Expanding Mind is going on hiatus. In this solo show, Erik reflects on a decade of podcasting, the learning curves of the show, the work of conversation, the uncanniness of our moment, and the publication of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies.
A conversation with my wife Jennifer Dumpert about collaborative dreaming, iPad skrying, meditation, play, the problem with interpretation, and her new bookLiminal Dreaming: Exploring Consciousness at the Edges of Sleep (North Atlantic).
A discussion with meditation teacher and author Michael Taft host of the Deconstructing Yourself podcast, about hardcore dharma, Buddhist modernism, shop talk, the soup of the sangha, and the problem of the achievement self and the blind leading the blind.
An informative chat with clinical psychologist and psychedelic researcher Dr. Alexander Belser about qualitative research, the Mystical Experience Questionnaire, the diversity of psychedelic trips, queer spiritualities, and the idea of coming “out of the psychedelic closet.”
A conversation with philosopher of religion Mary-Jane Rubenstein about wonder, horror, animism, the multiverse, Heidegger, Einstein, Hawaiian telescopes, and her book Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters (Columbia).
Entheogenic and community activists Larry Norris and Kufikiri talk about the growing campaign to decriminalize entheogenic plant medicines within the city of Oakland. Topics include community access, education, reframing “psychedelics,” blind spots, changing the narrative, and resisting “the metronome of programming." https://www.decriminalizenature.org/
Poet and literary scholar Stephen Yenser talks about James Merrill and his poetic epic The Changing Light at Sandover (1982), based on decades of Ouija board communications. Topics include: devotion, Maya Deren, duplicity, friendship, the alchemy of language, and Yenser’s recent annotation of the first part of Merrill’s masterpiece, The Book of Ephraim (PenguinRandomHouse).
Yogi, psychonaut, and dear old pal Spiros Antonopoulos returns to talk about the Ashtanga lineage, Crowley’s yoga chops, the gifts of rigorous practice, NYC punk yoga, psychedelic Patanjali, and the ups and downs of opening his new Los Angeles Yoga Club amid the Instagram storms of LA body culture.
In this second wide-ranging talk with Anthony Blake, author of A Gymnasium of Higher Intelligence, we discuss J.G Bennett’s ideas of higher intelligence, the active vs. the receptive will, unconditioned nature, living language, and the trouble with the metaphor of “tool."
Host Erik Davis does a solo show on Beat Zen, the Fifth precept, tantric heresy, headless dharma collectives, capitalist subjectivity, and the Psychedelic Sangha meetups popping up in a few cities around North America.
Author and renowned Tarot expert Mary Greer discusses the amazing Pamela Colman Smith (the illustrator of the famous Rider-Wait-Smith deck). We touch on the Golden Dawn, the art of illustration, Jung’s active imagination, Smith’s musical visions, and the marvelous, heavily illustrated book, Pamela Colman Smith: the Untold Story (U.S. Games System).
Historian and astrophysicist Adam Becker—author of the elegant and clarifying book What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics—talks about Schrödinger’s Cat, quantum philosophy, his beef with the Copenhagen interpretation, his fascination with Bell’s Theorem, and the difference between weirdness and nonsense.
Writer and avant-garde publisher Tosh Berman discusses growing up in postwar California, hipster sexism, the hippie horrors of Topanga canyon, his impressions of family friends like Cameron and Brian Jones, and his charming new memoir Tosh, about growing up with his father, the remarkable underground California artist Wallace Berman.
Writer and Ultraculture wizard Jason Louv talks about occult history, reality tunnels, his John Dee and the Empire of Angels book, Aleister Crowley’s secret Christianity, and the apocalyptic RPG the West can’t seem to escape.
Professor and queer historian Heather Lukes talks about Silver Lake riots, gay bikers, house ball scenes, the nostalgia for repression, and the joys and challenges of working on the online archive "The Grit and Glamour of Queer LA Subculture."
Author and media scholar Douglas Rushkoff talks about collaborative technologies, silicon transhumanism, analog aura, the problem of the soul, and his new and timely manifesto Team Human. Join the team!
In the first of his regular solo shows, host Erik Davis explores his personal history of “meditation"—including teenage stoner trances, voices in the head, and Zen anti-authoritarianism—with particular attention paid to the role of concentration practices in producing blissful and occasionally visionary states.
Author and plant behavior researcher Monica Gagliano talks about courage, scientific blindness, plant spirits, cannonball trees, cosmic glitches, and her fascinating new book Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries & Personal Encounters with Plants (North Atlantic).
Culture critic Mark Dery talks about Surrealism, the gay voice, penny dreadfuls, and the occult and Taoist influences examined in his fascinating new biography of Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little Brown).
Canadian cultural observer Peter Limberg talks about Stoicism, philosophical sandboxes, the Intellectual Explorers Club, making uncertainty sexy, and navigating the conflicts between today's memetic tribes.
