Timothy Leary’s Castalia Foundation Has Been Co-opted to Promote Conspiracy Theories about COVID and Elite Pedophile Rings

Russell HausfeldFebruary 2, 2021

The Castalia Foundation—originally founded in part by Timothy Leary—”resurfaced” in 2020 with anti-mask content, praise for Donald Trump, and paranoid discussion around the sexual abuse of children.

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In 1962, Harvard professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert started a grassroots nonprofit called the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF), in order to carry out studies on the religious use of psychedelic drugs. This nonprofit was disbanded and renamed the Castalia Foundation in 1963, when Leary and Alpert set up a communal group at the Hitchcock Estate in Millbrook, New York. 

Returning from a marijuana possession arrest in 1965, Leary reorganized the Castalia Foundation as The League of Spiritual Discovery: a religion with LSD as its sacrament. Between 1967 and 1968, the League for Spiritual Discovery was closed down, and the New York Center for the League for Spiritual Discovery was abandoned.

The Castalia Foundation resurfaced in 2020 through two domain names: castaliafoundation.com and thecastalia.com. These domains were created on March 11, 2020 and April 28, 2020, respectively. The phone number listed under Registrant Contact Information for thecastalia.com is out of service. Castaliafoundation.com has no phone number listed.

The Castalia Foundation website lists Timothy Leary and his ex-wife, Rosemary Woodruff, as its founders — both of whom are dead. Neither website names the founders of the rebooted Castalia Foundation. The named staff members include Editor Frieda Haze, News Editor Franklin J. Sumner, Arts Editor Sophie Lovegood, Designer Sarah Kaufman, and Legal Advisor Jared Schutz. 

When a question about these names was posted on Castalia Foundation’s forum, a user named “Phoenix” (more on him later) said that these are “not pseudonyms, but some have changed their names at least once in the past and none have an online presence. The entire community is quite private, and keen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the 1960s…Without visible leaders, it is harder for the Deep State to attack us. That said, name changes were made years ago and in response to spiritual awakening rather than privacy – though, it does inadvertently serve that purpose now.” 

The Revived Castalia Foundation’s Content

The revived Castalia Foundation has published a number of free books and a magazine, all to some extent focused on psychedelics, practitioner approaches, and mind control.

The first publication, released in 2020, is titled “MDMA Solo” by Phoenix Kaspian. This book promotes methodologies for healing through the use of MDMA without a therapist. Kaspian’s posts about this book on the MDMA Therapy subreddit were removed “due to specific unsubstantiated medical claims it is making, especially those surrounding schizophrenia and ADHD. These claims have a high likelihood of leading to harm,” according to moderator u/al_eberia. Following the removal, Kaspian created his own subreddit r/MDMASolo where he began claiming that the moderator was a MAPS therapist who did not want to let him speak freely. u/al_eberia has refuted these claims, and said they are not and never have been a MAPS employee or volunteer. 

The second publication, “Secret Doors, Hidden Rooms” by Klara Kali, was published in February, 2021, according to the PDF version of the book—although the full text has been online since late 2020. It is labeled, “A guide to understanding and dismantling mind-control systems on planet Earth.” The book refers to elites as “multinational vampire-squids”; calls wearing a mask during a pandemic a form of mind control; and uses quotes from Adolf Hitler to support arguments that most religions are “child-rape groups” with “quasi-religious or compassionate” facades.

The book publishing imprint found in both of these publicationsthe Psychedelic University Pressis not linked to any other publications other than “MDMA Solo” and “Secret Doors, Hidden Rooms.”

The third, and most recent, publication from the Castalia Foundation is a magazine titled “The Castalia Psychedelic Review.” It was published in the winter of 2020 and includes conspiracy theory content about COVID-19 and child abuse, conspiritorial depictions of MAPS’ Executive Director Rick Doblin (using anti-Semitic imagery), and names Donald Trump the “most psychedelic president since JFK.”

The cover of the Winter 2020 edition of “The Castalia Psychedelic Review” depicting Donald Trump superimposed onto the Hindu goddess, Kali.

“Back in 2016, almost everyone of note in politics was grabbing children by the pussy. Then, in stepped a man who only grabbed women by the pussy. Out of such a small shift in morals came an American revolution: An entire presidential term in which no new wars were started and abusers like Jeffery Epstein were finally exposed. The Castalia therefore nominates Donald Trump as Psychonaut Of The Year 2020. A president whose hands knew their moral limit, and who refused to perpetuate the indiscriminate mass-killing of foreigners. The first of his kind in decades,” Sarah Kaufman wrote in “The Castalia Psychedelic Review.”

When a member of the Castalia Foundation forum brought up that they were disturbed by this paragraph about Trump, forum user “Phoenix” (who identifies himself as “MDMA Solo” author, Phoenix Kaspian) responded that this paragraph was meant to be satirical. Nevertheless, he then went on to praise Trump for “what he does” and not “what [he] says.” 

