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Erika Perez

Erika, Head of Content at Psychedelic Passage, plucks the natural chord of human curiosity to initiate dialogue that meets readers wherever they are in their life’s journey. She reminds you that inquisition is always a reliable road to self development, and that bringing more light to your own truth helps others to awaken to theirs.

Psychedelics, Motherhood, Pregnancy, & Child Development Ft. Mikaela de la Myco

Psychedelics, Motherhood, Pregnancy, & Child Development Ft. Mikaela de la Myco

Join us for an eye-opening episode of the Psychedelic Passage podcast as host Nicholas Levich sits down with the remarkable Mikaela de la Myco, an Indigenous mother, mushroom educator, and community ceremony facilitator. 

In this conversation, they delve deep into the world of psychedelics and their intersection with motherhood, pregnancy, and child development. 

Mikaela, hailing from diverse ancestral backgrounds, shares her insights and experiences from Italy, the Caribbean, and the mountains of Mexico. 

She provides a fresh perspective on the rematriation of entheogens and how it ties into the stewardship of psychedelics by Indigenous women and Earth-centered communities. 

This episode will challenge your perceptions and offer a much-needed spotlight on the role of women in psychedelic practices. Explore the uncharted territories of psilocybin’s presence in the mother’s body during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Discover how the earth’s medicines, like mushrooms and cannabis, are being integrated into the journeys of mothers seeking alternative approaches to wellness. 

Mikaela’s in-depth research, anecdotal evidence, and survey data reveal the potential benefits of these plant allies on emotional resilience, cognitive development, and enhanced communication between mothers and their children.

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Episode 57 – Psychedelics, Motherhood, Pregnancy, & Child Development Ft. Mikaela de la Myco

Nicholas Levich:

Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Nick Levich, and I am so grateful to be with you all today. Once again, it’s just me in the studio. Jimmy is out taking a little break from recording. 

And with me today, I have a very special guest, Mikaela Dela Mico, and we are gonna be talking about the topic of mushrooms, motherhood, pregnancy, and all things womb related. And before we jump into it, I just want to give a little background on Mikaela. 

She comes from a blended ancestry. Her people come from Italy, the Caribbean, and the deserts and mountains of Mexico. 

She is a mother, a mushroom educator, and acts as a community ceremony facilitator in an occupied Kumeyaay territory, also known as San Diego, California. 

She serves all people with ancestral practices with focus in serving cycling people, folks within the birthing continuum, and people navigating natural birth control and pregnancy releases. 

She holds quarterly community circles where people can journey through the dark Amenta to cover ancestral messages, rewrite trauma wounds and make meaning with mushroom and other earth medicines. 

Her platform, Mama de la Myco, centers on the remaduration of entheogens and stands at the intersection of medicine woman, psychedelic mother, and sacred hoe. Thank you for joining us today, Mikaela.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Thank you so much for having me. It’s an absolute joy to be here.

Nicholas Levich:

That was a bit of a mouthful. I hope I did you justice.

Mikaela de la Myco:

You did so great. And what I would love to maybe respeak is the rematriation of entheogens. And I think it is so beautiful that this conversation is actually really around the rematriation of entheogens. So can’t wait to dive into it and seek to understand more about what that means.

Nicholas Levich:

For sure, thank you for that. And, you know, ultimately in this episode, we’re talking about all things motherhood, pregnancy, conception, and womb related. And I just recognize and want to acknowledge that this is a hot topic and also tends to be a very controversial one.

And so I’m particularly excited to have you on because this is a question that we get a lot in our support inbox from readers, from listeners. Folks are very curious about the interaction of plant medicines and specifically psilocybin mushrooms as it relates to all things motherhood. 

I want to start by just acknowledging that there are several stages for womb holders from conception to pregnancy to birth to postpartum to motherhood and even menopause later in life. 

I recognize that, you know, I’m a man, so I can only speak to this to a certain extent. And so I’m grateful to have your perspective and just acknowledging that each stage here is filled with, um, revolving transition and transformation.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Mm-hmm, it absolutely does. And although you are in the body that you are in, I still feel like this kind of education is for everyone because we’ve all come from womb. 

We all got someone who’s a friend of ours with one and the general literacy, I think, really needs to come up in this space. So I’m actually really happy that I’m having a conversation with you about this. 

And I can’t wait for this to touch, move, and inspire the listeners that didn’t even feel like this kind of education was related to them in any way.

Nicholas Levich:

Totally. And the other thing that I think about is like, I’ve often been thinking about how Mother Earth is like the big womb that holds us all. And so you know, even in that capacity, like we’re all interacting with that womb like energy just by existing on Earth and being sustained by her.

Mikaela de la Myco:

This is the rematriation of entheogens. To rematriate is to give the responsibility and the stewardship back to namely indigenous women and women who are of the earth. 

And the stewardship of this entheogenic space, I think really does and has been missing a lot of that influence and energy for quite some time.

I think one of the last few caretakers of the Western world is, who’s held up on such a beautiful pedestal, is Maria Sabina, you know, and then for the most part, like in the Western consciousness of entheogens, we don’t see a lot of matriarchs kind of at the helm of this movement. 

And as people that care take the earth through identification of plants, different mushrooms, the caretaking of children, the caretaking of the culture of the entire society–

I think it would be really nice to see those people just come back into more of a steering role and more of a role within leadership in the space. And I think what often gets criticized about women or people that are cycling and leadership is that we’re inconsistent because we cycle, right?

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

But truly, if we are living on a living planet, the planet is also cycling.

Nicholas Levich:

Yeah, we got seasons!

Mikaela de la Myco:

It’s not situated in this constant state of labor and production. I think that really destabilizes the system that we’re in. 

So I totally understand why we don’t have a seat at the table always or “building the table with people”, so to speak, but I feel like it’s the very energy that’s so needed so that we can really address the needs of the planet right now. 

And we’re totally seeing that with what’s going on in many parts of the planet with natural disasters and also man-made disasters on the face of the earth.

Nicholas Levich:

Totally, yeah, I appreciate you bringing that forward. And I wanna start with this question that I feel like is on everyone’s mind and it’s probably the one related to motherhood that we get the most, which is are mushrooms safe for mothers?

Are Mushrooms Safe For Early Mothers?

[00:06:00] Mikaela de la Myco:

Are mushrooms safe for mothers? Well, certainly if you are far into your motherhood experience, your kids are adults now, why would they not be, right? Like, why would they not be safe for you than any other person? 

But I think really what this question is asking and considering is the early mother, right? Is mushroom safe for the early mother? 

The mother who is preconception, in their conception journey, if they are someone who is currently gestating a child, if they’re in the labor room and postpartum and extended or breastfeeding, right? 

Like we are really actually interested with this particular question, with the proximity that psilocybin has to the child.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

That’s mostly what we’re concerned with, right? And so, um, are mushrooms safe for mothers? Yes. Are mushrooms safe for people that are growing children and feeding children? 

Well, that is a conversation that a lot of people want to have right now. And that’s a primary question I feel like my entire life’s work is kind of building the research around–

Because in the National Institutes of Health they have official statements saying that we just don’t have the research, that we’ve never conducted research with pregnant women. 

We’ve never conducted research for people that wanted to become pregnant. We’ve never conducted research for breastfeeding. 

So we can only really look at what the most recent scientific research is in animal studies, which is what we do have, and also the cultural and social practices of people that have these medicines as a part of their cultural worldview. 

So to say if death is a toxic endpoint to mother or child, then no, we don’t have any cases of psilocybin causing harm as far as death goes–

And that’s been proven through the LD50, and also experiments they did with the C. psilocin rat experiment, which I would love to share with you today, because I think it’s a really important piece of evidence that we have.

Nicholas Levich:

For sure. And so I guess, do you feel like for purposes of our conversation, it’s better to address that now or maybe touch on that later as far as kind of addressing any sort of body of work or science around that?

Mikaela de la Myco:

Let’s talk about the body of work because I think that’s what people are really on this podcast to listen to, you know?

Nicholas Levich:


Current Scientific Research & Understanding on Safety of Psilocin/Psilocybin in Pregnant Women

[00:08:30] Mikaela de la Myco:

And I can talk about my own research later and filling the gaps, but we should know what is actually here. And what is actually here is one piece of research that was done, the C-Psilocin experiment, where scientists injected pure psilocin–

Which is the psychoactive constituent in psilocybin containing mushroom, intramuscularly into a rat mother who was pregnant and they were like, let’s see what happens–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

–to mom and baby. And so what the scientists found, which is really amazing, is well one thing’s for sure, that psilocybin and psilocin specifically cross through the blood-brain barrier and also through the placental wall. 

So we do know that yes, baby is being entrenched with psilocin and a psychoactive that we are aware of. What’s cool, though, is although the psilocin gets processed out of the fetal tissues slower than the mom, so their journey is–

Nicholas Levich:

is longer.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Going to last longer. But what we do know is that concentrations are highest in the mom.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

And so there’s a really nice buffer between. The placenta is an ingenious organ, it’s the only organ that grows itself. Essentially, the uterine grows an organ that’s unique to that body, and then it’s released, right? 

So it’s an organ in itself, and it has a really intelligent layer that communicates resources, minerals, water, and nutrition from mother to baby. 

Oxygenates the child as well as they’re gestating, and so, yeah, psilocin gets through, but mother kind of modulates how much gets in, and the placental wall does that. 

So it’s really smart and what’s really cool is that psilocybin and psilocin are serotonin mimickers. So serotonin is probably the most known neurotransmitter in the whole body and it’s also very responsible for creating better pathways of communication. 

And so we’re also seeing pathways of communication when serotonin is present in the mother that there’s a better modulation of what the fetus needs as far as food and water and oxygen. 

So when mothers are saying things like, I feel more connected to my child, it’s because there’s more of a presence of a neurotransmitter that actually supports that kind of communication. 

What we found in that still is the psilocin study is that, yes, there is psilocin present in the fetus. So yes, mothers will, you know, give that to their children. 

However, there was no fatality in this experiment. We did not find death as a toxic end point and they never furthered the study to see what the outcomes of the live birth of this child would have brought. So there’s a lot to be undiscovered–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

–basically with that.

Nicholas Levich:

I mean, I think the reason we get this question a lot, I think, is not necessarily whether it’s safe for the mother, but what’s the impact on the child. 

And if there’s no human studies done, how does anyone know what’s going on in there? If you’re breastfeeding or, you know, actively pregnant while consuming psilocybin, either in microdoses or, you know, larger doses.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Yeah, and that’s the gap, pretty much. [00:11:44] Because the question is, is death a toxic endpoint? We just know that through the C. psilocin experiment that it’s not. 

We know a little bit about what the concentrations are going to be in the child, but we don’t know what the outcome is going to be, like what does that, what’s going to result from all of that? 

And so that’s when we lean on Indigenous wisdom, that’s when we lean on some of these more anecdotal pieces of information, and that’s what’s really propelled and fueled so much of my research is like… filling in this gap of like, what is the impact of that? 

Because mostly we’re worried about is it safe or not safe and making this black or white distinction and maybe not asking the question of like, what is the potential harm, but what is the potential benefit? And that’s what a lot of my research is sitting on right now. 

So I’ve written quite a lot on this in particular and have built an ebook around what is the traditional and cultural wisdom around these things. 

That’s all in the Entheogenic Earth Medicine Guide and that’s 52 pages that doesn’t only cover psilocybin, but also cannabis, which is a very commonly asked about medicine because a lot of people ingest cannabis during their pregnancy and–

Don’t know if it’s safe and don’t know what’s really there in the research. Covers ayahuasca, because there’s a lot of ayahuasca babies out there and people wanna know about that. 

We also have peyote in that study, in that ebook as well as Gombo. So it’s like, there’s a wide variety, an array of potential Earth medicines that mothers might be coming in contact with that they deserve answers to. 

So that’s all in the ebook, like I said, 52 pages. But what’s really exciting, I think right now is this research that we’ve been gathering as far as a survey goes of mothers that have ingested medicine. And we have over 240 submissions–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

–of people’s stories. And we’re seeing a lot of trends and getting a lot of really great statistics as far as the people who have chosen this and what they’ve noticed as far as benefit goes.

Nicholas Levich:

And is that specifically capturing data around the mother’s subjective experience or the kind of outcome to the child?

Mikaela de la Myco:

So some of the questions that we have on there is, what did you notice, for example, about your own parenting style that was benefited by your experiences with medicine? 

Because we also know that the way children are parented in their early life also can create a lot of benefit or harm for them later in life. So we really wanted to take a look at what behavior is changing about your parenting style that could impact the child also. 

We asked specific questions too, what did you notice about your child that you attribute to your use of mushroom during either your pregnancy or breastfeeding? What are you noticing about your kid that might be markedly different than like some of their peers, for example? 

And so we’re seeing some really interesting responses and it’s all coming from the mothers, which I think is vitally important, might be biased and so we’re taking that into account as well, but we’re really here– 

What better way for mothers to teach other mothers than through storytelling? And so I’m really excited to bring a lot of this data forward. 

And so we’re working with James Fadiman to help some of these survey stories to kind of color and shape what, you know, the research he’s doing, his frequently asked questions, and also how we wanna steer the rest of research and what we really wanna look at here.

So happy to have over 200 stories of mothers that are, you know, telling us the range of experiences that they’ve had bringing these mushrooms in and if they would recommend this journey to other people. 

And that’s been an important factor as well because a lot of people are coming, mothers namely that I’m serving are coming to this seeking out support and help because the motherhood journey can be very challenging.

And so we were asking people what challenges were you looking to work with the mushroom to help, you know, sort through? And do you feel like it was helpful? 

So, you know, what even brings mothers to mushroom is I think very important, why a person is choosing to ingest, which for a lot of us in the earlier years of this with no research, had to weigh out potential risks for the benefits that we were receiving. 

And now people can maybe rest a little bit more assured than some of us on the first couple generations of this had to just go forward with it. You know, our intuition and just the knowledge that we have of the cultures that do sit with these medicines and raise their children with them.

Nicholas Levich:

Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty amazing that you’re able to capture that much data. Are there, are you able to speak to some of those themes that are emerging or is that, is that still in kind of a data capture phase?

Mikaela de la Myco:

Yeah, we’re always, you know, it’s an ongoing survey. So I’m grateful that there has been no real end point with that. We get new submissions every day, which is incredible just to know that it’s more widespread than people would imagine. 

And a lot of these mothers are younger mothers. A lot of their children are like four, five years old or younger. And some of them do have teenage children. And so I’m really interested to see how the motherhood journey varies from older children to younger children. 

Some of the themes that I’ve noticed, there are some themes that affect mothers and then are affecting the children. So one thing I definitely wanna speak to is like, why would a mother want to even have a relationship with mushrooms? 

What even brings them to this in the first place? And a lot of these impetuses for people ingesting mushroom is that sometimes they are being faced with the only option available to them has now become like an SSRI, for example. And that’s very common. 

The use of SSRIs is extremely pervasive in our world, low key. And it’s become a bit of a, a panacea, like not a panacea, I forget what it’s called when it’s like a cure-all, but it’s like–

Nicholas Levich:

Yeah, well, it’s like, it’s like the easy button. The analogy I always use is like, if your doctor tells you, you got to cut out your sweets and fats and you can’t have your donuts anymore, or the option is to just take a Lipitor. 

Most people are like, well, I want to keep eating the sweets. I’ll just take a Lipitor. And the same kind of thing I think exists with the mental emotional challenges as well as like, do I actually have to work on the core issue or can I just take this thing and feel better?

Mikaela de la Myco: Absolutely. It’s really indicative of the Western way of approaching problems and also the way that microdosing is even being approached now. It’s like, oh, if you just eat microdoses every other day, then like, and everything stays the same, you’re going to be okay.

Nicholas Levich:

Yeah, you’ll be more productive or whatever.

Mikaela de la Myco:

you’ll start like a Fortune 500 company or something.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

So, you know, I’m also seeing that like the person that’s getting sold that narrative is also not like having their dreams fully realized with medicine because it’s like a lot harder work than that. And also this trope of the microdosing mom being like the new like wine mom–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

–is also a huge stereotype that like my work and so much of the work of other people is like really trying to stand up against because I also feel like that’s a stereotype that doesn’t quite show the full picture of what is needed and what is actually happening. 

What is bringing a lot of mothers to choose this path is that they’re only given the alternative of potentially an SSRI and either they’ve been on an SSRI and don’t want to anymore or they’re being faced with the choice of having to be put on an SSRI. 

And there’s actually what we do have though is a lot of research and a lot of study around what SSRIs do for gestating women and they don’t want that to be the outcome of their pregnancies because SSRIs unfortunately actually lead to increased risk for adolescent depression in the young. 

So, you know, we’re kind of trying to make a better choice, not just for the mother, but like for our own kids. And I think that’s a very, that kind of like disrupts this ideology that mothers that sit with mushrooms or cannabis are like selfish moms or moms that are very self-serving or like–

Irresponsible or how can you do that that’s so dangerous like why would you ever even ask that question if it’s safe like you should never do it but then they don’t bat an eyelash at the SSRI stuff–

And it’s like well we actually know that SSRIs cause harm and what we’re trying to work through is could these other alternatives or these natural you know these agents be softer and potentially more beneficial. 

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

So that’s what most moms are actually coming for and postpartum depression. Postpartum

depression is really pervasive in our world as well. 

And the data that we’ve been collecting in the survey is that 67% of the people surveyed began their journey after they gave birth in the postpartum period.

Nicholas Levich:

Wow, interesting.

Mikaela de la Myco:

And that’s telling us so much about the pressure and like what it feels like to be in that state and like that intense transformation that occurs after birth and the environmental factor of the state of obstetrics today not knowing really how to support people in the postpartum period. 

So a lot of people are looking for help, a lot of people are looking for more doula support, which I’m happy to see, and I’m really recognizing how these hormonal fluctuations can be very well supported by something that is a serotonin mimicker. 

So this also shows us how fluctuations in the menstrual cycle can also be supported by psilocybin because the lowest dip of serotonin in a person’s body will happen pre-menstruation. So a person with lower serotonin will have stronger premenstrual symptoms. 

And so that’s really guiding us to understand how the role of microdosing medicine or having a relationship with psilocybin and having this kind of constant flow of serotonin in the body is helping to prevent things like premenstrual syndrome, which is really wonderful. 

So could the presence of psilocybin in the body have and yield better outcomes for even the postpartum period? That’s a little bit of what we’re seeing in the survey here. So I’m really happy to see that. 

How Does Psilocybin Interact With Parenting?

[00:22:06] Mikaela de la Myco: On the mother side, not only is psilocybin supporting with these really radical hormonal shifts during pregnancy and also postpartum, but also through the expanded life of the mother into parenting. 

And some of those benefits that we’ve been seeing with mothers is more patient, more creative, more kind, like more reflective, being able to take the opportunity to like step back and respond instead of react. 

And like, they’re actually working through parenting triggers and like the kind of parenting styles that they were given while they’re parenting their child. And so we’re watching like, you know, systems of parenting change in real time with the support of mushrooms to like create new neural networks in the parent while they’re parenting. 

So I’m really happy to see that. And that’s been reported by a number of mothers in the surveys, like this, this not even just the earnest desire to change, but the ability to change their parenting style in real time–

Which has been an incredible outcome and probably the most powerful outcome of them all is that, you know, we need radical change in the way that children are parented. And if we can do that in just a few generations, we can see a very different world here. 

And some of the benefits that I’ve seen mothers comment about in their children, like what are the mushroom kids like, you know, I can definitely speak to my own child–

But, you know, words like bright, emotionally intelligent, playful, social, kind, reflective, and you know, not delayed in their development. And I think that’s what a lot of people worry about is–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

–okay, like, will this mentally retard my child? And like, not a single person has ever mentioned this part, this “my child has a developmental disability” or they’ve never even mentioned that, you know “we’re seeing like cause cognitive function delay” or that they’re having issues even with school. 

Like I’m watching children grow up per these surveys and in the lived experience of myself and my friends that are mushroom mothers, that the kids are okay. And maybe even a little bit more than okay.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco: They’re doing well. Like they’re thriving. They’re healthy. They’re a good size, like they’re doing good. And that I think is a very hopeful thing. At least we know this isn’t like condemning the kids to a life of suffering. I’m watching.

Nicholas Levich:

Right. Or like a mother’s coping mechanism. 

Mikaela de la Myco:


Nicholas Levich:

I think, you know, when I think about cannabis, for instance, like that’s one of those medicines that’s more easily abused, if you will.

Mikaela de la Myco:


Nicholas Levich:

And, you know, it’s like, is the mother coping or are they actually working with that plant with intention? And what I’m hearing is like–

When approached with intentionality and reverence, it’s actually resulting in a more, I’ll say, pleasant experience for the mother and actually a benefit to the child as well.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Absolutely. And I mean, shout out to my cannabis moms because they paved the way for us. They paved the way for us. And I do have a lot of respect for my cannabis moms because they came first before the microdosing mom. 

And we needed to normalize like mothers, not just coping, but also celebrating with plants because a lot of my cannabis moms and homies that, you know, do have a relationship with cannabis are also–

They’re leaning on an earth medicine that still brings them a lot of balance, a lot of peace, a lot of calmness, like I ingest cannabis, okay? 

Nicholas Levich:

Me too, for the record.

Mikaela de la Myco:

And that’s important and certain, okay? Like the toddler years were cannabis years for me, okay? The newborn phase was definitely big mushroom energy, but like I needed some peace, like there’s paint on the floor, there’s, you know what I mean? 

He flipped his room inside out and I’m like, I need to channel Santa Maria right now because… It’s not worth fighting for. It’s not worth getting upset about. So, you know, I definitely try never to make a judgment claim on one is better than the other, more angelic than the other. 

You’re doing work in this one and you’re not doing work in this one because shame for mothers just doesn’t, we don’t need to have room for it right now. We’re looking to like really create benefits for mothers with plants and so, and with other Earth medicine. 

So I will say this. Psilocybin use in early motherhood is definitely not a cakewalk. It’s not a band-aid and it’s not a way of saying, I’m just going to do this. It’s not the wine mom energy. 

It’s not the I’m just going to take a chill pill and mom just going to be dissociated as f*ck and like just float around the house like nothing’s bothering them. Certainly not what psilocybin brings to us sometimes. 

Psilocybin in early motherhood stages definitely brings a range of sensations. It is a non-specific amplifier. So that means that what the, you know, the baby crying incessantly for hours at a time with a microdose does not necessarily mean it’s gonna be peace and calm. 

It can mean like, whoa, now I’m being faced with a trigger right now and why is this so upsetting to me? How can I communicate with this child better? 

Like it really helps us dive so deeply in to the nonverbal communication and understanding a being that doesn’t have language involved yet, right? 

And so what’s really cool about these surveys is one aspect of the benefit that we’re seeing in children though is the advanced development of the linguistic centers, which is really interesting. 

So a lot of the survey, the people in the survey have been talking about how their kids have really advanced language skills and are using complex terminology and picking up words–

And have a very alive life around the way that they can express themselves vocally and through music. 

And what’s really interesting and cool about that is that Terrence McKenna in the Stone Ape Hypothesis was talking about how, because of ingesting psilocybin or early ancestors, expanded the linguistic centers of their brain. 

And so I really am seeing this happen in real time and I can attest to it with my own almost four-year-old who speaks like a first grader. So it’s fascinating and it’s really cool to see even how some of these hypotheses are getting played out and–

Also how indigenous knowledge and indigenous worldviews and the way that they incorporated mushrooms into their practices are being proven through the lives of modern people. And a lot of us are indigenous. I’m an indigenous Mexican person. 

In the areas that I’m from, there’s rich use of peyote mescaline-producing cacti. And a lot of the peyote and mescaline-producing cactus are a really synergistic medicine for nursing mothers, in particular. 

It’s part of the origin story of peyote and also part of the lived practice even today, and that those folks are moving out of this question of is it safe into how does it benefit myself and child. 

And particularly for peyote, a masculine producing cacti, it has a really interesting co-relationship with the production of breast milk. So, it’s, and also like the thickening and the strengthening of the placental walls. 

So we’re actually seeing pretty tangible relationships between these entheogens and the mechanism and the body chemistry of a birthing person, which is phenomenal and amazing. 

And I just look forward to being able to share this data out a little bit more publicly because if people saw these outcomes and heard the outcomes by this many people, they might make a different choice when faced with the possibility of either bringing in an SSRI or trying something like psilocybin mushroom.

Nicholas Levich:

Yeah, I mean, I, as, just as someone, like I’m fascinated by, by what you’re sharing and there’s a lot of people, whether mothers or not, who are approaching earth medicine, plant medicine, because they want to get off of their SSRIs or they want a different alternative. 

And just objectively, as I listen, I’m sitting here going, okay, well, if the option is take an SSRI and have a baby with an increased potential for depression, or use earth medicine, something like psilocybin and have a baby who’s bright and creative and well, it seems like a no-brainer. 

And so I’m curious, are there risks or downsides or considerations that mothers should make when evaluating these options?

What to Consider & Where to Find Answers on Psilocybin & Motherhood

[00:31:16] Mikaela de la Myco:

Oh my gosh, thank you so much because yeah, there are definitely considerations and it’s not, yeah, a fix it, you know, there’s a lot of variation, right? 

There’s a lot of having to work through the lifestyle that you have to work medicine into your life. There’s a lot of trust that needs to come with that relationship. 

I think people weaning off of SSRIs and bringing in psilocybin is this whole other different care system that I’m not an expert in whatsoever, so I can’t necessarily speak to that, but what I will say is like when given the option, it’s a no-brainer. 

And what are some things that we should think about when deciding to make this choice? And I think for pregnant people, a huge concern obviously is like how to talk to this with your healthcare professionals, if you do at all. 

And not all healthcare professionals are privy to entheogens. Certainly becoming more popular now, especially here on the West Coast and the more decriminalized areas. 

But there’s plenty of spaces in the United States and abroad that absolutely outlaw this kind of thing. And so absolutely, I would say probably the biggest consideration and the biggest pitfall of taking this path and walking this road is–

How will you be received by the community and the care providers that are currently tending to your pregnancy and the people around you while you’re pregnant?

Nicholas Levich:

I mean, we deal with this even if you’re not pregnant, but the second a child is involved, all of a sudden, it’s under like a thousand times more scrutiny. 

Mikaela de la Myco:


Nicholas Levich:

And so what do you typically advise for mothers who choose to walk that path? Is it, is it essentially discernment on who you share with, or is it honestly just keeping it private?

Mikaela de la Myco:

Yeah, I would say it’s a mix of, I mean, it’s quite a wide spectrum, right? Like depending on the community that you live in, this could be like completely accepted and endorsed, or you can be like–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

Yeah, ostracized or fall victim to assault even, you know what I mean? So we definitely don’t want that. And so taking a litmus of your community with this kind of decision making, I think is really important. 

I think mothers that have supportive communities have better success, honestly. Like it’s not just about eating medicine, it’s also about being involved in a community that does celebrate, that does care for, and that does allow the tending of the integration period–

The ongoing integration that entheogens require in order for us to get positive outcomes, you know, because it’s like we can have a massive experience and then go back to a home that’s violent maybe, that has emotional- that they’re not emotionally available to the person. 

And so like it, it all can kind of fall away very, very quickly. The space and the environment in which a person decides to make this choice, I think, is a determining factor of how well a person feels during their journey, first of all. 

And, you know, talking about it with a medical professional, it can be really tricky. And what’s really nice though, is that psilocybin doesn’t show up on a pee test. So most people are pretty good about that. 

And for the most part, urine tests are not testing for it. And if they are, it’s only present in urine for 24 hours. So it’s like a very, yeah, you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to say anything. 

I think a person can walk through in their pregnancy experience with their healthcare provider not knowing that, plenty fine and successful. 

I think what becomes a little bit harder and I think something that I wanna name too is a good litmus is mentioning use of other things that are legal, like mentioning things like, oh, like wine, like see how that sits with your practitioner–

Okay, like mentioning cannabis, see how that sits with your practitioner. You can kind of, you don’t have to zero to 60 it, like you can kind of titrate like their responses and based on their responses to you, you can see if they feel like a safe person to speak to about this.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

And I’ve found that in this space of birth, there are people that tend to have a little bit more openness towards this kind of thing. 

And if not your OB-GYN or doctor, then maybe someone on your birth team like a doula, for example. Someone who’s like a birth attendant or a traditional midwife that might be able to talk to you about these things so that you don’t have to bring it to your primary care provider. 

Of course, their advice is never to replace the advice of a healthcare provider. However, at least there can be someone to talk to that might not be a mandatory reporter, for example–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

Or someone that might potentially cause problems for that person in pregnancy. So I would say if you can talk to an, you know, an advocate or an ally, and I do that for a lot of people. 

That’s a lot of my role in this world is talking to people about this. And because there’s not a lot of people to talk to. And if you can, a doula, a traditional midwife and try to, you know, like source that and diversify the viewpoints in a gestational care experience.

Nicholas Levich:

Yeah, I think that’s really great advice. And, you know, Jimmy and I previously had recorded a whole episode dedicated to how to speak to your healthcare provider about psychedelics. 

And I think one of the things that I feel called to bring up is just that a lot of these primary care physicians and doctors are doing the best that they can. 

Like they’re in a very tough position where even if personally they may agree with it, there’s a whole ensuing liability thing that is associated where their licensures on the line. 

And they don’t want to be on the hook for this kind of stuff. And so their stance is typically just risk mitigation, just like, you know, I don’t want to be on the hook for any of this–

So I’m just going to say, you know, I would advise against it because that’s kind of the official policy. And so I feel like candidly, a lot of these doctors are in a challenging position.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Thank you for bringing that forward because it almost might be more compassionate for you to almost not bring it to–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

This place because they’re going to be forced to maybe say something that they don’t believe or that might put their work on the line. 

I would say there’s a lot of entheogenic doulas out there nowadays. There’s a lot of traditional midwives that do have knowledge of this. And in my own gestational experience, I was cared for by a primary care doctor, like a clinical, a more clinical nurse/midwife practitioner. 

And I also, as a comparative, went to a birth center as well. And I really wanted to compare the care as my first pregnancy. So I was like, how much do these systems know? 

And like, how accurate are these systems as they relate to each other? Can they be part of a whole care system? Can they, do they talk to each other?

Unfortunately the naturopathic traditional midwives and doula systems don’t always have access to what the clinicians know. And unfortunately, the clinicians don’t always regard traditional birthkeeping and birth centers as legit.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

And so they don’t talk to each other very much. So it’s unfortunate, I got two very different levels of care. And so I didn’t bring my psilocybin and cannabis use to my nurse practitioner, but I did take it to the birth center and got really great advice from them. 

And a lot of nuanced responses and supports from them during my journey. So it’s cool to see and I don’t ever want to make a blanket statement saying that all birth centers are going to be cool with this–

But they might be closer to someone who might be at least open-minded and that they don’t have so much of that licensure stuff on the line as maybe a doctor.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

Yeah, something to think about.

Nicholas Levich:

Definitely a great kind of comparison of different options that are available. And it’s one of the things that we talk about in this show a lot, which is, find your support team and that may look very different based on your belief system, your upbringing, your relationship with medicine. 

Like it’s important to tailor it to you. And there’s definitely certain people who feel more comfortable in a traditional medical model and there’s other people who feel more comfortable in a more holistic naturopathic model. 

And I don’t think it’s about right or wrong. It’s just understanding that there’s a spectrum of care available.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Absolutely, and I appreciate that this is not a space that dogs any one side or the other, because I do feel, as you said, some people do feel safer in a medical model, and those are people, unfortunately, that I’ve noticed have tended to be over-medicated–

Because those are the medicines that are available in that system. And so people that might be coming off SSRIs are really seeking out more research driven, more protocol driven, because that’s what they’re used to. 

I really respect that there’s room for this kind of care as complement. And what I like to use is complement over alternative, because if the whole natural world was guided by plants for healing since the beginning, then this system that we have is the alternative, right? 

