Posted Wed 24th Jun 2015, 10:24am
The Psychedelic Society's director, Stephen Reid, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Inside Health about nitrous oxide in the context of the government's proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill, which would ban trade in all psychoactive substances except for alcohol, nicotine and tobacco.
What do you think about government moves to ban [nitrous oxide and other] so-called legal highs?
I think they're absurd, quite frankly. It's a very significant infringement of the liberty of people who want to alter their state using nitrous oxide and maybe not alcohol. The fact is, nitrous oxide, by many measures, is much safer than alcohol, so why should the government be able to tell me, direct me to using a more harmful substance?
Join our action in Parliament Square on Saturday 1st August:
Posted Wed 17th Jun 2015, 3:20pm
Video and text of a talk given by Jamie Richards at the Psychedelic Society of London social on 29th April 2015. Sound quality of the video improves after the first minute.
I wanted to do a short talk for you today, on the extremely beneficial results my experiences with DMT have had regarding my journey to overcome depression.
A few years back, I would never have chosen to stand up here in front of you all – it would have petrified me. And, no doubt, I’m still nervous, but through my experiences with DMT, I realised how so many of my actions are either driven from fear, or driven from love, and in this moment, I choose love. I also think it’s really important to communicate honestly and openly about our experiences.
Aged sixteen, at a trance party in north London, a friend and I brought a handful of Fat Freddy paper blotters. Soon after, on a hillside in Wiltshire, I had my first acid trip. It was incredible - awe-inspiring, life changing, mind-opening- all of the above.
By the time I was eighteen, I’d had my fair share of psychedelic experiences. I valued them all, but at that point in my life, underneath the outward psychedelic playfulness, I was struggling, and had been for some years. I had been suffering from depression and anxiety, and tripping was something I needed to shelve for a while. In my heart I knew I had found a tool that could open my eyes to a new way of seeing, but I was damaged from the experience of growing up in a society full of prejudice, with an education system preaching out a misguided interpretation of the route towards a successful life.
In trying to protect myself, I shut out that part of me that entheogens had opened up, and began to self-destruct. During the following eight years, I was diagnosed with anxiety & depression and started the toxic journey into psychiatric medications. I also started self-medicating, found heroin and fostered a heinous dependency on opiates.
Fast forwarding fourteen years, to a year and a half ago, I was engaged to my wonderful partner Phil, I had a home in north London and I had been clean from opiates for five and a half years. However, despite much of my life having turned around, I was depressed, full of fear and lacking direction. I had tried medication, therapy, mindfulness, meditation, yet I nonetheless continued to experience periods of deep depression.
I have always been interested in the entheogenic experience and altered states of consciousness. DMT was to my small amount of knowledge at that time, one of the strongest psychedelics known to mankind. The thought of re-engaging with the psychedelic experience in my depressed frame of mind might now seem a little unhinged. I knew of the importance of set and setting, and I knew that a depressed state of mind was not an ideal ‘set’, for my initial experience with DMT. Apart from the one very influential experience with the plant medicine Ibogaine, during the height of my addiction, I hadn’t touched any psychedelic substances for well over a decade. After all that time without ingesting an entheogen, I felt intuitively called to experience DMT – I was looking for answers and that is where my search took me.
DMT has been the catalyst for more personal positive change, than anything else, I have come across in my life. Since that initial experience, my partner, my brother and I have had many wonderful ceremonies together, and the realisations and lessons I have taken from those sessions continued to astound and assist me to move forwards towards a place in which I can honestly say I have never felt happier.
I’m not standing here holding DMT on a pedestal as the bringer of all solutions, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But for me, it was exactly what the doctor ordered – or rather didn’t. DMT has been a catalyst, it has been a gift and a tool, enabling me to look far beyond my personal circumstances, to let go of the vast amount of fear I was carrying, to recognise home truths and to embrace a life of lightness and love, rather than the dark and somewhat heavy path I had been manifesting.
One of the primary things I have become aware of is just how fear driven my life was previously. I have always considered myself a creative person, however during one trip, I realised what an overwhelming role fear had played in my creative process. The fear of whatever artwork or piece of writing I was working on not being good enough, and the need to try and control the outcome of the creative process. So much of my anxiety and depression was driven by this sense of fear. And my awareness of how pointless that was, has allowed me to begin the journey of letting it go.
