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Michael Symonds - The Chakra Lecture - 1976

 [[ Michael Symonds unusually dressed for his brother’s wedding, around 1985 ]]   
Michael Ernest Symonds
(5 July 1949 - 30 December 1988), taught psychic reading and healing in Berkeley, California in the 1970’s. He was part of Lewis Bostwick’s first Berkeley Psychic Institute class of 1974-75, but left BPI to pursue his own view of the spirit world.

In 1975 he and Michael Rossman formed Friends of God as a credentialing organization for his students.

By 1978 FOG was in the hands of some of Michael’s early students.

 [[ Friends of God official signatures 1976 ]]   [[ Friends of God official signatures 1978 ]] 

The Audio Files

The Chakra Lecture presented here was probably recorded around 1976. I have a set of audio cassettes I know were recorded on June 1 and 3, 1976, but their sound is monaural and noisy, and some parts are unplayable due to loss of lubrication and scrape flutter. The tapes digitized here do not have any dates, and while they cover much of the same material, they are clearly from a different presentation at a different time.

Each file is available in two MP3 quality levels. The “VBRj” versions (variable bit rate 80 -120K, joint stereo) are less than half the size of the 128K full stereo versions, but are not quite as intelligible. All files are Copyright 2016 Loren Amelang, licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0: Attribution (BY), Non-commercial (NC), Share-alike (SA). (Details at Creative Commons.)

The default for these links is to replace this page with your browser’s default audio player. Remember to use “Back” to return here, or use “Open in New Tab”. To save a file to your local device, right click (or Cmd+click, or long press, or whatever) the link and choose Save...

The High Quality Files

First Chakra (24.5 MB, 26:50)
Second Chakra (15.9 MB, 17:27)
Third Chakra (21.1 MB, 23:04)
Fourth Chakra (11.4 MB, 12:32)
Fifth Chakra (13.7 MB, 14:58)
Sixth Chakra (15.1 MB, 16:36)
Seventh Chakra (12.9 MB, 14:10)
Mid-Lecture_Q+A (9.14 MB, 9:59)

The Compact Size Files

First Chakra (11.5 MB, 26:50)
Second Chakra (7.46 MB, 17:27)
Third Chakra (9.85 MB, 23:04)
Fourth Chakra (5.34 MB, 12:32)
Fifth Chakra (6.54 MB, 14:58)
Sixth Chakra (7.03 MB, 16:36)
Seventh Chakra (6.01 MB, 14:10)
Mid-Lecture_Q+A (4.26 MB, 9:59)

The Text Files

The text transcript of Michael's Chakra Lecture was initially transcribed by Jade Schefer, one of Michael's early students, who remained close to him for the rest of his life and taught his material to her own students. Parts of it were taken from other tapes than the ones digitized here, so the text may not match the audio exactly. That file was edited and formatted for web and pdf by Loren Amelang.

Both versions of the text are Copyright 2016 Loren Amelang, licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0: Attribution (BY), Non-commercial (NC), Share-alike (SA). (Details at Creative Commons.)

Transcript as a web page (129KB)

Transcript as an archival pdf file (224KB)

Links to Michael

There are two more recent people named Michael Symonds all over the web now, Professor Michael E Symonds from The School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, author of “Adipose Tissue Biology”, and Michael Sean Symonds, author, Personal Growth Facilitator, and Meditation Instructor with the Chopra Centre for Well Being, Carlsbad, California.

The Stanford Daily:
The Stanford Daily, Volume 170, Issue 19, 21 October 1976 PDF Issue PDF (20.89 MB)
Today Lecture. Training Professional Psychics - Raising Psychics for Fun and Profit. By Michael Symonds. Tresidder Union Lounge. Stanford. 8 p.m.

High School:
Michael Symonds
Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA
Class of 1967

Public Records:
Michael Ernest Symonds
Born: July 5, 1949
Died: December 30, 1988
Gender: Male

Find A Grave:
Michael E. Symonds
Birth: 1949
Death: 1988
Burial: Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito
Contra Costa County, California, USA
GPS (lat/lon): 37.90788, -122.28745
Find A Grave Memorial# 137791655

And some of his students

Antero Alli:
(Scroll down to "Sat, October 8, 2005 - 1:08 PM" for my favorite bit of BPI history.)

