Psychedelic Research Past and Present

Psychedelic Research

Albert Hofmann by Alex Grey

Visionary plants have been use since prehistory by human beings. Consciousness expanding compounds were used all over the world in ritual, and spiritual contexts to induce a non-ordinary states of consciousness. These plants were very important to shamanic practices, healing ceremonies, rites of passage and the mystery of death and rebirth. These ancient cultures considered these plants to be sacred sacraments. In these contexts the sacred plants would bring the participant into the realms of the gods and spirits where they encountered non-physical beings and obtained information for healing. These visionary plants also have been reported to enhance intuition, extrasensory perception, and to receive other forms of non-local information. These groups of peoples also produced works of art which were depictions of the landscapes of the unseen world filled with spirits and colorful patterns. (Grof 2012).

Huichol art

Throughout history there has been written knowledge of these plants. In China there were reports of psychedelic substances as much as 3,000 years ago. There are ancient stories which involve substance many believe to be psychoactive such as the SOMA of the Vedas. There is a well know and long historical use of marijuana in diverse religious groups such as in Hinduism, Rastafarianism, Scythians. There were many different substances used worldwide. In Mexico there was the use of peyote (Anhalonium lewinii) sacred mushrooms (Psilocybe mexicana) and morning glory seeds (Rivea corymbosa). In South America the use of Ayahuasca. In Africa many substances were used such as Iboga And many more.

The spiritual lives of these peoples were dramatically influenced by the introduction of Christianity, the cruelty and religious suppression of these rituals and plants forced the traditional spiritual practices of these peoples to move underground.  Despite the influence and cruelty of colonialism many peoples have maintained their spiritual practices through the centuries. Examples include the use of peyote in the Native American Church, the use of ayahuasca in the UDV (Unita De vegetal) and the Santo Domingo Church. These practices became legal in the USA through long legal battles despite the evidence showing thousands of years of use and despite the “freedom of religion” in the USA.

Mescaline was the first substance to be isolated in the west and was the first psychoactive substance people in the United States encountered. This occurred in the late 1800’s when there was incredible cruelty and lack of respect toward indigenous populations.  This lack of respect led to total dismissal of the wisdom held by the indigenous Americans which could have opened the door to realization of the incredible healing potential of these substances. Kurt Beringer, author of the influential book Der Meskalin rausch (Mescaline Inebriation) published in 1927, concluded that mescaline induced a toxic psychosis (Grof 2012). This idea of toxic psychosis was the predominant view of these psychoactive substances in the western world and left their healing potential undiscovered.

Psychedelic research began in the West with Albert Hofmann’s discovery of LSD at Sandoz Laboratory in Switzerland in the year 1942. Hofmann discovered LSD when he was making derivative of ergot. Hofmann himself states that he was drawn to the substance for mysterious reasons and he believes it called out to him. When working with this new compound he accidentally ingested the substance through unknown means and he became the first person to experience LSD.

Albert Hofmann Blotter paper

Never before in science had a single substance provided such a wide variety of uses across scientific fields. It influenced psychology, neuroscience, neuropharamacologists. This substance created unprecedented wave of enthusiasm in the world of science.  This discovery was a golden era of research that could lead to major advances in understanding consciousness, neuroreceptors, and intricate biochemical processes in the brain.  It also created the field of consciousness research.

At first LSD was thought to produce experimental psychosis and could be used as a valuable learning tool for psychologist. The idea was they could get a taste of the state of mind of the patients. They believed it would provide unparalleled information about psychosis and would lead to revolutionary new treatments. Researchers hoped LSD could provide the information to determine what chemicals or transmitters in the brain produce psychosis. It turned out however, that psychosis was not completely chemical in nature and we have yet to find a chemical treatment for schizophrenia.

Stanislav Grof the world’s most experienced and influential psychedelic therapist and researcher was introduced to LSD through this kind training program in the 1950’s. He experienced the mystical union with the source of creation and knew that there was more to this amazing substance then just psychosis. Grof developed a way in which to conduct psychotherapy with the use of LSD. Over many years of research he developed protocol for LSD assisted psychotherapy. He made incredible observations and positive results in treating clients. This treatment was a powerful tool for psychotherapists because of its ability to bring material from the subconscious level to awareness. It was also good for reaching patients who had been unresponsive to other forms of treatments such as sexual deviance, addiction and in easing the anxiety of terminal cancer patients.

LSD provided incredible new insights into art such as abstract arts, expressionism, fantastic art, visionary arts and provided insight in the artwork of other cultures. Many professional painters who were in the early LSD and creativity research made leaps in creative expression and their style became freer. They created new forms and could more easily tap into the collective archetypes.  LSD was found to produce profound mystical and spiritual experiences which gave us insight into the spiritual cultures of the world. It gave us a new understanding of the shamanism, religion, the eastern spiritual philosophies and the mystical sects of world religions. LSD was also used by the military circles who explored the destructive potential of LSD. The worlds military researchers wanted to know if it could be used as a chemical weapon, a truth serum, to poison diplomats, brainwashing and much more. This led to incidents where the governments would even put LSD in the water supply of citizens without their knowledge to see how they would respond.