This is the new one. And especially as it concerns midwifery and obstetrics, this is certainly the new way. It only really just crossed over in the late 1800s, early 1900s.

So I really actually like to look at traditional midwifery as like my body of understanding around the needs of gestating and birthing people, because there’s just more, there’s more experience there.

And so I think with other, you know, concerns and considerations for people, that are seeking this out at different points in their experiences that, you know, we know that psilocybin and psilocin can cross the placental barrier.

I think that a consideration people need to make is how safe do I feel with this particular medicine so much so that my child will be growing with it’s presence in both of our bodies, and that’s a judgment call. 

I mean, some people have this long standing relationship with it. They know this is safe. They have trust in the spirit of the medicine. They know that this is a benefit and they move forward doing that. 

And that is with the understanding that psilocybin and psilocin and all of the other incredible constituents in these fungi will be playing an influential role in the growth of our gestating children. 

So I think that’s a consideration people need to make, and it’s ending up in the breast milk too. People say, oh, pump and dump. First of all, please don’t ever dump breast milk, period. 

It takes the body so much energy to make breast milk. It takes calories, like thousands of calories, thousands, thousands of, just so many thousands of hours to combine like the plasma of the blood to create milk. 

If we are going to remove or make a wall between our child and ingesting psilocybin through breast milk, then find something creative to do with breast milk. 

Like, put it on your face, put it on your hair, put it in your bathtub, like drink it yourself. I definitely drank some ayahuasca breast milk and that sh*t was slappin’.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

Like after ceremony, I was still very much feeling it and so I know it’s still very present and when people ingest medicine, and this is a question I get asked a lot, and they’re breastfeeding, they will say, is it okay for my child? 

And I’m like, well, what are you noticing? Are you noticing your child is having any issues with sleep? Hyperactive, unable to focus, like, please look at your child because it varies from person to person. 

Some babies sleep really, really well. Some become more activated. There was one mother that I was caring for that she was feeling so guilty. She’s like, I feel like every time I microdose, like they don’t sleep as well. And I’m like, well, how old are they? 

They’re like, oh, they’re like six months. And I was like, well, also six month olds, like really vary in their sleep cycle. So are you noticing that it’s attributed to the medicine or is it, you know, just a part of their growing in the first year?

So it’s really user dependent, which is important. I will say, with breastfeeding, there’s some really great articles that are out right now. 

Double Blind Magazine did a breastfeeding and all different kinds of medicines article that I highly recommend. There’s no one size fits all. For me personally, and so many of the other mothers in the survey, we chose to continue breastfeeding on low dose and high dose. 

And so we’re really looking at kids where psilocybin is in the body at the moment of conception or in the time of conception, and then moving through all of pregnancy and then into breastfeeding. And we’re looking at kids that have that experience. 

And then we’re also looking at kids that only had experiences that were a little bit segmented because maybe breastfeeding wasn’t something that the mother chose to do. We just don’t have the research and the evidence. 

So the consideration is, do I trust this molecule enough to give it to my kid? Because that’s what we’re looking at. I think that’s the reality of when we’re pregnant and when we’re breastfeeding with psilocybin. 

And I know that some people are concerned about how much is safe. Like, is just a microdose cool? Or can mommy’s high dose? And so what’s really beautiful about the survey is it’s not just a microdosing survey. 

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

It’s a survey that is covering the range of dosage. And we’re seeing some really interesting results in that as well.

Who’s Actually Using Psilocybin During Motherhood & How?

[00:445:16] Nicholas Levich:

So one of the things that you’re touching on very clearly here is this relationship with the medicine. And I’m curious because we see this with especially psychedelic curious or first-time journeyers, where they’re like, I don’t understand this concept of relationship with the medicine.

Like, what do you mean? And then they go and do a journey and they’re like, oh, I see what you mean now. Like, there is a spirit or a presence and intelligence here. 

And what it makes me curious about is, do you find that these mothers have a pre-existing relationship with psilocybin before? Or are they making that judgment and establishing the relationship while they are in the conception or gestation phase?

Mikaela de la Myco:

So, per the survey, 67% are post-birth. So, most of the people in the survey, most of the people in the survey, are building their relationship with mushroom in their relationship with motherhood, which is really neat. Which is really–

Nicholas Levich:

Meaning they’ve never journeyed or microdosed before.

Mikaela de la Myco:


Nicholas Levich:

Got it, okay.

Mikaela de la Myco:

First time. First time and it’s like described as that, like having a relationship with mushroom or ingesting mushroom in general. And so that’s coming up more often in–

Nicholas Levich:

Wow, so motherhood’s becoming a catalyst for people building a relationship with–

Mikaela de la Myco:

Like the needs of motherhood are driving them into the arms of mushroom–

Nicholas Levich:

Got it, okay.

Mikaela de la Myco:

–which is really cool. That’s 67%. So the rest of the people have had previous experiences with mushroom. So this relationship sometimes comes just hand in hand with the motherhood journey or we are carrying our relationship with mushroom into the motherhood journey–

Which was very much my experience and the experiences of quite a few others is, you know, I started ingesting mushrooms nine years ago. And so I received an incredible amount of insight, experience, and learned a modality that really worked for me–

Learned a modality where I sat for myself often, like I was microdosing myself before there were protocols, before there was anything else, like we just had each other and we had the mushrooms. 

So I really gained a firsthand experience with them and learned what I liked to, how I liked to be with them. I think what we’re also toeing the line of a little bit is like, how does relationship look? And relationship with medicine can also be like how you interact with the physical mushroom too, okay?

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

Like relationship with medicine is not just who you are on the trip and who you’re seeing while you’re in there. It’s like how do you engage with its physical presence?

Like having a relationship with mushroom for some people, maybe they’re not ready to ingest, but maybe they can put a small mushroom like on their altar or by a candle or just hold it and smell it and touch it–

And taste it and get in a more sensory experience with the mushroom in its physical form, I think is also part of relationship. 

Meditating and like holding mushroom and like letting that have its own journey, I think can be really important. For me, I always say mushroom doesn’t have to start with consumption.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

It does not have to start with consumption.

Nicholas Levich:

That’s a good point.

Mikaela de la Myco:

So, you know, I’d been connected to the mushroom long before I ever ate it. Like I’d been drawing pictures of mushrooms and lots of kids are doing this too.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

Like, kids are drawing mushrooms, kids are starting to, I’m seeing children drawing amanita mushrooms, it’s part of our cultural consciousness, like they are tripping–

Nicholas Levich:

It’s the Mario mushroom, I mean it’s everywhere.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Yeah, like especially with amanita because I’m a big amanita fan and sometimes I serve amanita and share it with people and they’re like, oh my gosh, I’ve never had, I was like, it’s the mushroom that everyone knows about but has never tried.

Nicholas Levich:

Yep. For listeners who don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s the red mushroom with the white dots. It’s like the quintessential Mario mushroom.

Mikaela de la Myco:

It’s the emoji mushroom!

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

It’s the mushroom everyone is posting, you know, and it’s cool to be in relationship in non-consumptive ways. That’s also about decolonizing our relationship with medicine is like, how do you engage with this being in a non-consumptive way? 

For the case of this conversation though, sorry for the sidetrack, but a lot of the mothers are coming to mushroom because they’ve had a relationship. 

And I really want to speak to that too, because as someone who had a relationship with mushroom and this was a powerful healing modality for me, I became pregnant and I was like, do I stop this very helpful relationship? 

For what? And that actually is what dove me headfirst into research development, like asking elders. I thankfully had access to some elders. I was able to sit in a sweat lodge with some elders. 

I was able to be served mushrooms from someone who’s from a culture where there is no break in the chain of relationship. 

And that was, I think, such a beautiful permission for me and a peace for me that absolutely has carried with me forever is that when I went to the Abuela and when I talked to her about- I have a relationship with this medicine, I am pregnant now, what do I do? How do I move forward?

She said, well, in our community, we don’t stop eating mushroom, even though we become pregnant. And I think that’s something that’s really gorgeous and important is that I think a mom is expected to put her entire life on pause when pregnancy happens. 

And what’s really neat about this is like the level of safety that this medicine can have in a person’s body is that for those people and the people that like I first ingested mushroom while pregnant with–

That it’s seen as a helpful medicine and it’s seen as a medicine that doesn’t warrant the disconnection. When we transition as changing woman from a maiden and move into motherhood and then from motherhood like into parent–

That it can help us all along the way, which is really neat and actually can really help like weave the ends together so that that’s a very smooth transition.

Nicholas Levich:

I love the reframe because I’m sitting here going, well, objectively, if something is healthy, helpful, contributing to your overall mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Why would you stop it? 

Like, what are the reasons that are valid for cutting that out? And if fear or the unknown or whatever is the only thing, like I could see how that’s a challenging decision to make as a mother.

Mikaela de la Myco:

Absolutely, and what a lot of mothers I think are really desiring in this journey is some kind of permission. A lot of us know how to listen to our intuition and a lot of us don’t. 

And what sometimes feels more validating than anything is another mother that says, you’re safe and it’s okay. And that’s often, that was what was given to me. 

There was no pressure to make the choice because I should or have to, but instead, a mother to a mother saying, this is how we do it, and we think that it’s okay. 

And maybe that’s not enough for the Western mind, and maybe that’s not someone, you know, who really wants to just speak to a medical professional. 

But for some people, that felt safe enough for me. And I’m really glad that I did, because my mental health and my emotional health and my physical health–

The gestation experience for me was very wonderful and peaceful and I gained a ton of insights with high dose mushrooms during my pregnancy. I ate up to three grams when I was seven months–

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

And that had so much positive consequence in my birth experience that it would have been a very different experience had I not done that. And so I was able to tackle some very interesting and important hiccups that made and created a higher benefit for my birth. 

I will always attest that my journey as a pregnant mother increased benefit for my birthing experience and my postpartum experience and became an absolute catalyst for positive change during my postpartum experience. 

That is what I’m reading in these testimonies is mushroom during postpartum, mushroom during pregnancy is like the impetus for positive change in these mothers’ lives. And I have over 200 stories of that very same narrative. 

I’m not just now listening to one mother from an Indigenous tradition, which I’m very grateful to hear, but now I’m listening to a sea of mothers saying very similar things. And so I don’t take that lightly and I feel that other mothers really deserve to hear those voices as well–

Because I might not reach every mother in the corner of the earth, but I would love for that to be kind of part of the collective consciousness that mushrooms can be really helpful in all phases of the motherhood experience. 

When I say like bonding the edges of the changing woman phases, um, what mushrooms do so powerfully is as master decomposers help material transition from one phase to another. 

And that’s happening on both a spiritual, emotional, and psychological level and also a very physical level as we’re changing from cycle to cycle and then into the portal of motherhood and birth and postpartum. 

There are massive like symphonies. of chemical and physiological change that the mushrooms, because of the serotonin that they give the body or the perceived serotonin they give the body, can ease those transitions ever so gently. 

And the way that we celebrate those things too is I’ve had a practice of doing what are called motherhood blessings. Some people call them blessing way, but it’s very late in the pregnancy. 

It is like a way of celebrating the mother from a pregnant person, a maiden into a mother. And so we, as a community, sit with mushroom and celebrate the mother’s transition. 

And I think that’s kind of missing in the culture. We always say, oh, this baby was born. We don’t say the mother gave birth.

Nicholas Levich:


Mikaela de la Myco:

We lose the mom in this work. And we lose the celebration of the changing woman in this experience in the Western birthing space. And that also shows up in the way that we celebrate motherhood, like a baby shower. Where is mom, right? 

Oh, we’re gonna just give you a bunch of material objects that are gonna parade the baby that’s coming. And yes, that’s welcome, but where is the care for the mom? 

Where is the acknowledgement of the transformation that this person is now undergoing? The mushrooms can be that for some people. So the question is, are mushrooms by themselves enough? We can’t remove culture from medicine for me. 

Like there is a culture of, it doesn’t have to be a religious or a belief system, but it has to be a set of practices that reinforces the teaching that the medicines provide. And for us, a lot of that has to do with rights of passage work is very important. 

These significant experiences of like the changing of consciousness is very important through sometimes prayer, sometimes altar work, sometimes blessing food even, or blessing water, or praying to these natural elements of the earth. 

This is all kind of sounding woo and whatever, but this is really just our relationship to the planet, as you so beautifully mentioned. 

And if we are a microcosm of the macrocosm, the honor and the reverence that we’re giving to the journey of motherhood is equivalent to the honor that we have the capacity to give to the earth. If we can’t serve moms, how can we serve the big mama?

Nicholas Levich:

So true, you are just full of wisdom. I love this. This has been just, it’s an enlightening conversation for me and I’m immersed in this space. 

And so I can only imagine for our listeners who, you know, there’s very few people, as I mentioned, when we started, who are even willing to like openly discuss this. 

And so, you know, I just want to acknowledge you and thank you again for your courage as we work through this. And, you know, I certainly have a couple more questions if you’re open to it.

Mikaela de la Myco:


Nicholas Levich: That brings us to the end of today’s episode. My discussion with Mikaela has been so in-depth that we decided to chop this up into two different episodes, so a part 1 and part 2. Thank you all so much for tuning in to part 1 and we’ll be releasing part 2 next week. 

Part 2 is specifically going to focus on how to actually use psychedelics in motherhood and so we’re looking forward to sharing that with you all next week.

Thank you so much for tuning into the Psychedelic Passage podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review us and we always appreciate when you share with a friend, see you all next week. 

Additional Resources

MushWomb by Mikaela de la Myco: 

Mushrooms & Motherhood Survey: 

Earth Medicine Motherhood Guide: 

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Navigating Codependency With Psychedelics

Navigating Codependency With Psychedelics Ft. Erika Perez

Join us for a captivating episode of the Psychedelic Passage podcast as host Nicholas Levich dives deep into a riveting conversation with Erika Perez, the Head of Content at Psychedelic Passage. In this thought-provoking episode, Erika shares her personal odyssey of healing from codependency using the power of psychedelics.

With authenticity and vulnerability, our guest paints an intimate portrait of her struggles with codependency, a complex web of seeking external motivation and attempting to fill a spiritual void through relationships. 

You’ll gain insight into her process of preparing for ceremony, the power of choiceless awareness, and the ongoing commitment to integration that has followed. 

Erika exposes the intricate interplay between thoughts and actions to explain how psychedelics opened a doorway to self-awareness, enabling her to widen the gap between impulse and response.

With honest reflections on progress, setbacks, and ongoing dedication, this episode offers listeners a true glimpse into the long-term process of healing and empowerment. Tune in to gain a genuine perspective on using psychedelics as a tool to conquer codependency.

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Episode 56 – Navigating Codependency With Psychedelics Ft. Erika Perez

Nicholas Levich: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Nick Levich and I am solo in the studio today as far as hosting goes. Jimmy is taking a little break and so I will be the host of our show today. 

And we have a very special guest on our show, as I mentioned in our break announcement last week. We’re really highlighting some different perspectives on psychedelic assisted therapy, healing and really doing our best to highlight the journeyer perspective–

Since we lacked some of that in the prior season and that was requested from you guys as listeners. And so we have Erika Perez as our guest today and she is our head of content and I am very grateful to have her with us today.

If you have read any of the content on our website that is either written, edited and or. produced by Erika. So thanks for joining us today.

Erika Perez: Of course, I’m so happy to be here. I tune in every week, so it’s cool to be on the other side of it.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah, we’re grateful to have you. Um, and the reason that we’re bringing Erika on today is because she has a wonderful story around her own use of psychedelics as a healing tool, specifically around codependency.

Erika Perez: Yeah.

Nicholas Levich: I want to start just before we jump into the meat of this to just give folks a little bit of background as to kind of who you are, um, and just some basic demographic info so they can get a feel for you. 

So. Um, you are female identifying in your early twenties and recently graduated from Rutgers with a degree in psychology, uh, which is, I know, very helpful as you write a lot of the research, uh, and scientific based articles that are published through the psychedelic passage website. 

Um, and Erika has also done a ceremony with one of the facilitators in the psychedelic passage network. And so you’ve been on the receiving end of. kind of the main core service that we as a company provide, which I think is cool that you’ve been on both sides of that as well. Is

Erika Perez: Yeah.

Nicholas Levich: Is there anything else that you’d like to add just about yourself and your background?

Erika Perez: No, I think that you’ve covered it.

Nicholas Levich: Cool. So let’s get into today, which is like from the journeyer’s perspective, how do psychedelics help with codependency? And perhaps what we should start with is just a basic understanding of what codependency even is. 

Recognizing The Problem

And so I’m curious from your perspective, Erika, what did, how do you define codependency? What does that look like?

Erika Perez: A lot of people define codependency in different ways. Codependency, the actual term comes from co-addict, which was first coined in the context of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Nicholas Levich: Hmm.

Erika Perez: They noticed that the partners of alcoholics tended to take care of their partners and their addictions to a point of self neglect and to a point of really, obsession. So the partner became addicted to their partner’s addiction, essentially.

Nicholas Levich: Interesting.

Erika Perez: It’s not the case for everyone. Not every codependent is in a relationship with an addict. I would say that for me, the most intuitive definition of it is filling the void–

The void in my spirit with another person instead of addressing it out of fear of what I’m going to find and what that’s going to mean for me when I do get there.

Nicholas Levich: And so can you maybe give an example as to like what that looked like in your life? Like how it manifested?

Erika Perez: Yeah, it manifested in a lot of different ways. I think I really, really started to notice when the complaints that my partners would have about me started to be repeated across different relationships. And one of the biggest ones was that I would psychoanalyze my partners. 

Nicholas Levich: Interesting.

Erika Perez: And at the time, I thought, oh, it’s because I’m studying psychology. It’s just a natural part of me. I’m born to study the mind, right? But not really, actually. 

What I was doing was trying to analyze their behaviors and their motivations. And I was doing it so consistently that it started to feel like the relationship that we had–

Not just on my end, but on my partner’s end, was a client therapist relationship instead of a loving romantic relationship where both of you cared. It was more like I was trying to fix them all the time. And yeah.

Nicholas Levich: Right. So what I’m hearing is almost like a form of distraction where your focus is on the other instead of the self.

Erika Perez: Yeah, that’s exactly it. Your focus is on the other person and you’re usually focused on problems instead of solutions. 

And a lot of it is because you’re focused not on your own problems, so you’ll see that a lot of the things you bring up to your partner are things that you’re not fulfilling yourself. So you’ll bring up–

Nicholas Levich: They’re like a mirror for you.

Erika Perez: Exactly,

Nicholas Levich: Yeah.

Erika Perez: Exactly that.

Nicholas Levich: And so how did you first discover that you were exhibiting some of those traits?

Erika Perez: I was in a relationship my sophomore year of college. It was a very loving and a very deep relationship. But near the end of that relationship I, for the last few months, I was very, very depressed. I did not want to be alone. 

So COVID was still kind of in full swing and I was living in an apartment with roommates, but they had left for spring break. 

So because I was really left alone, right, and my only source of kind of relationship was my partner, I found myself constantly nagging him to come over.

Nicholas Levich: Mm.

Erika Perez: He at the time was trying to increase his hours at work, so that wasn’t feasible. But it didn’t really matter if he couldn’t come over. No matter how often we saw each other, nothing would satiate me. And so that’s when I noticed that there was a problem.

Nicholas Levich: Yep.

Erika Perez: No matter how long we spent together, it was never enough.

Nicholas Levich: Because even if you’re together 24/7, there’s still this peice of like, I can’t be alone I need more.

Erika Perez: Mm-hmm, exactly.

Nicholas Levich: Okay.

Erika Perez: Exactly.

Nicholas Levich: And I wanna be clear, like, thank you for your vulnerability because I recognize this isn’t always easy to share, but the reason I wanna get into a little bit of this–

Is so listeners can like understand what it’s like to be in your shoes or what this kind of whole codependency topic even looks like. And so once you figured out that this was happening–

At what point did you introduce psychedelics to the equation, or what did you do to kind of help work through these codependent tendencies?

Introducing Psychedelics to The Equation With Microdosing

[00:07:18] Erika Perez: So I didn’t really acknowledge, I couldn’t acknowledge at that point. I don’t think I had enough tools to acknowledge how deep codependency was really rooted in my life. 

It was a progression of going into relationships prematurely and through that learning that these were tendencies that codependence did naturally have. trying to seek that external validation and filling that void as quickly as possible so you don’t have to sit in it for longer than you need to.

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: When I got into a relationship prematurely after the one we just discussed, we ended up breaking up and it was at that point where I decided that I actually needed to do something about it–

Because the pain that I was feeling, the void that I was feeling, nothing was filling it. I wasn’t filling it. I was constantly thinking about my partner, even when we weren’t together. I decided to start microdosing

Nicholas Levich: Mm.

Erika Perez: -and I didn’t really have a solid intention. I guess my intention would change every day with the way that I was feeling. But generally, microdosing makes you more self-aware. and it makes you more mindful of the patterns that you are repeating in your life. 

So I started employing microdosing while I was trying to create more discipline in my life and routine in my life. And then at that point, a couple of months later is when I had the journey with the facilitator in our network where the core intention was really self-acceptance.

Nicholas Levich: Hmm.

Erika Perez: And… Yeah, those were the two points in my life where I really used psychedelics to engage with the codependent tendencies and address them.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah. So what I’m hearing is there’s almost like this pattern of going from relationship to relationship, trying to fill the void and nothing fills it or fully satiates it. And so then the light bulb goes off of like, “Oh, maybe this is me.”

Erika Perez: Yeah.

Nicholas Levich: And, and so for our listeners was the microdosing, was that with psilocybin?

Erika Perez: Yeah, that was with psilocybin. I was, yeah, just using capsules.

Nicholas Levich: Cool. And so I’m curious what your experience of going through, you know, what is essentially the kind of programming that we’ve put together that’s then run by the facilitators in our network–

What was that experience like for you kind of to go through this whole arc of preparation, ceremony, integration as a whole process?

The Ceremony That Demanded Real Change

[00:10:15] Erika Perez: So, I remember that by that point we had written an article about whether or not you should, or you had written an article that mentioned whether or not you should invite your partner to-

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: -be there and be present in your journey. And I, during preparation, was seriously considering asking my partner at the time to come visit. 

I actually did ask him to join me on the journey and drive down there with me, do his own thing during the day, and then come back when I was done with the experience. 

But deep inside that didn’t feel like the right thing to do, especially considering the intention for my experience. For a codependent, any occasion feels like an opportunity to bring in your partner. 

Nicholas Levich: Mm.

Erika Perez: But that’s not what I wanted to do. I knew it’s, I couldn’t do it if I really wanted to address this head on and be honest with myself and have an authentic experience. 

So through preparation, I was speaking with the facilitator and letting them know what my intentions were, the struggles that I’ve had with codependency. And I decided that I wouldn’t have my partner come with me. 

And when it came to journey day, I packed my car and leading up to the point, actually, I made my own playlist for the drive down to Massachusetts. It was gonna be my first road trip alone.

Nicholas Levich: Mmm.

Erika Perez: It was three hours long. And I was a little bit nervous about driving that far by myself, but I also knew that I could do it and that I didn’t have to use my partner as an excuse or I didn’t have to pretend that I couldn’t do it by myself.

Nicholas Levich: Right. So you’re already in this process as you’re driving down of like facing it head on and stepping into this challenge of like being self-sufficient and doing it on your own.

Erika Perez: Right, right. And doing everything the way that I wanted it to be done, because I know that it would have been a lot different had my partner come down. 

I wouldn’t have been able, something as simple as choosing my own music to drive down to the entire way there, stopping at different parks and taking pictures and dipping my feet in the water. 

I would have had to cater to his preferences and I wouldn’t have been able to focus on myself. So I’m really glad that I made that decision. 

During ceremony, there was a very big theme of just decisions, complete awareness, without judgment, so choiceless awareness is what I’ve heard it referred to as–

Where I was in this state of just observing everything around me and the feelings that were coming up and the thoughts that I was having, but I didn’t feel compelled to engage with the thoughts or judge or to make anything more of what they actually were.

Nicholas Levich: Right. Almost like seeing and experiencing it as it is without applying this, this lens of meaning or color or, uh, conditioning to it. It sounds like.

Erika Perez: Right, exactly, exactly. I was just able to take everything at, I guess, at face value, right?

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: And that practice or that experience, it became, and later on it would become a very important framework and reference point for my Vipassana meditation practice. 

Because it helped me get a glimpse of what it should feel like when you’re having a conversation with a partner and they’re telling you something about their life, about what’s going on. I don’t have to judge.

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: I can just listen to somebody, hear them. offer my support, but I don’t need to jump in to fix or to change or manipulate the situation or make it any different than what it is.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah, which I would guess is a big burden to carry if that’s like, if you, if you are internalizing that you’re responsible for your partner’s behavior, challenges, wounds, problems, struggles, whatever, like that’s a lot of weight to carry.

Erika Perez: It’s a lot of weight to carry, especially because it’s completely impossible. Like,

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: It’s impossible for another human to control another human.

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: And it felt very liberating to be able to experience life during that ceremony, at least just throughout that time, from a place of non-judgment. I’m just being able to release and let go and I don’t have to play God and I can’t play God either way so who am I fooling?

Nicholas Levich: Yeah.

Erika Perez: Yeah

Nicholas Levich: I think about it as like almost like being the enforcer. Like you don’t have to be the enforcer anymore. You just-

Erika Perez: Right.

Nicholas Levich: -get to let people operate in their own sovereignty and run their course.

Erika Perez: Right, right.

Nicholas Levich: And so, so what happens after the ceremony? Like, you know, obviously that’s a, I would guess a somewhat intense experience, even if it was what you needed. And then, and then, you know, where do you go from there?


[00:15:41] Erika Perez: Yeah, I wouldn’t say that I saw changes immediately-

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: -but the experience itself was a source of a lot of change that came after that. I, years later, am able to refer back to it and put myself in the state of mind that I was in throughout different parts of the experience. 

So in surrendering, for example, it’s a very, very active process during the psychedelic experience. You really have no choice but to surrender to the experience, to the medicine, to that space and time. 

And it has allowed me now to practice that kind of radical surrender that is so rare for a codependent to be able to do.

Nicholas Levich: Hmm

Erika Perez: I have started reading more about codependency in general, getting educated on it. And I go through periods of microdosing where I kind of feel like I get all of these tools over a period of time and then I’m able to put them into practice with the medicine.

And when I stop microdosing, I’m able to take those tools and apply them elsewhere, without the medicine, so I’m able.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah. So what I’m hearing is like, uh, that experience of ceremony gave you an experience of, of a different way of being, it’s almost-

Erika Perez: Mm-hmm.

Nicholas Levich: -like it gave you a target for how to show up differently that you could then go back to. And then the microdosing almost gave you this ability to like, keep flexing that muscle, like reps in the gym so that you could, you could maintain that self-awareness and adjust.

Erika Perez: Yeah, that’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. I felt like I was in the dark before and I didn’t really know where I was aiming.

Nicholas Levich: Right.

Erika Perez: And the experience gave me a goalpost.

Nicholas Levich: Right, because I think about this in the sense of like, if someone says, well, just surrender, just don’t judge, conceptually you understand that, but in your

Erika Perez: Yeah.

Nicholas Levich: body, it’s like, well, how do I actually do this? What does it look like? What does it feel like? What is the practice of?

Erika Perez: Mm-hmm. Yeah, precisely.

Nicholas Levich: And so then what happened in, kind of, the integration process? I know that it was like nothing. Um, well, in your case, it wasn’t instantaneous, right? So you’re piecing all this together, but what was integration like after that?

The Integration Component to Healing

[00:18:23] Erika Perez: Yeah, so I had, I was speaking to my facilitator about everything that was just going on in the experience. My experience was very internal. 

It’s funny because a lot of it taught me what my body could do and what it was doing and had been doing for a long time that I didn’t. I didn’t know what I was capable of doing. I would go into these yoga nidra states-

Nicholas Levich: Mm.

Erika Perez: -before I went into the psychedelic experience. And I would go to sleep at night or close my eyes at night and go into these states not really knowing that I was going into them. 

And then my psychedelic experience was just one whole yoga nidra state. And I explained this to my facilitator and he kind of brought up the point that that’s how he learned about it as well. 

And discovering that I had that power within me empowered me to continue learning about myself and what I wanted out of life and the goals that I had for myself, for myself and not for any extrinsic motivation.

I wasn’t doing it for the validation of my partner. I wasn’t doing it to receive assurance from my partner. I was doing it to validate myself and my own, I guess you would call them gifts, my own abilities.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah. So what I’m hearing is that there’s this shifting in motivation.

Erika Perez: Yeah

Nicholas Levich: From like external to internal or from partner to self.

Erika Perez: Yeah, yeah

Nicholas Levich: And this is something that we’ve talked about a lot in the past season and in prior episodes- is this concept of conditioning, like extracting out what’s actually yours versus what’s your partner’s, your parents, your family’s societies, and that’s an interesting process.

And it’s, it’s something that this kind of non-judgmental, almost dreamlike state that you’re describing can help us with, is sorting through whose is what and what’s yours and what’s not.

Erika Perez: Mm-hmm. Yeah. The practice of it has definitely helped me, like you said, sort through, um, and just not allow my conditioning to distort my perspective. Mm-hmm.

Nicholas Levich: Right, beautiful. And so one of the things that we talk about on the show a lot is how this healing process often isn’t linear and the way in which we experience progress or results is highly variable based on each person. 

And so how would you describe this experience of like, making progress in your healing from the codependency?

Erika Perez: Yeah. So definitely not linear, like you said. It feels like the peeling back of an onion. I find with codependency, you can practice discipline and routine when you’re not in a relationship. 

But when you get into a relationship, that’s where the real test is. And so in the periods where I don’t have a partner and I’m not dating anyone, I focus on myself a lot. I focus on taking care of myself, on learning more about myself. 

And then I go into a relationship feeling pretty armed and a lot more armed than I was before, a lot more capable than I was before of not falling into the codependent tendencies. I realized though that eventually at some points those tendencies do start to pop back up. And it’s-

Nicholas Levich: Mm.

Erika Perez: -then when I have to kind of grab on to everything that I know again and kind of start that process again of building that armor back up and getting educated again and getting constant reminders–

Through the books that I read and the videos that I watched and my personal practices of where my priorities should be and where they shouldn’t. It is-

Nicholas Levich: Interesting. So it sounds like, it sounds like when you’re at a point where when you’re not in a relationship, you can stick to your discipline and your boundaries, your practices, whatever. 

And then the question is when you get back into a relationship, do those disciplines and boundaries hold? Because that’s the exact point in which the codependent patterns can easily slip back into place.

Erika Perez: Right, right. And for me personally, it hasn’t been specifically getting into the relationship, but when my partner starts to face something difficult in their life, that’s when the real opportunity for my codependent tendencies kick in.

Nicholas Levich: Ahh, so it’s almost like how you support them when they’re going through a tough time.

Erika Perez: Exactly, exactly.

Nicholas Levich: And so where are you at now with that?

Erika Perez: I would definitely say that I feel a lot more secure in myself. I remember being in relationships and there were times where I, being apart from them, I could not stop thinking about them and I could not stop thinking about their problems. God has really helped me. 

Having a higher power has really helped me. because it allows me to put my trust in, not just the other person, but in a higher power, which is the same higher power that is helping me. I used to be avoidantly attached to my parents. 

And I’ve learned now that a lot of that is because I had a lot of shame when I was in a relationship, which was very often, since I would stop paying so much attention to my family.

And then that created a cycle of guilt and shame where I just separated myself more. And now I am securely attached to my parents. 

I am very open with them, even when it feels hard. And even when there does feel like there’s an opportunity for shame to kind of step in the door, I try to beat it by being open and honest. 

With my partners, I am now considered technically secure, securely attached, but I am still on the border of anxious attachment. So I have some more work to do, but I’m definitely a lot less anxiously attached than I was. 

I allow my partners to battle their own problems in their life. And also when you’re happy with what you’re doing in your own life, when you’re happy with your own routine and your own discipline–

You stop noticing the lack, quote unquote, that exists within others because you’re not so insecure about your own.

