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, 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–an escape from worry and just a sort of calling to be in that space that felt like it should be listened to and followed.
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 that seemed to be giving me more insight into the previously unknown. Entrainment, for those who don’t know, 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. 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 creating 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. And 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. I tend to just go with what works, and this did.
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 liked it and that something felt right about it. 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 knew 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 a longboard 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 was just a flat out coincidence, 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.
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, 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 shit 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, promotions, traveling, 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.
And then I was exposed to Ayahuasca. I’m a spiritual astronaut, for sure. I’ve tried some things, been interested in altered perception, just like most people have, but I’ve always been interested in the unseen–the stuff between all the layers we experience. 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 which shapes our reality. I had perceived some of this during complete sobriety using meditation techniques with binaural beats, I had experimented a little bit with psychedelics, but nothing ever hit me as deeply as the Ayahuasca ceremony. 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.” I don’t drink much, I don’t smoke much, and I don’t really touch anything else outside of caffeine and occasionally a little tobacco. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t, but I wouldn’t touch anything else 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, and only about 6 weeks before I would become a father. And the first visions were the most beautiful and impactful than I’ve ever had in any other setting, ever.
During the 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, huffing the tobacco into my 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 myself to sit in a lotus position even though this is an intense stretch 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. 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.
As the vision passed, and the spirit of Ayahuasca bid me a slow farewell, I held onto this feeling of peace, completeness, and timelessness, and 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, and 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, mapping 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 and find a way to reach people with this message. I pitched it to my boss at the time, only to have it turned down immediately. 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, and 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. I tried creating a new un-branded board first as a side project, then pitched it as a collaboration, 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.
One thing was obvious. I had tapped into something that really moved me. I was feeling more drive than ever in this moment, and I knew it was time to start working on an outlet which would allow me to release this energy. Pantheon Longboards was born during this time. And 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 saw it 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 so much as it is/was my Dharma. It is/was a happening. It just felt like a “calling” before it became a thing on this timeline that we are all experiencing. What I feel I experienced was divinity manifesting itself. This is the essence of Pantheism, to me. That we are experiencing divinity as our daily ever-evolving manifestation.
So here we are. It’s been 5 1/2 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, building a barn, and we have the best all-around longboard skate team in the world! Riders from all over the world are contacting me daily asking when the Pranayama longboard will be back in stock. The Ember mini commuter and Trip double drop longboard are getting new rave reviews weekly, and I see people raving about them online and recommending them every day! We’ve got two new downhill boards, the CHiller and Gaia, that will reach our “production-level” constructions and availability in October, which means they will be lower cost and accessible worldwide. We’ve got more in the pipeline that we are working on, and at least currently, 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, but 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, and when it finally sets itself right, it hums like a gong!