045: Stealing Fire Part 1 by Joe

This is Entheogen. Elevate the Conversation.

Today is November 5, 2017, and we are discussing Stealing Fire, a book by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal.

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In more contemporary terms, the Eleusinian Mysteries were an elaborate nine-day ritual designed to strip away standard frames of reference, profoundly alter consciousness, and unlock a heightened level of insight. Specifically, the mysteries combined a number of state-changing techniques—fasting, singing, dancing, drumming, costumes, dramatic storytelling, physical exhaustion, and kykeon (the substance Alcibiades stole for his party)—to induce a cathartic experience of death, rebirth, and “divine inspiration.”

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann and Harvard-trained classicist Carl Ruck argued that the barley in kykeon might have been tainted with an ergot fungus. This same fungus generates lysergic acid (LSA), a precursor to the LSD that Hofmann famously synthesized in his Sandoz pharmaceutical lab. — Excerpt from Stealing Fire

Part One - The Case for Ecstasis

Chapter 1: What Is This Fire?
Chapter 2: Why It Matters
Chapter 3: Why We Missed It

“The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.” —David Foster Wallace

  • Entheogen’s take on the book: “We like it.”
  • Debate on how to pronounce the word ecstasis
  • Why does “fire” need to be stolen? Why does access to altered states need to be banned?
  • How the Navy SEALs train for dynamic subordination, another kind of altered state
  • Partying with Eric Schmidt at Burning Man
  • Finding “flow” and why it matters
  • Signature characteristics of ecstasis: selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness, richness (STER)
  • An examining of the word “pale”
  • The “state sanctioned triad” of mind altering substances: caffeine, nicotine, alcohol -- what makes these special? What ends does accepting these particular substances serve?
  • The institutions that create / endorse stigma: the church and the state
  • Are humans already cyborgs? What is truly “unnatural” anyway? If humans are beings of nature, is anything that humans create also natural?
  • How altered states are directly related to evolution of humans as well as certain plants and other animals (like French Bulldogs)
  • The current and historical balance of individualism vs. collectivism, and its impact on the proliferation and acceptance of certain types of altered states

020: Interview with Earth and Fire Erowid, second half by Joe

This is Entheogen. Talk about tools for generating the divine within.

Today is December 9, 2015 and we are very excited to feature a special interview. This is the second half.

It is our great pleasure and honor to welcome Earth and Fire Erowid!


  • Kevin and Earth reminisce about Burning Man 2007, the “Eclipse/Man-Burn-Early Year”

  • What was Burning Man like in 1995?

  • Fire tells the story of a Burning Man purist in 1995 who had stopped going since there were people there she didn’t know

  • “radical self-reliance” and community reliance

  • Earth asks Kevin: “did you carry out your own poop?”

  • When they moved to California in 1994, Earth worked remotely for his dad’s tech company; what was working remotely like in 1994?

  • Earth started New College in Sarasota, FL, the same year Rick Doblin graduated; Fire joined the next year. (Rick’s wild time at New College in the ‘80’s described in Acid Test by Tom Shroder)

  • Earth and Fire discuss their friendship with Sasha and Ann Shulgin and the famous Friday night dinners

  • Erowid becoming an educational nonprofit in 2008

  • Erowid’s Library

Support Erowid!

And be sure to catch the first half of the interview.

019: Interview with Earth and Fire Erowid, first half by Joe

This is Entheogen. Talk about tools for generating the divine within.

Today is December 9, 2015 and we are very excited to feature a special interview. This is the first half.

It is our great pleasure and honor to welcome Earth and Fire Erowid!

For context, Joe reads a quote from Michael Horowitz, personal archivist for Timothy Leary:

“Powerful descriptive writing about personal drug experiences mimics the effects of the drugs themselves. Reading Aleister Crowley on how hashish aided his meditation, or Mezz Mezzrow on playing in a jazz band on marijuana, or Gordon and Valentina Wasson’s otherworldly mushroom journey in a curandera’s hut in Mexico, or Anais Nin describing how LSD turned her body into liquid gold can be mildly psychoactive in itself. Especially so if you’d had your own prior experiences. We also collected books and studied the rituals of the peyote and mushroom cults, the history of the opium wars and laughing gas parties. We learned that drug literature is endless, and drug-taking was one of the earliest and most common activities of mankind.” - Michael Horowitz, from an interview about the Tim Leary Archives


