Daniel Waterman

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Daniel Waterman
Daniel Waterman
Born(1962-01-04)4 January 1962
ResidenceNetherlands, The Hague
EducationVrije Akademie Psychopolis, Vakschool Schoonhoven, St.Joost Academie voor de Beeldende Kunsten, Camberwell College of Arts, Landmark Education
OccupationAuthor, Freelance writer/researcher, Artist, Locksmith [1]
Home townThe Hague

Daniel Waterman (born 1962) is a British philosopher, artist, writer, freelance researcher, locksmith [1] and Ayahuasca provider, living in the Netherlands. He is the author of "Entheogens, Society & Law: Towards a Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy & Responsibility", edited by Casey William Hardison, and published in 2013.


Waterman originally studied gold & silversmithing at the Vrije Academie Psychopolis [1] in The Hague and Vakschool Schoonhoven [2], as well as graphic design and fashion and St. Joost Akademie voor de Beeldende Kunsten [3] in Breda, from 1982 to 1986. Upon graduation, Waterman began traveling and developed an interest in the relationship between creativity, consciousness and health. In the 1990s he first came into contact with Santo Daime, a syncretic religious tradition from Brazil. Adherents consume a powerful psychoactive brew that catalyses altered or non-ordinary states of consciousness. Inspired by his experiences with ayahuasca, he subsequently traveled around the Amazon learning about native religious beliefs, mythology and healing practices. Waterman briefly worked as an instructor at the Usko-Ayar school of Amazonian Painting in Pucallpa, Peru, and collaborated with its founder, Don Pablo Amaringo, a mestizo curandero turned painter, teaching English, computer animation and drawing skills.

The September 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York left a deep impression, prompting a critical inquiry into the relationship between consciousness, ethics and injustice. This inquiry ultimately led to the publication of a book, "Entheogens, Society & Law: Towards a Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy and Responsibility".

In 2001, having returned to the Netherlands, Waterman founded "Ayahuasca Open Style" a loose association of ayahuasca providers and participants that advocates a secular psychotherapeutic approach to the use of "entheogenic" technologies. Around this time he also began researching and writing Entheogens, Society and Law while working as an ayahuasca provider in the Netherlands and abroad.


Waterman's first book Entheogens, Society & Law, (ESL) published by Melrose Books, Oxford in 2013, constitutes one of the most thorough non-academic critiques of contemporary discourses on entheogens and psychedelics to date, presenting an analysis of the role of magical thinking, moral and ideological preferences in the dissemination of conflicting interpretations of psychoactive plants, substances, their uses, users and effects. ESL covers important historical events such as Dutch psychiatrist Jan Bastiaan's use of LSD in the treatment of victims of Nazi persecution and the ensuing political debate in the Netherlands, landmark legal cases such as Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal 546 U.S. 418 (2006) in the US and Santo Daime vs. Netherlands (2001),[2] philosophical arguments, medical ethics, religious arguments, the influence of New Age beliefs, and finally takes a critical look at the role of Judeo-Christian moral concepts in the undermining of the relationship between spirituality and ethics in different areas of society.

Waterman eschews all metaphysics and supernaturalism in the interpretation of the effects of psychoactive plants and substances. His theories are loosely based on the work of Czech psychiatrist Stanislav Grof who as one of the leading specialists on the clinical administration of LSD formulated theories linking the contents of psychedelic catalyzed states of consciousness to the birth process.[3][4][5] Drawing on literature as diverse as Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and Otto Rank's "Das Trauma der Geburt", as well as the works of child psychologist Alice Miller, particularly her ideas about "poisonous pedagogy",[6][7] and Stanley Milgram's research into the nature of authority and obedience,[8] Waterman posits that all human experience, including religious and mystical states, can be traced back to the earliest stages of biological, cognitive and social development. He then goes on to posit a relationship between early cognitive and psychological development and culture in the production of ethical intuition and behaviour.

Amongst others, Waterman and Hardison coined the phrase "Responsibility Assignment Narrative." RAN's, they argue, constitute a specific function of language in the context of drugs discourse and policy making whereby key words and narratives serve to conceal the interests of the speaker. Speakers adopt an RAN to avoid responsibility or to blame others. The authors argue that concepts of responsibility — moral, legal and pragmatic — are founded on beliefs about free will and causality. These principle belong to what Thomas Nagel identifies as ‘absurdism,’ namely the principle that the ‘chain of justification,’ of what causes what, is never satisfactorily resolved either in psychological theory, or in physics. According to Waterman and Hardison:

The construction of responsibility or liability rests therefore in the identification of a range of possibilities, plausible causes or motives, and intuitions about their influence on human behaviour. The positive identification of original causes would require the isolation and separation of influences and events, something that is possible in theory alone. When we refer to responsibility, we refer therefore to narratives that explain and interpret causality, free will and hence responsibility as a basis for particular responses, cultural, legal, political. Our Responsibility Assignment Narrative ... is therefore not a critique of any specific interpretation of responsibility, as much as a critique of particular implementations of concepts such as free will or causality.[9]

Waterman has also argued against using Freedom of Religion arguments to defend the right to use "mind-altering" plants and substances. Instead, based on his arguments in ESL, Waterman advocates for inclusion of "Cognitive Liberty" in covenants on Human Rights. He argues that cognition is the de facto basis for all other rights which are founded on subjective experiences of "happiness" and "freedom" as recorded in the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights etc. He also argues that the omission of cognitive liberty in Human Rights discourse is undermining the ability to apply Human Rights arguments in e.g. cases involving coercive administration of psychoactive substances such as Ritalin for ADHD.

