"Our body is made of a psychedelic magic designed to awaken, reconnect, regenerate and evolve us into flow states, that science is discovering can heal us"
There is a revolution underway, one that will fundamentally change all of our modern notions about healing and the transformational power within our biology. It is literally turning a $400 billion global mental health industry on its head.
Plant medicines that were previously restricted or forbidden have now become the superstars of the scientific world.
Folks are calling this a "psychedelic revolution", but we need to reframe this conversation and put it into a bigger context
It will impact all realms of healing. No matter where you are in the healing continuum, this will ripple out to your world eventually. Not necessarily because you will want to take plant medicines, but because the entire context of healing will shift.
I call it the "biodelic revolution", because our bodies are innately psychedelic. The molecules and neural pathways of “non-ordinary consciousness” are hardwired into our neural circuitry. Every traditional and magical culture has practiced these inner technologies to access altered states of consciousness for healing and growth.
Biodelics is our ancient and future magic.
We don’t take psychedelics, we are psychedelic. Our inner psychedelic biosystems are ancient. Take our endocannabinoid system (inner cannabis-like molecules and receptors), for example. It evolved almost 600 million years ago, which is more than 350 million years before the first mammalian brain, and more than 550 million years before the first cannabis plant appeared! In other words, our innate biodelics are encoded in our ancestral biosystems that formed before us and the flowering plants we know today.
What the new research is revealing is mind-blowing. Psychedelic medicines, such as DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine and MDMA, and by extension biodelics, are magic. Respected scientists, publishing in the most prestigious academic journals, are so awed by the results of psychedelics that they are calling them profound “quantum change experiences”.
But what they’re not saying (because they can’t patent it in a pill) speaks loudest. Reading the small print of the journal articles, which I am trained to do with my background as a biomedical researcher and physician, an astounding picture emerges.
I can almost sense the mushrooms tricksters snickering in the background. Because the new science is proving to be dangerously spiritual—and undermines the scientific dogma of “materialism”, and the idea that we have no soul or spirit.
The neurobiology of psychedelic medicine proves that our biology is wired for the mystical, the numinous, the magical. In biodelic experience, on real-time fMRI scans, we can see the metabolism of our prefrontal cortex, temporal cortex and thalamus slow down, as the psychedelic medicines “open our doors of perception”, reducing rigidity of thinking and perception, freeing us to have visionary insights.
The results extend to self-generated altered states of biodelic consciousness as well, such as breathwork and ceremony; on live EEG recordings, we can see that breathwork and ceremony induces changes similar to psychedelics, slowing our brainwaves down into delta, theta and alpha “superflow” creative trance states.2
We will return to this incredible biodelic science later, but first, let me share my own personal story of healing through biodelic consciousness, and introduce the mischievous mycelial mystics who are leading us down this magic rabbit hole…
Biodelia in Bali – The Mushroom Teachers
My first introduction to the world of biodelics was at age 20, in apprenticeship and daily living in the home of Ida Pedanda Ketut Sideman, one of the last traditional Balinese poet-priests. By "biodelic", I mean entering into expanded, but very natural states of altered perception and consciousness, often in connection to nature, or deep somatic and sensory experience. In these "non-ordinary" states, our perception of time can feel different, and we can more easily enter into creativity, openness, flow and "quantum change experiences", which open us to a kind of “time tunnelling”.
The religious anthropologist Mircea Eliade described these experiences as an ecstatic participation in the magical dimensions of reality.
Every morning we would wake with the first light and walk to the ocean, making flower offerings to the sea and surya ceremonies to the sun. We walked barefoot on the warm sand, and hand-cast fishing nets into the water to gather tiny fish for the household's food. Every day the priest made ritual food and flower offerings to the many nature and elemental beings, and we burned fragrant incense to shift our consciousness before chanting and reading classical poems aloud. Even the food he ate was infused with his wife’s prayers and song, so he had the energy to carry the spiritual responsibility for his entire region.
The result of my spiritual apprenticeship with the Balinese high priest was that I found myself in a profoundly "biodelic" state of deep interconnection with the natural world, and with my own body. My sensory perceptions were heightened, and my creativity was at an all-time high. I was in the flow, every day experiencing mysterious and meaningful coincidences that Carl Jung referred to as synchronicities. Through daily bio-magical practice, I had entered into a deeper biodelic reality.
