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Breaking Convention: exploring the evolution of psychedelics

The largest psychedelics conference in Europe will take place in April 2023.



A brief history of psychedelics

Breaking Convention is returning in 2023 to explore the latest groundbreaking psychedelic research and provide insights into law, politics, art, history and philosophy.

Breaking Convention 2023 will feature talks from more than 200 leading minds in the fields of psychedelic research, philosophy, mycology and more. 

Speakers include Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding, Paul Stamets, Carl Hart, Deborah Mash, Ben Sessa, Celia Morgan, Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes and Graham Hancock, among others.

See also  Global coalition launches to push for psilocybin rescheduling 

The three-day conference will feature workshops, awards, a museum, an art exhibition, installation and cinema programmes, as well as a blotter art auction and after parties.

Exploring psychedelics

A Breaking Convention 2022 panel discussion, ‘Clinics and Churches’, explored the use of psychedelics in both clinical and traditional settings – emphasising the need to protect the use of the compounds outside of medical settings.

Julian Vayne, ceremony holder and psychedelic advocate, joined the panel where thought leaders discussed the tension between researching psychedelics in a clinical setting and how to test indigenous or traditional knowledge.

“Just because something is traditional knowledge, indigenous, or just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s accurate,” said Vayne.

See also  First-ever psychedelics advert launches in UK

“Clinics might mean medical clinics or research environments, and churches may mean in a ceremonial or religious context. A lot of what is problematised when we talk about clinics, however, is not the clinics themselves, but the wider capitalist situation in which we find ourselves which applies to psychedelics, but frankly, applies to pens, books, clothing and everything else.

“We explored the way that capitalism is responding to the psychedelic story, and the clinics are a link to that because they’re within the licensed setting. In the clinical environment, it’s really the researchers who are in charge of the way everything is set up. By and large, they seem to do it very well. 

“Do we want doctors, nurses, clinicians to have access to these valuable medicines? Yes.”

Vayne highlights that the current model being developed in Oregon will enable people with training in psychedelic therapy to become licensed sitters, whether they are qualified psychiatrists or not.

“I’m working with organisations to author curricula that will meet the proposed criteria for people who are going to work as sitters in the state of Oregon, where, to some extent, if you have a licence, you will be able to provide that medicine for others either in the context of ceremony or clinical work,” said Vayne, who has been working with psilocybin for 30 years.

“The ability to be able to come into the Oregon protocol without being a clinician is one of the interesting things about it. I would be able to, without clinical background, sign up for a programme that takes me through all the criteria and then be able to utilise this medicine and get insurance.

“It ensures that the medicine doesn’t become purely owned by the medical profession as many medicines are – the struggle over ownership of medicine is really interesting. I think that the process in Oregon and the process of allowing thoughtful and intelligent access to these medicines for groups of people, which is not limited purely to either scientific researchers or medical practitioners, is really essential.

“When it comes to clinicians and researchers, I would be very pleased to hear them articulate that they were interested in having wider access to these substances, both for research purposes and for other purposes, too.”

Panel member, Natasja Pelgrom, Founder of Awaken The Medicine Within, added: “I do think there is an opportunity here. Psychedelic integration coaching is huge now. When I started it, there were maybe two people with articles on this. I had to scrape for information and figure it all out by myself. 

“I do believe that the art of space holding is something that is important – sacred circles or community where information is shared. I think those aspects are coming more and more back into our society.”

To find out more about this year’s discussions or to book your tickets, please visit:

Breaking Convention 2023 will take place on Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 April, 2023 at the University of Exeter.

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UK festival to explore psychedelic medicine



UK festival to explore psychedelic medicine
Image provided by Medicine Festival. Charlie Orellana - @raisedbyvolcanoes.

Returning for its fourth year, Medicine Festival is set to host some of the world’s leading psychedelic researchers alongside indigenous elders from across the globe.

Medicine Festival has established itself as the “alternative to the archetypal rock n’ roll hedonism” that is usually associated with festivals. Providing an alcohol and drug-free environment, the festival will feature talks, ceremonies, rituals and healing workshops – including panels on psychedelic medicine.

