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A deeply personal account of the scientific, shamanic, and metaphysical encounters that led to the development of Metzner’s psychological methods

• Recounts the author’s meetings and friendships with Albert Hofmann, Alexander Shulgin, the McKenna brothers, Wilson Van Dusen, Myron Stolaroff, and Leo Zeff

• Details his lucid dream encounters with G. I. Gurdjieff, profoundly healing sessions with Hawaiian healer Morrnah Simeona, experiences with plant teachers iboga and ayahuasca, and ecological and mystical lessons learned from animal teachers

• Shares his involvement in the beginnings of the therapeutic use of MDMA and how it safely and effectively supports the healing of trauma, PTSD, and interpersonal relationships

Just as the search for the philosopher’s stone is the core symbol of the alchemical tradition, Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., psychotherapist and one of the respected elders of the psychedelic research community, sees it as the central metaphor of his life-long quest to find methods of healing and insight through heightened states of consciousness.

Through captivating stories Metzner shares his encounters from the 1960s through the 1990s with genius scientists, shamanic healers, mystics, plant spirits, and animal guides that led to the development of his “alchemical divination” psychological methods, a structured intuitive process of accessing inner sources of healing and insight. He details lessons learned with psychedelic research legends Albert Hofmann, Alexander Shulgin, Terence McKenna, and Dennis McKenna. He reveals his deeply healing encounters with the Kahuna bodywork healer Morrnah Simeona, the first to introduce the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono healing method to the West, and his experiences with West African trance dancing and the psychoactive plant-drug iboga. Metzner recounts in vivid detail his unwelcome encounter with malignant sorcery during an ayahuasca experience in Ecuador and the lessons it taught him about connections with spirits, both harmful and beneficial. He tells of his involvement in the beginnings of the therapeutic use of MDMA and shows how it is an effective and safe substance to support psychotherapy for healing trauma, PTSD, and interpersonal relationships.

In sharing his remarkable encounters, Metzner shows how the most meaningful lessons in the alchemy of life come not only from the geniuses we meet but also from the spirits we encounter along the way.

Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., helped found the Harvard Psilocybin Project in 1960 and is now a psychotherapist and professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He is the author of many books, including The Psychedelic Experience (with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert), Maps of Consciousness, Opening to Inner Light, and The Well of Remembrance. He lives in Sonoma, California.

  • Publisher: Park Street Press (January 1, 2019)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781620557761

“Ralph Metzner is a great storyteller! These life tales overflow with amazing events, profound insights, sorrowful traumas, and madcap adventures. We share the times, places, and teachers--human, plants, fungi, and animals--that expanded his worldview from the narrow rational/material to the spiritual and beyond to the shamanistic.”

– James Fadiman, Ph.D., author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide

“A biographical journey of self-awareness through deep meditations, mind-transforming substances, and the spiritual embrace of humans, animals, and dreams. I recommend this work for the seeker in all of us.”

– Peter Phillips, Ph.D., professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University

“From the 1960s to the present, Metzner has occupied a central role as an experimental scientist, educator, and healer, leaving no philosophers’ stone unturned, mapping consciousness in both scholarly and personal ways in the enduring tradition of Jung and Campbell, Huxley and Watts.”

– Michael Horowitz, coeditor of Aldous Huxley’s Moksha and Sisters of the Extreme

“What a fascinating life Ralph Metzner has lived and what marvelous mentors he’s had along the way! The stories in Searching for the Philosophers’ Stone are filled with charm, wonder, surprise, warmth, and bold insights into consciousness. Metzner’s diverse human guides are astute and compassionate. Just as impressive are the spirit world teachers, who speak by way of animals, dreams, meditative states, and, of course, mind-altering plants and other entheogens.”

– Allen D. Kanner, Ph.D., coeditor of Ecopsychology and Psychology and Consumer Culture

“This beautiful chronicle of spiritual discovery, where each story is a jewel shining with truth and wisdom, documents a great and courageous journey into expanded consciousness.”

– Matthew McKay, Ph.D., author of Seeking Jordan

“Few people have written as many life-changing books as Ralph Metzner, and nobody has written about profound topics more eloquently. Searching for the Philosophers’ Stone is no exception, and his collection of conversations with remarkable men and women will give readers a glimpse of inner and outer worlds that they never knew existed.”

– Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., coauthor of Personal Mythology

“Metzner beautifully fulfills his role as wisdom carrier with Searching for the Philosophers’ Stone. His stories reveal an intuitive mind, an integrated psyche, and steadfast allegiance to his life mission: to cultivate approaches to healing our fractured psyches/bodies in this fractured world by drawing on time-honored mythology, expanded states of perception, and shamanistic practices of times past and present. The book is a tale of adventure well flavored by Metzner´s curiosity and humility.”

– Chellis Glendinning, Ph.D., psychologist

“Part memoir, part vision quest, Metzner shares his moving experiences of fatherhood and loss; meetings with masters, both human and other worldly; dream state and power animal transmissions; and more. He earns his place as a chief influencer in today’s positive resurgence of the psychedelic psychotherapy movement and also as a true scholar of human consciousness.”

– Jamy Faust, M.A. & Peter Faust, M.Ac., coauthors of The Constellation Approach

“Ralph Metzner is a brilliant psychologist and writer whose stellar consciousness research helped to shape the path of an entire generation of spiritual seekers, including my own. This is an amazing treatise on the remarkable, wild, and profound life and teachings of Ralph that led to the development of his alchemical divination, which has touched the hearts of countless souls searching for the meaning of life. Through fascinating stories and his pioneering research he has opened us up to amazing wisdom and cosmologies from multiple dimensions.”

– Sandra Ingerman, M.A., coauthor of Speaking with Nature

“This amazing autobiographical volume is overflowing with rare and unique information not found anywhere else. Beautifully recounting his transformative journey, with a global cast of notable mystics, scientists, and healers, Metzner describes how these encounters led him to insights that were far beyond what he was expecting.”

– David Jay Brown, author of Dreaming Wide Awake

“Searching for the Philosophers’ Stone is a cause for celebration that takes us on an enlivening, robust, eye-opening journey with the people and practices that have shaped Metzner’s thinking and vision of an awakened life. This personal account of his path as a legendary pioneer in the field of consciousness also reflects the broader history of this movement in America. This is a book that both skeptics and believers will find riveting and enlightening.”

– Richard Strozzi-Heckler, author of In Search of the Warrior Spirit

“Ralph Metzner is one of the legendary visionary pioneers of today’s consciousness movement. He records his experiences with both entheogens and mystical practices. This book provides psychological insights that are the result of many decades of deep inquiry. It is a treasure.”

– Jeffrey Mishlove, Ph.D., host of New Thinking Allowed

“As an educator there can be no greater journey of the self toward the Self. This book provides the catalyst one needs to explore the inner dimensions for coherence with our outer work.”

– Philip Snow Gang, Ph.D. master of education programs at Endicott College

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