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Psychedelic Conversations with Author Don Lattin

Psychedelic Conversations with Author Don Lattin

Confessions of a Psychedelic Journalist: A Conversation with Don Lattin & Kat Snow

Join veteran journalist Don Lattin, and KQED Science senior editor Kat Snow at 7:00 PM, January 16th 2020 at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, for an insightful conversation traversing Don’s long, strange trip of a career investigating and writing about psychedelic substances . 

For over forty years, Don Lattin has written about the social, spiritual, and political aspects of the psychedelic drug movement as a newspaper reporter, freelance journalist, and the author of four books of narrative nonfiction.

In the 1970s, as a young reporter working in the East Bay, Don broke one of the first investigative stories about the US Army’s past efforts to use LSD as a hostile interrogation tool. He also covered the first local campaign to legalize marijuana in the United States—a political movement that continues today in ongoing efforts to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms, peyote, and ayahuasca in cities and states across the nation.

In the 1980s and 1990s, as a staff writer and columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, Don wrote extensively about various cults, sects, and new religious movements including a generation of spiritual seekers inspired by psychedelic drug experiences in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Lattin’s most recent book, Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy, builds upon his previous investigations, presenting a broad survey of the psychedelic renaissance, covering almost all areas of this resurgence, placing emphasis on the particulars of how psychedelic substances are being used for therapeutic as well as spiritual purposes.

Listen to Don’s previous interview on the KQED Radio. 

Buy Tickets Here

The “Post-Prohibition” Era of Psychedelic Substances 

It is safe to say that we find ourselves approaching the “post-Prohibition” era of psychedelic substances. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted “Breakthrough Therapy” status to psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, as a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). Psychedelic substances are once again establishing themselves as therapeutic modalities, promoting both spiritual and psychological insight. In the closing chapters of Changing Our Minds, Lattin reflects on this changing paradigm:

“What is most striking about the psychedelic future is how much it looks like the psychedelic past. If today’s vision becomes tomorrow’s reality, it will be possible – sometime in the 2020s – for regular people struggling with depression, addiction or other psychological woes to seek help from therapists using psilocybin or MDMA as treatment tools – just like people could do back in the late 1950w with psilocybin and in the early 1980s with MDMA.”

Don Lattin young

Don Lattin

Psilocybin mushrooms are being decriminalized in various cities and states across the US, including Denver, CO, Oakland, CA, and Chicago, IL. It is forecasted that psilocybin, alongside many other drugs, will follow marijuana’s trajectory from illegal to medically approved to decriminalized to eventually being legalized. 

Moving beyond the first wave of psychedelic exploration, and the backlash of prohibition that ensued as a reaction to what happened in the sixties, we find ourselves in a wholly new era. We now see a massive resurgence of legitimization, with psychedelics being ‘rebranded’ or rather repositioned within the public mind, due to the growing body of scientific research that continues to highlight the psychologically beneficial aspects of these substances. Psychedelic substances are not only being used for those who suffer from mental health conditions, they are increasingly being used for the’ betterment’ of well people. However, Lattin wisely cautions:

“Psychedelic plants and chemicals are not for everyone. They affect different people in diverse ways, depending in large part on one’s intention and the setting in which these drugs are taken. But, in sometimes subtle and other times dramatic ways, they often inspire awe and wonder, providing the heightened insight and meaningfulness one may also find in dreams or religious excitation.”

Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy 

Changing Our Minds by Don LattinChanging Our Minds is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date books on psychoactive substances, their socio-cultural trajectories of use over time and their place in contemporary society. Lucid, well researched and written, Don covers the global movement of scientifically-grounded exploration of how psychedelic drugs – such as LSD, MDA, MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca, ketamine, and many others – have been utilized to treat conditions like PTSD, depression, addiction, and end-of-life anxiety.

