november 2022 – goodnews editorial

wokeness

Many of you are too young to know what rough tones prevailed in the heated, revolutionary sixties and seventies. We saw ourselves as street fighting men or women, we were part of the student movement or the underground and, unfortunately, some turned to terrorism. All this in the name of a revolution that didn’t happen the way it was planned. That it had been cultural in nature only surfaced a decade later. In psychology, encounter groups were popular, where people yelled at each other and called each names. Anything went if it was confrontative and brought one’s feelings out in the open: to abandon the social masks imposed by the stifling social norms of afterwar society.
When I compare this hostility with what I heard at my dentist’s, it makes me laugh. Said one assistant to the other, “Would you feel comfortable coming to work an hour early tomorrow?” These are sensitivities we simply couldn’t afford.
It must be possible to put others through unpleasantness and communicate directly without attacking them or striking the demanding tone common in offices and factories in the old days. And these others must be willing to accept criticism without running off to sulk. Since the wild hippie & revolutionary years, we’ve turned within and become more considerate of each other and increasingly also of other religions, races, ethnicities, and cultures. These have long become part of the mainstream and populate even the smallest villages, as I am always interested to note. I like multicultural society, it enriches our lives, and if we travel abroad for the most diverse purposes, I see no reason why other nationalities shouldn’t do the same.
There have always been people who believe they have risen above others. Aware, enlightened, woke, they know what is right and what is wrong, what one should believe, what is proper, and what good taste is. Jokes about other nationalities or religions? Fie! Barefaced in any way? Oh My God! Everything must be veiled, except for Moslem women. Adopt values and expressions of other cultures? Certainly not! We keep our values pure here. No mixing please or you will be canceled! If I tell my Sicilian neighbour an Italian joke with a wink, it can no longer be banter, because I am insulting his values, his country, his integrity. The same goes for the tiresome dreadlocks debate, and who should wear them. And what about old movies and books giving an incorrect view of Native Americans, Black Americans, and Asian Americans? Of course, I’m for the representation of minorities in cinematography and elsewhere. But to throw out the baby with the bath water seems unwise to me. Children should still be allowed to read Tom Sawyer (some Dr. Seuss books less so). Negro used to be a common word. But, for reasons of segregation and racism, black people feel hurt by this designation, let alone the n-word. Calling people names is always out. That’s what our children need to be told.
Common sense is the order of the day, you choose what works and what you can’t expect your neighbors and fellow citizens to understand or suffer. Or would you rather stick to self-appointed moralizers or form your opinion in the social media, where a bunch of losers and haters troll themselves to sad celebrity?
By the way, I am looking for 2.2 million Swiss francs for the narrow house on Spalenberg in Basel, where Dieter Hagenbach, who started the Gaia Media Foundation, lived for many years. We would like to turn it into an LSD museum. Is anyone out there willing and able to help us out?

Yours
Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. You’ll find us at the Gaia Lounge, Hochstrasse 70 in Basel (near Basel SBB main station,  tram stop Peter Merian) every Thursday afternoon from 14 – 18 h. Welcome!


i was surviving

to keep it short and sweet, someone shoved a coffee mug
into my hand, the click of a tongue in the dark
was the sound of a mountain crumbling in my fist, the sand
settling between my teeth came with no instructions,
I was quiet for months on end, waltzed backwards
into the city and played dead, holding hands with myself
while lying in the intersection, violins which stopped me abruptly,
the new coming too late, O, my god, I don’t want to be funny
about it, but I don’t want it to be sad, I just want people
to stop looking at me like a broken plate, like O,
here’s some bubble gum, go glue yourself together, O,
here’s a severed hand to pat yourself with
when no-one’s watching, here’s my watch, here’s my shirt, here’s
my heart, it’s bloody, taste it.

 Jarrett Moseley

october 2022 – goodnews editorial

sad news

We were shocked and saddened to learn that Christian Rätsch (1957-2022) died on September 17. He was exceptionally gifted and will be missed by many.

When we first met, shamanism was largely unknown outside of professional circles and, moreover, suspect because it was associated with “drugs”. Three days after his death, the Börsenblatt (the German Financial Times) dedicated an obituary to him — Christian Rätsch’s work and thinking had long become a part of the mainstream. The well-known cultural anthropologist, ethnopharmacologist, author, and speaker leaves behind an extensive body of written and oral work; his books have been translated into several languages, and his lectures and television interviews have been heard and seen by millions.

