Thursday, 23 July 2009

Spiritual Emergency: Mental health coming out of parapsychology

Several years ago I read about Stan Grof's notion of genuine paranormal phenomena and other seemingly "mad" experiences occurring as a part of natural psychological healing crisis, which he and Christina Grof termed a Spiritual Emergency. Since then I have been wondering why there isn't a more visible network of professionals in the UK exploring Grof's ideas seriously or investigating mental health issues within a shamanic self-healing framework where exceptional human experiences aren’t merely ignored out-of-hand or derided as only delusory - though, obviously, in some cases they are just that.

Plugging what I perceive as an intellectual gap, it's reassuring, then, to see that Dr. Christina Simmonds-Moore and The Parapsychology Research Group at Liverpool Hope University are hosting the First Conference on Health, Mental Health and Exceptional Human Experience, for just one day, on Monday, 7th September, 2009. I’m certain it will be a fascinating event, so why not be a part of it? The speakers are:

Dr. John Gruzelier - The mind-body connection and healing

Dr. David Luke - Altered states of consciousness, mental imagery and healing

Dr. Ginette Nachman - The interface between placebo effects and non-local aspects of healing/consciousness

Dr. Carl Williams & Dr Di Dutton - A phenomenological exploration of energy healing

Dr. Eve Binks - Religious belief as a moderator of mental health

Dr. Stefan Schmidt - Meditation, exceptional experiences and mental health

Dr. Nicola Holt - Creativity, anomalous experiences and mental health

Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore - Manipulating anomalous experiences for mental health and transcendence

Mrs. Isobel Clarke - Exceptional experiences from the clinical perspective

Dr. Martina Belz - Clinical psychology of exceptional human experiences in practice

Dr Eberhard Bauer - Counselling people with unusual experiences

Dr Ian Tierney - Clinical psychology of exceptional human experiences in the UK

Image: Pablo Amaringo

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

DMT and Death meme mutates into zombies

The infectious weirdness of the association between DMT, Death, and the God of a Thousand Eyes that I can't stop talking or writing about appears to be a meme mutating into some unexpected mediums. Glass artist Agelos Papadakis based one of his latest exhibition pieces on the Disembodied Eyes article behind this DMT lecture, and then generously reinvigorated my recent rant in Edinburgh with some otherworldly projections. Occult wordsmith Duncan Barford, over at The Baptist's Head, also appears to have been inspired by the mutli-eyed mind-blowing muse. He's inked a curiously Cthulhoid short story fusing the parapsychopharmacology research with a juicy zombie plot to make for a strangely compelling and only minimally fictitious horror epic in miniature. Lovecraft would love it! The snippets below from The Guardian of the Threshold dangle nicely in the mind, methinks....

The Armed Response Unit has just been. I counted seventeen head-shots, but I don't think they finished the job. Usually it's quiet afterwards, but as soon as the van left the bodies were hammering on the gates again and making that moaning noise…

The absence of DMT from the living dead indicated at the very least that they had somehow bypassed the normal process of dying. It might one day lead to an understanding of why they were still walking around. Read more...

Image - Zombies storm London and take over world -

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Bard medicine: Psychedelic plant poetry blossoms in London

Due to some fortuity and randomness the entheogencia poet, author and performer, Dale Pendell, happens to be gracing our shores next week and has agreed at the last minute to come and give a talk on Wednesday 22nd July for the increasingly ad hoc Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness lecture series. Being moved by the Muse in the moment (and possibly also due to the on-the-hoof spontaneousness in arranging this event) there is no accompanying blurb for Dale’s talk, but rest assured having read some of his books and seen him speak and perform I expect we are in for a shamanarchic, poethnobotanical delight of some strange and wonderful variety.

Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

(Tel: 44 (0)20 7831 1618). – email: rentals “at”

RSVP so that we can anticipate numbers – Please book in advance by credit card to guarantee a place or pay on the door.

Entry £7 /£5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start - Wine available

Imagination and Fire: New Work and Conversation with Dale Pendell

Dale Pendell is the author of the award-winning Pharmako trilogy on shamanic ethnobotany (Pharmako/Gnosis, Pharmako/Poeia, and Pharmako/Dynamis), Inspired Madness, a book about Burning Man, and Walking with Nobby, a book of conversations with the philosopher Norman O. Brown. Works in progress include The Great Bay, a futuristic novel of a post-collapse society, and Stealing Fire, a new book of poems.

He and his wife Laura and a familiar cat live in the foothills of the Sierra in California, where they grow pine and oak trees, along with some manzanita. Their performance group, Oracular Madness, most recently appeared at Burning Man.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


Having been dabbling recently with the notion of species connectedness as the intersection between psychedelics and ecology, it is both timely and encouraging to have Dr Robert Wallis come and discuss Animism from the perspective of anthropology and archaeology, last Tuesday of the month as usual - 28th July, 2009. The ongoing Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness lecture series running at the October Gallery also appears to have taken on a life of its own and so Dr Wallis’ talk fits in beautifully with the warp and the weft of our crooked path through shamanism, psychedelics, magic, wildness, petroglyphs and sacred geographies. Hope to see you there!

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

(Tel: 44 (0)20 7831 1618). – email: rentals “at”

RSVP so that we can anticipate numbers – Please book in advance by credit card to guarantee a place or pay on the door.

Entry £7 /£5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start - Wine available

Animism, Ancestors and Adjusted Styles of Communication: Hidden Art in Irish Passage Tombs

Studies of prehistoric art tend to objectify this ‘material’ evidence in a process of disenchantment which has limited interpretative scope. This talk will draw on the theorising of ‘new animism’ in anthropology and religious studies which moves beyond the problematic attribution of spirit to matter and anthropomorphism in the work of Tylor and in other Victorian imaginations of religion, to consider animist ontologies as those which conceive of a world which is filled with persons, only some of whom are human. I argue that this relational approach enables new, re-enchanting insights into Neolithic art in the passage tombs of the Boyne Valley in Ireland, the study of which has tended towards an anthropocentric concept of ‘the social’ and neurotheological analysis of altered states of consciousness. Animist ontologies effectively disrupt the subject/object dichotomy of Western thought, challenge reductionist neurotheology, and offer an extended understanding of agency and personhood. I focus particularly on ‘hidden art’ to demonstrate how a variety of animist ontologies (from animist-totemist to totemist-animist) may have operated at the Neolithic/Bronze Age transition.

Dr Robert J. Wallis is Associate Professor of Visual Culture and Director of the MA in Art History at Richmond University, London, and a Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Southampton. His research interests consider indigenous and prehistoric art in shamanistic/animic communities, and the re-presentation of the past in the present by contemporary pagans and neo-shamans. He is author of Shamans / neo-Shamans: Ecstasy, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans, and co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Shamanism and co-editor of Permeability of Boundaries: New Approaches to the Archaeology of Art, Religion and Folklore and, most recently, Antiquaries and Archaists: The Past in the Past, the Past in the Present. He is currently working on a monograph on art and shamanism.