“The thousands of women who would have otherwise been killed by Hillary Clinton…were saved this fate. Under Trump, wars were wound-down; troops were brought home, ‘The Deep State’ and ‘Fake News’ became household terms, and Epstein, who supplied Clinton’s husband with children to rape, was captured,” Kaspian wrote. “For these reasons, and others described in the article, Trump was nominated as Psychonaut of the Year.”

How this squares with Trump dropping record numbers of bombs on countries in the Middle East and South Asia, or the numerous photographs which evidence Trump hanging out with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell remains unclear. 

Who Funds The Castalia Foundation and What Do They Hope to Accomplish?

When asked by a Castalia Foundation forum member for more information on the Castalia Foundation and its projects, Kaspian responded: “We are funded by some original members of The Castalia Foundation. They also give guidance to the new team. The vision and mission for The Castalia magazine is to return the psychedelic scene to the people, and to wrench it from the desolate clutches of government, the pharmaceutical complex, and big business. We also hope that the magazine will provide a locus about which the post-Deep-State psychedelic community can rebuild itself anew.”

“Regarding other projects funded by The Castalia Foundation,” Kaspian continued. “The group is decentralized for resilience, so they don’t typically announce the connections between the Foundation and the projects which are funded. That said, I can give two general examples of the projects The Castalia Foundation are currently involved in: One is the engineering of a decentralized replacement for the internet; and another is a book publishing company specializing in fiction that expands consciousness. As these projects gain footing, it’s likely we’ll join-the-dots between The Castalia Foundation and these other organizations more publicly.”

Although Kaspian claims that the Castalia Foundation is “well-funded” by original Foundation members, they do accept donations in Bitcoin to help cover web hosting. However, the Bitcoin wallet address given out on Castalia’s forum indicated that the foundation has a zero balance and has never made a transaction. 

All Roads Seem to Point to Phoenix Kaspian

The author of “MDMA Solo,” Phoenix Kaspian, appears to be the only person associated with the Castalia Foundation not listed under a pseudonym (or changed-name with zero online presence, as claimed above). 

Kaspian is a writer, musician, video creator, and founder of the now-defunct Kali Psychedelic Bookshop in Berlin (which the German Psychedelic Society used to refer to as its “HQ”). He presented at Beyond Psychedelics 2016, on the subject of using MDMA for healing  without a therapist. His own self-healing with psychedelics has been centered around recovering from childhood sexual abuse—the subject of most of his online videos. The theme of child abuse is heavily present in much of the other work published through the Castalia Foundation. 

While it is unclear who exactly is behind the new Castalia Foundation, Kaspian serves as an online representative for the organization. He can be found in many corners of the internet discussing and answering questions on behalf of the Castalia Foundation.

One of those corners of the internet is Reddit. In a post made on April 2, 2020, titled “The Castalia Foundation: Timothy Leary’s vision of a healing community,” a user called u/Liquidrome—who identifies himself in another post as Kaspian—said that “some members of the original Millbrook group got in touch with me while I was in San Francisco, California…They said they were seeking a location to reopen a healing retreat [currently looking for real estate in Southern France], and were also looking for authors to contribute to writing, and editing, various protocols for consciousness-expanding tools. I volunteered to help with both.”

When asked if he was aware of the reboot of the Castalia Foundation, MAPS’ Executive Director Rick Doblin said, “This is not connected to the original Millbrook people. Leary, Ram Dass and Metzner are all dead.  There may be somebody who was at Millbrook that is connected to this new Castalia Foundation but the principal people at Millbrook are not involved with this new organization.”

An image from “The Castalia Psychedelic Review” magazine depicting MAPS’ Executive Director, Rick Doblin, as a puppet among symbols representing the CIA, the New World Order, the freemasons, and more.

In another post from Kaspian’s u/Liquidrome account, titled “MDMA Solo: A new protocol for therapy without a therapist, from The Castalia Foundation,” psychedelic researcher Matthew Baggott questioned the connections between the Castalia Foundation reboot and the original foundation. Baggott asked, “Is there a connection, other than sharing the name, between this foundation and the old one? Which people, if any, provide the continuity? Is this the same legal entity or a new one?”

“Questions best answered by taking 300ug of LSD and speaking to Leary himself I expect,” Kaspian wrote back, and provided the Castalia Foundation’s contact form.

Baggott said that he reached out through the contact form but never received a response. 

When approached on the Castalia Foundation forum with questions about the original founders being dead, Kaspian responded: “The founders you list [Leary, Ram Dass, Ralph Metzner] are dead, yes, but there are surviving members of the group who we work with. We also occasionally get emails from others who were in the Millbrook house, but who we are not actively working with. These people seek to share with us their recollections of Millbrook. Obviously we are at a point where the original group, in its entirety, is reaching the end of their lifespans. This is one reason why the foundation was resurrected – to pass on the spirit of the original incarnation of Millbrook before the torch goes out.”