“These magical practices activated the same cell surface receptors and neural circuitry as psychoactive medicines—acting through our endocannabinoid system, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine pathways, oxytocin and vasopressin systems, and more—achieving many of the same benefits of psychedelic medicines, but in a gentler way, at the level of a 'microdose'."
As my own inner psychedelic pharmacopeia was coming online, it was as if I was being prepared for significant meeting or experience. What I did not anticipate was that this biodelic microdose would soon open the doors of perception to a full-blown macro-dose mystical experience at the hands of the famous golden-capped psilocybin mushrooms.
Mushroom Mysticism – Psychedelic Initiation
One day, after leaving the home of Ida Pedanda, I journeyed to the nearby water temple of Uluwatu with some good friends to commune with the energies of the land.
The temple site is physically stunning, situated right on the edge of a limestone cliff, some 230 feet above the ocean, on the southernmost peninsula of Bali. It is one of the nine directional temples of the island, that, from a cosmological perspective, helps to anchor Bali in mandalic and ritual space.
Walking through the meadows down to the beach, a friend noticed a large group of golden-capped, blue-streaked mushrooms that he identified as psilocybes. He gathered them to make a tea and offered it to the group. I had never explored psychedelic medicine before, but he assured me that it would be a beautiful and sacred experience on the temple lands, and in nature with trusted friends. My heart was saying yes. So, I prepared myself for my first communion with the mushroom beings.
There are some 200 species of psilocybe mushrooms found around the world. Each mushroom that you see above ground is just the fruiting body of an extensive underground “mother” network of mycelia—analogous to a small apple on the mother apple tree. Magic mushrooms are rich in the compound psilocybin, that, after ingestion, is transformed in the body into its active form psilocin, aka 4-hydroxy-DMT. Along with the other “classic” psychedelics such as LSD, ayahuasca, and DMT, psilocybin is structurally related to our neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine), and strongly activates the serotonin 2A receptors of the brain, opening the biodelic doors and giving rise to mystical shifts in consciousness.
With the warm, earth-scented mushroom tea in hand, I sipped gently, relaxing into the spirit and atmosphere of the land. I noticed the sun softening. I tuned into my body. Other than some initial nausea (no one had mentioned that), not much seemed to be happening at first, so I headed back down to the beach to take a swim. But by the time I had arrived, I was in a different dimension. Standing with my feet in the golden sand at water's edge, I watched-felt-heard the waves rush past my legs, and then ebb back out to sea. The patterns of sunlight reflected like networks of diamonds in the wet sand, and all of the dazzling sensorium took on a fresh, extraordinary beauty. It was like I was seeing the world through new, wondrous, eyes.
As the colors amplified into a vivid palette, sunlight bathed my skin, and I looked at the coconut palms and beautiful plants around, I felt a surge of love for the natural and sensual world like I had never felt before. I began to weep. I cried and laughed for who knows how long, in fairy time. I felt like I was turning into Bali - the sun, the water, the land, the plants. My energetic edges became porous, and extended into the all the animate and inanimate beings that surrounded me. All the world felt preternaturally alive and sentient. My greatest pleasure in those moments came from merging and coalescing.
Feelings of love, openness and curiosity overflowed and extended out to my friends, who were in similar hyperconnected states. We lay on the grass, breathing with the trees and spoke about all that was on our hearts, past, present and future, some of which we had never dared to admit to ourselves, much less another person. After a while the mood shifted, as the mushroom’s effects deepened, and difficult emotions started to bubble up—predictably, as I would later learn. Psychedelic means “soul opening”, and these fungal allies have a propensity to reveal what lies heavy on our heart, or submerged traumas.
I gravitated to conversation with a young woman. She was an experienced mushroom journeyer, with a shaved head and serious eyes. Her boyfriend had committed suicide by driving off a cliff, and she understood loss and pain. She could see I needed to take some space, and encouraged me to go on a solo walkabout. Heading out deeper into nature, I reflected on my life back in America. I contrasted the natural beauty of the world of Bali, with my life as a budding research biochemist, working long hours every day on the 7th floor of a research institute, under glaring artificial lights, with my nose in petri dishes, looking at blood proteins all day. It was like a prison dimension in comparison with the beauty of my life in Bali.