Nicholas Levich: Right, right.

Erika Perez: Yeah.

Nicholas Levich: And so I’m curious, in addition to the active work you did with the intentional therapeutic psychedelic experience, what other practices or healing modalities did you add to your life to keep this whole thing going?

Erika Perez: So like I mentioned before, the Pasana meditation has been very helpful to me. Like I said, it’s helped me kind of undo that conditioning and become aware of my conditioning, become aware of my thoughts and of their patterns of my thoughts–

So that it doesn’t distort the way that I relate to others. I have worked on emotional processing and understanding how I process my own emotions so that I don’t cave into control tactics. 

And I have honestly just started practicing grace, having grace for other people, giving grace to other people, the same grace that I would want somebody to have with me. 

Because as codependents, we really do tend to believe that we are completely unselfish and that everything we do is for other people and for the benefit of other people. 

And in that, we forget that our control tactics are just as bad and if not worse for the other person as the other person’s self-harm tactics are. 

Like, what the other person is doing that’s harming them, we’re doubling down on that by persecuting them every time that they do something wrong. 

Instead of encouraging and uplifting them, we tear them down because they’re not living up to our standards, which we ourselves are not living up to.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah, so there’s like an element of hypocrisy or like double standards.

Erika Perez: Very much so, very much so, very much so. So I’ve just tried humbling myself and honestly facing the hurt that I’ve caused in other people’s lives. And that at first felt like it was going to be very difficult. It felt like it would honestly kind of collapse my reality. 

But it’s allowed me to be a lot more present for the people that I love. Understanding the difference between caretaking and caregiving has helped a lot. Acknowledging when I’m doing something out of fear and out of anxiety or out of distrust versus when I’m doing it out of love.

Nicholas Levich: Hmm.

Erika Perez: When I’m doing it expecting something in return versus when I’m doing it simply because I love someone.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah, the other thing that you, as you were chatting, the other thing that came up for me is like, if all you do is give, and you’re so rooted in your selflessness, your cup eventually runs dry.

Erika Perez: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Nicholas Levich: Like there’s a certain point where if you’re not depositing into your own energetic tank and all you’re doing is making deposits and other people’s, you’re like empty at a certain point.

Erika Perez: Yeah, yeah. And this is where that insular codependent relationship dynamic starts to happen, where then you are so empty and you’re expecting the other person to fill your cup. They become like an angry victim, right?

Nicholas Levich: Mmm.

Erika Perez: Where they’re having to give everything over to you and they don’t have space anymore for the progress that you wanted them to make initially,

Nicholas Levich: Totally,

Erika Perez: Right?

Nicholas Levich: Totally. So I know we’ve covered a lot. I’m curious if you could, and I know this may be hard, but I’m curious, your thoughts is like–

If you could in kind of one or two sentences describe the role that psychedelics have played in this process of healing codependency, like how specifically has the intentional psychedelic use helped?

Final Reflections on Intentional Use of Psychedelics & Healing 

[00:29:43] Erika Perez: Mm. Um, mindfulness is the biggest one. Um, there’s a point between a thought and an action where you’re able to make a choice. 

And for the codependent, it’s very easy to make the choice to judge. It’s very easy to make the choice to blame and to shame. 

Psychedelics have allowed me to practice a level of self-awareness where that gap in between thought and an action is a lot wider and more obvious to me. 

So I’m able to interject before I speak out my thought, and I’m able to really evaluate where that thought is coming from, if it’s coming from a place of love, or if it’s coming from a place of insecurity. 

And it’s there where I’ve actually been able to put into practice, you know, all of the educating that I’m trying to do for myself-

Nicholas Levich: Yeah.

Erika Perez: -all of the things that I’m learning, it’s in the choice and the space that I have.

Nicholas Levich: Right. And I think that’s a hard one for people that haven’t experienced it. Because if for some, for some of us, and I’ve been in this position myself, where the behavior is so compulsive, you don’t feel like you have a choice. It’s, it’s like automatic.

And I’ve also experienced that where either through meditation or psychedelics or breath work or whatever, you get this little bit of pause, this little bit of space inserted between that compulsive reactive tendency. 

And all it takes is that millisecond, half second, full second to go from full reaction to like pause and then respond. And I think that’s where we have the potential to break a lot of those patterns.

Erika Perez: Yeah, yeah, it’s where I have been able to break a lot of patterns and recognize just how often my codependent tendencies pop up.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah. So for any of our listeners who may be listening to today’s episode and thinking like, oh shit, I have some of these codependent tendencies. What advice would you give to anyone that may be exhibiting or experiencing some of this codependent behavior?

Erika Perez: I would say when you first start becoming educated on codependency, it’s going to feel like you have to do everything at once. And it’s going to feel like you have to get your life sorted overnight. 

And I just want to, in any way I can, advise you to take that pressure off of yourself. The self-awareness is gonna come gradually, but you should allow your intention to guide you. Do it for yourself. 

If you want to recover, do it for yourself because your partner, the one who’s sitting next to you, he may not be here or she may not be here. And your codependent tendencies will. 

There’s one thing that I realized after a while battling this, and it was that the people in my life are never at fault. My partners are never at fault. It’s always my patterns. So regardless of who you’re with, your patterns are gonna follow you. 

Think of it in terms of patterns and not people. If you look to address within yourself first with the right intentions, you’re going to make progress at whatever speed it is. 

Accept yourself, give yourself the grace that you would want others to give to you. Because that’s really how you practice giving it to other people as well.

Nicholas Levich: And so for any of our listeners who are perhaps struggling with some codependent patterns or behaviors and are interested in using psychedelics as a tool, much like you did, what advice or warnings or feedback do you have for them?

Erika Perez: Right. Definitely what I mentioned before, if you’re planning on having a large dose experience and you’re considering inviting your partner, asking yourself why–

Asking yourself if you’re using your partner as motivation to get better, if you’re doing it out of fear. or if you’re doing it out of love. We know as codependents that we use other humans as a distraction. 

So really being honest with yourself about how that could affect your experience, if that could take away from the focus on you and on your intention.

Nicholas Levich: Beautiful. Thank you. And, you know, one thing I heard you say that I think is important to highlight is just that you’ve acknowledged that you’re not fully recovered, that you’re still in this process. 

And what I’m hearing is that you’ve made an immense amount of progress. But there’s always more work to do. And I think that that’s a hard concept to explain to those who haven’t been through an intentional psychedelic experience or have only read about it. 

It is a, you know, I always call it a lifelong commitment. Like you take it to the grave. But unfortunately the media has kind of portrayed this whole thing as like, you know, do four sessions and you’ve got an 86% success rate and like–

It doesn’t seem to work that way in practice, which is one of the reasons that I wanted to have these more anecdotal. subjective journey or experiences of how this actually works and what people can expect if they choose to embark on this journey.

Erika Perez: Right, right. Even years later, like I said, I’m still reflecting on things and connecting the dots of things that happened in my past psychedelic experiences and how they apply to my life now.

Nicholas Levich: Yeah, beautiful. As we wrap up today, is there anything else that you’d like to share with listeners about your journey?

Erika Perez: Mm-hmm. I guess in one sentence, the way that I would describe it is just this kind of continuous process of getting comfortable with discomfort and getting comfortable with expressing myself authentically and speaking my truth to myself. 

It has felt very uncomfortable. It’s felt. It’s felt uncomfortable, but on the other end of it is always this moment and this time of rebirth. There is this death to self in a way, where I kind of go through a cycle of learning about myself and I, a part of me dies with that.

Nicholas Levich: Mmm.

Erika Perez: But then another part is always reborn and I come out of it having experienced all that discomfort. feeling a lot more prepared for what’s ahead, and feeling a lot more prepared to live for myself and give love authentically without expecting any favors in return.

Nicholas Levich: Wow, beautiful. Thank you for sharing. And I want to applaud your vulnerability and expression and willingness to really dig into this today. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining. I know that our listeners will appreciate this as well.

As I mentioned before, you can find Erika’s written content all over our website. She is a wonderful writer. We’re super grateful to have her on our team. I’m grateful for you joining today. 

And I do want to throw it out there that if anyone has content suggestions or topics that you guys want to know more about, you’re welcome to email us at support at psychedelic passage dot com and we’ll add them to our content queue. 

That brings us to the end of today’s episode. So as you guys know by now, you can find episodes of the psychedelic passage podcast on all major streaming platforms, whether that’s Apple Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, wherever else you choose to stream. 

If you like the show, please rate and review. We very much appreciate it. And don’t be shy sharing with friends and family if you think that they could benefit. We always appreciate the word of mouth referrals. And we’ll see you all next week. Thanks so much for joining.

Find the Right Psychedelic Guide For You

Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic guides, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

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Season 1 Finale: Reflecting, Recapping, and Revealing Season 2

Season 1 Finale: Reflecting, Recapping, and Revealing Season 2

In this short solo episode, Nicholas closes off Season 1 of the Psychedelic Passage podcast by announcing a short two-week publishing break. With excitement for the start of Season 2 on August 22nd, 2023, Nicholas expresses sincere gratitude for the continuous support and feedback from their audience.

Our co-host takes a trip down memory lane, recapping common themes explored in the past year, and giving insight about the focus of Season 2. He teases a much deeper emphasis on sharing the platform with past clients and journeyers who can offer relatable psychedelic perspectives. 

He assures listeners that subject matter experts will continue to hold a prominent place on the show and offers a sneak peak into the types of guests that Season 2 will feature. Before closing, Nicholas reminds readers to check out the new version of the Psychedelic Passage website, which is linked below. 

This full circle moment is a testament to the growth and expansion of Psychedelic Passage— the nation’s first psychedelic concierge service, connecting people like you with trusted, pre-vetted facilitators from around the country.

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Episode 55 – Season 1 Finale: Reflecting, Recapping, and Revealing Season 2

Nicholas: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. This is your co-host, Nick Levich. Thank you so much for joining us this week. You may notice that our episode this week was released a little later than normal, and that is because we have been doing some rearranging of our podcast production, taking that all in-house. 

And I wanna start off by just acknowledging that the Psychedelic Passage podcast has officially made it a year. We’re 54 episodes in to be exact. And I just want to extend a large thank you to all of our listeners, anyone that has tuned in, shared the show with their friends, rated, reviewed. We really appreciate it. 

We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t have listeners like you. So thank you. And the main purpose of today’s episode, it’s going to be short and sweet today. I just want to announce that we’re going to be taking a two week break. We’re going to begin re-releasing episodes with a new season on 8-22, August 22nd. 

That’s going to give us a little bit of time to reset, recharge, and get geared up for the next season of the show. Season 1 really focused on a lot of how-to content for psychedelic curious folk, tips, actionable advice, and real steps on how to move forward, how to think through this, how to consider it. 

And one of the things that we’ve gotten a lot of requests around is to see and hear things from the client’s perspective. You know, it’s one thing to hear our perspective as facilitators and it’s another thing to hear it directly from the client side and So season two is really going to focus on alternate perspectives really looking at healing through the various different lenses and so 

We’ll be highlighting things like what is the experience of the person undergoing the transformation? What do personal stories of psychedelic healing look like? And especially highlighting the more average experiences and not the sensationalized, “I did a journey and it cured me”. 

I mean, we do see those from time to time, but I think what’s more powerful is seeing the reality of what this healing journey looks like. And then we’re also going to have some subject matter experts in as well to just break things up and once again continue to give a different perspective. 

And really these perspectives come from having guests on the show. So we’re going to feature past clients, experts in their respective fields as it relates to psychedelics, as well as some internal psychedelic passage team members. And so it’s going to be diverse. 

And really the goal is to bring in guests that add value to you all as listeners. And also just a quick reminder, if you haven’t already, to check out our new website, we’re really happy with how the rebrand came out. 

And it’s very clear that we’re stepping into the new iteration of Psychedelic Passage as a company and really fully stepping into being the nation’s first psychedelic medicine concierge service. And so we’re really pleased to be able to offer that service to each and every one of you. 

And that’s all for today. I look forward to seeing you all again on August 22nd in a couple weeks here. As always, you can find all of our episodes on all major streaming platforms, whether that’s Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, or wherever else you stream. I wish you all the best in the meantime. Take care of yourselves, and we’ll be back on the 22nd.

Speak With a Psychedelic Guide 

Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic facilitators, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

Psychedelic Passage offers confidence and peace of mind by alleviating the burden of having to guess who’s right for you. If you’re interested in discovering how Psychedelic Passage can help you, we empower you to learn more about our services and check out client testimonials from those who’ve gone before you.

Your healing path is uniquely yours, and our commitment is to serve you at every juncture. Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic assisted therapy near you in the United States.

More Psychedelic Passage

Microdosing For Healing Podcast Features Psychedelic Passage Cofounders

Microdosing For Healing Podcast Ft. Psychedelic Passage Co-Founders

Step into the “Microdosing For Healing” podcast with host Kayse Gehret as she delves into an inspiring conversation with Nick Levich and Jimmy Nguyen, the co-founders of Psychedelic Passage. 

Explore the intersection between heart-centered healing and the fast-paced world of business through their engaging stories, and get a sneak peek into their journey from self-funded beginnings to becoming the nation’s first psychedelic concierge service. 

Our hosts illuminate the paradox of choice within the psychedelic realm, where the abundance of options intersects with the vulnerability of seekers. With clarity, they emphasize the emergence of a relational medicine framework over the traditional transactional approach, highlighting the importance of authentic connections. 

With candid insights, the hosts dissect the misconception that psychedelics are a quick fix for discomfort. Their informative and introspective dialogue encourages listeners to rethink their approach to psychedelics, fostering a deeper understanding of preparation and transformation. 

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Microdosing For Healing – Revolutionizing Access and Support in Plant Medicine

Kayse: [00:00:06] Welcome to the Microdosing For Healing podcast. I’m your host, Kayse Gehret, and together we’ll be discovering and learning from inspiring voices of healers, medicine keepers, and visionaries. 

Every episode, we’ll explore the world of health, vibrant wellness, and natural medicine for a new era of human society. Welcome to today’s episode.

Hi, everybody. Thank you so much for being here. My name is Kayse Gehret. And today, I am so, so happy to introduce you to two of my very favorite folks in the medicine space, Nick Levich and Jimmy Nguyen of Psychedelic Passage.

 I have so much respect and admiration for these two. Psychedelic Passage was one of the very first psychedelic-oriented companies to go public. 

They were founded in December of 2019. When I was creating our platform and community for Microdosing For Healing and I was looking around for collaborators in the space, guest experts to appear in our course programming, Nick and Jimmy were the only other people [laughs] who were public and out of the “psychedelic closet.” 

So, to watch them grow, evolve, adapt, and blossom in this rapidly growing field and do so with heart, to do so with integrity, has been just so inspiring to me, and so many other people who have gotten to know and work with them. So, thank you both so, so much. 

I’d love to start off with introducing Psychedelic Passage and really learn the inspiration. It’s so novel, never been done before. So, I’d love to learn a little bit from you, guys, how you came up with the idea and what the personal and professional inspirations were.

Early Inspiration and Evolution of Psychedelic Passage

Nick: [00:02:07] Yeah. And thank you for the warm introduction, by the way. Thank you. Perhaps, I’ll start by just acknowledging what we do currently and then explaining how we even got to here. Essentially, we function as a concierge service that provides personalized referrals to a curated network of pre-vetted psychedelic guides all across the US. 

I know that’s a little bit of a mouthful, but essentially, that’s not what we had initially set out to do. It’s actually something that from my perspective became a necessity after seeing the education gap between journeyers and then where facilitators are coming from. 

And so, the original impetus to this whole thing was helping a human find a reputable guide in their local area, because essentially before we started, the only way to find a guide was through the underground market. 

That made it extremely hard for folks that weren’t plugged into medicine communities, spiritual communities, or even just coaches who maybe had personalized referrals. And so, that was the impetus to starting this whole thing. 

When we first started, Jimmy and I were the only two guides. We were doing all the facilitation ourselves, and that was, I would say, very rewarding. And then it also got to be very exhausting, because were flying all over the country to go sit with folks. 

We then faced an internal inflection point where we had to decide whether to view this as a network and expand our ability to offer services by including other providers in the network. And that was a big leap of faith in and of itself. 

And then what became very clear from there is that journeyers had no idea what they wanted, no idea what they needed, no idea what made a guide qualified, and that created this environment that was just very ripe for power imbalances, predatory practices, and essentially journeyers getting taken advantage of. 

I think a large part of that stemmed from the fact that this is an unregulated industry. It’s very hard to figure out who is “legitimate,” and who’s not. And so, by morphing into this concierge service, we effectively function as the middle person between the journeyer and the facilitator in a way where we can do two major things. 

One is pre-vet the facilitators in our network to a standard that we believe is appropriate, and I’ll just tell you is higher than what, for instance, the state of Oregon is going to require of licensed facilitators. And then the other piece is building recourse into the model. 

So, if we do get reports of folks in our network who are basically violating ethical standards, codes of conduct, or engaging in facilitator abuse, we have a means to essentially investigate that and then remove them from the network if that’s warranted. 

And so, that creates this feedback loop where they’re screening on the front end, screening collectively. Because we are the intermediary, basically the moderator of the network, we’re able to advocate for the clients that come through from a place of not being biased. 

At the end of the day, we don’t care which facilitator they sit with or if they sit with anyone at all. We’re just there to help them find the next right step in their journey. 

Jimmy: Yeah. Thanks for that, Nick. Also, thank you for that wonderful introduction, Kayse. I’ll back up a little bit further to share that our main impetus for doing anything with psychedelics publicly really stemmed from a desire. Well, I guess, let me just share this. 

So, Nick and I were altered in a recreational setting, in a very public, musically oriented setting. He and I had been through separate, but parallel spiritual processes and personal growth processes that were heavily– 

Sometimes, I say accented and influenced, but it was really determined by psychedelic medicine work in our own ways. Nick and I felt the power and the value of being the only ones in our friend group and family group to see each other through this process, let alone support each other through this process. 

At some point in that evening, Nick turns to me and says, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if our life’s work was somehow related to psychedelics, and this was also the way that we could make a living, and this could be public facing, and we don’t have to hide and keep secrets, and all of this?” 

Basically, in the middle of the rave, I sit down and I start crying. I was like, “Wow, this is almost something that had been done– a conversation that was already headed this way and here we are having it.” 

And so, I share that many people have that epiphany moment, many people have that calling moment, and I’ll tell you that that is not enough, because that then just started this mountain of work that was– [crosstalk] 

Nick: And it was a mountain. 

Jimmy: And continues to be so. [laughs] So, the other part of this is that, when that started, I think the first thing that we did was we reached out to our community, we started asking people, “Okay, what is it that people need right now?” 

Because another part of our origin story with Psychedelic Passage is we were interested in helping people now before regulation, before all of that because we knew that there were thousands and thousands of people exploring and engaging with psychedelics with literally zero infrastructure that Nick is describing as a part of what we do now. 

And so, as we interviewed those folks, we realized there was a lot of varied opinions that there really wasn’t an idea of what people need now. And so, we realized there’s this gap of tangible actionable information that could actually help somebody even make the decision on, are psychedelics right for me in this juncture of my life right now? 

And then, all of this unfolded from there. Nick and I started to facilitate. Nick and I started to bring people into our facilitator network, into this evolution of this concierge service, this advocacy service, this intermediary service. 

The other really interesting thing about this is that, Nick and I went through a whole conundrum on, are we allowed to do this work, are we qualified to do this work, should we go get coaching certifications, should we go for mental health licensure? 

I still think that that very much exists today on basically who’s allowed to do this work or not. And that opens up a whole conversation in the mental health realm, opens up a whole conversation in medicine lineage and in that inclusivity realm. 

And ultimately, what we landed on was this question, does the medicine trust us and can we continue to move forward in a way that continues to earn the trust of the medicine? 

And so, ultimately, we don’t know, but we’re trying our best to continually move forward every day in a way that the medicine, primarily psilocybin for Nick and I, and then accented by other entities, medicine spirits as it relates to psychedelics. We’re like, “How do we keep moving forward in a way to keep earning that trust of the medicine?” 

Balancing Heart-Centered Business in Capitalist Framework

Kayse: [00:10:01] Beautiful. I appreciate that so much. I would love to hear your takes on– You’re going into your now fourth year, right and things have grown and changed exponentially in the last four years. 

One of the great challenges, I think, right now in our field is to take a heart-centered, spirit-centered business of service and fit it into business [Jimmy laughs] like the capitalist framework that we exist in. There’re so many edges and there’s so much friction. 

There’re so many people moving into the space very quickly now who want to open a retreat center and want to open a business and these different concepts. It’s a big challenge right now, because we’re trying to create future businesses, but we’re here in our capitalist reality. 

So, I would love to hear from you from a business perspective, some of the growth and learning you’ve experienced over the last four years to maintain the heart-centered and integrity that you both possessed, but within the framework of a rapidly growing business at the same time. 

Jimmy: Yeah, maybe I can start with this, Nick, and then let’s see what you have to add, [laughs] because it’s a question that has a lot of nuances and a question that has a lot of layers, and I think that before we set out to do anything.

Obviously, when you hear my story about us that night, of course, there was a financial component, can we have this sustain our living? Can we break the broke healer archetype? 

Can we combat against this what’s valued in our society where if you buy a new car and spend $40,000, everybody’s like, “Yeah, that makes sense?” 

But then when you spend $40,000 across a couple of years in therapy, people are like, “You’re wasting your money.” And so, we realized that there was a little bit of that combating against social conditioning essentially. 

Nick and I, before we even came up with the name Psychedelic Passage, this is how early it was. We got together and we made some agreements. We were like, first and foremost, this organization never gets in the way of Nick and I. 

Our brotherhood and our friendship and all of that is first and foremost. Nick had a history of working through organizations that were not human-centered and focused first. 

I had a history of working with many organizations that claimed to be human centered and heart focused, but actually use that as a tool for manipulation, coercion, and to rally the workforce. 

And so, we very clearly came to each other and said, “Hey, now being founders of this organization, we have this opportunity to do it our way, which is, no matter what, it’s human first, human first, human first, human first.”

Personal Growth, Trust, and Integrity

Jimmy: [00:13:07] Then once we agreed with that, then it was like, “Okay, how do we use the tools that are available to us now?” Because my whole thought about this is, I circle around this question on, how do we bring medicine work to this society as it exists right here, right now? 

Because I think that there’s this very romanticized idea of returning back to 200 years, 300 years, 400 years, 500 years ago where medicine keepers, and elders, and spiritually significant members of the community are a part of the community. 

They’re ingrained in the community. Maybe they live on the edge of community, because they’re going through that wild transformational, transmutational stuff on behalf of everybody else. But we don’t have that here. 

We barely take care of elders and elderly people in our community, let alone trying to weave in medicine work to this. And so, it became very clear to us that, “Hey, we need to use the tools that are available to us now.” 

So, one thing that’s an important distinction, I believe, between Nick and I and with our organization is that, what’s first? The first is people and medicine, really. I would argue which one is first or second [laughs] or whatever, depending on the day, and then everything else trickles down from there.

 And so, one thing that I’m very proud of with Nick and I and our organization is this infusion of, “Okay, it has to be both.” We talk a lot about living in both worlds as one of Nick’s great mentors says, “How do you live in both worlds? 

How do you take all of the tools of capitalism, and organizational building, and business building? How do you take the tools of medicine work, and spirituality, and personal growth work? How do you, in our way, merge the two together?” 

So, it’s an ongoing discovery, for sure. But I do think that in order to have a sense of “legitimacy,” a sense of people taking you seriously in this environment where there’s new businesses and organizations propping up all the time with psychedelics that you do have to have a sound ability to look at finances and to work a Google spreadsheet or to think about a marketing campaign. 

And in our world, it’s like, how do we effectively communicate to people that these services and things exist? And so, I just wanted to speak on that a little bit to that evolution on how we’re here. Nick, I’d love your follow-up thoughts on anything I just said there. 

Nick: Yeah, good context. I also just want to acknowledge it’s not easy, because one of the things that we constantly wrestle with is accessibility. 

I think there’s a big difference between making things accessible, and then the value that we think they’re worth, just recognizing that the recipients of this type of healing or clients are also subject to the societal capitalistic pressures and that creates disparity in wealth and a disparity in access. 

This is just a very multilayered thing. It’s one of the main reasons that we deliberately haven’t sought any outside investment. Everything that we’ve done has been bootstrapped and self-funded. 

It inherently limits the pace at which we can grow, but it also allows us to do it in an organic way where we’re not subject to the pressures of an investor who just wants ROI as the only thing that matters. 

So, ultimately, I think what it’s forced is– We choose to do this, but it forces us to operate in a way where we can’t cut corners. Intention is one of the words that’s often used in relation to medicine work. 

Really, what it’s required is that we set the intention that we’re going to do what’s right, even if it’s the more expensive route, even if we have to spend a little more, even if we have to pick up the phone and spend more time with this other human. 

To me, it sounds so cheesy, but I really think that’s going to be one of the signs that dictates who makes it long-term and who doesn’t. Because the second the quality of care is diminished, people are going to go to the place where they get the quality of care that they want and deserve. 

And so, it’s this funny juxtaposition of having a high touch, high care org in the midst of a capitalistic society that for all intents and purposes does everything they can to cut costs and raise prices. 

Jimmy: Yeah, I’d also like to add that the self-funding and bootstrapping. Nick and I didn’t pay ourselves for about the first three years of this organization. We had to source our income through our own direct facilitator work. It wasn’t like Psychedelic Passage is paying us. 

Through that self-funding, through that bootstrapping, and we poured a good chunk of cash of our own profit into this organization. It’s really forced us to slow down. We have this desire to do this thing and implement this project and all of that. 

But it’s actually been really miraculous that in that slowdown, things start to emerge, problems start to emerge, questions start to emerge, dynamics within the industry that a lot of people aren’t aware of start to emerge. 

It’s in that slowdown process, like, we had this really awesome, yet scary mantra for the first part of this, which was one week at a time. We’re like, “Can we just do what’s right in [laughs] our service one week at a time?” 

And then that extended out to three weeks at a time. We’re like, “We have no idea where this is going, but can we move three weeks at a time?”

So, that’s been really helpful, because Nick and I personally moving through our own relationship with capitalism. Might I also say our own relationship with colonization, because capitalism is a tool of colonization. 

And so, there were many times where Nick and I were sitting there being like, “We’re the least paid people in our organization. Are we doing what we’re supposed to be doing? Are we driving this mission that we’re supposed to be driving?” and then having to deconstruct that within ourselves. 

So, I was having one of the talks during the conference. I was talking about how in order to dismantle these structures, if we truly want to dismantle capitalism or rebalance capitalism, I might argue. A lot of people actually think destroy it or you know what I’m like, “Maybe it’s a rebalancing. I don’t know.” 

We first have to do that process internally with ourselves. It’s very clear that and it sounds rosy and exciting. It’s really hard. It’s really, really hard to do that. One good litmus test that Nick and I have, I’m like, “Okay, are we living our principles? Are we doing the right thing?” 

Is like, “Are we doing the stuff for ourselves? Is it painfully beautiful, this process that we’re going to know?” And so, it’s challenging. I couldn’t tell another person, “Okay, how do you find your balance in breaking capitalism or using capitalism or profit versus all that?” 

I don’t have answers for other folks. I do know that what we’re doing is the model that I hope to see more of in the world, and that’s just our corner, our little corner of the world in doing that.

Challenges and Nuances in the Psychedelic Space 

Kayse: [00:21:07] Amazing. Thank you. I appreciate you both being so candid on the subject that it is a challenge, and it’s a daily, weekly challenge ongoing. There’re a lot of opinions, and there’re a lot of spectators in the space suddenly. 

We’ve gone from no one really paying attention to what we’re doing to suddenly lots of attention and lots of opinions about the way things should be done, and who should be doing it, and how, and who has permission. 

It’s very different being a spectator versus being in the arena. I think people who are in the arena are uniquely positioned to share the wisdom along the way. So, I appreciate your truth bombs. [laughs] Bring them. 

Nick: Well. Thank you. 

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Nick: I just want to say that that’s one of the other reasons that we even got started was we realized, “Hey, we can either sit back and poo-poo how other people are doing it, or we can put our own hat in the ring.” 

And let me tell you, everything changes when you put your own hat in the ring and give it a go yourself. It is much easier to critique others than it is to try to be a model for how to do it where there effectively are no models to look to. You’re just figuring it out.

Jimmy: Yeah. I was just going to say I’m grateful that you think that we’re even in the arena, because I very much view us like, we’re over here in our little corner of the world serving our community, serving the people who are drawn to us. 

And then it just happens that people are looking, and paying attention, and asking questions because I do think that we are at a juncture of this space. I’m very resistant on saying it’s an industry or a movement or whatnot. 

But in this space right now of psychedelic exploration coming to the mainstream, there’re a lot of folks looking towards the answer, how could it be done? What’s the right way to do it? 

What are structures and standard procedures and things we should think of? Is there a model upon which somebody could institute, adapt, implement within their own organization? 

We don’t claim that our way is the way. What we do claim is that it’s to our highest integrity, the way that we’re trying to do it, which is full of mistakes, full of failures, full of not getting it right. 

And then every now and then we get a couple of things right, which then helps us to keep going and go another three weeks or another three months or what. 

Nick: I would sum it up by like, this is our heart expression of what this can look like. We never had a business plan. We never really knew where it was going. 

It was this constant, like, can we just take the next right action in a way that we are internally at peace and feel like we’re doing genuinely the best we can?

Kayse: Beautiful. I would love for you both to reflect on where we are in this very moment. When I first connected with you–

Jimmy: [laughs] 

Reflections on the Evolution of the Psychedelic Movement

Kayse: [00:24:17] [laughs] When I first connected with you three years ago, it was such a different place where– I know when I made myself public, I was legitimately like, is anybody going to be there? [laughs] Anybody going to be ready to do this and even know what this is? 

And now, we’re in a place where it used to be people who found us had to seek it out to do some work to even find us. And so, they had brought this spirit to searching, and exploring, and volition, and sovereignty to the process where they had to seek it out and be proactive and participatory in the work. 

Three years later, it’s a whole different story where people are coming more from a consumer product experience thing, where it’s a different level of expectation, a different level of entitlement to the public. 

I would just love for you guys to reflect on given you’ve been part of the evolution over the last four years and seen it up close firsthand, where it started four years ago, where you see the public now, and any kind of caveats that you would like to share, as well as what are the really heartening things that you’re seeing from the public? 

Jimmy: Yeah, I would answer this question in two different lenses. One is the lens of the psychedelic-curious individual of which when I see– This answers the heartening part. 

When I see that there are options out there, when I see that conversations around psychedelics are more normalized, when I see that people are not relegating psychedelics to just a fun event or a possibility of going clinically insane or some of those things that the war on drugs were telling us, that’s really heartening for me. 

That’s really amazing to hear that somebody who didn’t have access to these things, now do. That’s really beautiful. That’s a really beautiful story to tell. 

There’s a shadow side to that, because on the other side of the psychedelic-curious person are the people who are responsible or interested in bringing those services to market.

I say that specifically, because I’m using terminology and language of our culture and of our society. And a part of bringing things to market is also bringing things to community, that’s also as important. 

Where I believe that we stand within this space right now is that there’re a lot of ideas and opinions of how that process happens that are in this crucible process right now. Things are being tested. We’re going to see what works and what doesn’t work based on these ideas. 

The other thing that I see happening is this race to plant flags, this race to say, “Hey, I have the best nutraceutical supplement that goes along with microdosing psilocybin. I have the best proprietary model for a non-psychedelic, substance-oriented, altered state of consciousness. 

I have the best model for psychedelic facilitation. I have the best model for how psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy works.” If you’re listening to me, this is colonization. This is planting flags. This is like, I’m claiming that I know better. 

That’s also the spirit of entrepreneurship. So, it’s both. There’s a shadow side and a light side to it where a lot of that can be great. The Wright brothers wanted to fly a plane and get that thing off the air, but then they had to go through a lot of heartache and heartbreak to do it. 