“Changing Our Minds expertly explores the healing and spiritual journey catalyzed by psychedelic psychotherapy through the courageous voices of those who are pioneering the study of these treatments. An essential read for those interested in the expanding field of psychedelic research for therapeutic and spiritual uses, this volume lands at a crucial time during the re-emergence of psychedelic research as we approach the mainstream, scientific acceptance of psychedelic psychotherapy and the reintegration of the legal use of psychedelics into Western culture.” — Rick Doblin, PhD., Founder & Executive Director of MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Learn More About Changing Our Minds

California Institute of Integral Studies LogoAbout California Institute of Integral Studies

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is an accredited university that strives to embody spirit, intellect, and wisdom in service to individuals, communities, and the earth. CIIS expands the boundaries of traditional degree programs with transdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and applied studies utilizing face-to-face, hybrid, and online pedagogical approaches. Offering a personal learning environment and supportive community, CIIS provides an excellent multifaceted education for people committed to transforming themselves, others, and the world.

Stay tuned with CIIS public programs & updates for similar events @CIIS_sf

 

More About Don Lattin


Don Lattin, author of Changing Our Minds

Don Lattin is an award-winning author and veteran journalist. His five previously published books include The Harvard Psychedelic Club, a national bestseller that was awarded the California Book Award, Silver Medal, for nonfiction. His feature articles have been published in dozens of leading magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle, where Lattin worked as a staff writer for twenty years. Additionally, Don has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where he holds a degree in sociology. His most recent book, Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy, was published in 2017.

Bicycle Day 2019 and the History of LSD

Bicycle Day 2019 and the History of LSD

From Mystic Chemist: “This portrait of Albert Hofmann by German artist Bernd Brummbär, was painted in homage ‘to the great biochemist, inventor of LSD and courageous pioneer of altered states of consciousness,’ 2007”

Celebrating Bicycle Day 2019

The celebration of ‘Bicycle Day’  does not commemorate the invention of our favorite two-wheeled vehicle, it serves as an homage to the day that Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first intentionally ingested Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (otherwise known as LSD) in a self-experiment to ascertain its effects.

What does that even have to do with bicycles? On April 19th, 1943, Hofmann ingested 250 micrograms of the substance, believing it to be a threshold dose of the drug (later he learned that a threshold dose was a mere 20 micrograms). About an hour after ingesting the drug, Hofmann began to feel its effects take hold, asking his laboratory assistant to escort him home that evening. However, due to wartime restrictions cars were prohibited; they had to travel home by bicycle. He later wrote: 

“I suddenly became strangely inebriated. The external world became changed as in a dream. Objects appeared to gain in relief; they assumed unusual dimensions; and colors became more glowing. Even self-perception and the sense of time were changed. When the eyes were closed, colored pictures flashed past in a quickly changing kaleidoscope. After a few hours, the not unpleasant inebriation, which had been experienced whilst I was fully conscious, disappeared. What had caused this condition?” Jonathan Ott, Albert Hofmann (1997) Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources and History

A Significant Discovery

Immediately, Hofmann became fascinated by LSD’s ability to induce changes in consciousness. Through his LSD experience, he gained a new view of reality, becoming aware of the wonder of creation and the miracle of the natural world. This new insight led to LSD being researched as an aid to perception within the fields psychiatry and psychology. LSD was investigated for its abilities to treat addictions such as alcoholism, as well as for its ability to facilitate creative thinking.

However, before long, research into this fascinating substance came to a halt. LSD had escaped the hands of the research community and fallen into those of popular culture causing an ideological revolution in the younger generation and giving birth to a psychedelic culture. The result was Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’, demonizing psychoactive substances, ruling out their possible medical value, and making them illegal.  

In recent years, we are seeing a renaissance in psychedelic research with studies consistently illuminating the therapeutic and transformative potentials of substances like LSD. A recent study by Imperial College revealed how LSD changes brain connectivity alongside research from the University of Zurich, demonstrating how LSD can have a therapeutic effect. 

To help you celebrate Hofmann’s legendary bicycle ride, we are offering 25% on

The Mystic Chemist, and all related titles. Browse related titles here.

Mystic Chemist: The Life of Albert Hofmann and His Discovery of LSD

mystic chemist albert hofmannBy Dieter Hagenbach & Lucius Werthmüller

Mystic Chemist is the authoritative biography on arguably the most famous chemist of the 20th century. Authors Hagenbach and Werthmüller, close friends of Hofmann, take us on a journey through the 20th century from his mystical childhood experiences with nature; to his chemistry studies with Nobel Prize winner Paul Karrer in Zurich through his discoveries of both LSD and psilocybin at Sandoz; to his adventurous expeditions and his many years of retirement devoted to philosophy of nature and a rich social life. The authors also reveal a thorough and eventful history of the impact that LSD had on culture and the ensuing struggles between its advocates and opponents, many of which persist today.