“I felt like the mushroom beings were imprinting me with a vision of an alternative enchanted reality – not something faraway, or in another dimension, but something here right now, that was only a choice away. I knew I was at a crossroads in my life. They told me to be a guardian for earth's magic.”
Afterwards, this experience lived inside me like a navigational map. New scientific studies reveal that from a neurobiological perspective, under the right circumstances, even after just one single mystical experience on psilocybin, or other similar psychedelics, we have a long-term increase in openness, creativity and capacity for divergent thinking.3 Our brain is permanently shapeshifted by these experiences with persistent positive personality trait changes, and the matching neurobiological changes of global increased synchronization and functional connection between diverse brain networks.4
But here is the secret part that no one says out loud. The astounding results science is revealing, are tremendously enhanced the more deeply spiritual and interconnected the container of healing is, exemplified by the spiritual world of my Balinese mentor. And this takes us into the realm of the mystery schools and the indigenous shamans, and their practice of magic.
It is an irony that the power of psychedelic experience for healing is now being adopted by men in white coats who have spent the last few hundred years telling everyone that magic doesn’t exist and persecuting anyone who says otherwise.
Psychedelics and Trauma healing
What was once the domain of alternative spiritual seekers, mystics and hedonists, is now being sought out by a diverse range of people seeking to heal from traumatic experiences, difficult childhoods, addiction and chronic diseases.
Amongst the pioneers of psychedelic-assisted healing for PTSD were military veterans and other trauma survivors who were not getting results from conventional psychiatric treatments, and began heading to the indigenous cultures of the Amazonian rainforest to work with Ayahuasca.
Reports of “miracle healings” started to filter back to support groups and online forums, with more and more people reporting positive results from a number of different classical psychedelic medicines, as well as MDMA and ketamine. Therapists, doctors, researchers, and eventually the pharmaceutical industry, started paying closer attention. Over the last decade there have now been dozens of small, well-designed clinical trials for PTSD, depression, anxiety and other conditions, with overwhelmingly positive results, echoing the encouraging results of “first wave” psychedelic research in the 1950’s and 60’s.
In 2021 Dr. Rick Doblin et. al. published a landmark paper in the journal Nature Medicine showing that MDMA assisted therapy was remarkably effective for severe PTSD. 80% of the patients had a noticeable benefit, and a full 60% no longer had the diagnosis of PTSD. Compare this to conventional SSRI and therapy that has proven to have little long-term success.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are now research-validated “mystical experience scales” (e.g. the MEQ-30) to quantify the depth of experience on psychedelic medicine. The traits of “openness” and “connectedness”, and the intensity of “self-transcendent experiences” are regularly reported as quantifiable results in mainstream journals.
Psychedelic medicines could not have come at a better time. A stunning article published in April, 2022 by Dr. Omar Almohammed in the journal PLoS One, and based on a review of a massive U.S. database, reported that SSRI antidepressants (like Prozac and Paxil), the mainstay of pharmaceutical treatment of depression, do not improve quality of life.
With ground-breaking new research on MDMA, ketamine, psilocybin and others being published every month, it is easy to enter into a therapeutic “gold rush” attitude and lose track of the bigger picture—that what we are talking about here is much bigger than just psychedelic medicines. The amazing results are coming from many unrelated medicines, each working on very different sets of neural pathways and receptors. So, why do they all work? What do they have in common?
This is why I am pioneering the modality of Biodelics, that includes the category of psychedelics and plant medicine, but is far more comprehensive than that, and also includes the study and practice of the arts and science of self-generated mystic states. It is not psychedelic medicines themselves that are the secret to our healing, it is our biodelic capacity that is intrinsic within us. Psychedelic medicines activate our innate ancient psychedelic pathways, but so do many other time-honored practices and processes that generate altered states of consciousness, and that our biology and physiology is wired to experience.
