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mushrooms how often should i trip psilocybin

‘How often should I take psychedelics?’

This is a question I am often asked. And of course, there is no single right answer. So instead of trying to give one, I’ll share my thoughts on the topic.

What is the right amount?

You can’t really put a number such as ‘x times per year or month’ and say ‘that’s the right amount’, because it totally depends on the person and their circumstances. It’s like asking ‘what’s the right dose?’. It can’t simply be answered in any meaningful way. It depends.

It depends on you, your intentions, and your current circumstances. Why are you taking psychedelics? Where are you at in your journey, and where do you want to go next?

If using psychedelics for recreation or leisure, it’s like asking ‘how often should I watch a movie?’. With the intention of using psychedelics for healing or growth, there still isn’t a set answer. For many people, it seems like once or twice a year is enough to gain valuable insights and allow time in between to integrate the lessons. For others, a more frequent pattern may be most beneficial. I’ve also heard of people saying that once in their lifetime was enough.

Frequency varies depending on culture

There is a variety of frequencies in different cultures and types of use around the world. This ranges from modern clinical use to more traditional shamanistic use.

Within the field of modern research and clinical trials, there is variation. In a study with people who suffered treatment resistant depression at Imperial College London, participants received two doses a week apart. From just two doses, most participants saw statistically significant improvement in their wellbeing. That said, many patients saw depressive symptoms beginning to return after six months, so it seems they could’ve benefitted from another session or two around this mark.

In various smoking cessation studies at Johns Hopkins University there have been between one and three doses given. People have successfully quit with one session, whilst others had three. It is note able that quit rates were higher for people who had more than one than one session.

With shaman of various Amazonian traditions, people drink ayahuasca on multiple consecutive nights, or on alternating nights. So it might be three or four nights of drinking ayahuasca in a row, or six nights of drinking over twelve nights total. There are also variations between. In some religious communities or churches that use psychedelic plants, groups drink monthly or weekly.

Philosophy professor Christopher Bache did 73 high dose sessions over 20 years, and as far as I know, no one in the psychedelic community has said it’s too much. In fact, he is seen as a courageous explorer and his work an incredible contribution to the field. He is a special case and was extremely conscientious in his use, I should add.

This variety shows that there is not really any standard which could be said ‘this is the right way’.

Can you take psychedelics too often?

When I would say taking psychedelics is too much is, the same as any other activity, when it starts interfering with one’s life in a negative way. When the downsides outweigh the upsides.

Gabor Mate’s view of an addiction can be useful here:

A behaviour which provides temporary pleasure or relief in the short term but has negative outcomes in the long term.

For some, psychedelics might be used as an escape from reality, or dealing with one’s problems. This can be known as spiritual bypassing. If one is re-entering journey space before or instead of integrating the lessons from the last journey, this could be seen as too soon.

However, I’d say that one’s problems can be shoved back in one’s face on a journey, so it’s not always an easy escape. In fact, for that reason, not taking psychedelics could be seen as an escape.

Is there a minimum frequency?

No one can say that someone should be taking psychedelics at least x amount of times per month or year. Although with medicalisation on the way, perhaps doctors or pharmacists will in fact be prescribing them in this way.

‘Go for three psilocybin journeys per month over the next 12 months and then we’ll meet back and reassess your treatment plan. If you feel you need a recalibration of your dose just give me a call and we’ll set up another consultation.”

I can see it already. But anyway, I digress.

Psychedelics can show us things that we are afraid to see and therefore unconsciously avoiding. Avoidance is no long term tactic to resolution, so for those that psychedelics have shown to be a useful tool for inner exploration and therapeutic shadow work, then there could be cases where it could be argued that someone should take them more often than they currently are.

The best amount and frequency is one that will bring the most healing over the long term. Knowing exactly what that is difficult. We like to have answers or steady plans we can follow, but in the case of psychedelics, it can’t be pinned down as such. It needs our own continued consideration and adjustment, as well as our honesty. It also depends on the doses we are taking.

When should I pick up the phone again?

You’ve probably heard the Alan Watts quote, ’When you get the message, hang up the phone’. This has been commonly interpreted to mean ‘don’t trip too often’. Once you have some useful information, act on it before seeking more. What I would add to that is, feel free to pick up the phone again to get a reminder of the message.

Oftentimes a psychedelic journey will make absolutely clear an insight to be acted on. Good progress can be made on integrating that insight in the weeks directly after whilst the insight is fresh. As time passes, however, the clarity and raw obviousness of that insight may fade. And though the insight may not have been 100% integrated yet, touching back in with ourselves on a journey can be a refreshing reminder. If meaningful change has been made, space will have been cleared in our psyche for other useful messages, insights, and ideas to pour in. Integration is a life long journey and our lives are imperfect, so aiming to have integration of an experience totally complete before journeying again can be unrealistic.

The common interpretation of Watts’ quote also doesn’t consider the question of what ‘the message’ is, or if there are different levels of understanding the message. Or even, if there are multiple messages to be received.

Final Thoughts

I see the advice that ‘one should not journey too often’ commonly put out there, yet most of the people I know in the psychedelic community have ample experience and have journeyed dozens of times themselves.

