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My Interview with Rick Doblin, Psychedelic Pioneer & Founder of MAPS

My Interview with Rick Doblin, Psychedelic Pioneer & Founder of MAPS

I recently had the good fortune of meeting my psychedelic hero, Rick Doblin, the founder and president of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. What’s more, he graciously agreed to an on-camera interview! I asked him about the origins of MAPS, the Russian ban of methadone in Crimean addiction clinics, New Zealand’s new regulatory framework for legal highs, MAPS’ recent partnership with the military to research MDMA as a treatment for PTSD, and much more. My favorite part is when Rick tells the story of taking LSD on his twenty-first birthday. He heard a siren and became convinced that the Russians were...
One Brain, Many Selves: Demons, Tulpas, and Neurons Gone Wild

One Brain, Many Selves: Demons, Tulpas, and Neurons Gone Wild

This is a guest post by Kevin Simler, originally published on his website, Melting Asphalt. If you missed his previous piece, Accepting Deviant Minds, don’t worry — this essay stands on its own. Prepare to rethink your whole concept of “self” — just how many selves can take root in one brain? To reject gods and spirits is easy: just bully them away in the name of science. But to accept them, or at least our experiences of thuem, and yet give them a scientific explanation: there’s a task worthy of our art. It demands that we look them in the eye and take them seriously,...
Accepting Deviant Minds: Why 'Hallucinations' Are as Real as the Self

Accepting Deviant Minds: Why ‘Hallucinations’ Are as Real as the Self

This week’s guest post is by Kevin Simler. Kevin is a philosopher and blogger who believes in (pan)critical rationalism, keeping his identity small, and writing as an aid to thinking. This post was first published on his website, Melting Asphalt — one of my favorite sources for fresh critical perspectives on the mind, society, and everything in between. At a sleepover when I was 12, a friend told me that he could control his dreams. It didn’t happen every night, he said, but every so often he’d become aware of being in the middle of a dream. Usually at that point he’d...
Life Versus Entropy: Tripping on Fractals, God, and the Mystery of Existence

Life Versus Entropy: Tripping on Fractals, God, and the Mystery of Existence

Setting: Early morning at a lakeside cabin in the woods of Vermont. Chemical lens: 25I-NBOMe, a research chemical with effects resembling LSD. (25I-NBOMe is a very new chemical, its safety profile is largely unknown, and lethal overdoses have been reported. Consuming 25I-NBOMe or other research chemicals is risky and I do not recommend it.) I walk outside as dawn arrives. Fog rolls across the lake and wraps the trees in a gauzy shroud. The silence is punctuated only by the chatter of birds and my own footsteps. My breathing takes its cue from the lake, gentle and unhurried. Where...
Are Entities and Plant Spirits Real? A Skeptic's Guide to Tripping

Are Entities and Plant Spirits Real? A Skeptic’s Guide to Tripping

Trips are like dreams. A genuine insight may bubble up from deep in your subconscious, handily solving a problem that your sober mind found intractable. Or you might emerge with absolute nonsense, the product of synapses firing without the guidance of logic and consistency. You don’t take your dreams as absolute truth upon waking, and psychedelics should be no different. It’s crucial to think critically about which lessons to take back into consensus reality, and which to leave behind. Wisdom or Dogma? Many psychonauts spread their personal beliefs and speculations as though they were fact. Sometimes they take an...
How to Prepare a Spiritual DMT Ceremony in 5 Steps

How to Prepare a Spiritual DMT Ceremony in 5 Steps

This is the first guest post by Lee, who put a great deal of effort into crafting his DMT technique and is excited to share it with you! Note: we do not encourage you to take DMT or any other drugs. This information is presented in the interest of harm reduction and education, to promote the safety and mental health of those who are already committed to using the drug. For more information, please see the Disclaimer. Hello friends. So you’ve decided it’s time to embark on a great adventure. Maybe some colorful friends turned you onto DMT. Or...
MAPS Completes First New Therapeutic LSD Study in 40 Years

MAPS Completes First New Therapeutic LSD Study in 40 Years

Update 5 March 2014: The study has been published, and the final copy is available here. Rick Doblin, the founder and president of MAPS, said this in a recent “Ask Me Anything” interview on Reddit: We’ve just completed the world’s first study of the therapeutic use of LSD in over 40 years, in Switzerland to treat anxiety associated with end-of-life issues. Eleven of the 12 subjects had never done LSD before and there were no serious adverse events, even in people facing death. This recently completed Swiss study is truly momentous — it’s the first “double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of LSD-assisted...
The Perception Scope: How to Conjure Open-eye Visuals at Will

The Perception Scope: How to Conjure Open-eye Visuals at Will

People talk about how subtle psychedelic hallucinations can be. As long as your eyes are open, they say, objects may appear different — more vibrant, breathing in and out, or covered with patterns — but they won’t morph into faeries and slithering monsters like they do in the movies. Unless, of course, you take a heroic dose; then anything is fair game. I disagree. I see “things that aren’t really there” on any decent dose, sometimes into the following day. If you haven’t seen more than patterns and wobbling walls, you probably just need some direction and practice. In...
Shrooms for Five: My First Psychedelic Experience

Shrooms for Five: My First Psychedelic Experience

It is a wet February night, and we are gathered at Lee and Dan’s suburban apartment. There are five of us — our hosts, plus Alex, Jason, and me. We have a larger group of friends, but the rest of the crew is not into “serious” drugs. The five of us jokingly call ourselves the “Psychonautic Subcommittee” ever since we tried MDMA for the first time together last fall. Tonight, it’s time to explore a new psychedelic frontier. We each grind an eighth of an ounce of dried mushrooms, mix it with orange juice, and gulp it down....
Ego, Fear, and the War on Drug Users

Ego, Fear, and the War on Drug Users

“Over one’s mind and over one’s body, the individual is sovereign.” —John Stuart Mill From the point of view of psychedelic enthusiasts, the prohibitionist stance is farcically weak. The moral imperative could not be more obvious: stop jailing non-violent consciousness explorers and give us back our tax dollars. But let’s consider how we got here to begin with. I don’t want to talk about Nixon and the Controlled Substance Act, or the DEA, or how America has exported its neurotic drug policy to the rest of the world. I won’t even present data revealing how ineffective and dehumanizing...
Tripping as a Tool for Self-Realization

Tripping as a Tool for Self-Realization

Psychedelics are the chameleons of the drug world — amenable to a variety of uses, dependent on the user’s attitude. The importance of set and setting cannot be overstated. If you use them as intoxicants, you will become intoxicated. If you want to see pretty shapes and colors and “trip out” to music, then they will act as sensory enhancers. If you just want a new mode of consciousness that leads you to experience life in a novel way, they will satisfy that urge. There’s nothing wrong with these approaches. “Getting fucked up” can be a completely legitimate...
How to Conjure Visions in Ribbons of Smoke

How to Conjure Visions in Ribbons of Smoke

The image of smoke swirling through the air, catching the light as it dances upwards, can be absolutely breathtaking. In a dark room with a single stick of incense, you can follow the threads of smoke as they weave about, reacting to your every breath. Here’s the exercise. You will need: incense, a  candle, and materials for getting high (not strictly necessary, but cannabis amplifies the imagination in my experience). This works best indoors. Turn off all the lights except for a single candle. I mean all of them — if you have so much as a dim...