Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Psychedelics (from its Greek roots means to “reveal the soul”), or Entheogens (to contact the God within) are psychoactive substances that can open up a powerful doorway into the unconscious mind for greater knowledge, healing and consciousness expansion. Entheogens have been used for thousands of years by shamans and mystics for divination, healing, consciousness exploration and spiritual growth.
Physically, these substances can be seen as drugs because they alter brain chemistry. However, they are much more than that. When these substances are used with proper intention, respectfully and in a sacred way, then they can be a medicine for the mind and soul. And since most entheogen are plants—they are sacred plant medicines.
Everyone has the right and should use these substances as a sacrament if they feel called to do so. The illegality of these substances is a tragedy in our culture and for the health of humanity at large, in my opinion, but that is another topic.
So, assuming you want to use these substances for your own growth and healing, then how do you do it? Here are some general guidelines I have learned over the years of doing them myself ignorantly, doing them with others ignorantly, doing them myself consciously, doing them with others consciously, going to ceremonies where someone else is facilitating and facilitating ceremonies myself.
Doing them yourself ignorantly or with others ignorantly: I don’t recommend this! It’s a roll of the dice on what kind of experience you will have. Ignorance tends to beget more ignorance, so the odds are not in your favor if you want a positive and constructive experience. These substances are very powerful psychotechnology and when misused they can cause more harm than good. They are like nuclear bombs going off in your subtle energy body and if not worked with in a constructive way and with consciousness and integrity, they can produce even severe psychological and energetic damage. Tripping acid or shrooms with your friends at a party or taking a mega dose yourself without proper set and setting can just lead to greater confusion. Your aura is opened up so if you are with a bunch of people at a party or rave, then you will tend to take on the psychic material (and toxic sludge) of other people. That also includes getting psychic entity attachments. Hmmm, not so fun after all. Plus, what is your intention using these powerful substances? If you are going into this unconsciously then you will tend to get more unconsciousness back.
Doing them yourself consciously or with others consciously: Better idea! These substances are sacred —they are sacraments and should be treated as such. They can be medicine for the mind and soul and should be used with intelligence. 60’s psychedelic advice still holds true—be mindful to mindset and the setting of your environment—set and setting.
1—Set an intention (set). Intention guides the overall goal of your journey. Intention is like having a destination for the trip—without it you don’t know where you are going and can easily get lost.
NOTE: Always state your intention in the affirmative. Say what you do want or are, rather than what you don’t want, because the subconscious mind only hears what is, not what is not. Also stating your intention as if it has already happened sets you mind in a state of fullness rather than lack.
2—Make safe, sacred space (setting). Your attention is going to be focused on your psychospiritual journey, and not so much on your surroundings. So do it in a safe place in nature or in a room where you won’t be bothered. Clear your schedule so you can just focus on your experience and not worry about other distractions.
For a more shamanic flavor—I always like to make an alter or mesa. This is usually a small cloth on the ground or table where sacred items are placed and will be the energetic center of your personal ceremony. This serves as a metaphoric (and energetically real) anchor, or ground, or space for the experience to be contained. Grounding is important with entheogens. Thats why being in nature is so great.
I always like working with fire too. Fire can serve to ‘ground’ or focus your attention and the energy of the space. So use a candle on the alter. It’s the central fire in the wilderness, the light in a dark place, the sun at the center of your solar system, the luminosity of your Spirit, present in the room with you. You can add any other sacred items to your alter if you wish.
3—Breathe. Your breathe is always your anchor and guide, no matter what your experience. In pure bliss, it can open you; in pure hell, it can guide you out. Whatever your experience, always remember to breath. The breath moves energy, it brings life-force and fresh oxygen to you cells. Take deep, full, slow breaths. It’s the gateway from the mundane to the profound. Your breath is always with you, it never leaves you (as long as you have a human body!), it is your best friend and partner in life. And the conscious breath can be taken with you outside of the ceremony and into daily life.
4—Enjoy the ride! It’s all consciousness. And all is here to serve our experience. Remember, entheogen are medicines (when used that way), they are on this Earth to help humanity grow and heal. Communicate with the consciousness of the plant (mushrooms, ayahuasca, peyote, even LSD, as there is a consciousness to all) and work with it. Remember, these are tools but you are the healer. It always comes back to you and what you choose and what you do in your daily life. Use these plants as catalysts to show up more in life, not escape life.
If done with others, just make sure you really want to do it with them. Your aura is opening and becoming more permeable so be mindful of what energies you want to be around.
Doing them in nature is a great place (one of my favorites). Just make sure you have important items with you if you are gone long hours (like water, some food, clothing, etc.).
Most of this is common sense but I wish someone told me some of these things when I was starting so I didn’t have to learn the hard way. ;-)
Guide for plant medicine ceremonies held by others (shamans): Again, be mindful of set and setting and who you want to blast off and open up with (and with what energies hanging around). There are many pseudo shamans who are not shamans but say they are, or are shamans who are not working with clean energy, or shamans who don’t really know what they are doing. Remember, shamans have knowledge about brujería (black magjc or grey magic) so be very, very careful. This will be topic of a future post.
And I wish I could give you a formula that said which was which, but I don’t have that formula. The best thing I can say is use your intuition and your smarts. Doing a ceremony with 100 people, with a few facilitators, and on the full moon (when lunacy energy is at its highest), without knowledge of hyper dimensional forces (and yes some are malevolent) is not a good idea in my opinion.
I wish there was a way around it but it is important to have at least some basic knowledge of hyper dimensional forces, especially those that are malevolent and parasitic. This is a huge topic in itself and deserves a much deeper investigation than what I am presenting here. All is mind and all are reflections of our deepest HeartMind—even the parasitic ones. Yet they are still real and pose a very real threat when unaware. This will be a topic that I will explore in future posts.
Also, it’s good to remember that a shaman or facilitator is just a damaged and flawed human being like everyone else, (albeit with some shamanic skill and desire to help others, hopefully) and sometimes even more damaged. So, don’t put them up on a pedestal. Be careful of worshipping them or overestimating their greatness. Use your discernment.
If you enjoyed this and want to explore more, please visit the Integral Shamanism Tribe.