I’m sure that there are other people are like, “They stole my idea,” so on and so forth. And so, we’re in that similar place. One thing that really became clear to Nick and I, we were at the Psychedelic Science Conference last week. 

Nick: It feels like a lifetime ago.

Jimmy: Yeah, it feels like a long time ago, but we were there, we were physically there, and we looked at each other and we were like, “How many of these organizations do you think will be around in five years?” 

We looked and we were like, “70% of them will be gone.” 70% of them will be gone. I think that that’s both chaotic and good, because what is happening here, in addition to this, my idea might really set out to help folks. 

My idea might be the best way to do this. What’s also happening is gatekeeping, because what you’re saying is if these are the ideas that are prevalent here that then invalidates all of these other ideas, and so that then becomes really confusing to psychedelic-interested folks. 

When you have 20 companies that are saying that this is the proprietary method and this is the best way, this is founded in research, and this also respects the medicine. We have this all dialed in and figured it out.

I think that’s the other thing that’s happening in this industry right now, where a lot of people are claiming that they have it figured out, and I don’t think people even know what questions to ask, let alone figure it out. 

So, we’re just in this funny thing. I almost equate our organization and where the psychedelic space is right now as the awkward teen phase. You’re trying to figure out your identity, you’re trying to figure out what matters to you, you’re trying to figure out who are your friends and who aren’t and all that. 

You’re trying to figure out your future, you’re trying to do that, and it is messy and highly emotional. And so, I would say that we are in the awkward teen phase of the psychedelic movement right now. 

Challenges of Choice and Consumer Responsibility

Nick: Yeah. I want touch one thing that became very apparent to me as we were maturing in our own organization and also just watching what was generally happening across the space as a whole, which is, more and more options become available, which on one hand is awesome, but the paradox of choice is so real. 

And so, I think about something which may be more relatable to some folks, which is finding a therapist. In a lot of ways, that mirrors finding a facilitator. 

And you’re like, “Okay, there’re hundreds of thousands of providers. How do you choose?” And ultimately, the burden falls on the consumer to know what they’re looking for, to know what they’re after. It’s a lot of responsibility for the consumer to hold.

Then the flip side of that is how do you as a facilitator or as a therapist, however you want to think about it, differentiate yourselves? Because at the end of the day, we do have to put out our little bat signal that says, “Hey, I’m over here and I’m taking clients with this specialty and this is what I’m good at.” 

Even if you’re not jamming your services down someone’s throat, there’s still this element of attraction. And so, it became very clear to me that there had to be an element of helping consumers navigate this, because it is so chaotic and there’s so much choice. 

For a lot of people, that results in overwhelm. Oh, and by the way, these are vulnerable populations. Many of whom are disconnected from their intuition, don’t necessarily function that well, and maybe can’t even get out of bed. 

Oh, but you’ve got to make the determination of who’s best suited to care for you. That’s a lot of responsibility to put on someone who just wants to heal. Then all these facilitators, we were like, “Well how are they going to grow a private practice?” 

If everyone’s got a website that’s, “Hey, I’m Joe, the facilitator and I offer preparation ceremony and integration.” How is anyone going to determine what differentiates you from Sally whose website says that she offers the same thing? 

And so, that was another thing that we wanted to be able to offer to facilitators is like, “Hey, we’ll vouch for you,” in the sense of like, “We’ll prop you up on a pedestal, so that you can have a sustainable private practice provided that you’re acting in the best interests of the client and the medicine.” If that for whatever reason wavers or changes, we’ll just remove it from– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: We’d address it at that time. 

Nick: Exactly.

Jimmy: We have to address it in real time, because sometimes we have a client of a facilitator who reaches out and it actually goes towards restoration and repairing of the relationship. 

Then there are times where we investigate something, we’re like, “Oh, this is clearly something deeper and something more.” To what Nick is talking about, it’s a really tall order. 

It’s not so simple as say– Here’s the story that every psychedelic practitioner is going to have. I went through my own trauma. I had a calling of the medicine to do this work and serve people. 

My practices are built on the best standards out there that we’ve lineage medicine work, and clinical trials and studies, and I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve been supporting people. I think that for a lot of people, practitioners, that’s very valid. 

I also know that that’s the same story that every single person is going to have. [crosstalk] How do you differentiate that?

How do you know if somebody had a direct calling from medicine because that the medicine respects and trusts them versus a manifestation of ego? It’s really hard to tell. It’s really hard to tell until you’re already in service with them. I argue at that point– [crosstalk] 

Oversight in the Psychedelic Industry

Nick: Then the true colors usually come out. 

Jimmy: 100%.

Nick:  I think that’s why this role of this moderator of this network has become so pivotal to what we’re building. We didn’t know how important that was until we were already in the work. 

Because at the end of the day, someone can do 50 ceremonies flawlessly and then just blow it. This is about a real time feedback loop, not a, “Hey I got licensed, and now I’m forever green carded, and clear to move forward no matter what I do.” That’s not how this works. You constantly have to be acting in integrity.

Jimmy: Yeah. 

Nick: I think that this is one of the things that at least I realized when were at this Psychedelic Science Conference is I thought, “Oh, this was a Psychedelic Passage problem. 

We have to figure out what to do with facilitator complaints and review processes and all that.” No, it’s actually an industry. Well, we’re not going to use that term. It’s actually– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: I’m not going to use that term. Use whatever term you want. [laughs] 

Nick: It’s an industry wide problem. It’s not unique to us.

Jimmy: Industry denotes that there are common standards of service that already exist, and we’re not there yet. That’s why I don’t use the word industry. 

Nick: But there are some other providers out there, and it’s very clear to me that nobody’s figured this out yet. I’m located here in Oregon, and I went through this whole process of looking at the OHA website to see if they have a formal complaint filing process, to see what their grounds for removal of licensure were going to be. 

I found nothing, I found nothing. And so, I’m going, “Okay, so the state of Oregon is going to have, call it, 500 licensed facilitators by the end of the year, many of whom have never even journeyed themselves before.” 

So, just little caveat there. But then what’s going to happen when the state starts getting complaints? These are so nuanced. The only reason we know is because we’ve had to work through a couple.

So I just have a lot of questions around how this is all going to unfold. If nothing else, it’s made me so certain that this role of an oversight independent body is so important, because we’re all human and at any given time, we can make a mistake.

We can let our shadow get the part of us. We can have an off day. What do we do with that, because there is a human on the receiving end? It’s way different than going to a restaurant and having a bad meal. 

You now have potential damage done to your mental-emotional state because of a facilitator misstep. And so, these are mistakes or missteps that have very large implications to the receiving party and to the facilitator. 

But it’s just important for me to name that because I’ll tell you right now, of all the people we talked to at that conference, only one person brought this up to us. 

Everyone else was still focused on the, “Let’s all take psychedelics and heal the world” and whatever, which I appreciate the enthusiasm, but it’s a very limited view on the actual implementation of what’s happening here. 

Kayse: I love that. It’s such an important topic, and I think it’s one of the edges I spoke about when we try to place this work into modern industrial frameworks. I think we’re moving from a time of, especially in the healing arts transactional to relational medicine. 

I think that was one of our great learnings over the last few years in our microdosing community. So, when we first started out, we work with a lot of beginners and they establish a relationship with the medicine with microdosing, and then invariably they become curious and want to do deeper work with the medicine. 

At the time, the only frameworks available were just like the traditional western medicine where it was pulling a name out of a framework, a list, a directory. [giggles] These people have these degrees and these qualifications and they’re in my geographic area. 

Very quickly that sounds right to our conditioned minds. But in the actual real-life practice, it didn’t work at all, because very frequently the right guide for you has going to be nothing to do with who’s close to you. [laughs] They’re not interchangeable. 

The right guide for you, it’s going to be so nuanced, and energetic, and spiritual, and soul connected that we really encouraged people to open their minds. Especially for your first journey, this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience, and one of the most profound experiences of your life, perhaps. 

It’s worth taking your time and really finding the right fit for you and really getting to know them. One of the things, instead of just listing guides that were vetted, we also got to know them like you are, where you personally know the guides. 

You can match people with a much better way, because you’re in relationship with all of the guides. And so, you know the client, you know the guide, and that’s so different than the way the current therapist or medical field works who’s covered by my insurance. Is that [crosstalk] that happens, right? 

Nick: So, what I hear you saying is that convenience is actually not the number one factor to select a guide. 

Kayse: [laughs] Exactly. 

Balancing Accessibility and Facilitator Quality 

Jimmy: [00:40:14] Yeah, it’s just interesting because what we try to solve is the accessibility component as well. So, how do we hold this level of accessibility knowing that not everybody can travel six hours or take a week off to go to a Psychedelic Science Conference or to spend the time to do that. 

So, knowing that location and geography is important. It’s not the main factor, it’s important. And then at the same time, connect somebody to somebody who we personally vouch for essentially is what it comes down to. 

And then how do we balance those two? And then realizing that even then it’s not enough. 

The same way that you can’t predict what happens in a psychedelic experience, a facilitator can talk all day on what they would do theoretically in a medical emergency, what they would do theoretically when they are approaching, or how they handle informed consent, or how they handle power dynamics

You don’t really know until you’re there. You don’t really know until the facilitator is practicing and whatnot. So, I think a part of it is this pre-vetting that Nick and I do. 

But then the other part is what Nick was saying about this continual loop of feedback, this continual learning, this continual, “Okay, how does this person receive feedback? 

How does this person implement new practices or revisit practices or do away with some practices?” And then how do they confront that when they say, “Well, this practice was guided to me by the medicine. I got this in a direct vision transmission from the medicine.” 

And then you have a conversation with them on how that might be harming people potentially. How willing are they to make those changes? And so, it becomes very interesting. 

One thing that I like about Colorado, I think there’s a lot of contention around Prop 122 now, SB 23-290, I believe. But the one thing that I do like is that there’s no ability to advertise. 

You can’t put your name on a billboard, you can’t whatnot have paid advertising, which I think is a foot in the right direction. But I’ll tell you what. The person who has a million-dollar marketing budget will probably reach more people than that individual who has been doing this work for 20 years and who is just putting up their bat signal like Nick is talking about.

So, even though we may have some regulatory things, what Nick was saying in the state of Oregon already shows that there are some really important and beautiful things about regulation, and not everything should be solved by regulation either. 

Kayse: Thank you so, so much. Let’s talk about a little bit from the client perspective. A lot of listeners are pretty new to medicine practice. They’re in their first year, they’re microdosing. 

When it comes time to searching for a guide and the screening process, are there any parts of the process that help you really, really know this person is ready and prepared for a journey in their background? 

And then, can you share some of the things that you might see in a screening process where a person would benefit by slowing the role a little bit and instituting some other practices in their life to prepare for a journey? 

Assessing Client Preparedness & Benefits of Pacing Preparation

Jimmy: Yeah, I’ll start off by saying that this process is actually a two-way screening process. It’s the journeyer screening the service provider and facilitator and the facilitator having the responsibility of making sure that the potential journeyer has the right conditions and set up for the potential of a meaningful experience through psychedelics, because there’s already an inherent power dynamic there. 

By saying it’s that the facilitator is screening out the journeyer, it’s saying that the journeyer or potential journeyer has to meet a certain set of conditions and criteria to be good enough for psychedelics. 

That’s really not the case. A lot of this is about fit. It’s fit with the medicine, it’s fit with the psychedelic, it’s fit with the service provider. 

So, I just want to zoom out on this first and foremost to say that, as we talk about screening, it’s a multidirectional [laughs] process here. You’re asking a very pointed question on are there indicators for me on people who I really invite to slow down or pause or even stop the process altogether. 

The number one thing that I can say is, your level of desperation and the honesty that you have with yourself with how desperate you are. 

I’ll give the caveat to say that there are many people who have been suffering for a very long time, who’ve been looking for an outlet or an alternative or a resource and then now there is one that is present to them. 

So, I get that. I get that there’s a level of urgency for people, but I think that that’s very different than desperation. Desperation looks like I’ve tried everything and now this is my last shot. Desperation is, if I don’t do this next week, I don’t know how I’m going to continue on. 

And that’s a little different than urgency, because urgency is more saying, this is really important to me and I want to do it right. Because if you use desperation as the primary motivator, you’re going to pick who the soonest available is, we’re talking about this already, who the closest to you is, and maybe you’re going to pick who’s the right person within my budget. 

That is so dangerous, because if there’s a person who’s already in a desperate state and then you pick that and then you have– Let’s say there’s no facilitator abuse at all. 

Let’s say the facilitator did everything that was right in the service of the client and you had, as a journeyer, this really high expectation that I’m going to meet God, and this is going to solve all of my things, and I’m going to so on and so forth. 

What if in that first experience, what it actually does is it brings all of your trauma to the surface in order for you to better access them, in order for you to better work on them. 

But if desperation is your real hidden motive here, then you can see how that becomes really challenging for folks. And so, that’s probably one of my best indicators on whether a person is ready for a psychedelic experience or not. 

There are also other indicators on how much work the journeyer is willing to do and how much they rely and lean on the medicine to do for them. When I tell folks, “Hey, actually, this psychedelic substance is a catalyst. It’s the same amount of work that you need to do already.” 

Most of the time I don’t hear back from about 50% of those people. I think that that’s actually in the best case. And then I have some folks who I address these things. 

They’re like, “Okay, I know I’m desperate, and I know I am leaning on the medicine, and I know that my intuition is telling me to do this anyways.” Like, “I want to move forward and my intuition is telling me to do this anyways.” 

It’s then my deep responsibility as a facilitator, the best times that I’ve been in service to somebody is actually telling them, “No, I can’t move forward and work with you and here’s why. It’s because I care about you. 

It’s because I worry what happens if this experience doesn’t meet this vision that you have in your mind, because I want you to be around.” I’d rather you be here in three months being like, “No, Jimmy, you were wrong in telling me to not do that.” 

And I’m like, “Great, I’m wrong?” Then that three months have given you a little bit more time. I’ve actually had people reply back to me and be like, “Hey, thanks for having that conversation with me. I didn’t realize at that time, but I did need to slow down a little bit.” 

The Transition to Embracing Discomfort 

Kayse: [00:48:28] Thank you. So, so important. I think that’s, likewise, one of the biggest misconceptions I see. Especially right now, a lot of people are going through it right now. Their life and heart right now.

Jimmy: Regardless of whether you’re interested in psychedelics or not, people are going through it right now. 

Kayse: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s the price of evolution and growth that we’re in right now. One of the biggest misconceptions I see is people are in the state of desperation. 

They’re in the thick of a breakup or they’re in the thick of grief of loss, and they want to do medicine work to save them from their discomfort. One of the things I tell them, “The medicine is likely not going to save you from your discomfort. 

It’s going to show you the truth of your situation more than it is going to rescue you from it.” So, it’s a deep deconditioning of the take the substance and you’ll feel better, right? [laughs] 

Conclusion and Reflections

Nick: [00:49:30] The thing is, what I’ve recognized is that that is the Western paradigm. It’s like, “Okay, you have high cholesterol, pop a Lipitor. Don’t bother changing your diet, because that’s what’s hard and potentially uncomfortable.” 

And so, people like to fit psychedelics into the same lens, primarily because they don’t know any better, and then that’s what we’re conditioned for to think, “All right, well, if I just take a microdose or I just take a big dose, I’ll just feel better. That’s what the studies say. That’s what the science says.” 

But what nobody’s talking about is this very real destabilization process that tends to occur, that causes you to question everything. It’s like that’s a challenging place to be, especially if you think this is a passive healing process. 

In reality, it’s probably the most active healing process anyone can engage with, because it extends far beyond the actual medicine ceremony or dosing session itself.

Jimmy: Even if all of those conditions are right, even if a doctor is telling you, “Hey, take a Lipitor, and also you need to look at your diet, and you need to look at your physical exercise, and you need to look at your work environment that’s stressing you out.” 

Even if there was a person, a patient who is minded to do all of those things, you’re still confronting all of those things in society that are telling you that fast food and convenience is the way that the patriarchal model of working hard to burn out. 

You got to work harder to go get what you want, to go earn what you want. And so, it’s not an even playing field even if you were minded to do all of those things. I think it’s really akin to psychedelic work as well, which is like, sure, you can go through this transformational– 

We actually see this all the time. Sure, you can go through this transformational process. But if you don’t bring any of this back to you into your regular life, then you’re going to be feeling right back where you started six months ago. 

And so, it becomes this tricky thing, it becomes this aha moment for a lot of folks when they realize, “Oh, shit, this isn’t a magic bullet. I do got to confront all my stuff anyways.”

Kayse: [laughs]

Nick: We ended up recording a podcast episode solely on what is the work, because people didn’t even have a frame of reference for what could possibly be required before, during, or after an experience, because the psychedelic is truly just the tool. 

At the end of the day, it’s what we do with it and how we use it that dictates the outcomes. I don’t know if we’ve mentioned this in the past when we’ve chatted Kayse, but a perfect example of this is that folks that engage with one of our programs through a facilitator in our network, they prepay for integration and people don’t use it. 

I don’t even know what’s going through their mind, but they decide, “No, I’m good. I don’t need this.” It blows me away because they’ve prepaid for this professional support. It’s part of the program. 

The facilitator is reaching out and asking, “Hey, you still got one of these left, would love to connect and check in, and see where you’re at?” People just bail. They leave them on the table all the time.

Jimmy: Yeah, I had a client who went through that process, and then eight months later, they messaged me in crisis, and then I was like, “Hey, I’ll do free sessions” and whatever. But you’re at the same juncture again and you have to choose. 

Whether it’s with me or not, you have to choose whether you’re going to continue to do this work again. I haven’t heard from them since, it’s probably been about seven months from there. 

I still send them a lot of love and compassionate support knowing and trusting that that might be their process also. Like, how much are you going to sweep your stuff under the rug until it turns into a shit pile and then you’re tripping over it all the time? 

Kayse: Mm-hmm. 

Jimmy: But I really do think that it is also an indicator when we’re talking about, “Okay, what are the conditions for me to know that I’m ready for a psychedelic experience?

Are you ready to take radical ownership and accountability over your process, because there is no external thing that will do that for you? And then how honest are you about your resilience on if it is more difficult before it starts to get better?” 

Because I think that a lot of people are and very rightfully so, looking for relief. And I’m like, “Are you looking for relief or are you looking for true healing?” Because those two things are very different. 

Kayse: Right on. 


Jimmy: If I had a mic, I’d drop it. It’s on a stand and it’s hooked up to a thing, I can’t, I can’t and I’d break it and so, I’m not. 

Kayse: Oh, I love it. I love it. So, my next question. I’m super excited to ask you both your opinion on this and I will couch this and say I’m very biased, of course. 

Jimmy: [laughs] 

Kayse: I would love to see, now that you have years of experience behind you, the difference between when people take the time to lay the foundation of relationship with a medicine through microdosing work prior to doing the high dose experience

I will say briefly, it has been unequivocal witnessing the difference when people practice first. For some people, it’s weeks if people have a long history of personal development work and contemplative practice, spiritual practice, it might just be a few weeks of microdosing to connect before the journey. 

Other people, it’s laying the foundation for a couple of years with microdosing and other development and contemplative practice. So, we have noticed it’s a night and day different when they ultimately journey. 

So, I’m so excited to hear your take on this. When people come to you, do you frequently advocate beginning with microdosing for people prior to a journey and any other reflections you have or anecdotes you have about that experience?

Nick: I’m happy to start with this one. I think one of our core values is empowerment. And so, one of the things that we focus on is giving people choice. 

And so, I would say that we don’t necessarily advocate for microdosing, but we offer it as a choice with the full package of informed consent that includes risks, benefits, tradeoffs, things to consider, etc. 

It’s actually one of the first pieces of things people see when they get to our website is the opportunity to download a microdosing guide. I have a hunch. There’re a lot of people that download that without even knowing whether it’s something they want or not. 

They’re still trying to figure it out. And so, I still in my own experience, there’re a lot of questions around microdosing. Even though you’ve been working with folks in this for the last four years professionally and Lord knows how long it’s been around before that, but it’s still very foreign to people. 

In my own experience, I have definitely seen a difference in how folks enter a medium dose to large dose journey if they have prior experience with microdosing. There’re a couple of things that come to mind for me. 

One, is it starts to build this foundation of trust and rapport with the medicine, because a lot of people when they’re heading towards a high dose journey are trying to figure out like, “How does it work, how am I going to feel, what’s this going to do to me, how will I know if I’m feeling it?” 

Microdosing helps alleviate a lot of that what I’ll call like pre-trip anxiety in the sense that, “Oh, I understand how these things work in my specific body. I know they’re not here to hurt me. 

Yes, they may stir the pot a little bit, but there’s this sense of allyship that’s very different and I think can inspire a sense of trust when moving into a higher dose journey.” 

Because they’re going to take 50 times the amount of medicine that they’re taking in a microdose, but at least they have some understanding of like, “Ah, my body responds well to this. I understand how it works.” 

The other thing that I notice is, it reframes this whole healing process. Because anyone that’s had a go at microdosing can probably acknowledge that there are some days where you feel like you’re on top of the world, and there are some days where you’re like, “God, I thought I worked through this already and here it is again.” 

And so, it’s not this super linear thing, but it reframes that, “Oh, the high dose is probably not going to be super linear either. I may feel worse before I feel better. But because I have my relationship with the medicine, there’s this trust that it’s all going to unfold exactly how it should.” 

Jimmy: Yeah, really well said, Nick. I think the other things that I would add to this is that so much of this is about framing in our society where I actually think a lot of the process around microdosing is really misunderstood, and also not delivered well as far as the messaging around what microdosing is. 

And so, there are very few people who talk about building relationship with the medicine, as Nick said, via microdosing. A lot of it is about benefit and neuroplasticity, neuroplasticity, neuroplasticity. 

Nick: Or productivity. 

Jimmy: Yeah, right. 

Nick: I want to increase my productivity at work, like, “What?”

Jimmy: Yeah. Or, stress resilience or nervous system management like, hormonal, almost like recalibration. And so, yes, those are all potential benefits. But what a lot of people don’t realize with microdosing is that the same nonspecific amplifying effect also happens. 

And so, it can bring up your trauma, it can bring up this thing that’s uncomfortable for you, it can bring up at a certain dosage if you don’t have your dosage dialed in right, a sense of flightiness or scatterbrainness. 

And so, what I view actually is that, there’re a lot of different entry ramps onto this highway of which microdosing is a very viable one, of which large dose experiences are a viable one. What’s really not talked about at all are moderate or museum doses as well. 

Also, non-psychedelic ways of exploring altered states of consciousness is another entrance ramp to the highway, like, breath work or things like that, or meditation and things like that. 

And so, I think it’s really actually more about the reorienting on how does this all fit together, because what our industry has done is you got to choose microdose or macrodose. That’s it. That’s your choice. You got to choose. [Nick laughs] 

And then I get plenty of people who in their intuition, they’re like, “You know what, I need a deep dive and I want to start my first relationship with the medicine and the deep dive.” 

And I’m like, “You know what, I honor that and let’s go through this process to see if we’re a fit or not.” And then for some other folks, they are talking a lot about what Nick is talking about. We’re like, “I want to dip my toes in a little and see what’s going on here.” 

So, I’d probably say, it’s a pretty even mix. I think that we have a third of folks who come through the Psychedelic Passage network who are just like, maybe they’re a one and done. 

Maybe they’re like, “I’ve decided that this is my one shot with psychedelics and I’m not going to really engage in psychedelics after that.” 

You probably have another third of folks who start with microdosing, and then move into macrodose territory, and then probably the other third start with macrodose, and then likely move into some type of micro– [crosstalk]

Nick: That I think is what’s been most interesting to me is the amount of folks that have no prior experience go straight into a ceremony and then afterwards they’re like, “Cool, now I’m ready for microdosing.” I really wasn’t expecting-

Jimmy: Me neither. 

Nick: -that-

Jimmy: Me neither.

Nick: -to happen to that extent. 

Jimmy: But it’s a thing. 

Nick: It’s definitely a thing. 

Jimmy: It’s definitely a thing. So, I guess my message here is that, if you are a microdosing practitioner, figure your shit out, because there’re a ton of people who say that they’re microdosing practitioners and all that and they’re just making it up on the fly. 

And so, what’s also happening when we’re talking about the lack of standardization in this space and in this industry is the same for microdosing. 

I can imagine that your program is effective not just because of the microdosing, it’s because of the intentionality and the care that you’re putting into this cohort, it’s because of the education that you put around, it’s because of the, “Okay, I’m Kayse Gehret. 

I’m sitting here. How do I want to develop this program which I think is the most effective?” I really think that there’re a lot of folks out there who claim to be microdosing practitioners who are really just drug dealers and don’t have that extra layer of stuff around it. 

And also, “Hey, I’m not going to beat you up about it. That’s what you want to do, that’s what you want to do, but what’s your intent? Is your intent to spread as much medicine around as possible or is your intent to actually support people?” Because again, there’s a difference. 

Kayse: Yeah, I very much appreciate those views. Both of you, what you said emphasize the fact of how individual this process is. 

It’s almost impossible to create models based on scale, and volume, and scalability, and cookie cutterization, and standardization, because it is so, so unique. I have seen that too. It’s a very common question for people to come who are brand new and say, “Should I macrodose or should I microdose? Tell me.” [giggles] 

Nick: Yeah. 

Kayse: The answer is often frustrating, because oftentimes I answer both. Both have their place and probably both if you engage, but microdosing is just opening the door. We are opening the door in our six-week programs. 

Even in our six-month program, you are just starting to lay the foundation. Other people, like you said, we very much benefit by doing that deep dive who need a deep reset, and then they’re ready to do the microdosing. 

So, I think programs that really allow for spaciousness and individuality while holding a safe, structured container, we have found– Like you guys, we’ve very much learned along the way, and we have evolved real time week to week based on what we’re seeing and what people are needing. 

I know for myself from here forward, I’ve been really drawn to create more programming. Jimmy, for all the many, many, many people who want to become microdosing coaches and mentors.

Nick: [laughs] 

Jimmy: Great. 


Jimmy: I was hoping somebody would be looking at this. 

Kayse: Yeah. So, we have a course now called Emergence. That’s a five-hour minicourse for healing artists. It’s designed for healing artists, but also Citizen Healers who feel called to share medicines with their friends and family and community. 

So, it covers all of the basic things that we have learned after we’ve had– Right now, today, we’ve had about 750 people through our program, and I have learned so much by witnessing things that I didn’t know three years ago that you can only learn by doing. 

That’s why it’s so odd to me that certification programs that don’t include medicine work for the practitioner, because it’s such an experiential process. You can really only learn by witnessing yourself and witnessing others over many, many years before you’re even ready to begin doing this work. 

So, I am very, very interested and passionate in supporting other, particularly healing artists who come with a foundation of service and backgrounds of healing to how to weave the medicines into their work, to get people on the path and support them in a very intentional, mindful, reverential of nature way. 

It’s funny to hear, because I’m so immersed in our community. Our work is very, very, very few people come to us for the brain hacks and work productivity. It’s interesting to me that that’s still the messaging being put out for microdosing– [crosstalk]

Jimmy: Yeah. It can be that. That’s just the thing that people understand the most. But then when you talk to people about, “Hey, a microdose can actually help you uncover some deep trauma, some repressed trauma,” They’re like, “That doesn’t make sense to me. how does that work?” 

Nick: Or, maybe they don’t want it.

Jimmy: Right. You were saying something Kayse about how microdosing really just opens the door. I want to be clear to the audience that macrodosing only opens the door as well. It’s the same. 

The same way that if you sat and meditated for eight hours a day, you would still run into the same problems on like, how do I implement this, how do I bring this to the life that I’m living in? 

Because it’d be super easy– I wouldn’t say easy, but it’d be a whole different thing to go sit in the woods and meditate for eight hours. [Kayse laughs] It’s a whole another thing on, “Okay, how do I bring this back to the world?” 

And so, when we’re talking about microdosing, macrodosing, any of these other entrances onto this highway, it’s the same thing as well. 

Kayse: Mm-hmm. Thank you. My last and final question, and you guys are free to take this in any direction you would love is, yeah, we’re at this very clear inflection point right now, where we’ve been waiting for it to be mainstream and it’s here. 

It’s very much here. And so, I would love for you both to reflect and share any thoughts you have on– You have the gift and privilege to see firsthand so many people moving through this process. 

You also are very aware of what’s going on in the industry. So, just any thoughts or reflections you have on your hopes for the field, your vision for the field, and also, maybe areas that you see us potentially going off the rails a little bit in the field.

Nick: I’m just taking a moment to reflect on this. It’s a good question. 

Jimmy: [laughs] Yeah. 

Kayse: [giggles] 

Jimmy: I can start with something. This is purely an opinion of mine. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be pretty how this is all going to unfold. There’s going to be just as many people harmed from psychedelics coming into the space in the way that it’s moving as there are going to be people who receive benefit and healing. 

I think in my own mind, I have this rosy idea that if psychedelics were just able to be accessed and acknowledged and honored that that the world would better, and people would start to wake up, and people would start to heal and address their traumas. 

Yes, but we are very flawed humans who have a very flawed and limited way of thinking. We have funny ways of how we interact with each other. We have funny ways on what ideas emerge to the surface when we think about groupthink, when we think about normalization and social conditioning. 

So, the one takeaway that I’ve had with really just coming on the heels of the Psychedelic Science Conference is that I have completely removed any idea that this is going to be a harmonious, and collaborative, and rainbows and butterfly’s process. 

I’m very clear that it’s not. I think any point of human evolution has not been like that. If you look in our history, of which version of this modern human arises to the top in our hunter-gatherer phase or whatever, when we think about all of the things that had to happen in psychiatry and therapy over hundreds of years. 

There were many experiments that happened without ethical consideration and all of those things. But those things are tucked away. 

Then we’re like, “Oh, we got EMDR now. We got all this new stuff.” But then we forget that a lot of that were actually experimented on marginalized populations and will continue to do so.

The amount of times that I heard– I have a client that was a Phase 1 MAPS trial participant and received a lot of benefit, and they’re sharing that they felt left high and dry. They don’t have community now. 

They don’t have a connection to the other trial participants. And meanwhile, this is touted as, “Hey, look at all the beautiful stuff that we did for these people and for the advancement of MDMA.” That individual didn’t even get a response on the scholarship application that they sent for the conference. 

And so, when I’m looking at this stuff, I think that there’s the rosy on the surface of what’s happening here and then there’s this underbelly of what’s really happening here, where I do see black and brown people getting tokenized a little bit. 

I know I’m a pretty ethnically ambiguous looking person. I almost vomited the amount of times that I just had people walking by bowing to me and thanking me for my lineage and thanking me for my role as a medicine keeper. They know nothing about me and I’m just walking through a conference wearing like street clothes. 

So, I think that there is this romanticism about psychedelics, and the sooner that the people who actually really care to progress this in the psychedelic space does away with that romanticism, the sooner we can actually confront the real problems that are going on here, because there’re a lot of problems. 

There are a lot of problems and I don’t want that to overlook a lot of the beautiful things that are happening. There are also a lot of beautiful things happening, but I call it the psychedelic halo effect. 

Much easier to talk about here’s how we’re supporting veterans, because there’s no politician out there who would say anything anti-veteran. 

But at the same time, I think that there’re a lot of veterans out there who aren’t getting support and aren’t getting help and don’t have the cohesive 6-month, 8-month, 10-month program to support them in the right way to move through psychedelics. 

And so, it’s this funny thing, because there’s so much beautiful stuff happening which in that psychedelic halo effect, the marketability of psychedelics we then overlook or want to brush under the rug all the bad things that are happening, but it’s actually in addressing the bad things can we create solutions for them. And so, it’s messier than I had imagined in my mind, especially over the next five years to seven years.

Nick: Well said. The word that comes to mind for me is discernment. And my hope is that clients, journeyers, psychedelic-curious folks start to use a level of discernment, because my own– this is once again, my perspective, my opinion. 