Grof was so influenced by the power and potential uses of LSD that he compares it to a microscope for psychology because it allowed psychologists to see deep into the subconscious and explore previously unavailable domains of the psyche. LSD is one of the ultimate tools for studying consciousness. LSD research was all going very well until the wide spread self-experimentation in combination with the use of LSD at Harvard triggered mass hysteria. The political system responded with total prohibition of psychedelic research and effectively stopped all research while illegal street use continued unimpeded.  This stopped research for four decades.  Rumors were going around that one dose of LSD could make a person go crazy for life in profound ways.

Before the mass hysteria Grof was able to do over a decade of research along with other researchers. New forms of therapy were developed most notably psychedelic therapy and LSD assisted psychotherapy. This research had led to profound expansion of the cartography of the human psyche beyond the biographical life. The extraordinary states of consciousness experienced by clients in LSD studies were beyond the explanation of conventional psychological theories at the time. This research also was the principal catalyst for the development of consciousness studies. Observation of these states of consciousness forced Grof to create new categories of consciousness which were directly contrary to his training and personal beliefs. These expanded realms of consciousness were reached out of necessity based on the observation of his clients.  These new realms were the transpersonal and the perinatal.

Perinatal was found because many of Grof clients were experiencing images of birth and reliving trauma related to birth.  The transpersonal realms are the indescribable realms which are beyond the self. This includes but is not limited to mystical union, past life memories, ESP, telepathy, receiving verifiable information about different time periods or about their bodies, ancestral karma. These are the realms spoken about by mystics, shaman and in various sects of Eastern religions.

Following this criminalizing of psychedelics and psychedelic research in the early 1970’s there was a new wave of experiential therapies which moved to the forefront in order to continue exploring consciousness without drugs. This took the form of holotropic breathwork, meditation, yoga, ritual, ceremony, sensory deprivation and other techniques. These approaches were each unique and held their own risks and strengths. This created a cultural and societal need to understand and contextualize these types of profound human experiences. Researchers hoped that these non-drug therapies would make psychedelic unnecessary and there would emerge therapies as effective as psychedelics which were legal and help people to grow in different ways. It became apparent at the end of the 70s that these non-drug techniques were very valuable; however, they did not make psychedelics unnecessary. These approaches were complimentary to psychedelic therapy in the eyes of many researchers. Many clients responded well to meditation and breath work but there were still significant portions of the population which were unresponsive to these therapies.

The Shulgins by Alex Grey

During this time and after, there was a strong underground movement for use of known and sanctioned drugs of psychotherapy and also there were new chemicals coming into existence. There were a number of chemists prominent among them was Alexander Shulgin. Alexander Shulgin was developing hundreds of new psychedelic compounds and was distributing them to psychotherapists. He was connected to this network of therapists by Leo Zeff. Leo Zeff and his activities were released in the publication The Secret Chief. This led to the discovery of the therapeutic potential of MDMA. Leo was impressed with MDMA and its power as a therapeutic tool. Zeff came out of retirement and began to train therapists to use this substance to help clients.

From mid 1970’s to 1984 about a half million doses of MDMA were given by psychotherapist in assisted MDMA psychotherapy context under the code name ADAM. This had never attracted the attention of the police. Then in the mid 1980’s a patient who had a session with ADAM realized that this would be a great money making drug. They changed the name to ecstasy and introduced it to recreational settings.  This coincided with Nancy Regean and the drug war and MDMA was predictably suppressed and made illegal. This recreational use, just as in the 1960’s, led to the termination of therapeutic use of MDMA with trained psychotherapist but did not stop the illegal black market.

At Esalen there was an effort among therapists to protect the therapeutic use of MDMA. They conducted a safety study with MDMA so they could use it as evidence for its safety and therapeutic benefit. The study effectively proved the safety of the substance. This group of therapists and researchers were organized by Dick Price in an organization called ORUPA, The Organization for the Responsible Use of Psychoactive Agents. They were also working with Robert Muller who was with the UN. Muller believed that peace could not happen until we developed a global spirituality and could view others as beings like ourselves. He dreamed of a humanity that could view the whole Earth as being one organism. To sense the connection with all of life and we could find a shared humanity and shared spirituality and create peace. Mueller believed that the use of psychoactive therapies could cultivate a new spiritual awareness on Earth.

Through Robert Muller they sent out MDMA to monasteries and to other spiritual and religious based communities and spiritual leaders.  These people found these substances to be very valuable and stood up to express the value of MDMA in court once it became illegal. In 1984 the Earth Metabolic Design Lab was the legal vehicle to protect the use of MDMA. The day MDMA was made illegal Rick Doblin walked into the DEA with a huge packet of information about the therapeutic use of MDMA. They had assembled psychologist, psychiatrists, religious leaders, lobbyists, legal professionals to protect the therapeutic use.  The DEA was shocked that anyone would defend the use of this drug. They had no idea that it was being used therapeutically. EMDL won a hearing with a DEA administrative law judge who ruled that MDMA should be available as a therapeutic tool but it was only a recommendation which was rejected. EMDL sued several times and won several cases until they lost the final ruling and MDMA was made totally illegal and unavailable for therapeutic use.

In 1986 Maps was founded because there was no support for research from pharmaceutical companies or the federal government, only individuals or families would support this research. MAPS then became a psychedelic non-profit pharmaceutical company involved in research of psychedelic substances.  The goal was to legalize the therapeutic use of MDMA and marijuana. They developed five protocols which were rejected by the FDA. In 1990 the group at the FDA shifted to a new group of people who put science over politics resulting in the first approval of research for psychedelics.

