psychedelic compatibility group who

The people you trip with are a huge part of the setting. They can play a significant role in shaping your experience.

That’s why it’s important to consider psychedelic compatibility when choosing your company.

I define psychedelic compatibility as:
The level at which two or more people are able to trip together without problems or conflict.

It might also be understood as the ability for multiple people to successfully journey together.

This can be thought of in the same way that you might consider which friends you travel well with, work well with, or could live with. You might have friends who you love, but wouldn’t want to live with. You might have a friend who bestie and hanging out is awesome, but you don’t travel well together. These are all types of compatibility. This is the same for psychedelic trips.

Contributing factors to psychedelic compatibility include like mindedness, alignment of intentions, expectations, and flexibility or openness.

If there is low compatibility, it may result in mismatched experience and some disappointment from people in the group. I’ll give an example to illustrate how this might occur.

Low Psychedelic Compatibility

Dave and Lisa are friends. They both want to trip and decide it might be nice to do it together. However, they are some differences in how they approach the session…

Dave is looking for an introspective experience. He’s at a bit of a crossroads in his life and would like some clarity on how to move forward.
Lisa is up for a more recreational experience. She’s just moved to a new city, started a new job and generally things are going pretty well. She’s up for letting loose and having fun.

Dave wants to create a setting that lends itself to an introspective experience; soft lighting and music. He wants to use a psychedelic therapy approach, listening to a preset playlist which brings him through emotions, and includes flowing music for reflection.
Lisa wants doesn’t want to choose all the music up front. She wants to be able to choose and change music as she feels like it.

Lisa wants to dance around the room.
Dave finds that distracting.

Dave wants to lie down with his eyes closed.
Lisa finds that boring.

Lisa wants to talk and interact with Dave. Make jokes, silly sounds, explore philosophical topics and look at art.
Dave wants to lie down with his eyes closed.

Dave wants to journal, Lisa wants to cuddle.

Clearly, Dave and Lisa have a low psychedelically compatibility.

Psychedelic Compatibility Can Change

It’s useful to bear in mind that psychedelic compatibility between people isn’t fixed permanently. Whilst Dave and Lisa are not very compatible for their next session, that doesn’t mean that can’t change at a later date. Maybe in the future Dave would like to have a fun session. Or, Lisa will be more open to trying an introspective experience. It can depend on the time of life, so it’s useful for parties to talk before, to check their level of compatibility before going ahead for a session.

Compatibility can be increased if parties talk about potential scenarios in advance that could prove to be a problem. This can improve the ability to successfully navigate differences that come up.

For example:
What if one of us wants to go outside for a walk, and the other/s wants to stay inside?
What if someone really can’t stand the music that is playing?
What if, in a dyad, one person wants to be left alone and the other wants to talk?

Finding High Compatibility

If intentions and expectations are aligned, there is a much higher possibility that groups will be psychedelically compatible.

To reach a high level of psychedelic compatibility, everyone has to be more or less on the same page. This can include things such as intention, expectation, session style, agreements. Here are a few examples:

Intentions:
What are everyone’s intentions for the session? Do they align? Intentions might include: fun, exploration, introspection, emotional release, partying, spiritual exploration.

Expectations:
Is there an expectation that the group will be spending the whole trip together, or that each person will have time to themselves? Is there an expectation that you remain in one place for the session, or that you may be on the move?

Style:
Is the session formal or casual? It is highly structured, ritualised even? Is it free flowing? It is inner journey style? Are you doing any activities together? Will you be making art or music? Watching a movie? Will you prepare for any of these? Will you just flow into it and see how it goes?

Music:
Will you listen to a collaborative playlist? Will you select songs as a group together? Does one person play DJ, taking requests? Or will you just wing it? Is everyone cool with that?

How to Assess Psychedelic Compatibility

The way to assess psychedelic compatibility is through honest communication and conversation. If you’re planning to share a trip with friends, you can simply share what are your intentions and expectations for the experience. How does each person envision it going? What is the setting? What is the level of interaction? Are you all in the same room? Is talk to be kept to a minimum? Is communication limited and only use for practical purposes (e.g. things like the level of music, water and tea, blankets, opening windows for air flow etc.). Are you aiming to avoid getting into conversations?

