Renn Butler – Holotropic Breathwork and Archetypal Astrology

Renn Butler


In this episode, Joe and Kyle sit down with Renn Butler, who graduated from the second ever class of Holotropic Breathwork in 1989. During the show, they discuss topics on Breathwork, Stan Grof practices, archetypal astrology and the astrological landscape we are entering in 2019.

3 Key Points:

  1. Renn Butler is an Archetypal and Holotropic Astrologer since the 70’s who uses astrology in his Breathwork practice.
  2. Stan Grof’s Internalized Protocol includes lying down with eye shades and headphones with a sober sitter. A sober sitter is more common in therapeutic settings versus the shamanistic group settings, and Renn believes there is more benefit to a sober sitter in a personal session than a group session.
  3. We are moving into a Jupiter square Neptune for all of 2019. Neptune represents our soul’s yearning to reawaken to the universal field of consciousness and Jupiter amplifies whatever it touches, so we are entering into a time of opportunity for self exploration and awakening.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

About Renn

  • Renn became interested in Stan Grof’s work through many conversations with Richard Tarnas in 1980, and then participated in a Grof month long session with guests like Gwen Frishkoff
    • He spent much time in Esalon
    • He remembers walking through the hallways where the mandalas from breathwork sessions were hung
  • He has been an Archetypal/Holotropic Astrologer since the 70’s

Archetypal Astrology

  • Stan Grof looked at ways to determine the content of people’s experiences in assisted psychotherapy
    • Through his friendship with Richard Tarnas, he found that people’s planetary alignments or ‘transits’ corresponded in a remarkable way with their experience in a session
  • “The purpose of astrology is to predict the meaning behind events rather than trying to determine the specific concrete forms they take.” – Renn
    • Carl Jung coined the term archetype based on the Greek word “arche”, which means ‘the forms’
    • It’s the psychological meaning behind events
  • Richard learned astrology by looking at his sessions and the content of the sessions and their correlation with astrological transits
    • Based on his findings, he was able to predict the best days to do sessions

A Powerful Breathwork Session

  • Renn had Kundalini Experiences happening for 4 years
  • Transiting Pluto was conjoining his natal Neptune
    • Pluto compels into being whatever archetypes it aligns with
    • Neptune represents divine consciousness
  • He did a 5 hour breathwork session that caused him to re-live aspects of toxic womb (disturbances of intrauterine life)
    • Pluto can help clear out disturbances of the psyche
  • At the end of the session, he felt way more cleared out than he did before
    It resolved his Kundalini episode that he was in for the last few years

Kundalini Awakenings

  • Some describe it as energy moving up the spine or chakra
    • It means to clear out leftover traumatic baggage in the psyche
  • People can have emotional outbursts and start crying or screaming as they discharge the energy
    • Afterward, they will care what happens to the ecosystem and around them and want to be a part of the solution

Spiritual Emergence and Psychosis

  • Joe asks when to tell the difference between knowing if someone is going through a Spiritual Emergence or needs hospitalization
  • Renn responds saying you need to look for if the person is taking responsibility for their healing versus projecting.
  • Renn mentions a woman who did 90 LSD sessions with Stan Grof
  • “The greatest therapeutic outcomes exist with intelligent well established individuals whose lives become boring and rigid in routine” – Stan Grof

Current Astrological Alignments

  • The Astrological Alignments for the next few years are supercharged
    • Uranus square Pluto – a powerful set of archetypes
    • The last time this happened was the end of the 60’s
    • Richard Tarnas calls it the ‘sunset effect’, colors will saturate the sky in the archetypal realm
  • Many people are going to have dramatic healing breakthroughs and openings until 2020
  • For those who are a bit skeptical about astrology, Renn suggest reading newer texts;

