Daniel Pinchbeck

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Daniel Pinchbeck
OccupationAuthor, Journalist
SubjectEntheogens, Mayanism, New-age philosophy, ecology, technology
Notable worksBreaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism
2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl
RelativesJoyce Johnson (mother)
Peter Pinchbeck (father)

Daniel Pinchbeck is an American author. His books include Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, and Notes from the Edge Times. He is a co-founder of the web magazine Reality Sandwich and of the website Evolver.net, and edited the North Atlantic Books publishing imprint Evolver Editions. He was featured in the 2010 documentary 2012: Time for Change, directed by Joao Amorim and produced by Mangusta Films. He is the founder of the think tank Center for Planetary Culture, which produced the Regenerative Society Wiki.

Family and background[edit]

Pinchbeck’s father, Peter Pinchbeck, was an abstract painter, and his mother, writer and editor Joyce Johnson, was a member of the Beat Generation who dated Jack Kerouac as On the Road at the time was published in 1957 (chronicled in Johnson's book, Minor Characters).[1]

Works and activities[edit]

Pinchbeck was a founder of the 1990s literary magazine Open City with fellow writers Thomas Beller and Robert Bingham. He has written for many publications, including Esquire, The New York Times Magazine,[2] The Village Voice,[3] and Rolling Stone. In 1994 he was chosen by The New York Times Magazine as one of "Thirty Under Thirty" destined to change our culture through his work with Open City.[4] He has been a regular columnist for a number of magazines, including Dazed & Confused.

In Breaking Open the Head, Pinchbeck explored shamanism via ceremonies with tribal groups such as the Bwiti of Gabon, who eat iboga, and the Secoya people in the Ecuadorean Amazon, who take the psychedelic tryptamine brew ayahuasca in their ceremonies.[5] He also attended the Burning Man festival in Nevada,[6] and looked at use of psychedelic substances in a de-sacralized modern context. Philosophically influenced by the work of anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner,[7][8] through his direct experience and research Pinchbeck developed the hypothesis that shamanic and mystical views of reality have validity, and that the modern world had forfeited an understanding of intuitive aspects of being in its pursuit of rational materialism.

Drawing heavily, and somewhat controversially, from material shared on the Breaking Open the Head forums, Pinchbeck's second volume, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, chronicles Mayan and Hopi prophecies,[9] and follows Pinchbeck's travels and travails as he responds to leads, both physical and intellectual, he receives via this forum. Examining the nature of prophecy during this period, Pinchbeck investigates the New Age hypothesis of Terence McKenna that humanity is experiencing an accelerated process of global consciousness transformation, leading to a new understanding of time and space. The book details the psi or extra-sensory perception research of Dean Radin, the theories of Terence McKenna, the phenomena of crop circles, and a visit to calendar reform advocate José Argüelles. Pinchbeck concludes with an account of receiving a transmission of prophetic material from the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl,.[9] This claim was enough to get the book dropped by its planned publisher, delaying its release for the greater part of a year. While acknowledging that the validity of such an experience is unknown, Pinchbeck describes how a voice identifying itself as Quetzalcoatl began speaking to him during a 2004 trip to the Amazon. At the time, he was participating in the ceremonies of Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion that includes sacramental use of ayahuasca. Through its references to 2012 and the Maya calendar in the context of New Age beliefs, Pinchbeck's book has contributed to Mayanism.

In May 2007, Pinchbeck launched Reality Sandwich. He is the executive producer of Postmodern Times, a series of web videos presented on the iClips Network, and co-founder of Evolver.net, an online social network.[10][11] His life and work are featured in the documentary 2012: Time for Change, featuring interviews with Sting, David Lynch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and others.

In August 2013, Pinchbeck became the host of Mind Shift, a new talk show, filmed in New York City, produced by Gaiam TV.