If you’d like a list of questions to run through with a friend before a trip, check out my guide, which you can get by signing up to my newsletter.

I hope you can find high compatibility with your next journey buddy or crew. Best wishes and safe travels!

psychedelic service sheet altar ritual

Taking a high dose of a psychedelic still scares me. This is true even after having embarked upon many high dose sessions. One thing that I’ve found helps me to find a sense of calm is having some kind of structure to the session.

Sometimes for my trips I will have a very minimal structure. Usually, with low or medium doses, I’d be more on the recreational tip; more loose and informal. On the other hand, for higher dose formal sessions, what I might call ceremonies, I tend towards a more formal and structured approach. For these more ritualistic high-dose experiences, I create a service sheet.

Psychedelic Service Sheet

Much like you might find at a ceremony such as a wedding, funeral or other church service, a psychedelic service sheet contains the order of proceedings. It may also include the words of any prayers, songs or readings that are part of the service.

I usually only create a service sheet for inner journeys. As I’ll be lying down with my eyes closed for these sessions, my service sheet is mostly just an order for opening and closing the session.

I really like having a service sheet because it makes the occasion feel special. It is also very practical. It gives me a clear step-by-step run through. Having this clear to do list, or, order of service, helps me to go through specific steps in order to bring about a sense of ease, order, and structure. This helps to create something of a container for the experience. When I’m a little anxious or fidgety before a high dose session, having this clear and simple run through helps me to follow steps one by one and sets me up nicely for my session. It’s similar to some athletes or musicians’ pre-show rituals. 

Contents of a Service Sheet

My service sheet will typically contain the steps for my opening and closing rituals, and the prayer that I read aloud as part of my opening. There is also space for me to write my intention, as well as other key details like the location, style of the session, the people present, and the date. It may include some navigation reminders or guidelines, and/or a couple of lines to help me connect to my inner resources. It also has a section for me to fill in the dosage, substance, and start time. 

Helps Create the Desired Set

On my service sheet I include things which help to move me into a desired state: feeling safe, relaxed, humble, and open. Here is a quick summary of items that I include and what they help connect me to.

Resources: safety, strength
Meditation: calm, open
Prayer: humble, open
Gratitude: heart opening

They are all, in some form or another, centering practices.

How & What I Use for my Service Sheets

Sometimes I have the sheet printed off on a sheet of A4 paper. More often I will use the double page of a notepad, which I lie open on a flat surface in a designated place. Depending on the setup and space, it may be part of or next to an altar. The pad then remains open there for the duration of the session, and is only put away once the ceremony has been closed.

psychedelic service sheet altar ritual

I typically like to include a sound, such as ringing a bell or making an OM, to both open and close. I also like to light and then blow out a candle as bookends, with the flame symbolizing the journey. When I blow it out at the end I can make a wish and do a little candle magic. This is, by the way, for you cynics, performed every day across the country when children blow out little flames on their birthday cakes.

My Influences

I think the ayahuasca ceremonies I attended in the Amazon were a large influence on me adopting service sheets into my practice. They were easily the most formalized ceremonies that I’d attended. They had a very clear structure to them, with distinct stages, or rounds, of the service. They also included many preselected readings and prayers. I really appreciated that approach and how special it felt. It also added to a sense of containment and made the whole thing feel more safe. I also think using to-do lists and practicing productivity concepts like ‘masterpiece days‘ and deep work have influenced me in this way.

Record of Doses and Journeys

Service sheets also work as a handy record. They can be used to look back on previous trips. For practical considerations, having things like doses noted can be helpful for calibrating and titrating your dosage over time. So if you think like ‘oh yeah, that time we tripped at Lisa’s place, that was a good level, how much did we take?’. You’ve got it there in your written records.