Astrological Transits in Relation to Breathwork

  • Richard’s correlation of the outer planets Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with Grof’s 4 perinatal matrices shows the process of revolutionizing astrology
  • Carl Jung would do chart work before seeing all of his patients
    • He would try to find transits with Jupiter, Uranus, Venus, etc
  • There are no astrological alignments that would be too dangerous to do journey-work during
    • But Renn says it’s like putting up the lightning rod during certain transits during breathwork
  • “Lie back and let the mother give birth to you” – Renn
    • Renn says it’s safer if you are on your back during journey work versus walking around and facing gravity and falling or hurting yourself

Grof Internalized Protocol

  • One patient at a time (sitter, breather team) to lie down, wear eye shades, and listen to music through headphones
    • The sitter agrees not to judge or direct the process or abandon the process
  • You can expect miracles with this type of protocol
  • You can’t face this material by yourself, you really need people you trust, who are sober and not doing a substance, one person at a time
    • Renn says the ayahuasca revolution has brought a lot of greatness to the western world, but the shamanic traditions usually meant that the shaman drinks with the clients to have a magical insight into the users psyche

Sitter Role

  • In a therapeutic framework, the sitter is sober and lets the client do all of the work, and the sitter is there to assist, but not to interfere with the process
  • Stan describes it as a way to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks
  • Renn brings up an example of 3 people doing mushrooms together
    • One person might be feeling aggressive, and another person might feel like a baby wanting to be held
    • The aggressive person won’t want to be doing any cuddling
    • One person does the catalyst, and the other 2 support them, and then the next time they rotate
  • Renn thinks one deep session is more beneficial than 3 ‘half-assed’ sessions

Interruptions During Sessions

  • Some people have a fear that their experience may interrupt another person’s experience
    • Renn says that if someone is laughing or screaming or crying that he understands it is just a part of the universe of the way things just are
  • He is shocked to hear stories about people having a loud experience getting taken out away from the rest of the group and told to contain themselves
  • Kyle mentions that sounds usually aren’t a bother, and the loud music helps
    • But it’s talking, English words that bring people out of a session
  • People can have great ayahuasca ceremonies, and then they think that ayahuasca is the best psychedelic out there
    • Renn says that all psychedelics are great tools
    • But he encourages people to try breathwork and this solo session style healing
  • Joe says he dreams of a place where shamanism takes a look at the solo process and maybe not always the group process, that all cultures can combine our knowledge for the best result


    • We are moving into a Jupiter square Neptune for all of 2019, 90 degrees between Jupiter and Neptune
      • Neptune represents our soul’s yearning to reawaken to the larger world’s soul, to the universal field of consciousness
      • Jupiter amplifies whatever it touches
      • This presents a large opportunity for self exploration, with a feeling of deeper cosmic safety
    • “It seems like our psyche’s wait until things are safe for the deepest material to surface.” – Renn
    • Renn says it’s good to focus on death so that we can constantly keep our priorities straight


Check out our online course, “Introduction to Psychedelics”

About Renn

Following a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from the University of Alberta, Renn Butler lived at the Esalen Institute in California for 2½ years where he became deeply immersed in the transpersonal psychology of Stanislav Grof and the emerging archetypal astrology of Richard Tarnas. He completed training as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator with Stan and Christina Grof in 1989 and has facilitated many workshops in Victoria, Canada. His research includes over three decades of archetypal-astrology consultations and Holotropic Breathwork workshops, and thirty-five years of Jungian-Grofian dreamwork.

Jerry B. Brown and Tom Hatsis – Christianity and the Psychedelic Mushroom: A Debate

Tom and Jerry


In this unique episode, Joe brings Tom Hatsis and Dr. Jerry Brown together for a psychedelic debate. They go back in forth in conversation on whether there was psychedelic use in medieval or ancient Christianity and if so, was there a secret tradition of including art of mushrooms or psychedelic substances in cathedrals and castles.

3 Key Points:

  1. Jerry Brown makes the claim that there is evidence of visionary plants in Christianity and the life of Jesus found in medieval art and biblical scripture.
  2. Tom Hatsis makes the claim that Christianity is not hiding a giant secret inside the biblical texts about the true hallucinogen at the root of the religion being an Amanita Muscaria.
  3. Jerry and Tom debate back and forth, pulling from art and textual evidence (and lack thereof) to support or deny the claim that Psychedelic Mushrooms are the root of Christian religion.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

Jerry B. Brown PhD.