Today there is a renaissance of psychedelic research and is taking place all over the world. MAPS and the Heffter Research Institute in Santa Fe are the primary research organizations propelling this new wave of research.  The head of MAPS is Rick Doblin a long time therapist who worked with clients using MDMA through the eighties. He has been creating a legal context for the legalization of MDMA and marijuana as sanctioned medicines. MAPS was founded to promote psychedelic therapy and is developing a strategy to pace psychedelic research and it’s reintroduction into the public awareness. The key according to Doblin is to get research going all over the world and have an image presented to the media through the lens of medical research. This approach was designed to avoid public backlash and has thus far been very successful.  Charles Grob is leading researcher for the Heffter Research Institute and he did the first study on MDMA as well as studying ayahusca, and psilocybin.

This first study was pioneered by Rick Strassman and was measuring the physiological effects of DMT on the human body.  This study was the first in four decades and ended the total repression of all medical research.  Strassman wrote a book at the end of the study describing the experiences of the clients and the conclusions he drew from the research called, DMT Spirit Molecule. This study opened the door for a renaissance of psychedelic research which is currently underway.

available at

Grob and Doblin organized a presentation for the FDA to do research with MDMA for cancer patients with anxiety. In 1992 the FDA convened and they opened the door for psychedelic research. The researches needed to do a phase 1 safety study and effectively proved it was sufficiently safe for therapeutic use which initiated a Phase 2 study.

The Heffter Research Institute was founded in 1993 and they began to study psilocybin for terminal cancer patients with anxiety. The HRI has begun to focus on the study of psilocybin. MAPS began to focus on MDMA therapy for PTSD based on a suggestion by the Mithoefers. Since that time there is now more research on psychedelics taking place around the world than ever before. They are focused on three areas. One is MDMA for PTSD. Second is psilocybin, LSD, MDMA for terminal patients with anxiety at the end of life. Three is ayahuasca, ibogane, psilocybin, MDMA, LSD for the treatment of addiction.

These illnesses were chosen because they are problems which have not been effectively treated by therapies currently available. The research is showing initial results suggesting that the psychedelic assisted therapy is effective for treating these disorders. The way these drugs are used in assisted therapy is different from the model of prescription medication because the client does not take the drug home, it can only be used with a therapist.

There are two area of science looking into these drugs. One is neuroscience the other is spirituality and meditation.  There have been studies at John Hopkins studying whether the psychedelics assisted therapy can produce mystical experience. This replicated the experiments from the 1960s such as the Good Friday experiment with Walter Pahnke sponsored by Timothy Leary.

They were able to get psychedelic research to happen again at Harvard with terminal cancer patients symbolically showing that they had departed from the hysteria of the past. The other symbolic victory was to have a study with LSD because it was the most highly stigmatized psychedelic and this occurred in Switzerland for near death psychotherapy and Albert Hofmann was able to see his wonder child back in research.

Albert Hofmann by Brummbaer

Psychedelic studies are happening all over the world with MDMA there are studies in USA, Switzerland, Israel and study near approval in Canada,  teams are seeking approval Jordan, Australia and England.  There are end of life studies using LSD in Switzerland, Studies in the USA. For addiction there are studies in Canada with ayahuasca. There are ibogaine studies for opiate addition in Mexico and New Zeland. Neuroscience research on psychedelics is taking place in Switzerland, Barcelona with ayahusaca in capsule form and 2CB. There is a spirituality and mediation study in 2013 in Switzerland with Zen meditators who in the middle of a 10 day retreat with receive psilocybin and they will measure neurochemistry, levels of compassion and to see the effect of the ingestion is spiritual setting. There are safety studies in Germany and in the 1980s Russians were using ketamine but is now out of access for research because of street use.

MAPS estimates that we are about 10 years away from making MDMA or psilocybin and medicine for PTSD and anxiety related to end of life.  There are still a series of scientific questions to be researched first issue is the double blind. The double blind study with psychedelics is very complicated because it’s easy to know if you have the placebo so instead they are doing dose response. In this there are 3 groups and they each get a different dose and the results will determine the effectiveness of a variety of doses.

Second, researchers need to do a series of small phase 2 pilot studies where they gather evidence for the design of larger phase 3 studies. The phase 2 studies will take 2 years and cost 2 million dollars and look at the treatment method and determine cultural differences. They are also investigating if MDMA more effective for a certain type of PTSD to find the ideal therapies for different clients. For example if MDMA is more effective for those with sexual abuse or for those with experience in war.  Once this is complete MAPS will present the evidence to the FDA in order to gain approval for a phase 3 studies.

This presentation involves describing what you plan to do for the phase 3 study which will involve 600 patients in two studies and will take 5 years and 10 to 15 million dollar to complete. Then MAPS submits the information to the FDA and argue that it should be made legally available this takes an addition 2 years. Thus MAPS is 15 million dollars and ten years away from getting MDMA approved as a medicine.

In terms of marijuana, the research is obstructed by the federal government which has a monopoly on the supply of Marijuana for research. With MDMA there is no monopoly and thus MAPS is able to receive high quality substances for their studies. This is different with Marijuana because the supply has to come from one facility and the quality is very low and thus does not help in the study of Marijuana which is usually of much higher quality when distributed at legal dispensaries. Thus MAPS is not able to do the work through the FDA with marijuana and is involved in legal proceedings to sue the FDA. Psychedelic research is flourishing and the media has been supportive. It seems with the increase of medical information about these substances the public opinion is slowly changing.