In general I think that most people could stand to benefit from more psychedelics sessions, rather than fewer. This is almost something of a faux-pas to say these days, but it’s what I believe, so I’m saying it. That is why the thoughts I have shared here have leaned towards illustrating this viewpoint, and not going into the dangers of overuse, which of course absolutely do exist. I should also make clear that I am talking about respectful, intentional, and careful use, done with the intention of learning or growth. Not flippant or casual use.

If we consider psychedelics to be teachers that allow us to access wisdom, what is wrong with visiting that teacher? Sure, you do not want to spend your whole life with that teacher, never stepping out of the classroom to practice your lessons. But likewise, you’d want to attend lessons to make the most of the wisdom they have to offer.

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This post was day 20 of PSYJuly 2021.

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.

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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.

 

cancer treatment patients psilocybin

Welcome to day 13, PSYJuly! Today’s post is from Sasha T. Sisko exploring the world of underground therapy…

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Imagine a world where you’re recovering from surgery, praying that your doctor will give you optimistic news about your cancer prognosis. Instead, you’re told that your tumor is more advanced than previously thought. They inform you that your time left with loved ones is limited. While attempting to console you, they remind you that there are many options for people in your situation, but nothing can seem to penetrate the inescapable dread that comes with that terminal diagnosis. Stories like these are all too common.

You quickly realize that most of the treatment options afforded by modern medicine focus more on prolonging the number of days you have left, but not their quality. After months of dealing with feelings of demoralization, powerlessness, denial, isolation, and loss of connection, you approach your doctor hoping to find relief from your emotional pain. They tell you how the available pharmaceuticals will come with side-effects, but they can’t speak with certainty about whether these medicines will work for you.

After beginning the medication regimen, you still feel disconnected from the ones you love and the world around you. Your hastened desire to die, you realize, isn’t lessened by the fact that your oncologist, like most of their colleagues, did not inquire about your spiritual needs. You realize that connecting with some faith system can potentially ease your suffering, but you feel more lost than ever. Such solutions, you think, are impractical and not enough to overcome your listlessness.

Thoughts about death fill your every-waking moment and you begin to worry about your ability to die in peace with dignity. All you wish for is a temporary respite from your anxiety and depression so that you can cherish the last weeks and months you have left with family and friends. Above all, your life depends on finding a solution. Then someone tells you about psilocybin — your whole world changes and a glimmer of hope appears.

A Glimmer of Hope

Over the past two decades, nation-wide research has been conducted to investigate the clinical potential of psilocybin — the active compound within so-called ‘magic mushrooms’. Simply put, an international coalition of scientists has agreed that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy displays groundbreaking potential in effectively combatting a variety of treatment- resistant mental illnesses including substance use disorder, PTSD, depression, and even cancer- related distress (Grob et al., 2011; Ross et al., 2016; Griffiths et al., 2016). Though this clinical psilocybin research has produced promising results, the USA is still years away from FDA approval.

Psilocybin allows people to experience a profoundly mystical sense of connection with their inner self and the world around them. In a 2012 interview with New York Times Magazine, Dr. John Halpern described these experiences as an epiphany that “there is a dazzling unity you belong to, that love is possible and all these realizations are imbued with deep meaning” (Slater, 2012). After such experiences, the fear associated with death is greatly diminished and often replaced by an undeniable truth that we are gifted with the present moment — that everyone has the ability to cherish what Terence McKenna called “the felt presence of immediate experience”.

Johns Hopkins recently reported that psilocybin-mediated psychotherapy elicits profoundly uplifting long-term effects for many patient populations, including those with terminal cancer diagnoses. In their 2016 paper, Dr. Roland Griffiths and colleagues indicated that more than eighty percent of several dozen cancer participants “endors[ed] moderately or higher increased well-being or life satisfaction” after their psilocybin session. At the six-month follow-up, 67.4% of cancer patients rated the experience as one of the “top five most meaningful of [their] life” while 69.6% described the experience as being among the “top five most spiritually significant of [their] life” (Griffiths et al.,2016).

Another study conducted by Drs. Stephen Ross and Anthony Bossis involving cancer patients found that psilocybin generated significant decreases in “demoralization and hopelessness, improved spiritual wellbeing, and increased quality of life” (Ross et al., 2016). Given that palliative care aims to improve quality of life, psilocybin has become a feasible option for those seeking relief from cancer-related distress.

For cancer survivors currently seeking psilocybin therapy, it’s a difficult road to walk down. Only a handful of certified medical practitioners are capable of administering psilocybin within safe and supportive settings — widely considered to be the only ‘legal’ way.

Given that most of these clinical studies only recruit participants who live within the immediate area (for preparatory sessions and long-term follow-up), there exists a substantial lack of access to psilocybin for those suffering from cancer. Even worse, it will be years before the FDA approves the use of psilocybin for end-of-life distress — a length of time that many people don’t have left.

Amid these clinical trials, one Seattle palliative care physician is suing the DEA after the agency denied his request to treat terminally-ill patients with synthetic psilocybin under the ‘Right to Try Act’. Though psilocybin meets the eligibility criteria for investigational medications, the DEA cited psilocybin’s status as a Schedule I compound when denying Dr. Aggarwal’s request.

