you been?”‘ I feel more like someone who’s part of National Geographic than the Akashic Records. What I say to young people is basically to understand that the government has misinformed you very, very badly, and that it would be an awful lot better if you knew what the truth was before you worked with psychedelics.

That is probably because the level of misinformation is so great, people are using psychedelics a little too young. What I learned from my own research is that psychedelics took your life experience and composted it, so that something new could grow. If you really didn’t have too much experience it didn’t seem to be much effect. You didn’t seem to gain enough. I look at psychedelics always as learning tools. Even in the middle of a psychedelic experience I would begin to think, “I wonder what I’m going to do with this?” I’d like it to be over so I can start to get to the digestion and assimilation and new brain cell production. The act of the psychedelic experience itself wasn’t what was of major interest.

Mind’s Eye

: Amongst indigenous peoples it’s not the young people going off on their own to take plants, psychedelics. Rather, it’s the elders facilitating a ritual of initiation to really, who’s desire it’s not for them to have a great personal experience but to fully incorporate them as functional adults within the society, within the community.

JF: Unless you know something about the nature of life and death, you’re not a grown up. Once you know something about the nature of life and death, then you don’t have much choice but to be a grownup. That’s the model that makes sense to me. So back to aging … As I got grew up fairly quickly during the ’60s, in terms of the deep things I know, I have filled in a lifetime of the shallow things: the making a living, and writing books, and having a family, and so forth. All of which, I’m very happy with. I’m not at all distressed about my life. But you do those whenever they come up. What I notice is that when I was much younger, old people were the age I am now. At my age, I still find old people are somewhat older. I don’t have much of a grasp on aging. I don’t do it much. I notice friends get into it but doesn’t attract me. When friends say, “Do you want to get cardiovascular improvement?” or “Would you like to go to the Galapagos?” I’d still rather go to the Galapagos.

Chelation doesn’t look like something I’m going to get excited by. Also, I’m a social being and what I’ve found is that one of the things about aging is that you become invisible to certain age groups. I don’t really find being invisible feels good, in terms of my neurotic needs and my desire to be liked and to do speaking and tell stories, it just doesn’t work for me. When someone says, “I’d like to learn something from you,” I’d prefer that we don’t have an age barrier. A problem, at least in this culture, is that aging raises those little barriers.

: Have you used psychedelics in more recent years? And if so have you found anything new?

JF: I had a long period in which I didn’t use them. Partly again, problems of set and setting. Making things illegal really doesn’t improve them. Most of my work was legal and legitimate. When I took psychedelics near the end of that period, it was still basically an acceptable thing; the thought police had not arrived.

There was a long period when I didn’t take them, but in the last year or so, I had a major psychedelic experience. My major concern, from that place of psychedelic clarity, could I say if had I lived my life within the framework of this larger vision. It was like a precursor of the Last Judgment, where they get those scales out and they weigh all those dirty things you did and all that groovy stuff you did, and you just watch the scale. I was relieved to find out that my life’s all right. Now, at higher levels, it couldn’t matter less what my life was, had I been a mass murderer and given bubonic plague to millions of children – at a high enough level, that’s just the way the universe was working.

The level I was looking at was a very conventional, which is: Did I make use of what I’d learned in the way I treated human beings, the way I treated myself, the way I loved, the way I expanded. I was taking a kind of long evaluation session. I could very comfortably, certainly wanted to go back to a more what I would call directly spiritual, where we bypass all that. Didn’t happen. What I got out of it was a reaffirmation that my personality doesn’t hold my interest. It’s a good tool; I like it. It’s a tool for the kinds of things I do in the world. But so is my Honda.

: What does hold your interest?

JF: I’ve been freed from reading psychology, which is just an enormous gift of personal liberation. I returned to literature, where all the great psychological thinking was. From there, I’ve moved into writing fiction. What I’ve finding is that, as someone said, “If it’s fiction, it better be true.” I can say more clearly what interests me and explore it more deeply using the structure, the superstructure, the scaffolding of fiction more than anything else. I’m also looking at: Where am I totally deficient due to my education? The visual arts. I had a sixth-grade teacher who managed — with enormous perseverance over my sixth-grade year -to kill any possibility of drawing or painting or any kind of making imagery. In the last couple of years, I’ve taken drawing classes, basically to get over that. What I’ve found is: There is a kind of meditative clarity, putting my personality aside, when I am trying to draw. After several years, I’m still not very good, but the feeling of pleasure in the doing keeps increasing. Without keeping learning, I feel I would have become boring to myself and I certainly couldn’t have maintained a decent marriage.

