In what promises to be a unique, fun and creative evening, the Saskatoon Psychology Students’ Society at the University of Saskatchewan will be hosting its second annual Psychedelic Circus fundraising event on Jan. 23 at Louis’ Pub.
The SPSS is putting on its circus-like fundraiser that promises to be much like last year’s event, deemed a success by event organizers Brandon Brown, psychology graduate, and Sarah Nickel, fourth-year psychology major and SPSS president. The objective is to have a fun and artistic gathering where people are free to be themselves.
According to the pair, too few opportunities exist to connect in a way that feels authentic. Brown’s idea, with the input of good friend and former U of S engineering student Ryan Cucheran, was to replicate a psychedelic experience minus the drugs.
Brown is one of the social directors on the SPSS’s executive committee and spent time on the west coast music festival scene, which inspired his idea for the circus-themed event.
“I travelled to the west coast and I experienced all the music festivals out west, and I just loved that like, the synchronicity, to use Carl Jung’s idea of a ‘divine coincidence.’ So you can be thinking about something, and then, at a festival like that where everyone’s kind of open to that possibility of something weird happening,” Brown said, referring to this state as a type of “human magic.”
The event is open to all U of S students as well as the general public. As for possible benefits, Brown spoke candidly about his history of addiction — he is clean now — and he says research that was conducted in Saskatchewan suggests acid as an effective means of treating addiction.
He spoke of the prevalence of substance abuse and addiction among U of S students and he hopes a drug-free psychedelic event might assist people who struggle with such issues.
“I was really obsessed with finding a path to curing addiction and I thought I would be really helpful at that with the history of addiction that I had, and going through the west coast psychedelic festival scene was what kind of helped me find new ways of being.”
The Psychedelic Circus is exactly what it sounds like: a circus that is somewhat experimental and psychedelic without any drugs. The event’s inspiration is virtually limitless.
“It’s not just a psychedelic drug. It has to do with also the people that are there and the setting and the culture and the expectation of a religious experience,” Brown said.
According to Brown, those factors sometimes culminate in profound inspiring epiphanies, yet the idea’s roots are simple.
“It was kind of just trying to bring that west coast psychedelic music festival craziness inside,” he said.
Nickel cites the communal nature of art and the event’s capacity for social engagement as aspects of the festival that she hopes will engender an increasingly cohesive campus community at the U of S.
“There’s been a lot of love that’s gone into the event, you know? And lots of passion too,” Nickel said.
Nickel describes that love and passion as contagious emotions that are communicable to anyone who becomes involved with the project.
“Psychedelic Circus is a place where people can go and… they’ll be accepted as themselves and able to embrace the art,” she said.
The art at Psychedelic Circus is multi-faceted. While some people dress up for the event, Nickel reassures students and attendees alike that they should take the suggestion to do so as merely an option that they themselves have the capacity to define.
“It’s not only [a matter of] going to enjoy the art, but almost being a part of it as well.”
Proceeds from the event will go in equal parts to the Canadian Mental Health Association, SPSS and a scholarship for psychology students at the U of S. Psychedelic Circus is set to take place at Louis’ Pub Jan. 23 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Graphics: Mike T.