Pioneering engineer Bill Atkinson was the lead designer/developer of the Apple Lisa graphical user interface, creator of MacPaint and QuickDraw, and part of the original team that developed the Apple Macintosh. In 1985, Atkinson dropped acid and came up with HyperCard, the groundbreaking multimedia authoring program that was really a precursor to the first Web browser. Atkinson recently told Leo Laporte the story of this incredible LSD-fueled eureka moment. From Mondo 2000:
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It seemed to me the universe is in a process of coming alive. Consciousness is blossoming and propagating to colonize the universe, and life on Earth is one of many bright spots in the cosmic birth of consciousness....
The street lamps reminded me of bodies of knowledge, gems of discovery and understanding, but separated from each other by distance and different languages. Poets, artists, musicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians, and economists all have separate pools of knowledge, but are hindered from sharing and finding the deeper connections...
Knowledge, it seemed to me, consists of the “How” connections between pieces of information, the cause and effect relationships. How does this action bring about that result. Science is a systematic attempt to discover the “How” connections. Wisdom, it seemed to me, was a step further removed, the bigger perspective of the “Why” connections between pieces of knowledge. Why, for reasons ethical and aesthetic, should we choose one future over another?
I thought if we could encourage sharing of ideas between different areas of knowledge, perhaps more of the bigger picture would emerge, and eventually more wisdom might develop.
Neuroscience researcher Roland Griffiths at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is leading a scientific study on "the experiences of people who have had encounters with seemingly autonomous beings or entities after taking DMT." If that's you, fill out the anonymous survey! Just say know.
From the Daily Grail:
Dr. Roland R. Griffiths is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His main line of work has been studying the subjective and behavioral effects of mood-altering drugs, and has written over 360 journal articles and book chapters –e.g. “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” (Psychopharmacology, July of 2006), which proved instrumental in setting up trials for the testing of the emotional benefits of psylocibin among terminal patients.
So if you’ve had a tête à tête with one of Terence McKenna’s self-dribbling jeweled basketballs, please consider contributing to the Johns Hopkins study...
"Have you had an encounter with a seemingly autonomous entity after taking DMT?"
(image: "The Machine Elves" by seelingphan)
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Terence McKenna (1946-2000) was an ethnobotanist, psychedelic pioneer, philosopher, and shamanic scholar who boldly explored the mysteries of consciousness and the fringes of reason with rigor, wit, and generosity. Now, Kevin Whitesides with support of fellow travelers like BB pal Erik Davis are working hard "to collect, digitize, transcribe, store, and preserve the imprint of Terence McKenna's presence" in all media for the ages. You can help! Support the Terrence MckKenna Archives GoFundMe campaign! The incentives you can receive for participating are quite mind-blowing.
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There are five major sub-projects at present, all under the banner of The Terence McKenna Archives:
1) A Collection Project: to find, collect, store, and preserve, either physical (or at least digital) copies of any material related to Terence McKenna. A full list of the physical & digital holdings are available at terencemckennaarchives.com.
2) A Transcription Project: to transcribe all of Terence McKenna's 500+ hours of audio/video material that is freely available on the web into a searchable database. This crowdsourced, volunteer-based project is already ongoing and incredibly successful and can currently be found at terencemckenna.wikispaces.com. If you would like to help contribute by transcribing Terence's talks, please join the effort there and on The Terence McKenna Transcription Project Facebook Page.
3) An Interview Project: to interview any family member, friend, colleague, acquaintances, workshop attendee, correspondent, interviewer, critic, collaborator, or any person suitably inspired or influenced by Terence McKenna.
4) TerenceMcKenna.com: Terence's son owns this domain and it currently houses the Terence McKenna Bibliography, but we need resources and talent in order to build into the online McKenna hub that it can ideally be, eventually hosting the searchable transcription database, an online digital archive, and much more.
A friend and I were talking last night about ego dissolution (something we've both experienced). I was telling him about this recent Vox article that shares the author's first-hand account of an ayahuasca trip at Rythmia, a luxury "life advancement" resort in Costa Rica.
What really struck me about his tale is how he describes what he felt like on the fourth and final night (after drinking the most potent of all the brews):
I watch my entire life unfold as though it were projected on a movie screen. But it wasn’t my whole life; it was every lie, every counterfeit pose, every missed opportunity to say or do something true, every false act and ingratiating gesture, every pathetic attempt to be seen in a certain light...
The experience made me aware of how often we all do this. We do it at home, at work, at the grocery store, at the gym. Most interactions are either transactional or performative. No one wants to make eye contact, and most of the time people freak out if you really try. We’re too self-conscious to listen. We’re thinking about what we’ll say next or how we’re being perceived.
All the posturing destroys any chance for a genuine connection.