Women in particular have been recognized by Elder cultures as having this innate biodelic capacity, especially in moments of rites of passage, such as menstruation, childbirth and breastfeeding and menopause, which are deeply interconnected to the activation of our psychedelic and biodelic pathways. The feminine body, in its lunar cycles, holds powerful biodelic magic.
Mainstream media is framing the conversation solely in terms of psychedelic medicines, because it is easy. It is easy to see (and study) how psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, DMT, LSD and others cause such profound effects in our consciousness, and outperform conventional medical treatments. But why do they? Because they plug directly into, and activate the innate psychedelic systems within us. There is much less money and attention directed to our natural biodelia or the innate feminine psychedelic experiences, and subtle and nuanced spiritual states that can’t be easily replicated and put into a pill or therapy.
Billions of research dollars have already been invested in the search for patentable psychedelic medicines. Every big-name academic research institution now has a center for psychedelic medicine: the Harvard-Mass General Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics, the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research, Imperial College of London's Centre for Psychedelic Research, Duke University Center for Integrated Psychedelic Science, and on and on.
In a 2021 paper published in the journal Neuron, Yale University researcher Alex Kwan, Ph.D. showed that psilocybin mushrooms rewire the brains of depressed patients, profoundly increasing the size and number of neuronal connections.5 This is a rare and astonishing finding. These levels of neural re-wiring are normally only possible in young children. As a result of this degree of neural plasticity, an adult can, for example, easily acquire perfect musical pitch.6
“From a mental health perspective, what neuroscientists are discovering is that when we enter into non-ordinary states, we gain access to unprecedented levels of neuroplasticity—the ability to rewrite old trauma programs.”
What they are not talking about is that this is a form of time-magic, where we can open up and re-encode memory loops from childhood, or memory traces that have been epigenetically inherited from our family systems and ancestors. And, beyond that, what they are not saying is that this path will re-ignite the ancient gnosis that spirit and magic are imbued into all of life, the living reality of bio-animism.
The implications are vast, from emotional and mental healing, to expanded creativity, to shifting your "vibe or frequency", to improved health and vitality, to your ability to access the magic of your own biology, to interspecies communication with the natural world, and to navigating the deeper, synchronistic, "quantum" layers of reality.
Mastering these inner psychedelic technologies will be 100% necessary for humanity to go forward as a species in this era of unprecedented cultural and ecological change. It will be a part of all inspired healing, business, arts, agriculture, and more—extending into every domain of life. The solutions for the world issues we are facing will be non-ordinary and “magical”.
Sacred Science - Embracing a Revolution in Healing
Beyond the narrative that psychedelics are the emerging gold standard in trauma healing (for those with the right certificates), we must step back and allow a larger vision to emerge and speak to us, from the soul of the earth itself. We can’t afford to stand on the sidelines on this issue, because there is an incredible opportunity to expand into a new future of how we hold the human experience. Not as linear and limited—but as biodelic—revealing that we have a quantum biology entangled in a quantum ecology. In reality we are all magicians; our biology is hardwired for mystical “quantum change experiences”.
The oncoming revolution is not something new for indigenous and spiritual traditions, but what is utterly new—and incredible to see—is that science is about to accidentally prove magic is real. And in doing so, let the genie out of bottle.
What we are really talking about is a revolution in understanding the healing power of expanded, "non-ordinary" states of consciousness. Yes, this can come from psychedelic medicines, but we can access it just as easily through many other means, with a long and established history in every indigenous, magical and alchemical culture. This is what the druids taught, the wise women (witches) taught, the alchemists, the Mystery Schools, the gnostics, the ancient Taoists, the San peoples of South Africa. These are the technologies that inspired the shamanistic paleolithic cave paintings across the world. This is what living indigenous traditions still teach across the Americas, Aboriginal Australia and beyond. The reality is, that shamans are also “scientists” of sorts. There is an underpinning of incredible biological and ecological gnosis in their magic.
For example, the Ayahuasca brew consists of a combination of two different plants, each with a unique but critical active ingredient, amongst thousands of different plant species in the Amazon. It only works when both plants are present and prepared in specific ways. How did indigenous shamans discover this? Coming to this knowledge would involve a scientific understanding of the human digestive and nervous system, and biochemical interactions, usually only associated with medical doctors in the modern world, but which the Ayahuasca shamans say was taught to them “by the plants”.
