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Burning Time: Begoggled in the Mega-Vibe @ Burning Man by Graham St John

photo by Kyle Hailey

Photo: Kyle Hailey

1 > Metaraving: Bright Lights and Sweet Spots

Burning Man, the annual festival held on the vast canvas of an ancient lake bed (called the "playa") in the Black Rock Desert, northwestern Nevada. As an unparalleled universe of radical self-expression and non-dogmatic ritual initiated on San Francisco’s Baker Beach by Larry Harvey and Jerry James in 1986, Burning Man would become, following its transition to the Black Rock Desert in 1990, an outlandish pilgrimage center for alternative art and performance communities in the Bay Area, the West Coast, across the US, and around the world. The event is backed by decades of Californian freaklore. In his discussion of the “cults of Burning Man”, Erik Davis (2005: 17) outlines “cultural patterns” manifesting in this “promiscuous carnival of souls, a metaphysical fleamarket, a demolition derby of reality constructs colliding in a parched void”. Refractions of Californian spiritual counterculture more generally, these milieus of participant gravitation—the Cult of Experience, the Cult of Intoxicants, the Cult of Flicker, the Cult of Juxtapose, and the Cult of Meaningless Chaos—are cultures of performance and praxis overlapping with on-site vibe tribes, and their variant styles.

True Conversations: An interview with Dennis McKenna> by Rak Razam



Dennis McKenna is one of the leading figures in the global psychedelic and scientific communities investigating plant entheogens and indigenous plant medicines. He was involved with the “Hoasca Project” studying ayahuasca usage by members of the Church de Vegetal and recently issued the manifesto “Ayahuasca and Human Destiny”. Along with his late brother Terence, Dennis co-wrote the book “The Invisible Landscape” which revealed their psychedelically influenced insights into the nature of reality and spacetime they received during “The experiment at La Cholerra” in South America in 1971 (later recounted in Terence’s book “True Hallucinations”). Here, he talks at length about what happened at La Cholerra and how that influenced his later work with ayahuasca.

Rak> Dennis you received your doctorate in 1984, so you’ve been studying plant entheogens for over twenty years now professionally. I’d like to backtrack just a bit to talk about how you got into the psychedelic and plant sacrament culture. In your brother Terence’s book “True Hallucinations” he details your adventures into Amazonian shamanism, could you tell us a bit about those times and how you and Terence began?

DENNIS> Right. [True Hallucinations] was Terence’s book but I was one of the main subjects in it. We wrote together a book in 1975 called “The Invisible Landscape” which we were co-authors on. That was an attempt to kind of lay out in scientific terms and make sense of our experiences at La Cholerra. But True Hallucinations was more like a novel version of that. The Invisible Landscape was like a pseudo-scientific screed in a way, and True Hallucinations was more like a travel novel of our adventures in the Amazon kind of thing.

Wind on Water> the Darpan interview

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'wind on water' art by Tim Parish

Darpan is a healer, musician, performance artist, and vision quest facilitator in the Northern Rivers area of NSW and probably Australia’s best-known authentic shaman. He was inspired to explore ayahuasca, the South American hallucinogenic vine by the late Terence McKenna and has devoted himself to learning the ways of this most potent spiritual activator and using its wisdom to heal and enlighten a wave of Western spiritual seekers. Undergrowth’s Kathleen Williamson, Rob Bruce and Des Tramacchi caught up with Darpan to discuss the burgeoning ayahuasca culture and what it means for a planetary re-connection…

Reefer Madness> by Rak Razam


In the classic 1936 propaganda movie 'Reefer Madness', a good young man is seduced into the ways of "marihuana… the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America", and descends into a nightmare of crime, rape, murder and eventually madness. According to the movie, now a cult classic on the stoner circuit, 'Marihuana is... [a] drug – a violent narcotic – an unspeakable scourge... ending often in incurable insanity." Well, at least they got the last bit right. Over seventy years since the first wave of marijuana demonising, the “incurable insanity” has well and truly set in with politicians worldwide, and shows no sign of abating. Around 39 per cent of our population are reported to have tried the devil's weed, and crop sales are worth an estimated $5-8 billion Australia-wide. With the clash between official rhetoric and the cultural experience as wide as ever, a fresh wave of ‘Reefer Madness’ is sweeping our nation, fuelled by stories of mind-bending ‘hydro’ cannabis and drug war clichés that hide deeper-seated issues.