BPI was a very different place back then. It had not become franchised yet and so there were not nearly as many students. Lewis was clearly the guru and whatever Lewis said, went. I decided to train with Michael Symonds and David Rosenbloom, from the very first BPI class (1974-75) who left the school to pursue their own integration of the BPI material.

My clairvoyant training came from Michael Symonds in the form of very small classes of hand-picked students. You see, Michael was very particular; not everyone could join. Mr. Symonds was in Lewis Bostwick’s very first class (anyone here remember Scorch the fireman?) and he strongly disagreed with Lewis’ plans to market the psychic technology for the masses. Michael felt that Lewis was making a big mistake.

This disagreeement eventually led to Michael leaving Lewis to create his own version of that training, a version that stripped away all the dogma while focussing on the techniques. Michael also chose to bypass that whole psuedo-spiritual posturing to the “Supreme Being” that later became a silent crux point in BPI training.

It’s been twenty years since I have sat down and read an aura and though I don’t have any reason to return to that use of my sensitivites, I am grateful for the training and the chance to meet Lewis Bostwick in person, especially under such unique and utterly amusing circumstances. Lewis found it amusing. I found it amusing. But I have yet to meet anyone studying with BPI who, after sharing my story, found it amusing at all.

[The “amusing” part concerns “As the Worm Turns” (a psychic soap opera), featuring a school called H.I.P. (Holistic Institute for Psychism), a satire on the exploding metaphysical marketplace in Berkeley circa 1979, staged in SF at Studio Eremos (Project Artaud).]

Some of his friends

James R. Lewis:
The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions by James R. Lewis

Michael is mentioned as part of the Bay Area “Illuminati" of the 1970’s:

 [[ James R. Lewis - book excerpt - Berkeley Illuminati  ]]   [[ James R. Lewis - book excerpt - Berkeley Illuminati (continued)  ]] 

Michael Rossman

Probably Michael’s most important friend, colleague, and partner in FOG, Michael Rossman was and is a marvelous source of background on the intersection of psychism and politics in 1970’s Berkeley:

From the Preface to Rossman’s New Age Blues
Nonetheless, for sharing somewhat in these ideas and their development I am honored to thank Lee Sanella, Michael Symonds, Stanley Krippner, John White, and Carl Oglesby; Shana, Gary, Ronnie, Russell, Barbara, and James of the Body Croup, and the whole small collective of Berkeley psychics known as FOG, in whose democratic companies I have found homes for serious talk about such issues of our lives (and the Association for Humanistic Psychology, which has invited me among others for such talk); and Ira Einhorn, Peter Marin, and James Hurd Nixon. Of these the last three, and more distantly John R. Seeley, have had particular influence on my thought. The encouragement of all, and others unnamed here, has been invaluable.

This book is dedicated to its editor. Bill Whitehead -- both for the broad personal responsibility he has taken for promoting serious writing about the psychic (and affiliated) domains, and for his continuing support and openness as this book developed. One can have an editor “on one’s side” for many reasons; but to have him there because he grasps the cogent issues and shares one’s particular concerns as an ally is to be befriended indeed.

Michael Rossman
Berkeley, California
July 1978


The online version of New Age Blues at Age Blues
does not include the text of “V. On Some Matters of Concern in Psychic Research”.

The paper book is available and reviewed at
(Quoting the book’s preface:)
“The idea that each movement might evolve to deepen and complete itself through the other received scant attention.”

In fact political academics like Kirkpatrick Sale so harshly reviewed Rossman’s book (a harshness trained at Rossman’s tolerance of mysticism) that it got little further attention from those it might normally concern; and we may assume that strictly-New Age, apolitical types, couldn’t grasp the connections. “New Age Blues” is caviar to the general, and a kind of missing-link book, not a cross-over success like Oglesby’s (Oglesby and Rossman both key people in SDS) Kennedy assassination theory, “The Yankee and Cowboy War,” which didn’t set itself such a gulf to cross.

