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Going Slow & Getting it right with the Psychedelic Rennaissance

Updated: May 23, 2019

On May 8, 2019, voters in Denver, Colorado became the first in the nation to effectively decriminalize "magic" mushrooms.This is very exciting for a couple of reasons- first, less people will be put in jail for something that should be a conversation with a psychotherapist instead! Second, I look forward to working with more clients who have had "other worldly" or transpersonal experiences via psilocybin mushrooms and by other means.

The use of psychedelics to enhance creativity, attain spiritual insight, and heal psychological and emotional wounds and afflictions is enjoying a resurgence globally. It seems their use is on the rise, based on these kinds of ballot measures and national dialogue taking shape. In particular, research in the U.S. and Europe is repeatedly proving efficacy for treating a wide array of issues with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. At the same time, many individuals are seeking "underground" guides, therapists, shamanic healers and ceremonies, or self-administering psychedelics to experience their potential or for recreation. Meanwhile, other people may be entering or attempting to reach these altered states of consciousness by other means.

Part of what makes this renaissance so exciting is that these "other means" have really evolved over the past five decades, since the elders of the '60s generation have infiltrated their psychedelic insights into and throughout society. (This is particularly true of the pioneers in the fields of counseling and psychology - Stan Grof and James Bugental were referenced often by the academic professors at John F Kennedy University's Transpersonal Psychology Program that I completed. This program was housed under the Holistic Studies department, and Department Chair Ray Greenleaf told us directly that one of the main intentions of the program was to pass all of the nondual/transpersonal knowledge gained through the 1960's and 70's experimentation on to next generations.) In terms of experimenting with ways of shifting consciousness outside of psychedelic use, the methods I'm partial to are personal alchemy, vision quests, dream exploration, (archetypal) active imagination, Salvia Divinorum, Underworld journeys, Nondual Psychotherapy, meditation practices, and post-psychedelic Dreamscape Method - all of which are available in 1:1 sessions here at Alchemy Door.

Psychedelics are arguably the most powerful "alchemy door" to open up to these other dimensions. Psychedelics have potential for healing longstanding issues such as depression and anxiety precisely because of the opportunity for working with these internal landscapes. And yet, despite the current renaissance, there are a number of voices (for example, Jamie Wheal) cautioning that there could be a new backlash that would take us back to the dark ages of fear mongering and authoritarian regulation (whether from government or big Pharma) that would shut the whole thing down. It is not a guarantee that psychedelics will go the way of cannabis with easy legalization. And so, I agree with Michael Pollen, one of the primary contributors to the current national dialogue, who in a NYT opinion article on May 10 talks about the importance of "pacing ourselves" as we move towards legalizing these "astonishing gifts of nature." He sums it up beautifully in his call for more attention to setting and preparation:

"Whether in pre-Conquest South or Central America (where psilocybin has been used for centuries), or Ancient Greece, psychedelic substances were always approached with deliberateness and care. For the most part, the substances were not taken alone but usually in a group under the direction of an elder or shaman familiar with the mental territory, and they were used only on certain occasions, surrounded by ritual and with a clear intention. There was nothing casual about it." (…/…/denver-mushrooms-psilocybin.html)

No matter what the method is for getting outside of oneself and exploring the vastness of the psychedelic realm, it is clear that these interior experiences need to be respected, protected, and worked with before, during and after they are had.

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