Foundations of Psychedelic Study with Jerry Brown, Ph.D.

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Psychedelics are a hot topic in the news these days. But they have been an object of fascination and study for centuries. In this four week course, we will take an academic approach to psychedelics as we explore their historical origins, the current role of the Psychedelic Renaissance, and the potential future of these drugs as therapeutic treatments.

If you'd like to get a foundation in the historical context of psychedelic movements and learn about the ways these drugs are shaping new movements, this is the course for you.



WEEK 1: Ten Landmarks in Psychedelics History

An overview of the field from Albert Hoffman’s discovery of LSD in 1938 and to current decriminalization movements, including: 

  • discovery of a living magic mushroom cult in Mexico
  • identification of Soma in the Hindu Rigveda
  • milestones in ethnomycology
  • psychedelic initiations of Timothy Leary, Michael Harner
  • Woodstock Music Festival
  • 1970s U.S. Controlled Substances Act
  • Old World vs. New World narcotics
  • Johns Hopkins pioneering psilocybin studies
  • Psychedelic Renaissance; and the New Science of Brain Neuroimaging

WEEK 2: Past: Psychedelics in Shamanism and World Religions 

Does Christianity have a Psychedelic History? Based on stunning images of psychoactive mushrooms (both Amanita muscaria and Psilocybe varieties) in early and medieval Christian art, we explore Christianity’s hidden psychedelic history. 

Beyond Christianity, there is growing evidence of entheogens both in shamanism (reindeer herders, Mazatec) and in major world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Ancient Greece (Eleusis).

WEEK 3: Present: Psychedelics for Passion and Purpose 

While there is robust discussion about seeking the divine through psychedelics, these “mind scopes” may also lead to personal transformations by resolving conflicts or challenges that we all face from time to time. 

Participate in an intimate conversation about personal psychedelic journeys that allowed me to find a passionate life purpose ( through psilocybin mushrooms); to choose love over fear in entering into a lifelong relationship (through LSD); to and overcome a deep, rare, late-in-life depression (through ayahuasca).

WEEK 4: Future: Mystical Experience and Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

The Johns Hopkins and NYU studies of psilocybin’s impact on cancer patients found that “In both trials, the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased.” 

This final week explores the future role of mystical experience in psychedelic therapy, for both psychological (depression) and possible physical (cancer) healing, in the context of emerging psychedelic-assisted therapy centers in the U.S. and Europe.

Dates and Times

Mon 3rd May 7-9pm, UK time
Mon 10th May, 7-9pm, UK time
Mon 17th May, 7-9pm, UK time
Mon 24th May, 7-9pm, UK time

About your Facilitator

Jerry B. Brown, PhD, is an anthropologist, author and activist. He is Founding Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, where he currently teaches an online course on “Psychedelics and Culture.”  Professor Brown writes on psychedelics and religion as well as on psychedelic therapy. He is the lead co-author of The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity (2016); “Entheogens in Christian Art: Wasson, Allegro and the Psychedelic Gospels,” Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 2019; “Ayahuasca, Depression and Me,” Chacruna Institute, 2019; and “Mystical Experience and Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy," Psychedelics Today, 2020.

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