Uses of Psychedelics in Shamanism and Psychotherapy

Ralph Metzner, PhD

Abstract: Ralph Metzner will describe and compare the use of ayahuasca in Amazonian shamanic healing practices and contemporary contexts, the use of Psilocybe mushrooms in historical indigenous Mesoamerican culture for vision seeking and their contemporary applications (as psilocybin) in pre-death preparation, and the uses of the iboga root in African initiation ceremonies and contemporary drug addiction treatment programs. Emphasis will be on considering not only the drug effect, but the set and setting of the experience as well as the underlying worldview of the individual and the culture about the afterlife and the other world.

Ralph Metzner, PhD is a recognized pioneer in psychological, philosophical, and cross-cultural studies of consciousness and its transformations. He collaborated with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert in classic studies of psychedelics at Harvard University in the 1960s, co-authored The Psychedelic Experience and was editor of The Psychedelic Review. He is a psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where he was also the Academic Dean for 10 years in the 1980s. His books include The Unfolding Self, The Well of Remembrance, Green Psychology, The Expansion of Consciousness, Alchemical Divination, and Mind Space and Time Stream. He is the editor of two collections of essays on the pharmacology, anthropology, and phenomenology of ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms. He is President and Founder of the Green Earth Foundation, dedicated to healing and harmonizing the relations between humanity and the Earth (

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