Visionary Plant Consciousness & Psychedelics

Explore this dynamic new Bioneers media series

Twenty-nine years in the making, this compilation offers some of the most compelling information available about the ability of plants to affect the human mind, including insights from Kat Harrison, Terence McKenna, Dr. Andrew Weil, Michael Pollan and more. We’re thrilled to be able to offer many voices and perspectives at a time when this material is in especially high demand.

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This eye-opening media collection of dynamic talks and panel discussions from the Bioneers Conference archive offers an expansive view of the power of sacred vision-inducing and consciousness-altering plants and other “psychedelic” (“mind manifesting”) substances. Since the 1991 Bioneers Conference, many of the luminaries in this field have explored this controversial area: the mysteries of plant intelligence and of consciousness itself. We’ll be expanding this online collection ongoing with new material. Michael Pollan will keynote at Bioneers 2018 on his new book: “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.”

At this moment of a historic renaissance of serious research into the science and healing powers of psychedelics – a time when the popular use of psychedelics in the U.S. today is as big as it was during its ‘60s heyday – this collection features many of the leading figures in the field: the late Terence McKenna, Dr. Andrew Weil, Michael Pollan, Wade Davis, Paul Stamets, Frances Huxley, Jeffrey Bronfman, Katsi Cook and Kat Harrison. They are ethnobotanists, anthropologists, medical researchers, activists, writers, gardeners, artists, and cultural and spiritual figures.

These remarkable talks cover a wide spectrum: the emerging science, the use of psychedelics as healing agents, and their socio-cultural impacts in the modern West. Others focus on the use of sacred plants in certain traditional First Nations’ cultures and the links between Indigenous worldviews and contemporary ecological consciousness, where people often report deep biophilic experiences of the natural world and nature’s intelligence.

Check out the popular Bioneers anthology book Visionary Plant Consciousness, edited by J.P. Harpignies

These substances have had a powerful and long-lasting influence on our culture’s music, literature, art, fashions and technology (the cyber revolution’s origins are awash in LSD). However, these influences aren’t uniformly positive or free of risks, excess, and folly, and these experiences need to be approached with respect, caution, guidance and care.

At this moment of dramatically renewed interest in the curative potential of psychedelics and promising clinical trials and research projects, the release of this treasure trove from our archives is especially timely. We hope you find this material as inspiring and provocative as we do.


Visionary Plants, Psychedelic Experiences
and Human Cultures

Michael Pollan – Psychedelics and How to Change Your Mind

Bestselling author of landmark books that have challenged our fundamental civilizational assumptions, such as “The Botany of Desire” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, Michael Pollan once again bravely ventures where angels fear to tread. His new book “How To Change Your Mind” surveys the highly controversial terrain of the renaissance of both the science and popular usage of psychedelic substances. As one of our most brilliant and clear-eyed explorers of such topics as plant intelligence and how we feed ourselves, Michael will share his luminous insights from what began as investigative reportage and became a very personal interior journey into the mystery of consciousness and the nature of spirituality at this perilous moment when only a shift in human consciousness can alter the deadly trajectory of our societies. This speech was given at the 2018 Bioneers Conference. (2018)


Plant Sacraments and the Mind of Nature

Can visionary plants help people access the intelligence in nature—the “mind of nature”— that we must learn to understand in order to supersede our ecologically destructive habits? Hosted by J.P. Harpignies, Bioneers Associate Producer. With: Jeffrey Bronfman, founding member of the União do Vegetal church of the United States; Paul Stamets, master mycologist; Katsi Cook, renowned Mohawk midwife and environmental activist. (2014)



The Botanical Dimension of Our Evolutionary Next Steps

The use of plants as food, medicine and construction material for human habitat is apparent to all, but the essential role certain plants play in human spiritual evolution is not well understood. Jeffrey Bronfman, an environmentalist, educator, founding member of Bioneers and leading figure in the U.S. branch of the Uniao do Vegetal Church, has encountered the use of plants within numerous spiritual, ceremonial and religious contexts throughout the Western Hemisphere. He explores the vital role certain plants can play in the development of human awareness at this critical moment in the state of the biosphere and our evolution as human beings. (2014)



