Research on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic medicine is being actively renewed in clinical settings around the world. Substances that have for millennia formed part of humanity’s ritual and religious traditions are now being studied with renewed vigour for their potential benefits in treating a wide variety of illnesses, as well as for spiritual, psychological and educational benefits.
(contenu en anglais seulement)

Welcome to the Psychedelics and Spirituality Studies Initiative

A key feature of current psychedelic study is a recognition of the importance of psychological expectation (“set”) and socio-physical environment (“setting”) for therapeutic success. Although the quality of the subjective experience is now widely recognized as a vital component in the psychedelic healing process, the existential/spiritual as well as socio-cultural mechanisms underpinning it remain poorly understood. 

Our Vision & Mission 

The Psychedelics & Spirituality Studies Initiative (PSSI) at the University of Ottawa is an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graudate students who share a common interest in the study of psychedelics, spirituality and integrative healing. 

The vision of the uO’s Centre for the Study of Psychedelics & Spirituality is to unite researchers from Humanities Social Sciences, Psychology and Medicine in the interdisciplinary exploration of the role of psychedelics in healing and human flourishing. The Initiative will serve as a focal point from which researchers in the field of psychedelics and spirituality will be able to share knowledge and expertise and disseminate findings. 

Our mission is to: 

  • Enable and foster collaborative, multidisciplinary, evidence-based research in the area of psychedelics and spirituality, including mindfulness-based and contemplative practices; 

  • Foster interdisciplinary work between the Health Sciences and Social Sciences/Humanities in the exploration of human consciousness and meaningfulness; 

  • Advance paradigms of integrative health and healing that acknowledge cross-cultural, indigenous and spiritual perspectives. 

About Anne Vallely

I am an Associate Professor with the Department of Classics & Religious Studies , University of Ottawa. I am an Anthropologist of South Asian Religion (with a focus on the Jain tradition ). At the broadest level, I am interested in issues germane to the study of religion, and fundamental to the human condition, including suffering, death, healing, devotion, spirituality and end of life issues. In addition, I am interested in the ethical and spiritual interactions with animals/the nonhuman world . 

I am one of the founding members of the University of Ottawa’s Academy for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies which stems from an interest in body-mind awareness disciplines, Philosophy of Mind, and in the use of mindfulness practices in teaching. I am involved in the creation of two new academic units at uOttawa: “Contemplative Studies” and in “Animal Studies” , both of which will be launched in 2019. 

My current research interests focus on issues around death, loss and grief within the Jain tradition in India, as well as on the spirituality of dying in comparative framework. In the context of the latter, in December 2018 I organized an international workshop entitled “Transcendence: Psychedelics & Spiritual Healing at the End of Life” that included a public lecture by Dr Anthony Bossis (NYU Medical School) and a two day worksop with leading researchers of psychedelic therapies, exploring the significance of plant medicines for end of life care. 

I am presently initiating a qualitative study to explore psychedelic / entheogenic facilitated mystical-type experiences and discern their similarities to (and differences from) naturally occurring mystical states. 

Anne Vallely