In response, he filed a civil suit with the 9th District Court of Appeals to overturn the DEA’s ruling. In a surprising twist of fate, eight separate state attorney generals filed an amicus brief with the 9th District Court urging those judges to side in favor of Dr. Aggarwal. Though another forty states have ‘Right to Try’ laws, the DEA has made it clear that they have zero tolerance for those who do not ‘play by the books’.

The Current State of Affairs

This year in the US, nearly two million cancer patients will be diagnosed and over 600,000 Americans will lose their lives to this insidious disease (Siegel et al., 2021). Based on data from 2016 to 2018, approximately 39% of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer at some point within their lives (SEER, 2021).

Compared to the general population, cancer survivors currently face a four-fold risk of suicide (Zaorsky et al., 2020). Deficits of spiritual well-being within cancer patients are significantly correlated with hastened desire for death, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts (McClain et al., 2003). Such forms of psychological distress are also associated with lower compliance of pharmaceutical regimens, quality of life, and social function — a situation that no cancer survivor should withstand.

At the present day, several meta-analyses have failed to properly demonstrate that prescription antidepressants are more effective at treating cancer-related distress than a simple placebo. Dr. Giovanni Ostuzzi and colleagues concluded in a 2018 Cochrane article that there presently exists “an urgent need for large, simple, randomized, pragmatic trials comparing commonly used antidepressants versus placebo in people with cancer who have depressive symptoms” (Ostuzzi et al., 2018). Given the lack of effective therapies for depression within the medical sphere, millions of cancer survivors are desperately seeking a solution.

Enter the Underground

Between cancer patients’ substantial lack of access to effective forms of psychotherapy and their strong desire to find healing, many have turned to ‘underground’ psychedelic therapists who are willing to acquire and administer psilocybin mushrooms within the container of a therapeutic and supportive setting.

Given the lack of regulation within this field, concerns have been raised about this community of therapists. Despite these concerns, cancer patients will continue to seek out underground therapists, whoever they may be. This will certainly continue at least until the FDA approves psilocybin for end-of-life distress. During the course of writing this article, I was approached by two separate people asking whether I know a ‘psychedelic death doula’.

Numerous above-ground educational facilities offer training within the burgeoning field of psychedelic psychiatry. While many have attended Janice Phelps’ ongoing training program at California Institute of Integral Studies, other psychotherapists have undergone training while studying under names like Roland Griffiths, Rick Doblin, and Stanislav Grof.

While it is true that thousands of qualified, compassionate therapists operate within these underground circles, no sort of accreditation is necessary to enter this unregulated domain. Even worse, there are some unethical actors within the underground — some of whom are predators seeking monetary gain or the thrills associated with positions of power (Liana, 2020). Without naming names, coverage of an esteemed Oregonian practitioner raised serious questions about the underground field of therapists (Psymposia, 2021).

Underground Elicits Mixed Opinions

Dr. Robert Meisner, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Emergency Department and a medical director at McLean Hospital, told the Wall Street Journal back in March that he was “concerned” about “well-intentioned patients” who are searching for “treatment from unregulated sources”, especially if they don’t fully understand the pharmacological “profile” of psilocybin (Cooper, 2021).

Three months ago, Dr. Eric Sienknecht gave an educational web-based presentation on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for Mt. Tam Integration, a support-centered network for psychedelic advocates. Near the end, the clinical psychologist was posed a question about the underground community. One anonymous participant noted that there are presently plenty of “people out there that would like to be a guide for others and try and maybe become that kind of trip sitter […] where would you recommend people start and is it even a financially viable pursuit?”

Himself a clinical psychologist, Dr. Sienknecht responded that “Yea […] I think it is a financially viable pursuit and more and more so as time goes on and as public perception shifts”. Hesitating, he told those attending the webinar that “there’s training available” for above- ground and underground practitioners and that he is a “firm believer in the importance of getting good training” and “ethical engagement with the work”. With a nervous smile, Dr. Sienknecht informed eager listeners that he had “no comment on the underground training” and that was unwilling to provide “any information” about the underground.

In late June, Vermont-based clinicians gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Psychedelic Society of Vermont (PSOV) — a coalition of dozens of care-givers seeking quality educational content about psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. While answering a question

about the legality of this novel form of therapy, Dr. Rick Barnett, an addiction specialist and co- founder of PSOV, commented on the growing number of underground practitioners.

Without giving endorsement to these unregulated practitioners, Dr. Barnett indicated that some within the underground “certainly know what they’re doing” while others “probably don’t”. Giving a stern warning to the clinicians attending, Dr. Barnett advised that those who interact with underground practitioners do so “at their own risk” given the illegality of the practice.

By way of contrast, others are less concerned and see underground therapists as “heroes of conscience who risked their necks to give medicine [where] no one else would” (Capps, 2021). Despite state and federal laws prohibiting this practice, underground therapists are compassionately assisting an under-served community. These care-givers feel morally compelled to act on their expertise even though they actively risk their lives and freedom to do so. Driven to help those who have been failed by modern medicine, underground therapists understand that psilocybin has been utilized for millennia as a medicine and, indeed, a sacrament.

A History of Evidence

After Robert Gordon Wasson’s 1957 article in Life Magazine introduced psilocybin to the western world, a flurry of scientists began to investigate the novel substance’s clinical potential. Though there were excellent studies indicating the mushroomic alkaloid was effective at combatting a wide variety of treatment-resistant mental illnesses, the first person to suggest that psilocybin had potential for cancer patients was Dr. Valentina Wasson, Robert Gordon’s wife.