The Rael World> by Rak Razam



So I call up the prophet Raël on Skype, talking to him over the internet in far-off Switzerland, where he’s staying in some chalet or something while he pushes ahead with his mission to preach the word of the aliens to save us from Armageddon – if, like, we live righteously and stuff, and give Raël the money to build an embassy for their arrival.

Raël’s assistant has the sweetest, sexy French voice. Her name is Li-Li. She sounds delectable, and if that’s really her avatar on the Skype dial screen she's a hot, caramel-skinned honey. If I was dialing up the Pope, or the Dalai Llama, or any other global religious leader it might be wrong to think lewd thoughts about their personal assistants, but this is Raël, man, ALL his personal assistants are gorgeous, and at the core of his religious teachings is a simple recipe of free-love and feelgood vibes. Like, if I was there in the chalet I’m sure he ‘d be offering me Li-Li and a one-way ticket to the mothership, he’s just that kinda guy. So don’t be so hard on him, y’know, I mean all people with just one name are a bit weird – Cher, Madonna, Prince, Raël, it comes with the fame, I guess, or the enlightenment.

Tasmania's Clean Green Future: Too Precious To Pulp? > documentary by Heidi Douglas

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Gunns Ltd’s proposed pulp mill will affect the future of all Tasmanian families. This film explains the environmental, economic and health impacts of the proposed pulp mill that Gunns, the Tasmanian State Government and the Federal Government have so far ignored.

Produced by Heidi Douglas

Adventures in Innerspace> by Erik Davis

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Let's say you're a buttoned-down organic-chemistry jockey at Merck. One day you tweak a molecule ripped off from a Peruvian native medicine, and you wind up with a powerfully psychoactive compound. Instead of squelching anxiety, instilling a reliable boner, or giving young minds that magic amphetamine edge, the drug helps you touch the hem of God -- or at least something a lot like the hem of God. At times it hurtles you into a blazing hieroglyphic phantasmagoria more sublime and gorgeously bizarre than anything on the demo reels of Hollywood FX shops. On other occasions it leads you to the lip of a fundamental insight into the dance of form and emptiness. And though later attempts to communicate your insight founder on the shoals of coherence, the experience still leaves you centered and convinced that ordinary life is fed by deeper springs.

The Empire of Crime by Alex Steffen

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EVOLVER > Daniel Pinchbeck interview > by Tim Boucher

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Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the leading voices in today’s psychedelic counter-culture, exploring the connections between psychedelics & shamanism and their importance in the modern era. Though he’s published feature articles in the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The Village Voice and is a regular columnist in Arthur magazine, it was his 2003 book, Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, which seems to have really given him a higher profile among those interested in alternative religion and spirituality.

Evolver illustration by Tim Parish

Over the Rainbow> by Rak Razam

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Friday morning, day one - "Hippies, hippies... they want to save the world but all they do is smoke pot and play frisbee!" – Eric Cartman, South Park

I wake to the sounds of a cluster of Japanese girls camped next door, their voices mixing with Spanish, German and thick Aussie accents. Renegade soundsystems pump out thumping electronic beats that fill the dusty air. The ever-present doof doof doof of the music is so ubiquitous you eventually forget it’s even there. We’ve run out of beer, but it was only a slab between three thirsty blokes and it should have been expected. All around us party crew are camped next to their vans and cars, an endless gypsy village covered in layers of dust. The camps touch upon each other in every direction, a vast, fractal tent city that folds in on itself like architectural origami. It reminds me of the way insects make their homes, of a hive consciousness. North American tipis and flags of all countries are mixed in with ancient symbols and psychedelic images. It looks like civilization after the fall, after the oil peaks and the power shortages kick in.

I’m here with my friends Matty from Byron and Kaptain Khaos from Paris and a slew of aging dancers that have come out of retirement to celebrate the 10th anniversary Rainbow Serpent Festival, a four day celebration of “soul and technology”, according to the organizers. Here in Australia the outdoor party scene has been flourishing for over a decade at bush ‘doofs’ (named after the bass beat of the electronic music), where ‘doofers’ revel in Trance music, community and enhanced states of mind. “Since the first gathering in 1998, Rainbow has become a popular annual get-together for thousands of like minded people,” says Frank Venuto, one of the festival’s founders. Rainbow Serpent is a landmark of the Global Trance music calendar, where semi-retired doofers like myself mix it up with the young turks of the dancefloor and the old hippies that can still shake it.

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