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The Mystery Religions of the ancient world frequently, if not always, employed the use of psychoactive drugs or entheogens to induce altered states of consciousness. Such experiences were indispensable to the initiation of members, their rituals relating to spiritual development, and ultimately the attainment of the “peak” experience(s) that represented the apotheosis and fulfillment of their theological and spiritual initiations.
All religions have been either directly or indirectly interested in human consciousness. Most religions expect that an awareness of the transcendent will cause a change of consciousness in the devotee. A mere sense that, ‘we are not alone’ or perhaps, ‘the context of our vast universe prevents any particular individual from believing they are the centre, around which all else moves’.
Sacred places, sacred rites and indeed all sacraments, exist to bring about a change of consciousness in the religious person. Baptism, marriage, ordination, last rites all seek to reorient a person to a change of circumstance, to bring a change of consciousness that will better equip a person for the change of circumstance.
In various religious traditions, communities have met mostly on a weekly basis to participate in rituals, that aim to be “food for the journey”. For example, the rite of communion is ingestion of wine and bread that becomes by virtue of the rite, an ingestion of grace, the very essence of the person of Jesus.
As the Western world become less religious, it’s hardly surprising that some of the ancient wisdom should be found in a more medical framework. Under the proper conditions and used intentionally, psychedelics are able to produce mystical, religious, or otherwise deeply meaningful experiences which can be employed for therapeutic purposes. These medicines help people to heal, process trauma, commune with others, or divine something about themselves and the universe. Psychedelics lend themselves to the concept of spiritual enlightenment at the most intimate personal levels. They also reveal collective truths, as well as scientific ones, to ‘change our minds’, our communities and our world.
Why shouldn’t a qualified therapist with medical training use certain medicines to bring about a change of consciousness in order to bring a change in circumstance and improve wellbeing? Neither religious practitioner or medical practitioner need to adopt the language of the other but each can concede a place for the other in the interest of bringing people to improved health and better circumstance.
Imagine if we could repair society by helping human beings feel connected to each other and to the universe!
Following the presentation there will be a Q & A panel with Tania de Jong AM, Peter Hunt AM, Rabbi Zac Kamenetz, Imam Tawhidi and Pastor Graham Long AM. This will be an opportunity to engage in a discussion about psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies for mental illness broadly, and what Mind Medicine Australia and other local organisations are doing here in Australia.More about medicinal psychedelic treatments.
Psychedelic-assisted treatments offer enormous potential in providing a meaningful alternative to current treatments for mental illness. PTSD is a debilitating condition that affects tens of millions of people worldwide, with many more trauma victims diagnosed with comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. In recent clinical trials, MDMA has been shown to produce reliable clinical improvements, restoring patient safety and self-agency even for individuals who have suffered with PTSD for many years, and for whom many treatments have failed. The wave of clinical psychedelic research and regulatory support is rapidly building, with experts forecasting the availability of psychedelic-assisted treatments in the US and EU within the next 2 to 5 years, subject to positive clinical outcomes in large trials that are currently underway.
Rabbi Zac Kamenetz
Educator, Rabbi and aspiring Healer
Rabbi Zac Kamenetz is the founder and CEO of Shefa, an education and advocacy organization dedicated to supporting individual and collective healing, self-discovery, and transformation by unlocking the practical wisdom of Jewish mystical traditions, sharing them as a guiding force. Shefa provides seekers with a Jewish framework for direct spiritual experience, prepares communities for the integration of psychedelics into mainstream therapeutic and religious culture, and empowers them to bring the wisdom, wellbeing, and joy that arise from direct perception of the divine into their daily lives. Zac received rabbinic ordination in 2012 an MA from the Graduate Theological Union/UC Berkeley. A sought-after speaker and educator, Zac lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife and their daughter.
