Don’t let the title fool you! This is not a post about drugs or ayahuasca, specifically. This is a post about finding a life path, and the journey that led Pantheon Longboards into being. It is a story about manifestation, listening, openness, and will power. Here goes!
Pantheon Longboards began as nothing more than a name of an idea with no substantial meaning or readily apparent calling. I was skating a ton in Indiana along the Monon Trail and downtown, logging miles pretty much every day. I was just top mount pumping invisible waves on a Longboard Larry pumper with some serious surf vibes as a guy who’d never surfed a day in his life. It was nothing short of pure, blissful experience. It was an escape from worry and just felt right.
This was a period in my life when I was learning a lot about myself. I was getting in tune, so to speak, through a certain form of meditation that I was halfway making up as I went. I learned about binaural beats a couple years prior and the entire concept of entrainment and was starting to find a method that worked well for me. The method seemed to be giving me more insight into the previously unknown, from within.
The Concept of Entrainment
Entrainment is this natural tendency for objects to want to vibrate at similar rates. Whether it happens when musicians are playing together, in a room full of laughter, female friends getting on the same menstrual cycle, entire forests starting to change their leaves together, or when pendulums swing in unison that start out of sync (this is actually the origin story of entrainment).
I would lie face down into a pillow, set the pillow halfway up my face so that I could breath through my nose, and just close my eyes and pay attention to my breathing. I’d have headphones in my ears with some super basic, pure binaural beats playing. No background music or breaking waves in the background, just pure theta waves, usually right at 7 Hz. Conceptually, your brain is supposedly at its most creative state when an abundance of your brain activity is resonating around the theta frequencies, between 4 and 7 Hz.
Using Binaural Beats
You can use binaural beats, which put slightly different frequencies in each ear, and your brain will essentially calculate the difference and create a new waveform inside your head. Sonically, this creates a sort of “Wa-wa” effect at whatever the difference between the frequencies is. So if you’re listening to 400 Hz in your left ear and 407 Hz in your right ear, you are creating a 7 Hz seemingly audible wave in your head. You use this wave to entrain your brain toward that 7 Hz frequency and maximize creative thought.
During these meditative experiences, with this specific method, I would nearly go on “trips,” and receive insights that almost seemed as though they were transmitted to me. As if I were an antenna. And then, rather than experiencing some heavy come-down or disorientation, I could get up, think about it clearly, and take notes. Maybe this all sounds like woo woo bullshit, but I don’t tend to worry too much about what other people think in these regards, or even what I think. That sort of self consciousness blocks creative thought. I tend to just go with what works, and this did.
The First Gift of Pantheon
During this time, I was given the concept of Pantheon Longboards. I certainly didn’t attach anywhere close to the level of meaning that it holds for me now. I just knew I loved skateboarding and that something felt right about the phrase. PANTHEON – a structure built for ALL the Gods. That sounds strong. A great name for a brand.
I didn’t know jack about making skateboards at the time, but I loved skating and I was learning everything I could about it. I knew I had a talent for moving on a skateboard, and I had this intuitive feeling that something was pulling me toward it, and towards competing on longboards as an athlete.
Furthermore, all this intuitive, connected feeling that I was experiencing both on and off my skateboard at the time began laying the foundation for what I would later realize and hone in as Pantheism. And that is just a flat out coincidence. I was gravitating toward this way of thinking spiritually and having that completely coincide with an idea that felt as though it was transmitted to me through meditation.
Distance Skateboarding Competitively
Fast forward some years as I became one of the world’s best distance skateboarders in the most profitable time there ever was to be a distance skateboarder. I won exactly $42,500 in just over a year of racing and had become an integral part of a blossoming skateboard company. Promotions led to designing their product line, assisting in marketing developments, and managing their team. I even made it into an ESPN article! I was in full bloom, in the right place at the right time.
Opportunities arose in front of me. Life was coming at me like a tidal wave, and I was riding the hell out of it. This time felt a little confusing because of the pace that everything was being presented to me. A pro model wheel, a job opportunity in California, a counter-offer from my current position. There were promotions, traveling, and then moving to a new place and having a baby. It was an exciting time, and once the ride started to slow down a little bit, all the excitement and craziness started to actually take shape in my mind.
