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Psychedelics & Shadow Deities

“Outside the Monastery” by Michael Prettyman

The Psychedelic Humanities

With Doc Kelley

Scientific research on psychedelic drugs has grown exponentially since clinical studies resumed in the 1990s after a twenty-year hiatus. New findings suggest that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy can effectively ameliorate PTSD symptoms, and that classic psychedelic substances like psilocybin (or “magic mushrooms”) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD, also known as “acid”) can help reduce existential anxiety and effectively treat addiction. 

This “renaissance” of research has slowly begun to permeate the softer, social sciences where the study of psychedelics has largely remained a taboo topic. A small, but burgeoning, new field of study—the “psychedelics humanities”—has emerged as an important phenomenological complement to the empirically based discourse of science. Join me, as we explore the frontiers of the psychedelic humanities and discuss the exciting prospects for this new field study. 


Shadow Deities

With Michael Prettyman


Shadow deities take many forms, most of which we would rather avoid, deny and push back down. They can take appear as the scathing voices in our heads, addiction, jealousy, and rage.

In this Olio, we will investigate these hidden energies through two epistemological vectors: psychological and mythological. The models of the psyche given to us from Carl Jung suggest there is an organizing center to our consciousness, and access to this generative force can be become blocked by what Jung calls “The Shadow.” Many Eastern wisdom traditions present similar models: Tibetan Buddhism calls them “Wrathful Protectors.” Both vectors of understanding share an important locus of understanding, that these forces are energetic patterns that are not what they appear to be, and it is our ignorance and fear that gives them their negative aspect.

The Bhagavad Gita urges us to ‘raise the self with the self’ rather than trample it down. This means the whole self, including the dark bits, the places in our selves that we would rather stay hidden. The process of unearthing these forces on the way to wholeness is an important part of what we call “mysticism.”

Both Jungian psychology and world wisdom traditions are unanimous in their assertion that the goal of mysticism is wholeness not perfection, and wholeness must include the parts of us that stay hidden in the caverns of the mind.

Please join me as we seek to understand these hidden dynamics, and on the way make a rollicking attempt to unveil what exactly it is that is doing the understanding- what is the self that witnesses?



Recommended reading from Penguin Press:

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

A brilliant and brave investigation by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs–and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.


Other upcoming Olios


Jul 22

Immoral Art?

Taught by Jeanne Proust
3 p.m. at Mathew Gallery

Sign Up - $15

Jul 26

A Dog Named Ego

Taught by Michael Prettyman
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jul 28

NYC Poetry Festival | Revolutionary Letters, Confronting the Times

Taught by Jessica Rogers
1 p.m. at Governors Island

Sign Up - $10

Jul 28

NYC Poetry Festival | Sekou Sundiata & Radical Citizenship

Taught by Brian Lewis
3:30 p.m. at Governors Island

Sign Up - $10

Jul 29

NYC Poetry Festival | The Dangerous Pleasure of Art

Taught by Geoff Klock
3:30 p.m. at Governors Island

Sign Up - $10

Jul 29

NYC Poetry Festival | Poetry of Loneliness and Collaboration

Taught by Heather O'Neill
1 p.m. at Governors Island

Sign Up - $10

Jul 31

Immersive Listening - Bowie's "Low"

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Aug 21

The Poetry in Piledrivers: Pro-wrestling as Art

Taught by Ben Abelson
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15


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