After understanding that it is my path to be involved in some way with the psychedelic movement I began to be more active in the online community. I began devouring articles, using speed reading extensions to ‘download’ information every day. One day in mid 2017, I received a tweet from a magic mushroom retreat centre in Jamaica called Myco Meditations.
I sent an email to the founder and head facilitator Eric, and reading that he had decades of experience with mushrooms, felt that he was certainly someone I could learn from. I asked how I might get involved, with a little bit about why I’m interested in psychedelics and a link to a piece on my blog. I had recently sit for a close friend, my first time to sit for someone using the headphones and eye mask method, and explained that it was one of the most meaningful things I had done.
I received a reply from Eric and we exchanged emails before setting up a skype call. From the first call we got on well and I began editing videos for their youtube channel, working remotely based in England. I found it to be great that I finally had a meaningful use for my broadcasting degree that I had barely used since graduating in 2010. I continued communication with Eric and got on well with him and enjoyed our interactions.
In the fall of that year I went to my first psychedelic conference, coincided with a trip to visit my friend Tuk in Copenhagen, a fellow psychonaut who I’d met in Buenos Aires. We both attended the tripsitting workshop held by Marc Aixala of ICEERs and the whole thing was hugely mentally stimulating. I drank in a lot that day and a lot of it still rings me with today. I found it unsurprising to find out that Marc was later invited to give training to the psilocybin research team at Imperial College London, such was the calibre of the workshop.
At the conference I also briefly met Mendel Kaelen, whose playlists I continue to use to this day, and was able to ask about the music setup at Imperial. I also spoke with pharmacologist Jordi Riba about ayahuasca, which gave me insight in to why I had such a damn high tolerance. These kinds of conversations and access to people with such knowledge in the field was incredibly enriching and pushed me to go further.
Soon after I went to Berlin and volunteered at Altered conference. Here I met future New Moon colleague Mazzie, who was a co-volunteer and also for the first time met organisers Dax, Amit and Nina who I remain in contact with and have been great friends and allies on my journey.
Still editing videos for Myco Meditations, Eric invited me out to the psychedelic specialists retreat in December of 2017. It was a special 10 day retreat and had guests Katherine Maclean from the John Hopkins research team, comedian Shane Mauss, and now Buena Vida founder Amanda Schendel. I did video interviews, took photos and generally helped out where needed. Over the 4 psilocybin sessions, I myself participated in 2 and was a facilitator for 2.
It was quite amazing to be in Jamaica working at a legal psychedelic retreat centre. This was something that seemed barely real, but yet there I was, on this tropical island, doing amazing work with amazing people.
I went back to the UK and in early 2018 I was invited back out to work at Myco. I was based there for 3 months during that time worked on 3 week-long retreats: a women’s retreat with Maclean, a Here We Are Retreat with Shane Mauss, and a retreat with Joe and Kyle from Psychedelics Today. It was a blessing to be able to work alongside so many gifted and diverse individuals. I continued filming interviews and working as a facilitator for the sessions and felt more and more comfortable in both roles, learning a lot in the process. Working with Eric I learnt a lot from him, both as a group and session facilitator and also about mushrooms themselves. Mushrooms were not something I knew that much about before but working with a seasoned mycologist and making videos about them taught me a great deal.
Leaving Myco after those 3 months after being so deeply involved with the project and immersed in another culture felt like the end of a significant chapter. I left feeling inspired, humbled and with tremendous gratitude.
When I was based in Jamaica I had made an application to talk at the conference Beyond Psychedelics in Prague and also submitted a video interview series proposal to the organisers. Both were accepted and after arriving back in England I worked to prepare both.
To be featured on a line up with others such as Bill Richards and other leaders in the field was a great honour and I still feel very fortunate to have been part of such an event. At the conference I got to meet Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS and he answered my questions for the interview series I was doing, and amongst other luminaries in the field I got to meet and speak with Stefana Bosse. Stef was director of Experience for the UK psychedelic society at the time and I spoke with her about the possibility of working with them as a facilitator. I also made connections with others who I remain in touch with to this day, and the time at Beyond Psychedelics, with its festival atmosphere, was great fun.
I was staying with a group of friends and after the conference I had an MDMA session with a friend I’d met at Altered. We had deep talks and agreeing to help each other move forward, it was decided on that session that I would move to Berlin. I skipped my flight home to the UK and went on a bus directly to Berlin to get a more of a feel for the city and to start finding a place to live. I was there for around a week before heading back to the UK to get my things, and about 3 weeks later I was back in Berlin with a suitcase.
