Welcome to Burning Shore

I am Erik Davis (www.techgnosis.com), an author, scholar, award-winning journalist, podcaster, and professional talker. My wide-ranging work dances around the intersection of alternative religion, media, the popular imagination, and the cultural history of California. Burning Shore will continue to rove through this wide field, as I think about now and then, culture and catastrophe, through the lens of what I call “California consciousness.”

I am the author, most recently, of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies, co-published by MIT Press and Strange Attractor Press. I also wrote Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a critical volume on Led Zeppelin’s fourth record (2005), and the celebrated cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998).  My scholarly and popular essays on music, technoculture, drugs, and spirituality have appeared in scores of books, magazines, and journals, and my writing has been translated into a dozen languages.

For a decade, I explored the “cultures of consciousness” on the weekly podcast Expanding Mind, whose archive remains popular. I love to speak publicly, and have given talks at universities, conferences, retreat centers, and transformative festivals. I have been interviewed for many documentaries, and by CNN, the BBC, NPR, and the New York Times. I graduated from Yale University in 1988, and earned my PhD in religious studies at Rice University, and currently live in San Francisco.

You have two options here. A free sign-up will get you most of the content directly in your inbox, including a monthly roundup up of news and links. If you want to interact with me and participate more deeply in the community, you can sign up for a paid subscription at $5 a month. This will give you access to the comments sections, the monthly “Ask Dr. D.” feature, and other bonuses along the way.

Burning Shore is a Substack publication. I am a big fan of Substack, which is focused on allowing independent writers like me to build and interact with an audience who wants to support my work. I have been online since the early 1990s, and Substack reminds me of some of those earlier online spaces of serious reading and writing. To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.

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Consciousness Culture from a California perspective


I write, lecture, and make media about consciousness culture: media, spirituality, philosophy, subculture, imagination, psychoactives.