Why does one need to prepare oneself before actually going into the ceremony?
To ensure the best possible outcome. Psychedelic ceremony is a leap into the unknown, the bizarre and strange world beyond the limits of our conscious awareness – repressed memories and unprocessed traumas, archetypal characters, symbols and universal quests, gods, demons and our closest relationships. While one might possibly be never in the position to fully control the directions and the final destination of this journey, one can prepare for it like a pilot prepares before taking the first flight.
It always comes back to the famous SET and SETTING – the foundations of the successful ceremony. Make sure you understand those fully and do the best to create the reality closely approaching the ideal. There are a few takes on what these concepts involve, and while a good amount of information can be acquired from the abundant literature and web postings on the subject, a discussion with an experienced and supportive psychonaut can give you an additional dimension of depth. That personal connection might also become of value in the integration part of your experience, when the personal support after your landing can help you process the strange and bizzare, and weave its lessons into your day-to-day reality.
The question of GROUP or SOLO becomes even more of a hot topic in our current COVID affected life. While there are many advantages that a group ceremony can offer – support of relatively experienced facilitators and a streamlined ceremony format, sense of sisterhood/brotherhood with the fellow travelers and beautiful human connections, opportunity for socially meaningful rite of passage ceremonies; there are also certain aspects that only a solo ceremony brings – depth and intimacy, the opportunity of complete surrender and rebirth without constrains of socially acceptable behaviour, personal responsibility for the organisation of pre-, intra-, and post- ceremonial space – in a way learning to fold your own parachute.
I believe that the position of self-accountability of the solo ceremony is in the best alignment with the direction of healing process. No one to rely on and no one to blame. We must learn to stop delegating the role of the healer to strangers of the outside world and find our own courage to face our own demons. The entheogens can be spectacularly useful assistants in that process. When the dose is high enough, no other human can really reach you in that world, you are on your own and you must be ready to deal with the present moment. A well folded parachute will definitely help with that leap.
I hope that helps. May we all find healing that we seek.