Nurse practitioner and psychedelic therapist Julie Megler talks about integration circles, hierarchy vs. community, ketamine therapy, somatic work, and the philosophy behind her new East Bay clinic Sage Integrative Health.
Poet, journalist, and professor Nicholas Powers talks about festival politics, race and psychedelia, dreads, tokenism, and his book The Ground Below Zero: 9/11 to Burning Man, New Orleans to Darfur, Haiti to Occupy Wall Street (UpSet Press).
Occultist and Aleister Crowley biographer Richard Kaczynski talks about Jack Parsons, the "method of science,” the Agape Lodge, the women of Thelema, and the pluses and minuses of the Strange Angel TV series.
In part two of our conversation, author and blogger Eric Wargo talks about dreams, self-fulfilling prophecies, unconscious trauma, the banality of true spirituality, and his book Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious.
In part one of our conversation, author, blogger, and dreamer Eric Wargo talks about uncertainty, determinism, Zen, the evidence for “feeling the future," and his brilliant and head-spinning book Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious.
Host Erik Davis reflects on Burning Man in light of his first return to the event in nearly a decade. Topics include: the Burning Opera, Instagram, poetic terrorism, remembering dead people, chaos, and the unfolding paradigm of the city.
A conversation with devotees Usha Harding and Swami Bhajanananda about the unique Kali temple they help run in Laguna Beach, and about the recovery of magic, the perfume of practice, Western pujaris, religious diversity, and the challenge of commercial yoga.
A conversation with activist and writer David Nickles about the DMT Nexus, psychedelic militancy, extraction tek, the Statement on Open Science for Psychedelic Medicines, MAPS, and the trouble with for-profit psilocybin companies.
A conversation with writer, editor, and performer Mitch Mignano—aka Raven—about existential humor, the Cacophony Society and the origins of Burning Man, pranking your fears, nihilism, and the sacred clowns of the Sun Dance ceremony.
A talk with gnostic scholar Matthew Dillon about religious mourning, the Nag Hammadi library, sex magick Jesus, the gnostic Eden, David Icke’s lizards, and the power of the archons as an allegory of contemporary technological and political power.
A talk with journalist Adam Fisher about virtual reality, fumbling the future, the cyberculture underground, human augmentation, libertarianism, and his rich oral history Valley Of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley, as Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom (Twelve).
A conversation with bestselling author Michael Pollan about psychedelic awe, trip reports, the mental health crisis, underground therapists and the highly positive reception of his book How to Change your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (Penguin).
A wide-ranging conversation with writer and teacher Miranda Mellis about uncanny climates, thinking with fables, empathic fictions, “don’t know” politics, Buddhist meditation, and the entanglement with the nonhuman.
A conversation with esoteric writer Gary Lachman about postmodernism, Positive Thinking, chaos magic, Putin's esoteric tricksters, and Gary's hot new book Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump (Tarcher).
A conversation with author Gregory Alan Thornbury about 70s Jesus Music, apocalyptic politics, Bob Dylan, countercultural Christianity, and his fascinating biography of the Christian rock star Larry Norman: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock.
A conversation with Scottish poet and novelist John Burnside about Henry Miller, the flight from society, sexual braggadocio, folk ballads, Taoism, and his arresting book On Henry Miller: or How to Be an Anarchist (Princeton).
A conversation with alt-lit novelist, poet, and artist Tao Lin, about Terence McKenna, feeling happy (or not), degenerate humans, writing trip reports, and his refreshing new non-fiction book Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change (Vintage).
A conversation with Ken Layne, the maestro of the Desert Oracle podcast and field guide, about Joshua trees, desert Christianity, Edward Abbey, military secrecy, and the mysterious (and smelly) Yucca Man of local legend.
A conversation with Brazilian anthropologist, conference programmer, and chacruna.net editor Bia Labate. We cover peyote politics, the bureaucratization of psychedelics, the legalization of ayahuasca circles in the United States, and working with indigenous leaders on the “Sacred Plants in America” conference she recently convened. www.bialabate.net
A conversation with artist and independent scholar Bruce Rimell about psychedelic entities, evolutionary module of cognition, Visionary Humanism, and his meaty new book They Shimmer Within: Cognitive-Evolutionary Perspectives on Visionary Beings.
A conversation with classics professor James Romm about mortality, Stoicism, the ambivalent freedom offered by suicide, and his new book of Seneca translations, How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of Life (Princeton).
A conversation with Burt Shonberg biographer Spencer Kansa about LA bohemia, psychedelic art, Marjorie Cameron, gumshoe biography, and his new book Out There: The Transcendent Life and Art of Burt Schonberg. http://burtshonberg.com/
A conversation with futurist, inventor, and educator Mark Pesce about Faustian bargains, Facebook mind control, surveillance capitalism, and his bracing recent article “The Last Days of Reality.” https://www.markpesce.com/
A conversation with historian of religion April DeConick about altered states, religious conspiracy theory, emerging cognitive structures, and her new book The Gnostic New Age: How a Countercultural Spirituality Revolutionized Religion from Antiquity to Today.