Intro to Ayahuasca
And then I was exposed to Ayahuasca. I’m a spiritual astronaut, for sure. I’ve tried some things, been interested in altered perception like a lot of people have. I find the unseen incredibly interesting–the stuff between all the layers we experience. I consistently read about time and space, theoretical physics, what happens after death. All that stuff!
Over time, I began honing this vision of our Universe as a single wave, all interconnected, and then we have our five senses which just interpret the little bits that we get to experience. But the Universe is obviously SO MUCH BIGGER than this, and we are truly limited in our perceptive ability. This shapes our reality. I had perceived some of this during complete sobriety using the meditation techniques with binaural beats. I had experimented a little bit with psychedelics, but nothing ever hit me as deeply as the Ayahuasca ceremony.
Clarity and Purpose
Now let me be clear: I am here for learning. The only ceremonial experiences I’ve had in the past 4 years include 3 sweat lodge ceremonies–no drugs involved. I’m not into getting “fucked up.” And if you see me at an event, I’m probably sober. I don’t drink much, and I don’t smoke much. I don’t really touch anything else outside of caffeine routinely.
While I’m certainly not prudish, I usually don’t touch any other substances without some clear substantive growth opportunity. Life is a trip enough, and we are only amplifying it through skateboarding, let alone the rest of our crazy lives. I was, however, exposed to the opportunity to do an Ayahuasca ceremony for the first time not long before starting the official dream of Pantheon Longboards. This coincided and was driven by near fatherhood. The first visions were the most beautiful and impactful than I’ve ever had in any other setting, ever.
The Ceremonial Experience
During the Ayahuasca ceremony, the first thing you have to do is commit to it. There are rituals–things that seem ridiculous when placed out of context. The pre-ceremony diet and restraint from sex, blowing tobacco over my head and into my hands to cleanse. “Smudging” or smoke-cleansing takes place. Huffing tobacco into the nose (burns like hell) to clear the nostrils. This almost overly amplified setting of a peaceful space with low light and barely audibly soft voices and forcing oneself to sit in a lotus position. None of this stuff is absolutely required, but this has been my experience. The lotus positions is particularly intense for me ever since I tore my ACL several years ago.
Even the cherished passing of the cup from which we drink the ayahuasca. You just can’t help but take the cup as if it’s the most precious and fragile thing in the world. The setting would have it no other way, and even though all of this is never verbalized, it all seems so obvious. The head goes down, tobacco blown over the head and hands, a blessing is given, and we give thanks. No instructions given, nor needed.
So this all leads to my first perfectly clear, intense vision during an Ayahuasca ceremony. I was an eye on a wall, in a hall of nearly infinite eyes, each perfectly spaced from one another, separated by a sort of “skin,” in room that seemed as though it was breathing, as if it were a giant lung taking shallow breaths. Each eye, myself included, contained some level of separated consciousness. Not necessarily in that space, but maybe each eye represented an individual that existed on some other plane, and yet here we all were, in a sort of meeting place, looking at each other and sharing a larger group consciousness in this space.
In the center, our collective consciousness was able to manifest a constant, shifting form. One second, it was a giraffe head with a man-body sprouting out a tail, and the next it was a Bruce-Lee-looking being doing some ungodly yoga pose, balancing on the very tip of his big toe, showing off supreme mastery of balance. The harnessing of gravity, one of the first distortions away from One, the true nature of “God”, in space.
Each time our collective consciousnesses mastered a crystallized form with perfection, the whole room would vibrate, as if it were chuckling, except that there were no mouths to make any noise with. Just the gently hum of space in a room, like the very end of the tone of a gong before it goes silent.
Nothing in this space affected me more than the timelessness and peacefulness of the experience. I felt almost as if I had died, or flipped over, into another time-space that was equally valid and real as the one I left behind. The feminine ayahuasca spirit accompanied the entire time. She would reveal herself, as if coming from behind a veil, always elusive and mysterious. She was wise, and I felt her indifference as if it came from a place of love for the entire story. That I was such a small part of it, and yet my path was integral and infinite, as it all fits together just so.