Islamic scholar, educator, best-selling author and global speaker
Imam Mohammad Tawhidi is an Islamic scholar, educator, best-selling author, speaker, and one of the leading voices in the global movement of social Islamic reform. He has dedicated his life to ideologically tackling the spread of Islamic extremism and has delivered speeches at conferences, parliaments, mosques, Islamic centers, churches, synagogues, temples and universities across the Middle East, Europe, America, Asia, and Australia. He is licensed by Islamic leaders of the highest order to lead and represent the Muslim community. Tawhidi enjoys healthy international diplomatic relationships with numerous governments and provides regular advice on counter-terrorism. Imam Tawhidi was publicly ordained as an Islamic authority in the Holy City of Qum, Iran, by the Senior Grand Ayatollah Shirazi in 2010. He was recognized by the Senate of Canada on Wednesday June 13th of 2018, and is fluent in Arabic, English and Farsi.
Pastor Graham Long AM
Pastor Emeritus, The Wayside Chapel
At the time that Wayside called him into Ministry, Graham was a postie. He’d almost perfected riding a little motor bike when Wayside called him to be their next Minister. In his first life, Graham was a social worker in South Australia, specialising in the field of child protection. Graham trained for ministry from 1979 to 1982. After a few years in church ministry, Graham became a chaplain to Parramatta Prison and he ran a church welfare agency. Academically, after ordination, Graham pursued studies in philosophy achieving degrees from Catholic Theological Union and from the Catholic Institute of Sydney. A Masters honours in philosophy was halted when a near fatal motorcycle accident changed all of life’s priorities in 2001. Graham has been married to Robyn for 49 years and together they have two children and five grandchildren. Graham is the author of three books. Graham was named NSW Local Hero in the Australia Day awards of 2014 made a Member of the Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday 2015.
Tania de Jong AM
LL.B (Hons), GradDipMus
Co-founder Mind Medicine Australia, Founder Creative Universe, Creativity Australia, The Song Room & Creative Innovation Global
Tania de Jong AM is a trail-blazing Australian soprano, award-winning social entrepreneur, creative innovation catalyst, spiritual journey woman, storyteller and global speaker. Tania is one of Australia’s most successful female entrepreneurs and innovators developing 5 businesses and 3 charities including Creative Universe, Creativity Australia and With One Voice, Creative Innovation Global, Mind Medicine Australia, Dimension5, MTA Entertainment & Events, Pot-Pourri and The Song Room.
She works across the public, private, creative and community sectors and is passionate about mental health, innovation, diversity and inclusion. Tania speaks and sings around the world as a soloist and with her group Pot-Pourri releasing twelve albums. She is Founder and Executive Producer of future-shaping events series, Creative Innovation Global.
She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2008. Tania was named in the 100 Women of Influence, the 100 Australian Most Influential Entrepreneurs and named as one of the 100 most influential people in psychedelics globally in 2021. Tania’s TED Talk ‘How Singing Together Changes The Brain’ has sparked international interest. Tania’s mission is to change the world, one voice at a time!
Peter Hunt AM
Founder & Chair of Mind Medicine Australia
As an investment banker Peter Hunt AM advised local and multi-national companies and governments in Australia for nearly 35 years. He co-founded and was Executive Chairman of one of Australia’s leading investment banking advisory firms, Caliburn Partnership (now called Greenhill Australia) and continued as Chairman of the Firm after its sale to Greenhill Inc in 2009. Peter was a member of the Advisory Panel of ASIC and chaired the Vincent Fairfax Family Office.
Peter is an active philanthropist involved in funding, developing and scaling social sector organisations which seek to create a better and fairer world. He is Chairman of Mind Medicine Australia which he established with his wife, Tania de Jong, in 2018. He founded Women’s Community Shelter in 2011 and remains on the Board. He was previously Chairman of So They Can, Grameen Australia and Grameen Australia Philippines. Peter is a Director of Project Rozana and an Advisory Board member of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Peter also acts as a pro bono adviser to Creativity Australia.
Peter was made a member of the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2010 for services to the philanthropic sector.