The Ritual: A Framework for Psychedelic Journeys

santo daime ceremony ayahuasca

Day 7, PSYJuly!

Today I am sharing a post from my good friend and fellow explorer Robert Funke.

Myself and Rob go a few years back and have now collaborated on multiple psychedelic projects. Rob has previously guest posted on Maps of the Mind, and pre corona, he also came to work on the New Moon Psychedelic Retreat team. We were flatmates when corona hit a big pause button on that project, and during lockdown we both developed our practices, which included sitting for each other and journeying together.

During that time we also had formal meetings to discuss ritual and how it can be used for psychedelic journeys, developing our own understanding of the subject and practicing ideas. In that time Rob created a document which we worked on together, and the post today is a part of that work, with some practical examples that Rob has recently added to illustrate the ideas and concepts.

Rob is one of the single individuals through which my personal practice with psychedelics has evolved the most and I am delighted to share this work today.

My hope is that this post will spark ideas for you to create your own meaningful rituals to enhance your psychedelic experiences.


                                             A framework for psychedelic journeys.

The ritual creates community and connects the individual with the whole. It communicates values and complex concepts. The ritual emphasises that something is unique and extraordinary, that it is happening at a special time on a special place for a special reason, and the effects of it concern everyone participating.

The order and the sequence of rituals are very important. The structure is often foreseeable and the order is a reference to its social contexts. Movement is essential and highlights the transition caused by the ritual itself. Items become symbolic through a mysterious metamorphosis.

Who is active and who is passive within the ritual? And why? What does it tell about the religious, cultural or social context of the ritual?

    • ceremonious purpose realised in a very conscious way
    • use of symbols (items, scents, music, gestures – everything can be symbolically charged)
    • emotional involvement
    • personal meaning (no meaningless compulsive act)
    • more important than “what” is “how”
    • an inner structure
    • good rituals have space for everyone’s own expressions
    • sequence and symbols have to be well elaborated/considered


    • Spiritual: Who am I? Why do I live? Where do I want to go? To convey trust in a higher order
    • Psychological: Rituals open a room for thoughts and feelings, and structure them
    • Social: They connect, bring together, assign roles
    • Time-Wise: They organize time, set a beginning and an end of an event


    • The interactive dimension emphasizes social interaction between individuals and groups
    • The innovative dimension creates something new without discarding the old/established
    • The symbolic dimension connects key symbols of a religious or cultural system with the ritual
    • The aesthetic dimension involves visual elements to create the ritual
    • The strategic dimension considers power structures
    • The integrative dimension tries to establish community and new social relations


    • Entry (preparation, opening ceremony, becoming present at the place and time)
    • Transition or threshold (the psychedelic experience itself)
    • Reconnection (closing ceremony, leaving no traces, back to life/everyday world)


    • Initiation
    • Rite of passage
    • Healing
    • Celebration
    • Transformation/Transition
    • Cleaning
    • Mourning

Structure is dependent on

    • Intention/Type of ritual
    • Substance/Dose
    • Setting (alone/group, introspective/explorative)
    • Choice of the place and structure of the place (with base or center, circular, spatially open/closed, indoors/outdoors)


    • Altar (including items of everyone participating)
    • Power items for personal use
    • Burning incense
    • Fire place
    • Candles
    • Music/Silence
    • Singing/Voice/Speech/Chanting
    • Intuitive instruments for personal use (rattle, flute, drum)
    • Clothing, Jewellery
    • Decoration
    • Shaman/Guide/Sitter/Facilitator/Space holder
    • A place which is connected with the ritual and revisited every time only for this ritual


Rituals should be more about the structure or framework rather than a detailed sequence of the ritualistic act.

General Structure

    • Intention or purpose
    • The frame/rules/guidelines
    • The place
    • Companions, participators, facilitators, guides, sitters, etc.
    • Preparation (of the self/mind/body and the place)
    • The event/ceremony/ritual divided into opening, conduction or implementation and closing

Single Session – Introspective

    • I tidy and carefully decorate my space, using an altar, items and scents
    • I wear clothes that are special or meaningful to me
    • I prepare everything I need to have in reach, like drinks, snacks, blankets, tissues
    • I prepare a playlist or am in silence
    • I am opening my session with a meditation and by saying out loud my intention and what I’m looking forward to, I wish myself a good and safe journey
    • I close my session with gratitude towards the sacred space I’ve created
    • I return the space to it’s previous form/function

Group Session – Retreat

    • held in a place that is the same/neutral for everyone and not personal to someone
    • it can be prepared only by the conductors of the ritual but it can also involve everyone participating in it
    • in a circle, it can be clarified or manifested whats the rituals but also the individual purpose
    • rules are defined and accepted by everyone
    • individual preparation before the ceremony starts
    • opening, ceremony, closing
    • aftercare and integration (optional, not necessarily essential or part of the ritual itself)