I felt as though I would be in that space forever. There was a slight anticipation of eventual boredom and the desire to return to the life-form that I left behind, as I wondered, in a space with infinite possibility, if I would find the lack of limitation not challenging enough. Eventually. But boredom never approached, and I was at peace. And then it faded, slowly, like waking from the type of dreaming sleep that keeps sucking you back in but eventually relents.
Ayahuasca Vision Becomes Manifest
As the vision passed, and the spirit of Ayahuasca bid me a slow farewell, I held onto this feeling of peace, completeness, and timelessness. Over time, I really wanted to find a way to share it. This led to a poor but wholehearted attempt to crystallize this vision into art. What better way to share it than on a skateboard?!
Rather than going out to party, one New Years Eve as the year rolled from 2012 into 2013, I spent all evening and into the night on the computer. I mapped out my vision into a piece that could be pitched. Once it was done, I was so excited and so determined to get this idea onto a skateboard. I wanted to find a way to reach people with this idea. I pitched it to my boss at the time, only to have it turned down immediately. When I asked for reconsideration, stating my piece about how meaningful it was to me and how we could use the bottom of skateboards to really SAY SOMETHING to customers and the world at large, the response was simple. “Not our customers. Our customers won’t be into that. It won’t sell.”
“It doesn’t have to be this art. I know I suck at drawing. I just want to get this message out there!” It didn’t matter. I wasn’t getting through. And this was the beginning of the end, or rather, the beginning of the beginning.
And so I tried creating a new un-branded board first as a side project, then pitched it as a collaboration with my employer, and then it became clear that if I was going to do this thing, I was going to go off on my own and do it.
Pantheon Comes into Being
One thing was obvious. I had tapped into something that really moved me. I was feeling more driven than ever in this moment. It was time to start working on an outlet which would allow me to release this energy. Pantheon Longboards was born during this time.
Finally, I knew what Pantheon was! I can only describe the calling now as divine, because I now know what that sort of calling is to me. It was no more than an eventuality, or a destiny, that came to me like a dream 4 years prior in a state of blissful receptivity.
I had seen Pantheon in meditation, in a timeless state of being, because it already was going to happen. Is happening. Had happened. A “calling” isn’t even the right word for it. This wasn’t so much a choice as it was following Dharma. It is/was a happening. It just felt like a “calling” before it became a thing on this timeline, but it was always inevitable. Like death. What I feel I experienced was divinity manifesting itself. An unfolding. This is the essence of Pantheism, to me. That we are experiencing divinity as our daily ever-evolving manifestation.
Pantheon in the Now and Beyond!
So here we are. I’m editing this blog written years ago, and it’s over 8 years since officially starting Pantheon Longboards in January 2014. I feel no less enthused about it now than I did when it began. In fact, Pantheon shows more promise today than it ever has. I have more clarity in intention than ever before. We are bringing out new products, working on new graphics, living on a mountain and working out of our garage, and we have the best team in the world! Riders from all over the world are contacting me daily asking when our top commuter longboard, the Pranayama will be back in stock. Our top distance longboard, the Trip, was picked up in a Loaded collaboration! We’ve developed some of the top downhill boards in the world, being ridden by some of the top competitive downhillers in the world.
We’ve got more than ever in the pipeline. I am working full-time on Pantheon Longboards as my job! Entrainment has now taken on an entirely new meaning to me. It’s not just when two vibrating bodies want to vibrate at the same rate. It is also when a vibrating body wants to vibrate at the same rate as its Dharmic path. As hard as one may fight it, or fear it, acting against this nature is simply poor harmony. When it finally sets itself right, it hums like a gong! Constant, pure, and powerful.
Thanks for your vulnerability and sharing of something close to you. As a fellow medicine brother I know it can be hard to share a story like this in a professional space; if you can even come up with the words to describe the experience in the first place.
When I found your brand, the artwork was magnetically drawing to me. My first thought was that Jeff must have met the Mother. After reading about the inception of Pantheon I’m even more excited to receive my Nexus. Keep up the good work, your service is appreciated!