On the Castalia Foundation forum, Kaspian’s “Phoenix” account is very active and answers most questions about the foundation. Although “Phoenix” is not listed as an administrator or moderator of the forum, the account has made the most posts of any other forum user. At the time of this writing, “Phoenix” has made 88 posts, which accounts for 40 percent of all the posts made on the forum. The administrator and global moderator is listed as “timothyleary,” who has made no posts and joined the forum on November 22, 2020 at 6:19am. “Phoenix” joined the forum on the same day, at 2:47pm.

Psymposia asked Kaspian directly if he was the main actor behind the new Castalia Foundation and whether staff were using pseudonyms. Kaspian responded with open-ended questions suggesting that Castalia Foundation staff are worried about harassment from “MAPS and those connected to the Deep State.”

Kaspian added that “the landscape today probably feels very safe to you and the ex-MAPS employees who work for you – I can see MAPS people on the ‘about’ page of The Psymposia website. This is because you represent conformity and the status-quo. Organizations that risk nothing, and submit entirely to the prevailing power structures, will never come under threat. We operate outside of your realm.” [Authors note: nobody works for me, and no Psymposia staff have ever been employees of MAPS.] 

In response to Psymposia’s request for Kaspian to identify any original Castalia Foundation members associated with the revived organization, Kaspian said, “No. Can you put me in touch with the members of the CIA who are handling MAPS, and indirectly, your government-licenced ‘nonprofit organization’, Psymposia?”

Kaspian concluded, “Say hello to MAPS from me. I wish them well with their ‘multi-million dollar industry’. I hope MAPS continue [sic] to ensure the complete impartiality of your publication.” [Author’s note: A confusing statement for anyone remotely familiar with Psymposia’s content].

“Isn’t Gab where all the Nazis do their social media?”

Whether or not this iteration of the Castalia Foundation is linked to any original members or not, the content this outlet is producing isat bestbaseless conspiracy andat worstdangerous medical advice. The Foundation is gaining members on its forum (currently there are 81 members) and many of them are turning to Phoenix Kaspian and Klara Kali for advice on using MDMA alone and pairing LSD with Yoga. 

Kaspian qualifies his responses with claims of superiority over other psychedelic organizations, alluding to an organizational lineage that he refuses to back up with any tangible evidence:

“It is worth reminding the community that MAPS is a newcomer to the psychedelic scene, having been founded in 1986,” Kaspian wrote to one forum user. “MAPS is still in the early phase of understanding the medicines they work with…By contrast, The Castalia Foundation was established in 1964 and has reached a level of maturity where we do not charge anyone for our services, nor do we ever collaborate with State interests.” (Remember, Kaspian refuses to name any legitimate connection to the original members of the Castalia Foundation).

Kaspian and Kali’s responses to curious forum members are often filled with advice from disparate or disproven sources, reminders about elite pedophile rings, and allusions to the Deep State that would make Q proud

They are also pushing users toward platforms that are loaded with neo-Nazi ideology and hate speech. 

In a recent forum post, Kaspian invited Castalia Foundation forum members to join the largely alt-right, neo-Nazi social media hub, Gab. When a forum member asked, “Isn’t Gab where all the Nazis do their social media?” Kaspian responded defensively. 

“Since Nazi now means ‘free-speech advocate’, then yes. Gab is for Psychedelic Hippy-Nazis. We are against pedophilla [sic] and speak out against it. Which also makes us Nazis,” Kaspian said, adding that he was raped by men who used swastikas ritualistically and he has apparently been fighting neo-Nazis in the streets of Berlin. “Censorship is freedom. Free-speech is Nazism. Wear compulsory-masks for liberty! You have been well-trained. Keep watching television. Don’t stop.”

It is hard to believe that this kind of messagingfull of paranoia and conspiracyis what Leary, Ram Dass, Woodruff or any other original members of the Castalia Foundation would have hoped their organization would be used for. 

As a contrast to Castalia’s approach, the League for Spiritual Discoverywhich was the organizational successor to the original Castalia Foundationwas revived in 2006 and exists online as a landing page for essays and links to work by actual members of the original organization. 

Christopher Carpenter manages the webpage for the revived League of Spiritual Discovery and said he has no connection to the rebooted Castalia Foundation. Although he does not have any direct connections to the original League either, he participated in acid tests in 1969 and met Leary in 1970. His intention with maintaining the website is to keep the spirit of the League of Spiritual Discovery alive in anticipation that one day LSD will be approved for use spiritually.

“Personally,” Carpenter said. “I am dismayed to the extent that the Castalia name would be used to lend the psychedelic movement’s credibility to unsupported conspiracy theories. It detracts from and weakens our cause.”

Update 2.13.21: Timothy Leary’s son, Zach Leary, has confirmed with Psymposia that neither he nor anyone else connected to the Timothy Leary estate has anything to do with the revived Castalia Foundation.

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Russell Hausfeld


Russell Hausfeld is an investigative journalist and illustrator living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Cincinnati. His work with Psymposia has been cited in Vice, The Nation, Frontiers in Psychology, New York Magazine’s “Cover Story: Power Trip” podcast, the Daily Beast, the Outlaw Report, Harm Reduction Journal, and more.