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Navigating the Psychedelic Conversation

Navigating the Psychedelic Conversation

Talking to Your Family about “Tripping”

Ah, the family get-together – a time for laughter, delicious meals, and the inevitable weird dynamics that make your family uniquely yours. As the aroma of your mom’s cooking fills the air, your uncle dishes out his latest political commentary, and your grandma declares her dessert preferences, you ponder a topic that may not fit the typical dinner banter: psychedelics.

Maybe your family doesn’t quite grasp your journey into the world of psychedelic healing and exploration. Perhaps they view these substances as taboo or unhealthy. But you’re left with the burning itch to share more about these plants and substances that have given you so much, armed with both information and a sprinkle of levity we can begin to bridge the gap between generations and navigate “the psychedelic conversation”.

This isn’t just about sharing facts; it’s an invitation to share your inner world, to allow your family and friends a unique glimpse into the transformative experiences that have shaped your perspective and potentially help them to open themselves up to new realities and other ways of being.

Navigating “the Psychedelic Conversation”

Some family members might still hold onto the notion that psychedelics are nothing more than dangerous and illicit drugs that wreak havoc in the mind, inducing states of “madness” or “brain damage”. However, this is a perspective that was largely perpetuated through Nixon’s “War on Drugs” and the problematic prohibitionist policies and propaganda campaigns that followed. This campaign, fueled by political and social concerns, sought to combat drug abuse and trafficking, but eventually contributed to the stigmatization of various substances, including psychedelics. 

The excessive negative media portrayal of hallucinogenic drugs, coupled with the political rhetoric framing drug use as a societal menace during the “War on Drugs”, created a perfect storm of misinformation that created a moral panic. This distorted narrative not only shaped public opinion around the perceived threat of psychedelics but also sowed seeds of fear and misunderstanding within society. The suppression of scientific research into the potential benefits of psychedelics further exacerbated this issue, hindering a generation from accessing evidence-based information that could have shed light on the therapeutic potential we are only now beginning to appreciate.

The disproportionate targeting of minority communities in drug law enforcement not only perpetuated racial biases but also contributed to misconceptions about drug use and plant medicine. This discriminatory approach overshadowed the centuries-old wisdom of indigenous communities, who have long advocated for the healing properties of plants turned into drugs. Dismissing the value of nature’s guidance as an equally important source of knowledge has deprived us of a holistic understanding of psychedelic healing. By recognizing the cultural and historical significance of plant medicine in indigenous practices, we can bridge the gap between traditional wisdom and scientific research, fostering a more comprehensive and enlightened approach to our relationship with psychedelics.

Modern studies, such as those conducted by institutions like Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London, are revealing the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in treating mental health disorders and promoting emotional and psychospiritual well-being, slowly having a knock-on effect on legislature and policy. It’s crucial to educate your family about these findings and reassure them that responsible and intentional use is a far cry from the negative, and often false, stereotypes associated with drug abuse. For example, it has been shown that classic psychedelics generally do not lead to addiction or dependence. 

Even if your family struggles to fully comprehend your experiences, be open about your encounters with plant medicine while discussing the growing interest among researchers and mental health professionals in the therapeutic applications of psychedelics. For instance, studies have shown promising results in using psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Professor Robert Cahart-Harris, esteemed former Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research within the Division of Brain Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, has made significant contributions to the understanding of psychedelics. His research delves into a spectrum of approaches, unveiling the potential therapeutic benefits of these substances; from investigating their impact on mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety to exploring their role in promoting consciousness expansion and personal growth.

By also sharing personal anecdotes, your path into enhanced self-awareness, and experienced positive changes we can begin to share our changed perspective that has emerged from your psychedelic experiences. Your family can get an experiential account seeing how these insights have contributed to your overall well-being.

Psychedelic Learning Curves

It’s important to recognize that some family members may be in the process of learning about the effects and healing properties of psychedelics. Encourage open-mindedness and assure them that you intend to shed light on the benefits of understanding. 