Together with his lifelong partner Claudia Müller-Ebeling, he has done much to ensure that psychoactive substances are receiving greater recognition, especially in Germany, and that their demonization is giving way to a broader understanding of the achievements of indigenous cultures and their medicinal plants.

As a young anthropologist, Christian spent a total of four years among the Lacandones, a small group of Mayans in the Mexican state of Chiapas, whose language and healing rituals he learned and studied. Shortly before his death, Christian completed The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants – Volume 2 (co-authored by Markus Berger), the second part of the highly anticipated, internationally recognized standard work in the field, and, with it, his life’s work. It encompasses and defines an entire era of psychedelic creativity.

As a person, the long-haired academic fascinated with a mixture of detachment and friendliness. He was sixty-five years old when he died of a neglected stomach ulcer.

We also lost Yatra Barbosa, on 25 July. The Brazilian musician and ayahuasca activist, godmother of the Mãe D’Agua Tribe and co-founder of the so-called Eagle-Condor Festival in Alto Paraíso de Golás worked and lived in Amsterdam for an extended period, before returning to her native land. She died of heart failure at the age of eighty-one.

Yours
Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. You’ll find us at the Gaia Lounge, Hochstrasse 70 in Basel (near Basel SBB main station,  Stop Peter Merian) every Thursday afternoon from 14 – 18 h. Welcome!


remember

Sing no sad songs for me;

Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

 Christina Rossetti

september 2022 – goodnews editorial

downsizing

As in the Chinese parable of the farmer who lost his horses but gained his son’s life (and, in the end, retrieved the horses, too), negative events may lead to positive outcomes.
What does this mean in relation to the energy crisis (overpopulation, depleted soils, the meat sector)? The former escalated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a first positive outcome, people showed tremendous solidarity with Ukraine. This had a liberating effect; giving us an opportunity to resist what had befallen us. This winter, we may get down to the nitty-gritty of our comfort and luxuries. Will we still stand behind Ukraine then? The destruction, the killing, the suffering and the cruelties of war must end! But at what cost?
After the oil crisis of 1974-75, we downsized our economies. According to the business dictionary, “Healthy downsizing is the term used to describe efforts to reduce the scope of a company’s business to a certain planned level.” That’s what it’s all about. Not only because of the energy-saving potential of the downsizing process, which requires a little insight, but is not difficult to implement, but because we have come to realize that the “planned measure” has long been lost. We just never got enough.
But that’s all over now, as much as it may rain this fall to fill our empty rivers and reservoirs! Will we have to dress for an Arctic winter? Get used to bed socks, hot water bottles, and night caps? Will we have to retire to the bedroom with our beloved, with the cat, with a book, or with all the above, instead of shivering in front of the TV? Time will tell.
To get us through this difficult time, let us keep moving and be outdoors as much as possible! Nature offers us its beauty and healing power any time of the year. Let us recover and be strengthened by enjoying its magnificence. As to the urban environment: never have people wanted public spaces to be greener, more natural, and more sustainable. Never have as many – private and public – steps been taken to express and fulfil this desire!
Yours
Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. The Psychedelic Salons are back, and you’ll find us at the Gaia Lounge, Hochstrasse 70 in Basel (near Basel SBB main station,  Stop Peter Merian) every Thursday afternoon from 14 – 18 h. Welcome!


virus

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars
It is remarkably contagious
So kiss me!
 Hafiz