A chat with occult writer and drug geek Julian Vayne about Baphomet, the (sur)reality of spirits, evolution, ritualizing entheogens, and his new book Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony. https://theblogofbaphomet.com/
A lively discussion with "meditation MacGyver" Jeff Warren about polyspirituality, Buddhist hedonism, the X-factor of awareness, and how he contributed to Dan Harris's new book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics (Spiegel & Grau). http://jeffwarren.org/
A fascinating conversation with computer scientist and freak-geek extraordinaire Dr. Bruce Damer about innovation pools, realm-bending, Terence McKenna, and a powerful new scientific vision about the origins of life.
Psychologist and consciousness researcher Susan Blackmore talks about astral cords, brain regions, Zen koans, and her recent book Seeing Myself: The New Science of Out-of-Body Experiences (Robinson). https://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/
A wide-ranging conversation with historian of religion Dustin Atlas about certainty, skepticism, antisemitism, gnosis, and the politics of knowledge. Read Dustin’s blog thoughts on this and other matters at https://blogblawgblog.wordpress.com/.
Guitarist and artist David Arnson talks about his long-running psychedelic surf band Insect Surfers, along with comments on rare dolphins, reverb units, pictures in your mind, and his eye-boggling new coloring book Insect Surfers & Alien Allies. http://www.insectsurfers.com/
Religious scholar Sarah M. Pike talks about wilderness conversion, Hare Krishna hardcore, feral wonder, and her illuminating new book For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism (University of California).
Writer, photographer, and curator Joanna Ebenstein talks about Goth obsessions, memento mori, Santa Muerta, and her extraordinary new illustrated collection Death: A Graveside Companion (Thames & Hudson).
Electronic musician and podcaster Marc Kate talks about nihilism, horror movies, New Age music, and transmuting Nazi black metal into the ambient soundscapes of his latest album, Deface. www.marckate.com
Poet and wilderness writer Andrew Schelling talks about his new biography Tracks Along the Left Coast (Counterpoint), which tells the story of Jaime De Angulo (1887-1950): Big Sur bohemian, California Indian anthropologist, and great Coyote poet.
Academic psychologist Thomas Joiner talks about the mindfulness craze, stoicism, the trouble with “trauma,” and his trenchant new book Mindlessness: The Corruption of Mindfulness in a Culture of Narcissism (Oxford).
Futurist, science journalist, and Boing Boing co-editor David Pescovitz discusses space exploration, world music, Carl Sagan the stoner, and his participation in the recent release of the Voyager Golden Record, forty years after the original Voyager probes were launched. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ozmarecords/voyager-golden-record-40th-anniversary-edition
Neurologist and world-class Parkinson’s expert Professor A.J. Lees talks about William S. Burroughs, self-experimentation, ayahuasca, and his terrific medical memoir Mentored by a Madman: The William Burroughs Experiment.
Israeli therapist, spiritual teacher, and psychedelic activist Galia Tanay talks about deep dharma practice, the problems with mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy, and how psychedelics shape the self.
Designer and technology critic Adam Greenfield talks about magic bullets, the melancholy of machines, Tesla’s Autopilot, and his must-read new book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (Verso).
Professional “psycho-diviner" (and former Expanding Mind co-host) Maja D’Aoust talks about solstice magic, liquid archetypes, artificial intelligence, and her hypnogogic new Tarot deck White Witch Tarot.
Grateful Dead scholar and professor Ulf Olsson talks about improvisation, self-organization, pirate ships, and his new book Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation (University of California Press).
Performer, director and playwright Daisy Campbell talks about Robert Anton Wilson, the dangers of synchronicity, her father Ken’s 1976 production of Illuminatus!, and her resoundingly successful recent staging of Cosmic Trigger: the Play. https://cosmictriggerplay.com/
Research scientist and UK sociologist Tehseen Noorani talks about hearing voices, pharmacological biases, studying psilocybin studies, and the importance of trickster teachers. His talk at Psychedelic Science is available here.
Musician, sound artist, and 78 collector Robert Millis talks about hunting for records in India, the spectral mysteries of 78 records, Sublime Frequencies, and the sacred universe of Indian classical music. https://robertmillis.net
Transpersonal psychologist Jorge Ferrer talks about participatory spirituality, the problems with perennialism, the transpersonal evidence of psychedelics, and his new book Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion.
North American Qawwali musician Tahir Faridi Qawwal talks about sacred improvisation, the mystic bliss of qawwali music, breaking into tradition, and building bridges between East and West with his group Fanna-Fi-Allah. www.fanna-fi-allah.com
Spiritual leader and integral theorist A. Hameed Ali talks truth in the post-truth era, the method of inquiry, science fiction, and his new book The Alchemy of Freedom,written under his pen name A. H. Almaas.