Interest in the use of psychedelic medicines has exploded across the west as tales of native traditions have spread across the world. Plant Medicines such as Ayahuasca, Peyote and San Pedro/Huachuma cactus, Iboga and Psilocybin containing mushrooms have been used traditionally for thousands of years for healing, guidance and initiation.
Recent historical and archaeological evidence has shown that there were similar traditions throughout Europe that were destroyed such as the Eleusinian Mysteries and the cult of Mithras, along with psychedelic beers and witches brews. There’s even strong evidence to suggest that early Christians, especially the Gnostics, used mind altering substances and the mysterious brew Soma (mentioned in the Rigveda) was used in the Vedic tradition in India.
It’s no surprise then that the West have shown great interest in the substances now available through the world’s native cultures. I spent many months in Peru working with various medicines in my training to become a Tabaquero Curandero (Tobacco Shaman and healer), and have been astounded by the profound effects on my depression, anxiety, grief and traumas.
In the 60s research into the use of LSD showed great promise until it was shut down by the government due to the massive cultural upheaval.
More recently Psylobybin, MDMA, Ketamine and DMT have shown great therapeutic potential for many mental illnesses and the terminally ill. There are ongoing studies in multiple countries examining the efficacy of these medicines and the best treatment protocols, and hopefully these medicines will be available in Australia soon.
You’re about to go on a great journey through your body, your consciousness and the multiverse - preparation is key. You should be aware of the importance of set (mindset) and setting (the environment and shaman/facilitator). Unless you’ve had significant experience with medicine work, work with a shaman/facilitator or have a sitter.
Meditation is the most important practice to prepare as you're essentially meditating with the medicine. Being able to find your centre and breathe through the intensity and emotion will serve you well, as you learn to let go and witness as the medicine and the sensations move through you. Medicine work (and it is work) is more about 'being' than 'doing' - learning to allow the energy to move, and to let any visions, insights or messages come through.
Spend time stretching or doing yoga to ensure your body is free from stiffness, aches and pains during the session, and so that energy can flow freely. Spend time in nature to ensure you're grounded, and spend time exploring your creative side to tap into your bliss.
If there is no prescribed diet, you will benefit from eating lighter foods and avoiding sugar, salt and alcohol for at least a few days before the session. This is to ensure your body clear of dense energy, allowing the medicine to work more deeply.
Do some research on the medicine you’re using, including physical sensations and duration, so you know what to expect. Be sure to check for any contraindications, especially when working with an MAOI (such as Ayahuasca), Iboga or MDMA.
Prime your mind by delving into spiritual teachings and art, along with philosophy (my personal favourite is Alan Watts), mythology, sacred geometry, Jungian psychology, religion (I lean towards Taoism and Buddhism), native cultures, ancient civilisations. You might then have a new appreciation for, and experience of, these when in the psychedelic space – somewhat like how your subconscious works when you’re asleep and dreaming.
Spend time on your intention for the session. What are you trying to heal, learn or find guidance on? Even though many things may come up during your journey, your intention will focus it and prime your subconscious on what to work on.
Most importantly remember:
The experience will always end. Regardless of how amazing, blissful or horrifying your experience is, it will end and you’ll come back to normal consciousness. Allow yourself to immerse fully into the experience.
Go towards whatever comes up. Don’t push away uncomfortable sensations or painful emotions. Don’t run from frightening entities. All of these things have something to teach you or show you – ask them what they are trying to show you or send them love. The more you try to push something away, the stronger it will get.
Be careful making any dramatic and life-changing decisions right after a plant medicine ceremony / psychedelic session such as quitting your job or selling all your worldly possessions. As amazing as the spiritual world is, and whatever the revelations you’ve just had, it’s likely you still need a source of income and a roof over your head. Give yourself time and space to process these new thoughts and feelings.
After a plant medicine ceremony or psychedelic session, you may be feeling clear and light with a feeling of meeting the world with an open heart and shiny, wondrous eyes. You may have been shown mystical vistas and given messages and spiritual teachings.
Integration is about making the changes in your life to embody these experiences. How are you going to approach situations or relationships differently with your newfound knowledge and perspective? How are you going to change the course of your life to work towards a healthier and happier you?
Alternatively you might be left feeling shattered and disassociated after coming up against trauma, deep-seated fears or intensely painful emotions. In this case, integration is more about putting the pieces back together again – working to understand and heal what has come up in a safe space while giving yourself the time and compassion you need to process. In fact, it’s often these difficult experiences that teach us the most.
Integration is also about supporting the body-mind and allowing the medicines to continue working. This may be with yoga, meditation and a healthy diet, or it could involve dancing, painting, spending time in nature or floating in an isolation tank. Use these practises to help you reconnect to, and maintain, the high energetic and emotional states you’ve just experienced. Now that you know the desired state, you can work out how to get back there using these practises.
Sessions are $100 for one hour, plus $40 for each subsequent half hour block. Usually sessions go for 1 to 2 hours, but it's up to you.