It’s a large part of ritualizing use which has many benefits of its own, and is also kind of like Taking Drugs Like a Nerd.

Making Your Own Service Sheet

If this idea interests you, I would recommend trying to create your own service sheet. If you find it’s not for you, you can go ditch it and go back to your usual approach. Here I will include a few examples of orders that might be included. You can consider them a starting point and take this idea wherever you like. Your service sheet might look totally different to mine.

Examples

Example 1: Group Inner Journeys Style

Once everyone is ready:

  • Opening Circle (A stick goes round the circle, and everyone shares how they feel)
  • 3 minutes silent meditation
  • Pass doses round in circle and bless them
  • Music begins (Inwards, by Tommi)
  • Take doses
  • Journey
  • Playlist Ends
  • Closing circle

Example 2: Group Dynamic Session

Opening

  • Ring Bell
  • Opening Circle
  • Eye gazing in pairs
  • Take Dose

Session (modeled on Osho Dynamic Meditation)

Playlist begins

  • Section 1: Loosening
    Shaking
  • Section 2: Activation
    Free flowing movement & dance
  • Section 3: Calm
    Standing or seated meditation
  • Section 4: Stillness
    Seated or lying meditation

Playlist Ends

(When participants feel ready to re-engage, they may move to the reintegration room)

Closing

  • Closing Circle
  • Give Thanks
  • Ring Bell

Example 3: MVO (Minimum Viable Order of Service)

  • Cheers
  • Take dose

[Session]

  • Closing joint

Would you ever use a service sheet? Is it too formal for you? Would you prefer a more relaxed approach? For high-dose sessions where things can get a little more out of control, I find a service sheet helps to make myself feel more grounded and ready to embark upon a journey. I believe it might help you, too.

Safe travels and best wishes.

create psychedelic setting space place station

Welcome to day 28, PSYJuly 🙂 Sorry today’s post comes late, this one took longer to edit than I anticipated. Today we’re talking psychedelic setting…

Set and setting, yada yada. You’ve heard it. But what to do about setting? How to craft it?

Beyond ambience, one thing is to make the space as practical as possible.

Careful preparation of the setting for a psychedelic session can help to make the experience more seamless and smooth. By removing friction before the start of a session, you can make the most of your trip and the time available. Setting up the space is a way of being a kind and considerate sitter for yourself ahead of time. It’s giving a gift to your future self and building a friendly relationship with your shamanic persona.  

To illustrate, I’d like to introduce three terms to the world of psychedelic setting. These are: stations, spaces, and places.

Stations

  1. A station is a designated and prepared place for doing a specific action that requires tools.

“I just got an idea! I’m heading to the writing station”
“Hey man, can you set up the dosing station whilst I prepare the food? Nice one.”

Some examples:

  • Dosing station
  • Writing station
  • Music station
  • Painting station
  • Tea station
  • Rolling station

A station, by its nature, has equipment. It should be practical and comfortable. All the tools needed for the task assigned to that station should be located there. It should suit the purpose of its existence.

Each station should be:

  • Sufficiently lit
  • Prepared for action
  • Laid out for optimised used (see places, below)
  • Considered (it suits the area)

The station should be sufficiently lit for the action that is to be performed there. For example, if you are writing, you need to be able to clearly see the pad or paper you are using. So, lamps or candles are set up or nearby. 

The station should be prepared for action. For example, at a tea station: mugs and a thermos of prepared tea. If it’s a music station, the guitar should be tuned, the picks laid out. If using digital equipment, all audio cables are connected, headphones readied and sound levels set. At a dosing station you should have all the tools needed to prepare and consume doses and boosters. If using ketamine for example, this would include: the substance, a set of scales, an item to crush the substance, a steady hard flat smooth surface to crush it on, a thin item to create lines, and straws for ingestion. It also makes sense for a dosing station to include a logging station. This would include: a log book, a pen, and a watch.

Each station should be laid out and optimised for use. This is covered in places, below.

