A Letter from Australia: EGA, Lost Tribes and The Origins of Consciousness
In the beginning
"When you get to Melbourne be sure you go to an EGA!" These were the parting words from a fellow traveller at the tale-end of a three month trip (rite of passage?) that encompassed Burning Man, the Peruvian high Andes, Sacred Valley, some purging, the low-land jungles, a lot more purging, then onwards to Australia. Fast-forward five years and I am now a card-carrying migrant living in the "Lucky" country, Australia.
And lucky we are. Australia has an exceptionally high standard of living, an economy that seems resistant to the global financial melt down (for now), and a hugely vibrant psychedelic community.
This island continent is steeped in shamanic tradition; it’s the spiritual home of the Dreamtime and the timeless dances practised by indigenous Australians to tell ancient stories, invoke spirits or send off a loved one. Were the indigenous people of this land knowledgeable about the plentiful psychedelics found in Australian flora? With hundreds of DMT-containing plants and trees it seems almost impossible to believe they weren’t. There’s been plenty of conjecture, however, they aren’t telling and who can blame them? What is clear is that there is a certain old magic present in the land here which people connect to.
Revived by the out-door party scene - affectionately known as the "bush doof" - the psychedelic community has grown rapidly in the last decade. Festivals such as Rainbow Serpent, Earth Frequency and this year’s Eclipse have done a lot to widen the appeal of the psychedelic ethos and educate people about the possibilities of these tools as medicines. Over the last five years many of the large-scale events offer lifestyle elements – the ubiquitous healing spaces, yoga and more often than not, ethnobotanical based workshops.
However, perhaps the central force for the community has been the groundwork done by the legendary Entheogenesis Australis, aka EGA (check out report from Nese). EGA was started as an informal gathering in a public library some nine years ago and the annual event now attracts over 600 people to the alternate biennial indoor conference and lush outdoor symposium/festival.
When I asked Jonathan Carmichael, EGA president, what makes EGA different, he tells me, “People want events with real substance, that operate on a deeper level than what just music can offer. We’re opening up the idea of what an event can offer, we’re asking everyone to be active and contribute to the discussion. EGA is like a fully-fledged outdoor gathering but completely inverted. Information, guidance, learning and visionary art are placed as the primary motivation rather than music and dance, and this really resonates with people.”
“The whole intention, layout and structure of the gathering is orientated toward creating a safe space where people from all walks of life can come together to openly discuss, debate and celebrate psychedelic culture in a beautiful, comfortable environment, that I just have not experienced anywhere else.”
Jonathan tells me that EGA challenges the prevailing negative stigma associated with use of psychedelic compounds. “No real networks existed to openly discuss the positive benefits of plant-based entheogens, so we created a forum where the community themselves create most of the program: from shamanic techniques to therapeutic possibility, to creative expression and visionary art. From harm reduction to mapping new realms of consciousness - EGA is mostly presented by people of all ages within the community who are willing to share their knowledge and inspire others to help contribute to a growing community.”
It’s the home grown local talent who are core to the EGA experience, and Australia is blessed with some exceptional researchers, authors and presenters - Martin Williams of PRISM, scholar in religions Dr Des Tramacchi, Wandjina Gardens and Koda Phytorium’s Torsten Weidemann, experimental journalist Rak Razam, Happy Herb Company’s Ray Thorpe, and Starseed founder Dan Schreiber are all much anticipated regular guest contributors. Over the years EGA has also hosted many international guests including Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin of MAPS; Robert Jesse from the Council on Spiritual Practices, Keeper Trout, Fire and Earth of Erowid, and the late 60s LSD maverick Bear (Owsley) Stanley.
The Origins Of Consciousness
This year EGA has joined forces with Lost Tribes to bring The Origins of Consciousness: An exploration into Spirituality, Psychedelics, & Ancient Civilizations symposium and workshops to Australia. For the ‘Origins’ tour the format has been tweaked, this being the first time the event has been taken on the road with the aim to inspire people in different parts of the country.
To delve into the subject, the tour features keynote presentations by prominent British researcher and bestselling author Graham Hancock, world renowned Ethnobotanist Dennis Mckenna, and Mitch Schultz, Director of ground breaking documentary DMT:The Spirit Molecule, as well as an array of local guest experts.
Graham will be drawing on his work investigating ancient mysteries, his more recent research into psychedelic shamanism and the birth of human culture and religion. Dennis will be sharing his work into plant/human co-evolution, consciousness and spirituality, and talking candidly about his life with brother Terence. Mitch will round things off in discussions about DMT and its relationship to nature, art, trans-humanism and the future of consciousness.
This tour is a platform to move the conversation beyond just psychedelics into a broader discussion that encompasses the mystery, the evolution of consciousness and the challenges we now collectively face. It’s a way to explore who we are, where we have come from and where we are going, and what better time to do this than the much-fabled year of 2012?
The community has developed a strong foundation, we have excellent research to back the story we tell, and it’s becoming more difficult to deny the evidence that these compounds can be a positive force for good. With this tour we are crossing boundaries and reaching out to bring our message to the wider community in an inclusive, grounded and considered way. To paraphrase the late Terence McKenna, "we are not slack-jawed, dazed, glazed, unemployable psychotic creeps. We are pillars of society- it’s time to come out of the closet!"
Doron Francis, Lost Tribes
Doron is a founding member of Lost Tribes, an organisation focused on bringing together the finest minds to explore the latest thought on a wide range of subjects; from entheogenic awakenings to the technological singularity, from the edges of science to neo-consciousness. He is also a co-founder of Dibble.com.au, a social-tech food enterprise connecting independent food producers, growers and retailers with customers.Tweet