Breaking Convention took place on the campus of Exeter University from 22nd April to 25th April and The Natural Halo attended. Here are some of the highlights of one of the biggest and most interesting psychedelic conferences worldwide.
As attendees packed into the Great Hall of Exeter University and found their seats, the raft of first time attendees was evident as they all raised their hands. Breaking Convention had their first conference in 2011 and was just capable of making a profit.
That profit was enough to buy a packet of peanuts at the end of the weekend. However, the size this year was extraordinary for a subject that is just about to breach into mainstream consciousness.
The original crew that attended in 2011 were present, but this year had been joined by hundreds of new attendees, making this the biggest Breaking Convention ever.
For the organisers and volunteers, this was a great success, especially after the troubles of Covid-19 and not being able to organise a conference since 2019. Despite the location changing to Exeter, this didn’t stop people from all over the UK, and the world (including as far as Australia) visiting the weekend.
Exeter University announces new psychedelic postgraduate course
One of the major announcements at the conference was that Exeter University, where Breaking Convention took place, will soon be launching a new postgraduate course on psychedelics.
This new course will cover a wide variety of topics related to psychedelics including current psychedelic therapies, psychiatry and neuroscience, anthropology, philosophy – with a focus on insights into consciousness and metaphysics via psychedelics as well as discussions of decolonising psychedelic research.
Celia Morgan, a professor of psychopharmacology at the Exeter University, said: “As the world wakes up to the potential for psychedelics to be an important part of the toolkit to treat some of our most damaging mental health conditions, it’s vital that we’re training the workforce to meet the demand.”
Breaking Convention headline speakers
Each day the conference was punctuated by some wonderful headline speakers. William Leonard Pickard joined via video conference on Thursday for a heart-warming and fascinating call. Although unable to be there in person, his spirit was still able to shine through to the attendees in the Great Hall.
Graham Hancock was capable of attending many years after being a speaker at the first Breaking Convention. His talk traced psychedelics back to ancient societies and showed the links between death, society, and psychedelics in a fascinating proposal.
Paul Stamets was last but not least on Saturday. Stamets explained how psilocybin and magic mushrooms can make the world and people a better place via their medicinal benefits as well as their philosophical benefits.
Variety is the spice of life at Breaking Convention
Throughout each day of the conference were a vast variety of speakers focussing on different topics. These ranged from the scientific studies being conducted, the philosophical nature of psychedelics to people discussing their experiences and providing insights for others.
Importantly, there were also critiques and discussions of how to improve the burgeoning industry, which were extremely valuable. Unfortunately, we are unable to mention each by name here. We do, however, recommend keeping an eye on Breaking Convention’s YouTube channel where many of the talks are soon to be uploaded if you were unable to make the conference in person.