  • What role did the “mildly psychoactive” effect Horowitz attributed to some drug literature play in the founding of Erowid?
  • Feeling it before taking it – hours (or days) before
  • Imagination, memory, DMT, neurotransmitters, hallucinations
  • lucid dreaming
  • Oneirogens (dream generators); list of Oneirogenic substances on Wikipedia
  • dream pillows
  • Calea zacatechichi (the "dream herb")
  • the physical expression of one’s intention, e.g. the taking of a substance, can be just as powerful as the substance itself
  • What is it like having a New Yorker reporter in your home for three days?
  • Reflecting on Emily Witt’s profile of Erowid from inside the mirrored bubble
  • Kevin preaches: “drug education about marijuana was the gateway drug itself”
  • What could responsible drug education in school look like? Abstinence, fear-based approaches are the norm. What could be the alternatives for young people?
  • Earth introduces the concept of electroceuticals
  • Brad is hopeful about the psychedelic research renaissance
  • Special thanks to Earth and Fire Erowid for their tireless efforts for over 20 years, and huge thanks to Erowid’s noble crew
  • Erowid Experience Vaults: edited, curated alternative to “wild west” internet forums like; other contemporaries:,
  • statistics about trip reports submitted, triaged, reviewed, and posted
  • Earth clarifies something in the New Yorker article: “we are in fact ‘the weirdos among the straights and the straights among the weirdos’.”
  • Fire live-edits the Entheogens page on Erowid to add LSD after our observation


  • Earth and Fire helped 17 year-old Brad avoid jail time
  • Earth and Fire helped Kevin get through high school and college
  • Joe got Erowid blocked from the network at his corporate job


015: Burning Man by Joe

This is Entheogen. We talk about tools for generating the divine within. It's September 28, 2015. We're talking about Burning Man.

On the first anniversary of Entheogen, to kick off Season 2, we decide to discuss the cultural phenomenon of Burning Man, where the show was conceived.

  • Kevin wonders if setting the stage for a more intentional journey – gathering a group, making a circle, and expressing intentions collectively – empowered him to go further this time
  • Kevin shares the itinerary of his (initially) "hard trip" at Burning Man – well into the spiritual realm, dosage-wise – revisiting and redeeming the journey he discussed in Entheogen 004: Bad Trips, and transcending anxiety and fear to experience bliss
  • The ground as a point of reference: "grounding"
  • Brad and Kevin re-play their Burning Man 2015 experience in the video game tent at Center Camp – the simple controls belying the mind-fuck of "level two" joystick inversion and character mitosis
  • Brad reviews three more excellent talks by Meriana Dinkova at Burning Man 2015
  • Entheogen 006: Interview with Meriana Dinkova Navigating Altered States
  • The feeling/vibe of Burning Man
  • Decommodification
  • The importance of the crazy clothing aspect to Burning Man, a unifying force – "furs" as the eleventh principle
  • The 10 Principles of Burning Man

005: A Positive LSD Story – Tangible Benefits of Entheogens by Joe

Recorded on January 19th, 2015

This is Entheogen: three human beings discussing generating the divine within while still being human beings.  In this show we discuss tangle benefits of psychedelic use.  We open with one our favorite Bill Hicks bits.


   Francis Crick,  Cricked

   Francis Crick, Cricked

- Francis Crick, Nobel Prize-winning father of modern genetics, deduced the double-helix structure of DNA: may have been influenced by LSD.

- Kary Mullis, inventor of PCR, a scientific breakthrough that accelerated the sequencing of the human genome: "I found it to be a mind-opening experience. It was certainly much more important than any courses I ever took. [...] What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR?  I don't know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it."

- Steve Jobs: “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”

“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.” - Steve Jobs

Also: "Here's to the Crazy Ones"

Douglas Engelbart, early computer scientist, presenter of the Mother of All Demos, had "two LSD experiences."

- Kevin Herbert, early Cisco engineer: "When I'm on LSD and hearing something that's pure rhythm, it takes me to another world and into anther brain state where I've stopped thinking and started knowing.  It must be changing something about the internal communication in my brain."


Interview with Patrick Lundborg: 60’s psych & garage guru, psychedelic culture scholar and author of brilliant „Psychedelia” and „Acid Archives” books, discussed in Entheogen #003

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer by John Markoff

"Shaking one's snow globe" with LSD: Entheogen 002: Psychedelic Research Renaissance, Part 2