But we live in a culture where we think that if someone’s licensed, they’re inherently legitimate. I am here to say that state licensure does not make anybody inherently qualified to do this work, nor does your mental health degree nor does your social work degree. 

There are a multitude of factors that in my opinion are required to make someone truly adept at this work. And unfortunately, it’s not just licensure. We like to think that that’s enough in our culture, “Oh, you’re licensed, you’re legitimate.” That is just not how this is going to work.

The other place in which discernment comes up for me is, when we start to see these adverse experiences, when we start to see facilitator abuse, when we start to see ethical violations. 

Are we as a culture going to say that this is a medicine problem or are we going to say this is a human problem? Because the medicine has been around forever. 

The medicine to me is not the issue here. It’s around how we’re engaging with it, what those support services look like, what’s the standard that’s being held there, where’s the accountability? 

And so, my hope is that when we see these adverse experiences, we can go, “Huh, what went wrong? What can we do better? Not psychedelics are bad.” Because that’s what we’ve done in the past. 

We’ve already been down that road of psychedelics are bad. We know that there’s more to the story than that. That’s not the complete picture here. 

And so, for me, what this is highlighting is the importance of proper support. Just to say it again, licensure does not mean that you’re inherently going to get sound support. 

Kayse: I love you two. 


Jimmy: We love you too, Kayse. 

Kayse: I could talk to you too all day long. Now, I just want to again read. I have so much respect for you two and especially when you are trying to navigate, building something with expansiveness, and impact, and accessibility, and visibility, and at the same time stay true to the message.

Jimmy: Yeah, it’s hard. 

Kayse: It is. It is a noble challenge though. Yeah, you two have been doing it beautifully even week to week, week to week. 

Nick: [laughs] Thank you. 

Kayse: Yes.

Nick: We feel the same about you. We wouldn’t have come on the show otherwise. We’re very clear in who we align with as far as putting ourselves out there and being on their platform. And so, the feeling is very much mutual. 

Jimmy: Yeah, and I just want to clarify for folks that, Nick and I really try to not put out any air that we have it figured out, because we very much don’t. 

I think the difference is that we’re willing to ask the questions and we’re willing to acknowledge what we don’t have figured out, where I think the pomp and circumstance in this environment is that it’s very attractive for people to claim that they have it figured out in the psychedelic space right now. 

We are actively trying to solve on the things that we care about. Like, when I look at our facilitator network and see that it does skew predominantly cisgender Caucasian, and then I have to make that choice on, “Okay, what’s more important right now? Representation and diversity or me being able to sign off on every facilitator in the network?” 

Acknowledging that there’s a reason why there aren’t as many BIPOC facilitators out there. Acknowledging that that starting line has way more hurdles than maybe somebody who is college educated, or so on and so forth, or had the ability to experiment with psychedelics with these social buffers like I did in college. 

And so, we don’t have it figured out. We really, really don’t. But I think what we’re trying to do is that, in our humility of saying that we don’t have it figured out, but we’re trying to, I really do hope that invites other people to be honest with themselves on their own process of what they know, don’t know, and what they need to figure out. 

Kayse: Thank you both so much. Appreciate you. 

Jimmy: Yeah, really grateful to be here. 

Nick: Yeah, thank you. 

Kayse: Thanks, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’d love for you guys to wrap us up by letting us know how people can find and follow you. What platforms are you on and what’s the website URL?

Nick: Yeah. So, the website is, and it’s the same @ for all of our social accounts, so @psychedelicpassage. We’re on all major social platforms. And then we also have a podcast called The Psychedelic Passage podcast, so also same name. We tried to make it as consistent-

Jimmy: Very creative.

Nick: -and universal as possible. 


Jimmy: Very creative. 


Kayse: Appreciate it, appreciate it. Awesome. All right, well, goodbye everybody. Thank you so, so much for listening. Be sure to connect and follow these guys, and we’ll see you again soon. 


Kayse: Thank you for listening today’s episode of the Microdosing For Healing podcast. Are you ready to take the next step? Please visit us at to access our free Microdosing 101 workshop. 

In it, you’ll learn more about our diverse community, our supportive group programs, and discover if earth medicine practice might be right for you. See you in the next episode.

Speak With a Trusted Psychedelic Guide

From individuals embarking on transformative journeys to those navigating the dynamic landscape of the psychedelic field, Psychedelic Passage stands as a steadfast and trustworthy guide. We recognize the intricate challenges posed by the burgeoning psychedelic movement and are committed to addressing them head-on.

Whether you’re curious about microdosing, seeking profound healing experiences, or simply looking to learn, Psychedelic Passage is your partner every step of the way. If you feel a resonance with our mission, we encourage you to take the next step and engage with our dedicated concierges. 

Book a consultation, and they’ll eagerly address your queries, connect you with local facilitators, and ensure your journey is supported and informed. Delve into our resources page, a treasury of thoughtfully curated articles and enlightening podcasts.

As you traverse this transformative terrain, remember to prioritize safety, cultivate mindfulness, and radiate love. Psychedelic Passage is here to empower your journey and uplift the collective growth of the psychedelic community.

How to Become a Psychedelic Guide

How to Become a Psychedelic Guide

“How to Become a Psychedelic Guide” celebrates the Psychedelic Passage podcast one-year milestone with a captivating discussion on how to become a psychedelic guide/facilitator. Delve into the nuanced world of psychedelic service provision, exploring various tracks and pathways for aspiring guides. 

Nicholas and Jimmy unravel the complexities of state and federal legality, risk tolerance, and the personal commitment required to serve in this transformative field. 

Gain valuable insights into the ever-changing demands of running a successful psychedelic practice and learn how to differentiate yourself in a rapidly growing industry and find your unique path to making a meaningful impact in the world of psychedelics. 

Our hosts cover the importance of personal experience and professional expertise in guiding others through a healing journey and teach you about the rigorous vetting process employed by their referral network to ensure high integrity and safe practices. 

Whether you’re a curious listener or aspiring facilitator, this episode offers valuable insights and thought-provoking discussions that will leave you inspired and empowered to make a meaningful impact in the psychedelic realm.

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Episode 54 – How to Become a Psychedelic Guide

Jimmy: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Jimmy Nguyen. I’m joined here by my– I always want to say my soon to be, no longer partner in crime. Meaning, these things are getting more legal and legal every day. [Nick laughs] 

But I’m here with Nick Levich. We’re the co-founders of Psychedelic Passage, and the cohost of this podcast. We’re really grateful that you’ve tuned in to another episode. It’s funny as we’ve been looking into the data on our listeners and things like that. 

We have a lot of folks who go through every episode. And so, what I found is that this has now become your and I’s almost like anthology series [laughs] on our psychedelic rants. 

I was chatting with a friend about– They just had some questions on integration and stuff and I was like, “Oh, well, we have these episodes, and maybe start there and listen.” 

And so, it’s been an immense value to us to be able to speak to our audience in this way, and I hope that all the listeners and community within the Psychedelic Passage podcast also feel that in return. So, thank you– [crosstalk] 

Nick: I also just want to acknowledge that this is, I believe, Episode 54 that we’re recording, which means we just hit a year. That was 52 weekly episodes, which is just over a year. So, that’s– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Oh, wow. 

Nick: We didn’t miss a week. 

Jimmy: We are so bad at celebrating milestones. We should have celebrated [laughs] our 50th, but we’re like, “What’s the next topic that we need- 

Nick: Yeah, pretty much. 

Jimmy: -[crosstalk] about folks?” So, the next topic that we’ll be chatting about today is a question that we get all the time from people in our community, people who email us, people that we chatted with at the conference. 

It’s about how to become a psychedelic guide/facilitator or really just a psychedelic service provider in any capacity. And this is a little bit of a nuanced question.

I just want to start by saying that psychedelic guideship and facilitation work is one of the few pathways right now for a person to get involved with psychedelic-related service, but it’s not the only pathway that will exist in the future. 

We’ll talk about this a little bit later on, but it’s why we’re framing this specifically to psychedelic guideship and facilitation, because I feel like there’s this assumption, somebody’s like, 

“I want to become a psychedelic professional,” so that must mean that I have to become a psychedelic guide and facilitator. And so, there’s this one-two punch here. 

We’re going to talk about that today, and then also just debunk some of these assumptions here, and then also just talk a little bit more tangibly about what’s going on in the regulatory environment, what’s going on within our own organization at Psychedelic Passage. 

But I think it’s really starting about the internal process of an individual who is seeking to become a psychedelic guide or facilitator. 

The Many Faces of The Psychedelic Facilitator 

[00:03:05] Jimmy: So, Nick, somebody comes to you and they’re like, “I want to be a psychedelic facilitator. How do I do that?” What are the main things that you’re talking to them about? 

Nick: The second you ask that question, the first thing that I want to know is, how do you want to serve? In other words, do you want to be a therapist? Do you want to be a facilitator? Do you want to be a retreat leader? 

Do you want to be an integration coach? Do you want to be a microdosing coach? What is it that you actually want to do? Because there’s so many different flavors of that, and I think about it as far as tracks. 

And so, if you want to be part of the MAPS MDMA clinical trials, you’re going to need a very different set of experience and education than if you want to go lead retreats down in Jamaica. 

To me, it’s not about better, worse, or otherwise. It’s just acknowledging that what you actually want to do, how you want to show up is going to require a different track, a different set of steps to get there. 

Jimmy: Yeah. What I’m hearing you say is that within those different tracks, there’s likely a different set of requirements, there’s a different set of timeline, there’s probably risk tolerances that are all over the place. [crosstalk] 

Nick: That’s where I go number two, always, is risk tolerance. 

Jimmy: Yeah, talk about that.

Nick: The question is, okay, you want to get involved, but what is your own personal risk tolerance given that these things are still federally illegal and schedule one substances? 

And so, do you want to be fully shielded from a legal perspective, both criminal and civil? You have very few options for that. You want to just remove the criminal component? Okay, now you’ve got more options. 

But civil liability is always going to be a thing, because we live in one of the most litigious countries in the world where you can be sued for anything at any time. And then let’s say you’re a medical health professional who’s got licensure and you want to do the work–

But you’re working in a state where you could have your licensure removed by touching psychedelic substances. So, you see how convoluted this gets very quickly when we look at something as simple as risk. 

Jimmy: Or, you may say that, “Hey, I’m ready to do all of this, but because of my risk tolerance, I need to wait for a state-regulated program to come online in my area.” And so, we’ll also speak about that a little bit later in the episode. 

But that risk tolerance is important, because there is a difference between state legality, and by association decriminalization versus federal legality. And to your point, decriminalization may not be enough to meet your risk tolerance. 

You might say, “Hey, I need to be in a state that has a fully regulated system.” Or, you might say, “Hey, I need to wait for a federally regulated system,” which, who knows when’s that coming. [laughs] Who knows? Maybe in this decade. Who knows? 

Those are two really good questions, how you want to serve and your own risk tolerance. I even back it up even further where I just try to get people to figure out their why. Like, why is it that you want to do this? 

There’s probably a “gradient” of right or wrong answers. I think [laughs] people will have different range of answers, but it’s got to be really specific to your why around this. If it’s the new, hot, exciting thing, and you’re just trying to make a career shift–

And you think that this is just an emerging industry and market, I would probably ask you to think twice, if that’s your sole reason, before you start to work with folks directly in, what is potentially one of some of the most meaningful, vulnerable, impactful– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Energetically intensive.

Jimmy: Yeah, of a person’s life. And then once you clarify your why, and that feels true for you, then it’s about, “Okay, how does this line up with how I show up in the world with this level of service?” Some other questions like, are you doing this full time or part time? 

Before the pandemic, and probably even now, but the pandemic really created a lot of need and demand for licensed mental health services–

I, for sure, knew that there were some therapists who were also having that second job at a retail store or grocery store to get some money in the door. 

And so, when I think about somebody, if I’m choosing a therapist, I’d probably like that therapist to be doing that full time. But that really depends on you. 

This is a practice, by the way. I don’t think that this is something that can just be done on the weekends. I also don’t refute people who want to try to go for that. 

But it requires a lot, I think, to step into psychedelic guideship or facilitator work given that the landscape is ever changing, given that regulations change all the time, given that standards are not established yet, and that will likely change. 

I don’t think somebody who’s really going at this 10 hours a week is able to move and shift to all of those changes. 

Nick: Well, there’s an opportunity cost. You’ve got your focus in two different areas, your hand in two different jars, so to speak. I think one of the things that I feel called to highlight around this specific question is like, do you want to actually make this your career? 

I just don’t think people really understand how taxing this work is, because it’s one thing to sit with a friend or family member and be like, “Wow, what a beautiful experience. That was awesome. I wish I could do more of that.” 

Sitting with strangers who have actual trauma mental health diagnoses addictions, truly struggling in their life, that is a wildly different experience. 

We’ve talked about this on some other episodes, but a lot of the facilitators in our network, they max out at anywhere between one journey to three journeys a week.

Jimmy: Which is already a lot. 

Nick: It’s already a lot. 

Jimmy: That’s already a lot. I mean, one a month can be a lot for some folks. A lot of people, look, thank you. I’m getting fired up here, because a lot of people–[laughter] 

Jimmy: Surprise, surprise, Jimmy’s getting fired up on the podcast. But there’s a lot of people who look at psychedelic guideship and facilitator work as exciting. I use the term sexy. Meaning, appealing. Like, “Oh, it’s this new thing where I can come–” [crosstalk] 

Nick: Trendy. 

Jimmy: Yeah, it’s trendy. I can help society. Potentially, yes. But tell me how you feel when you sit with a client who regresses to a nonverbal childlike state for six hours.

Nick: And then relives sexual abuse in front of you.

Jimmy: And then maybe actually views you through transference as the perpetrator of that sexual abuse. Like, see how trendy it feels [Nick laughs] when you actually have to sit there and hold that space for that person. 

I’m talking about somewhat of a complex situation and case, but it’s just important for me to just highlight the realism of this type of work. And so, when I chat with folks, I’m like, “Hey, I got to be clear. I’m not a licensed mental health professional.” 

I definitely more sit in the coaching realm. I’ve worked with clients with these past histories. I’ve worked with clients in these past things.” And then it’s up to that psychedelic curious person to have their choice to be like–

“Ah, actually, I need a certain set of licensure certification or something or a background in this or a background in that.” And I’m like, “Cool. Likely there will be a person that will show up for you for that.”

Nick: That’s perfectly, because that addresses our previous episode that we just recorded last week is like, “Hey, choose the level of care that you want. 

If you as a journeyer need a certain level of certification or expertise or whatever to feel comfortable, name it, ask for it, go for that.” 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. And also, it leads into or is related to your question on how you want to serve, because how you want to serve will require different skills, require different certifications, require different programs to meet your specific modality or way of service. 

I think there’s a lot of folks who are questioning how to become a psychedelic guide or facilitator where they’re like, “Okay, do I need a coaching certification? Do I actually need to go through a therapy track? Maybe I’m getting a counselor license. What is “enough here”?” 

It really does remain to be seen. We’ll segue a little bit into state regulations. But something that Colorado does is they say, “You don’t need a preexisting licensure of any kind in order to apply for a facilitator license.” 

I appreciate that, because it does create a little bit more inclusivity around what I would call more culturally driven psychedelic practice–

Which includes traditional, indigenous, different cultures around the world, and how to approach. Likely, they’re not going to have a mental health license or something like that. 

Nick: Or, a master’s degree or whatever. 

Jimmy: Or, a master’s degree. It opens the door, which I appreciate. But all of this comes into play if you’re deciding whether to become a psychedelic guide or facilitator. 

Questions of Practicality: Operating as a Facilitator in Our Current Society

[00:13:18] Jimmy: And then, there’s this whole other lens of we are in a world where services are provided through businesses, and maybe non-governmental organizations, and maybe governmental organizations. 

But primarily, you’re running a business, which then you can say, if it’s a nonprofit or for profit or whatnot, that’s not the point of my conversation. 

My point is, do you have the acumen and experience to run a team to have your finances and accounting in track, to have your client reporting dialed in, to be able to use technology in a certain way? I would say that most people don’t. 

Nick: I actually want to speak to this for a second, because there’s a lot of people– What we’re talking about here is space holding, alternative healing, healing arts, whatever you want to call it. 

But a lot of the people that are super gifted at holding space for others in this way, they’re not that good when it comes to business or customer service or marketing or making a website. 

What I want to highlight is that if you’re going to go out and try and do this on your own and make this your career, your livelihood, you have to figure out how to stay relevant–

And how to differentiate yourself among all these other people and still run a sustainable private practice. So, it actually requires a lot more than just how to hold space for others or how to be a good facilitator. You got to look at the whole thing. 

Jimmy: Yeah, I explained to a lot of folks who I chat with, who are interested in joining our network that the sacred space holding though it is the core of this work is actually a prerequisite of which all the other things that you’re talking about are built on top of. 

You could be one of the most high integrity psychedelic space holders in the field. If you don’t know how to attract and gain clients in a market like Colorado where advertising is not allowed, then what are you doing? 

You’re still running into that issue or that thing. And so, a lot of what we’re talking about here is like, how does this work in our society and culture today? 

Nick: Part of what you’re highlighting is that what worked 10 years ago when all this was underground and referral word of mouth is not going to work as this whole industry or movement actually comes online and alive and there’s transparent above ground ways to get service. 

Jimmy: Yeah, there’s a limited runway of underground services. I do think that underground services will continue to exist in a lot of different formats. 

I also hope that there’s a world where recreational use exists with the right community care, and harm reduction models, and things like that, which I’m obviously very passionate about. 

I’ll give a great example, if you were doing this work a few years ago, even last year or this year, but you’re in the underground space, privacy is really important. Usually, you’re getting your clients from direct word of mouth referrals. 

Meaning, that that person knows somebody that you directly know. In that regard, a lot of my peers and colleagues in the underground world actually think that less paperwork is the most protective. 

They actually think that a lot of this happens in undocumented verbal conversations around screening, and service agreements, and documenting notes, and things like that. 

That’s not going to fly in a state regulated model, and that’s also not going to fly when you start to meet people who maybe found your website and sent you an email inquiry, maybe somebody who wasn’t a word-of-mouth referral. 

And so, you can start to see very quickly that the paradigm of what’s required to do this psychedelic guideship and facilitation work in a public way, in as legal of a way as possible, those requirements will be changing very drastically and very swiftly. 

Nick: Yeah. 

Jimmy: So, let’s transition a little bit. I think we’ve alluded to some things. We’ve talked a little bit about, okay, some state licensure things will start to show up and what does that look like? 

I’ll clarify that Nick and I have our opinions on this, and we can refer to what’s happening in the state of Oregon, refer to what’s happening in the state of Colorado, the first two states that are attempting to create regulated models around psychedelic use. 

There’s also a personal use section within Colorado as well. It’s just important to say that even though Nick and I will be providing our opinions here that a lot of this is yet to be determined. 

The same way that I said that, just because psychedelic facilitation is one of the only direct pathways now, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be alternate pathways that will emerge in the future. 

So, if you are a super psychedelic friendly event organizer, maybe you would be a great person to be on a team of a retreat service or something like that. 

If you are a really awesome tax person or an accountant or financial services, likely every psychedelic service or company will need that in the future. 

Maybe you’re really great at storytelling and branding and marketing. And then you’re like, “Okay, I want to link up with a psychedelic oriented organization to try to help here.” 

I just want to make that super clear that you have to check with yourself, whether you have the basic raw core components of even becoming a guide or facilitator before then you’re like, “Okay, how does this work? What’s my practice? How do I show up? What’s in the regulated model?” 

Comparing Oregon & Colorado: The Country’s First Regulated Psychedelic Models  

[00:19:27] Jimmy: So, my question for you, Nick, is, what the– This is going to be very different, Oregon versus Colorado, [laughs] by the way. But what do you think will be required to be a successful facilitator in Oregon in, let’s say, two to three years? 

Let’s say three to five years, actually, because right now, we acknowledge and we’ve done episodes on this that it’s a little messy, Oregon. 

And so, I’m curious, when you look at that state like, what are the things that may come up there that an interested guide or facilitator should think about.

Nick: Yeah. So, the background for those that haven’t listened to the episode we did on what’s going on with Measure 109 in Oregon, the basic gist of it is that they set the bar to become a facilitator really low, objectively too low. 

And they had good intentions for doing that, which is everything you spoke to earlier, Jimmy, about accessibility and not essentially boxing people out who maybe– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Inclusivity. 

Nick: Exactly. But what that did is it basically created an environment where if you pay the money, you have 200 hours of classroom learning, and you’ve been a resident of Oregon for the last two years, you can get a license. 

Jimmy: Again, you go through one of those approved training programs, which is where you’re going to get your hours from.

Nick: Which is the 200 hours piece. But it doesn’t require that you’ve ever journeyed before. It doesn’t require a psychological eval. There’s no human screening component. 

There’s nothing that, from my perspective, is common sense of what you’d want in a facilitator that’s required. And so, what that basically means is that Oregon is going to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 licensed facilitators by the end of the year, which is, A, a lot–

And B, presents this exact same quandary that we presented in the last episode, which is, how do you know who is who? 

How do you, as a journeyer discern, which one of those facilitators has been doing this for 10 years and has hundreds of reps? And which one has never journeyed before has maybe only ever microdosed, and has no direct professional experience facilitating for others? 

They have the same licensure. They have the same qualifications and the same work opportunities. 

To me, if I were getting a license in Oregon and that’s the route that I wanted to go, my number one focus would be on how do I help portray, demonstrate, or illustrate to anyone that’s seeking services why I’m different. 

And can I link up with a service center that shares my value system? Because you can’t operate out of your home. You have to operate out of a service center. 

And so, the question is, which one of those is going to be the right fit for you, so that you can align yourself with the right people? 

Jimmy: Thank you for saying that. That was an important distinction that I wanted to make.. We’re just talking about the facilitator license, there’s also a separate service center license to be able to cultivate, distribute psilocybin and psilocybin products. 

Nick: Any service has to go through a service center. 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. And then you got to think, “Okay, if I’m a facilitator and I have to link up with the service center, do I create that service center you were talking about, well, do I align with that service center? Is there an application process with that service center?” 

Because there’s not that many service centers out there. So, imagine that these 500 facilitators then have to go through an application process, and maybe–

I don’t know, 100 of them get selected to work with the service center. And you got 400 other facilitators out there who have a license, who can’t do anything with it.

Nick: Nowhere to practice, no clients. 

Jimmy: Then you got to think about the service center like, what are the security camera and surveillance requirements for your cultivation facility? Do you have to adhere to paperwork and documentation requirements? 

Do you have to have a medical professional within your team and on site? So, you start to look at these– How do I invest in real estate that lines up with the right zoning and municipality? [crosstalk] 

Nick: Am I even going to be able to get insurance as a facilitator, like, liability insurance? Because if a client sues you, then what? 

Jimmy: Right. I got a calling from spirit and the medicine to become a facilitator. So, this is what I’m doing. You can see how it quickly becomes much more than that if you’re trying to do this publicly, and legally, and for a very long time in this country. 

Nick: Yeah, exactly. 

Jimmy: So, now with Colorado, thank you for that. I’m not as well versed in Oregon. But in Colorado, I think they run into some of the same things. Now say that Colorado has yet to define the requirements on the application, and approval, and licensure process. 

Important to note a couple of things. There likely will be different tiers of facilitator licenses. So, let’s assume it’s tier 1 through tier 4, where tier 1 is maybe the basic requirement. Tier 2 might be more specialized care.

Tier 3 might require a different track where you actually might need a mental health or medical background. Maybe there’s a certain tier for end-of-life services. 

And so, there’s an attempt there, but at this juncture, midway through 2023, the state has about a year-ish before they start to open up that license application process for facilitators in December of 2024. 

Similarly, they have not really defined what a healing center will look like. That’s the same term as a service center in Oregon. They’re calling them healing centers in Colorado. And even then, there will be a whole set of requirements. 

Not just real estate and zoning, but also making sure that you have all of the right parameters, security, personnel documentation, paperwork, SOPs, procedures, emergency medical protocols, all of that stuff to be a healing center in Colorado. 

So, you see this can be a little nuanced, because if I’m trying to start a retreat center in the mountains of Colorado, and there’s a requirement that I need to be within a certain distance, the nearest hospital or whatever, then it’s going to be really hard to find that piece of land.

Alternatively, somebody who is trying to open a healing center smack dab in the middle of Denver may have different things like, security issues and cultivation limitations depending on square footage and things like that. And so, it gets really tricky.

Colorado is yet to define these things. I also applaud Colorado, because they’re trying to establish some ethical review boards. They are trying to establish some processes for advocacy, reviewing licenses, responding to claims of facilitator abuse–

For people to potentially lose their license if an investigation turned up something, which I actually don’t see a lot in Oregon. I don’t think that there’s much of that. [crosstalk] [laughs] 

Nick: Dude, I looked into it and couldn’t find anything. It doesn’t mean that they’re not working on it, but it has not been a publicly communicated initiative–

Which is somewhat concerning to me, because if somebody lodges a complaint against a facilitator like, what’s the state going to do? Do they have the resources to investigate it? 

Does it put you on probation? Do they remove your license altogether? Does nothing happen? And so, I’ve actually talked to several therapists here locally in Oregon that I respect–

Who basically came up to me after a talk that I gave and said, “Thank you for blowing the whistle on what’s happening here in Oregon, and also this is why I’m not going for licensure right away,-

Jimmy: Wow.

Nick: -because it’s kind of a shit show and I’m going to wait for the dust to settle, and then to figure all this out before I throw my hat in the ring.” 

Jimmy: Which speaks to the whole risk tolerance thing that we started this with. Like that person probably has qualifications to be in the [crosstalk] but they’re like, “Ah, this is a little too risky. I’m going to wait. I’m going to wait a year or two.”

Nick: Because they don’t want to be associated with every other 500 person that’s throwing their hat in the ring. And so, I think this speaks to this question of, is the state program even right for you as someone who wants to be a facilitator? It’s not going to be right for everyone. 

Psychedelic Passage’s Data-Driven Model 

[00:28:48] Jimmy: Yeah, and it also– I think that there’s this really trendy belief that’s floating around which speaks to the psychedelic halo effect or the psychedelic cheerleader effect that I’ve mentioned in the past couple of episodes where they’re like, “Psychedelics are super safe. 

They’re just safe. They’re the safest thing.” I think that creates this assumption that psychedelics are safe in every format and every potential way of psychedelic use. That’s just false. 

The reason why psychedelics can be safe as compared to other substances, meaning, a low measure of physical and mental addiction, meaning, a low level of persisting adverse side effects–

But the same reason why a car is safe, because it’s got headlights, and a horn, and bumpers, and a seatbelt, and emergency lights,- 

Nick: Airbags. 

Jimmy: -airbags, is the same way that psychedelics can be safe. Psychedelics will be very safe with the right features. We talk about all the time, screening, preparation and integration, actual client care during the dosing session or the ceremonial program. 

All of these things have to be included in order for psychedelics to be done in about the safest way possible. 

Nick and I started Psychedelic Passage really because we saw that there were a lot of people where a lot of potential harm can be caused, and we just did something about it. That created this model that inadvertently put us ahead of the state programs. 

I’m just going to say that. And so, we run into a lot of our own internal standards and processes and systems having held space for hundreds and hundreds of clients through our program that state run programs just don’t have. 

They just don’t have that data. They don’t have the ability to be like, “Oh, that should be a facilitator requirement.” [crosstalk] 

Nick: To be fair, we didn’t know they were problems or going to be problems either until we started. What you’re highlighting is that it’s actually the amount of experience and reps that then highlight some of these challenges like, how do you adequately vet facilitators? 

What do you do if a complaint is received? The states don’t even have a live program yet, so how could they possibly be addressing this? 

Jimmy: Yeah, what type of support and ongoing care does an individual have if they had a psychologically distressing experience? And so, these are just things that just are not built into any regulated model that I’ve seen so far. 

We have gone through quite an evolution in our organization, and I think specifically we don’t talk about our organization as much on this podcast. 

I think it’s important too, because there’s a dual fold. One is like, how do we create a model for psychedelic interested people to get the information, and the prep materials, and the integration materials–

And to ask the questions that they need, and to answer questions, just that. Like, how do we create more knowledge for a more educated, I’ll call it, userbase? That’s one side.

Then the other side is how do we continue to raise the standards within our own referral network, so that if that psychedelic curious person is interested in being introduced to a couple of options that those folks meet that standard as well? 

And so, we have come up with our own internal standards, our own vetting process, our own ongoing due diligence process in making sure– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Which we’re super transparent about. 

Jimmy: Yeah.

Nick: You can look on our website, if you click the Our Network tab, it’ll show you exactly what we require of facilitators in order to be considered to join our network. 

Jimmy: Yeah. So, I think that you have some of these parameters that are really close to your heart that are worth chatting about. 

It’s actually all the things that you were griping about in Oregon actually become the base [laughs] that are the standards within our network. 

So, I wonder if you want to start somewhere around, “Hey, what are the basic requirements?” And then maybe I can talk a little bit about the vetting process from there. 

Nick: Yeah. So, I think what’s really cool about what we’ve created and obviously, I’m a little biased here is that there’s no predefined track that someone has to go through to meet our requirements. 

And so, some of the folks in our network have backgrounds in psychology. Some don’t. Some came from the more retreat leader aspect, some are actual mental health professionals. 

It’s a very diverse background, but they all satisfy this common set of vetting standards that we believe to be important for anyone that we feel comfortable referring out to. 

It starts with personal experience journeying themselves. I can’t even believe I have to say this, [Jimmy laughs] but that’s not a requirement in a lot of these state programs. It’s just not a requirement. 

And so, I personally don’t want to be guided down the river by someone who’s never floated it before. That’s just not something that I’m interested in, nor would I feel comfortable sending someone to that. So, that’s step one or– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: There’s actually a twofold to this. One is, your own personal relationship with psychedelics and psychedelic substances. The other is, your firsthand experience in actually supporting folks in a professional manner through experiences. So, there’s two parts to that.

Nick: Right. And so, that brings me to the second piece, which is, to be considered for our network, you’ve got to have at least two years of professional experience or a minimum of 40 professional ceremonies facilitated. 

Like, reps under the belt is so important, because 5-10 of these is not enough to get a feel for what’s actually going on. The other thing is, we take our time in this interviewing screening process. Why? Because this is an extremely human thing. 

You can’t get everything you need from someone from a piece of paper. You have to actually communicate with them, and understand, what does their energy feel like? Can they be present with you? Are they being clear and concise in their communication? 

The fact that the state has no method to screen out potential psychological issues of facilitators and then they’re going to say that it’s psychedelic-assisted therapy is shocking and appalling to me.

And so we’ve done our best to build in this human interview touch point, which makes sense. Think about college applications. You don’t get into a college without an interview, and yet the state’s not requiring that. 

Other requirements that we hold firm are that all the facilitators must be actively engaged in their own healing process. So, this is their own therapy, their own coaching, their own mentorship, whatever it is, because that allows them to show up as a clean slate for others. 

We require letters of recommendation from professional colleagues. We require independent verification and reviews of past clients. 

Jimmy: Yeah. So, I’ll speak on this a little bit. So, what we’ve done over the past, well, this year is really standardized and codified our facilitator vetting process. 

And to your point, on average, because I’m in charge of this, [chuckles] I typically am talking to somebody for three to six months before I decide to bring them on. 

And so, that is a combination of an application process, and then a verification process, and then this multi-step interview process. 

So, within that application process, we’re checking on letters of references, we’re checking on client references, we are looking at past work history via resumes, getting you to upload your education, certifications, backgrounds, things like that. 

Then we actually get into some questions about your practice like, do you use a client screening intake form? What is your preparation process look like? What does your ceremonial or dosing program process look like? How do you handle integration? 

Do you have documentations on all of these standard operating procedures? Do you have support documents? What documents do you send to your client for the priming preparation or knowledge and information around psychedelic use? 