august 2022 – goodnews editorial

transience

On 9 July, Ann Shulgin passed away. She was ninety-six. Born in New Zealand, a writer, and a psychologist, she married the visionary chemist Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin, in 1978. Ann was an exceptionally gifted communicator and very outspoken. She was glamourous and unconventional, a bold, and motivated woman, someone to look up to. I was lucky to meet her at the Esalen Institute, in Big Sur, CA, introduced by Rupert Sheldrake. Since the Internet was still in its infancy then, I’ve found no trace of the memorable evening of June 17, 1985, Sasha Shulgin’s 60th birthday. In the early evening Terence McKenna gave a much-attended talk. While Terence introduced us to some of his ideas, Claudio Naranjo, Andrew Weil, Rick Doblin, Rupert Sheldrake, and Jill Purce, students, and staff members were sitting on pillows on the floor. The only two chairs in the room, brought for this purpose, were occupied by the smiling Shulgins. When everybody was done talking, we all had a bite to eat in the kitchen of Esalen’s Big House. Later, Sasha blew out the candles on his birthday cake and shared it with everyone. Later still, he got out his violin and serenaded us to enthusiastic applause. You’ll find Ann and Alexander Shulgins intrepid story in their famous books PIKHAL and TIKHAL. May they remain united in spirit and rest in peace.
Six years ago, on 17 August 2016, Dieter Hagenbach, initiator, and President of the Gaia Media Foundation, passed away. A sad day. He gave the foundation its name. Born out of Chaos, Gaia is a chthonic goddess. She brings forth all that grows and moves on earth and in the skies above. In Greek mythology, she has at least thirty-five children with many different men. This mother of mothers has bestowed her blessings upon us for eons, while defending herself whenever her laws were not respected. To be on the side of Gaia and give expression to her wisdom was one of Dieter’s objectives. The other was to spread consciousness about the manifold possibilities of the mind, and to inform about substances that can show us how to become more attuned to our own nature.
Five stormy years ago, I offered to keep Dieter’s newsletter alive by becoming its editor. Dieter’s but too brief successor, Lucius Werthmüller, and our team, gradually turned Dieter’s goodnewsletter into the gaiamedia goodnews, while staying true to his ideas. Please allow me to thank all of you who have shown appreciation for our efforts throughout the past five years, either by mail, by being our readers, by subscribing, and/or by becoming sponsors or patrons.
Yours,
Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. The Psychedelic Salons will be back in September, In the meantime, we’re at the Gaia Lounge in Basel every Thursday afternoon from 14 – 18 h. Welcome!


first fig 

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

 Edna St. Vincent Millay

july 2022 – goodnews editorial

angels and demons

Though they lend form to the qualities we strive for (overall), I don’t believe in Coincidence Control Agents (John Lilly), or angels. It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think that we, a species of ingenious losers, consort with these lofty entities. If they were our helpers, why then would we be in this moral, ecological, economic, and social mess? Could it be that our mishaps are due to angels who hate us aka known as demons aka the nether instincts in people? 
The idea of being aided or manipulated to our advantage by beings from other dimensions doesn’t appeal to me. My mother, a devout protestant, used the Almighty to enforce her rules: God is watching you! I challenged and rejected this petty spy when I was five years old. Didn’t he have more urgent concerns than to busy himself with me? As a teenager, I understood that the church held me in contempt, as a girl and as a woman, and refused to resign myself to a life of pain and suffering. These feelings can and should not be avoided or repressed. But glorified as a religion? Somehow the idea of God as love was and is not expressed very convincingly by our religious institutions. Like Karl Marx famously said: If Christians were truly Christian, we’d notice.
I do believe the universe is intelligent and omnipotent, all my senses and faculties tell me so, but I don’t think it cares whether I finished my plate last night or had a drunken fling with my neighbour’s husband, though it may have been a terrible idea. I believe that the cosmos interferes with us in the slow and impersonal but not unfriendly way we call evolution.
As to consorting with spirits, that I do for sure. As a child I saw fairies, pixies, and dwarves behind every bush und under every toadstool. I’ve met a few plant spirits and I consult with animals and archetypes. Are they my outer or my inner guides? And where do visions and symbolic messages come from? From the bottom of what reality?
I try to stay cool…
   Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. The Psychedelic Salons will be back in September, In the meantime, we’re at the Gaia Lounge in Basel every Thursday afternoon from 14 – 18 h. Welcome!


my mama moved among the days

My Mama moved among the days
like a dreamwalker in a field;
seemed like what she touched was hers
seemed like what touched her couldn’t hold,
she got us almost through the high grass
then seemed like she turned around and ran
right back in
right back on in
   Lucille Cilfton

june 2022 – goodnews editorial

gender wars

When I was little, there were essentially four sexual orientations. One was a man, a woman, a homosexual or a lesbian. As a sub-variant, some people liked both sexes. Among the homosexuals were those who liked to dress as women, while certain women wore men’s clothes. They were transvestites. During the Olympics, in the 1950s through the 1980s, beefy-looking women from Iron Curtain countries seemed to have an advantage over more feminine competitors and were tested. If they had enough female hormones, they were waved through and kept their medals, if not, goodbye! Since antiquity, we’ve known of the hermaphrodite, a wonder introduced to a larger audience in Federico Fellini’s Satyricon (1969). It is estimated that about one in eighty-three thousand children is born with both a vagina and a penis. Once it had the means to do so, the gynaecological profession determined the sexes of these children for them. Fortunately, this presumptuous habit is on the way out. There are a significant number of known cases of hermaphrodites who have given birth. To change one’s gender, one must swallow countless hormone pills and undergo invasive surgeries; one must see a psychiatrist, and there’s a lot of paperwork involved. No one would change their gender on a whim, it is too painful and lengthy a process. That a former man should have an advantage over other women man in sports seems random. Aren’t  the hormones doing their job? If they can make breasts sprout, aren’t a few measly muscles easily reformed? Well-trained cis-women are rightly proud of their physical prowess. Why, then, should transgender women be excluded from women’s sports teams? Do we really want reduce this complex question to the sexual characteristics we were born with? And while we are at it: it’s pure ostracism not to integrate the Paralympics and the Invictus Games into the «normal» Olympics. We’re all in this together.
I hope you’ll enjoy the summer days ahead despite our disquieting times.

   Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. The 2nd Psychedelic Salon in Basel brought great guests, young and old. Our lounge is still open on Thursdays from 2 – 6 pm, with an increasing number of evening programs attached. Please feel welcome!


exit

Low cirrocumulus clouds in the west.
War in the east.
Lift teabag from cup.
Add milk.  Ask if it is happiness
or pleasure you prefer.
Watch the storm churn to the surface.
Shadows gather in the valley below.
To count them is to know their many shapes
cannot be counted.
They must be numbered among.

   Suzanne Buffam

may 2022 – goodnews editorial

the future of psychedelics

Psychedelics are the talk of the town; their healing potential has been recognized; their sell-out is ongoing. In 2021 alone, 1.8 billion US dollars were pumped into the development and production of psychedelics related to psilocybin, ayahuasca, LSD, MDMA and ketamine; by the end of 2024, this figure is expected to double. Not since Bitcoins has there been a bigger hype. The first companies are already out of the race, other players are experiencing ups and downs in the stock market. No one knows exactly where the journey will lead, but it is clear to everyone that psychedelic have enormous financial potential, alimented by millions of people worldwide who suffer from depression and other mental disorders that are difficult to treat. Not everyone is taking the same approach. Some companies largely follow nature and want to compensate the Indigenous societies whose knowledge they adopt, but in general one is always one molecule away from a new patent, except for MDMA, where MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, has been doing good work with an old patent for years now. Especially in the case of depression, the temptation might be to create a remedy that corresponds to the chemism of psychedelics but can be taken for years. No wonder many would like to extract the trip out of tripping. Without catharsis, no cure? It doesn’t matter, the climax is too uncertain, not replicable. In treatment everything should be clinically measurable, set and setting constant. Always the same furniture and the same flowerpot! Therapeutic companions (trip sitters) proceed according to script. Patients are carefully selected, only the fewest admitted. God forbid someone shows initiative or seems ‘difficult’. It’s all about permits! And where might the rejected patients go? At best, they are left to traditional healers and independently acting psychedelic therapists. But all of us who take or have taken psychedelics have a responsibility. We must show courage and humility and be there for others when they need us. The psychedelic community must fight to make psychedelics legally available to healthy people, as well as to all people who need help. Stay tuned!

Susanne G. Seiler

P.S. We enjoyed Bicycle Day & our First Psychedelic Salon very much. From now on our lounge is always open from 14 – 18 h on Thursdays, with progressively more evening programs attached. Welcome!


saying goodbye

Now you´re giving wine to the horse!
Why did I ever ask you for directions?
You ask me why I asked you?
Who´s the guide around here anyway?
Surely we´re not lost.
Are we lost?
We´re lost.
Let us never go back
May we never be found.

Bob Hofman

april 2022 – goodnews editorial

annual report

The year 2021 was marked by a twist of fate for us. Due to Covid-19, everything proceeded quietly at first. In the Gaia Media Lounge, Ethnobotanika GmbH organized the first courses and integration circles, the number of registered library books grew slowly but steadily. Unfortunately, visitors only showed up sporadically. Socially, we were shut down. Almost a year ago, out of the blue, the tragic news hit us: Lucius Werthmüller, our foundation president, friend and advisor, is dead. We were blindsided. We never expected to lose him so suddenly. We miss Luci very much. His death brought many changes and cost us not only Luci’s broad knowledge, but also the professional support from the Parapsychological Association of Basel, which we regret very much. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Therese Hartmann, who supported us on the part of the PSI Association, for her valuable work and to wish her the very best. As Luci’s immediate collaborator, she was particularly affected by his death. These changes meant that the Gaia Media Foundation had to reinvent itself, so to speak. The Board of Trustees needs to be supplemented. Projects that were driven by Luci fell away, and those that were planned had to be rethought. This process is ongoing. And will continue to progress this year. Gaia Media firmly believes that good things come from transformation. We are happy to announce that the Foundation has been reorienting itself since the beginning of 2022, and will be happy to let you participate in our progress.We will be open every Wednesday from now on, from 12 to 18 h, and from May on every Saturday at the same time. We hope to see you soon at the Gaia Lounge at Hochstrasse 70, 4054 Basel, and please feel welcome!