Like her husband, Valentina consumed psilocybin mushrooms while in Oaxaca — a tale described in a May 1957 article in This Week, a nationally-syndicated newspaper supplement. Without disclosing the fact that she was suffering from cancer, Valentina remarked within her article that once scientific research began on psilocybin, it would inevitably “become a vital tool in the study of psychic processes” including “treating terminal illnesses accompanied by acute pain and in mental diseases”. The following year, Valentina’s life was cut short, but her memory lives on (Bartlett & Williams, 2021).

Thousands of years before Robert and Valentina Wasson explored Oaxaca in search of the ‘sacred mushroom’, the indigenous people of Central America heralded psilocybin mushrooms for their inherent medicinal qualities and their theophanic potential to induce mystical states of consciousness placing people in direct communication with the divine.

To this very day, indigenous Mazatec practitioners consider psilocybin mushrooms to be both a medicine and a sacrament of their syncretic Christian faith. Doña María Sabina, the esteemed Oaxacan curandera who introduced the Wassons to the ‘Little Saints’, was but one person in a long line of indigenous healers who utilized psilocybin mushrooms alongside other plant medicines in order to heal the sick.

Flashing forward to the present day, the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research has become the epicenter of psychedelic research. After over two decades of rigorous, double- blind, placebo-controlled studies, Hopkins has aptly demonstrated (Davis et al., 2020) that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is more than four times as effective as antidepressant medications (Fournier et al., 2010) and approximately two-and-a-half times as effective as therapist-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy (Rubin et al., 2017).

Though psilocybin has been considered a Schedule I drug for over five decades, an international consensus of medical professionals has agreed that its placement alongside heroin and freebase cocaine is highly unwarranted. Several rigorous studies have provided robust evidence regarding the low harm potential of psilocybin relative to actual drugs of abuse. In the late 2000s, Dr. David Nutt of Imperial College of London gathered with the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs to utilize a more extensive decision-making approach to determine the individual harms of various drugs and their effects on society. Utilizing sixteen criteria to weigh the relative harms of twenty drugs, alcohol was found to be the most harmful substance with an overall harm score of 72 out of a possible 80. Remarkably, the study’s lowest overall score (6/80) was attributed to Psilocybe mushrooms (Nutt et al., 2010).

Five years later, Dr. Jan van Amsterdam gathered forty European addiction experts to score the harms of twenty different drugs in terms of sixteen different factors (van Amsterdam et al., 2015). The comprehensive study found that the lowest rate of individual and social harms was, once again, attributed to psilocybin mushrooms.

Though psilocybin seems to display a remarkably safe track record, not everyone is able to physically tolerate the mushroomic alkaloid. In order to demystify this important matter, I journeyed into the underground only to find a mixed bag of CIIS-trained clinicians, indigenous people carrying many generations of teachings, self-taught medical students, white people posing as ‘shamans’, and those who openly sell psilocybin mushrooms on the ‘dark web’. Among these figures hiding in the shadows, I found ‘Raymond’.

Advice from ‘Raymond’

After searching through troves of underground practitioners advertising their services on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, I stumbled upon an oncologist who is up-to-date on the ongoing psilocybin research. As a clinician who specializes in end-of-life care and finished their clinical postdoc research at the Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, I knew that ‘Raymond’ was more than qualified.

Raymond claims to be very “burnt out” from his job given that there is so much “internal corruption” and greed within the medical & insurance industries. In fact, Raymond would, according to my source, “regularly” face punishment from his superiors “for spending too much time with patients who were clearly dying when he could be billing other patients for simpler procedures”. After hearing this, I knew that he was the person I wanted to speak with.

After a lengthy family sabbatical, Raymond finally returned my emails. Pouring over his words, I could tell how concerned he was to potentially be outed for participating in this interview. Speaking in precise terms, Raymond simultaneously expressed his qualms with the current landscape within the field of cancer care, the drug propaganda that has poisoned the minds of clinicians across the globe, and the relative lack of awareness about psilocybin by oncologists.

Raymond shared his “impression” that there is a substantive lack of “general awareness within the field of oncology” about psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Clarifying his remark, he informed me that while he was in graduate school, “little distinction” was given to the vast differences between psilocybin, cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Raymond conceded that these “wildly different substances” continue to be “broadly labeled as ‘drugs of abuse’ in mainstream allopathic medicine”.

Though Raymond was clearly distraught about so much within his field, he expressed the common sentiment that Johns Hopkins, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and Michael Pollan’s 2018 bestseller How to Change Your Mind have all generated “stunningly swift progress in shifting the paradigm for the therapeutic roles of psychedelics”.

When I asked if he wanted to speak directly to cancer patients desperately seeking psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, he advised that they should “see if any clinical trials were suitable and enrolling”. After investigating the government’s website for clinical trials (ClinicalTrials.gov), I could only find one study in Maryland currently enrolling cancer patients. Given the substantive lack of access to psilocybin therapy, the numerous states and cities that have passed decriminalization measures, and the growing field of underground therapists, Raymond asserted that the “legal aspects” related to the underground community “warrant[s] explicit discussion”.

