“Mainstreaming Psychedelic Mormonism” by Sunstone Symposium (July 28th, 2023)

Download audio from Sunstone here

Friday, July 28th, 2023 | 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM


  • Alex Criddle (he/him), Independent Researcher, Consciousness, Psychedelics, Mormonism, Occult History
  • Michael Ferguson (he/him)
  • Seth Anderson, PhD, Boston University
  • Don Bradley (he/him), Utah State University, Writer / Graduate Student
  • Trevor Luke, Florida State University, Associate Professor


  • Bob Craghead, University of Utah


As psychedelics are joining the mainstream, religions need to address the spiritual and mystical experiences people are having under the influence of these substances. Some Christian, Jewish, and Pagan groups are rising to the occasion by implementing psychedelic chaplaincies in order to facilitate the process of meaning making for individuals who elect to undergo such experiences.

Recent, and past, research has shown that not only are set and setting important to the content and eventual outcome of a psychedelic experience, but the metaphysical framework in which the experience occurs also greatly shapes it, leading to the need for psychedelic-informed religious leaders to guide seekers through the experience in a constructive way.

Mormonism is at its core a “psychedelic” religion. Psychedelic substances contributed to the foundational experiences and events that gave birth to Mormonism. Early Mormons continued to use such substances at least through the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and perhaps even beyond that time. This use continued in the early church meetings and the Kirtland Temple dedication. Newspapers in the 1830s picked up on the unusually large number of visionary experiences had by its members maligning the Mormons to the fringes.

After the assassination of Joseph Smith, Jr., different branches of the Restoration continued to engage with psychedelic substances. The Brighamite tradition discontinued use of the entheogens present during Joseph Smith’s life, as well as most other psychoactive substances, even those arguably allowed by its Word of Wisdom (D&C 89). In the RLDS Church, Joseph’s grandson, Frederick M. Smith, its third president and Joseph Smith’s grandson, “wanted to understand the revelatory process” as understood by his grandfather and devoted time and writings to “the wonders of peyote” in the revelatory process, later encouraging RLDS members to use peyote.

In this panel made up of the founding members of Harvard Divinity School’s Psychedelic Mormonism working group we’ll address the historical and contemporary usage of psychedelics in the context of the mainstream acceptance of these substances and where they fit into Mormon theology.