Altered Conference – Exploring Psychedelics and Altered States of Consciousness

What if there was a spell that could grant you everything you’ve ever wanted? What happens when you microdose with the famously dissociative plant extract Salvia divinorum? And how does it feel when you cross-pollinate psychedelics and BDSM? The psychotropic aficionados with the answers to these questions will be among the 35 psychedelic academics coming to drop jaws and bend minds at Altered Conference on 3-4 November 2017 at the Essentis Biohotel, Weiskopffstraße, Berlin. Will you be there?

Illustration by Uno Moralez

On the modishly jaded face of it, spending the weekend in an immersive whirl of presentations, rituals and workshops “exploring psychedelics and altered states of consciousness” sounds almost fabulously niche. But, from Silicon Valley hacks microdosing LSD to boost their creativity to worldwide media discussions on using psilocybin (the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms) as treatment for all manner of mental health conditions, psychedelics are being used in an eye-wateringly diverse range of contemporary contexts.

Just like what happened with veganism (and yoga, if we cast our minds back to the birth of Instagram in 2010), taking an interest in psychedelics is becoming almost tediously trendy. But, as some sheeple flock to the Netherlands to spend a weekend puking in a bucket in the name of having “done ayahuasca”, others are keeping a watchful eye on the roots of the entheogenic tendrils that are probing their way into mainstream consciousness.

“You going to Burning Man, doing a yoga pose half naked on the beach, changing your name to Ramana or refusing to work in an office was made possible by [a] combination of events and ideas,” explains the sociocultural theorist and podcaster to the stars Zach Leary. Namely, the entirety of the counterculture movement and the radicals chipping away at social norms in the 50s that lead to its birth.

Psychedelics may have been the “vital vitamin” of the 60s, but they’re just one thread in a tapestry of fearless experimentation and taboo-breaking. Luckily for those of us who missed the Big Bhang, it’s a tapestry which is still being stitched today.

Founders of Altered, Amit Elan and Dax Defranco

Zach will be touching down in Berlin to speak at Altered Conference this November. Among those who will be joining him are paranormal psychedelic experience expert David Luke, the occultist and contemporary chaos magician Julian Vayne and the astrologist, tattoo artist and energy healer Zoe Mercury. Like Zach, these dazzlingly disparate polymaths of the psychedelic diaspora are not only enabling our continued understanding of the rich history of psychedelic culture, but continuing to add to it.

And they’re doing so in myriad ways, from practicing modern witchcraft like Nikki Wyrd, to tracking ayahuasca on its journey from the jungle to the lab like the Reverend Danny Nemu, to blending psychedelics and psychotherapy like Lisa Wessing, to designing harm-reduction measures to accommodate today’s groundswell of educationally ill-equipped trippers, like the inimitable Ciara Sherlock.

“We want to mash up the psychonauts with the artists, the scientists with the witches, the shamanics with the political activists, and the clubbers with the researchers,” explains Amit Elan, co-curator of Altered. Directors Dax and Amit have spent years eking out the most weird and wonderful ways that psychedelics are touching people’s lives. Now, they invite you to meet the people making the magic.

“We can advance the dialogue regarding the political, queer, medicinal, psychological, creative, body-mind-spirit, and occult and ritualistic aspects, and mix them all together. Besides the talks workshops and rituals, there will also be artistic, performative and experiential activities like installations, virtual reality, and alternative (substance-less) sensory altering experiences.”

The chance to tap into new vistas of sexual empowerment spliced with BDSM in a workshop facilitated by the risk aware consensual kink activist Carita is just the beginning of the story. At Altered, you can look death in the face with the transcendental transformationalist Sam Gandy, dip a toe into virtual reality with the award-winning AI developer Bryan Duggan and feed your head with insights from the psychotropic anthropologist Giorgia Gaia.

Giorgia Gaia by Anne Annuss

Giorgia will be exploring the popular phenomenon of the “breakthrough”. What happens when we unlock the door to alternate realities with DMT and changa, and can ketamine bring us into this same hyperdimensional space?

“Where the weird things are,” says Giorgia, “the psy-paranormal investigator is.” Her research – observing and collecting users’ reports of transformative psychedelic experiences – has taken her, vicariously, past the brink of many a k-hole and into alternate realities.

Preparing to bring all the “weird things” to Altered and reveal something of this digital and celestial hyperspace, she finds herself “gazing at the horizon of a new journey in the realms of unconventional anthropological observations.”

According to Giorgia, ingesting mind-expanding molecules can present the chance to go further than simply traversing an alternate reality, and “to intentionally manipulate that space” in ways that transform our everyday lives, making us question the very nature of what reality is. Mind-bending enough? Not for Giorgia: “the horizons of psychedelic alchemy today are open and wide; there are so many more gates to cross and worlds to discover beyond this already exciting three-dimensional world.”

The Altered crew can’t give you a portal to another universe as a party favour, but if you want to learn the ropes – bondage, botanical or brain-power enhancing- you’re in luck:

There’ll be plenty of opportunities to take the magic home, including a pop-up book shop from the independent publisher the Psychedelic Press, and workshops will abound with topics ranging from Reiki healing to tantra. And, with an appearance from the world’s greatest expert on microdosing, Dr. Jim Fadiman, you’ll leave this two-day psychedelic extravaganza with your receptors tickled pink and a new understanding of urban shamanic chic. Grab your perceptions and let the academic alchemy and the boundary-breaking after-party do the rest: let’s get Altered.

Words by Rosalind Stone (Tweets: @RosalindSt0ne | writer/publicist for The Third Wave and the Psychedelic Press)

WHAT: Altered Conference
WHEN: ​ ​Friday​ ​3rd​ ​November​ ​-​ ​Saturday​ ​4th​ ​November
WHERE: Essentis​ ​Biohotel,​ ​Weiskopffstraße​ ​16-17,​ ​12459​ ​Berlin
WEB​ ​:​ ​​
FACEBOOK​-event​:​ ​​
TWITTER:​ ​@altered_conf

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