It is crucial to underscore that while contemporary research increasingly confirms the physiological safety and non-addictive nature of psychedelics, Indigenous peoples have cultivated profound connections with these plants for millennia. Their utilization extends far beyond the parameters of modern studies, encompassing divination, ritual, healing, communication with deities, engagement with more-than-human presences and ancestors, as well as the preservation of culture and fulfillment of spiritual purposes. Acknowledging the validity of Indigenous peoples’ scientific traditions is essential, recognizing them as equally legitimate and valuable alongside our perspectives.

 

Tapping into the rich history that goes beyond contemporary stigma can also help to illuminate the sacredness and spiritual valence of these plants. Psychedelics aren’t just recreational substances; they have a profound potential for mental health and spiritual well-being, helping us connect with each other and with the Earth that sustains us. Research from institutions like our co-publishing partner, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), indicates that substances like MDMA, commonly associated with recreational use, are effective in supporting the treatment of PTSD

For the older generations, emphasizing how psychedelics can serve as tools for reconnecting with oneself can promote a healthier relationship with them, bringing a deeper sense of purpose. In the later stages of life, embracing psychedelic experiences can serve as a profound catalyst for finding ease, cultivating a deeper sense of fulfillment, and fostering a more harmonious relationship with oneself and the inevitability of our mortality. Psychedelics, when approached with intention and respect, have shown the potential to unlock buried emotions, stimulate introspection, and provide individuals with a renewed perspective on their life journey. This newfound insight can lead to a greater acceptance of oneself, allowing for a release of long-held burdens and a sense of inner peace. Moreover, confronting existential questions often associated with aging, such as the contemplation of mortality, can be approached with a newfound clarity and understanding through the lens of these experiences.

Fostering Empathy

The extraordinary quality of psychedelics in enhancing empathy is a profound aspect that merits exploration. The heightened sense of empathy experienced during psychedelic journeys opens a door to understanding and connection, not only within oneself but also in the context of interpersonal relationships. This capacity for empathy can be particularly transformative in addressing familial dynamics and resolving conflicts. By potentially allowing for a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, psychedelics may offer a unique tool for families navigating challenges. This aspect extends beyond individual healing, potentially contributing to a more harmonious and compassionate family unit. The increased empathy facilitated by psychedelics becomes a bridge, inviting family members to approach discussions with greater understanding, compassion, and a shared commitment to growth and connection.

However, we are aware that engaging in a conversation about psychedelics with family members can be challenging. Adopting certain strategies and tool can help navigate these discussions smoothly. Firstly, taking deep breaths before initiating the conversation can help you remain calm and composed. It’s essential not to force the topic; instead, introduce it gradually and gauge the receptiveness of your family members. Going a little bit at a time and being patient allows the information to sink in without overwhelming them. Additionally, having a trusted friend available to call upon in case the conversation takes an unexpected turn provides a valuable support system. This friend can offer guidance or simply be a listening ear, helping you navigate the discussion with grace and understanding. Remember, creating an open and non-confrontational space for dialogue is key to fostering understanding and dispelling misconceptions.

Remember, you’re not alone in your journey. Our community is filled with wonderful psychonauts ready to offer support and guidance. If you feel the need for extra support during your conversation with family, consider opening up the discussion by sharing some insightful psychedelic books or proposing to watch enlightening documentaries. Synthesis Retreat has curated a fantastic list that could serve as a great starting point for a thoughtful and informative exploration together. This way, you can introduce the topic in a constructive manner, fostering understanding and creating a space for open dialogue.

Approaching the topic of psychedelics with your family may seem daunting, but a combination of information, honesty, and a sprinkle of humor can pave the way for a constructive conversation. This journey is not always about convincing them to embark on a psychedelic journey themselves; it’s about fostering understanding, breaking down stereotypes, and fostering open-mindedness within the people you love. So, next time you’re gathered around the table, don’t shy away from this unconventional conversation – your family may just surprise you with their openness to new perspectives. Cheers to breaking down barriers and embracing the journey together!