Anthropologist, Author and Activist
Served as the Prof of Anthropology at FIU in Miami
He designed and taught a course on hallucinogens and culture
He is the Co-Author of Sacred Plants and the Gnostic Church: Speculations on Entheogen use in Early Christian Ritual
The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity

Tom Hatsis

Author, Public Speaker, Roller Derby Player and Potion Maker
He is the Author of three books in Psychedelia;
The Witches Ointment: the Secret History of Psychedelic Magic
Psychedelic Mystery Traditions; Spirit Plants, Magical Practices and Psychedelic States Microdosing Magic: A Psychedelic Spellbook
Partnered with event organizer and short film maker, Eden Woodruff, who runs Psanctum Psychedelia in Portland in the process of winning the Guinness Book of World Record in Magic


  • The debate is around the early Christian use of psychedelics and mushrooms in Christian art
  • The conversation is on the validity on whether or not psychedelics were used in early Christianity

Dr. Jerry Brown on Psychedelics in Christianity

  • The Miracle of Marsh Chapel – a double-blind experiment conducted by Walter Pahnky in 1962 where 20 students were divided into two groups, half received niacin and the other half received psilocybin
    • 9 out of 10 who took psilocybin had a profound psychedelic experience
    • Brown explains that this is an important part in the entire history of psychedelics
  • After discovering the Amanita Muscaria mushroom (confirmed by Paul Stamets) in a 15th Century Church in Scotland, he realized that there were many entheogenic images in Christian art
  • He says that most church historians do not have training in mycology to recognize entheogens and mushrooms
  • He brings up an image of Adam and Eve standing next to a large Amanita Muscaria mushroom
  • He went to a Parish Church and saw an image of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a Donkey, and one of the youths welcoming Jesus is holding a long mushroom cap
  • He went to churches in England, Germany and France
    • In the drawing of Genesis, he saw God creating plants (psilocybin mushrooms)
  • “When you go back beyond the 3rd century, there are no visual images or Christian art due to poverty and persecution” – Jerry
  • Jerry reads a passage,
    “Jesus said to his disciples, “compare me to someone and tell me who I am like” Thomas said to him, “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.” Jesus said “I am not your master, because you have drunk you have become intoxicated from the bubbling wellspring that I have personally measured out. He who will drink from my mouth will become like me, I shall become like he, and the things that are hidden, should be revealed to him.”

    • He interprets the passage as a reference to drinking a psychoactive mushroom substance
    • Jerry goes on to explain that Jesus realized his feeling of eternal life through the use of psychoactive entheogens
    • He says that this is not a means of dismissing Christianity, but instead to reintroduce Christianity with its original roots

Tom Hatsis on Psychedelics in Christianity

  • Tom says that Jerry makes a lot of assertions, but does not present any evidence. He talks about art, but not anything in scripture
  • Tom is curious why the only artwork that Jerry brings his assertions about mushrooms are from a time where we can’t ask them about it
  • Tom brings up Julie and Jerry’s book and that the first chapter has nothing to do with Christian History at all
  • Tom uses an example of stone mushrooms. Someone doing a cross cultural analysis, might agree that they are mushrooms based on the other findings of cannabis and opioids
    • But, as a historian, Tom looks for evidence and in this case, there are eye witness accounts of its use
  • He brings up the example, the infamous plaincourault fresco of Adam and Eve at the tree of good and evil with the forbidden fruit
    • Using this one example, he wants to prove how critical historical methodology is used to prove unsubstantiated claims on Christian art as wrong
    • Tom urges listeners to view the unaltered versions of the plaincourault fresco at Georgio Samorini’s Flikr page 
    • The paradise tree is a mix of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and a symbol of Christ’s victory over Adam’s transgression. In the play, it was tradition to place small Eucharist wafers on the tree branches so that’s what the white dots are on the tree branches
    • The tree’s shape is not a mushroom cap, it is a parasol of victory