Kerim Seiler / Susanne G. Seiler
Board of Trustees Editor goodnews

P.S. This year we’ll celebrate Bicycle Day with a small party. Details can be found under ‘good to visit/stream)’. And the first ‘The Psychedelic Salon’ will take place in Basel too, info ibidem.


visitors

Every door stands an open door:
our human settlements all temporary.

We share together the incidental shore
and teach the young to tend the lamp’s wick,

weary of anyone small enough to bar our entry.

Joan Kane

march 2022 – goodnews editorial

War

I felt sad when I got up this morning. There’s war on European soil. First, I would like to apologize to our non-European friends if this sounds hollow to them. In some countries, every day means war, even if it is called something else. These conflicts take place elsewhere. That’s the only reason why they concern us less here. It’s as stupid and as simple as that. The horror of the situation in Ukraine unsettles me. It hurts me when innocent people are harmed. History repeats itself. The first bitter pill we Europeans had to swallow was the tragic Yugoslavian war in the late twentieth century. And now this. There will be refugees again, traumatized women, children, and elders. People intending to return to their country will have lost their homes again. We will pick ourselves up again and collect and donate and yet stand by helplessly again. And afterwards we will vow: «Never again!» again. Lately we have seen more of «us» against «them» the world over. I know things will eventually get better, but I feel like crying. Am I a ridiculous softie, a sentimental crybaby who has nothing more to offer reality than a few cheap tears? Ninety-five percent of all Europeans, from the Atlantic to the Urals, disagree with this war. We have to make the best of this situation and we want to remain confident. We will benefit Ukrainians the most if we believe in them and focus our energy on them! Ukraine is the recipient of international backing and worldwide expressions of solidarity. Countries that have never taken in refugees want to welcome Ukrainians. Elon Musk is providing Internet access via Starlink, which will keep the government and the people in touch with the outside world and give them courage. More effective economic sanctions than before are hurting more of the right people. The war has taken a different turn than anticipated by the aggressor. The population and the army are fighting back. They have many strategic advantages. Maybe our demands, prayers and wishes will help, and justice will prevail? Positive news in general: We will reopen our lounge soon; there are no more mandates. I am happy that I am no longer constantly asking myself where my mask is, that I can see the faces of the essential workers in our stores and that I feel a little closer to people. And even under sad circumstances, spring is coming.

Thoughtfully, Yours
Susanne G. Seiler


nature’s first green is gold

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

february 2022 – goodnews editorial

In Praise of Boredom

Though we may not live alone, we have increasingly turned inward over the last two years. No matter if we previously described ourselves as spiritual or were committed to a more extroverted lifestyle, our inner lives have taken on a new magnitude. We had to get closer to ourselves because, collectively and individually, we were often at home, saw fewer people, slept more, loved more – or less – and saw, as if through a magnifying glass, what our individual lives are made of. Screen time. Family. Sex. Exercise. Shopping. Cooking. Eating. Maintenance. The confrontation with the essence of our inner landscape, our own nature, is not always pleasant. Not only because we may discover sides of ourselves that make us cringe or are challenged by behaviour that is hard to give up. We are used to being as productive as possible; even turning inward means ‘doing something’. Perhaps it is part of our nature, and we can’t help but strive for added value, or pleasure, whereas we would be so well served with a little boredom. Being bored is more than doing nothing. We could have many beautiful adventures of the mind, if we only allowed ourselves a little world-weariness from time to time! Staring holes in the air, our thoughts revolving around not knowing what to do with ourselves. Letting go, allowing the mind to drift, watching the clouds pass by. Letting go of the trivial as well as the significant thoughts that come to us, until they are boring too. Then we won’t be thinking of anything and delightfully unproductive. Until the next impulse arises and wriggles its way into our consciousness. When spring comes, new thought will turn into deeds.

Longingly Yours,
Susanne G. Seiler


February Twilight

Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see—
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

Sara Teasdale

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