The location of each station should be considered. What are the possible areas it could be? It should be considered within the entire space and the larger geography in mind. That includes what happens in each station, the implications of that, and its neighbouring stations and spaces.

When placing a station, ask: what’s the upshot of it being here?

If the action is a noisy one, such as singing, or loading up a gas, consider if it is adjacent to neighbours. On a recent weekend in an airbnb, I went to work on a music track where I would be recording vocals (loud ones!). I put the vocal station in the kitchen, as it was a room in the middle of the apartment and only neighboured the bathroom and the living room. It was distanced from neighbours so I could let rip.

If you might be dancing or walking around, consider if there are people on the floor below. You might make an extra padding on the floor by laying down an extra yoga mat or blanket. If you’re using paints, they might get messy. Consider where doors are and where people will be coming in and out of rooms. If you’re gonna be smoking joints, note the smell and smoke. Overall, aim for harmony with the surrounding environment. Take spaces into account.

Spaces

  1. A space is an area of a session setting.

Spaces are more about the ambience of a region, rather than its practicality for a specific action. Setting space can be thought of as set design. It takes into account the intended atmosphere. A space might be decorated or lit in a certain way.

The benefit of spaces beyond practicality is more opaque. It is more about eliciting certain feelings in certain spaces. Our brains make associations with certain areas. This is why it’s nice to have a room for work and a room for sleep as separate spaces. One is a work space, one is a sleep space, and we set them up to be conducive to their purpose.

In terms of psychedelic setting, examples might be a journey space, or a chill out space.

An example of this would be the quiet room, which when I’ve used it, acts as a chill out space. It would be prepared to be cosy and calm, setting the appropriate tone. If you’re wanting some level of sensory stimulation, you might have some fairy lights blinking, pieces of art hanging up, or engaging music playing.

I was once on a long weekend with friends in the Dutch countryside, where the hosts set up an insanity room for our session. There was a shrine to deity The Hord Lord, and some questions hung up on pieces of paper around the room to challenge visitors. If someone wanted a bit of madness, they just headed to the insanity room. It was pretty funny.

When setting up a space, take into account are the intended atmosphere of the space. What feelings do you want to promote in each space? Relaxation? Stimulation? Fun?

Places

“A place for everything, everything in its place.”

  1. A place is a designated location for a specific tool or instrument.

Having places for things brings systems thinking to the level of psychedelic setting. It makes tools easy to locate and actions easier to perform. 

Firstly, this saves confusion and avoids wasting time looking for things. 

You know the situation where you walk into a room to get something, then your mind goes blank and you think ‘what did I come in here for?’. Well when you’re high, this type of misdirection can be heightened and you might even forget that you were even looking for anything at all. This can turn into aimless wandering, which can lead to disorientation, feelings of ungroundedness, confusion and anxiety. You may even come round to the point of asking, ‘what am I doing?’. The answer to which, you may or may not remember.

Another benefit to having set places is that it streamlines actions. For example, imagine the scenario:

A great idea comes to you on that project you’ve been working on for a while. Naturally, you want to note it down. Because you were rushed, you haven’t set up, and because of your altered state, you can’t easily locate your pen. So you begin your search for it, wandering from room to room. You finally locate your pen, which was on the counter in the kitchen, but by then, ten long time-dilated minutes later, you’ve not only lost that precious session time, but even worse, you’ve forgotten the idea you had in the first place.

Let’s contrast that with a prepared station with items in their places:

A great idea comes to you. You walk over to the writing station. You pick up one of your pens from the pile laid beside your open pad of paper, and jot the idea down. Seeing it written down causes other ideas to begin sprouting from it and you see it beginning to grow. You want to see where this goes, so you pick up a larger piece of paper from the pile on the shelf beside you, and place it down to begin a brainstorm. As you get into it, you decide to add images and drawings. You reach over to your left, to the pot of coloured pens, and add some different colours to connect ideas by theme. You run with the ideas until the train loses steam, and then head to the chill space to smoke a joint and wind down.