Save 25% from now until April 30th with the coupon code: Bicycle2019

Albert Hofmann’s discovery of LSD, the most potent mind-expanding substance ever found, was an event of multiple synchronicities – it occurred in 1943 in Switzerland, a neutral country, within months of the building of the atomic bomb – as if it was to be a kind of psychospiritual healing antidote to mass death weapons. It occurred in a country with a centuries-long tradition of alchemy, the psychospiritual counterpoint to reductionist material science – and involved a previously unknown substance that could induce integrative expansions of awareness with profound implications for healing, for creative problem-solving, and for cosmological understanding. Albert Hofmann had the scientific and spiritual insight to recognize the enormous significance of his discovery and spent the rest of his long life exploring it with an ever-widening international circle of fellow scientists, artists, and visionary explorers. The authors of this biography have done a marvelous job of pulling together documentation and commentary, not only about Hofmann and LSD but also the socio-cultural and political upheavals of the 1960s, during which LSD and all mind-expanding drugs played an enormous role – and were made illegal. The story of LSD and its potential role in society is however far from over, as Hofmann himself also thought. Please read this book and stay tuned.ーRalph Metzner PhD

Albert Hofmann & the History of LSD

 

Celebrate Bicycle Day at San Francisco’s Midway

Presented by Euphonic Conceptions & The Legion Of BloomSan Francisco’s April Bicycle Day Celebration is not only a concert, but a petri dish of creativity, inspiration, and sensory stimulation. World-renowned visionary artists doing live painting, an immersive art gallery and exhilarating performances all play a large role in this annual festivity that is always packed to the brim with heart-opening experiences.

The event will feature: The Polish Ambassador (LIVE), Slow Magic, Rob Garza(of Thievery Corporation), BluetechWyatt Marshall (Dirtybird / Desert Hearts), MiHKALEl PapachangoDISSØLV, Evan Casey (Desert Hearts), Justin Campbell (Desert Hearts).

There will be LIVE VISUAL ART by Android Jones with Art Gallery by Tribe13 Gallery, an ever-growing collective of artists who share a passion for transformative expression.

Interested in learning more about the event? Delve deeper, and buy tickets here, or go to the event’s Facebook page. 

Arizona Psychedelics Conference 2019

Arizona Psychedelics Conference 2019

 

Volunteer, Robert Hoberg, holding a copy of ‘Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs’ at the Synergetic Booth.

 

The First of its Kind

We were delighted to attend the first-ever conference related to the medicinal and therapeutic properties of psychoactive substances in the state of Arizona: The Arizona Psychedelics Conference! The conference, hosted by Entheogenic Research Awareness (ERA) at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) at the University of Tempe, Arizona, took place February 8-10th 2019. While there, we met and connected with many like-minded and inspiring people who are dedicated to furthering the discussion on this important topic.

The 3-day event featured over 40 speakers including, among many others, Bia Labate, Brad Burge, Joe Moore, Mike Magolies, Kyle Buller, and Joe Tafur. The lineup was far-ranging and diverse, with speakers from varied backgrounds and disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience in addition to therapeutic practitioners, indigenous healers, herbalists, and veterans. Among the specific substances discussed were MDMA, cannabis, ayahuasca, ibogaine, psilocybin, 5-meo-DMT, kambo, peyote, ketamine, and San Pedro cactus . While the therapeutic use and potential risks of these visionary plant medicines and psychoactive substances was the focus of many workshops, attendees also had the opportunity to discuss important issues related to the responsible use of psychedelics in modern societies in workshops on issues of cultural appropriation, ecological sustainability, and healthcare as a human right.

A Revolution in Medicine

As the general public and medical practitioners become more aware of the age-old use of psychoactive substances as tools of spiritual and mental well-being, many previously stigmatized substances are increasingly viewed as valuable to our future growth and development. Conferences like this provide a beneficial opportunity for enthusiasts and experts to come together to expand their knowledge in order to continue to work with these powerful substances from an informed standpoint.