I have a pretty good idea of who I was as a Harvard undergraduate. As someone once said of me, “Does he ever have a serious thought?” I was a silly, smart, clever, sarcastic, childish, arrogant yecchh! I mean, I’m amused by who I was, but I certainly wouldn’t have him for dinner. My world was very, very tiny. It was based on having a very large vocabulary, a moderately large IQ, and so little soul, that if you measured it in teaspoons you probably wouldn’t have tasted it. I wasn’t bas but I wasn’t much. I am very clear that psychedelics were the fundamental resource upon which I have drawn to become a human being. Does that. .. ? [laughs]

Our Lady Of The Inner Journey

: That’s a great answer, in fact, yeah. Who do you think should take psychedelics? Say, if it was in your power to design policy?

JF: Right, if it were in my power to design policy I would probably design something the way adult literacy is designed. For people to be given this experience in a good enough setting, those who are interested in helping other people would be empowered to do so. Certainly, there is no historical precedent for them to be people trained in either mental health or physical health as the primary criteria. It is very useful to have such people available, because sometimes there are problems, because these are very powerful and important materials. I would certainly feel very strongly that to return entheogens to a guide relationship, which has been true in every culture that I have studied, and during the years when I studied all cultures for their kind of entheogenic relevance, that’s what I found. The idea that people should go off and trip with people their own age, who don’t know any more than they do, be they 50 or 20 or 12, has never worked very well, and it didn’t work real well in our culture. If I were the religion czar, the spiritual experience czar, and decreed that people would be allowed to have freedom of religion in the United States of America, I would start by saying that freedom of religion of an entheogenic sort will be done similarly to the way one flies a private plane, which is: You don’t go up alone, you go up with someone who knows more than you do, and they steer the plane till you know how.

: What advice would you have for those of us who are interested in working within the system to make psychedelics available for healing? And similarly, what advice would you have for those like Bob Jesse who want to work within the system to make psychedelics available for religious experience?

JF: For those of you in the healing arts my advice is: Never trust anyone in the media to give you a fair shake. Even if you have given them psychedelics and their entire life is devoted to serving it.

: I’ve been through that one.

JF: That’s the first bit of advice. The second is – I don’t have any advice for you, I feel a combination of admiration and sorrow at the large rock you’re pushing up a very steep hill. When you get it up to the top each time, somebody pushes it down. In some sense you are a holding action; you are preventing the wisdom from being lost totally.

It’s like the Irish monks in the.9th and 10th centuries: You’re holding the knowledge until it can be used again but, honestly, the work that you’re allowed to do is damn little. If you were allowed to do research, I would be much happier for you, but to run studies to see if if it’s going to help cancer patients is as if you’re finding out if masturbating will get you off. It’s known.  I just admire you, really, for being willing to do this work that I clearly have dropped out of, because I was unwilling to push the rock Then again, you came up and that was the only door that was still open. The one’s I’d used were all closed. I watched them close a number of them in my face.

Therefore, I took some alternative routes to keeping the vision alive, if not the way of getting there. That’s the psychiatric side. On the spiritual side, I encourage that people continue to let the Divine Wind blow through them, however that can be done. If it’s satsang; if it’s meditation, whatever. I find that the national park system is a set of absolute cathedrals designed for people to let go of their small self.  I’m very supportive of the national park system. Give me Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Zion, Yellowstone. The one thing that the government has not figured out is how much sedition is created by people falling in love with Nature.

Her Mysteries

: Anything we haven’t talked about, generally, or anything we have left out?

JF: Are we down to that one?

·: We’re getting there. We’re getting close.

JF: I don’t get to send a message to Zalman. He is one of the few people that would make the world want to be Jewish. Most theologians, of whatever persuasion, make you really are glad you’re not that. But Zalman really does the best I’ve ever seen at overcoming everyone’s concerns about the rigidity within the Jewish tradition. From a personal standpoint –this is a terrible time, where I don’t have any personal freedom, I live in this globalization country where “let’s make the poor, poor enough so that there’ll finally be a revolution, and the rich, rich enough so they can escape to some other country,” you know, choice, personal freedom, personal freedom of speech. There’s so little freedom speech anymore; it’s called political correctness. Unless you’re a right-wing fascist bigot, you can’t say what you want. Since I’m not-. I think I’m not – and I can’t say what I want in most public venues or I get attacked. We’re back to sexual repression as well.

As someone said, “I liked the Sixties.” My brother Jeff said it well. “For a few years a small percentage of the population was actually sexually satisfied.” That was a wonderful part of the Sixties, that people were free to love each other. I find this a very terrible time: From a slightly larger perspective, however, this is one of those “act two” eras, where act one was the Sixties and act two is now when everything gets terrible. When you work in fiction, you know that act three is where either you have a kind of joyful exuberance of discovery and reunification and the evils get undone, or you have a tragedy. Either one is art. Now that I can see more about what you do with fiction, either can have the same message, which is: No matter how great the darkness, there are still places of light.