Warmest wishes for a Happy New Year

Warmest wishes for a Happy New Year

Embracing Joy, Growth, and Shared Resolutions for 2024

The Synergetic Press team extends warmest wishes for a Happy New Year filled with boundless joy and prosperity. We open our hearts to share our heartfelt hopes for a wholesome 2024. Join us in reflecting on the aspirations that shape our journey ahead, and feel free to share with us: What are you wishing for in the coming year?

 

 

Armstrong_Noelle

“This turning of a new year gives us the opportunity to turn our attention where it is needed most. In the first days of 2024, consider donating to the Middle East Children’s Alliance, now collecting emergency relief for the 1.9 displaced people in Gaza. If you’ve been seeing the devastation on the ground there and haven’t known what to do, this is a tangible way to help with medical aid, food and clean water, and psychological support. For every donation, thank you.”

— Noelle 

Jasmine Virdi

“As we come to a close of another Gregorian cycle and bid adieu to 2023, a year filled with much loss and grief on a global scale, I dream of a New Year that sings with love and tenderness for all life. May we awaken to the tendrils of our interbeing, knowing and embodying our interconnection with both human and more-than-human others. Our health is intimately intertwined with the health of the planet from the oceans to clouds to raindrops. I pray that we can step into the revolutionary shape of the collective and care for the multitude that we are.”

— Jasmine 

Jasmine Virdi

“As we come to the close of 2023, a year with no shortage of challenges, many narratives convey the stories of separation, cynicism, and despair, feeding a hopelessness that can feel pervasive and suffocating. As we turn our gaze to 2024, it is my sincerest wish that humanity might collectively step back from despair, fear, and self-interest and allow our hearts to whisper the deeper wisdom of empathy, resilience, and hope. With these values binding us, we can continue to build bridges, cultivate understanding, and plant the seeds of a more just, equitable, and thriving world.”

— Doug

Jasmine Virdi

“To have less division and more rooted action towards a better future for all”

Chloe

Jasmine Virdi

“Wishing infinite tenderness for our bodies, minds, and hearts in 2024! As we collectively strive for greater peace and abundant health for all beings, may we remember that our own selves must be included in the tally of all beings as well.”

Allison 

Jasmine Virdi

“As we step into the promise of a new year, my heartfelt wish is for a journey of regeneration, understanding, and co-creation. I wish for us to unite in our differences, to keep standing together to weave the reality we know exists in our most aspired dreams. May this be a year for transformation. “

— Fernanda

Winter Solstice Celebrations

Winter Solstice Celebrations

As winter’s frosty embrace descends upon the northern hemisphere and the southern lands bask in the warmth of summer’s glow, December 21st marks a pivotal moment in our cosmic dance with the universe—the Winter Solstice. Astronomically speaking, it is a day of extremes, symbolizing the shortest day and longest night in the north, and conversely, the longest day and shortest night in the south. Join us for the global winter solstice celebrations!

 

What is the heritage of the Winter Solstice?

The term “solstice,” derived from Latin, translates to “the Sun is still” or “the Sun has stopped.” Imagining the Sun’s celestial journey as akin to a thrown ball suspended at its zenith, astronomers have marveled at this transient moment when the Sun pauses before resuming its course. It is a cosmic spectacle that has inspired awe and celebration across cultures and continents.

This celestial phenomenon has transcended geographical and cultural boundaries, emerging as one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide. From the northern reaches to the southern climes, people unite in acknowledging the significance of the Sun’s cyclical journey. December 21st is a moment of shared astronomical wonder that brings us all together, weaving a tapestry of shared experience across the globe.

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice rituals abound. From crackling fires and mulled cider to winter solstice feasts and lantern-lit gatherings, communities honor the returning light. Yoga enthusiasts strike special poses, and individuals set intentions for the season ahead, fostering a sense of unity and renewal.

Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year is celebrated with equal fervor. It’s a time to welcome the Summer Solstice, a season of warmth and vitality. Each hemisphere’s celebration is a reflection of the unique connection between humans and the cosmos.

 

The Global Tapestry of Celestial Celebrations

Around the world, diverse cultures infuse the Winter Solstice with their own traditions. The Hopi Indians of Northern Arizona perform dances, craft prayer sticks, and welcome protective spirits during their Soyal celebration. In Iran, the Yalda festival marks the victory of light over dark, with families staying awake all night to welcome the sun and share special foods.

The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, a precursor to modern Christmas celebrations, is a time of games, feasts, and gift-giving. Scandinavians honor St. Lucia’s Day with light festivals, incorporating Norse solstice traditions to ward off spirits during the longest night.

The Incan Qhapaq Raymi celebrates the winter solstice with offerings of plants, flowers, and animals. In Machu Picchu, the Intihuatana stone is believed to connect the sun to the Earth during this celestial moment. Chinese families gather for Dong Zhi, celebrating the “arrival of winter” with festivities and reunions, reflecting on the fruits of the harvest season. 

Through these diverse global winter solstice celebrations, a common thread emerges—humans finding connection with each other through the movement of our solar system. As we share in the dance of our celestial bodies, we recognize the universal need for celebration, renewal, and the triumph of light over darkness.

The Winter Solstice invites us to pause and reflect on our place in the cosmos, fostering a global sense of unity that transcends cultural and geographical differences. In these shared moments of celestial wonder, we find common ground, celebrating the beauty of our interconnectedness on this pale blue dot suspended in the vast cosmic expanse.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Celebrating Bodhi Day: A Journey to Enlightenment

Celebrating Bodhi Day: A Journey to Enlightenment

In the serene tapestry of spiritual observances, Bodhi Day, celebrated on December 8th, emerges as a reminder of enlightenment and compassion. It transports us to the pivotal moment when Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, attained profound insight under the Bodhi Tree. Let’s delve into the heartfelt essence of Bodhi Day, exploring the transformative journey of Siddhartha and the sincere observance of this sacred day in Japan.

At the heart of Bodhi Day lies the courageous decision of Siddhartha Gautama to renounce his princely life in pursuit of a deeper truth. The quiet town of Bodh Gaya witnessed his 49-day meditation beneath the sacred Peepal tree, culminating in enlightenment at the age of 35. Siddhartha, now the Buddha, unraveled the interconnectedness of all life, laying the foundation for the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path—a guide to a life of compassion and wisdom.

Buddhists worldwide commemorate Bodhi Day with a deeply heartfelt approach. It is a day of reflection, meditation, and introspection, emphasizing the study of ‘dharma’ (universal truth or law). The chanting of sutras and acts of kindness towards all living beings infuse the day with a spirit of compassion—a core aspect of the Buddha’s teachings.

In Japan, where Buddhism has woven itself into the fabric of the culture, Bodhi Day is observed with sincere reverence. While not an official holiday, approximately 34% of the population, who identify as Buddhists, engage in the observance of this sacred day.

Traditional celebrations in Japan embody a blend of reverence and cultural significance. Some choose to honor the day with a traditional meal of tea and cakes, symbolizing simplicity and humility. Throughout the month, Bodhi tree plantings and tea ceremonies bring communities together, fostering a sense of unity and connection.

In major cities like Tokyo and in towns across Japan, the post-celebration ambiance is adorned with incense and multi-colored lights, creating a visually striking representation of the enlightenment that Siddhartha experienced. This display is more than mere aesthetics; it symbolizes a collective commitment to illuminating the world with compassion and understanding.

Like the wise words echoing in Dionysian Buddhism “…although it may seem at first to be a sacrifice to open our eyes — for we have learned to lose touch with ourselves — we will discover that with enough attention to the transition to the external world, we can, when opening the eyes, become a little more awake, and by being more awake, we can also achieve great silence”. Its profound words gives us a guiding beacon on our spiritual journey. 