By Transpersonal spirit


Cortright, Brant. Psychotherapy and spirit: Theory and practice in transpersonal psychology. SUNY Press. 1997.

Grof Stanislav, Albert Hoffman, Andrew Weil. LSD Psychotherapy, Maps Publishing CA. 1980, 1994, 2001, 2008.

Grof, Stanislav. Healing Our Deepest Wounds The Holotropic Paradigm Shift. Stream of experience Productions, New Castle Washington 2012.

Grof, Stanislav, 2012 and Global Consiouness, www.HealingourDeepest Teleseminar aired, May 8 2012, Wisdom University Virtual Seminar.

Grof, Stanislav with Richard Tarnas, How Deep is Deep: Depth Psychology, Consciouness Research and Archetypal Astrology. Wisdom University tele seminar May 15 2012

Grof, Stanislav with Rick Doblin, Charles Grob, Micheal and Annie Mithoefer. The Psychedelic Renaissance: What the New Wave Of Psychedelic Research Can Contribute to Us Individually and Collectively. Wisdom University May 22 2012 tele seminar.

Grof, Stanislav and Grof, Christina. Spiritual Emergency: Breakdown or Breakthough. Wisomd University teleseminar may 29 2012.

Grof, Stanislav, With Erin Laszlo and Duane Elgin. New Frontiers for Science and Healing: Is Science Ready to Welcome Spirit? Wisdome University teleseminar june 5 2012

Grof, Stanislav with Bache, Chris and Jim Garrison. Healing Our Deepest Wounds teleseminar week 5  Dark Night, Early Dawn: Psychospiritual Perspective on the Global Crisis. Wisdom University June 12 2012.

Pahnke, Walter N. and Richard, William A., “implications of LSD and experimental mysticism.” Journal of religion and health No. 5, 1966, 175-208.

Strassman, Rick,   DMT Spirit molecule

Inner Dimensions of Global Crisis

Inner Dimensions of Global Crisis

By: Transpersonal Spirit

Palabras de Gaia Devorah a La Madre Afrodita

There has been criticism about the exploration and study of the inner worlds because it does not seem to help the external crisis occurring in the world today. Many people deeply engaged in inner healing through extended daily meditation seem to be escapists avoiding the troubles that are in the world around us. I believe that this view is flawed and the exact opposite is true. Through the process of inner transformation we become healthier and happier individuals.  This change that occurs with-in us will be noticed by those whom we are close to and will have an effect on them as well. Inner explorations also bring us face to face with the suffering in ourselves and in the collective consciousness of humanity.  Through experiencing our own deepest wounds we empathize with the wounds of others and can understand aspects of their process. This often leads to the desire to be of service in some way to others who suffer.

The process of inner transformation becomes the process of external transformation as we change our lives and the world around us to match the new sense of who and what we are. Inner transformation also brings encounters the web of life and we begin to understand that all life is alive and conscious.  We begin to understand that we cannot survive without the help of mother earth. We are dependent on a clean environment for personal health and survival. This all leads one to develop a natural instinct for what is good for ourselves and those around us.

It is hard to believe that the drama unfolding in the world today looks so bleek with the destructive power of nuclear technologies, increasing natural disasters, war, and mass extinction. It is as though the world is stuck in a cycle of endless suffering and destruction and there is seemingly no escape.  This coupled with prophecy from indigenous peoples such as the Hopi and the Mayan’s calendar. These prophecies predict a dramatic shift from one age to another for humanity and earth as a whole.   There are also dramatic and powerful astrological influences which are activating another phase of upheaval, destruction of old forms, radical creativity, innovation and replacement of outdated systems. This powerful transit is primarily being driven by the Uranus Pluto square which is in effect from 2008 to 2020. The last major alignment between these two planets was in the 1960 and 1970 and we are currently going through another phase of that cycle.

This crisis presents an amazing opportunity for growth and for establishing a new paradigm on earth that respects life. There are striking similarities between the events unfolding in the external world such as war, violence, destruction of the environment and the experiences people have in experiential therapies using alter states of consciousness. When people are reliving deep traumas from the birthing process they often will have internalized images and sensations of tremendous suffering, violence, sexual perversion and witnessing firsthand the atrocities committed in the past. These internal experiences of suffering and violence related to our psychological wounds can bring us into an experience of compassion for ourselves and the world around us. It is very possible that as a species our collective consciousness has reached a point in the journey where we are all experiencing the images and suffering related to the death rebirth process and to the collective karma of human history.  It’s as though we are as a species we are going through a physical and psychic manifestation of these destructive forces. If the non-ordinary states of consciousness are a creative aspect of our external realities then one could assume that after this phase the world will enter into the phase of rebirth evoking ecological and humanitarian awakening.

The collective nature of human consciousness is being explained by many fields of scientific thought. Quantum physics has its theories of quantum entanglement, universal fields of information, multidimensional realities. Ervin Laszlo developed the theory of the Akashic field and the connectivity theory which state that the entire universe is a field of information. The field of information is beyond the limits of time and space and is holographic in nature. This means that all information in the universe is available in at all times. This is contrary to our experience of reality which suggests that we are in a single place at a single time and that the information available to us comes from memories and the external senses. With the consideration of the Akashic field and findings in quantum physics it suggests a radically different view of reality from materialist western science of the previous 300 years.