While it is true that lack of medical access to psilocybin has led many distressed cancer patients to seek underground therapists, Raymond claimed that the substantive lack of access to this effective form of therapy “represents one of the least egregious injustices committed by the structurally-violent corporate American healthcare system”.

Providing evidence for his claims, Raymond noted that cancer patients and their families are suffering from overly-burdensome medical bills, frontline healthcare workers are facing wide-spread furloughs and layoffs, and oncologists are dealing with higher rates of depression and suicide (McFarland et al., 2019) — facts which became severely apparent after the COVID pandemic began.

For psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to “reach its full potential”, Raymond remarked that society needs to initiate “meaningful healthcare reform” while eliminating the “stigma” associated with mental health issues within both the medical sphere and the general population.

He also made it clear that certain cancer patients should not be seeking psilocybin therapy whether it is facilitated by an above-ground facilitator or otherwise. Among other known exclusion criteria, Ray sternly advised that psychedelic therapists should be extremely cautious when considering administering psilocybin to cancer patients with grade 3-4 elevation in Liver Function Tests, those with brain tumors, and those who are currently taking MAOIs, antidepressants, or dexamethasone. The risks? Ray pointed out that ignoring these exclusion criteria could result in patients experiencing stroke, seizure, serotonin syndrome, or acute anxiety attack — each of which has the potential to severely impact the quality of life of these cancer patients.

Raymond concluded his email by remarking that oncologists are overburdened by their work and the emotional toll of watching their patients die. He lamented that doctors often delay discussions about cancer prognoses “until the 59th minute of the 11th hour” given that “oncology providers frequently get caught in between the unrealistic expectations of patients/families and the corporate system applying endless pressure to achieve assembly line efficiency”.

Speaking from his experience, Raymond asserted that those oncologists who make effort to fully discuss treatment options with their patients while providing adequate documentation “easily end up working up to 100 hours a week”. Given these “perfect storm conditions”, Raymond wished to make it clear that many cancer patients “delay” seeking psilocybin therapy “because they don’t realize how near they are to the end of life” — a fact which reiterates the dire need to reform the systemic dysfunction present throughout the healthcare industry.

Final Words

Though it will be years before the FDA finally approves psilocybin for use within clinics, underground practitioners are satisfying the needs of those who simply wish to find peace in their final weeks and months. Many clutch their pearls at the thought of an unregulated market of therapists, but I wish to remind them that the true risks of psilocybin stem from how the medicine is handled, not the medicine itself. Those who wish to carry the psychedelic torch must utilize psilocybin ethically, wisely, cautiously, and with complete respect for its intended purpose: healing. If one cannot abide by these principles, the underground community will do their best to find these unethical actors and cast them out of their tightly-knit community of care-givers.

In an effort to offer all that I can, I will leave some final remarks for those who are currently struggling with suicidal ideation and cancer-related existential distress. As someone who has personally dealt with suicidal thoughts, I understand that words of wisdom and compassion rarely penetrate the sorrow that comes with clinical depression. With that in mind, I will share what the ‘Little Saints’ have taught me.

Though your heart has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, you are not alone in the world. Do not fear, for there is boundless depth and joy already present within your life. Arm yourself with the knowledge that our world contains unfathomably complex beauty. Take time every single day to simply witness the splendor within everyday life. Love ceaselessly and celebrate this opportunity to be alive, aware, and breathing. Embrace what life still has in store for you — choose not to live behind a self-erected wall which keeps you disconnected from the world around you. Instead, live each day alive in the world and continue to move forward despite the fear and pain that you feel is controlling your life.

“He who kisses the joy as it flies / Lives in eternity’s sunrise”- William Blake

To this end, Wyly Gray, a United States Marine and founder of the non-profit organization Veterans of War, often shares a profoundly moving axiom with those who cross his path. As someone who overcame suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress by drinking Ayahuasca in Peru, he enjoys reminding others that inner peace and joy comes from “pushing through the darkness into the light”.

The light, I submit, is the intentional choice to cherish the “felt presence of immediate experience”. May we all be blessed by that light within eternity’s sunrise.

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Works Cited

Bartlett, A., & Williams, M. (2020, November 30). The Cost of Omission: Dr. Valentina Wasson and Getting Our Stories Right. Chacruna. https://chacruna.net/dr-valentina-wasson-and-getting-our-stories-right/

Cancer of Any Site – Cancer Stat Facts. SEER. (2012, August 29). https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html.

Capps, R. (2021, May 5). A Song for the Underground Psychedelic Psychotherapist. Chacruna. https://chacruna.net/a-song-for-the- underground-psychedelic-psychotherapist/.