Do you have emergency medical protocols? So, we’re talking about all of these things that no underground facilitator needs to figure out. They just decide, “Oh, I’m here to support the medicine.” They just go out and do it. 

So, we’re also then talking about other things like power dynamics. What types of clients do you work with? Do you have boundaries and clients that you don’t work with? We’re asking you about your own personal challenging psychedelic experiences. 

Even then in this application process, which is really lengthy, by the way, really, really lengthy and it usually takes people a couple of weeks to fill out, even then, I’m then going into a multi-series interview process with you–

Where we’re clarifying and I’m challenging things and I’m asking things and I’m getting more detail on just like how you show up in this work. 

And then you go through a background check, and then we check your social media handles, and we do all of that stuff before we even offer you an invitation to join our referral network. 

That’s a really involved and lengthy process. It’s a human process, and I just don’t think that there are any state models out there that actually match that. 

And I’ll say that this process, our vetting process, will continually be improved, will continually be evolved over time as we learn as an organization, and as we grow into wherever the psychedelic facilitation landscape is going to. 

Nick: [00:39:54] Right. I think that that’s what, at least for me personally, gives me the level of comfort that I need to feel like, we’re truly championing the facilitators who are doing things the right way. 

Like, I want the facilitators who are integrity and meet these requirements to have thriving private practices, and to be successful, and to rise to the top because that’s the level of care that’s commensurate with the outcomes that people want–

And doing less harm than is ideally no harm. Those are the things that allow me to feel comfortable, not only referring clients out, but also helping those folks really continue to have a thriving career and private practice as a facilitator. 

Jimmy: [00:40:49] Yeah. And I’ll also just add to throw a wrench into this whole thing that you can have all those things that I just listed off, super dialed in, and you may be terrible at client communications. 

You may be terrible at following up with clients or setting an appointment or sending an email. If you can’t do that, then it’s not going to work either. So, all of these things are interrelated as far as the multi– 

There’s just a lot of dimensions on what is required to join our network, and to be healthy and stay in our network. And so, as we wrap up our episode here, I wonder if there’s anything else that you want to add, Nick. 

I have a couple of things to share about more tangible routes on how to go and seek these things and figure these things out, but just curious, if there’s any last thoughts that you have around this conversation?

Where Do I Go From Here?

[00:41:45] Nick: Well, I have a hunch that a lot of people were listening and hoping to walk away with here with a tangible next step, which I acknowledge– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Oh, like, “If I do these six things, I’m in.” Yeah. [laughs] 

Nick: Yeah. Which I totally appreciate and acknowledge. But as you can see, it’s pretty hard for us to do that, because if you want to actually do psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy–

That’s just a wildly different next step than to be a state licensed facilitator, than to be a retreat leader. So, it’s really hard for us to give you any next steps. 

But what I will say is we have written a very comprehensive article that discusses a lot of this in detail with a bit more nuance on questions to consider, educational requirements, that kind of thing, which we’ll link in the show description. 

And so, for anyone that wants to take this to the next step, I recommend that you check out that article. 

Then if you’re still feeling unsure on what to do, you can always send us an email, and we’ll do our best to help you navigate. But this is deeply personal, and you’re going to have to decide what’s right for you based on a lot of the things that we discussed here today. 

Jimmy: Yeah, thanks for that, Nick. I think the biggest elephant in the room is this gap on, okay, how do I get firsthand experience in this current environment where things are still fairly illegal?

I point people, sure, there can be some certifications and things, but likely they’re using breath work or other formats. Apprenticeship and shadowing is becoming much, much more available through different organizations and through different practitioners. 

Maybe you’re doing some work in an international retreat format. Maybe you decide to join a church or religious organization that has psychedelics as a sacrament. 

There were some programs. I just speak some caution around programs like, Synthesis Retreat had a track where folks were going through an 18-month program. They now no longer exist. 

And so, just proceed with a little bit of caution here around some of that programming. But the good news is that, more and more and more will become available over time. 

So, thank you to all of those who have listened. I hope that there was a good balance of key takeaways and tangibility to this amidst our impassioned ramps. 

I hope that for those who are really earnest about stepping into the psychedelic facilitation world in a high integrity way– 

I hope this episode does two things. I hope this episode deters people who listen to what we’re saying and have a really emotional or visceral response or resistance to what we’re saying. 

And I hope that the people who are listening to what we’re saying and see this as a really powerful challenge, who want to step up into the psychedelic facilitation world with high integrity that this also inspires and empowers you. [crosstalk] 

Nick: One last thing before we jump is, if you feel like you meet the requirements for our network and that’s something that you’re interested in potentially exploring and potentially joining–

qWe do have an application process that’s live on the site, and that would be the next step. And so, that’s available to folks who feel like they meet those requirements. 

Jimmy: Yeah, you just gotta get through me first before. 


Jimmy: Thank you for that, Nick, and thank you to all of our listeners. That brings us to the end of our episode. You can download episodes of the Psychedelic Passage podcast anywhere that you get your podcasts, Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio.

If you like the show, please leave us a rating and a review. You can always get in touch with us via our website,, and we look forward to connecting with you next week.

Explore How it Feels to be Connected

From journeyers to those looking to join the psychedelic workforce, Psychedelic Passage is here as a dedicated, reliable resource for all your burning questions and therapeutic journeying needs. 

If something within you is drawn to us, we empower you to book a consultation with one of our concierges who will answer any questions and get you in touch with our network of experienced facilitators. 

Our resources page is our personally curated library of informational articles and podcasts for those of us who want to learn more about psychedelic healing and all the things that come with it. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!

How Music Shapes Psychedelic Experiences

How Music Shapes Psychedelic Experiences

“How Music Shapes Psychedelic Experiences” is a captivating episode that takes a dive deep into the profound relationship between music and psychedelic experiences. As they embark on this primal topic, Jimmy and Nicholas explore how music becomes an integral part of the ceremonial space, guiding listeners through the reasons behind this unique connection. 

From the way psychedelics enhance our perception of music to how music serves as a tether to reality during altered states, the hosts uncover the intricate interplay between sound and consciousness.

With insights into the intentional use of music during psychedelic journeys, they discuss how carefully curated playlists can set the tone and direction of the experience. They reveal how music not only influences your psychedelic experience but also reflects your relationship with music itself.

Listeners will gain a new appreciation for the art of musical selection and the delicate balance required to enhance, rather than distract from, the psychedelic experience. Join Jimmy and Nicholas as they share practical tips and best practices for using music to create a personalized and transformative journey. 

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Episode 53 – How Music Shapes Psychedelic Experiences

Jimmy: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Jimmy Nguyen. I’m joined here by my cohost, and partner in crime. Maybe soon to not be a partner in crime with the way that the federal [crosstalk] [Nick laughs] just like shit is moving. 

I see him pop up everywhere. There’s decrim bills [crosstalk] it’s so exciting to see. Welcome to another Psychedelic Passage podcast. Before we dive into our episode today, we have a very exciting announcement that our new website will be launching, or should actually be live by the time-

Nick: Could be live. 

Jimmy: this episode comes out. And so, to give it some preface– I haven’t done anything. Nick’s been working really hard on this website for like a year and a half. But when we envision Psychedelic Passage first started 2019, yeah, many years ago, we didn’t have any vision on what this is going to look like. A lot of it was reaching out to our community, a lot of it was listening to our own work and all of that on how we want to show up into the space. 

And so, when we built the website, it was Nick and I being these young, humble facilitators, and it was really oriented, so that over time, our website has grown into a resource hub, has grown into a place where people can connect with humans and actually get some answers, and really connect with folks who can hear their stories, and maybe connect them– [crosstalk] 

Nick: And provide care.

Jimmy:Right. Exactly. And so, this new website, I think, not only encompasses that journey for folks. If you are curious or interested in how psychedelics may interweave into your own personal growth, your own healing, your own mental health, I, not only feel like this website is very representative of that, but also, I would say that it is really a reflection on who we are as an organization, which I’m really excited about. 

And so, props to you, Nick, on that new website. It’ll be the same URL, I wonder if there’s anything else before we dive into this episode that you feel called to share about the new website. 

Nick: I hope you love it. We spent a lot of time on it. Our goal was to make something that was user friendly, easy to navigate, easy to digest, easy to understand what was going on. And really, this marks a major evolutionary process for us as a company and as a brand. Anyone that visited the old website, Jimmy and I did all of that ourselves. 

No professional help, no outsourcing, no nothing. This was the first time where we got to feel supported in the facelift, the rebuilding of our brand with actual designers and folks who could help us create a brand that really was an extension of Jimmy and I, and was an accurate portrayal of what is important to us and how we want to see the space evolve. 

And so, my hope is that you all feel that when you visit the site and my ask is that, if you have feedback, if you have anything that good, positive, constructive, or otherwise, please share it with us. It’s going to be a work in progress, it always is. But this is a big milestone for us and we’re really excited to share it with you all. 

Jimmy: We want to make some pledges to our community here. Some of those pledges is that, we will always be doing our own work and we will always be listening. Because of that we will in this constant search of evolving our services, evolving the way we engage and interact with you in a way that is relevant and makes sense for you. 

That’s the whole reason why this podcast exists. It wasn’t to hear ourselves talk. We don’t need that. We realized, “Oh, there might be this platform that could actually help people.” 

And now, we have thousands and thousands of listeners who are actually tuning in and letting us know, “Hey, this is helping.” And so, we’ll always be on that mission. I think that the website and its new evolution and iteration is our meeting that pledge and really showing up in action with that mission. 

Nick: Knowing that the landscape is continuing to change-

Jimmy: Right.

Nick: -very rapidly. And so, we need a vehicle that can adapt with the landscape. And so, that’s really what this new website, a new brand is and really excited for you all to see it. 

Jimmy: Hope you love it. It looks sweet. It also comes with some new branding, some new illustrations, Psychedelic Passage is getting a facelift, so I’m really looking forward to that. Well, let’s dive into our episode today, which we have a

topic that will pique a lot of folks’ interest, which is the relationship between music and psychedelic use. 

I’ll preface by saying that the context of our conversation will be related to intentional work, ceremonial work, typically in one-on-one settings with you, and a facilitator. This may also apply to group settings and retreats, and some things like that too. 

We can’t speak as much to, let’s say, lineage work or indigenous work or cultural work related to psychedelics, because those probably fall into traditions that are passed on. And even within different medicines, there are different traditions and approaches to music and things of that nature. Then we’re also ruling out the recreational side, which if anybody’s been altered at a concert or live music,-

Nick: Music festival, whatever. 

Exploring the Relationship Between Music and Psychedelic Use

Jimmy: [00:05:53] and all of that, there is also that relationship with music and psychedelics. But what I’m weaving here is to show that in the history of human use of psychedelics, music has probably likely been involved the whole time [crosstalk] even if thousands– [crosstalk] 

Nick: banging rocks together or a drum or whatever. 

Jimmy: Percussive or chanting or vocalizations or things that don’t sound like music, things that emulate nature, we also see a lot in historic psychedelic use. And so, there’s a really deep relationship with music and psychedelics, and it makes sense. There’s a deep relationship with humans in music. 

Some reason, we as humans have evolved to think that a string of notes and tones are attractive to us, or that they evoke an emotion or a feeling to us, or they bring up a memory. So, there probably are other species on this planet that have some type of interaction with sound. 

But I’m going to guess, this is me being

human, music is predominantly a human phenomenon. I think that that’s really interesting, because also at the same time, humans have evolved to be able to have these psychedelic experiences or something there too. 

Whether we know why, who knows? But there’s a reason why you can fungus or a substance or something and have an altered state of consciousness. This is built into our DNA to some degree. 

Nick: Okay. Where do we start given that this is such a primal topic? 

Jimmy: [laughs] Well, I think

let’s start around the relationship between music and psychedelics, and then we’ll move into some more of the tangible, actionable things, if you are engaging with music and psychedelics or working with the facilitators. 

So, I know that one thing that you and I agree on is that music is an integral component to the ceremonial experience, to the ceremonial space. And so, what are some of the top things on your mind on the why is that the case? 

The Role of Music in Ceremonial Experiences

Nick: Well, for starters, psychedelics change the way we perceive sensory input. So, the way that we hear music when we’re in altered state is profound. It is fundamentally different to hearing the same song in a sober state. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, but I’ve had clients go, “This is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard.” 

Like, “This woman’s voice is angelic.” It’s not to say they may not have thought that they were just listening to it in the car, but there’s an amplification, there’s a sensitivity,

the tone, the note, the frequency, the music, the rhythm that I believe is just enhanced when you’re under the influence of a psychedelic medicine. 

Jimmy: Mm- hmm. I have a hunch on the why. Well, I can’t explain why, but the correlation that I have here is that, music inherently induces altered states of consciousness. 

We see this when folks are doing brainwave studies with sleep and music and stuff like that. But then I’m also reminded of people who have get moved in church or people who love devotional music as an example– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Or, dude someone’s riding their Peloton, and they need to push through the last 10 minutes and they’re like a pump-up song like, [crosstalk] they’ll be jacked.

Jimmy: Right. Or, you’re in the car and that one song hits that reminds you of that one thing, and then your states change. Your emotional states change, your physical states change, and all of that. 

And so, the same way that I view psychedelics being a pathway into these altered states of consciousness, always meditation, breath work, certain things. Music is another one of those pathways. It makes sense that the two go hand in hand. Now some of the benefits of having music– Well, I guess, let me back up. 

I think that music is a really integral part of the way that we here in the

of America will engage with psychedelics moving forward. There’s a history of this across many cultures and traditions. There’s also instances where music is not involved, especially if you are in

ceremonial space with sacred silence. 

I know that there are some communities and groups who do medicine work along with silent retreats or silent meditations and things like that. I’m also mindful of people who are hearing impaired, and people who have disability or accessibility needs around music. But that’s where there’s a lot of cool evidence around, actually vibrational frequencies, that are being worked with psychedelics, which I think is really fascinating. 

Also, if you are in an environment, let’s say, if you’re in nature or something, and those are just some examples of nonmusical settings, but I would argue that if you’re in nature, you’re just tuning into the music of nature, whether it’s the bird– [crosstalk]  

Nick: Yeah. Like, it’s a bird song, not music, come on. 

Jimmy: Right. Yeah, [chuckles] exactly. So, I want to start there. I think you’ve highlighted some things on like– You said something earlier before this episode about how music can tie you to reality, some of those things. So, what are some of those benefits, let’s say, of music as a part of the ceremonial experience? 

Benefits of Music in The Ceremonial Experience

Nick: [00:11:29] All right. Well, you touched one, which is for those who haven’t journeyed before, when you’re in an altered state, your perception of everything changes. One of the big ones is,

what’s real? What’s reality and what is time? I think those questions come up in a journey. 

Music is one of the tethers to this reality, and this time and space, and just time in general. If a song is playing or we’re switching to the next song, it is an indicator, whether conscious or unconscious, that time is in fact moving. 

It establishes some sense of familiarity. We started this episode with the primal nature of it, like, on a primal level I’m hearing music, which means I still presumably have a body, and I’m alive-

Jimmy: And ears. [laughs] 

Nick: Exactly. So, there very much is this tethering effect with music. And we see it with other things too, smell or touch or whatever. But specifically, we’re focused on music here. And so, this is definitely one of those ties to reality that is ever present in a ceremonial journey. 

Jimmy: Yeah, it’s helpful to have these non-direct signals that you are progressing through an experience, particularly around the time dilation or when you feel like you’ve been in a certain space or state for an endless amount of time.

And so, those little cues that you’re talking about also be really helpful. Music is a way of navigating the psychedelic experience. But not always the case because music can also be distraction as well. But I don’t think it’s the music itself. It’s how we orient and relate to music as a part of the component of ceremony. 

So, I find some folks who really hung up a song or something, where it actually pulls them out of the experience because they’re focused on the song. Now, again, it’s between you and the medicine. So, who am I to say that’s not the pathway you need to take when you are engaging? But just know that, because music can be such an influential part ceremonial container, clinical as well. 

We see this with Johns Hopkins. I think you mentioned this earlier, but they have preset playlists and things like that for a reason knowing that it’s a really powerful component. You have to be really balanced use of music and the emphasis of it versus not because it can really shape or change the direction, the flow of your psychedelic experience. 

Crafting Playlists for Psychedelic Journeys

Nick: [00:14:28] Yeah, I would phrase it like music can be very directive in the sense that you put on a song that’s inherently angry or angsty or whatever. When we’re in that super heightened state, we’re hyper aware of everything. It can easily push you in that direction. 

And the same would go for a very calming song. Johns Hopkins actually, deliberately does this in their playlist. You can go check it out on Spotify or google it, but they deliberately choose songs that have tension and this build up crescendo and then this release, because they’re basically correlating that with the internal emotional work. Now, do I as a facilitator agree with that? I don’t know. I think there’s pros and cons to all of it. 

To your point, it’s about balance. Like if you have one or two songs with that kind of intensity, great, but you don’t want a whole playlist that’s like that. Otherwise, the journey is like challenging is the word that comes to mind for me. And so, there is an art to musical selection when it comes to accompanying a ceremonial journey. 

Jimmy: I’ll also add a caveat that it really does depend on the person and the circumstance and the medicine and all of that. I think between your words, what you’re speaking to is control and power of which music can be an area in which a lot of that can manifest in the ceremonial container

And so, what I share with folks is that, if you’re tied into this song has to play at this time and that this thing and that all that, you’re already in this whole loop of control which actually may be present in your experience for a reason. Meaning that that might actually be the right example on how you might address control and how that shows up in your psychedelic experience. 

I’m reminded of a client who shared with me that all of their own solo journeys, they just play this one song on repeat, which is this really incessant pounding drum. They were like, “This is just what I play on repeat, and I have it loud and I have it–” I was like, “That’s your thing? That’s your preference?”

I totally honor that. And then we talked and then we wanted to explore different things and different ceremony with this client. About halfway through, they’re like, “I got to go back to the drums in my dark room, my dark music.” And I’m like, “I totally fucking support that. So, let’s do it.” 

Then in the integration process, they were like, “Yeah, this is how I tackle my whole life.” The whole thing is the pounding and the direct and let me excavate, excavate, excavate. They’re like, “I need this other level of softness.” 

So, it’s just like a nuanced example that not only is it about how music can influence your experience, but it’s also like, what’s your relationship to music? The same way that we asked what’s your relationship to ceremony, what’s your relationship to the medicine prior. 

You only to your point, use music as pump-up jams during your workout, then there’s this limited template that your brain and mind is used to. Or, if you don’t like music that elicits emotional aspects of your life, then that can be really heavy when that grinds up in your psychedelic experience. 

Nick: This is why so many facilitators and psychedelic guides have playlists that they use, specifically curated playlists that follow the arc of the medicine. In other words, there’s a come-up period, there’s a plateau period, and there’s a comedown. There’s probably more than just those three. 

But as a basic high-level overview, we have a stage of journey, specifically facilitators spend a lot of time crafting music that accompanies those stages of the journey knowing that the come up is roughly an hour, that the plateau is roughly two hours to four hours, that the comedown is another one hour to two hours. 

And so, over the course of what might be an eight-hour or nine-hour playlist, they’re crafting it in accordance of how the medicine moves through your body. Now, they’re also not a mind reader, so it’s not going to be perfect. 

And what you often see is a lot of people who have a repository– When I say people, a facilitator, who has a repository of songs and is then DJing during the journey and hand choosing when to present what obviously that can be a slippery slope. 

But when done thoughtfully, it’s a beautiful experience. Clients will often remark like, “Music just changed at the perfect time and it was exactly what I needed when I needed it.” There’s an element of synchronicity there that’s very profound. 

Focusing on Care over Music Selection

Jimmy: [00:19:47] Let me add this as a message to facilitators directly, that only works when you are 100% tuned into the journeyer. So, what you’re describing here between the preset playlist like Johns Hopkins that’s designed to elicit certain emotions and feelings at different times versus somebody who is having some intentionality, let’s say, there’s a facilitator that does have a preset playlist that plays in an order

for some folks, they maybe adding in songs to the queue or, like you’re saying, doing this live DJing. 

You are too focused on the next song more than you are focused on the care of the journeyer, you’re doing something wrong. So, I just want to highlight that to folks that it’s all in balance here. By the way, we’re segueing into the second half here, which I feel is the more like tangible actionable aspects on, “Okay, we know how music is important. Now, what? How does this work?” 

So, we’ll orient the second half of this episode towards that. I’ll say for myself personally that I’m always aware of my presence and control or agenda in ceremonial spaces. I personally found myself caring way too much about queuing up the next song, something that I’ve been doing which has been working amazingly. 

Having a preset playlist–put that damn thing on shuffle. Like, I have the first intro, like, ceremony song that runs about an hour, and then after that, it goes on shuffle, and I will tell you, it’s AI or bots or something, it’s always tied at the ceremonial place, and it always comes out the way that the client– I shouldn’t say always, but I would be– I have more times where a client remarks to me, would you change that song or when you did that thing–


Nick: Perfect. 

Jimmy: I get more comments about that now with the thing being on shuffle than when I was selective DJing. Then I get to tell them, I didn’t do anything. I might have skipped the song or something, but I was like, “I didn’t do anything there.” 

Adjusting Music in the Journey

Nick: [00:22:07] I think that’s one interesting thing that I’ve noticed as a facilitator is, sometimes you got to change the song even when the client’s in a place where they can’t vocalize it for themselves.

If you’re really tethered to the client and you’re really following where they’re at in their journey, sometimes it’s the wrong song at the wrong time. I definitely hit next if I get the sense that that’s what’s happening, and what’s really funny, I’ll share a little anecdote to illustrate the power of music. 

I sat with a client who was dead set on using the Johns Hopkins playlist. I’m like, “No problem. If that’s what you want to use, no problem.” It was actually the first time, I, as a facilitator, had sat through a client using that playlist. [crosstalk] I found myself squirming at times. I’m like, “This is terrible.” Like, it’s so uncomfortable at certain points. 

I was having a visceral body response, but it was his request, and I honored it and let it play. Wow, that was not a beginner playlist from my perspective. That really stirs the pot in that more directive way that we’re talking about where they’re deliberately choosing songs that are uncomfortable. 

Jimmy: It’s everybody’s prerogative. It’s very interesting, because a lot of those clinical studies that are moving towards FDA approval in conjunction, it’s like this substance, conjunction with therapy, conjunction with so on and so forth. 

And so in that case, you do have to have certain prescriptiveness, because if you’re looking at that variable of data of music, it has to be consistent. It’s all of your subjects and stuff. So, I get it. But if you’re in more of like a ceremonial setting, you can play around, I think, a little bit. 

I want to get a little bit more specific here where most facilitators will probably have set things, some preset playlists, some songs and things that they’re deriving from in their own experience, or own teaching and lineage, or maybe they’re pulling playlists, or stuff from other folks or other sources. I would say probably every facilitator who does medicine work should have something like that. 

I also offer for folks to give space for their journeyers and their clients to also have some involvement here. One best practice that I have, especially in the talking about music, first of all, consent. You got to talk to them. Do you want to use your playlist? Do you want to use mine? What works here? 

For some folks, I just even have them go through and be like, “Hey, just pick like 10 significant songs of yours,” whether it’s from a certain time period or whether it evokes a certain emotion or you just fucking love the song or like whatever. And then we have that available in case we need to weave that into the experience. 

This is especially important when you are coming out of the experience, and your landing gears come out and you come down and you’re in the afterglow that sense of familiarity of like, “Oh, these are songs that I know and love.” Really, really helpful. 

This just leads to the type of music makes all the difference. And so, you as a journeyer be down with music, if that’s the type of music that your facilitator likes, or medicine music, or world music, or some of these things. 

So, you have your own autonomy and choice here, whether there’s lyrics, no lyrics, genre of music, language of music, all of that. I ultimately defer all of that to the journeyer. 

And then there are many journeyers who are like, “This is one thing that I already am dealing with enough in preparation. If the facilitator could take the whole music thing off of my hands, that would be great,” and that’s also okay too.

Music as a Navigational Tool and Memory Trigger

Nick: [00:26:08] I also just want to highlight for those who are unaware, because this was something I was unaware of for large portion of my life. There is music specifically designed for ceremony. 

It is sacred music designed specifically for a medicine ceremony, ceremonial work, whether that’s reiki, sound healing, massage. There is music that is designed to help the body’s nervous system switch into a parasympathetic state, deliberately has minimal lyrics, minimal inherent meaning, and is designed to invoke this sense of sacredness.

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. We see this with solfeggio frequencies, binaural beats. 

Nick: Exactly. [crosstalk] I just want to highlight that the way there’s a genre for everything, there’s a genre for pump up, and a genre for classical, and a genre for rap. There’s a genre for ceremonial music. It’s a thing. 

And so, I know, for me, personally, I use a lot of ceremonial music, both as a journeyer and facilitator. If I’m journeying, that’s what I like listen to, you can tell, because it’s designed for sacred experiences. What’s really interesting for me personally is, when I listen to it out of context, I’m like, “Ooh, this isn’t the right time or space for that.” It’s very much designed for ceremonial sacred containers. 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. Music is really powerful. We’ve been talking about certain places, emotions, time periods in our life, it can remind us of relationships. 

Music also can serve as a good navigational tool, because when there is this synesthesia thing happening where your felt senses are all combined together in various outputs depending on the medicine, like, certain medicines do this more and less depending, and the felt sensory experience around this can be different depending on the medicine set and setting and all of that. 

But it can also be really helpful for [crosstalk] “Ah, when this song came on, I was going through this process.” Or, “this thing came up,” or this so and so came up. So, it can also be these milestones within your psychedelic experience that can be super, super helpful. 

Nick: Well, I’m sure everyone that’s listening has had the experience of a song coming on, and it immediately teleports you to a time and space where you last heard the song or where it was like the first time you heard it, or whatever. 

You’re like, “Oh, the first time I heard this, I was at a football game, senior year of high school, and super meaningful hanging out with my friends.” And the same thing can happen in the journey, where a lot of times our memory of the events of the journey are a little fuzzy, a little blurry, feels like a dream. 

And that hearing the song again can often bring us back to that place, that feeling, that memory. I’ve had clients specifically request the ceremonial playlist that I’ve used after the fact, so that they can go back and listen for recall. 

Jimmy: I think the other side of this, which I want to caution people on, and it was actually a note that you put down before the episode is that, because music has this time capsule component to it, you also want to be careful if there are triggering songs or music or things that are associated to negative memories, traumatic events. 

You do want to use that song to recall a traumatic event, but that has to be in the context of the right support, the right people, the right amount of prep work. Like, you probably need a therapist alongside you for all that stuff. Just be mindful that it can go both ways with music or can elicit some type of repressed memory, negative memory, something like that too. [crosstalk] 

Nick: So we’re toward at the end here, I’m curious what else you feel called to share around this, if anything.

Practical Considerations for Music

Jimmy: [00:30:14] Well, I’m called to just get a little bit more practical for folks here. This is going to be just more straightforward advice. I hear all the time on whether people should use headphones or speakers. 

And typically, the use of over ear headphones is commonly found in the clinical studies, in the clinical trials, again, to limit variability of that component. Everyone’s using the same speaker, the same playlist, the same all of that. 

You can rule out a lot of the spontaneous stuff that happens. Myself, personally, I prefer to not

I prefer a Bluetooth speaker, high quality speaker, something where there’s sound in the room for a couple of reasons. 

One is that it can help with my communication and connectivity

they don’t have to pop out an ear or something if they need support or that they need help. The other, which I’ve actually found is that, especially in psilocybin experiences where you’re in both worlds, like, yes, you are in the ceremonial room and you’re having this altered state of consciousness. 

I’ve heard very commonly that for journeyers, they’ve actually felt a sense of grounding when they hear me shuffle around, or when they hear me breathing, or when they something, just for them to have a cue that my presence is there, even if I’m not directly engaged or involved in their psychedelic process at that time. Really silly things. 

-use Spotify, or SoundCloud, or YouTube and a paid subscription, so you don’t have any ads. Super important. 

Nick: Nothing more mortifying than the song changing and you’re getting, “Hey, $27 Tuesday at Ralph’s,” whatever.

Jimmy: [laughs] 

Nick: You’re like, “What is happening?” We’re in the middle of a sacred ceremony and you’re getting an ad blasted into your face.

Jimmy: Which I learned that at a very, very early stage of my [laughs] facilitator progression. And also, just be mindful that if you are going to DJ as a facilitator that journeyer is hypersensitive to all things. And so, if I need to skip a song, I’m not going to abruptly skip the song. 

I’m going to go and I’m going to hit the volume button down, down, down, down, down until it goes from 50 down to zero, so that it can fade out. I’ve set some fade in and fade out things like on Spotify. 

I’m aware of, if a song is more

energy, even if it’s jubilant celebratory type things, as opposed to something that’s a little bit more mellow or you’re saying ambient or something like that. And so, being a person who is in charge of music during a ceremony, it’s a big deal. It’s a big privilege and it’s a sacred responsibility. It really is.

Nick: It is responsibility. That’s the best way to put it. You are responsible for managing the soundtrack of someone’s six to eight hour journey. It’s really important that that’s done with care and thoughtfulness for them, not for your own needs, wants, and desires as a facilitator.

I just want a second that I am a speakers all the way guy myself. Like, headphones make it so hard to track where the client is in that process. What’s interesting is, I had clients who, because of Johns Hopkins specifically requested headphones, we get about 20-30 minutes in and they’re like, “Can we switch to speakers?” Or, like, “I feel disconnected. I can’t communicate with you. It’s very immersive in here.” 

Jimmy: Yeah. How do you turn on your side with over your headphones? I was like, most people who get enthralled into psychedelic experiences, how do they end up? In the fetal position on their side. If you got this big old bulgy thing on your ear, you can’t do that. And so, there’s just some practicality, I think, around this as well. 

Nick: And I, for the record, also do the same thing. If you realize 30 seconds into a song that it’s not the right fit, don’t just hit next,

fade out or the volume, invite in maybe a second or two of silence. 

A couple of minutes of silence between songs can be incredibly grounding, healing, calming, and then you move into the next wave, because that’s often how journeyers perceive this is like waves. And so, to have a little bit of a downtime before the crest again is actually can be very nice. 

Jimmy: Yeah, the implementation of silence can be– I think it is a best practice even when the silence brings up uncomfortability for your journeyer. Now, the journeyer maybe feeling some anticipation of, “When’s the next song going to start? When’s the next song going to start?” 

That’s where you got to really be tuned in. You got to really be tuned into your journeyer state. I wonder, do you have best practices for folks around how to choose music with their facilitator, how to collaborate with the facilitator? 

So much of this we’re speaking out of the ceremonial space, but I wonder if you have thoughts around how to even talk about music in preparation or leading up to an experience. 

Nick: It’s interesting, because I think this is another one of those topics that, unfortunately, journeyers are inherently limited around because they’ve never experienced it before. And so, you’re asking them for what they want in an arena that they have no real orientation around. 

And so, oftentimes, what I hear is like, “Well, you know what’s best, you’ve done this before. Let’s just use your music,” which is totally fine. But it’s important at least have the discussion and invite in the opportunity for a journeyer to have a say. 

The one thing I will always do is say, “Hey, if you have a couple of meaningful songs that you want interspersed or delivered at certain points in the journey, please share them with me, so that I can prepare accordingly.” 

I think one of the really cool things about music is, we all have a song or two that’s very comforting for us. If we find ourselves in a place in the journey where nothing else is helping us find that little felt sense of comfort, perfect inflection point where a facilitator can help by putting that song on, and all of a sudden, you’ve got that warm hug or that little bit of tether of like, “Ah, this is my song. Something familiar.” 

Jimmy: [laughs] Or, if you’re like me, you’re white knuckling an experience solo, and the same three and a half minute song you’re playing on loop for four hours, just so you can navigate whatever you’re navigating. Like, this is the power of music. 

Nick: Totally. Those are my thoughts. 