Pinchbeck's How Soon Is Now? (2017) explores the idea that the ecological crisis is a rite of passage or initiation for humanity collectively, forcing us to reach the next level of our consciousness as a species. The book outlines the changes to our technical infrastructure - agriculture, energy, industry - and our social, political, and economic system that Pinchbeck believes necessary to avoid the worst consequences of global warming and species extinction.[12]

Appearances and interviews[edit]

In a 1973 article about the Wacky Packs parodies of consumer packaging, seven-year-old Pinchbeck told a reporter for New York Magazine, "I think they're bringing out the truth about foods."[13]

On 14 December 2006, Pinchbeck appeared on the television program The Colbert Report to discuss his book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl.[14]

Pinchbeck was featured in the 2006 video Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within, a documentary about rediscovering an enchanted cosmos in the modern world.[15]

Pinchbeck was also featured in the 2008 video 2012: Science or Superstition, a documentary describing how much of what we are hearing is science and how much is superstition.[16]

He interviewed Alejandro Jodorowsky for the German/French art television network Arte in a very personal discussion, spending a night together in France, continuing the interview in different locations like in a park and in a hotel.[17]

Pinchbeck appears in the documentary film 2012: Time for Change, directed by João G. Amorim, which was released in October 2010.[18] He also appeared in the documentary film Electronic Awakening, directed by AC Johner, released in 2011.[19]

Pinchbeck appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, recorded on 8 September 2011.[20]

Books and publications[edit]

  • Pinchbeck, Daniel (2002). Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (1st ed.). New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 978-0-767-90742-2.
  • —— (2002). Jeff Koons Andy Warhol: Flowers. Essay by Daniel Pinchbeck. New York: Gagosian Gallery. ISBN 978-1-880-15485-4.
  • —— (2006). 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-585-42592-1.
  • Pinchbeck, Daniel; Jordan, Ken, eds. (2009). Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-585-42700-0.
  • —— (2010). Notes from the Edge Times. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-585-42837-3.


  1. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel (June 8, 2000). "My mother and Jack Kerouac". Salon. Salon Media Group. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  2. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel (10 November 2002). "Breaking Open the Head". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  3. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel (5 January 1999). "Breath Trip". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  4. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel (22 February 1998). "Cast Your Magazine Upon the Waters". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  5. ^ Kamiya, Gary (10 November 2002). "Far Out". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  6. ^ "2009 Theme Camps & Villages". burningman.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  7. ^ Taylor, Suzanne. "Conversation With Wheat Graffiti Writer, Daniel Pinchbeck". Los Angeles: Mighty Companions. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  8. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel (August 2002). "Wheat Graffiti: A roundup of the top of the crops". Wired. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  9. ^ a b Mathis-Lilley, Ben (1 May 2006). "Lit Scenester Predicts Apocalypse". New York. New York Media, LLC. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  10. ^ Sterling, Bruce (4 June 2009). "It's been a good day for weird, unsolicited email: part one". Wired. Condé Nast Publications. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  11. ^ Pinchbeck, Daniel (19 March 2010). "Launching The Evolver Social Movement". Reality Sandwich. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  12. ^ "How Soon is Now? by Daniel Pinchbeck". Watkins Publishing. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  13. ^ Edwards, Owen (October 1, 1973). "Wacky Packs: New Fad for the Children of the Skeptical Seventies". New York Magazine. p. 37. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Daniel Pinchbeck - The Colbert Report". The Colbert Report. New York. 14 December 2006. Comedy Central. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  15. ^ Mann, Rod (Director) (2006). Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within. Critical Mass Productions. OCLC 181630835. Archived from the original (DVD video) on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  16. ^ Erez, Nimrod (Director) (2008). 2012: Science or Superstition (DVD video). New York: Disinformation Company. ISBN 978-1-934-70817-0. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  17. ^ Jodorowsky, Alejandro (25 November 2009). "Durch die Nacht mit... Alejandro Jodorowsky & Daniel Pinchbeck". Arte (Interview). Interviewed by Daniel Pinchbeck. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  18. ^ "2012: Time for Change". imdb.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  19. ^ "Electronic Awakening". imdb.com. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  20. ^ Rogan, Joe (8 September 2011). "Podcast #136". The Joe Rogan Experience (Podcast). Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.

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