Cooper, L. (2021, March 10). Could Group Therapy Get a Boost From Psychedelics? The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/could-group-therapy-get-a-boost-from-psychedelics-11615395614

Davis, A. K., Barrett, F. S., May, D. G., Cosimano, M. P., Sepeda, N. D., Johnson, M. W., Finan, P. H., & Griffiths, R. R. (2021). Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 78(5), 481–489. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.3285

Fournier, J. C., DeRubeis, R. J., Hollon, S. D., Dimidjian, S., Amsterdam, J. D., Shelton, R. C., & Fawcett, J. (2010). Antidepressant drug effects and depression severity: a patient-level meta-analysis. JAMA, 303(1), 47–53. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2009.1943

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Carducci, M. A., Umbricht, A., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Cosimano, M. P., & Klinedinst, M. A. (2016). Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 30(12), 1181– 1197. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881116675513

Grob, C. S., Danforth, A. L., Chopra, G. S., Hagerty, M., McKay, C. R., Halberstadt, A. L., & Greer, G. R. (2011). Pilot study of psilocybin treatment for anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer. Archives of general psychiatry, 68(1), 71–78. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.116

Hasler, F., Grimberg, U., Benz, M. A., Huber, T., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2004). Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-effect study. Psychopharmacology, 172(2), 145–156. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-003-1640-6

Liana, L. (2020, May 19). Bufo Deaths & Fraud Involving Toad “Shamans” Octavio Rettig & Gerry Sandoval. EntheoNation. https://entheonation.com/blog/death-fraud-octavio-rettig-gerry-sandoval/

McClain, C. S., Rosenfeld, B., & Breitbart, W. (2003). Effect of spiritual well-being on end-of-life despair in terminally-ill cancer patients. Lancet (London, England), 361(9369), 1603–1607. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12747880/

Nutt, D.J., King, L.A., Phillips, L.D. (2010). Independent Scientific Committee on Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis. Lancet (London, England), 376: 1558-1565 Ostuzzi, G., Matcham, F., Dauchy, S., Barbui, C., & Hotopf, M. (2015). Antidepressants for the treatment of depression in people with cancer. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2015(6), CD011006. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011006.pub3/full

Psymposia. (2021, March 18). #32 – It’s All Red Flags: 5-MeO-DMT with Dr. Martin Ball. https://www.psymposia.com/podcasts/32-its-all-red-flags-5-meo-dmt-with-dr-martin-ball/

McFarland, D.C., Hlubocky, F., Susaimanickam, B., O’Hanlon, R., Riba, M. (May2019). Addressing Depression, Burnout, and Suicide in Oncology Physicians. American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book. 39, 590-598. DOI: 10.1200/EDBK_239087

Ross, S., Bossis, A., Guss, J., Agin-Liebes, G., Malone, T., Cohen, B., Mennenga, S. E., Belser, A., Kalliontzi, K., Babb, J., Su, Z., Corby, P., & Schmidt, B. L. (2016). Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 30(12), 1165–1180. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881116675512

Rubin, A., Yu, M. (2017). Within-Group Effect Size Benchmarks for Cognitive– Behavioral Therapy in the Treatment of Adult Depression. Social Work Research. 41(3):135-144. https://academic.oup.com/swr/article-abstract/41/3/135/3979362

Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., Fuchs, H. E., & Jemal, A. (2021). Cancer Statistics, 2021. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 71(1), 7–33. https://doi.org/10.3322/caac.21654

Slater, L. (2012, April 24). How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/how-psychedelic-drugs-can-help-patients-face-death.html

Tucker, K. (2021, May 21). Amici Curiae Supporting Case Seeking to Compel DEA to Allow Access to Psilocybin Therapy for Seriously Ill Patients. Emerge Law Group. https://emergelawgroup.com/2017/amici-curiae-supporting-case-seeking-to-compel-dea-to-allow-access-to-psilocybin-therapy-for-seriously-ill-patients/

van Amsterdam, J., Nutt, D., Phillips, L., & van den Brink, W. (2015). European rating of drug harms. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 29(6), 655–660. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881115581980

Zaorsky, N. G., Zhang, Y., Tuanquin, L., Bluethmann, S. M., Park, H. S., & Chinchilli, V. M. (2019). Suicide among cancer patients. Nature communications, 10(1), 207. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-08170-1

About Sasha

Sasha Theodore Sisko is a non-binary student of ethnopharmacology, author, integration coach, advocate for social justice, and professional musician. A decade of academic research within the field of psychedelic sciences has led Sasha to become a zealous advocate for environmental justice, indigenous communities, recovery communities, veterans, and other marginalized populations.
Sasha is the host of the soon-to-be-released podcast Ultradelic: Conversations with Psychedelic Pioneers. In 2017, Sasha began work on their first piece of non-fiction, Graced By Nature, an extensive literary illustration of the therapeutic potential which entheogens bear for those living with mental illnesses. The multidisciplinary non-fiction work demystifies the politically charged history of the clinical applications of entheogens — sacraments traditionally utilized for healing purposes within indigenous American religious rites. Feeling morally compelled to publish their book, Sasha understands that these medicines can help lessen the severity of the ongoing crisis in the mental healthcare industry.
Raised on stolen land once inhabited by the Calusa people, Sasha now lives in Central Florida where they enjoy hiking nature trails, reading prose, listening to vinyl records, and finding joy in expressing their compassion in all that they do.
 You can find Sasha on Ultradelic, Twitter, Patreon, Insta, and Facebook.
platforms of psychedelic experience

It can be hard to make sense of the mysterious experiences and unfamiliar realities we are plunged into in deep psychedelic states. For this reason it can be useful to have some kind of map of the psychedelic terrain.