When choosing places for tools, be like a surgeon laying out their tools on their tray. Consider how and when they will be used. If it’s part of a multi step process, what other tools will you need to use? In what order will you need to use them?

Final thoughts

How you set up and utilise stations, spaces and places will depend on the intention and type of the session. 

The concept of stations and places might seem more relevant for sessions where you will be actively doing things which require using tools or instruments, like a creative session, as opposed to a typical psychedelic therapy style session. However, being precise and mindful in preparation shows respect for the session and can help to focus the mind. It’s taking drugs like a nerd. The sense of ‘everything in its right place’, and being fully prepared can help to promote feelings of relaxation. It’s also useful when you come out of journey space to hydrate or go to the bathroom. 

This level of preparation is also especially useful for journeys without a sitter, be they solo or with others. It shows love, caring and consideration to your future tripping selves, and in some way it is pro-actively tripsitting for your future self. Your tripping self should appreciate that in your heightened state.

By utilising stations, spaces and places into your setting design, you set up to make the most of your session. You optimise your session and increase flow. You allow your mind to focus on what’s important, the content of your mind, rather than logistical considerations.

psychedelic menus options activities session

Welcome to PSYJuly day 22! 🙂

Yesterday I wrote about psychedelic sessions that are focused on one specific theme. However, sometimes it’s nice to be more flexible and take an open-ended approach, without any fixed plans for the session.

That said, it can still be nice to have some options available to us, rather than going in completely empty handed. That’s when a session menu can be helpful.

What is a session menu?

A session menu is a list of activities that are available to you during your session. At a glance, it gives you options for things you might like to do.

Remembering things can be hard when high. A menu is useful in that you don’t have to remember your options during the session. It holds them all in one place for you. The menu can act like a butler, who asks you ‘what would you like to do now? Do any of these options interest you?’.

Depending on your tastes and the day, menus might look very different to different people. 

Here is an example of a menu:

  • consult I Ching
  • Listen to new Tame Impala album (I often save first album listens for sessions)
  • meditate
  • brainstorm dreams and goals
  • draw
  • guitar

Other items I have seen on friends menus have included: take photos, dance, have sex, watch documentary.

Really, you can include anything. I have a friend who likes to look at profound quotes during his trips. Another likes to draw a tarot card. In both these cases, they find that they are able to connect more deeply to the meaning and message .

Creating a Menu

Writing up a menu can take as little as two minutes before starting a session, and you then have it there for your reference throughout. Depending on the items on your menu, you might need a little extra time to ready any necessary materials before the session starts. Once settled into your session, you can take a glance at the menu and see if anything takes your fancy. 

You might also have menus for different purposes. Here is an example of a chill out menu I made in the form of a deck of cards. I have it around in case I or others feel uncomfortable or agitated.

chill out deck menu

My Experience

I use menus on various kinds of sessions: both solo and with friends, introspective and recreational. I find them to be very useful and a nice reminder to check in and think: ‘what would I like to do now? Where do I want to go next?’. 

On one session with a friend, after riding the stormy come up and settling into an LSD and MDMA session, we gathered ourselves, then sat down and looked at our menu together. We had a list of fun activities for us to explore together before our eyes. I looked at him and said;

‘Is there anything here you’d like to do? We have the whole day ahead of us’.

Smiling, he took a moment, ‘you know, this is actually quite a nice situation to be in.’

Free time, with a friend, enjoying the wonders of life, and a beautiful psychedelic menu in front of us. All that was left to do was pick one and enjoy!

creating music playlists psychedelic journeys

Welcome to PSYJuly day 17 🙂
Today we have a guest post from Max, AKA Welsh Integration Circle, one of my favourite people in the psychedelic twitterverse.

After seeing his work creating playlists (1, 2) for members of his community, I invited him to create a post to share his experience on a topic I feel there is ample room for discovery and development in the psychedelic space: music. More specifically, playlists for inner style journeys. Over to Max…

Creating Music Playlists for Psychedelic Journeys

There are infinite ways to use psychedelics. Nobody can tell you how you should use them, but as you move through life and gain experience your psychedelic use may evolve. Many of us start off in our youth: at home, in the park, at a festival or a concert.