That passage reminds me a bit of what I experienced when I had an ego death a couple of years ago. My experience (which was not gained through ayahuasca, by the way) showed me the motives behind the people in my life, both past and present, and if they were with me or not. Read the rest
The prohibition on psychedelics was memorably described as "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo" by former UK Drugs Czar David Nutt, and despite the ban, there has been a consistent, determined, very promising (sometimes surprising) drumbeat of scientific papers about the use of psilocybin ("magic mushrooms") and other psychedelics in treating a range of chronic illnesses, including mental illnesses.
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Salvia divinorum is a plant that is legal in most of the USA and the world, a uniquely powerful psychedelic whose effects are as short-lived (5-10 minutes from first onset to the end of the experience) as they are profound (users generally need to have a "sitter" nearby because they lose control over their bodies and perceptions).
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The anonymous Bitcoin philanthropist behind the Pineapple Fund
donated nearly 60 Bitcoins, approximately $1 million, to the psychedelics research and advocacy group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
"The Pineapple Fund's outstanding generosity exemplifies how the growth of cryptocurrency can be leveraged for profound social change," says MAPS Founder and Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. "The blockchain community is helping to lead the way, not only in decentralized technologies and currencies, but in giving the gift of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to the world in order to heal trauma and bring greater compassion to psychiatry and medicine."
The philanthropist, known as Pine, has also:
• Donated $1 million to Watsi, an impressively innovative charity building technology to finance universal healthcare.
• Donated $1 million to The Water Project, a charity providing sustainable water projects to suffering communities in Africa
• Donating $1 million to the EFF, defending rights and privacy of internet users, fighting for net neutrality, and far far more
• Donated $500k to BitGive Foundation, a charity building projects that leverage bitcoin and blockchain technology for global philanthropy.
Previously: "An anonymous person with $86 million in bitcoin is giving it to charity" Read the rest
A newly-published overview of self-reported ayahuasca experiences indicates that the hallucinogen can help alleviate eating disorders and reduce alcohol consumption. Now, more scientists are pushing to make it easier to study the drug legally. Read the rest
A measure to legalize magic mushrooms was filed with the California state Attorney General's office last week. Now it's up to schroom advocates to collect 365,880 voter signatures to bring the measure to a statewide vote.
From IBI Times:
The proposal was filed by Kevin Saunders, a former candidate for mayor in Marina, a city on California's central coast... Saunders said using mushrooms helped him stopped his reliance on heroin 15 years ago. "I think we're seeing something that could literally heal our brothers and sisters," he told the Los Angeles Times. "We're talking about real cutting-edge stuff."
Image: Alan Rockefeller at Mushroom Observer Read the rest
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies announced that the FDA has granted MDMA (aka Ecstasy/Molly) a "Breakthrough Therapy" designation as part of a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). From the journal Science:
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One of the main targets in the war on drugs could well become a drug to treat the scars of war. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), better known as the illegal drug ecstasy, a "breakthrough therapy" for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a status that may lead to faster approval.
The agency has also approved the design for two phase III studies of MDMA for PTSD that would be funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit in Santa Cruz, California. MAPS announced the "breakthrough therapy" designation, made by FDA on 16 August, on its website today; if the group can find the money for the trials, which together could cost an estimated $25 million, they may start next spring and finish by 2021.
That an illegal dancefloor drug could become a promising pharmaceutical is another indication that the efforts of a dedicated group of researchers interested in the medicinal properties of mind-altering drugs is paying dividends. Stringent drug laws have stymied research on these compounds for decades. "This is not a big scientific step," says David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London. "It’s been obvious for 40 years that these drugs are medicines. But it’s a huge step in acceptance."
I am ready for a big dose of intrigue, weirdness, and true conspiracies from filmmaker Erroll Morris's new Netflix series Wormwood about the CIA's evil and bizarre 1950s experiments in LSD and mind control. Turn on, tune in, and get creeped out December 15.
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The psilocybin in magic mushrooms is a potent psychedelic for animals. But what good is the psilocybin for the shrooms? New genetic research from Ohio State University suggests that the psilocybin might act as an insect repellant, protecting the mushrooms. From New Scientist:
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The gene cluster (linked to psilocybin production) is found in several distantly related groups, suggesting that the fungi swapped genes in a process called horizontal gene transfer. This is uncommon in mushrooms: it is the first time genes for a compound that is not necessary for the fungi’s survival – called a secondary metabolite – have been found moving between mushroom lineages.
Since these genes have survived in multiple species, Slot thinks psilocybin must be useful to the fungi. “Strong selection could be the reason this gene cluster was able to overcome the barriers to horizontal gene transfer,” (researcher Jason Slot) says.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms often inhabit areas rich in fungi-eating insects, so Slot suggests psilocybin might protect the fungi, or repel insects from a shared food source, by somehow influencing their behaviour.