In his book LSD and the Mind of the Universe, Christopher Bache follows Stan Grof in using three categories to distinguish different states of consciousness that are accessed in psychedelic and holotropic breathwork sessions. Bache calls these “platforms of experience”. The book is a treasure trove of theory for psychedelic explorers, and this post will be the third in what has unwittingly turned out to be a series of blog posts based on concepts drawn from it. 

In this post, I will give a little background on these terms and then outline the three levels based on Bache’s explanation. Bache distinguishes between three “platforms”, which he terms  psychic, subtle and causal.

The terms

ken wilber atman project

The terms psychic, subtle, and causal were first coined by Ken Wilber in his 1980 book, The Atman Project. Wilber drew from Hindu and Buddhist sources and used them to label the evolutionary stepping stones on the psycho-spiritual journey. Wilber’s model, which also included non-duality, had four stages and culminated in non-dual spiritual enlightenment. In his outline, Bache does not include non-dual as a separate state as he found it to be an inherent feature of causal consciousness. 

Stan Grof’s description was phenomenological rather than hierarchical. He didn’t use the terms to describe an ordered sequence of  levels on a path as Wilber did, but rather to distinguish coexisting dimensions of consciousness, each with its own characteristics. 

Consciousness = Reality

These different levels of consciousness allow one to experience the corresponding aspects of reality. For example, a psychic level of consciousness allows one to explore psychic levels of reality; subtle level consciousness grants one access to subtle levels of reality; and causal, likewise. The value of entering these states is that they allow us to explore different levels of non-physical reality. As the late great Boston psychonaut Kilindi Iyi said of psilocybin, ‘it is, in its first and foremost principle, a tool of exploration’. 

Before beginning, it should be noted that Bache’s explanations accept the premise of reincarnation. I am not presenting this as truth, but write here to share ideas. 

Psychic level

At the psychic level one leaves physical reality and enters a spiritual realm. There remains, however, the sense of a separate self, as one’s conditioning from space time carries over. The experience is therefore that of being a separate spiritual entity amongst other discarnate entities. Our experience is still that of ourselves, but without our body. I would still be me, John, but disembodied, my ‘discarnate self’. Psychic level experience has a soul-centric quality to it, meaning that one will experience the soul, or ‘psyche’ of their current life.

Subtle level

At the subtle level one perceives the larger realities and more fundamental building blocks that make up life. One still has an experience of separateness, but the separate parts are larger and more basic than at the psychic level. If our separate selves are the individual rooms of a skyscraper, the parts we experience in subtle consciousness are like the steel girders of the building. We can begin to see the deeper architecture of what we call existence.

One may experience the collective consciousness of our species, or even of other species, and the archetypical forces that make up space time. Going deeper than the individual self, one may open to an experience of the spiritual self that reincarnates as many different forms through different lifetimes.

Here is a line from Bache that made me laugh:

“I’ve always thought that “subtle” was a strange name for this level of consciousness because there is really nothing subtle about it at all. Quite the opposite, in fact”.

Causal level

The first signature of causal consciousness is Oneness. Though Oneness may show up in one way or another at the other levels, as it is a fundamental truth of existence, oneness takes on another quality at the causal level. There is an experience of the universe moving as a single entity. There is no way of perceiving this Oneness from outside of it as it is the whole thing. Experience of Oneness at this level is the totality of existence perceiving itself, so any sense of separation is gone. Light, as with Oneness, may also show up in other levels, but is more refined at the casual level. 

Maps of experience

These platforms of experience form just one cosmological map and there may be many other ways of mapping spiritual (non-physical) experience. The Psychedelic Experience, a manual by Leary et al. based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead was another map of consciousness, and I I have also heard that the Bhagavad Gita can be used.

Ultimately though, the map is not the territory. I believe Bache said it perfectly:

“In the end, all these categories are only labels of approximation and convenience. One may divide the spectrum of spiritual reality in many ways […] it would be foolish to think we could do justice to the vast expanse of spiritual reality by using just three or six categories”.

Final Thoughts

Without any kind of frame for understanding, the new and at times intensely unfamiliar and alien realities we can visit in sessions can be disorienting, even once we have returned to normal consciousness. We may not know what to do with these experiences, and without sufficient context or points of reference and this can lead to feelings of bemusement or confusion.

This was certainly the case for me after my first DMT experience, and to a degree, my first LSD experiences. With no real place for these types of spiritual experiences in a culture where reductive materialism is a prevailing worldview, I found solace in Buddhist texts, which helped me to integrate these non-ordinary experiences and offered instructions on how to navigate them.

For explorers heading into new territories, having some kind of map or frame can be of great use. With this in mind, I encourage psychonauts to mentally try ideas like these on for size when embarking on a path of deep exploration

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music headphones psychedelics

After the popularity of my previous post, 6 Music Playlists for Psilocybin Journeys, I’ve decided to write a follow up with some tips on using these playlists in a psychedelic session. Below that, I’ve also included links and info for six more playlists from two creators.

How To Set Up Music for Psychedelic Sessions (+ 6 More Playlists for Psilocybin)

Prepare to be Offline

Download the playlist so it is available for offline use. Then for the session, put your phone on flight mode.

If using your computer to play the tracks, close all applications other than the music player. If you need to leave anything open, make sure there are no applications other than the audio player that can make a noise (like dings from messages received or calls coming in. Like with a phone, I suggest downloading the playlist offline and then disconnecting from the wifi. If you have a mac, make sure your Facetime is disconnected and there won’t be any calls coming through.