One thing that you can say about the way people use psychedelics is that it frequently involves music. Psychedelics and music go together like Fish and Chips or Superman and Lois Lane. The altered state of consciousness that psychedelics induce, amplifies, enhances and transforms music into a completely new experience. Some people can even smell or see colours from music in the phenomenon known as synaesthesia. Music is not only heightened by psychedelics, but it can influence the entire atmosphere and mood of those under the influence.

There are many discussions online regarding the best tunes to trip to. You can guarantee that any of these will include the likes of Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Hendrix, Phish, Shpongle or The Orb. Now these are great artists who were heavily influenced by psychedelics and aimed at an audience who might use them too, but this article is about creating personalised playlists that won’t include these artists or styles and the music is used in a different way.

Music, set and setting

We’ve all heard the phrase “Set and Setting” so many times that it has become a cliché, but it is still undeniably relevant. Al Hubbard was a psychedelic pioneer, who in the 1950’s, helped develop the idea that the setting could have a major influence on the psychedelic experience and even the outcomes in a therapeutic context. According to his instructions, the person taking the psychedelic lies down in a comfortable place, like a bed or sofa, puts on some eyeshades to block out all light and a pair of earphones to listen to the music. The idea is that by blocking out all other sensory input, one is directed to focus the attention inwards and be guided by the music. In combination with advice like Bill Richards’ mantra of “Trust, let go, be open”, one is encouraged to allow one’s mind in its altered state of consciousness to go wherever the music takes it. This is essentially the same format used by today’s trials at Imperial College and Johns Hopkins, and was recently the subject of a patent application by Compass Pathways, much to the anger of many a psychonaut.

First of all, ask yourself why you would consider this style of psychedelic experience. It may not be for everyone, but if you have only ever taken psychedelics recreationally, at a festival or party, then give it some consideration. It amplifies the effects and is particularly suitable for people who want to use psychedelics for personal or spiritual development, to address difficult life experiences, to change your life with regard to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs or just learn more about yourself and your consciousness. It’s also wise to have a sober tripsitter for these experiences, just someone being there will allow you to immerse deeper into your inner journey.

Now you could just pick one of many playlists on Spotify or other music providers that have been created, including the original Bill Richards playlist and those used by MAPS, Imperial and Hopkins, but I think it’s more interesting to create your own, although they can give you some good inspirations for your playlist.

So with this in mind, let’s explore the how and why of crafting a playlist.

Crafting a playlist

The aim is to relax the subject while the medicine starts to work, then to take them on a journey of inner experience which fits with their intention and their life story. The more you know about the person the better. The more you know about their music tastes, favourite movies, travels and previous psychedelic experiences, the more you can choose suitable tunes to guide them.

The first things to consider are what substance and dose are going to be used. If using LSD you will need more than 2 hours of music, but it’s unlikely that someone is going to lie still for 12 hours. For psilocybin I tend to aim for 5 hours’ worth of music. 

Use instrumental music, this allows the journeyer to focus on the sounds, rhythms and melodies, without the distraction of language. Foreign languages are fine, especially if they include chanting – non-lyrical singing also works well. I tend to avoid typical bands that have the usual pop, rock or jazz sound. Classical music can be excellent, but some people may not be used to listening to classical, so choosing a piece that is interesting is important. Electronic music can play a huge role with unusual sounds that can have dramatic effects while under the influence, but I tend to avoid dance music that one would hear at a club or rave and stick to more ambient styles. There is also great crossover between classical and electronic, sometimes called neo-classical, which includes some of my favourite artists like Max Richter, Nils Frahm and Joep Beving.

Beware of using too many floaty, unstructured tracks. As Michael Pollan explained in How to Change Your Mind, he had to listen to a lot of boring yoga and new age music for his journeys, and this is why personalised playlists can be more stimulating than generic ones.