Bodhi Day, beyond its historical significance, resonates as a heartfelt celebration of enlightenment and compassion. It is a time for self-reflection, meditation, and acts of kindness that echo the teachings of the Buddha. As we honor this day, let it serve as a reminder to illuminate our own lives and the lives of others with the radiant light of understanding. 

 

Delve deeper into Buddhist themes by exploring our available collection of books — 

 


Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics Edited by Allan Badiner and Alex Grey

More than ever, people are in pursuit of greater fulfillment in their lives, seeking a deeper spiritual truth and strategies for liberation from suffering. Both Buddhism and psychedelics are inevitable subjects encountered on the journey to wisdom. Examined together, the reader may understand more deeply the essence of each. Edited by Tricycle contributing editor Allan Badiner and with art edited by renowned visionary artist Alex Grey, Zig Zag Zen features a foreword by Buddhist scholar Stephen Batchelor, a preface by religion historian Huston Smith, and numerous essays, interviews, and art, that lie outside the scope of mainstream anthologies.

 

 

 

Dionysian Buddhism by Claudio Naranjo 

Dionysian Buddhism: Guided Interpersonal Meditations in the Three Yanas will assist readers in exploring their own emotional landscapes. This sequence of guided interpersonal meditations by the renowned spiritual teacher and psychotherapist Dr. Claudio Naranjo is structured to guide individuals towards acceptance of what is and to be fully present — to meet pain with joy, expand awareness into consciousness and to learn how to share in the full presence of others.

 

 

 

 

 


Secret Drugs of Buddhism by Mike Crowley

Secret Drugs of Buddhism is the first book to explore the historical evidence for the use of entheogenic plants within the Buddhist tradition. Drawing on scriptural sources, botany, pharmacology, and religious iconography, this book calls attention to the central role which psychedelics played in Indian religions. It traces their history from the mysterious soma potion, celebrated in the most ancient Hindu scriptures, to amrita, the sacramental drink of Vajrayana Buddhism. Although amrita used in modern Vajrayana ceremonies lacks any psychoactivity, there is copious evidence that the amrita used by the earliest Vajrayana practitioners was a potent entheogen.

 

Celebrating 35+ Years of Synergetic Press

Celebrating 35+ Years of Synergetic Press

A Legacy of Regeneration, Consciousness Expansion & Ecotechnic Innovation

Celebrating 35+ years of Synergetic Press as an independent publishing company, we at Synergetic Press have been at the forefront of publishing works on the study of consciousness and planetary health. As a visionary press we have continued to publish groundbreaking works in fields like ecology, sustainability, cultural studies, social justice and psychedelics, with the aim of inspiring both individual and collective transformation.

However, Synergetic Press is more than a publisher. We are also a partner in a collective of enterprising projects that have worked to shape culture, art, and research over the years. 

This collective of projects started by the Institute of Ecotechnics range from the Research Vessel Heraclitus to the landmark Biosphere 2 facility, Synergia Ranch, The October Gallery in London, Las Casas de la Selva rainforest project in Puerto Rico are all fruits of collaborative effort from pioneers in the fields of ecotechnology, regenerative agriculture, and the arts.

The origins of Synergetic Press can be traced back to the early activists and the cofounder and Publisher, Deborah Parrish Snyder. It all began with the founding of the Institute of Ecotechnics in 1973, a collaborative effort involving luminaries such as Mark Nelson, a Biosphere 2 crew member; John Allen, co-founder of Biosphere 2; Christine Handte, a director of the Institute of Ecotechnics; and many others, including the cofounder and artistic director of Theatre of All Possibilities, Kathelin Gray, who started Synergetic Press back then to publish some of their early plays

The Institute of Ecotechnics 

These projects were the result of a shared vision to explore complex dynamics of biospherics techniques and cultures. The Institute of Ecotechnics stands as a beacon of innovation and collaboration, with a profound impact on the world being at the forefront of pioneering ecological and sustainable initiatives. This visionary organization developed groundbreaking models for understanding complex dynamics in biosphere management, including dreaming and developing the scientific feat that was the Biosphere 2 project, the world’s largest closed systems ecological system.