Drug War, Drug Peace

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and until recently Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the failed “War on Drugs” and its extreme racial injustices, social harms and costs, delivered a passionate talk on the profound racism and social damage of the war on drugs. (2012)


(Council of Indigenous Grandmothers)

Indigenous Visionary Plant Traditions

First Peoples have long used key sacred plants as powerful healing tools and to communicate with the “mind of nature.” In this truly unique session Bioneers associate producer and editor of Visionary Plant Consciousness J.P. Harpignies and ethnobotanist/artist Kat Harrison hosted deeply experienced practitioners of sacred plant traditions from the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, including Mazatec Elder Julieta Casimiro; Maria Alice Campos Freire, a Madrinha in Brazil’s Santo Daime Church; traditional Cheyenne dance leader, sculptress and writer Margaret Behan Red Spider Woman; and Bernadette Rebienot, Omyene healer and master of the lboga Bwiti Rite. (2007)

(Michael Pollan)

Plants and Humans: Who’s Domesticating Whom?

The brilliant, award-winning contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Journalism professor and best-selling writer Michael Pollan, author most recently (May 2018) of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, had a fascinating conversation back in 2001 with renowned anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis on the co-evolution of people and plants. Michael explained the importance of gardening to human evolution and Wade shared his insights into the centrality of plants in cultures from the jungles of Borneo to the secret “zombifying” herbal mixtures of Haiti. (2001)

(John Mohawk)

Shamans through Time: Tricksters, Healers, Voodoo Priests and Anthropologists

With the illustrious anthropologist Francis Huxley of the renowned Huxley clan; a leading figure in Native American and American Studies, the late, beloved professor John Mohawk; and groundbreaking anthropological thinker and author Jeremy Narby. Practices by different indigenous people around the world were labeled “shamanism” by anthropologists and dismissed as irrational superstition, but in the 20th Century cultural observers began to see shamans in a new light, as creators of meaning. Are science and shamanism compatible? Is indigenous knowledge safe for a modern, secular world? (2002)

Women and Entheogens

The worlds of psychedelic research and culture have historically been heavily male, and the stories of some of the great women pioneers in these domains have not received the attention they deserve. This historic panel discussion brought together some of the most extraordinary women who have contributed to this field in their own very diverse ways. The intrepid ethnobotanist, artist and co-founder of Botanical Dimensions, Kat Harrison was joined by the legendary Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia, a key figure in the Merry Pranksters and former wife of the late Grateful Dead guitarist, Jerry Garcia; Annie Oak, founder of the Women’s Visionary Congress; and family nurse midwife with decades of experience, Mariavittoria Mangini, Ph.D. (2009)


(Terence McKenna)

Psychedelic Empowerment and the Environmental Crisis: Reawakening Our Connection to the Gaian Mind

The late Terence McKenna was one of the most extraordinary personalities ever associated with visionary plants. One of the most gifted orators of the late 20th Century, he was a fascinatingly paradoxical figure: an absolutely charming but somewhat misanthropic mystic, a blindingly erudite genius who never achieved mainstream recognition, and a down-to-earth guy who advanced a range of astonishing prophetic scenarios. He brought verve and excitement to this field, and, since his tragic death in 2000, things have never been quite the same. Quite simply put, there will never be another like him. In this 1993 talk he initially delved into what was for him not his usual area of primary focus—our planetary environmental crisis, but in the end, Terence linked, in his inimitable voice, the fate of the biosphere to visionary plant use. Because time is so short, he argued, we need radically powerful means to communicate with the intelligence of the natural world because there has never been a time when hearing what that intelligence is trying to communicate has been more crucial, and sacred plants with long histories of shamanic use are, he argued, while not free of risks, the best tools for that job. (1993)


The Varieties of Psychedelic Experiences

Shamanic botanical traditions and modern reinventions propose that certain plants may offer people a direct line to a profound ecological intelligence. Hosted by Bioneers Associate Producer J.P. Harpignies, editor of Visionary Plant Consciousness; with ethnobotanist, artist and plant-person extraordinaire Kat Harrison; CODEPINK co-founder, and board member of the Drug Policy Alliance, Jodie Evans; and Erik Davis, a scholar of spiritual subcultures, author of several classics, including Techgnosis, Nomad Codes, and The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscapes. (2006)


