Category Archives: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: Why do you advocate for the entheogens, natural psychedelics, rather than the synthetic ones to be used in psychedelic journeys?

The simple answer is – because I am a Nurse Herbalist, and I have chosen the paradigm of “Nature heals” for my life and my profession as a Nurse.

I feel very certain about this choice, because it resonates with my core value system and I integrated it into my practice long time ago. However, for many it requires more of an explanation, so here is my attempt at exploring this position in more detail.

  •  To start from the periphery of the problem with synthetics – source and reliability. To acquire a synthetic psychedelic, you will probably have to deal with a drug dealer, who handles many other illegal substances. So here I have a problem with funding the trade of things that I really do not endorse because of their high addictive potential and serious harm to human’s body and psyche, like opiates, meth etc. You might also be facing a considerably high chance of adulteration of the material, considering common practices on the market of illicit substances. It is not always an option to test the materials for purity.

Psilocybin mushrooms on the other hand are often produced (grown) and distributed by people growing and distributing only psilocybin mushrooms or perhaps C. sativa as well. Mushrooms sold in whole dried form are relatively easy to identify by appearance and smell, and I have never come across any instances of their adulteration. It mostly applies to other entheogens I’ve experienced as well.

  • Presence of toxic residue. Manufacturing of a synthetic psychedelic usually involves the use of toxic substances, e.g. solvents like heptane. The target product is supposed to be free of toxic residue, but what if it isn’t? How much do you trust the diligence of your drug trade chemists in following all the manufacturing steps and not cutting corners?

Cultivation of mushrooms is a pretty organic process that mostly requires whole grains and vermiculate or coconut fiber and can be performed by yourself in as much of eco friendly fashion as you wish.

  • DIY factor. You can choose to cultivate your own mushrooms or go mushroom hunting in the field, grow your Salvia divinorum or Trichocerius pachanoi, source and harvest your own ingredients for Ayahuasca brew (if you happen to be in the jungle). Even if you buy the raw materials, you can prepare the entheogen for consumption in your kitchen pretty easily, without the use of any hardcore chemicals or a basement lab. I see it as being in more alignment with certain lessons that psychedelic dimension teaches us – learn to be self-reliant, work for what you need, embrace nature.
  • Potential for harm. The decision to take psychedelics has to be considered carefully as it is always a risky endeavor. Neither entheogens, nor synthetic psychedelics come free of a possibility of serious adverse effects for one’s body or mind. People have died after the consumption of Ayahuasca, and some jumped out of high rise building after consumption of LSD. Carefully learn about and consider all the risks and make sure your Set and Settings are right whether you choose to take a natural or a synthetic psychedelic. However, bear in mind, that there is some evidence that the occurrence of HPPD (Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder) is considerably higher with synthetic psychedelics.

As far as long-term consequences go, entheogens have been with humans for hundreds of years and their long term safety has been verified over many generations. And while LSD has been in use for a few decades and has not raised many concerns about its short term toxicity or long-term effects (except for possibility of abuse and psychologic imbalance it brings), novel designer drugs that come onto the market regularly in the attempt to outrun the prohibition are still too new and lack any long-term data to trust their safety. Taking new drugs is your contribution to science, sure, but in a role of lab rat.

  • Potential for abuse. It is commonly stated that psychedelics are not addictive, and it is almost true. When entheogens are taken at full doses, psychedelic experience usually constitutes deep and intense work, which most people are not ready or capable of undertaking too often. At the attempt to do so, the journeyer is often faced with a stern reality of being unwelcomed to the psychedelic dimension, “bad trips” and /or realization that integration work in between psychedelic ceremonies is absolutely essential.

The strange tastes, textures or nauseating effects of entheogens often add the self-limiting effect to the frequency of their use. It might be just not that easy to get it down if you are not absolutely ready for another experience, and forcing another cup on yourself despite the certain measure of inner resistance usually results in the substance promptly coming back up as vomit.

But here come the risks of small recreational doses and convenience of taking synthetics nausea free ad lib (freely) – a tab, a tasteless dropperful, an injection. The combination of a recreational set and setting, the ease of substance delivery, under-psychedelic-threshold- dosing, and/or callousness of physiology or personality preventing one from fully entering the inner psychic dimensions can lead to the abuse of psychedelics and the problem it entails – disintegration rather than integration of personality, persistent delusionary states, reckless behaviours, HPPD etc.  

  • Perhaps the most crucial factor in my choice of entheogens over synthetic psychedelic substances is their spiritual character.  A psychedelic journey is a bizarre, dogma shattering experience where factors previously overlooked become of paramount importance. In the psychedelic realm, the journeyer can really understand the necessity for the impeccable choice of the Set, the Setting and the Medicine for that experience. Entheogens emerge in their full glory as Medicine with the capital M, when we feel that their essence, their spirit is working with us on our healing, towards our wholeness. In the realm where our control is lost, when our complete surrender is required to go forward, it becomes very important to what we surrender. Humans have had working relationships with those spirits, those teacher plants for many, many years, many, many generations. I have learnt to trust that collective relationship and the collective wisdom. And when in the depth of the psychedelic experience I let go of ‘I’, my consciousness rests on the ancient spirit of the Medicine that is with me on that journey, and it carries me through safely.

