My Art and Psychedelics

My Art and Psychedelics


For many artists, psychedelics have played a central role in creativity. The influence of psychedelics on art goes back perhaps to the earliest beginnings of human artistic activity itself, as archaeological evidence strongly suggests altered states were involved in the creation of the oldest known paintings in the world.


For me personally, the role of psychedelics has been profound ever since the formative years of my early adult life. The singularly most inspiring artist for me at that period was Alex Grey. I first encountered his work in his book Sacred Mirrors when I was about nineteen years old, a year in which psilocybin mushrooms and LSD were generally a bimonthly event in my life. Looking back at that time, these psychedelics created an ambience of open-mindedness, connection to nature, a felt relevance to philosophy, and a desire to explore and push the limits of authentic experience within a spiritual framework. Though I did not recognize psychedelics’ influence on Grey’s work at first, the themes in his paintings clearly proclaim psychedelic insights – insights like the multivalent, multidimensional nature of existence, and the unity of the cosmos in a core consciousness of awesome perfection and infinitude. These orientations came to me, and were reflected back in visionary art, through exploring psychedelics. As Terence McKenna often discussed, the psychedelics take us to the beginning of the path. They open the doors to an unimaginable vastness of possibility in the heart, the mind, and the imagination, and can unleash titanic creative powers within us that we must learn to navigate if we are to express them clearly and do justice to their initial force.


How do psychedelics stimulate creativity and art? There is an accelerating increase in content written and discussed about this, as the steady decriminalization, legalization, and fruition of the work of leading elders in the field has created the platform for open discourse. Here I will simply state that the force of psychedelics seems threefold: they occasion visions - clear and unabashed visual experiences of previously unimaginable vistas. They also allow or activate higher cognitive functioning to perceive and explore patterns and connectivity, how different aspects of nature and experience interact and are connected with one another. Finally, they intensify and open us to the intimate and authentic felt experience of being, and thus of the emotional and spiritual relevance of the visions and perceptions experienced. Vision, pattern recognition, and intimate connection to meaning – these three qualities are empowered and heightened through the psychedelic experience as a radical force and inspiration for the creation of art.


To delve in deep and explore in depth psychedelics and art, I highly recommend further reading:


The Psilocybin Connection by Jahan Khamsehzadeh

The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna

The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams (archeological approach)

Visionary by Graham Hancock

Visionary Art: Part I: An Introduction and Paleolithic Origins - an article I wrote on this subject.


...feel free to reach out with comments or questions!