This new view of the universe suggests that the entire cosmos is one living consciousness.   The whole universe from the smallest atom to the human being to galaxies far away is a conscious and alive part of the greater being. The whole universe has eyes and is aware of us because we are the universe on the most fundamental levels of reality. With this in mind we can imagine that humans would then be able to affect the world through awareness of the information in the Akashic field. I also could imagine that we would be able to obtain verifiable information from the Akashic field if we developed the skills.

Human beings are already connected by this field and many psychologists today are very excited about these theories because they verify mathematically what many people experience internally in spiritual experiences and in non-ordinary states of consciousness.  These finding are in direct agreement with the basic cosmology of the Buddhists, Hindus, various Native American tribes. Many people dedicated to their spiritual path will at some point will experience mystical union with the source of creation and perhaps with the new paradigm of quantum physics and transpersonal psychology these experience can become accepted as experiencing the deeper levels of what we are.

Planet Earth is facing a crisis and the influences of the heavens, the consequences of the actions of humanity are challenging the survival of the species. We could be entering the process of global death and rebirth experience where the destruction of old forms, systems and concepts is coupled with intense experiences of suffering, violence, hopelessness, and sense of doom and no escape.  In experiential therapies where individuals experience the internal ego death and rebirth process they experience incredible unimaginable suffering on par with Nazi Germany, genocides, nuclear fallout and then after some time they suddenly are lifted from destruction and experience the divine blissful realities and feel reborn.

The technologies have already been created to save our planet from destruction and humanity has suppressed these technologies for profit and power. This self-destructive repression of these technologies has led to an arms race with the potential to destroy the entire planet in moments. The problem does not seem to be humanities inability to adapt to the challenges we face but rather lack the willingness to do so. This could be caused by traumas that are deep in our collective psyche and once we heal those traumas the destruction of the Earth seems much less appealing. Research has shown that people with deep internal practices develop more compassion toward all life. If the entire planet was involved in conscious internal exploration with the help of experienced guides the entire planet would develop stronger social and ecological conscience which would lead to dramatic changes in the global policies. We may recognize as the Hindus and Buddhist did many thousands of years ago that we are all one. Even though most of the time we experience ourselves as separate and divided in reality that is the play of illusion and our true nature is the nature of a universal consciousness.

Studies in reincarnation are showing that many people have convincing internal experiences where they remember or relive some aspects of a past life. There have also been studies using hypnosis investigating the space between lives. People going through this hypnosis process repeated expressed that they were working with beings in that other reality to plan and plot out their next incarnation. In other words, we choose to come to the planet at this time for a reason that is cosmic in nature. We have all decided with the help of these guides beyond the veil of death to be here now and to experience what we are experiencing. The destiny of humanity is not fixed, we can easily create new technologies, worldviews and philosophical understandings that could not only save humanity from destruction but also encourage humanity to emerge from the crisis more whole and compassionate. If we are all interconnected it is not difficult to imagine that when we cause harm to others that is harms the collective as well. When we overcome our fears and anxieties we tap into the collective consciousness of humanity and heal some of the fears and anxieties in the collective.

By Transpersonal Spirit


Amit Goswami, Quantum Doctor A Quantum Physicists Explains the Healing Power of Intergrative Medicine.  Hampton roads publishing company, inc. VA. 2004, 2011.

Bache, Christopher m. Life cycles reincarnation and the web of life. Paragon house new York. 1990.

Grof Stanislav, albert Hoffman, Andrew weil. LSD Psychotherapy, Maps Publishing CA. 1980, 1994, 2001, 2008.

Grof, Stanislav When the Impossible Happens 2006 True Sounds Inc. Boulder co 80306.

Grof, Stanilav, Grof Christina; Assagioli, Roberto; R.D. Laing; KJohnweir Perry, Holger Kalweit, Lee Sannella, Anne Armstrong, Keith Thompson, Jack kornfeild, Ram Das, Bruce greyson and barabara harris, Paul Rebillot, Jeneane Prevatt and Russ Park, Spiritual Emergency when personal tranmsformation becomes a crisis. Jeremy p tarcher / Putnam new York. 1989.

Grof, stanislav, grof, Christina, jack kornfeild. Holotropic breathwork a new approach to self-exploration and therapy.  Excelsior editions new York. 2010

Grof, Stanislav, Joan Halifax, forward by smith Huston preface by, david jay brown and peter gasser. The ultimate journey. MAPS ca 2006, 2010.

Grof, Stanislav. Healing Our Deepest Wounds The Holotropic Paradigm Shift. Stream of experience Productions, New Castle Washington 2012.

Grof, Stanislav, 2012 and Global Consiouness, www.HealingourDeepest Teleseminar aired, May 8 2012, Wisdom University Virtual Seminar.

Grof, Stanislav with Richard Tarnas, How Deep is Deep: Depth Psychology, Consciouness Research and Archetypal Astrology. Wisdom University tele seminar May 15 2012

Grof, Stanislav with Rick Doblin, Charles Grob, Micheal and Annie Mithoefer. The Psychedelic Renaissance: What the New Wave Of Psychedelic Research Can Contribute to Us Individually and Collectively. Wisdom University May 22 2012 tele seminar.

Grof, Stanislav and Grof, Christina. Spiritual Emergency: Breakdown or Breakthough. Wisdom University teleseminar may 29 2012.

