Talk

The Magic of Mushrooms

Psilocybin and Altered States

Thu 05 Mar 2020
19.00 - 20.30
£10.00 / £8.00 conc
Screening Room
South Wing

Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of the Imperial College Centre for Psychedelic Research joins Darren Springer, Edible Utopia Mycologist, researcher and educator for an evening exploring the mind-altering properties of mushrooms.

Robin Carhart-Harris’ became fascinated in the effects of mind altering substances on the brain while studying Psychology before getting an MA in Psychoanalysis and a PhD in the field of Psychopharmacology. Now Head of the Imperial College Centre for Psychedelic Research he and his team conduct ground-breaking studies on the use of mushrooms to treat depression. His talk will cover this pioneering work, the physical and psychological effects and the social, societal and political stigma of magic mushrooms.

Darren Springer is an educator, researcher and resident mycologist for our on site (psilocybin-free) mushroom growing project Edible Utopia. Springer’s extensive research on the use of psychedelic plants in and the origins of these practices in ancient Africa, Mesopotamia and Europe and how they have became coded in several mythological entheogenic rites of passages throughout the ancient indigenous world.

Author and Cultural Historian Mike Jay joins the panel to talk about psilocybin usage in Britain, looking at the earliest historical usage, through Lewis Caroll’s Alice In Wonderland up to the current day and the High Society: mind-altering drugs in history and culture exhibition he curated at the Wellcome Collection in 2010.


The work of the Imperial College Centre for Psychedelic Research is showcased in the film Magic Medicine that we are also screening as part of the Mushrooms events programme.

The talks programme for Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi is kindly supported by the Gaia Art Foundation.

Gaia Art Foundation

About the speakers

Robin Carhart-Harris is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and one of the leading voices in psychopharmacology. He has a degree in Psychology, MA in Psychoanalysis and a PhD in the field of Psychopharmacology. Since 2009 he has been studying the effects of psychedelic drugs on the brain, including LSD, MDMA and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). As well as conducting some of the first brain imaging studies of these drugs, recently he and his team completed the first phase of a clinical trial using psilocybin on patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Darren Springer is a grass-roots researcher and event organiser based in London, the Director of Ancient Future, the Convenor of the Psychedelia Railway Gatherings and curator at Earth Tone Arts. After setting up Ancient Future in 2006, a voluntary organisation, he has continued to develop workshops and projects geared around creative arts, personal-development and African-Caribbean spiritual systems in his community. Collectively his work aims to inform and empower individuals from diverse backgrounds to cope with social challenges and contribute to community development as well as self-improvement in a way that is innovative, creative and culturally-aware.

Mike Jay has written widely on the history of science and medicine, and particularly on the discovery of psychoactive drugs during the 18th and 19th centuries. His books on the subject include Emperors of Dreams: drugs in the nineteenth century (2000, revised edition 2011) and most recently High Society: mind-altering drugs in history and culture (2010), which accompanied the exhibition he curated at Wellcome Collection in London. The Atmosphere of Heaven is also the third book in his series of biographical narratives of political reformers in 1790s Britain. It follows The Air Loom Gang (2003, revised edition forthcoming 2012) and The Unfortunate Colonel Despard (2004).