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For this one year anniversary edition, Cardea Co-Founder, Dr. Ross Ellenhorn, returns to nowadays for his powerfully enlightening talk on the role of “play” and improvisation in life.


Ross is a sociologist and psychotherapist; the owner of Ellenhorn, a program that provides non-stigmatizing care for individuals experiencing extreme events of mind and mood; the co-creator of the Lascaux Method for psychedelic journeying and the author of three books on human change. His most recent book, Purple Crayons is published by HarperCollins and explores the psychological, socio-political and religious elements of play. In tonight’s talk, Ross will explore the nature of human play, its role in human transformation, and its relationship to psychedelic experiences. In the current renewal of more mainstream interest in psychedelics, substances like MDMA and psilocybin are being ushered into western medical models, promoted as miracle cures for PTSD, depression, anxiety and a host of other woes. Ross believes that the more psychedelics come to be seen as treatments for diseases, we are potentially losing sight of one of their most precious offerings: the potential for play. In his words: “We can mistake play for ‘fun.’ But even though fun is definitely something we do that is playful, play is very serious business. For children and adults alike, play—which includes the creation and contemplation of art—transforms that which appears solidly unchangeable into something pliable, loosens the hard earth of habit, and awakens us to the world and all its novelty. It is also the threshold through which we access our vitality–that ineffable experience of being alive–and it’s from play that we experience the life of other living beings.

Play is the marrow of compassion and empathy, and it is the antidote to alienation, dehumanization and a deadened approach to nature. Without play, it’s all: same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was… “Play is usually understood as the opposite of work, and psychedelics are increasingly being promoted as tools to increase productivity, or cure “dysfunction,” rather than as threshold to what makes us most human, and opens our eyes to the humanity in others, and the life in the natural world. Psychedelics can help return play to its rightful position as an essential part of our humanity.” Through a talk, some Q and A and playful exercises, Ross aims to give some form and frame to the human activity that always fights form and frame, and show how psychedelics are tools that can bring us to that first moment when we conducted the magical act of conjuring life in our toys.

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