Jimmy: Yeah, I think you answered that in a really beautiful, nuanced way. So, I’ll just back up to say that, music is an important part of this process. You have some say here as a journeyer, you have autonomy, you have choice. 

Facilitator should be talking to you about music, because the same way that they’re talking to you about location and dosage. It’s an integral part of the ceremonial container. In there, there is a lot of ability to collaborate, or you might in your own sovereignty be like, “I want my facilitator to handle this.” 

Then I also really want to empower folks, do what’s right for you and your intuition in that moment. Silence as a journeyer,

silence. If you need to skip a song, skip a song. If you need to ask the facilitator if you notice them DJing a little too much to just like let it play, let them play. This is so, so important for you to identify your needs because it’s your experience. 

Nick: I actually think that’s the bigger piece of advice that I would share with journeyers

is speak up because here’s the thing. If you give full autonomy to the facilitator to choose the playlist, which is inherently fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, partway through, you’re like, “I want the volume down. I want the song to change.” 

Please vocalize that. That’s one of the rules that I set in containers before we even get started is like, hey, no matter what you need, please ask for it. Whether a song is too loud, whether you want it changed, whether you want a different genre. 

I told you that I would handle the music. I’m going to put on what I have found to be my own version of a best practice, but if at any point that’s not working for you, you’re totally empowered to tell me to shut it off, adjust it, turn it down, hit next, whatever it is. That, I think, is perhaps more important or more foundational than you as a journeyer picking the songs beforehand. 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. This gets particularly interesting when folks come back for return ceremonies, if you need different music or there’s music that’s related to content. 

I have a client who is like, “Yeah, playing the guitar has been one of my creative expressions of integration.” And so, in that ceremony, like their third ceremony, we infused a lot of Spanish guitar into it, which is really cool. 

So, I hope that this has been helpful for folks. I think that music is one of our really wonderful gifts as a human, and it just so happens that it’s so integral to psychedelic work. And so, thanks for listening to us this week. 

You can download episodes of the Psychedelic Passage podcast, looking for all of our episodes anywhere that you get podcasts, Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio. As always, we are looking to engage with our community. 

So, feel free to reach out on our brand-new website, if there are any notes or thoughts or anything that would help you get more value out of friends ranting about psychedelics. And so, thank you all so much. We’re so deeply, deeply honored to be here with you along the journey and we will see you next week.

Speak to a Psychedelic Guide

As the beats of this episode fade, the profound interplay between music and psychedelics continues to echo. From ancient percussions to modern melodies, the symphony of these two realms remains intertwined. 

Yet, like any compass, music must be wielded with intention. A melody that uplifts one may distract another, and thus, the choice of song becomes a delicate art. So, as we traverse the sonic realms of ceremony and healing, we must dance with the cadence of our own psyche, attuning ourselves to the harmonies that resonate deeply within.

If something within you is drawn to us, we empower you to book a consultation with one of our concierges who will answer any questions and get you in touch with our network of experienced facilitators. 

Our resources page is our personally curated library of informational articles and podcasts for those of us who want to learn more about psychedelic healing and all the things that come with it. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!

Clinical versus Shamanic Approach in Psychedelic Therapy

Clinical vs. Shamanic Approaches in Psychedelic Therapy

“Clinical vs. Shamanic Approaches in Psychedelic Therapy” navigates the fascinating spectrum of therapeutic psychedelic care with hosts Nicholas and Jimmy. They delve deep into the extremes of hyper-clinical approaches and shamanic practices, analyzing the nuanced differences, risks, and potential benefits of each.

In this thought-provoking discussion, Nicholas and Jimmy emphasize the importance of informed consent, the power dynamics within therapeutic relationships, and the need for discernment when selecting a provider.

Listeners gain a clearer understanding of the complexities surrounding the term “shaman” and the cultural variations associated with shamanic practices. They also learn about the standardized practices, dosage considerations, and symptom relief focus of the clinical approach. 

The hosts explore the delicate balance between providing standardized care while leaving room for the profound, ineffable experiences that psychedelics can bring. Finding the middle ground, they emphasize the importance of tailoring experiences to the individual, honoring both scientific understanding and spiritual aspects. 

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Episode 52 – Clinical vs. Shamanic Approaches in Psychedelic Therapy

Nick: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Nick Levich, I am here with my cohost, Jimmy Nguyen. As always, thank you so much for joining us this week. 

In today’s episode, we are going to be talking about the spectrum of the approach or type of care that you can get when engaging with intentional therapeutic psychedelic use.

Specifically what we’re talking about here is this range of not only where you can choose to seek care, but who you choose to work with and how they provide that care. 

And so, what we’re really looking at here is the spectrum from essentially like hyper clinical on one end, and then very shamanic on the other, and then the gradient of everything that exists between those two extremes. 

So the main thing that I want to start by expressing here is that you as a journeyer do get to choose how you want to be engaged with. 

I think if I can put one intention out for this episode is to arm you with enough information so that you can actually choose and specify what it is that you want. 

Jimmy: Yeah, because there is a really wide spectrum. I think that there is a service out there and will continue to be so. I want to remind folks that public facing psychedelic services will continue to grow. And so, we’re very early in this landscape. Early, I say relatively.

Obviously, we have a many thousand year relationship with psychedelics. I think you were touching upon that a little bit. 

I know that we’re going to talk about this a little bit later, but I feel called to say that the word shamanic or shamanism, it’s a little bit of a tricky word in our current landscape, because it just denotes and implies a lot of different things.

I think that shamanic can sometimes be confused with indigenous, and let’s say like lineage practice, psychedelic practice, from tradition that’s passed down from mentor to student. It has, I think, a different connotation in our language as compared to other cultures and countries. 

Understanding Shamanism

[00:02:39] Nick: Yeah. Let’s just start on the shamanic end of the spectrum. I think that’s a good place to start. I want to be clear that traditionally that’s how these medicines were done in community, with the community healer, which was often referred to as a shaman.

Typically, it’s a familial lineage or truly someone selected by the village. And so, there’s this accountability and community built into shamanic practitioners traditionally. 

Now, in the western world, we don’t really have that, which is why I think the shamanic approach gets so sticky in the western world, because it doesn’t jive well with things like informed consent or sharing of power–

Because really there is a significant power dynamic in that shamanic relationship where traditionally, they do the diagnosing or they do the healing. It’s a much more involved and active thing. 

You can see how without the right guardrails, namely, community and accountability built in, it can really go off the tracks pretty quickly here in the western world. 

Jimmy: Yeah, thanks for that. I want to add a couple of layers to this as well. I think the best example of what you’re sharing– I haven’t personally done this, but anybody who’s gone to South America, Peru, Brazil, other countries–

And have engaged in primarily ayahuasca plant medicine work knows that informed consent is not really a thing. If the healer or the spiritual leader or let’s– I use this term very loosely, but also very specifically–

The shaman decides that you need some type of spiritual intervention or some type of ritual or some type of process or some type of ceremony, they’re not really going to talk to you about informed consent, and if touch is okay and things like that. 

So, I just want to add that informed consent is very important to us, and it’s also navigated differently depending on the cultural paradigms that are present. 

I’ll back up a little bit even further to say that the word shaman is somewhat of a– For this episode, I’ll say a very broad term. The word comes from the, I’m going to pronounce this super wrong, the Manchu-Tungus word saman. 

A lot of I think what the language around shamanism, how it came about, was through a lot of north and Northeast Asian cultures and traditions. 

Now, shaman is also somewhat of a western word. It’s a word in our western lexicon, meaning the word before that was witch doctor. [Nick laughs] 

That was the way that Western psychologists, psychiatrists, spiritual leaders, all of that for probably many hundreds of years for a long time, anything that wasn’t a part of the western cultural tradition was a witch doctor. 

So, it does already create this norm versus other type of dynamic. And then now that word shaman has evolved in a lot of different ways over that past time where you have self-appointed shamans–

You have people who feel like they were designated as a shaman through religious or psychedelic experiences, you have folks who have gone through a specific, let’s call it, training, teaching, tradition, that puts them in that category. 

There’s also this– two really wonderful terms, Neoshamanism, which is how the history of shamanism plays out in our modern society and there’s also something called plastic shamanism which you can look up as well–

Which is more about people who use the epithets and the context of shamanism to sell whatever, whether it’s their own beliefs, some proprietary method, some type of–

So, if it wasn’t bad enough that there’s a spectrum between clinical, medical, and the far end, which, for the purposes of simplicity, we’re identifying shamanism here. Even within the term shamanism, there’s a really wide spectrum too. 

Nick: For sure. [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: It depends, as we like to say. [laughs] 

Nick: The two things that I feel called to share here are that, regardless of type of shamanism or anything like that, the shamanic approach is more active, that person is doing stuff. 

The reason I bring that up is because it means there’s more risk for power imbalances as well as moral, ethical issues, violations, all of that kind of stuff. 

And so, the point that I want to drive home is, if you’re seeking a more shamanic experience or that’s how you want to be engaged around psychedelics, please be careful and cognizant, and use discernment around who you’re going to sit with.

Because that’s essentially what that whole approach boils down to is: who are you sitting with? Do you trust them to actually take care of you, and not abuse the power that they hold or claim to hold? 

Jimmy: I’m also hearing a little bit in between your words that a psychedelic interested person might actually be confusing a shamanic approach with a spiritual approach. 

Nick: Correct.

Jimmy: Maybe confusing that with a ceremonial approach. Maybe confusing that with guideship versus facilitation versus trip sitting. And so, that’s the whole point that I’m trying to make is that, the word shaman or shamanic is preloaded with a lot of assumptions. 

Nick: Totally. 

Jimmy: I think that one of the clear messages that we want to send here to all the listeners is that there is a way for you to drive the distinction between the two. It’s also important for the service provider to be really clear. 

Maybe they might be selling you on a shamanic practice, because that’s what you want. But maybe they’re not rooted in that history at all. 

There’s some layers to this, but I know that it’s easy for us to say, “Hey, clinical, medical feels like this, and shamanic feels like this one end.” But there’s really gradients across the whole thing. 

Nick: That’s where most services actually sit is in the middle. But I don’t think we can even address the middle until we’ve highlighted the extreme ends of the spectrum. 

Jimmy: Yeah. So, let’s get into that. I think we talk amongst the spectrum, and then maybe we then circle back for our listeners on the questions to ask, what might influence their decisions, things like that. 

Exploring The Clinical Approach

[00:09:48] Nick: All right. So, let’s move to the other extreme. I acknowledge that both of these are truly the extremes. The other is what we’ll call the more clinical/medical approach. 

I just want to put the caveat out to start that this is harder to find given that most doctors and medical professionals at this current juncture at the time of recording this risk losing their licensure by working with psychedelics firsthand–

With the one exception to that being ketamine, but we’re really talking about traditional psychedelics, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, ayahuasca, peyote, mescaline, etc. 

Jimmy: Yeah, just a quick insert of the legal status of these certain things. The reason why ketamine is permissible with therapeutic use is because it’s a Schedule III, which means that it can be prescribed for off label use. 

Now, all of the other compounds and substances that you mentioned are Schedule I. What that says is that, [chuckles] per the FDA, there is a high risk of addiction and there is no recognized medical use. 

And so, you see how that’s a funny contradiction, because a lot of these compounds, namely psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA, are in clinical trials and clinical studies. 

Now, it’s interesting, because when you look at the MDMA trials, most famously by MAPS, they’re in a Phase 3 trial. It’s one of the first clinical trials where it’s the substance in conjunction with something else. 

Most other clinical trials of compounds are just about the substance itself. This is MDMA with psychotherapy, and so it creates this really interesting thing. 

The point that I’m trying to make here is that we can broadly generalize what this might be like for you as a psychedelic interested person. 

However, there are no standards that are established or created. The way that psychedelic assisted psychotherapy will play out over the next couple of years remains to be seen. 

So, I think that the clinical/medical model is helpful for some people, folks who want an individual to prescribe to them a specific dosage or specific regimen. Maybe you have some one day the ability to get insurance coverage for some of these things. 

Now, with the clinical/medical side, a lot of it is standardizing variables. How do we create an approach that is consistent across all individuals? Maybe some different use cases like, maybe a track for PTSD might be different than a track for childhood trauma. 

It might be different for a track of other mental health conditions, but we also see this in the clinical trials. So, one funny question that we get all the time is like, I’m supposed to have my eye mask on all the time, and some really good over ear headphones, right? 

That’s what the clinical trials do. I share with the client that, although that is a best practice derived from clinical trials– We talked about this, I think, in a last episode where we were saying, we prefer speakers in the room as opposed to-

Nick: For sure.

Jimmy: -earbuds. But the reason why they do that is because they have to have the same variables in all of their clinical trials because if one set was over your headphones and then another set was speakers–

Or one set had a certain playlist and another set had a different playlist, then it would skew the results. And so, you can actually see that these best practices are the best practices as per clinical trials. 

And then when this comes online, hopefully, federal regulation will create some parameters around this, state regulators will create some parameters around this. Even then you’re going to get some variability in how your service is with clinical/medical. 

Nick: Yeah. 

Jimmy: I think ketamine clinics are a great example of this. We see this today where some are just administering sessions, some have prep and integration, some have people you can talk to during–

Some just have a nurse aide that comes in and checks on you and then they end up inadvertently being your integration specialist because that’s the only person [laughs] who’s in the room.  

Nick: Yeah. 

Jimmy: We’ve heard horror stories of folks who have had ketamine sessions, and they just get dropped off somewhere or they have to take an Uber home. 

So, my point here is that, for those who adhere more to western mental health medical processes and your trust in that, I think this is a great route for you. However, there will still be a lot of variability across these different implementation practices. 

Nick: One of the things that I hear you speaking to very clearly is in the desire to eliminate variables in the clinical approach, it actually makes it more rigid. 

There’s a level of rigidity like, “Well, this is how we did it for the last patient. This is our approach, so we got to keep doing it this way.” When in reality, headphones on or off may not make any difference in terms of outcome. 

But because they’re trying to eliminate variables, they’ll say, “Okay, keep them on. Keep your eye mask on.” I’m not here to say whether that’s good, bad, or otherwise, but I think that there is this element of rigidity with the more clinical approach. 

Jimmy: Yeah, I’ll give you another great example of this, because we are already talking about implementation, but this would be the same for screening and onboarding as well. 

So, anybody who is in therapy now, who gets it covered by your insurance, depending on the state, typically, you’re going to have to receive some type of mental health diagnosis according to the DSM-5, in order for your insurance coverage to kick in–

“Hey, this person, per the DSM-5, has generalized anxiety, and therefore, insurance will cover it.” Well, it actually might be the same with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, if you’re going through a clinical medical model. 

Where in order to qualify, you may have to go through a mental health diagnosis. If they deem that you have borderline personality disorder–

That may not only preclude you from a psychedelic service, but also may determine the track, and the program, and the parameters around that per that rigidity that you’re saying there. 

Nick: Yeah. And so, a couple of other things that I want to highlight around the more clinical approach is, oftentimes, it’s very rooted in dosage standardization, which also can often include isolating compounds. This is how the pharmaceutical industry has always worked. 

The treatment is based on isolating the compound and standardizing the dose, which I understand the reasoning behind, but I think with psychedelics, it just doesn’t quite work that way. We’ve talked about this in our dosage episode, which you can go back and listen to. 

I also think that the lens that they approach the work through is more rooted in science and traditional medicine, which I think inherently makes it a bit less holistic, has the potential to feel a bit more what I call cold. 

Jimmy: Well, it’s rooted in symptom relief. 

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: That’s really what it is where, can we resolve your symptoms for a prolonged period of time? I want to back up to say that Nick and I are not necessarily saying that clinical/medical is inferior to shamanic or one is better than the other. 

What we’re trying to do is highlight these distinctions, so that you could start to have these conversations with yourself, and then also your service provider. 

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: Because if you’re alleviating symptoms, but you need to stay on a microdose regimen or you need to go back every six months for a “re-up” on your psychedelic experience, does that actually help you get to the root of the problem? 

Maybe for some, maybe for not. Maybe some people just want to alleviate their symptoms, all good. But I think that the clinical/medical model will have a real interesting challenge of trying to create enough standardization–

So that it can run within these protocols and then also leave enough room for the unexplained, unable to label, hard to define aspects of psychedelic– [crosstalk] 

Nick: The ineffable that Michael Pollan’s speaks of. 

Jimmy: I really applaud the medical professionals and the mental health professionals who find that balance, and I think that it’s going to be different for every practitioner. 

Nick: Inherently, we are talking about the extremes. As I mentioned before, these extremes, I don’t think are where the vast majority of options and providers are going to lie. 

I think they’re going to be in the middle. But we had to paint a little bit of a picture there of the various extreme ends of the spectrum. 

Jimmy: Yeah. So, we talked about clinical medical, we brushed upon the history and context of the word shaman, shamanic. But I guess, what else do you have to add as far as the other end of the extreme on the shamanic side? 

Nick: I feel pretty complete there. That was a good background. And so, I think what this brings up for me is like, what does the middle look like? And for me, personally, and I’m curious where you sit with this, but I think about ceremony as being in the middle.

Nick: And the way that I think about it is there’s still this honoring of both the science on one end and the spiritual on the other but there’s this adjustment for implementation in the western world that still allows for things like, informed consent, sacredness–

Empowerment of the journeyer, and an ability to choose how to be in relationship with your provider, so that it feels a bit more balanced, a bit more natural, a bit more dynamic, and honestly, tailored to you as a client or a journeyer. 

Ceremony: Our Happy Medium

[00:20:39] Jimmy: Yeah. I do think that thinking about intentional psychedelic use in the framework of ceremony does fall more into middle ground. And even then, it’s important for me to say that there’s a big umbrella term of ceremony, and then that looks very different for individuals.

Ceremony does not mean that it always comes from a particular tradition and lineage. There are folks who have been working with psychedelics for 20 years–

And over their experience, over their involvement with other circles, practitioners, mentors, guides, facilitators they may have crafted their own set of traditions. I probably fall in that category though I definitely don’t have 20 years of experience. 

Then also, there are ceremony that is rooted in tradition and specific cultures. I would also like to invite in some other terms, there may just be, well, we are talking about this in the framework of legal psychedelic related services. 

There can also be trip sitting, which is, there’s just a person there to make sure that I don’t slip and fall to make sure that I can get up and go to the bathroom, and they are really, really hands off. 

I think that there are certain different lenses and spectrums of facilitation. I do like this term, ceremony, which we use and create space for different modalities of facilitators within our network–

Because it does denote a couple of things to which you said, there’s an intentional component to it, there’s a process to it, there is this ability to implement more scientific best practices. 

Also, a ceremonialist may choose not to. There are some ceremonies that are deeply rooted in religious structure, there are some that are not. And so, you can see how– [crosstalk] 

Nick: I like the word ceremony, because I think about a marriage ceremony, for instance. There’s not a right or wrong way to do it. There’s a whole bunch of different flavors. But we can all agree that a ceremony denotes a marker in time, where there’s you before and there’s you after, and the ceremony changes our relationship with each other, our community, the world around us. And to me, that’s what’s cool about that word and why I hang on to it. But I acknowledge what you’re saying, which is, the state’s going to call it psilocybin service center with a facilitator. They’re probably not going to call it a ceremony. But they are likely going to be more in the middle of that spectrum that we’re talking about. 

Jimmy: Yeah, and it’s not just these state regulated programs. I think that facilitators and service providers, I’m calling you out, there is a real big responsibility to be honest, clear, and transparent about the nature and the context of your service–

Because I know that there are people out there who claim to be ceremonialists, and they’re literally just showing up and dosing you and just f*cking sitting there. 

Nick: Yeah. 

Jimmy: I also know that there are people who say, “Yup, I take all the best practices of the scientific, clinical, medical, and all this stuff, and I’ve done all the research.” 

But for lack of a better term, they’re amateurs, because they don’t have a specific science background or a medical or mental health background. 

And then that also has some ethical implementations, if an individual says that they implement something here, but actually the experience that you’re getting is different. And so, this happens across the entire spectrum. 

It’s something that is worth me naming for psychedelic interested folks, and it’s worth me putting pressure on facilitators and psychedelic practitioners right now to be really honest and clear with the services that you’re providing.

Nick: For sure. So, a couple of things that we’ve highlighted in this discussion is that most service providers are going to lie somewhere in the middle at this current state and time, and also we can’t really agree what the terminology is for that middle ground. 

I think that’s the linchpin on why we even want to have this discussion is because we can’t agree upon what to call it. People don’t know what they’re looking for, [Jimmy laughs] and so you can see how messy this becomes for a potential journeyer or client that’s seeking services. 

The Nuances of Finding the Right Therapeutic Experience

[00:25:26] Nick: So, what this boils down to for me is how do we communicate what we want as a client knowing that there’s options, and then setting the expectation with both the facilitator, setting the expectation with the client–

But also vice versa on how they want to be engaged with, because a facilitator could do ceremony. Right? They call it ceremony. 

But one client comes to them with a Mormon religious background, and the other person comes to them atheist or agnostic, for instance. From my perspective, as a facilitator, that requires a different level of engagement with each journeyer. 

Jimmy: Well, it requires a tailored approach. 

Nick: Exactly. 

Jimmy: If the facilitator’s intent, I use facilitator as a broad term to adhere their program and ceremonial components to what’s in the best interest or the worldview of the client, that’s a distinction and a choice that the facilitator may make. 

There are also other people out there who say, “Hey, regardless of your religious background, worldview upbringing, all of that, this is the set standard of the ceremony,” and look, it will be seen what rises to the surface over the next 5 years to 10 years. 

I was laughing when you were talking about this dynamic. In my mind, I was like, “Welcome to the wacky world of the psychedelic landscape in 2023,” where everybody pretends to know what the best practice is, but really nobody knows at all. 

So, it’ll remain to be seen what the practices are that have the highest level of efficacy for specific segments and populations. 

Nick: Efficacy aside, for me, it’s still really important to communicate with your client in the way that they want to be communicated with. That’s the other point that I believe is really important to me, at least around this topic. 

If your whole worldview is scientific, I have to engage with you using different terminology to refer to the same concepts than I would dealing with somebody who’s deeply spiritual and I can speak to the exact same topics, but I have to do it in a different way. 

Jimmy: Yeah. We see this the same in therapy with licensed mental health professionals, where I had a friend who was like, “Well, I had bad experience with therapist in the past, and I just turned me off to therapy.” 

“Now, I’m circling back around and trying to find a therapist, but I don’t know where to start.” And I’m like, “Okay, well, are you looking for a counselor? Are you looking for a marriage and family therapist? Are you looking for a therapist of a specific modality?” 

And then we opened up into a whole conversation that there’s probably 20 or 30 different, probably more, approaches of therapy. “Are you looking for Gestalt therapy? Are you looking for DBT? Are you looking for CBT?”

Nick: IFS. 

Jimmy: “IFS? Is there EMDR?” And then you realize, “Oh, even within therapy, there’s a lot of different approaches, and attunements, and things that are different.” 

And so, this is something that’s like a hurdle that we just have in our society, because our society tries to standardize things essentially. “Oh, you got a blood pressure issue? Here, take a statin. You got something for in your GI tract? Here, take this IBS medication.”

Nick: This is actually a wonderful analogy, if I can step in for a second. 

Jimmy: Yeah, please, please.

Nick: Something like high blood pressure, which we can all agree is a thing. The hyper clinical approach would be take a statin and don’t change any lifestyle factors. 

The more holistic, potentially spiritual approach would be like, work with your naturopath to actually address the root cause and start to make lifestyle changes. That’s maybe more in the middle. 

It’s a little bit of science and clinical, but also holistic and looking at your whole life in its entirety. And then the shamanic approach may be like, put my hand on your heart and do a blessing of some sort and call it in the spirits to help alleviate it. 

And so, you can see how that same issue could be “solved” or “addressed” in very different ways, and the same exact dynamic exists in the psychedelic healing space. 

Jimmy: Yeah. That’s really well said. I’ll add that some people don’t believe in naturopaths. So, maybe a spot in the middle is, they’re getting medication, or they choose to not be on medication, and they’re seeing a nutritionist. 

They’re seeing a dietitian. They’re seeing a personal trainer also. So, you can see how it depends on the individual to determine what the right thing is for them. These providers can only create options. 

The first thing that I learned when I went through an EMT program, I’m not a licensed EMT, but people have the sovereignty and the right to refuse medical advice to make their own decisions on their medical care. 

You walk into a home, and you see somebody having a heart issue or heart condition, and you might tell them, “Hey, you need to go to the hospital, because there’s a high likelihood of you getting a heart attack.” 

They could tell you to leave, and they can sign a right of refusal, and you could leave, and they could have a heart attack later. And so, I’m speaking about this as far as the context of our society in your own choice. 

Now, in the mainstream, it may feel like you only have certain options. “Oh, if the doctor prescribed me this, this is what I have to do.” I think that’s likely good advice for a broad percentage of medical and mental health conditions. 

But we see this also in cancer patients and terminally ill patients, the right to try laws, if they want to try a somewhat unstudied and experimental procedure or not, or if they choose to go through traditional routes and methods. 

And so, the same things that are present in our mental health and medical landscape in this country, will be present in psychedelics. 

Maybe we can spend the last little bit of time here to talk about some tangible things for psychedelic curious folks, and what they should be thinking about, questions they should be asking themselves, questions they should be asking service providers on how to clarify this. 

How Clients & Providers Can Navigate the Psychedelic Services Landscape

[00:32:33] Nick: Yeah. So, for me, if you’re a service provider, two things that come up. One, be very honest with potential clients about your approach and ask clients, if they have something they’re looking for or how they want to be engaged with–

To see if you can meet them there because not every provider is going to be a good fit for every client. And then the flip side of that is, as a potential journeyer, as a client, as someone seeking service, be clear on how you want to be engaged with. 

Based on your worldview or your religious beliefs or your past history, you may want to be engaged with and communicated to in a very specific way. 

And the more you can hone in on what that is, the better relationship and overall experience you’re going to have with your care provider. 

Jimmy: Yeah. What I hear you saying is that, it’s both up to the psychedelic interested person and the service provider to clearly communicate and ask the right questions. Some things that I’m hearing are just some examples. 

How do you want to be cared for? How do you view the psychedelic experience? Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? Are you only viewing psychedelics through a cognitive and neurological, neuroscience lens? 

Just asking some of these basic questions on both sides, I think will be really helpful. I actually want to zero in on the psychedelic interested individual, because I actually think that the first part of this process is an internal asking for yourself. 

The reason why is because if you’re not clear, then you don’t know what to look for. I’m going to add another layer to this as well, but things that might influence your decision, your past history, medical history, personal history, mental health history, your own religious beliefs–

Your own worldviews, what creates a perceived sense of safety for you, even gender preferences and things of that nature of who your service provider is. 

We also did an episode on social conditioning, and what your family unit looks like, and things like that. And so, the more that you can be clear on where you sit internally before you even go and look for what’s available out there, the more helpful it’ll be. 

Now, I know that a lot of these things are moving targets. I want to highlight that even in this individual discovery, there can arise a lot of ethical dilemmas about this personally. 

So, let’s assume that you are an individual who has gotten the most benefit from western medicine, who’s gotten the most benefit from doctors and mental health professionals prescribing you things. 

The most benefit from that, you want to find a practitioner who adheres as closely to the clinical trials and studies as you can. So, that’s your own personal compass, that’s what you’re looking for. You go out and look for that person now in 2023. 

You don’t find them, because they don’t exist. Then you’re in an ethical dilemma to be like, “Okay, what of my personal preferences and needs do I have to bend if I am looking for service now?” 

If you’re saying, “Hey, I do adhere to all of the clinical western medicine model, but I also have a sense of urgency because I’m really suffering.” 

So, that creates these internal ethical dilemmas, which if you are– There may be some things that are non-negotiables and there may be some things that you are willing to bend or explore or you say, “Hey, I really trust this person. They have a more spiritual approach.”

“I’m open to spirituality, but I’m really looking at this from a mental health lens.” You can see how that can create a whole– I want to curse here, but I’m not going to, a whole mess of decision-making criteria. 

And then you then run into potential power imbalances with your facilitator or service provider, especially if they’re just telling you the stuff that you need to hear for you to engage in services with them. But it may not actually meet your needs. 

And so, it’s really tricky. It’s really, really tricky, but I think the first place is to look internally and get clear on your needs across these different parameters that we’re talking about. 

Nick: I just want to say, I totally appreciate your example. I think it brings a lot of clarity and tangibility to what you’re talking about. And at the same time, just let folks know that there are really amazing providers out there who can speak to both ends of the spectrum. 

Jimmy: For sure. 

Nick: They can work with a neuroscientist, just as well as they can work with a spiritual seeker. And so, there are wonderful facilitators that can truly adjust the hat that they wear based on the client. 

I think what we’re highlighting is that it requires an ability for that facilitator, that service provider to meet you where they’re at. If they can’t do it, that’s where things can go south super quickly. 

Jimmy: Yeah. It’s very promising to me to see very highly talented people emerge in this space, whether they have been psychedelic, directly focused, or come in from a different lens, or modality, or something that they’ve learned over the past couple of years, maybe even. 

It’s also worth me saying that, at the same rate that very highly skilled psychedelic people are emerging, likely the same rate that the bunk, not professional people who don’t have this stuff– 

They’re not even thinking about this stuff when they take your money and decide that they’re going to be your trip sitter. And so– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Which is precisely why we started Psychedelic Passage. I want to be abundantly clear, this is the actual reason that Psychedelic Passage exists–

And has morphed into what it is today because the question for everyone is, how do I know who I can trust if everyone claims to be this?

Jimmy: Yeah, the whole impetus on why we started was like, if our moms were going to go out today and they’re decided on having a psychedelic experience, assuming you and I didn’t know anything about psychedelics–

And they were just out there to find them, how good would we feel about whoever they found on the internet? When we started this back in 2019, it wouldn’t feel that good. [laughs] Honestly, it would not feel that good, even today with more service [crosstalk] available.

Nick: I think today, it’s actually more confusing. There was so much less choice before that you only had a handful of options. Now you’ve got literally hundreds of options, and the question is how do you discern? What’s what?

Jimmy: How do you discern when they’re saying the same thing, sharing the same story, talking about the same approaches, talking about how they’re going to meet you, where you’re at? You’re like, “Well, how do I figure that out?” 

Nick: I think that’s where it gets really hard and that’s where we’ve done our best to take the guesswork out of it. We say, “Look, here’s the vetting that we’ve taken these folks through and this is why we’re essentially vouching for them”

Because there’s a level of comfort that we would send our loved ones, friends, family members, whatever to see these folks. I think there’s a certain peace of mind that comes with that. 

Jimmy: Yeah. And if there’s a final thought that I have on this episode or a message that I want to convey to people is that it really is about that psychedelic curious person being honest with their needs, being honest with what they want and their preferences–

And then asking the right questions to a facilitator who will be completely open and transparent and honest in answering those questions. 

All of those things are required in order [laughs] for you to get to a place of finding the care and the service, that’s exactly right for you. 

Nick: Mic drop. [laughs] 

Jimmy: Yeah, another mic drop from me. Another rant and the mic drop in the books. [laughs] 

Nick: Oh, well, thank you for that. I think that’s a perfect place to close down for the day, so thanks for that. Thank you to all of us who tuned in and listened today.

You can download episodes of the Psychedelic Passage podcast on all major streaming platforms, whether that’s Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, or wherever else you choose to stream. 

If you like the show, please rate and review us, and we encourage you to share with friends, if there’s anyone that you think could benefit. And we’ll see you all next week.

Talk to a Psychedelic Professional

As psychedelic-assisted therapy gains popularity, it becomes exposed to the harsh elements of our diverse humanity. Fear not, there are ways to navigate this space to ensure your needs are met, as we hopefully displayed for you in this episode.

Are you ready to take the next step? We empower you to book a consultation with one of our concierges to get connected with our network of experienced psychedelic facilitators. This allows you to focus on your healing, because we’ve done the vetting for you.

Our resources page offers actionable advice for those who want to learn more on their own. Our Q&As, how-to articles and interviews are just a few of the educational materials being added all the time. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!