"Entheogens, Society & Law" was written over the course of thirteen years. It was produced in collaboration with Casey William Hardison who also edited the work. Hardison spent over nine years in a UK prison on charges of manufacturing a number of scheduled substances.[10][11] ESL was edited during the last six years of his internment.

Ayahuasca Open Style[edit]

In 2001, Waterman founded Ayahuasca Open Style (AOS) as a secular alternative to religious style ayahuasca ceremonies such those of the Brazilian Santo Daime. Ayahuasca Open Style ceremonies have been held in the Netherlands (2001 ongoing), Israel (2003-2006), Spain (2006), Czechoslovakia (2007), and the UK (2010). The ceremonies differ significantly from the religious format adopted by traditional ayahuasca shamans and contemporary religious groups like the Santo Daime. AOS ceremonies have no formal structure and no official functions such as "fiscal" (sitter/caretaker) or "commander" (master of ceremonies in the Santo Daime tradition). Decisions concerning the duration of the ceremony and the type of musical accompaniment are taken collectively based on the preferences and needs of participants. AOS ceremonies are eclectic, incorporating methods from psychedelic psychotherapy, shamanism and a variety of religious traditions. To compensate for the lack of formal structure, participants are given a thorough interview beforehand and invited to share their experiences with other participants afterwards. As of 2012, AOS ceremonies have begun to be integrated with workshops on a wide range of topics including personal development, communication skills, writing and other forms of creative expression, ecology and transitioning and activism. The workshops aim to extend the transformational value of the ayahuasca ceremony by providing an opportunity for reflection and sharing on a wide range of ethical and existential problems impacting the lives of participants.

According to Waterman, the secular anti-authoritarian format of AOS ceremonies eliminates the patriarchal authority encountered within formal psychotherapy, shamanism and religious traditions such as the Santo Daime. In his book, "Entheogens, Society & Law" Waterman suggests that the question of authority is fundamental to spiritual and ethical inquiry. By recreating the hierarchical structures prevalent in society, the traditional shamanic setting and the religious setting offered by the Santo Daime with its formal functions undermine participants ability to question authority. Consequently, the visionary power of entheogenic traditions is focused entirely on private experience and participants are not empowered to use their visionary experiences to explore the social, political and environmental relevance of their own experiences. The ability to use the visionary experience to acquire insights into almost every aspect of private and public life challenges, according to the author, the basis for the separation of Church and State which is founded on the idea that individuals are incapable of taking responsibility for their lives, either because they are inherently 'sinful' or because they do not possess the means to arrive at the ethical insights that are fundamental to the peace and harmony of society.

Political Views[edit]

Waterman is a staunch critic of Israel. Following the Israeli army's incursion into Gaza in 2009 he burned his passport and posted a video on YouTube.[12] This earned him scathing condemnation from pro-Israeli activists. Together with his mother, Ruth Kupferschmidt, he co-signed an ad in the New York Times, (August 23, 2014) in which over 300 Holocaust survivors and their descendants unequivocally condemn the Israeli policies re Palestinians as "Genocidal.""More than 350 Survivors and Descendants of Survivors and Victims of the Nazi Genocide Condemn Israel's Assault on Gaza". YouTube. 2009.

Partial bibliography[edit]

Edited volumes[edit]

  • (ed., with Casey William Hardison), Entheogens, Society & Law: Towards a Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy and Responsibility. Melrose Books, Oxford 2013, ISBN 978-1908645616.
  • (ed., with Casey William Hardison), Drug Policy: A Question of Responsibility, unpublished, 2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Linkedn page". uk.linkedin.com.
  2. ^ Dutch Santo Daime Case 2001 – Abridged Judgment
  3. ^ Grof, Stanislav (1975). Realms of the Human Unconscious. New York: Viking.
  4. ^ Grof, Stanislav (1985). Beyond the Brain. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
  5. ^ Grof, Stanislav (1998). The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness. Albany, New York: State University of New York (SUNY) Press.
  6. ^ Miller, Alice (1990). For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (3rd ed.). Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52269-3.
  7. ^ Rutschky, Katharina (1997). Schwarze Pädagogik. Quellen zur Naturgeschichte der bürgerlichen Erziehung (in German). Ullstein Buchverlage. ISBN 3-548-35670-2.
  8. ^ Milgram, Stanley (1974). Obedience to Authority; An Experimental View. Harpercollins. ISBN 0-06-131983-X.
  9. ^ Waterman, Daniel & Casey William Hardison (ed.), Entheogens, Society & Law: Towards a Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy and Responsibility. (Melrose Books, Oxford 2013) p. 66.
  10. ^ "DIY chemist jailed for 20 years". BBC. 22 April 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  11. ^ "R v Casey Hardison" (PDF). CPS Sussex Annual Report 2004-2005: 6. 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  12. ^ "Burning my Israeli Passport". YouTube. 2009.

External links[edit]