But the last third of “New Age Blues” does consider a parallel unthinkable thing, namely weaponized mind control & parapsychology, and this question in particular, Did Mind Control Go Away?.. The US military and CIA said they stopped researching it, whistle-blowers like John Marks and Alan Shefflin agreed that while damage had been done to individuals, inherent limitations rendered it no general threat, Bowart said it was a threat but he really couldn’t persuasively plot out alleged new developments.

There’s no hard evidence of further work unless you subscribe to samizdat (here a plug for Judy Wall’s erratically-issued “Resonance”). So, let’s put it this way : COULD mind control go away? Rossman thinks about it at length, it’s 1978, he has little more than logic to go by, and some parapsychology out of Eastern Europe. --Although he’s heard about EEG entrainment and the Danish guy with rivets in his head..

Other chapters in New Age Blues include 53p. on Werner Erhard’s est (“A Phenomenon of the Seventies”), shorter looks at Rennie Davis & guru Maharaj Ji, Uri Geller (with sidelight on Andrij Puharich), and the Totalitarian Classroom Game, this last written up elsewhere as “The Wave.”

To sum it up : rather alone amongst his boomer and pre-boomer peers, then as now, Rossman was critically and systematically involved in BOTH 1960s politics and 1960s psychedelia --at the sub-celebrity level-- and unhappily the interests seemed to cancel, not to synergize[.]


Short quotes from the “Psychic” chapter V are here
Joan D'Arc
[Quotes from Rossman appear on P.157 through P.163, in On Some Matters of Concern in Psychic Research by Joan D'Arc]
 [[ Joan D'Arc - book excerpt - Rossman Psychic Research  ]] 
 [[ Joan D'Arc - book excerpt - Rossman Psychic Research  ]] 


A later presentation of similar concerns
Skirts of Mystery
“To Measure the Lifted Skirts of Mystery”, by Michael Rossman
This paper begins by considering possible factors in the collective regulation of psi activity. It entertains transcendental hypotheses to distill a minimal, neutral factor applying to the patterning of psi activity and psi research in ways that may be susceptible to verification; and proposes an instrument to probe the integral involvement of experimenters in the phenomena they consider. Interpreting recent meta-analytic work on historical research as a retrospective feasibility study, it proposes the development of an instrument analogous in function and scope to instruments of fundamental research in physical science, designed to generate and measure continuous titers of collective psi activity; and considers some factors in its design, application to theory, and social implementation, and the cultural correlates of such a project.

The casual reader should be forewarned that this is a dense and tedious consideration of fundamental issues and potentials in the study of “paranormal” phenomena. It presumes some familiarity with methods and results of prior study in this field, as indicated by frequent references to Dean Radin’s book The Conscious Universe -- The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena (HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco, 1997.) ...

A Transcendental Fishing Expedition
This discussion pivots on two key ideas. One is that powerful forces of internal psychology related to our socialization as humans may constrain our experience and expression of psychic phenomena. The other is that such phenomena may be not simply the object but the subject of our explorations, linking person and person, experimenter and percipient, experiment and society directly in intimate dynamics of mutual influence that we have hardly begun to conceive. These ideas are independent of each other. The strong implications of the first are not undermined by any failure or discounting of the second, but may prove to be radically extended insofar as the second applies in the world.

Their joint perspective may be seen as marvelously democratic, in suggesting not only that psychic capacities are a near-universal birthright, with each possessed of more potential than any may realize, but also that we are all nearly equally engaged in constraining their development and expression. It seems as marvelously totalitarian, in suggesting that processes of normal and paranormal social interaction may regulate the internal inhibitory processes of individuals so strictly as to permit only trivial or narrowly-contained departures from normative experience and behavior. It may also seem marvelously befuddling, for it allows one to propose, of any person or experiment failing to demonstrate psychic effects, that the failure proceeds from the operation of such effects and the intention to fail. Such thinking as this, which lies potential at each point of inquiry into paranormal phenomena, opens to such realms of unprovable nonsense that a self-respecting intellectual can hardly entertain it seriously enough to refute it. Most are reduced to calling for Occam’s Razor to excise it, and to exorcise the very subject of the psychic. But let us hold our noses and move on, without cursing the terrain for its inherent qualities.

Table of Contents

Revised 8 Oct 2016