My experiences with this medicine have also been very helpful for my relationships. Though my brother is an open-hearted loving person and we had always been very close, like so many families, we had created certain dynamics that were not benefitting our relationship. During one particular DMT ceremony, I found myself connecting to what some may term the the Godhead, or source - my brother could tell I was having a somewhat intense experience and came and sat on the floor in-front of me, meditating and holding the space. When I opened my eyes, I saw him and in that moment, I was convinced that he was me, that I was him and my awareness was of a connection to his core spirit. It felt as though our consciousness’s had somehow merged together in a sort of energetic cosmic soup. Putting aside whether or not that was entirely my imagination, the love that I felt both for him and therefore for myself, was so overwhelming, I began to cry. I was then suddenly acutely aware of this deep sense of sadness I had been carrying around with me for a very long time. It wasn’t that I didn’t previously intellectually understand that, but rather that I could now feel it whole-heartedly, and in truly connecting to that, I was able to let it go. Ever since that moment, the connection I feel to my brother and to myself, has extended beyond what I could have ever hoped for.
Feeling, experiencing, knowing the connectivity that exists between all life on this planet, is truly an incredible catalyst for moving past a persons everyday concerns. When it comes to joyful means of moving past depression, experiencing that white light of pure connectivity with source, definitely beats psychiatric medication and therapy.
It can feel so easy to feel insignificant, lost and alone in this capitalist consumer driven society, so lacking in equality and an ethical mind-set. Having the opportunity to experience whole-heartedly, that what we see is not all there is - that surrounding us, every moment of every day, the life-force energy that connects every human, animal and plant, is so rich, so beautiful complex and sacred. It’s beyond enough to remind you who you really are. And remembering that cornel of truth, has for me, been a gateway to a sense of inner peace and love, that put simply, annihilated the delusion of mental health problems I was so caught up in.
The concept of a universal consciousness and the infinite power of love and connectivity that we are all a part of, were ideas that I thought I understood, but understanding something intellectually, and truly feeling it, knowing it beyond a shadow of a doubt, are so entirely different.
The word Entheogen literally means ‘generating God, or the divine, within’ – used to describe a plant or substance that generates the mystical experience. To me, this perfectly describes my experiences with dmt. I’m a person who really needs to experience things himself, and this has had mixed results, leading to both the most wonderful of life experiences, and some pretty harsh ones. I’ve always had a real interest in various eastern philosophies. However, I have also been extremely put off by religious doctrine and in many ways I had allowed that to affect my own spiritual journey. DMT has been a catalyst for spiritual shifts. The author of Tryptamine Palace, James Oroc describes in what I believe to be a perfect manner, the 5-MeO-DMT experience, and though I only have minimal experience with 5-MeO, as I find it a lot harder to source, I relate much of what he says in ‘Tryptamine Palace’ to my experiences with DMT. James Oroc writes “As I let go, I experience dissolution into an omniscient state of oneness, a place where there is no difference between God, the physical universe, or me. We have ceased to exist as separate entities and now resonate as One. I resonate with the possession of a knowledge that radiates with the surest sense of Love – Love that is in everything and is everything, and is so much more. It is a conscious love more intelligent than anything we have ever known, a Love so great that it defies the need for a physical form and yet paradoxically realizes itself in us and in all creation. I become that love and I know everything is One.”
If you are someone who just shut down on hearing the use of the word God in association with the exploration of altered states through plant medicines, I totally get that. I am the last person on earth to stand here and get all evangelical, and referencing God in this instance, has in my mind very little to do with any organised religion that I’m aware of, and more to do with a sense of Oneness and infinite Love that we all possess and are part of. Now, I really do sound like a hippy! But, it just the way I feel. And, it’s working out for me.
Since re-entering the world of entheogenic exploration, with the help of my partner I have methodically reduced myself off all the psychiatric medications I’d accumulated over the past ten years. Alongside daily meditation, yoga and mindfulness practice, throwing myself back into creativity, and using DMT as a reset button when necessary, my life is blossoming in a beautiful direction, my relationships are better than ever, and my depression is almost non-existent. And I know that DMT has played a considerable role in that process - I am hugely grateful for that! I love the psychedelic and proud campaign that’s going on at the moment within the psychedelic society – in this mixed up western society we’ve lost so much of what is sacred. The consumption of entheogens has been at the core of humanities search for the sacred since the earliest days of our societies. It is only in the confused values of our contemporary western mindset, that such explorations are not upheld with the importance that they should be…but hopefully, we can be part of changing that!
Posted Thu 11th Jun 2015, 4:48pm
"The prohibition of certain psychoactive substances is an affront to the basic right of bodily autonomy: the right to do whatever we want with our own bodies. In this sense, there are connections to movements for sexual and reproductive rights. As Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, puts it: “Nobody should be punished for what they put in their body, whether it's a cock or a joint”."
Posted Tue 2nd Jun 2015, 11:39am
Welcome to the summer months! The psychedelic happenings continue unabated...