In 1943 Sandoz chemist Albert Hofmann became the first person to synthesize (and take) LSD. He was also the first person to isolate and identify psilocybin, the main psychedelic component in magic mushrooms, almost 60 years ago. "Yet no one has been able to unravel the enzymatic pathway the mushrooms use to make psilocybin, until now," reports Stephen K. Ritter of Chemical and Engineering News. Read the rest
David Luke, a University of Greenwich psychology lecturer and researcher of high weirdness, has a new book out with the compelling title of Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience. Based on the blurb, it sounds like an absolute trip:
A psychonautic scientific trip to the weirdest outposts of the psychedelic terrain, inhaling anything and everything relevant from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies, cultural history, shamanism and the occult along the way.
Staring the strange straight in the third eye this eclectic collection of otherworldly entheogenic research delivers a comprehensive and yet ragtaglledy scientific exploration of synaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and lycanthropy. Essentially, its everything you ever wanted to know about weird psychedelic experiences, but were too afraid to ask…
"Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience" (via Daily Grail) Read the rest
Ketamine is a short-acting dissociative anesthetic commonly used on animals and sometimes people. Of course it's also beloved by many psychonauts for its unusual dreamlike or "out of body" psychedelic effects. While Ketamine has been shown for years to help treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder in adults, researchers at Yale School of Medicine now report that it has great promise as a fast-acting intervention for children in crisis. From Scientific American:
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It was less dramatic to watch than I expected, but the kids were definitely high. There was a lot of giggling involved, and they often said that they felt like time was changing and that their bodies felt ‘funny’ and sometimes numb. Nicole, (a suicidal 14-year-old,) admitted, “I’m not gonna lie. I like the feeling of it.”
Perhaps more dramatic than the trips themselves, which happened in a carefully controlled procedure room with a psychiatrist and anesthesiologist ready to intervene if needed, were the interviews that came after. I could see the weight of depression lifted from these patients within hours. Adolescents who were previously ready to end their own lives became bright and hopeful. Psychiatry has never seen a drug intervention so powerful and fast acting. While most anti-depressants take weeks to work and offer modest improvement, ketamine offers dramatic improvement in less than a day...
Dr. Michael Bloch, Yale child psychiatrist and principal investigator of several controlled trials for ketamine for adolescents, points out that the drug is only used for select patients who have severe mental health problems that have not responded to other medications.
Psychologists at Johns Hopkins University are currently giving two dozen religious leaders psilocybin, the psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms, to, y'know, see what happens. From The Guardian:
Despite most organised religions frowning on the use of illicit substances, Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, a Zen Buddhist and several rabbis were recruited. The team has yet to persuade a Muslim imam or Hindu priest to take part, but “just about all the other bases are covered,” according to (study co-leader Dr. William) Richards....
“It is too early to talk about results, but generally people seem to be getting a deeper appreciation of their own religious heritage,” he said. “The dead dogma comes alive for them in a meaningful way. They discover they really believe this stuff they’re talking about.”
There is also a suggestion that after their psychedelic journey, the leaders’ notions of religion shifted away from the sectarian towards something more universal. “They get a greater appreciation for other world religions. Other ways up the mountain, if you will,” said Richards.
“In these transcendental states of consciousness, people seem to get to levels of consciousness that seem universal,” he added. “So a good rabbi can encounter the Buddha within him.”
"Religious leaders get high on magic mushrooms ingredient – for science" (The Guardian) Read the rest
To celebrate Bicycle Day on April 19th, the date of Albert Hofmann’s — and the world’s first LSD trip in 1943, we are publishing this excerpt from the forthcoming interview with Michael Horowitz — the third installment of the Acid Bodhisattva series, coming soon to Timothy Leary Archives.
Images: from Lysergic World (April, 1993): Albert Hofmann in 1977 (above), and the route of his famous bicycle ride on LSD through Basel, Switzerland on April 19, 1943, from Sandoz Laboratories to his house.
Below, Leary's archivist Michael Horowitz reminisces about a car ride with Albert Hofmann and Timothy Leary in February 1972.
"Tim and I took the train to Basel where Albert picked us up in his car. He drove, Tim sat in the passenger seat and me in back, trying to manage a super 8mm movie camera with one hand and a tape recorder with the other. Albert told us that we were driving the route of his first LSD trip in 1943, when he bicycled home with his Sandoz lab assistant after testing 250 micrograms. Tim cracked up when I asked Albert if he still had the bicycle. I knew it was gauche of me, but I couldn't resist. A short time later Albert pulled over."
Here is an excerpt of the conversation between Albert and Tim, after they picked us up at the train station. On the way to Albert's estate we passed by his 1943 home.
Albert: That house is where we lived at the time. I never thought I would get home that day. Read the rest