Psychedelic experiences are “gateway moments” that introduces us to our own Biodelic capacities. In my own journey, I was forever touched and changed by my meeting with the mushroom teachers, but it was the Biodelic arts of breathwork, movement, circadian alchemy and psychic journeying that eventually called me deeper into the path of transformation.
My “psyche-delic” breakthrough came after an intensive 6-month period of daily breathwork, in the lineage of Wilhelm Reich MD, which mimics the breathing sequences babies make in order to regulate their nervous system. This inspired me to develop Biodelic Breathwork, which is unique because it also activates our circadian, elemental and somatic capacities.
“This is why I call it the 'biodelic revolution', as we begin to understand the innate psychedelic nature of our own biology, the molecules and neural pathways of non-ordinary consciousness hardwired into our neural circuitry. Our body is biodelic.”
When we look at the format of the mystery schools, one macro-dose psychedelic ceremony such as rebirth rites in Egypt or Eleusis was prepared for by a strict regimen of daily biodelic practice over the year, so that the magical biology of the participant was fully initiated and grounded before the ceremony. Biodelics is a continuum of interconnection and courtship.
The new science is proving that quantum bio-magic exists and that it operates through these innate psychedelic pathways within us. This bio-intelligence is ancient and innately wired into even the smallest detail of our biology and the greater ecology we belong to. We are a web with many weavers. These abilities are what the rishis called “siddhis” and what the druids, shamans and witches were courting with their magic. It is our responsibility to acknowledge this gift and use it wisely.
It is no coincidence that our psychedelic pathways are opening again at this time, bringing us into a renaissance of healing.
Biodelics is an exciting new pathway, at the intersection of science, soma, ceremony and magic (psychobiology), which includes the healing potential of plant psychedelia, but expands out into a greater vision of our own natural neuro-biological capacity to regenerate, through practices and experiences that have been called “magical” by our Elder cultures, but which are very real.
Writing this, I remember the wisdom, grief and hope of my original “biodelic” mentor, Ida Pedanda. He was one of the last great poet-priests of Bali, handwriting all his teachings in elaborate calligraphy on natural parchments. After the influx of tourism to Bali beginning in the 70’s, he knew that his way of life and the old world was dying, as the young people turned to new gods.
He revered an old way of beauty, of living inside a sacred mandala, weaving yourself into the natural order of life, inhabiting time spirals, patterns and cycles through a ritual calendar of offering to the landscape. Some of this landscape you could see with your eyes, and some was a landscape that could not be seen with ordinary eyes. His deepest wish was that this world of beauty would reflower, and that this magic would be remembered again by younger generations, and the world would heal.
- Robin L. Carhart-Harris, et al. "Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin." PNAS. January 23, 2012. 109 (6) 2138-2143. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.111959810
- Andrea Zaccaro, et al. "Neural Correlates of Non-ordinary States of Consciousness in Pranayama Practitioners: The Role of Slow Nasal Breathing". Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. 2022 Mar 21;16:803904. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2022.803904
- Sam Gandy, et al. "Psychedelics as potential catalysts of scientific creativity and insight." Drug Science, Policy and Law. 2022;8. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/20503245221097649
- Roland R Griffiths. "Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors." Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2018 Jan;32(1):49-69. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881117731279; Robin L. Carhart-Harris, et al. "Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms." Scientific Reports. Vol 7, Article number: 13187 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-13282-7
- Bill Hathaway. "Psychedelic spurs growth of neural connections lost in depression." Yale News. July 5, 2021. https://news.yale.edu/2021/07/05/psychedelic-spurs-growth-neural-connections-lost-depression. Accessed Nov 7, 2022; Ling-Xiao Shao, et al. "Psilocybin induces rapid and persistent growth of dendritic spines in frontal cortex in vivo." Neuron. 2021 Aug 18;109(16):2535-2544.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2021.06.008
- Colin Schultz. "This Drug Turns Back Time in Your Brain, Until, Like a Kid, You Can Learn New Skills." Smithsonian Magazine. January 10, 2014. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/drug-puts-your-brain-child-developmental-state-helps-you-learn-new-skills-180949320/. Accessed Nov 7, 2022.