Jerry’s Rebuttle

  • Jerry says that the absence of evidence, is not equal, or proof of evidence of absence (just because it’s not written in text, doesn’t mean that its not there in the art)
  • Jerry’s issue with the fresco is that “The Fall” is a New Testament creation, not all the way back in Genesis
  • He says that on their website, they do not ‘alter’ the image, they ‘enhance’ it
  • He says that Tom claims the fruit doesn’t matter, but the fruit does matter (it could be a psychedelic mushroom)
  • He touches on the skeletal appearance of Eve and the meaning of renewal of life
  • Jerry thinks this image is the beginning of the religious experience and symbolism that the soul is immortal and will continue to exist after death
  • He says the serpent is not a depiction of evil entering Eden, but instead a source of knowledge and a spiritual guide to the feminine to help bring man into higher awareness

Tom’s Rebuttle

  • Tom says he didn’t hear any evidence from Jerry, he heard arguments to authority
  • He says that Jerry uses anthropology to uncover history, and opinions of art historians, but medieval historians agree that the mushroom is not present in Christian art
  • He also says he did agree with Jerry about the mushroom in art, but that was last year and he has proven himself wrong and that the mushroom caps are parasols of victory
  • Jerry says that Amanita Muscaria was in the Soma, but Tom says cannabis was, and mushrooms were not
    Chris Bennett’s book on Soma
  • There is zero evidence for mushroom art during medieval times
  • In Jerry’s book, he writes about the Basilica di Aquilea, saying that they are Amanita Muscaria, but Tom says they are not that type of mushroom






  • Tom also says that in the play depicted in the plaincourault, that the script literally says the wafers are hung on the tree, and that the little white dots are not the dots from an Amanita Muscaria

Jerry’s Closing Remarks

  • He says that this isn’t just cultural analysis, this is about fieldwork and looking at how native people view this artwork
  • The problem he has with Tom and Church historians is that it is not taking evidence from Ethnobotanists
  • Jerry says he believes that there is a long tradition of entheogenic mushrooms in Christian art and would like this debate to continue

Tom’s Closing Remarks

  • Tom says he still isn’t hearing evidence, he is only hearing assertions and argument to authority and eminent scholars
  • Tom says that Genesis doesn’t matter in the plaincourault, because we know that it’s about the play
  • He has multiple articles debunking these images on his website
  • Tom says the holy mushroom hypothesis fails against all the claims Jerry has made


Tom’s Website
Jerry’s Website

Check out our online course, “Introduction to Psychedelics”

About Jerry

Jerry B. Brown, Ph.D., is an anthropologist, author and activist. From 1972-2014, he served as Founding Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University in Miami, where he designed and taught a course on “Hallucinogens and Culture.” The course examines the use of psychoactive plants by tribal and classical cultures, including Ancient India and Greece, and by and discusses the discoveries of the modern mind-explorers, the “psychonauts of the twentieth century.”

About Tom

Thomas Hatsis is an author, lecturer, and historian of witchcraft, magic, Western religions, contemporary psychedelia, entheogens, and medieval pharmacopeia. In his spare time he visits rare archives, slings elixirs, and coaches roller derby.

Duncan Autrey – Conflict Transformation and Resolution; Our Role to Play a Part in the Whole


In this episode, Joe interviews Duncan Autrey, a conflict transformation catalyst and educator. He runs a podcast, Fractal Friends, that covers topics of self-similarity across our diversity. During their conversation, Joe and Duncan discuss ways of resolving conflict in our relationships and society.

3 Key Points:

  1. Duncan Autrey is a conflict transformation educator, working for peace and cultural change.
  2. Conflict happens when one person wants to be heard so much that they stop listening to the other side. It is a product of living in a diverse world.
  3. We have more rights than we think we do when facing law enforcement.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

What is Conflict?