Having said that, music that is less busy can have profound effects, as can silence. If you have ever tried meditation under the influence, you’ll know that it can be very powerful, and silence or empty tracks can provide a similar space. They can also be useful to contrast with other more energetic or dramatic tunes. It’s important not to overwhelm someone with too much noise for too long, and if you do choose tracks with drama, intensity and tension, it’s important to give them release as well. The order of the tracks can be very important, and I also insert some silent tracks of up to a minute long at crucial moments to build tension and atmosphere before a special piece, or after a particularly challenging one.

I tend to start off with some very light, relaxed music while taking the medicine and allowing it to take effect, and then slowly build the complexity and intensity of the tracks towards the end of the first hour. Knowing how long it might take your listener to start feeling the effects will help you plan.

Personalising playlists

Discover what kind of music the journeyer likes. Are they up for more complex and difficult tracks? Or are they very anxious and prefer gentler tunes and familiar styles? Try to imagine when the peak might be, and think about what kinds of atmosphere and feelings you are trying to evoke.

I also use my knowledge of them to add highly personalised music. One friend has Native American heritage which is important to them and they have partaken in ceremonies before. I added a short piece of pow wow chanting which had a very dramatic effect and still does to this day. The experiences that people have during their journeys become strongly associated with the music, so that they often listen to their playlists in the weeks after and have strong emotional connections to certain tracks for years to come.

Foreign music is also a great place to look. You can create a great atmosphere, transporting someone to a place of previous travels or residence, and help to bring up some of the memories and emotions from that period of their life. However, one should be aware not to overly manipulate someone’s emotions and journey. 

If they are very knowledgeable about a certain style that is relevant to their life or ancestry, choosing a track that is not stereotyping them or the music could be a challenge. Many cultures have beautiful and diverse music which is very different to Western styles and on my playlists I have used classical Indian, west African, South American icaros, Tibetan chanting, Mongolian and Armenian music, all with great effect. 

You can use music from important films from their life. Film soundtracks make great fodder for playlists and I have included tunes from Bladerunner, Black Hawk Down, Ad Astra, Twin Peaks and even Star Wars or The Omen. I’ve also asked their friends and family to give me some tips on favourite music and experiences. This needs to be done cautiously as not everyone can afford to be open about their psychedelic use, but music choice can be asked about in tactful ways.

I have given journeyers the option of a particular one or two tunes that they really want to hear on their playlist, and I ask why. Having listened to the tracks myself, I interpret how it might make them feel and decide on where in their journey it should appear and how to lead into it and follow on. Having a few key tunes as marker points in the playlist provides a structure to build the playlist around and helps you navigate what can become a tense and frantic process. It always feels like a big responsibility, knowing that the playlist is going to have a significant effect on their experience. The music truly drives the entire inner experience.

Collecting and Test Driving Tunes

To select tunes, I find that using cannabis whilst listening to music is a great way to get a sense of which tunes will be interesting during a journey. I tend to put them in a depositary playlist in the weeks before, so whenever I hear a tune I want to use, I have easy access to it when it comes to the final creation. Once you have selected all your tunes then ordering and editing can still take a long time. I often listen to the end of a track to try and work out how the transition between it and the next tune will work, to get it as smooth as possible and so that it isn’t a jarring change. A very soft and gentle track, silence, or some sounds of nature like cicadas or rain can also be a good way to give them some space between.

Try to let people relax into longer tunes, but perhaps not so long it gets boring. A variety of styles, pace and intensity is good and challenging them with unusual styles and sounds can provide opportunities for the imagination to run wild. Rhythmic tunes can be dramatic, and driving intense visuals, this is a perfect use of electronic music like some Steve Roach tracks, and artists like Philip Glass and Estas Tonne can create similar effects. 

Know your audience, their tastes and their level of challenge, and have some fun making a personalised psychedelic playlist for your friends and community.

.

About Max

Max is a member of a small community of psychedelic users in Wales, who started with recreational use and have moved on to help each other with mental health issues as well as  personal and spiritual development, through solo and group journeys, and support each other through informal discussions and integration work.