Shamanic Plant Messengers and the Fate of the Earth

In this fascinating conversation, author and anthropologist Wade Davis and ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison delve into the fascinating human relationship to consciousness altering plants, delving into the use of coffee, cacao, peyote, ayahuasca, and psilocybin by ancient and contemporary peoples, and the relevance these relationships may have for current human predicaments. (2001)

Jeremy Narby and Francis Huxley Interview

Bioneers Radio Host Neil Harvey in conversation with anthropologists Francis Huxley and Jeremy Narby. (2002)

(Florencio Siquera de Carvalho, Marcellus Bear Heart Williams, Andrew Weil)

Plant Messengers – (Coming Soon)

This 1992 gathering must be one of the most diverse panels ever assembled to discuss consciousness-modifying plant use. It brought together the world-famous pioneer of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, who also has a long-term interest in sacred plant use, having studied botany at Harvard under the legendary Richard Evans Schultes; Dr. Charles Grob, one of the few medical researchers legally pursuing studies on hallucinogens at the time and a pioneer in that field; the late Marcellus Bear Heart Williams, a medicine man and representative of the Native American Church; Dr. Edison Saraiva and Florencio Siquera de Carvalho, two of the first representatives from the Brazilian União do Vegetal Church (which uses ayahuasca as a sacrament) to visit the United States; ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison, and ethno-pharmacologist Dennis McKenna. (1992)

Plant Spirit – (Coming Soon)

An enlightening panel on consciousness-expanding plants with ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison, master mycologist Paul Stamets, Jane Straight, a plant-woman extraordinaire, and the late poet/botanist Dale Pendell, author of the remarkable Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons and Herbcraft, and the companion volume Pharmako/Gnosis. (1997)

Michael Pollan will be joining an exciting group of thought leaders
and visionaries as a keynote speaker at Bioneers 2018. In his presentation,
he’ll discuss the research behind his latest book on psychedelics.
Register to attend

The Medical and Healing Potential of Psychedelics

(Philip Wolfson)

The Healing Potential of Psychedelics: Breakthroughs in Research

After decades of repression and demonization of these substances, research trials around the country have been achieving remarkable results that validate the profound healing potential of psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA. Mounting evidence suggests they can positively address such varied conditions as end-of-life anxiety, PTSD, and cluster headaches. Hosted by J.P. Harpignies, Bioneers Conference Associate Producer. With: Robert Barnhart, filmmaker of A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin; Philip Wolfson, M.D., a leading MDMA researcher; and Mitch Schultz, director of the film DMT: The Spirit Molecule. (2015)

(Amy Emerson)

The Healing Potential of Cannabidiol, MDMA and Entheogens

Martin Lee, Director of Project CBD, a cannabis science information service, and renowned author of Acid Dreams and Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific; Amy Emerson, Director of Clinical Research at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS); and Ralph Metzner, legendary psychedelic research pioneer; share their insights into the state of knowledge about the potential curative properties of psychedelic substances.(2013)


The Cutting Edge of Psychedelics Research

Since the 1960s, it had, until recently, been very difficult to get approval for serious research into “mind-manifesting” plants and drugs, although many believe these unique substances have great potential for social good. Leading figures in the field describe that potential and the status of current research. Hosted by ethnobotanist / artist and founder of Botanical Dimensions Kat Harrison. With: Ralph Metzner, legendary psychedelic research pioneer; Charles Grob, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine; Mariavittoria Mangini, Ph.D., whose research focuses on the history and impact of psychedelics; and Alicia Danforth, a researcher working on experiments using psilocybin to treat anxiety in patients with Stage IV cancer. (2010)


(Rick Doblin)

