6 Music Playlists For Psilocybin Journeys
Music can play a huge role in psychedelic sessions and knowing how to use sound to shape and influence an experience is extremely valuable.
If you’re looking for pre-made music playlists for a therapeutic psilocybin journey geared towards introspection and personal growth, welcome, you’re in the right place.
This post has links to six playlists that have been made specifically for use with psilocybin (magic truffles or magic mushrooms) with a little info on each of them and their creators.
1. Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 1 – Mendel Kaelen
2. Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 2 – Mendel Kaelen
3. Sacred Knowledge – Bill Richards
4. A Playlist For Psilocybin – Kelan Thomas
5. Psilocybin2 – Kelan Thomas
6. A Playlist For Psilocybin – Matthew Baldwin
About These Playlists
These playlists are specially designed so that the lengths are matched to that of a psilocybin journey and take into account the various stages of a trip such as: onset, ascent, peak, return. There are variations on this depending on the creator of the playlist.
Playlists are extremely useful in that you can press play after eating/drinking/ingesting your magical fungi and then not have to think about selecting music for the rest of the session – you just let it play out and ride the journey.
Although exploring different types of music intuitively and in the moment can be great on psychedelics, having to get up and try to find suitable music can be very difficult on higher doses and detract from the experience.
Read more: How To Set Up Music for Psychedelic Sessions (+ 6 More Playlists)
These playlists all contain music without words in English (bar a couple of reasoned exceptions); this is the general standard in psychedelic therapeutic work to avoid ‘hermeneutic contamination’, to use Matthew Baldwin’s phrase; ‘to discourage the rational mind from following the content of the words’, as Bill Richards puts it.
There seems to be a general consensus in the field that understandable lyrics can be distracting and limit the experience.
Without further ado, let’s get into them.
Mendel Kaelen is probably the biggest name in the world when it comes to created playlists for psychedelic work (admittedly not the largest field, but still). A neuroscientist and music nerd, Kaelen created these playlists, which contain ambient and neo-classical music, for the groundbreaking psilocybin for depression study at Imperial College London.
Though they were created for the depression study, they can also work magic for non-depressed people too; I and many I know have journeyed to these amazing playlists, powerful stuff. The second one is an excellent playlist and would be my first recommendation.
You can read more about how he created these playlists in an article on Vice here.
Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 1 – Mendel Kaelen
Psychedelic Therapy Playlist 2 – Mendel Kaelen
Mendel is now working on Wavepaths, a person-centered music solution for psychedelic therapy. As a member of their community, I’ve attended a number of their deep listening sessions and find them to be a useful tool to go inside and develop a mindful listening practice.
- Psilocybin Research: Sacred Knowledge : Spotify | Apple Music
Bill Richards is a founding member of the Johns Hopkins psychedelic research team in the US and one of the most prominent names in the world when it comes to psilocybin research. His psychedelic psychotherapy research is wide ranging, from treating addiction to inducing mystical experiences, and Richards values music as a way to support a person’s experience.
“I make the best musical choices I can, trying to separate the ‘very good’ and the ‘excellent’ on the basis of years of experience with many different people”
Richards on compiling the playlist
There’s a lot of classical music in this playlist (Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Brahms) and a few tracks that I have to say are just inspired choices towards the end.
You can read more about Richard’s choices and how he compiled the playlist here.
- A Playlist For Psilocybin : Spotify | Youtube (make sure there are no ads if listening through youtube)
- Psilocybin2 : Spotify
I first heard of Kelan Thomas in an article about his first playlist and was excited to see Mogwai (awesome Scottish post rock) and Dirty Three (violin, guitar and drums together in rumbling, flowing rock) on there – familiar names I didn’t expect to see, as well as some other stuff that falls somewhere between ambient and post rock; one of my all time favourite genres that I’ve long wanted to make a psychedelic playlist to, feeling its epic and instrumental style would lend itself perfectly to cosmic journeys.
I tried the first playlist to a classic therapeutic style journey (setting intention beforehand, using eye mask and headphones, with a sitter) and had a beautiful journey, finding peace, contentment and joy on the journey and in the musical choices. I was moved in that I wanted to thank all the musicians who made the music on that playlist, and to Kelan himself for creating the playlist.
As it happened, a couple months later, whilst setting up a room at Insight conference in Berlin, I noticed the name tag on an early comer in the room – it was Kelan Thomas! I told him I’d used his playlist and was able to thank him personally for putting it together before chatting a little about it and his choices; interestingly he described it as a ‘decolonising’ playlist in the world of psychedelic therapy.
He also told me he had made a second playlist which I could find on his spotify. I tried it recently and had one of my most beautifully expressive journeys to date.
A Playlist For Psilocybin
Matthew was a fellow student of Kelan Thomas in the Certificate in Psychedelic Therapies and Research Program at CIIS in San Francisco, and is clearly a scholar on the topic. He presented one of the talks I found most interesting at Beyond Psychedelics last year which you can watch here:
The Art Of Creating Musical Playlists For Psychedelic Work
Myself and co-retreat maker Tuk tried this playlist out during research for our retreats with New Moon and I was very surprised by a lot of the choices, this is certainly the most divergent of the playlist here on this list. This playlist emphasizes organic (instead of sequenced electronic) types of music.
Safe And Wondrous Journeys!
The relationship between music and how it affects consciousness and mood is something I find super interesting and consider creating playlists to be an art. Do you have any tips? Personal preferences? Favourite music to use for a session? Would love to hear others thoughts on this. If you know of any playlists I’ve missed or have your own to contribute, leave a comment below.
Read more: How To Set Up Music for Psychedelic Sessions (+ 6 More Playlists)
Thanks for this article John. I feel music has a dramatic impact on the psychedelic experience and I agree that it’s an art. While I haven’t mastered this art form, you asked for input and I’d like to share a few records that have had significant impact on my own experiences. Cantus Lyra by An Dro, Apocalypse Now Soundtrack by the Rhythm Devils, and Based on a True Story by Fat Freddy’s Drop have yielded truly remarkable experiences. These are obviously personal experiences but nonetheless I feel they are important enough to share.
Hi Chad. Yes the power and influence of music on a session aren’t to be underestimated. Thanks for sharing your recommendations, Fat Freddy’s Drop are a name that have been mentioned to me a few times before but am yet to check out, so your mention is a welcome reminder. The other two are certainly ones I will look into too. I do find it difficult to distinguish between what has been remarkable for myself and what to recommend others, due to the subjectivity of music, art, and experience in general. However there do seem to be generals that apply across a broader spectrum and I think we can find them in part by sharing, so thanks for visiting and leaving your comment. I will also share a couple of personal ones too as this post was more of a reference piece; Brian Eno’s Music For Airports (ambient), and Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker (psychedelic rock) have been pivotal records in my psychedelic journey. Anyone else?
Didn’t know these playlists were a “thing”. Wonderful idea but as you indicate, more of an art than a science at this point. Looking at the titles and having a familiarity with at least some of them, my impression is that therapists seem to be stringing together soothing new age, minimalist, and classical tracks, whatever genres they’re familiar with. Going forward I think a little more baseline music analysis would be useful. What are the tempos, the harmonies, the instrumental timbres of these tracks and their resulting affect. What about polyphony vs monophony? Dissonance vs consonance? The effect of the human voice (solo or choirs). Electronics vs acoustic instruments? Ultimately maybe the therapist could function like a DJ at a dance club with a number of tracks at his momentary discretion to fade in and out of depending on the subject’s mood.