Grof, Stanislav, With Erin Laszlo and Duane Elgin. New Frontiers for Science and Healing: Is Science Ready to Welcome Spirit? Wisdom University teleseminar june 5 2012

Grof, Stanislav with Bache, Chris and Jim Garrison. Healing Our Deepest Wounds teleseminar week 5  Dark Night, Early Dawn: Psychospiritual Perspective on the Global Crisis. Wisdom University June 12 2012.

Huxley, Aldous, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper Perennial Modern Classics; New York; 2009.

Laszl, Ervin, Currivan, Jude. CosMos: A co-creator’s guide to the whole-world. Hay House Inc. Carlsbad, ca. 2008.

Maslow, Abraham H. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature 1971 The Viking Press New York.

Stanislav Grof by Alex Grey

Healing Our Deepest Wounds

Stan Grof and Healing Our Deepest Wounds

By Transpersonal spirit

Net of Being By Alex Grey

How Deep is Deep: Depth Psychology, Consciousness Research, and Archetypal Astrology.

In this teleseminar, Rick Tarnas and Stan Grof will explore how psychedelic research has revealed the cosmic dimensions of the human psyche-by shifting the emphasis in psychology from postnatal life to the birth trauma, and deeper still to the transpersonal and archetypal realms. This deeper understanding of the human psyche gives us new insights into the roots of emotional and psychosomatic disorders. Rick and Stan will also discuss how the extraordinary predictive power of archetypal astrology gives us an invaluable tool (a “Rosetta Stone”) for understanding the mind, and how archetypal astrology can help in healing, enhance our work with psychedelics and Holotropic Breathwork, and help us to support people experiencing psychospiritual crisis (“spiritual emergency”).

Stanislav Grof is one of the world’s leading researchers and theorists in the field of psychology has a specialty in understanding non-ordinary states of consciousness the importance of spiritual health for overall psychological wellbeing. He has created a new series of lectures through Wisdom University called healing our deepest wounds at

Stanislav Grof by Alex Grey

In this series Grof and others talk about the global crisis and the emerging paradigm shift discussing the deeper psychological implications of our current time. These deeper psychological concerns include topics generally ridiculed by science such as spiritual journey, mystical experiences, ESP, past lives, quantum physics and astrology. After over 50 years of research into consciousness Grof and others are making it clear that the boundaries between the internal and the external world are dissolving and may not exist at all.

In traditional psychological a dissolution of the boundaries between internal and external realities would be a diagnosis for a mental illness and could lead to medications, shock therapy and institutionalization in extreme cases. Grof and his wife Christina took a very close look at non-ordinary states of consciousness creating a framework for understanding the deeper meaning of non-ordinary states and have been able to distinguish between mental illness and normal or spiritually based non ordinary experiences referred to as holotropic states.

The Grofs developed what is called the spiritual emergency, this is when a person is going through difficult existential revolution marked by many possible symptoms including but not limited to depression, anxiety, hallucinations, mystical experiences, past life memories, powerful and unusual psychosomatic (mentally created) sensations. The spiritual emergency can happen at any time in one’s life and occurs in all kinds of people regardless of their beliefs. Spiritual Emergency was once thought to be psychosis and still is by those who are behind on their research, but now it is recognized as similar to the kundalini awakening described by mystics of India. Spiritual emergence is the introduction to the deepest parts of who we are. This inner world begins to manifest in our experience of life and our inner life becomes deeper and more intense, without a contextual basis to understand these experiences and without guidance the spiritual emergence can become a dangerous spiritual emergency. This has been a great contribution to the field of psychology and has helped many people avoid misdiagnosis and to move gracefully through their journey of self-discovery.

Grof also dramatically expanded the cartography of the human psyche and human consciousness in general. In this therapy sessions using LSD or using holotropic breathwork Grof’s clients would travel deep into their psyche and many traumatic memories and sensations would emerge often with powerful charge. The client was reliving various memories and experiences of the past and also experiencing the physical sensations of the dramatic event. He found that many times a person would experience multiple traumas which were similar in character either one at a time or all together at once. Observing this he created a theory known as COEX systems which mean Constellations of Condensed Experiences which linked certain emotional and psychosomatic symptoms both in life and in therapy.

Constellations of Condensed Experience is easy to understand by breaking it down word by word. Constellations meaning a series of experiences emerging from various layers in the psyche, perhaps an experience of chocking from early childhood, then near drowning as an adult and chocking on food at a restaurant these all have a similar feeling to them and thus are linked together in constellations. Condensed means summation, a conglomerate of experiences all summed up together. In the chocking example these various layers of similar traumatic experiences are link and in our mind they are condensed and begin to have a greater psychic charge because the client has merged all the chocking experiences into a singular psychosomatic gestalt. When moving deeper into the psyche people were experiencing traumatic convincing memories from the birthing process which Grof called Perinatal birth trauma.

by: HR Giger

Grof found that the COEX systems where often anchored in the experience of birth and that the client had completed birth physically, however, was still in the birthing process emotionally. He broke the perinatal into four stages which represent the four stages of birth. In the chocking example it is possible that they were chocked by the umbilical cord in the womb and the pattern of chocking experiences was set in motion from birth. Grof’s clients resolved these traumas through re-experiencing the trauma. After fully experiencing the event or events many of the defenses and behaviors began to dissolve and in some cases spontaneous recovery from treatment resistance lifelong symptoms occurred.

