The Chalice: Erik Davis Blotter Book launch

  • Hosted by The Alembic
  • Berkeley, CA -

The Chalice draws from the humanistic wells of history, poetry, the gods, ethnobotany, humor, and mystery to cultivate psychedelic culture

The Chalice is a recurring psychedelic salon at Alembic convened on the first Wednesday of every month. Instead of the mainstream focus on clinical trials, legal frameworks, and psychotherapy, The Chalice will draw from the deeper humanistic wells of history, poetry, the gods, ethnobotany, humor, and mystery. We are less interested in fetishizing psychedelic substances or psychedelic experiences than in cultivating psychedelic culture and exploring what it means to be psychedelic people.

Tonight’s Chalice will be special: the launch of Erik Davis’ new book, Blotter: the Untold Story of an Acid Medium. Erik will introduce and read a few selections from the publication, which is the world’s first history and cultural analysis of LSD blotter, a singular underground expression of art, print, and drug culture. In addition to discussing the story of blotter, the book also tells the tale of Mark McCloud, whose vast collection of street blotter and deep knowledge of the field forms the archival backbone of the book. Following Erik’s presentation, Mark will join his old friend Maria Mangini onstage for a conversation, which should prove a hoot. Books will be available for purchase as well as signing by Erik and Mark. A variety of collectable art blotters (non-dipped) will also be available for purchase through Shakedown Gallery, who will also be offering a new blotter edition of the notorious cover art from Erik’s book High Weirdness. Because this is a book launch, which are usually free events, remember that the Chalice is by donation only, though you will need to reserve a ticket before hand as this is sure to sell out.

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The co-hosts for Chalice are Erik Davis, author and Alembic co-founder; Maria Mangini, co-founder of the Women’s Visionary Council and old-school head; and Christian Greer, currently a lecturer on counterculture at Stanford University. The first half of each gathering will feature a talk or special guest interview; the second half of the evening is designed to develop the community, sometimes with breakout groups, story hours, and peer-to-peer discussion, and always with more questions than answers.

Erik Davis, PhD, is an author, award-winning journalist, and teacher based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on alternative religion, media culture, the popular imagination, and the psychedelic underground. He is the author of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies (2019); Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010); The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a critical volume on Led Zeppelin (2005), and the celebrated cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998), which remains in print. Davis’s scholarly and popular essays on music, technoculture, drugs, and spirituality have appeared in scores of books, magazines, and journals, and his writing has been translated into a dozen languages. Davis has spoken widely at universities, conferences, retreat centers, and festivals, and has been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, NPR, and the New York Times. He graduated from Yale University in 1988, and earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University in 2015. He writes the online publication the Burning Shore (, and his next book is Blotter: the Untold Story of an Acid Medium (2024)

Mariavittoria Mangini, PhD, FNP has written extensively on the impact of psychedelic experiences in shaping the lives of her contemporaries, and has worked closely with many of the most distinguished investigators in this field. She is one of the founders of the Women’s Visionary Council, a nonprofit organization that supports investigations into non-ordinary forms of consciousness and organizes gatherings of researchers, healers, artists, and activists whose work explores these states. She is a visiting scholar at the Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, and Professor Emerita in the School of Science, Allied Health, and Nursing at Holy Names University. For the last 50 years, she has been a part of the Hog Farm, a well-known communal family based in Berkeley and in Laytonville, California.

Dr. J. Christian Greer is a scholar of Religious Studies with a special focus on psychedelic culture. He holds a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School, as well as a MA and PhD (cum laude) in Western Esotericism from the University of Amsterdam. While a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Divinity School, he led a series of research seminars on global psychedelic spirituality, which culminated in the creation of the Harvard Psychedelic Walking Tour, a free audio guide detailing how the Harvard community has shaped the modern history of psychedelic culture. His latest book, Kumano Kodo: Pilgrimage to Powerspots (co-authored with Dr. Michelle Oing) analyzes the pilgrimage folklore associated with the rainforests of Japan's Kii Peninsula. His forthcoming book, Angelheaded Hipsters: Psychedelic Militancy in Nineteen Eighties North America (Oxford University Press), explores the expansion of psychedelic culture within fanzine networks in the late Cold War era. He has held teaching positions at Harvard University, Yale University, and Stanford University. Along with Dr. Erik Davis, he organizes an intensive summer school course, "The Psychedelic Universe: Global Perspectives on Higher Consciousness,” that will launch at the University of Amsterdam in July, 2024.

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