Co-Founder of Medicine Festival, Remi Olajoyegbe, commented: “With indigenous elders once again headlining our event, this year’s festival will be a Mecca for wellbeing, ceremony, world music, dance, sacred activism, nature connection, multicultural arts and a joyful celebration of diversity.

“Medicine is proud to be part of a growing global movement that is reigniting the ancient ways, reviving natural healing modalities, pioneering land-based technologies, bridging cultures and embracing the interconnectedness of all life as we strive to revive our planet at this critical time.”

Exploring plant medicine 

Alongside workshops on nature connection, permaculture, sound, tantra and sexuality and much more, the festival will see indigenous elders sharing thoughts and discussions, dance and song.

Ceremonies, rituals and healing workshops will be facilitated by the indigenous leaders, including lauded “Rockstar of the Forest” Ninawa Pai Da Mata, chief of the Huni Kuin tribe (Brazil), a gifted musician and shaman; Anthar Kharana from the Colombian tradition; Juan Carlos Taminchi from the Andean traditions (Peru); Christiana Aro-Harle from the Tuvan tradition (Finland); Tibetan monk, Tulku Lama Ahbay Rinpoche; and elders from the British Isles, such as Chris Park (Druidic tradition) and Annie Spencer.

All this will take place alongside discussions that feature psychedelic scientists from across the globe that are leaders in their field, including Darren Le Baron, Chris Timmermann, Dr Rosalind Watts, Leor Roseman, David Luke, Alexander Beiner, Rayyan Zaffar, among others. 

Image by Cecelia Fog.

Talks on psychedelic medicine, mushrooms and wellness include:

  • You Are A Mushroom Having A Human Experience. Talk + Q&A with Darren Le Baron.
  • The Brain and Altered States with Rayyan Zafar, David Erritzoe, Gregory Cooper, Maria Balaet, Rebecca Harding and Chris Timmerman.
  • From personal to collective: ayahuasca as a peace-making tool among Palestinians and Israelis with Leor Roseman.
  • The complexities of spiritual transformation: guru messiahs, spiritual narcissism and conspirituality with Mark Vernon, David Luke, Alexander Beiner, Jules Evans, Fleur Britten, Stefana Bosse and Jennifer Tessler.
  • What the Bleep is Healing Anyway? With Louis Weinstock and Sam Moyo.
  • The Medicine of Men’s Work with Michael Maisey, Peter Bennet, Leyth Hampshire, Alex Cottle, Lawrence Joye, Tony Riddle and Zak Avery.

An enlivening Wellbeing Programme will also host ecstatic dance legends Kareem Raihani (Amsterdam) and Mushina (Portugal), Movement Medicine maestro Ya’Acov Darling Khan, and offers a diverse spectrum of workshops and healing modalities – from yoga, meditation, breathwork and bodywork, to nutrition, forest bathing, reiki and massage.

Supporting indigenous communities 

As well as bringing community, entertainment and thought-provoking discussions, Medicine Festival is a C.I.C and not-for-profit organisation.

It holds the principle of reciprocity at its core, and its founding principle is that all profits each year go towards empowering indigenous peoples to preserve and protect their land, traditions and wisdom.  

Finally making a profit for the first time in 2022, Medicine has so far donated over £40,000 to selected charities like Survival International and Amazon Watch, and a variety of exciting projects across the globe, including a cultural restoration initiative for the Yawanawa tribe in Brazil and a programme providing education for Tibetan monks. 

“Four years in the making, we are delighted that the prayer of Medicine has finally become a reality,” says Zak Avery, Co-Director of Medicine Festival.

World music and family entertainment

The eclectic mix of music at this year’s event will encompass world music, folk, electronic dance and sacred songs from different global traditions. 

Headliners include Sam Garrett, Nessi Gomes, The Human Experience, K.O.G, Laboratorium Piesni, Fia, Ayla Nereo, Fanna Fi Allah, Awaré, Etherwood, DJ and climate activist El Buho and FaceSoul.

The Family area will offer games, creative activities, woodland adventures, storytelling and workshops for the youth in music making, bushcraft, foraging and sharing skills and inspiration for creating a healthier and more sustainable future.

