Friday, 21 November 2008

Walking between the worlds: Anthropology and parapsychology

Beautifully weaving together all the various tales of parapsychology, anthropology, archaeology, altered states, belief, magic and culture that thread this blog together like the tails of the snakes in the mudusa's hair, the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness is next year bringing together all my favourite stories for its annual conference.

Set in the idyllic setting of the entrance to Columbia Gorge in Portland, Oregon, the theme for April's conference of 'Bridging Nature and Human Nature' mingles ecopsychology with parapsychology, anthropology with folklore, mythology with dreaming, psychedelics with species-connectedness, and a wealth of other healthy confluences all into one happy pot. Still accepting submitted papers until January 9th, the meeting runs from April 1-5th and looks set to be unique. I certainly hope to go, so I hope to see you there.

Topics include (
See flyer):

1. The History and Future of Ecopsychology
2. Bateson, Postmodernism and Shamanism
3. Entheogens and the Legacy of Albert Hofmann
4. Cross-Cultural Inquiries of Eco-Dreaming and Eco-Anthropology
5. Mind/body Approaches to Biomedicine and Medical Anthropology
6. Psi and Species-Connectedness
7. Mythology, Folklore
8. Poetry and Ecocriticism
9. Landscapes of Consciousness and Paleolithic Cave Art
10. Ethnomethodology.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The beyond within: Ketamine and the near-death experience (NDE)

Seems it's psychedelic season in London after all, and all with a nice parapsychological twist. Next month at my favourite London boookshop, Treadwells, Dr. Ornellla Corazza will be giving a talk on her PhD research on ketamine and near-death experiences. I won't be there, unfortunately, because I'll be in Ecuador doing my own parapsychopharmacological research, but I was lucky enough to catch a similar talk by Ornella back at the beginning of last year, which I wrote a review of for the Paranormal Review.

10 December 2008 (Wednesday)

Near Death Experiences
Exploring the Mind-Body Connection
Ornella Corazza (SOAS)
£5.00 in advance
7.15 for 7.30 start

In this illustrated slide lecture, Dr Ornella Corazza will share the fruits of her groundbreaking research on Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Along with the reports and studies of NDEs, she refers to accounts of sessions with the powerful dissociative drug, ketamine, and draws from contemporary Japanese philosophies of embodiment to argue against the traditional "survivalist" interpretation of NDEs and offers us a new perspective on what human life is and also what it can be.

Ornella Corazza, PhD, is a NDE researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. In 2004-5 she was a member of the 21st Century Centre of Excellence Program on the Construction of Death and Life at the University of Tokyo. She teaches on the Lampeter MA on The Body: Eastern and Western Perspectives. Academic publications include Remember (2006), on ritual practices in North-East Italy. Her latest is Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection (2008). She lives and works in London.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Shamanism through the ages

Suddenly Tuesday evenings in London don't look so dull. Following on from the Goldsmiths College lecture on Psychoactive plants and psychic people this coming Tuesday, a group of us have begun organising a series of public lectures on ecology, consciousness and the cosmos to be hosted at the amazing October Gallery in Bloomsbury, London. The first of many evenings begins with a lecture by South American ayahuascero Pablo Friedlander on the following Tuesday (25th November) entitled From Ancient Eleusis to Modern Ecstasy: Shamanism Through the Ages.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL (Tel: 44 (0)20 7831 1618). Please RSVP as space is very limited, email: rentals AT
Entry £7/ £5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start - Wine available

Pablo's talk will consist of a brief and deep analysis of a mysterious evolution: from shamanic practices to the rise of the first philosophical schools. Beginning with the symbolisms of shamanism in prehistoric times, a process of sophistication is followed that leads from the visionary art of caves in different continents to the theories about nature in archaic Greece. This comparative study between ancient European beliefs and contemporary shamanic practices in the Americas’ focuses on the relationship between magical plants, cosmological chants, iconography and insights. The constants and changes in the cultivation of mystical trances through key moments of history serve to explain what the Ecstatic Wisdom is and what it means.

Psychoactive plants and psychic people

Well, after warming up my ranting reflexes at the Day of the Dead extravaganza I now feel up for a bit more "whanging on" about my pet subject - psychedelics and the paranormal. So I will be giving a public lecture this coming Tuesday 18th November for the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College, University of London, entitled Psychoactive Plants and Psychic People: Does Psilocybin really cause Psi? - which, as a title, is my best work of excessive alliteration yet. The talk takes us on a journey trough archaeology, history, anthropology, ethnobotany, comparative theology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, neurochemistry, psychopharmacology, and, of course, parapsychology. Anyone left standing at the end is invited for drinks (the non-psychedelic drug type - just alcohol) round the pub afterwards.