When people contact me about taking psychedelics, most commonly its in the context of a therapy style session. When it comes introspection and personal growth, I do think this is the best approach.
However, as tools, psychedelics are versatile. They have many applications and there are many ways to use them. Another style of session in which they can be used is what I call a themed session.
What is a themed session?
A themed session is a psychedelically-fuelled exploration of a specific subject.
The theme, or subject, is chosen in advance. The session is then directed, guided towards, and held on that theme, rather than being completely open ended.
The session is a deep dive into the chosen topic. By utilising the psychedelic states of mind that certain plants and substances allow us access to, the chosen topics can be explored in new ways.
Which substances can you use?
Themed psychedelic sessions can be used with both classic psychedelics, such as LSD or psilocybin, and non classics, such as MDMA, ketamine, and marijuana. Dosage is important, as always. Bear in mind that on higher doses, it can be hard to keep the train on the tracks of your chosen theme.
What themes can you use?
A theme could really be any topic or subject. This can include emotions, concepts, philosophies, ideas, or cultures.
The themes chosen might be related to something you are currently experiencing in your life and would like to gain a deeper understanding of. Or an interest of yours that you’d like to explore more deeply.
Some examples of themes:
- jealousy, joy, anger
- revenge, rejection, loneliness
- family, creativity, revolution
As you can see, anything could potentially be a theme.
How to do a themed session
There is no strict definition to what a themed session is, and so there are infinite ways one could be done. Be creative and come up with your own styles!
Here are some ideas and examples to get you started.
Preparing the setting
The preparation can be as complex or simple as you like. It can be done over the course of days, or set up quickly before the session.
To prepare for a themed session, you can gather materials related to your chosen topic. These can include wikipedia articles, pieces of visual art, quotes or poems, music, videos and films. For relevant materials from the internet, you can print them off or just have them easily accessible on your laptop. You might also include magazine cutouts or postcards, and you can also include personal possessions, such as souvenirs, gifts, or photos.
Once you have your items, you can place them around the space as you like. This can be like creating a little museum, privately curated by yourself. Pretty fun. If you want to go next level, you could also decorate the room in some special way.
Preparing the Set
You might also read some articles or books on the theme in the lead up to the session. You could also listen to podcasts or watch related films. The more the topic has been turned over in your mind beforehand, the richer your exploration is likely to be.
Once you have a topic in mind that you’d like to explore in a themed session, you can create a new playlist and add songs to it as you think of them. You can also search online or ask friends for suggestions. The music can be linked by its energy or vibe, or by its lyrical content. During the session itself you can read along to lyrics as you hear them. I find this a really fun way to enter into the artists’ world.
During the session, embody the explorer! Practice curiosity as you traverse the worlds of your chosen theme.
Investigate, inquire, examine. Be open to new interpretations. Follow trails where they lead.
You might explore thoughts that come up by brainstorming or talking out loud. You can explore emotions by feeling them in your body and giving them expression in some way. This could be by way of movement, sound or other means (e.g. dance, singing, doodling).
You can also set intentions based on the flavour you’d like your exploration to take e.g. playful, deep, light, joyful.
Some examples of themed sessions I’ve done include ‘the loner’, revolution, and revenge.
For the revenge session, I was trying to understand my impulses for vengeance in a situation where I felt I’d been wronged. It helped to assuage difficult feelings and I also just found it really interesting. For the loner session, I was merging an exploration with a creative project. I was working on a song on the theme and used the session as a means of inspiration. I’ve found this way of combining exploring with creativity to be highly enjoyable. The exploration helps to dig in to a topic, and then the creative expression acts as a channel for whatever comes up.
One themed session I would still like to do is ‘The Beatles Trip’. My idea is to journey through their story by listening to the all of their studio albums back to back in chronological order. I’d like to time it so the effects of a psychedelic are kicking in at the point in their discography when they are beginning their own psychedelic explorations, around the mark of Revolver, and peaking with Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour. Some weed should probably be smoked with Got To Get You Into My Life, Paul’s ode to the plant, and the day might be rounded off by snuggling down to watch a film or documentary about the fab four, such as Anthology. It might also be fun to dress up in Sgt Peppers style outfits. This is definitely one to do with friends 🙂
But what about you?
What subject would you like to dive in to?
I wish you a wonderful exploration!