Collaborating with experts from various fields, the Institute has been instrumental in addressing critical environmental challenges, from restoring overgrazed lands to setting up wastewater recycling systems in diverse biomes around the world. Its international conferences and project workshops have brought together some of the brightest minds to envision solutions that speak to the inherent complexities of our times. The Institute of Ecotechnics’ contributions have had a far-reaching impact on the world, advancing our understanding of ecology, sustainability, and the intricate web of interactions that sustain life on our planet.

Biosphere 2 and Synergia Ranch

One of the most iconic achievements is Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. A 3.14-acre closed ecological system designed to demonstrate the possibility of sustaining human life in space and understanding how to tend to life on Earth with more awareness. This monumental project, constructed between 1987 and 1991, remains the largest closed ecological system ever created. While it faced initial challenges and criticisms, the project successfully demonstrated the viability of closed ecological systems. Also providing lessons on sustainable practices, ecological conservation, and resource management. The research conducted within Biosphere 2 has left a lasting impact on our understanding of our planet’s delicate balance and the potential for self-sustaining habitats in space exploration.

Furthermore, Synergia Ranch, the homebase of Synergetic Press, has played a vital role in contributing to the Institute’s pioneering work. Purchased in 1969, the ranch has evolved into a hub of innovation and collaboration. It was not only the original home of several of the inventors and creators of the Biosphere 2 project but also a center for producing “biotechnic” products. As well as raising llamas and sheep for textiles. Synergia Ranch’s existing structures were transformed into workshops and studios for crafting fine wood furniture and architectural items. This dynamic environment has nurtured ecotechnic and artistic endeavors, fostering a wealth of collective knowledge and experience that continues to influence the Institute of Ecotechnics’ groundbreaking work in ecological research and sustainability.

 

The Research Vessel Heraclitus 

Likewise, the Research Vessel Heraclitus, a Chinese-junk research ship built in 1975, has sailed the world’s oceans for over four decades, serving as a platform for arts, science, and ecological research. With over 270,000 nautical miles traveled, this ship has been an instrumental part of the Institute’s collaborative efforts, making invaluable contributions to marine ecologies, documenting cultural oral history in coastal regions, and collecting crucial data on the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems. The partnership between the Heraclitus and the Institute of Ecotechnics has led to numerous expeditions. Its scientific research spans the entire globe, with the ship serving as a home to seafarers from diverse backgrounds and countries. Their collaboration represents a powerful commitment to understanding and preserving our oceans while exploring the boundaries of ecological research and sustainable practices.

The October Gallery

And finally, The October Gallery, an art space that has achieved remarkable recognition as a prominent art gallery in central London, has significantly contributed to the global art scene. Since its establishment in 1979, the gallery has been at the forefront of showcasing leading international artists, including El Anatsui, Rachid Koraïchi, Romuald Hazoumè, Nnenna Okore, Laila Shawa, and Kenji Yoshida. Its promotion of the Transvangarde, featuring the best in contemporary art from around the world, has solidified its reputation as an artistic powerhouse. Beyond art, the gallery serves as a cultural hub, fostering intellectual exchange among poets, writers, and artists through talks, performances, and seminars. This achievement extends beyond the art world, as the October Gallery’s charitable trust status and dedicated support from artists, musicians, and writers have created a lasting impact. Likewise, The October Gallery offers inclusive educational programs for individuals of all ages and providing an inspiring and dynamic space for creativity and cultural exchange.

In closing, Synergetic Press and its family of cutting edge associated projects stand as a testament to the incredible capacity of human creativity, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. They have opened our eyes to new horizons, sparking a passion for ecological stewardship, artistic expression, and the exploration of consciousness. As we reflect on their collective journey, we are reminded that when brilliant minds come together with a shared vision, the possibilities are limitless.

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