1. Upcoming events
- This Saturday 6th June, we’re hitting the streets in London, Leeds and Edinburgh to talk to passers-by about the benefits of psychedelics, dish out information sheets and invite people to our socials. If psychedelics have made your life better, get involved and 'pay it forward'!
- Manchester, Sunday 7th June: the launch of the Psychedelic Society of Manchester with Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris (psychedelic scientist at Imperial College London and close colleague of Prof. David Nutt) and Zoe Cormier (author of Sex, Drugs & Rock n' Roll and co-founder of Guerilla Science)
- Birmingham, Thursday 18th June: Jack Hunter’s talk ‘On the nature of the psilocybe folk: psychedelic entity encounters & the problem of spirits’
- London, Wednesday 24th June: the Psychedelic Society of London reading group discusses Breaking Open the Head by Daniel Pinchbeck
You can find an up-to-date list of our events at psychedelicsociety.org.uk/get-involved
2. What’s hot on Facebook
“People are very, very frightened of dying. They see it as the end. On psychedelics, this sense of self begins to break down,” says Professor Nutt. “People in the psychedelic trip often experience being at one with the world or even with the universe. It’s as if they have died, as if they’ve gone out to another place. They exist beyond their body. That experience can give them a sense of perpetuity, of permanence, of being part of the cycle of life, which of course we all are.”
- "12 out of 15 volunteers receiving psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for smoking cessation were able to remain smoke-free after a 6-month follow-up."
- If you want to trip without breaking the law, you should know about 1P-LSD, "a potent psychedelic which is difficult to distinguish from its popular analogue."
- Reclassify psychedelic drugs so we can properly research them, says a leading psychiatrist
- Eight things you didn’t know about magic mushrooms
3. Psychoactive Substances Bill
Last week the government proposed new legislation in an attempt to shut down the trade in ‘legal highs’. The Psychoactive Substances Bill would ban trade in “any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect” excluding “legitimate substances, such as food, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products”. For example, 1P-LSD would be illegal to sell under the new law (though it would still be legal to possess).
It’s been roundly criticised as ‘a bizarre piece of farcically bad drafting’ and ‘contrary to the legal basis upon which this country has operated for hundreds of years’. Prof. Nutt has warned the bill will ‘end brain research in Britain’ whilst charities have pointed out new laws will ‘only drive the drugs underground’. It’s suggested that the bill technically outlaws air freshener, incense, flowers and perfume.
there’s scope for challenging the bill, or at least securing a
well-defined process for exemptions. We’ll be in touch again soon with
ideas for action - feel free to reply to this email with your own ideas.
4. Other events
- Breaking Convention, premier international conference on psychedelic conciousness, July 10-12
- St. Leonards on Sea, Friday 12th June: The Explorers’ Club with Gregory Sams
- London, Saturday 13th June: first meeting of Students Against Cannabis Criminalisation
- London, Saturday 27th June: PUWABA! with DJ YAMANTAKA EYE
The Psychedelic Society team
Posted Fri 8th May 2015, 8:43pm
It’s May, and as always, there’s plenty going on!
- Edinburgh, Sun 17th May: the Psychedelic Society of Edinburgh storytelling evening
- London, Thurs 21st May: the Psychedelic Society of London reading group - High Priest by Timothy Leary
- London, Tue 26th May: legal group meeting (for those with particular legal interest/expertise, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
- London, Wed 27th May: the Psychedelic Society of London May Social featuring 'open space' small group discussions and ‘How To Talk About Psychedelics With Your Grandma’
- Manchester, Sun 7th June: the launch event of the Psychedelic Society of Manchester with Robin Carhart-Harris and Zoe Cormier (tbc, save the date!)
Nothing going on near you? Set up a local group where you are! Email email@example.com with expressions of enthusiasm.
2. We’re looking for an office space
From the Psychedelic Society’s director Stephen Reid:
From the end of this month, I’m setting aside several days a week to work on the Society, and I’m currently looking for an office/workspace in London to base myself and other volunteers. If you have a free space, or know of something suitable, please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. Other stuff we like
- London, Fri 15th May: Musica Magica
- London, Tue 26th May: Ecology, Cosmos and Conciousness Salon presents: Songlines of Snowdonia: Tapping the Mythic Mains
- Prowl Magazine (edited by Lisa Luxx who gave a spoken word performance at the last London social)
- A sponsored walk for psychedelic research by PsyPressUK editor Robert Dickins
- Hastings, 3/4/5 July: The Explorers Club Playground of Conciousness
- London, 10/11/12 July: Breaking Convention
The Psychedelic Society team