LSD and the rest of the synthetics are new kids on the block. Sure, they have their own spiritual character. In the early days I had a handful of experiences with LSD and MDMA, and they were beautiful and proper magical. Do I trust them? Not so much. Give it a few hundred years, and I might start to change my mind about them, but for now – I choose to work with Master Plants (where mushrooms are conveniently even though not necessarily nomenclaturally correctly included).

You are free to choose what feels right to you, of course 😊

Go well, be safe, be happy.

Advertisement

FAQ: Do I need a sitter or a guide if I want to take psychedelics?

“Heal yourself with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon. With the sound of the river and the waterfall. With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds. Heal yourself with mint, neem, and eucalyptus. Sweeten with lavender, rosemary, and chamomile. Hug yourself with the cocoa bean and a hint of cinnamon. Put love in tea instead of sugar and drink it looking at the stars. Heal yourself with the kisses that the wind gives you and the hugs of the rain. Stand strong with your bare feet on the ground and with everything that comes from it. Be smarter every day by listening to your intuition, looking at the world with your forehead. Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier. Heal yourself, with beautiful love, and always remember … you are the medicine.” (the advice attributed to Maria Sabina)

FAQ: Do I need a sitter or a guide if I want to take psychedelics?

Maybe, or maybe not. There are numerous articles, blogs, videos out there that express a strong opinion that psychedelics should only be taken under supervision, preferably by a trained health care professional. There are a couple of arguments I can raise against that.

First of all, while there is some value in the “playing it safe” approach, the whole notion of the success of your psychedelic ceremony to be wholly dependent on someone else is contradictory to the freeing and empowering potential that psychedelics may bring into our lives. Thorough research, careful preparation and immaculate execution of your own psychedelic ceremonial space can be of much bigger help to the success of your endeavor than delegating it to strangers that are willing to take your money for doing it. Taking responsibility for your Setting will be paramount in creating the needed Set in you – the attitude of a Humble Warrior – courageous and reverent, determined and respectful.

Secondly, regarding the intra-ceremony support of a guide, after more than seven years in the field, I can say that there are not many people out there, working with psychedelics or not, who would be of sufficient spiritual health and level of personal integration to qualify as great transpersonal guides into the psychedelic realm, to be your beacons in the dark. I also believe that solo guiding cannot provide the adequate level of support and safety during psychedelic ceremonies. The standard recommendation (from the scientific circles of psychedelic research and my personal observation) is at least two guides, preferably with complementary (Yin-Yang) energies. And if you cannot find a great guide or actually –  two great guides, you are often much better off by trusting yourself rather than someone of a mediocre status, working outside of the safety margins.

Now, while I hold and encourage you to hold very high standards for psychedelic guides, the role of a sitter is different and demands less. Someone familiar with psychedelic realms, of non-judgmental, calm and kind disposition, who could act on your behalf if the outside world intervenes while you are under the influence of psychedelic substance, someone capable of walking you to the toilet and back, bringing you a blanket or helping to change a music track – if you are lucky to have a person like that in your circles, or encounter someone like that in the world of psychonauts, by all means – ask for their support. Having a sitter in the vicinity might bring you an extra degree of confidence and reduce the level of anxiety that is often there with your first psychedelic ceremonies. However, do not delegate any of your own Set and Setting preparation responsibility to them, do not rely on them as your intra-ceremony psychological help, and ask them to be as invisible and unobtrusive during the process as humanly possible.

So, yes – a sitter can be helpful. Having said that, I often find that people seeking psychedelic experiences are often in situations when they have pretty much no support in their life, no one that they can trust. In my opinion, in such cases, the recommendation to have a sitter is impossible to follow, and should not stand in your way of organizing and holding your own solo psychedelic ceremony.

There are situations when seeking support for your psychedelic journeys is warranted. Dealing with long standing hard-wired addiction patterns, working with psychedelics that can lead to life threatening physical responses, history of severe and long suppressed traumas – these could be examples when psychedelic therapy is chosen as a course of treatment, but may pose substantial risks for the well being during and after the ceremony. Many of these situations are not easy to deal with. For example, disclosing all the risk factors on your application form to the treatment centers specializing in psychedelic therapies might make you ineligible for their services. Most places simply don’t want to deal with hard cases and take extra risks. And the ones that do take you, might be sloppy in their safety measures, and would not be able to provide you with effective care if something does go wrong. It is hard to provide umbrella advice for the complex cases. Sometimes finding a sitter with First Aid knowledge and some psychological support for the post ceremony integration process  might do the trick, sometimes you might need to travel far to the right people, sometimes you need to choose how transparent you should be and how much you share with your available support humans and organizations.  

Research, networking and listening to your instincts are things that wouldn’t hurt in any case. And of course staying on the path, walking the path of healing – continue, persevere, get up when you fall, learn from your mistakes and keep going, keep looking for truth, health, love, beauty, joy. Keep on living.  

FAQ: Why does one need to prepare oneself before actually going into the ceremony?

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.