Strolling through wild woodland, beautiful parkland and past tranquil lakes, you’ll encounter fantastical theatre, storytelling and comedy performances, thought-provoking film screenings and a colourful miscellany of walkabout performers, poets and fire jugglers.

Jenna Ansell, Managing Director of Medicine Festival, says: “We are excited to unveil our newly expanded 2023 event and hope you can join us to explore the myriad ways you can experience the medicine, and be the medicine, as we come together for this wondrous, ceremonial celebration of life.”

Medicine Festival 2023 is now sold out, but anyone wishing to attend is encouraged to join the waiting list and look out for ticket resales:

The event takes place at the Wasing Estate, Reading, Berkshire from 17 to 21 August, 2023.

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PSYCH Symposium: exploring psychedelic medicine



PSYCH Symposium: exploring psychedelic medicine

PSYCH Symposium: London 2023 brought together key stakeholders to explore the landscape of psychedelic medicine at the British Museum on Thursday, 6 July.

Featuring leading minds in psychedelic science and policy, alongside changemakers and patients, the event delved into the challenges and developments of the sector.

Panels, workshops and fireside chats explored areas of psychedelic healthcare from challenges in clinical development, trial designs and regulation, to the medicines’ applications in areas such as eating disorders, addiction and relationships. 

The event was opened with a keynote speech from Short Wave Pharma CEO Rivki Stern, who highlighted how the UK and Europe’s combination of tradition and innovation are defining the psychedelics industry, which is providing desperately needed innovation in the area of mental health. 

See also  PSYCH Symposium: exploring eating disorders and psychedelics

Stern commented: “It has been such an illuminating and thought-provoking event, and a great opportunity to reconnect with so many industry-leading figures. It is clear the industry is maturing with more activity and investment, but there is still a way to go before we can overcome the challenges that we face.”

Stephen Murphy, Founder of PSYCH Symposium, added: “Once more, PSYCH Symposium has been a resounding success. This is Europe’s leading event in psychedelic medicine, and we brought together key stakeholders to explore how we expedite the adoption of psychedelic medicine. 

See also  PSYCH Symposium: the future of psychedelic medicine in the EU

“This year, we highlighted some of the challenges facing the industry and looked at how to improve the investment and funding landscape. We sought to outline clear treatment and regulatory pathways for the industry as it seeks to evolve and ultimately deliver potentially life-changing medicines to patients in need. 

“It was fantastic to hear from so many of the industry’s leading experts and we were delighted to be able to bring everyone together again in such a collaborative environment. I would like to thank everyone for their participation.”

PSYCH Symposium key takeaways

Some key takeaways from PSYCH Symposium: London 2023 include:

  • A major challenge still hindering psychedelic research is the regulatory status of psychedelic compounds. 
  • Building out suitable frameworks and preparing healthcare systems for psychedelic therapies will be essential. 
  • Trained therapists will be vital to the rollout of psychedelic therapies into traditional healthcare systems, but there need to be standards set for ethical frameworks of care, and the question still remains of who will provide such accredited training. 
  • Reimbursement of therapies will be a vital issue, otherwise, psychedelic healthcare risks becoming elitist – affordable only to some.  
  • Investors are interested in the sector but are hesitant due to the current economic climate and its impact on biosciences. 

Ken Belotsky, Partner at Negev Capital, highlighted that the psychedelic sector has witnessed a significant milestone as 24% of all recent clinical trials for the treatment of depression are utilising psychedelic compounds: “This remarkable statistic highlights the potential of psychedelic therapy to revolutionise the mental health care system. 

“Negev Capital continues to prioritise investments in leading companies operating within the psychedelics space.”

Dr Guy Goodwin, Chief Medical Officer at COMPASS Pathways, added: “It’s encouraging to see that discussion has shifted from understanding of these potential treatments and how they work, to the bigger questions around access and urgency as we continue to progress through the clinical trial process.

“Importantly, we’re now focusing on how we can ensure both broad and equitable access, for those in greatest need.”

Dr Amir Inamdar, Chief Medical Officer of Cybin, said of the event: “The great thing about the psychedelics industry is this sense of camaraderie. Everybody feels we are in it together. So, even though you may be competitors, we’re still working together. 