Later that summer I started a weekly meditation meet up and found a core group to practice with and began to experiment guiding different types of meditations and mindfulness activities. I continued to explore psychedelics and attended a weekend retreat with two 5meO DMT ceremonies, and a privately facilitated changa experience.
That fall, a last minute spot opened up on a UK psychedelic society retreat and Stefana invited me to join, partly as a step in the process of possibly working with them. I jumped on a train for that opportunity and the retreat was filmed for a documentary. I was highly impressed by the retreat and how much care had clearly been put into it and learnt a great deal from their approach.
Around the time I began to receive more emails through my blog from people asking about psychedelic retreats and if I offered services. On another MDMA session with my friend Bue, I decided to hold retreats and he agreed to help. I wanted to incorporate mindfulness more in to the retreat, which was not something I had seen anywhere else and for me had been the best support for my psychedelic practice.
I began the project with Bue and his brother Tuk and we began to piece everything together. Alongside the logistical things, we practiced a lot with magic truffles, trying out different things like dosages, playlists, and serving methods. I also facilitated privately for individuals, small groups and friends. That year I became much more familiar with psilocybin than I’d ever been. I’d previously had a wide range of experiences but never focused so much on one specific psychedelic.
In 2018, Mazzie, who I’d met at Altered, opened her Osmos studio and at the opening I came to her with the idea to host psychedelic integration events there. She was very keen and in 2019 we began to host circles and some events. Around this time I completed a course as a mindfulness coach and began to practice what I’d learnt with my meditation group.
At the start of summer I went to the World Ayahausca Conference and again on a media pass, I had a chance to speak with Dennis McKenna, Allan Badiner and others whose work I’d read or been a big fan of. Over the rest of the year I attended other workshops and conferences, most notably a MAPS integration webinar with Ingmar Gorman and Marc Aixala, and a workshop on Psychotherapeutic Methods for Psychedelic Integration with Ingmar at the Insight conference in Berlin.
New Moon launched in May 2019 and we held our first 2 retreats back to back in August. This was an incredible culmination of psychedelic journey thus far and the biggest project that I’d ever undertaken.
Later that year after being in contact with co-founder Chi, I went to work as a space holder on retreat with Truffles Therapy. This was again a great experience. I again learnt so much from working with others and seeing different approaches to psychedelic work. I have to admit that it was also nice to show up and offer my presence as a facilitator without having to do all of the extra organisational and administrative work that comes from organising retreats.
I’ve found working on retreat with others in the psychedelic field to be so great, motivating and enriching. I’ve heard talk of other retreats as ‘competition’ but honestly I don’t like to see it that way. I prefer to see them as colleagues, or team mates, and that if they are doing the work for the same reasons I am, then we are all part of the same movement and can support each other. I have benefitted hugely from the shared information and openness from others in the field and endeavour to share freely what I’ve learnt. I like to maintain good connections with those I’ve worked alongside, and I would also like to mention here that although we’ve never met in person, Aaron from Atman retreat has also been a huge support and good friend.
Since the launch in 2019 my focus has been with the New Moon project with some private facilitation work on the side. With the extra responsibility of the work I’m now doing I see it as a necessity to continue to grow and mature, and at the start of the year began work on a deep character sculpting course by Steve Pavlina.
When Corona recently came and enforced a pause on the New Moon project, I decided to take the time to further reinvest in my most important project: myself.
I completed a 12 week mindfulness course by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach: two teachers who have been in my awareness for a while and whose meditations and teachings I have used from time to time. This online course included calls with mentors and was as expected, of an excellent quality and depth. I was actually moved to tears many times during the lessons and guided exercises.
During Corona I also went back to do more work with psilocybin truffles. I trawled through research papers and created a 15 week study replica of a John Hopkins psilocybin study that included 3 psilocybin sessions, on weeks 5, 7 and 13. I went through the entire process myself, thorough in following their protocol for preparation and session guidelines, and their weekly structure for integration meetings. This was absolutely one of the best psychedelic experiments I’ve done. I learnt a lot about myself and the research, and it was as part of this course, towards the end of the final psilocybin session, that I received the idea and inspiration to do a 30 day writing challenge about psychedelics.
Day 30, challenge complete!
Have a great day