I also recommend downloading 1-3 hours of pre/post session music so you have something to put on before/after and can be offline for the entire day. I have found it is nice to put on some music beforehand whilst preparing the space, to set the mood and begin the process of entering. It can be helpful to have a short period of silent meditation between setup and dosing to centre before the journey begins. Once everything is ready and you’ve checked in, you can start the playlist and take your dose. 

Sound Set up

Check and set your sound levels before the start of the session so it is ready to go. Check both loud and quiet sections of the playlist. Ideally the music should be at a comfortably loud volume at the loudest sections. It should not be overbearing or too strong, but loud enough to be immersive.

I would recommend high quality over ear headphones for immersion in the experience, especially if you are in a location where there might be background noise or distracting sounds. You might consider noise cancelling headphones.

If possible, have the music playing simultaneously through headphones and speakers from the same signal. This is a tip I picked up from Mendel Kaelen back in 2017 and still use to this day.  This allows for continuity of experience if/when the headphones are taken off and also allows the opportunity to remove the headphones if one prefers. 

Group Sessions

When in groups or with friends, decide the playlist together beforehand. For a group session, I advise having a quiet room. This means that if anyone has a very strong aversion to a track, they can leave the room for a bit. If you don’t have the possibility of a second room, you might all use your own pair headphones. Another option if using speakers would be making an agreement beforehand that anyone can veto any track at any time and it will be skipped forward without discussion. 

In the case of someone having a feeling of aversion to a track, I would suggest that they try to sit with it for a short time before leaving the room or requesting a skip. They can look at and explore the feeling of discomfort inside themselves that the track is provoking, and see if there is anything to learn from it. If the feeling persists and the track is unbearable, they can leave the room or use their veto.

Spotify Settings (or other audio player)

Make sure your play queue is cleared. 

Make sure the tracks will play in order and not on shuffle.

Check your audio player settings for how the tracks will transition. Decide if you want a fade between songs or a standard transition with one track fully ending before the next one beginning. On spotify you can find this in settings > playback.

If doing a manual sync with two or more devices, make sure the playback settings are the same on each device.

6 More Playlists For Psilocybin Sessions

Here are links to 6 more playlists for use with psilocybin with some info on them and their creators below.

1. Music For Mushrooms– East Forest
2. Inner Peace – Tommi
3. Trust – Tommi
4. Gratitude – Tommi
5. Release – Tommi
6. Opening – Tommi

East Forest

  • Music For Mushrooms: A Soundtrack for the Psychedelic Practitioner: Spotify

East Forest is an American musician who created this album live in underground ceremonies across the US. It’s a kinda neo ambient vibe with influences and instruments from world indigenous music. What I like about this as a soundtrack is its cohesion. Because this playlist is an album by one musician, it has the added bonus of it being curated as such and put together as an album specifically for mushrooms.

Its compositional shape guides, and is guided by, the arch of the experience.”
– East Forest

In this article, East Forest talks about how he feels the other therapy playlists out there miss the mark as they are compilations of lots of shorter tracks. By comparison, this album is just 13 tracks. Incidentally, East Forest is now one of the musicians working with Wavepaths, an organisation founded by Mendel Kaelen that is focused on creating music for psychedelic sessions.

I personally had a very beneficial session using this playlist for a medium dose journey last year. During the journey I was taken through people in my life, shown what I needed to say to them, able to appreciate recent personal achievements, and then given a directive on what I needed to do in my life (spoiler; it was clearing).

You can hear East Forest on the Psychedelics Today podcast here.

And, as an extra aside, Ram Dass was East Forest’s guru, and East Forest has used samples of his talks on his album, ‘Ram Dass’.

Tommi

Mysterious spotify user Tommi has created 5 playlists on different themes: gratitude, opening, release, trust, and inner peace.

They are generally a mix of styles and include ambient, neo classical, and classical music as well as more tribal and traditional music from distant cultures. 

Use of Silence

One thing that I really like about these playlists that is missing from the others is that Tommi has put short periods of silence into the playlists. I find these are good moments to re-centre and breathe during the journey, acting as ‘pit stops’. Interestingly, Mendel Kaelen inserted silence into the playlists on the original psilocybin studies at Imperial. Rather than Spotify playlists, they were actually mixed as one master audio file, with some tracks even faded out or mixed in to each other. These nuances and sections of silence were lost when it was converted to a Spotify playlist. So it is nice to see that Tommi has found a way to create a playlist with silence built in.

My Experience

I have tried Opening, Release and Trust and my sessions to these playlists have been very helpful.

I journeyed to Trust on the third and final psilocybin session of a 15 week course last year that was a study replica of a John Hopkins clinical study with psilocybin. The session was a beautiful rounding out to what turned out to be a somehow cohesive trilogy, and was one of the best psychedelic experiments I’ve ever done. During this final session I was able to grieve and cry in the first half, and as the cleansing section ended I was given a refreshed clarity and renewed inspiration, and a clear path forward. 

Tommi has also created banks of music based on different themes, so you can put together your own playlist too. You can find these on his Spotify user profile.

 





Do you know of any more good playlists for psychedelic journeys? If so, please get in contact!

Safe Journeys!

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