Trauma is the experience of stress so overwhelming that we cannot experience it fully and thus trauma is the most dissociated, hidden and defended parts of ourselves. Hiding the traumatic experience makes sense, for example, if sexual abuse happens at a young age it will be easier to process later in life when we have better understanding of the world in which we live. The trouble arises when we never go back to process those traumas, the psyche then begins to unconsciously recreate scenarios with resemble the original trauma, theoretically, in an attempt by the subconscious to bring forth the original memory so it can be resolved. Resolving the deepest wounds often led Grof and his clients beyond what they had imagined and propelled them into the transpersonal realms.

Transpersonal is a term meaning beyond the self, these are experiences which are beyond our normal experience of life such as mystical visions, past life memories, out of body experience, telepathy, experiencing scenes from the lives of our ancestors, the death and rebirth experience and many more examples. Grof found that often once the birth trauma was experienced often the client would go through psychospiritual death and rebirth and emerge in another dimension of being. In mystical experiences one would have a convincing experience of union with god and the oneness of the universe. In holotropic states of consciousness people moved beyond the known universe of Cartesian Newtonian science and emerged into the realities of the mystic. The clients enter the underworld and move through Hades to emerge a new and help society, the classic myth of the hero’s journey. There were many cases where the root trauma was linked through the COEX systems to past lives, ancestral karma, dead relatives. Some could not be helped until they experienced mystical union or encountered certain nonphysical entities. The transpersonal world was the realm of the mystic, visionary, shaman and the soul. Transpersonal realms defy many of the assumptions of science; however, it is becoming recognized as a part of the psyche.

By: Ernst Fuchs

In psychedelic therapy and holotropic breathwork, Grof has found the experiences of the clients was best predicted by astrology, specifically planetary transits related to a client’s birth chart. Research acquired over the last thirty years with assistance from Richard Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche, shows a powerful correlation between planetary transits and the character of experience in holotropic states of consciousness.   In Holotopic Breathwork retreats there can be as many as 200 people using breath work to reach holotropic states of consciousness. Grof observed in one session that 20 percent of the people experienced the archetype of crucifixion followed by a psychosomatic death and rebirth experience this date happened to be a major holiday in Christian tradition and a powerful planetary alignment linked to death and rebirth. The outer planets have a powerful effect on the nature holotropic states of consciousness but manifest in ways which are diverse and multivalent. This great variety of experiences are all linked together by a familiar resonance known as archetype. Grof suggests we can learn astrology and be able to predict the best dates for certain therapies to be applied and even use this information for spiritual practice.

When Grof was asked to go in more detail about the findings in his early career he stated that he is not interested in that stuff anymore, what he is teaching now is archetypal perspective. Grof stated, “The archetypal prospective is the supraordinating principal of all of it, the birth, the biography and selective experiences from the various layers of the transpersonal all under control of the archetypal dynamic.” Archetype is a powerful idea related to the collective unconscious and fundamental motifs that pervade all cultures and times such as the spiritual journey, the lover, myth and archetype even informs our own inner and outer experiences. Archetype could be the formative energies that can burst forth into outer existence so it can be experienced externally. Do we have the choice of how these archetypes manifest in our lives and the world? If the archetype is effect by the planetary transits and our birth chart can we have free will?

Tarnas explores these questions by reminding us that the archetype is not just a god that lies in the transcendent realms of the universe but it is a concept with many layers which are multivalent. Many of those layers are informed not just by our birth chart and the planets but also by the choices we make and what part of the archetype is ready to be expressed through our experiences and actions. The current world crisis reminds us of the archetype of the apocalypse and the end of the 24,920 year long count of the Mayan calendar. Tarnas explained how we are moving into influence with a Uranus Pluto square which will last from 2008 to 2020 which marks a time of Promethean revolution, innovation, rapid change, destruction of social orders, emergence of progressive reforms. This Pluto Uranus square alignment has a powerful effect on people in the holotropic states of consciousness indicating major breakthroughs and destruction of old systems replaced by intense creativity and innovation.  Tarnas believes it will be a time of revolution and great change and that there is a possibility that as a planet we are going to create a better system and replace or modify the current structures.  Synchronicity and meaning full coincidences between astrology , holotropic states, dreams, waking life and many other forms of synchronic events were presented by Carl Jung in his late career. Synchronic events seem to be a way in which the inner world and the outer world affect one another

Grof began to talk about his interest in the Mayans and in their use of holotropic states of consciousness and their deep understanding of astrology. Using the various visionary plants and other techniques for inducing holotropic states the Mayans gained an experiential understanding of astrology as well as a scientific understanding.  The Mayans seem to indicate that this is an important time in history due to the powerful astrological alignments and since it’s the end of the long count many say it could be the end of the world. Grof and many others are much more hopeful about the meaning of the date 12/21/2012 and see it as a turning point which people can rally around to push for a new prospective in our social systems and ourselves.

Grof shared his vision of the archetype of the apocalypse in a recent teleseminar with Wisdom University. He explains that the apocalypse originally meant lifting of the veil and that it doesn’t only mean destruction it’s about revelation of the greater realities.