One of the things I’m seeing in the 12th century is it was full of light. The 13th century was “pfft!’ – the darkness totally wins. The Catholic Church is at its unjust worst. It got so bad that we had the Reformation, that people said “God! This just can’t be the only game in town!” The Catholic Church said, ”Well, it actually is. We have eliminated all the other paths.”  The Catholic Church makes Microsoft look like, Ben & Jerry’s! Now, again, this is for people who are interested in being bold and brave and, as Ram Dass says, “Standing up. This is a wonderful time to be a hero, because the forces of darkness are everywhere. You know, in a time of universal peace, all this warrior stuff is inappropriate. I’m having a wonderful time at the moment. I’m aware that there is so much to be done. I mean, I used to give a talk on, “Don’t worry if people are not into your cause; there’s more than enough causes for them to participate in. As long as everyone is doing something, that’s very encouraging. Goethe says, “If every one in the world would sweep their front porch, the world would be clean.”

The High, The Holy

: From the long view, are you optimistic?

JF: On the long view I would say that there is no record of human history moving much. Socrates is still about as good as we get. We’ve now had a few thousand years, and there have been no improved models. I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. If you’ve been in enough theater, what you realize is, the play will go on. You’re either going to play your part as well as you can, or you’re going to be a big drag. I’m personally optimistic, because my life is really quite wonderful, and the people that I try and affect, I want their lives to be wonderful. If I could affect millions of people, I’d prefer that. But the people who tend to affect millions of people tend not to be able to make their lives much better. Okay? Therefore, the more optimists there are the better it is. One of the things about correct use of entheogens is that you can tap into a core of optimism that no amount of “this world” can defeat. Because this world is not the only game in town; it’s not the best game in town, but as they say, when you’re a gambler and the only slot machines are crooked, you’re still going to play.

: I guess if Socrates is as good as it gets, then can we return to Eleusis?

JF: Socrates had the advantage that his government allowed him religious freedom. until he didn’t. He was able to use such psychedelic materials, with guides, as were available. Certainly Buddha had the same opportunities. So, that’s the nice thing. If you look through history through an entheogenic lens, what you realize is: The truth is always available. People are going to discover it one way or another in every generation. Therefore, in this generation a lot of us had a chance to discover it, not in a formalized institutionalized setting where we all have the same words. The other side of it is-and this is the very positive side – there has never been a time in the history of humanity when all the spiritual traditions were as close as your nearest bookstore. No one ever has had that!

: Or your computer screen.

JF: Or your computer screen even wider. That means you don’t have to live near a bookstore, which is also a new thing. So that’s really different. You know, in the 12th century there were just a couple of paths, you could find: the Kabbalah, the Arthurian legends, chivalry and a few mystical traditions. But those were only if you were one of the very, very, very tiny few in Europe with a lot of education and could do a lot of traveling. We’ve never had access to all the spiritual traditions. In spite of the government’s blah blah blah, there’s still easy access to entheogens. This could be… What do they say? ”This could be the start of something swell.”

Entheogenic Eyes

· : Looking at history from entheogenic eyes, are you of the opinion that all the religions have an entheogenic core that may be long repressed but this would have been the original inspiration for what ensued?

JF: At the center of every spiritual tradition that is worth the name there is, somebody who had a break through into understanding what reality was. They were at that time in some kind of cultural matrix, so when they came back into being their bodies and their own cultural matrix and their own personality. They’d ponder, “How am I going to share this with anybody?” They did it in some way, and then eventually, they had ·a lot of people who hung out around them. Eventually some of the people hanging out around them said, ‘”I’ll do the shit work. I’ll arrange the meeting, I’ll bring in the food, I’ll handle things.” And the handlers gradually, as they always do, got control of the situation.

The original founders passed away, and then the handlers started to make it easier for themselves, because it’s easier to bring in the food if it’s every Sunday. It’s easier if everyone has ‘a certain place to sit. And so the bureaucrats always end up eating up spiritual food of the founder. Without a continual infusion of spiritual food you end up with what we call a religion. If you look at the religious right in Judaism, where you kill your prime minister; in the Arab world where you kill lots of other people; in the Christian world where you want to kill almost everybody -the religious right seems to be absolutely the same in every tradition, which is the farthest away from individual experience of universal love and compassion.

The religious urge cannot be repressed any more than the sexual urge – the need to be part of your whole self. But the expression of it always, inevitably – and I say that, without even any ill will anymore, gets “solidified.” That’s the nicer term; it gets ossified. Right? The bones start to be inflexible. Inflexible bones lead to inflexibility and that’s fine. My concern, for instance, with humanistic and transpersonal, is that it’s still run by people like me. I want to know who’s going to get rid of me, who’s going to throw us out. I’m looking towards – in a sense – the next psychedelic generation to say “What a bunch of tired old farts you are with this journal and this association and this old-fashioned transpersonal psychology when God is all around you!” I want then to say, “Carry him out!” I’ll say, ” Yes. Carry me out of the palace. You win! Let them tear down the walls and get back to basics.”

: So, maybe that’s your advice as an elder?

JF: Right. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t shoot me. But please take my job!

– : Okay. Thank you, Jim.

JF: You so very welcome.

: That’s excellent.
[End of interview]

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