  • Conflict is a product of living in a diverse world
  • Conflict resolution is about how to get different perspectives working together
  • Conflict happens when someone is really passionate about their side of the topic
  • Conflict also happens when one person wants to be heard so much that they stop listening to the other side
  • The ARC of conversation
    • A stands for acknowledge
    • R stands for reflect back
    • C stands for be curious

Resolving Conflict

  • Its okay to be certain about your own experiences, but someone might also be certain about their experiences and the key is to find a mutual ground
  • “How do we understand ecological issues better and work with each other to find how to create better conversation around it?” – Joe
  • In a conversation of conflict, the other side may be the antidote to your extreme
    • Interdependent Polarity – each side has something positive and negative, and each side should acknowledge the negative but aim to pull out the positive of the other side
    • Iceers
  • “It’s better to find a way to navigate the question, rather than to answer the question” – Duncan
  • In a hierarchy of permanence, laws are really low. Laws come and go
  • 3 ways we resolve conflict over time; power, violence and laws
    • But the interest based model includes everyone and all sides and works through conflict to live in and share the same planet with each other

Impressive Resilience in Humans

  • “Shifts happen”
  • People that Duncan works with start thinking to themselves “I’m a good guy facing a bad guy” and the person on the other side of conflict also thinks “I’m a good guy facing a bad guy”
    • Helping guide the people in conflict to just listen to the other person fully is what starts the shift

Law Enforcement and Conflict

  • It’s important to recognize the difference between the system and the individuals
    • Our whole system of television, movies, everything is all feeding into this
  • There are sociopaths in the world (5% of the population), and they are falling into roles like prison guards and CEO’s
  • Duncan brings up a story where he was in a car with someone who got pulled over, and the car got completely searched
    • He had vitamins on him, and the police assumed it was MDMA, so he was arrested and spent 4 days in jail
    • “This is a place where the people who are on the right side of the law, are being treated like assholes, and where people on the bad side of the law, are on their best behavior” – Duncan
    • This is a systemic issue, where the society says that you are a good person for doing something good, and are a bad person for doing something bad
    • But we shouldn’t be defined by what we are ‘caught’ doing, either good or bad
    • People should be able to hold onto their humanity (not be locked up for life) for something like possession of a drug
    • “If we’re going to care about our shared humanity and our right for everyone to be here, we have to figure out the path of restoration” – Duncan
    • “Slavery isn’t okay, unless someone gets convicted of a crime”
    • Victoria’s Secret has people in prison slavery making lingerie in South Carolina
    • People have to pay off debt from their incarceration, before they get a license, to get a job, that they have to apply to as a criminal
    • Society doesn’t make it easy to be human after prison
    • People in grad school with the same amount of debt, have an education, (usually) a job, and have hope for the future

Rights When Getting Pulled Over

  • Right to remain silent is real
  • Right to consent for search – you don’t have to say yes
    • Law enforcement tries to use the fact that you think you’re guilty and will let the search happen
  • You can’t be detained without probable cause (4th Amendment)
    • You can be detained long enough for a traffic citation, but not enough to be caught for another crime
  • Smoke smell in the car is probable cause, even in s state where it is legal
  • Joe mentions dash cams so that there can be recordings on both ends, not just one end (the police’s evidence)
  • Duncan had the thought that maybe once they realize that his vitamins were not MDMA, that they might try to switch out the vitamins with MDMA
    • His attorney said they aren’t that corrupt, or smart



Check out our online course, “Introduction to Psychedelics”

About Duncan

Duncan Autrey has worked in facilitation and conflict resolution for over fifteen years in diverse contexts ranging from rural Paraguay and Colombia to cities of Seattle, Washington, DC, Cuenca and Buenos Aires. He approaches conflict from a belief that it arises from the diverse cultural experiences of common human needs. Every conflict or complicated situation, large or small, is an opportunity for deepening our relationships and improving the world we live in. Duncan currently runs a podcast called Fractal Friends covering topics on exploring our self-similarity across our diversity.