© 2024 Aspen Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Aspen Public Radio is proud to present select lectures, discussions, and conversations from area events and festivals, thanks to a remarkable collection of community partners. Click here to view the full archive. Events are recorded at no cost to the partner and archived here online; select recordings are broadcast on Aspen Public Radio Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Aspen Psychedelic Symposium: "Speculations on the Antiquity of Human Consciousness” by Dennis McKenna

(Photo by Kelsey Brunner)
Kelsey Brunner/DP
(Photo by Kelsey Brunner)

This event was recorded on June 2, 2023 at the Wheeler Opera House, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio, Aspen Psychedelic Resource Center, and Healing Advocacy Fund.

The recent successful state passage of the Natural Medicine Health Act (Proposition 122) represents a massive shift in public perception regarding psychedelics. Colorado's ballot initiative was the first to decriminalize the possession and use of psychedelic mushrooms and certain plant-based psychedelic substances in Colorado law for individuals aged 21 and over, and requires the state to establish a regulated system for accessing psychedelic mushrooms and additional plant-based psychedelic substances.

This day-long event was presented as a deep dive into the tradition, science, and advocacy behind integrating these life-saving medicines into modern culture. Panels throughout the day included experts from Colorado and across the country. Hear from groundbreaking researchers, scientists, doctors and others working in the field— alongside individuals who have had these life-changing experiences.

The symposium ended with a keynote address titled "Speculations on the Antiquity of Human Consciousness" by Dennis Mckenna, who has conducted research in ethnopharmacology for over 40 years. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and was a key investigator on the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca. Mckenna is the younger brother of Terence McKenna, who spent thirty years advocating for the investigation of psychedelics for the exploration of consciousness. From 2001 to 2017, Dennis Mckenna taught courses on Ethnopharmacology and Plants in Human Affairs as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. In 2019, he collaborated to start The McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, a non-profit for intellectual inquiry, psychedelic education, philosophical discourse, and expanding our understanding of humanity’s place in Nature and the Cosmos.

Other events presented as part of this symposium include:

What is Healing, What is Ceremony?” with Veronica Lightning Horse Perez and Remi Olajoyegbe, moderated by Jaz Cadoch.

Mental Health Breakthroughs” with Kevin Franciotti, Meg Richmond, and Matthew X. Lowe, moderated by Brandon Burns

The Neuroscience of Psychedelics” with Court Wing, Dave Rabin, and Scott Thompson, moderated by Nicole Foerster

Where do we go from here?” with Scarlet Masius, Kevin Matthews, and Natasia Poinsatte, moderated by Zach Leary

Please note: Fireside Project is a nonprofit organization which operates the Psychedelic Peer Support Line, the first national support line for people navigating psychedelic experiences - whether that experience happened a day or a decade ago. The organization also offers “identity-based integration support,” meaning that if you are Black, Indigenous, a person of color, a military veteran, or identify as transgender, you can ask to speak to someone sharing your identity. Call or text 62-FIRESIDE. Open everyday 11:00am - 11:00pm PT.