“I do a working group and there’s the Society of Clinical Medicine which works on clinical trial methodology in psychiatry and is doing their own work with psychedelics, and we’ve got people from all the psychedelic companies – we’re are all there in a pre-competitive space, discussing and debating and helping each other out. So, that’s why it’s always great to be in a place like PSYCH Symposium where it’s focused on psychedelics.”

PSYCH Symposium: London 2023 was sponsored by Cybin, Shortwave Pharma, COMPASS Pathways, Negev Capital, Clerkenwell Health, Beautiful Space and FTI Consulting. 

Psychedelic Health will be bringing you more detailed coverage of panels and discussions at PSCYH Symposium over the next few days – stay tuned!

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Breaking Convention: bringing together leading minds in psychedelics



Breaking Convention: bringing together leading minds in psychedelics

More than 200 world-leading researchers in the field of psychedelics gathered at the University of Exeter for the sixth Breaking Convention.

Breaking Convention 2023 highlighted some of the latest psychedelic research alongside art, culture and philosophy.  

The event saw global thought-leaders share their insights and research, including mycologist Paul Stamets, Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS, Amanda Feilding, founder of the Beckley Foundation, LSD chemist William Leonard Pickard, author Graham Hancock and ethnobotanist Jonathan Ott.

See also  University of Exeter launches world’s first psychedelics postgraduate course

Author and Breaking Convention Co-Executive Director, Alexander Beiner, stated: “Psychedelics are hitting the mainstream as mental health treatments, but historically they’ve also been agents of social change and innovation – and if there’s anything the world needs more than ever, it’s new ideas.”

Exploring the latest research

Psychedelics have seen an explosion of research in recent years, and Breaking Convention showcased some of the very latest developments in the field through a number of panels.

This year saw talks discussing the use of ibogaine, featuring psychologist Genís Oña who explored underground ibogaine use for the treatment of substance use disorders, and neuroscientist, Deborah Mash, discussed the UK’s first MHRA-approved clinical trial for opiate-use disorder. 

The event also explored ketamine therapy – a treatment that has recently been introduced in the UK, following in the footsteps of the US – as well as the latest research investigating DMT.

See also  Breaking Convention: is ketamine therapy the next mental health innovation?

Breaking Convention Co-Founder Dr David Luke and David Erritzøe, Clinical Director for the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College, London discussed the latest updates on psychedelic treatments for depression, and neuroscientist Chris Timmerman, presented “the current state of DMT research”, including phenomenology, the effects on the brain, its impact on beliefs, and “how we can extend it as a tool for consciousness exploration and clinical development.” 

A pan-African perspective on psychedelic healing was also explored. Chaired by educator and ShroomShop course leader Darren Le Baron, with Hub and Culture co-operative founder Akua Ofosuhene, principle organiser of the 2021 ‘Decriminalization of Entheogens in Detroit, Moudou Baqui, and Kambo, Iboga and Mushroom Academy founder Acacia Lewis; both taught by the late Baba Kilindi Iyi, researcher of high dose psilocybin experiences. 

The event’s ‘Varieties of Transformation’ discussion included peace activist Leor Roseman who discussed his investigations of relational processes in the ayahuasca rituals of Palestinians and Israelis, alongside psychedelic therapist Friederike Mickel Fischer. 

The event took place at the University of Exeter – which made the announcement at the conference that it would be launching the world’s first postgraduate course in psychedelics.

Christine Hauskeller, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Exeter, whose Breaking Convention panel explored the ethics of the emerging psychedelic therapy industry, co-founded the dedicated Philosophy of Psychedelics conference at the university with philosopher of mind and metaphysics Dr Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes. 

Hauskeller stated: “The University of Exeter has become an important hub for research and teaching in Philosophy and Psychedelics.

“The growing transdisciplinary psychedelics team is delighted that Breaking Convention is relocating to Exeter. It greatly enriches our blend of academic and practitioner perspectives allowing for diverse discussions around psychedelics.”

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Psychedelic Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. We do not provide medical advice or promote the personal use of psychedelic compounds. Please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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