Congratulations are in order to the event organizers, Amanda and Raymond Ryskowski, for their massive personal efforts to make this inspired dream a reality. The event itself was so well-received, both by members of the university’s medical faculty and the general public, that it sold out quickly and more tickets had to be issued to enable more people to attend and learn about this growing field of research. We expect that this was the first in a succession of ‘Arizona Psychedelic Conferences’, and we look forward to being at more in futures to come!

 

Interested in learning more? Check out the conference video below, queued to the section in which our publisher, Deborah Snyder, discusses some of our featured titles:

 

 

 

 

 

About the Organizers

The conference was hosted by Entheogenic Research Awareness (ERA), a student-run organization based at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) at the University of Tempe, Arizona. ERA is led by Amanda Ryskowski and Elliot Zyglis. ERA’s vision is to help create a new paradigm for healthcare which honors indigenous peoples and their knowledge of the natural world, integrating such understanding with the highest standards of evidence-based medicine. Their focus is to educate medical professionals and the general public about entheogens, and their potential applications in medicine through the integration of traditional uses alongside the current research on these powerful substances.

Check @ERA.SCNM out on Facebook to keep up-to-date with their future events.

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs with Dennis McKenna

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs with Dennis McKenna

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs eBook Newly Available

For those who like to save paper, keep things minimal, or merely have their research library on easy tabs, we are excited to announce that the Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (ESDP50) Volume 2: Proceedings of the 2017 conference held in Tyringham Hall, UK, is now available in eBook format!

 

McKenna’s Milestone Publication

The milestone publication, ESPD50, emerged as the brainchild of Dennis McKenna. McKenna, having attained a copy of the original publication from the 1967 conference, found himself inspired to shape his career in light of the book, delving into a lifelong investigation of the pharmacology of traditional medicinal plants.

“The realization that real science was being pursued in this field was a revelation to me, partly because it opened the possibility that one day I, too, might be able to achieve a place in this exclusive fellowship. At first, I thought I would be able to prove to my parents that I was serious about psychedelics and not just a confused hippie in search of cheap thrills, but they were not very reassured. However, over the years, they came to recognize the merits of my chosen career.”Dennis McKenna, The Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: Reflections on a Book that Changed My Life.’

The first international gathering of researchers held on this subject was in 1967. It was an interdisciplinary group of specialists gathered in one place to share their findings on a topic that was gaining widespread interest: The use of psychoactive plants in indigenous societies. It was intended that follow-up conferences should be held about every 10 years. However, the War on Drugs soon limited any advances in this field of research, putting a prohibitive ban on psychoactive drugs, denying their medicinal value altogether.

 

The Future of Medicine

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of research into the medicinal and therapeutic properties of psychoactive substances. In spite of their prohibitive ban, researchers persevered. With their substantial discoveries and findings helping to reverse public opinion and reestablish the medical legitimacy of certain substances.

In June 2017, a group of interdisciplinary researchers from around the world convened to review their research and findings together in what was known as the second Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs Symposium. The papers given at the 2017 Symposium, organized by Dr. Dennis McKenna, have been collected and curated into what is now known as the ESPD50, representing the most significant body of knowledge in this field available.

 

McKenna Speaks at ESPD50 Conference

 

 

Interested in ESPD50, but find the science hard to digest? Make your reading interactive by watching the video lectures of individual authors presenting their research papers at the 2017 Symposium here

Check out Dennis McKenna’s recent interview on the Future Fossils Podcast with Michael Garfield, where they discuss the applications of psychoactive substances as tools for scientific investigation.

What Reviewers Had to Say:

For decades, the keepers of the psychedelic therapy and ethnobotany flames have guarded and passed along rare copies of the published proceedings of this January 28–30, 1967 conference at UC San Francisco, which were released later that year as “Public Health Service Publication No. 1645” and briefly sold for $4 by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

This month, the historic research papers from that mostly forgotten conference, along with the proceedings of a symposium held in England last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco gathering, have been published by Synergetic Press in a beautifully boxed, two-volume hardcover edition. 

Don Lattin, award-winning journalist & author of Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and the New Psychotherapy

Much of their discussion centers around the indigenous peoples of the world who have utilized these miraculous psychedelic fungi and plants (even the skin secretions of frogs and toads) in their cultures and religions. Of course, what’s most exciting is the potential for additional therapeutic discoveries, once the substances are better understood. 

Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews

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