“I had a very powerful psychedelic session in which I experience the apocalypse as an archetype. so I will say a few words about it. At the beginning there was a tremendous mobilization of energy it became a kind of streaming whirling energy whirling cosmic vortex of creation and destruction. And I saw these four major muscular figures with shaved heads and kind of a pig tails and they were brandishing “L” shaped scimitars in a way it looked like a swastika.  If you can imagine, you know the “L” shaped scimitar and they were dancing this dance.  It looked like the blades of a Cuisinart and I began to see it was related to two things. I always was interested in the swastika because I experience 6 years of Nazi Germany when this was such a destructive symbol. And then when I started studying Tantra I saw the other side of the swastika. What was happening, there, was if the swastika was turned one way it seemed to be related to chopping the whole the unified whole, into individual pieces and related to creation where we go from one to the many. And the other direction was the spiritual journey and when we go from world of many and we dissolve boundaries and ultimately everything comes together and we become one again. So, I was getting this kind of archetypal image of creation and the spiritual journey. And then the scene changed and I saw unbelievable destruction which involved natural disasters volcanic eruption and tidal waves, volcanoes, tornadoes and so on. But also destruction created by humans, destroyed cities and  breaking down bridges and sort of wars and explosions.Basically destruction of the physical world. And, I actually saw the archetypal image of the four horse man of the apocalypse. And, after experiencing this for some time it suddenly changed and I was in a cave that was like the cave Plato describes in the republic. We are prisoners in a cave and we are looking at the wall and all we see is shadows of what is happening behind us. And it’s the shadows they are created by the source of light. He describes the philosopher as one who can get up and turn around and you get the sense that what we experience in the world are these shadows. And, I suddenly understood that the apocalypse was an archetype, a powerful archetype that you can certainly experience internally the way it happened to St. John, but like any archetype it could also manifest. We have the archetype of crucifixion but crucifixion also happened historically and we have the experience of hell, the Buddhist hot hell, and then it’s enacted and you get the same kind of experience in Hiroshima when that archetypal energy sort of breaks into the physical  world.  So, the idea  was that it’s conceivable that at some point archetype can manifest in some kind of physical destruction but then I understood the spiritual meaning of you will experience the archetype of the apocalypse in your inner world when your spiritual quest leads you to the point where stop believing the world is physical and material you see it more like the hindus in terms of maya and lila. It’s a way of consciousness what we experience as the material world is an orchestration of experience. So when you reach that point, your concept of the material world is being destroyed and that’s when the be archetype of the apocalypse kicks in. So, it’s an indication that you have reached a certain point in spiritual development and it will be possible to experience the apocalypse in the inner world to prevent it from happening in the physical world.  The was a great sort of ending to this particular session where I saw this beautiful scene, kinda like a theater very ornate stage and I saw archetypal figures coming and they were bowing like they participated in the creation of this experience of the material world. And, so I saw an archetype of the warrior, I saw it as one figure but to was holographically opening to scenes of war. And the archetype of lovers and it was opening to scenes of love making and romance and I saw the trickster figure and they were coming and bowing like they expected appreciation of the good performance they did in creating this incredible show of the physical world. So that was the my own experience of the apocalypse and the understanding I got from it. It’s an archetype that occurs at a certain stage of your spiritual quest, although, it’s not impossible it would manifest in the world in the way that others have in history.”

The talks from healing our deepest wounds are pushing the envelope of consciousness taking the realities for the internal and external world merging their influences into a meaningful whole and connecting our existence back to unity with the cosmos. Grof at one point goes as far as to express his belief that we live in a virtual reality created by collective archetypes. When considering this presentation I got this incredible image of the archetype looking much like an Alex Grey painting where at certain times we make psychic soul connections to all other beings experiencing the same archetype. The collection of all these various diverse consciousness united to form this amazing image of an extra dimensional being who was a collective of united souls. We all are united at some level and live in a holographic universe of consciousness. In the west we are moving ever more quickly toward a new understanding of the universe informed by both the inner and outer channels of information. As we move deeper into the psyche we reach a point where all is connected and we realize the emotional consequences of our actions may last over multiple lifetimes if unresolved. Science is more clearly understanding the ways in which our inner world effects the outer world in both small and profound ways.  It is possible that all who do deep inner work are not just healing themselves but are healing the collective in some way. By experiencing and resolving trauma we open to deeper spiritual awareness and move toward wholeness with all creation.

By: Transpersonal Spirit

Net of Being By Alex Grey

Stanislav Grof received his MD from Charles University, Prague, and his PhD in Philosophy of Medicine from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology, and founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA). For the past 50 years he has conducted research on therapeutic and heuristic aspects of non-ordinary states of consciousness using psychedelics and various nondrug techniques and exploring the implications of consciousness studies for psychiatric theory and the emerging scientific paradigm. In 2007, he was granted the prestigious Award >Vision 97< from the Václav and Dagmar Havel Foundation in Prague and in 2010, the Thomas R. Verny Award from the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) for his pivotal contributions to this field. He is the author of Realms of the Human Unconscious, Beyond the Brain, LSD Psychotherapy, The Adventure of Self-Discovery, The Cosmic Game, Psychology of the Future, When the Impossible Happens, The Ultimate Journey, The Stormy Search for the Self, and Holotropic Breathwork; the last two with Christina Grof.

Richard Tarnas, PhD, is a cultural historian and professor of philosophy and depth psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco and is the founding director of its graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. His first book, The Passion of the Western Mind, became both a bestseller and required reading at many universities. His book Cosmos and Psyche is a ground-breaking work that represents a serious conceptual challenge to the current scientific worldview. Rick played a pivotal role in laying foundations for archetypal astrology, a discipline that explores significant correlations between cyclical alignments of the planets and the archetypal patterns of human experience—world history, culture, art, and individual biography.


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