Studying the Healing Potential of Psychedelics

Hosted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). New research is providing a provocative look at the healing potential of certain psychedelic substances, possibly yielding a scientific foundation for re-evaluating public policies of prohibition and repression. With Ralph Metzner, consciousness explorer whose groundbreaking books include The Psychedelic Experience and Green Psychology; Rick Doblin, MAPS founder/President; and Valerie Mojeiko, a MAPS analyst of the healing potentials of MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, lbogaine and other psychedelics. (2008)


Michael Pollan will be joining an exciting group of thought leaders
and visionaries as a keynote speaker at Bioneers 2018. In his presentation,
he’ll discuss the research behind his latest book on psychedelics.
Register to attend

Drug Politics and Policy


Drug War, Drug Peace

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and until recently Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the failed “War on Drugs” and its extreme racial injustices, social harms and costs, delivered a passionate talk on the profound racism and social damage of the war on drugs.



Busting the Drug War: The Dawn of Drug Policy Reform

Ethan Nadelmann, the nation’s leading crusader against the War on Drugs, founder and at the time Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading drug policy reform organization, traces the hidden history of drugs laws, which are intimately connected with racism and the political exploitation of people’s fears. He offered a set of practical and effective policy reforms that have subsequently begun to be adopted by many states and communities. (2010)


(Jeffrey Bronfman, Jeremy Narby, J.P. Harpignies)

The Politics of Psychoactive Plants: Religious Freedom, Shamanism and Sacred Plants

Psychoactive plants are at the heart of many traditional and Indigenous spiritual and religious traditions, yet many have been outlawed or severely restricted. How does society determine religious freedom? With author/anthropologist Jeremy Narby on Amazonian shamanic knowledge; and Jeffrey Bronfman, the U.S. legal and spiritual representative of Brazil’s União do Vegetal (UDV) Church, whose legal victories for its U.S. use of ayahuasca took it to victory in the Supreme Court; moderated by Bioneers’ J.P. Harpignies.



Michael Pollan will be joining an exciting group of thought leaders
and visionaries as a keynote speaker at Bioneers 2018. In his presentation,
he’ll discuss the research behind his latest book on psychedelics.
Register to attend

Intelligence in Nature and More


Intelligence in Nature: Coming Full Circle

What do octopuses, bees, plants and slime molds have in common with human beings? For one thing, they exhibit the ability to solve problems and make decisions. Author and anthropologist Jeremy Narby reveals his astonishing investigations into what cutting edge science is revealing about the profound intelligence active throughout nature. After all, how could people be intelligent if the nature that created us were not even more intelligent? (2007)


Intelligence in Nature: A Predator’s Inquiry

How can “lowly” slime molds find the shortest route through a maze to a food source every time? Swiss-based Canadian anthropologist, Amazonian indigenous land-rights activist and author of Intelligence in Nature and The Cosmic Serpent Jeremy Narby recently traveled the world to meet shamans and scientists to probe what they understand about the intelligence present in all life forms. He explores how humanity can learn from nature in our own search for a sustainable way of life. (2005)


Report from the Underground

Paul Stamets, the visionary biologist, mycologist and author of many books, including Mycelium Running, reveals astonishing evidence of how nature’s solutions surpass our conception of what’s possible to radically restore ecosystems and human health. “I believe in the natural intelligence of this planet. And if I learned anything in the past several years, it’s that that precept that I have adopted has led me to some astonishing breakthrough discoveries.” (2001)



Light at the Edge of the World

Author and anthropologist Wade Davis showcases other ways of living and thinking through stunning photographs and personal stories from his world travels, highlighting the beauty and importance of cultural and biological diversity. (2001)

(Ales Grey)

The World Spirit Awaits Its Portrait – (Coming Soon)

This presentation by one of the world’s most beloved visionary and sacred artists, Alex Grey, who has been deeply courageous in acknowledging his debt to psychedelics of all stripes in helping him access deeper realities, took the audience on a journey through a whole period of his career, replete with fascinating stories of his performance antics, his evolving quest for universal spiritual truths, and the emergence of his most famous body of work, the extraordinary Sacred Mirror series, one of the most important artistic achievements of our generation. Alex offers a living example of the successful integration of visionary information into an exalted human artistic enterprise. (2003)


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