Common Themes in Psychedelic Experiences

Exploring Common Themes of a Psychedelic Experience

“Exploring Common Themes of a Psychedelic Experience” acknowledges that while themes are not guaranteed to occur, they tend to recur across different psychedelic experiences, despite the variations in individuals’ histories, beliefs, and the substances used.

The hosts delve into the misnomer of ego death and explore different variations of ego. They also touch on the amplification of emotions and the resurfacing of repressed or suppressed memories during psychedelic journeys. How do defense mechanisms allow these emotions to emerge, and how can we use this to maximize potential healing and growth?

The episode sheds light on somatic processes and energetic releases that occur during psychedelic journeys, explaining how trauma can be processed in non-cognitive ways. The hosts describe how clients have reported sensations like heart-opening, throat-clearing, or symbolic experiences that represent emotional and spiritual breakthroughs. 

Later, Nicholas and Jimmy touch upon the theme of connectivity, discussing the profound  sense of connection that can be experienced with others, nature, and the divine during psychedelic journeys. They share examples of clients communicating with departed loved ones and recounting life events that highlight the deep relationships forged throughout our lives. 

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Episode 51 – Exploring Common Themes of a Psychedelic Experience

Nick: Welcome to The Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Nick Levich. I am here with my cohost, Jimmy Nguyen. As always, thank you so much for joining us today. And this week, we are talking about common themes that emerge during the psychedelic journey. 

I wanted to address this one, because I think there’s a lot of people that are curious about what the psychedelic experience is like, what psychedelic induced altered states of consciousness feel like, what comes up, how it works.

What I want to start by saying is that everything we’re going to talk about in this episode today has the potential to come up, but it’s not a guarantee. And so, what these really are is like, common themes, patterns, trends that can emerge, but are not guaranteed to emerge.

And so, the way that I personally think about this is like, if you take a sample set of hundred people who have gone through a psychedelic journey, you’ll likely see a lot of overlap in these common themes-

Despite the fact that they are different humans, all have their own history and beliefs, and also may be working with wildly different psychedelic substances, there’s still these common themes that tend to emerge over time.

So, is there anything else that you want to add [Jimmy laughs] to my intro/disclaimer on how we’re approaching this? 

Jimmy: You did a really good job. Knowing me, you know me very well, the audiences, I likely usually do have something to add. The one thing that I want to share with folks is that “maybe” is a really powerful framework in this discussion and in psychedelic experiences.

And so, what I highlight is that for a lot of folks, and to no fault of their own, when they hear from folks that a psychedelic experience was the most meaningful to their lives. 

When they hear that, “Oh, my God, I felt this unity connection to all things. Oh, my God, I connected these dots,” and all of that. 

And if you’re a listener, or friend, or you read something online, or you read a report or study, it’s natural for you to be like, “I want that.” It’s natural for you to be like, “That’s what I’m looking for.” It’s so natural for you to be like, “If only I could have that, then I can heal.” 

What I want to share with folks is that, the psychedelic process is between you and the psychedelic medicine, which means that it is tailored to you. And so, with all the things that we’ll talk about today, I really want folks to invite in this concept of “maybe”. 

When you hear this and you’re like, “Huh, I wonder if that’s going to happen to me.” Maybe. “I wonder if I’m going to X, Y, Z.” Maybe. Here’s another question. “I wonder if that’s even a vital step in my own healing process.” And guess what I’ll say? “Maybe.” 

And so, I just really want to get ahead of this intention versus expectation setting versus the “shoulding” that we talk about throughout a lot of our episodes. 

What this is, is more, as Nick said, if you zoom out across the likely hundreds of thousands, if not millions of psychedelic experiences that have happened in human history, there likely are a couple of themes and patterns that emerge. And so, that’s what we’ll be talking about today. 

Different Forms of Ego Death

[00:03:40] Nick: Cool. So, my idea for this is just that we start talking through a couple of these. We’ve got a list of things that we wrote down that we see time and time again. 

I think we’re just going to address these in a way that helps you understand what these concepts or themes actually are. 

Jimmy: Yeah, the first one that we have on the list is ego death, which I will remind folks that we have an episode– [crosstalk] 

Nick: A whole episode

Jimmy: A whole dang episode. I’m thinking about how I go off pretty passionately about this. We talk a little bit about the misnomer of ego death as a necessary process. It’s not a process that everybody experiences or goes through. 

Also, there are different variations of this, whether you call it an ego death, or an ego dissolution, or this blending of the self into something greater. So, we go through that quite in depth. 

What I will share with folks is that psychedelics are akin to virtual death and rebirth processes which may or may not be experienced through an ego death. 

Sometimes, that’s the death of a relationship, or the death of an old version of you, or the death of an event or something that happened in your childhood. It’s not always my ego is dissolved and I have a death there. And so, please refer back to that episode. 

It’s worth us noting because this is one of those sexy coin terms in the psychedelic healing landscape where they’re like, “Well, if everybody can just go through an ego death, great.”

Well, also, what support do you have when you’re super destabilized after an ego death? What care do you have if you need a couple of weeks off of work, and people around you to support you healthily and meaningfully through an ego death? That’s my rant to start off. [laughs] 

Nick: For those that don’t want to go back and listen to the episode or don’t have the time to do it now, I will sum this one up by saying, what this effectively is a lost sense of self, a lack of a sense of identity of self. And ego death sounds sexy–

Or at least, it’s been promoted in that way but when you phrase it as like not knowing who you are, that is actually can be very frightening and destabilizing, which is what you’re getting at. So, that’s just the spark notes for anyone that’s unfamiliar with this term of ego death. 

Jimmy: Yeah, and I think all of these thick concepts that we’re talking about can go in different directions. You can have an ego death where you lose your sense of self in a way of questioning the true you, your true identity.

Nick: A healthy inquisition.

Jimmy: Yes, a healthy inquiry. Yeah. And then you can also have an ego death where you’re literally questioning reality, and what’s real and what’s not. 

And then if you’re not disclosing whether you have a mental health, certain condition, or background, or whatnot, you can see how that can compound. And so, the biggest difference, I think, between any of these things that we’ll be talking about today. 

The difference of this being a potentially healthy– I even say this loosely a positive outcome versus this being a really challenging, and maybe a nonproductive outcome is the type of care and support you receive throughout it. 

To me, that’s the major difference between any of these things being something that you’re able to navigate and move through in a graceful way or something that feels really f*cked up, you know? [chuckles] 

The Medicines Ability to Tailor to Your Needs 

[00:07:31] Nick: I also just want to say, you touched on this in our intro, but I know this is a little, I guess, woo-woo to some, but we talk about this specifically in our prep guide and our prep workshop–

Which we’re soon going to start offering on the site, which I’m really excited about. So, those who are interested in our approach will have access to that. But in the meantime, what I want to share is that, this sounds cheesy, but I really believe it to be true–

The mushroom or the medicine, whatever you’re communing with scans your body and gives you an extremely tailored experience. And the only way I can describe this is almost every client I’ve ever worked with is like “How did they know?”

“How did the mushrooms know that was exactly what I needed at that time, at that instance? So, the reason I bring this up is because you’re only going to get served up what’s going to be helpful to you, and what you’re capable of holding, and what you have the support around you to hold. 

If any of those conditions aren’t met, you’re just not going to get it served up to you. I think about a while back, you were telling me, you’re like, “Hey, man, I think I just need like an ego death.” And you tried like four experiences on your own and it didn’t happen, because you– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Nothing happened. [laughs] 

Nick: Your ego wanted it, but that was not right. And so, it just goes to show, even someone like you with a whole bunch of experience, a whole bunch of reps under your belt–

And also someone who knows better, so to speak, can get caught in this cycle of like, “I think I know what I need.”

Jimmy: Yeah. 

Nick: I just want to just shoutout that like, “The plants know, the fungi know, they know.” It sounds so cheesy, but I really do believe that. 

Jimmy: Yeah. I went for about a year and a half really certain that this is what I was needing, this is what I was seeking. I searched, and I pined for it, and I had this lack, this feeling of not enough, this feeling of, “Oh, I’m not worthy.” 

And then guess what it happened? When I totally gave it up, I completely gave it up the whole notion that there’s anything that I need and then boom. [laughs] 

Nick: Smacked. 

Jimmy: Smacked up. I got dissolved. I got dissolved. Yeah, anyway, so– [laughs] Yeah. 

Nick: Yeah, I just want to make clear the point of sharing that is that, you’re only going to get what you’re ready, willing, and able to hold, and it’s not anyones say whether any of these things happen. 

Jimmy: Yeah, and I also want to add that what you’re talking about the medicine, giving you this tailored experience, giving you what you need, giving you only what you can handle–

This is a little bit of a hot take, but I really believe that this is true for challenging, difficult, and overwhelming experiences. I have worked with a lot of clients, and this is a theme, one of these common themes. So, maybe we start here. 

Nick: Let’s start there. 

Jimmy: The amplification of the things that you are trying to address, that’s what I call it. So, there are many times that folks go into an experience seeking relief, they’re like, “I’ve dealt with anxiety. I’ve dealt with depression–

I’ve dealt with dealing with my trauma my whole life. I’m just looking for some relief.” And very regularly, I see people actually what I call sitting in their sh*t. They’re sitting in their anxiety. They’re sitting in their depression. It’s so alive. It’s so visceral. It’s so real for them. 

I, somewhat, have an interpretation around this. My thought is that psychedelics can really bring things to the surface, so that we can work with them, address them, be in contact with them in a way that’s often very difficult to do in regular, default, sober life. 

I’ve also seen clients whose entire experience is challenging, and difficult, and overwhelming. When we look at one of the Zendo principles, difficult is not the same as bad–

What a lot of this is to say is that, with the right care, with the right support, with the right integration, all of these things can pose as great teachers. And so, I find that there’s a lot of folks who– It’s almost like this switch up. I’ve seen it two ways. 

I’ve seen folks who are really prepared to go to war with themselves, really prepared to confront these things. And then when they go through it, it’s none of it. It’s the bliss. It’s the comfort. It’s all that. 

Conversely, I’ve seen people looking for relief, looking for a little bit of something, and they actually have to navigate through their anxiety, depression, and trauma for them to even get to the potential of that part. 

So, I just want to remind folks, this is a nonlinear process. It’s not algorithmic. It’s not like, if I put in these right ingredients, then I’m going to feel relief and healing and so on and so forth. 

What I share in my own life is that, I’ve needed to have the lessons be so abrupt and so in front of my face, because I’m super stubborn and I can talk myself out of anything. And so, the medicine scans me, and the medicine knows that, and the medicine is like–

“We’re going to deliver this to you in a way where there’s no way that any of your defense mechanisms can cause you to ignore the stuff that you actually need to address.” That’s the lesson for me. I can’t say that that’s the same for other folks. 

Processing Trauma & Repressed Memories

[00:13:10] Nick: All right. So, this is going to perfectly segue into the next couple of themes here, because when our defense mechanisms are turned off or down, and a lot of folks scientifically associate this with the default mode network. 

But when our defense mechanisms are turned down or off entirely, guess what happens? A whole bunch of repressed or suppressed emotions start bubbling up to the surface. Oh, and guess what else? 

You start to get access to memories that were previously unavailable to you, because you had to keep a lid on them in order to function in the world. And so, this often relates to childhood trauma. 

Folks who have experienced violence in childhood, sexual abuse in childhood, in these extremely developmental years of zero to seven, let’s call it. 

It’s not unusual for that to come to the surface and folks to go, “Huh, I always had an intuition that there was something there, but I never had access to it. I could never get to it.” And so, this is riding right on the heels of what you’re talking about–

Which is like, people want to feel better, but oftentimes, the prerequisite to feeling better is airing out and working through all the stuff that’s resulted in what I like to call, emotional constipation. It’s undealt with. It hasn’t been resolved. It hasn’t had any light shed on it. 

Jimmy: Yeah. Gabor Maté has a theory that all of our neuroses and all of our mental health conditions are rooted in trauma, like, every single one of them.

I think the other important thing to say here is that, when we think about memories, we’re thinking about thought. We’re thinking about recall. But the way that these repressed emotions, memories, life events show up can be very dynamic. 

And so, I’ve seen people who can’t fully identify what it is, but then they go through a bodily, energetic, whatever process that we’ll speak about here in a moment, and they’re like–

“I don’t even know what that was, but I know that it encircles something of a certain period in my life. And now, I actually feel that release.” I’ve also seen people regress into that age and that state, people who regress down into a nonverbal infantile childlike state. 

I’ve seen people regress into a teen or a childhood phase. I’ve seen people regress into younger 20s, 30s versions of themselves. And so, there’s a lot of different ways. Also remember that this is not just a linear mind cognitive process. 

A lot of times when I see this repressing of emotions and memories, many times, clients don’t even realize that that’s happened until they’re in integration, until they’re able to look back and connect the dots. 

What I also find sometimes is there, is this insulation of the mind that sometimes happens here. And so, that’s why you have folks who say, “I don’t know that exact memory that’s being recalled, but I do know that I’ve processed through it.” And I do know that something shifted there.

Nick: Which is so cool that you can [Jimmy laughs] move through it without actually having to-

Jimmy: To relive it. 

Nick: -relive the whole thing. 

Jimmy: And sometimes, the medicine knows that you are capable of reliving it and that maybe you do have to relive it as you go through. 

And so, this is where that maybe, that really powerful word maybe comes in. I also think that this segues into somatic processes. Processes [crosstalk] 

Nick: Yeah, I was just going to go there too. 

Jimmy: Yeah, please. 

Nick: No, go for it. Basically, what you’re talking about is, there are ways to process trauma that are not cognitive in nature. 

And so, what this really comes down to is the nervous system and the nervous system’s ability to naturally discharge energy. We also have an episode on this topic entirely. 

Jimmy: [laughs] Can you give them that quick Peter Levine, like a fawn out there. Just that real quick one. 

Nick: So, the super, super high level concept theory here is that, essentially, this wonderful author, Peter Levine, he’s actually a– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: I think it’s a gazelle. I don’t know. 

Nick: Yeah, he’s a psychologist as well. But he wrote this book called Waking the Tiger. It’s awesome. I highly recommend for anyone that wants to better understand this concept. 

And essentially, he said, “Okay, well, animals experience traumatic events all the time, all the time in the wild. Why do they have no residual trauma? And we as humans are carrying around sacks full of all of our sh*t, all of our trauma?” 

What he basically boils it down to is that he studied animals in the wild. I think you’re right. A gazelle was trying to outrun a cheetah, a lion, some sort of predatory creature. 

And it escaped, which you can imagine how traumatic that would be. It’s like the equivalent of someone hunting you down with a knife and a gun, and you’re running away. 

The first thing that gazelle does when it escapes, the immediate fear is it lays down on the ground and shakes. And it shakes and shakes and shakes until their entire nervous system has discharged all that energy, and then it goes on its way. 

That discharge is what allows it to move past and through that event without the residual buildup in the nervous system. That’s the interesting thing about trauma is, it compounds. And so, if we don’t let it out, we keep layering on more and more and more and more and more. 

When we’re talking about trauma here, this doesn’t mean big T trauma like rape, physical abuse, war. It also means surgery, car accidents, crashes, having your boundaries violated, all these little things. 

Jimmy: Being embarrassed as a child, not getting a specific need met as a child. Like, it can be an awkward interaction with somebody that left a little residual trauma that made you think that you’re less than somehow. 

And so, there’s all these little things in the way that this trauma builds up. The thing that I’ll add– Thank you for that, because I think that was a quick course into that episode also–

But then also about somatic processes where then you add that to our society that tells you what’s normative to be, act, think, and feel. So, men, for example, are shown as weak in society when they talk about their emotions. 

And then I immediately think about first responders who deal with trauma on the day to day, and they don’t even feel comfortable talking about it in the firehouse, or to their partner in the ambulance, or whatever. 

And so, you can see how we’re just naturally built up into a system where we’re supposed to lock this stuff in. We’re supposed to act like it didn’t happen. We’re supposed to be strong enough to move through it. 

I say that both for men, women, and transgendered, and queer folks. It’s like everybody is confronted with that type of pressure. And so, psychedelics become this place, where not only is that okay to do, but it’s actually encouraged by the medicine. 

And so, I have plenty of people who are like, “I’m shaking back and forth. Is this okay? Is this allowed? Is this all right for me to do? It feels good. I have no idea why it feels good.” I’m like, “Yes.” I deeply encourage that.  

Nick: Yeah. And so, this could look like shaking, trembling, yawning, mumbling, convulsing, hot temperature, cold fluctuations.

Jimmy:  Yeah, sweatings, eye fluttering. I’ve seen like neck and shoulder movement. It can be very subtle and calming like a rocking back and forth even up to something that looks a little bit more overt like a jerking of the neck or something like–

I call them either more internal somatic experiences versus what I call more large and external somatic experiences. And so, there can be a lot of different ways that somatic processes can happen. So, that is more about the process of the body. 

Now I think what’s akin to that, and I’ll just preface to say that the reason why we call it this is because the English lexicon or just human language is very limiting in describing this stuff. 

So, we call it energetic releases mostly, because Nick and I can’t come up with a better term for it, but can you help folks understand what that is and what that’s akin to like the somatic process. 

Energetic Release & Examples

[00:22:07] Nick: Yeah. The example that comes to mind for me is, I’ve had clients express, I can finally feel my heart opening. I’ve had clients express, “Oh, it feels like there’s hair stuck in my throat. I’m trying to get this hairball out.” 

It’s not physical inherently, and it’s not bodily inherently. It’s this energetic, or you could think of it as spiritual. None of this is trying to impress our beliefs on anyone. 

It’s just this to your point that we have such limited terms to describe these experiences that it’s hard. And so, when people describe their heart opening, they’re not talking about their physical heart. They’re talking about– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Obviously, your physical heart is working. It’s working. [laughs] 

Nick: They’re talking about your spiritual heart, that deep place within you. And the same thing goes with the throat. It’s not that there’s an actual hairball in there. It’s that there’s this energetic clearing of the ability to express yourself is most often what that is tied to. 

Jimmy: I have a great example of this. So, I’ve had many clients, enough clients, where I can speak about the trend of it, where they’re like, “I just went to the bathroom and I have to pee again”. 

And so, I help them get up, support them in the bathroom, give them their privacy, close the door. I’m within earshot, if they need something. 

A lot of clients have reported, “I’m sitting there needing to pee. I know I just peed. I know nothing’s coming out, like, urine is coming out, but it feels like something came out.” [laughs] 

Nick: Yep.

Jimmy: Or they visualize something, or they visualize a certain color, or something. And so, they clearly, logically know that they didn’t pee. 

They still have the sensation and the feeling of whether a pressure, or a sensation, or something on their bladder, maybe their bladder is full. And then they’re sitting there for sometimes an hour being like–

“Something needs to come out here, and I don’t know what it is.” And so, it’s just a funny thing that you can’t really fully describe, [laughs] but I also know that this is something that comes up with a lot of my clients.

Nick: For those that are maybe more, I guess, versed in mysticism, spirituality, ethereal healing arts, whatever, a lot of times, this is referred to as the energetic body. So, just because you can’t see, it doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. 

When we’re in these altered states, this stuff tends to come out. Even if you’re, excuse me, atheist, or agnostic, or non-spiritual, it doesn’t mean this can’t happen. 

That’s what I think is so interesting about these experiences is that’s part of how they shift our belief system. It’s hard to ignore when you experience something like that firsthand. So, I thought that that was a good overcap. 

Jimmy: Yeah. We have a couple of other things on this list that we wrote. I think that we touched upon repressed memories and emotions, accessing memories that were previously unavailable.

I think another part of that is a term that you say like confronting skeletons. And here, we’re talking about skeletons in our closet. 

Those are pieces of content and things, or things that we’ve done in the past or situations at events that we are somewhat aware of in our conscious mind in a way that we tuck it away.

What I often find are clients who hold the secret of like, “Man, I hope that doesn’t come up in ceremony. I hope that doesn’t show up, because I’m not ready or equipped or whatever.” 

I know this firsthand in my own life, for sure. It’s very funny, because if you’re really doing the work, if you’re really moving into a place of true healing with psychedelics, it’s going to come up. 

Nick: There’s no way you can avoid it. It’s only a matter of time. 

Jimmy: Exactly. You might not know when you can be like me who went through a hundred and whatever odd experiences having the skeleton in my closet being like, “I wonder when it’s going to come up.” And it just came up recently in my life. It just came up. 

Nick: To me, the thing that I associate with this skeleton in the closet concept is it’s often tied to shame and guilt. And so, we all have these events in our life that resulted in us feeling guilt or shame. 

And sometimes, it’s not conscious but it still has that effect, and psychedelics like to air that sh*t out. Because we are unhealthy humans, if we’re walking around with stored shame and guilt. 

And so, this is a natural process of working through those emotions so we can move towards inner peace, and a little bit of compassion, and perhaps, even self-love.

Jimmy: Which is on our list as well. 


Confronting Skeletons: The Importance of Self Love & Support 

[00:27:35] Jimmy: But I hear you. When I look back in my own personal experience, I wouldn’t have been ready to confront those skeletons, if it weren’t for now. 

But a real reason why is not that I wasn’t worthy enough or good enough to confront it, it’s because it’s very clear that I need to confront that with the right support

With the right community, with the right people, with the right tools, with the right frameworks, with the right self-reliance and self-worth actually to confront those things. And so, maybe-


Jimmy: -maybe it comes up for you in your first ceremony, maybe it comes up for you in your 500th ceremony. Maybe you don’t even have 500 ceremonies. Maybe it doesn’t even come up in psychedelic experience. 

Maybe you have a psychedelic experience or a life experience that causes you to confront the skeleton in your closet, which then an important way of navigating that is having true self-love and compassion–

Which I know that this has been really important in your trajectory, because you got that early on in your process, and so I’d love for you to just talk about this a little bit to the listeners. 

Nick: Yeah, it’s funny. We didn’t do this intentionally, but I feel like all themes we addressed up to this point are more challenging in nature. We’re starting to move into the stuff that’s left on the list that’s a bit more like joyful, light, and perhaps, even positive. 

So, I love this one of true direct experiences of self-love and compassion, because I think a lot of us have ideas in our mind around what that might look like, but it’s an entirely different thing to feel it. 

And so, the analogy that I used for myself is, the first time I even heard the word self-love, I conceptually understood it, but I didn’t have an emotional target for what it felt like. 

What psychedelics provided me was a direct firsthand experience of feeling self-love, feeling compassion towards myself. It honestly brought me to tears.

Like, it was truly a life changing moment, because up until that point, I have been trying to hit an emotional target without knowing where to find it or what it felt like–

Which is a very confusing place to be, because conceptually, you hear the term, you conceptually understand it, and yet you don’t feel it. And so– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: It’s elusive. It escapes you. 

Nick: Exactly. And so, I have seen this an amazing amount of times with clients where they finally have an opportunity to feel love in the present moment. 

It’s not rooted in conditionality, there’s nothing they have to do to earn it, there’s no requirements. It’s just your presence is enough. 

And that is a remarkable thing to be able to experience. What I think is so cool is, once that direct experience has been had, the neural pathways have already been established in a way where you can refire those, you can get back there with or without the medicine. [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: But you have to work on it. You get a template, but you have to work on it. It’s like restoring an old car. It worked really well in the 1930s. 

And it still has all the same stuff, but you got to work on that thing to get it operational where you can drive it around every week or whatever. 

The Result of Self Love: Connecting to Something Greater

[00:31:17] Nick: Totally. That’s a big one. Perhaps, we move into the next one, which is tangential is like, once you start to realize your own worth, your own sense of self-love and enoughness–

I think a natural thing that comes from that is starting to feel this connection and relation to others. And that’s another theme of feeling deeply connected. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience. I’ve personally had it, I know other clients have too–

But almost the life recap where you’re getting an opportunity to just evaluate and reflect on all your relationships, all the people you’ve ever interacted with, and often highlighting those people that are just super important, and pivotal, and dear to you in your life. 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. I think that this connectivity to something greater than yourself, I might call it, can show up in different ways. Connectivity to your relationships and the people that you have in life, which you’re saying starts off with this connectivity to the self.

And then by extension of that, some folks do go into a connection to nature, or a connection to all living things, or a connection to inanimate things, rocks and trees. Well, trees are not inanimate, but you understand what I mean. 

A connection to the little ant that they see crawling across the front porch. And then some folks view that as a connection to the divine, a connection to the universe, a connection to spirit, a connection to God. 

Again, it’s not for us to define what that’s like for you, but there’s this common theme of connection through all of those different facets that can be experienced. 

And so, I find that they’re interrelated, and I also find that, oftentimes, it’s not about the cognitive evaluation of the health and the strength of that relationship. 

Sometimes, people are just like, “I’m really thinking about the specific person, and I just feel so connected to them.” Or, what can be even more common than you would think, feeling a connection to a lost one, or somebody who has died, or somebody who and they’re like–

“I know, maybe they’re not here, maybe they’re not, but they feel so present right now in this time or space.” Or, let me take it a step further. A connection to a lost you that was back there when you were 10 or 12 or whatever. And so, it doesn’t always have to be in divinity.

It doesn’t always have to be in nature. But there is this trend of almost like there is something greater that interweaves all of us. Maybe, [laughs] again, maybe you experience that, maybe you don’t. 

Nick: I mean, tangibly, I have definitely seen clients actively communicate with loved ones who have crossed over to the other side. 

Jimmy: Same.

Nick: It’s definitely a thing, and it’s also not a guarantee, but I have seen it several times. 

Jimmy: Not for me to validate or invalidate that person’s experience, I can share with them, yes, I’ve worked with other clients who have had something very similar–

But it’s not for me to put on my own dogma or belief or yes, you had a spiritual channeling or whatnot. That’s up to the journeyer. 

Nick: Totally. 

“Aha!” Moments & Connecting Dots

[00:35:03] Jimmy: And then I also think that you were saying something before about this life recap as it relates to this connectivity to others, which I also think that that’s related to our last couple of things here, which is this, I call it connecting the dots. 

I know you call it these like aha moments, but it’s almost these things that might have been disconnected, unrelated, maybe it’s a random memory, maybe you don’t even figure it out in the psychedelic experience. 

It may be after an integration or the best for me is that I let life continue for a little while, and then a couple of months later, I have this life experience or this thing that I’m like, “Oh, that’s related to something that came up in the psychedelic experience.” 

And so, there can be these aha moments, these ah, that makes sense, these oh, that’s so clear to me in the here and now, that can be a common theme in psychedelic experiences too. 

Nick: That to me is a direct function of being in an expanded state of awareness. What’s cool to me about that theme, that pattern. is once you’ve seen it, you can’t really unsee it. 

Pandora doesn’t go back in the box. And so, once you’ve connected that, “Oh, the reason I do this is because of that,” it’s really hard to unsee it. It doesn’t mean you still have to put an effort to change your behavior, adjust pivot, whatever it is. 

But it’s really hard to put awareness back in the box. That’s the interesting thing about these tools is, once your awareness has been expanded, once you’ve connected the dots, that’s the new normal. What you do with that is up to you. 

Jimmy: Yeah. I will also say that there’s a lot of folks who I work with who report like, “Ah, that was so clear in that moment. But now that I’m out of the experience, it’s a little murky. I’m forgetting. I’m a little bit further away from it.” 

My theory on that is because your cognitive mind is now back online, and then your cognitive mind is trying to piece all that together, and so what I share with folks is that you may have that deep truth moment, that aha moment in that time. 

You may come out and it be fuzzy and you may not remember. Hopefully, integration helps you get back to whatever that place, space, and time is for that connected moment. 

And also, you don’t need to remember all of it, because it still happened. You still had the aha moment to your point on the neurons still fired off the way that they fired off. 

And so, you do technically have a template on getting back to that, even though it might not be through memory, it might not be through, “Ah, I wrote down exactly what this thing means to me.” 

Nick: Yeah, the way I explain it is like, you still flip the switch in your subconscious mind, and that’s where a lot of this work is being done. It’s the hardest part of ourselves to access. 

And so, it still happened. It’s just not as present in the thinking mind. That’s totally okay. In an effort to, I guess, bring more tangibility to this whole thing, I’m happy to share a quick aha moment that I had, so people can see how this works. 

I was in a journey at one point, and I was in a very dark place at the time. I kept asking myself this question like, “Why is this all happening to me? All these crazy life events, why is this happening to me?” 

In the journey, in this expanded state of awareness, I realized, “Oh, my God, I literally wouldn’t even be sitting here right now, had all this stuff not happened.” 

I started to slowly piece together that the events in my life that I had viewed as the most challenging, the most heartbreaking, the most painful were actually essential stepping stones for me to get to where I was right then and there–

And to be able to show up in this world the way that I want to. I’ve also seen clients have similar types of experiences, but it’s amazing the way that this expanded state of awareness and connecting of the dots can reframe our whole worldview. 

Jimmy: Yeah, which when you’re talking about expanded awareness, I think it’s worth talking a little bit more about what that means to our listeners, which is just very simply you’re picking up on more data than you normally are in your default sober waking state. 

And oftentimes, when you can get into this altered state of consciousness, your awareness expands. That can look a lot of different ways. That can be like, “I have the sense that people’s bullshit meters go up really high-

Nick: 100%.

Jimmy: -when you’re in a psychedelic state. What they notice- a little sound, a little light change, a little something, a little whatever, you’re picking up on that. 

Those are very a social example and an environmental example, but the same holds true with your internal process. And so, what ends up happening is, you may be thinking about it’s your– Thank you for that share, by the way. 

I know that you don’t share a ton in these podcasts, and I think that that was really helpful and meaningful for folks to listen to. 

When I hear you saying that is that all of the stuff you were aware of, all of the stuff you knew, all of the stuff you were experiencing and feeling, but you were asking why? And then you got into a state where you just had more tools and instruments. 

Like, it was almost like your radar was a little bit more expanded, or some way that I might think about is that you were looking at it through the visible light spectrum, and infrared, and ultraviolet, and sonar. 

You know what I mean? [chuckles] It’s like, you had all of these tools for you to be able to look at the whole thing and be like, “Oh-

Nick: Exactly.

Jimmy: “All of that actually led up to this moment.”

Nick: Exactly. And what’s funny is, if you look at the brain scans of the human brain on psychedelics, that sh*t is lit up. 

Jimmy: It’s lit up. Lit up.

Nick: It’s lit up. And so, things are talking to each other that aren’t normally communicating, and that’s part of what I think allows for this connecting of the dots, the expanded state of awareness, et cetera. So, this is a good episode. Is there anything else that you–? 

Jimmy: No, I’m feeling complete. I really enjoyed this conversation, and I know that we went off on a couple of tangents and things like that, but I do hope that this conversation resonates with people. 

The main thing that I want to express is that, all of these can be a part of your psychedelic experience. None of it’s required, because, to your point, Nick, that it’s between you and the medicine. Like, the medicine will give you an arc of what you need. It might not all happen in one experience.

Nick: It usually doesn’t. 

Jimmy: It usually doesn’t. 

Nick: Yeah. 

Jimmy: Yeah. 

Nick: Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you all so much for joining us today. As you know now, you can download episodes of The Psychedelic Passage podcast on all major streaming platforms–

Whether it’s Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, or wherever else you choose to get your podcasts. If you like the show, please rate and review us, so that others know how you like it. 

If you do have friends, family members, loved ones who you think would benefit from our content, we encourage you to share it. And that brings us to the end of our episode this week. So, thank you all so much and we’ll see you the following week.

Speak With a Local Psychedelic Guide

It can be extremely helpful to be aware of what could come up and what that may look like.  As we highlight the big Maybe, we also show the commonalities that appear across psychedelic healing. 

Whether you have more questions or you’re ready to take the next step, we empower you to book a consultation with one of our concierges today. There they can connect you to our network of carefully pre-vetted, experienced psychedelic facilitators. 

Our resources page has lot’s more educational material just like this podcast, including medical and supportive articles to assist you on your journey. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!