THIRD WAVE PODCAST
How To Craft The Perfect Psychedelic Ceremony
This week we’re joined by expert occultist Julian Vayne, author of the psychedelic manual Getting Higher. Julian shares with us his psychedelic experience, and how he thinks traditional rituals have influenced the modern psychedelic ceremony. We discuss the most important factors in setting up a ceremony to produce the most positive results.
- Ancient psychedelic ceremonies can offer us useful techniques
- We should learn from traditional lessons with appropriate respect
- Setting your intention is one of the most useful tools of the ritual
Julian is the curator of the Psychedelic Museum – a collective effort to bring psychedelic culture and knowledge to various events and conferences around the world. Their next exhibition will be at Breaking Convention, in London this June, where they will be showcasing a number of fascinating psychedelic objects and pieces of art.
Initially an expert in magic and the occult, Julian’s first psychedelic experience prompted him to investigate the ritualistic use of psychedelics. He recently decided to write a book summarizing the knowledge he’s gathered over the years – intended as a manual of psychedelic ceremony, Getting Higher combines modern understanding of the psychedelic experience with ancient techniques.
Julian says that we can learn a lot from traditional psychedelic ceremonies. The ways in which sound, movement and visualization are used in healing rituals can be useful for the modern psychonaut. Combining these techniques with our modern understanding of psychedelic-assisted therapy can allow people to craft their perfect psychedelic ceremony.
Finally Julian shares with us the most important technique that can make the difference between a good ceremony and a bad ceremony. Setting your intention beforehand is key. Traditional ceremonies often involve articulating your wishes to an object or to the sacred medicine – and this, Julian says, is something that could be immensely helpful in the modern ritual.
0:00:29 Paul Austin: Hey, listeners, and welcome back to The Third Wave podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin. If this is your first time listening, I just wanna welcome you guys to the podcast. If you’re back, thanks for coming back. We’ve another excellent show for you today, with Julian Vayne, who is the author of a book called Getting Higher, which will be great little thing that we’ll dig into in a little bit here. So, I’m actually recording this, per usual, from another location.
0:00:58 PA: I had an interesting little fiasco yesterday evening, where basically I had a flight booked from LaGuardia to Grand Rapids, which is my hometown direct. I was waiting in the lounge beforehand, and I discovered that my flight was canceled. It’s like, “Shit, what now?” So, I went up to the desk, they rebooked to me through Detroit, and then to the Grand Rapids, and then, you know, I board the flight to go to Detroit, and we sit in the runway for an hour and a half. My God, jeez! So we get into Detroit, and it’s 11:30 at night, and two people in the flight that are near me are like, well, let’s just take an Uber home.
0:01:35 PA: So, we ended up booking an Uber to go home, and I’m staying with my parents in Grand Rapids for like a week, week and a half. And it was so late at night that I was just like, “Hey, man… ” and I said this to the Uber driver, I’m like, “Hey, man, if you just want to crash here, you can do that.” So, my night ended up with the Uber driver crashing at my parents’ house. I arrived home about 2:30 AM, and now I’m recording this podcast intro for all of you. Lesson is traveling can be a pain in the ass sometimes, and although it’s romantic and fun and nice and adventurous, it also takes a lot out of you. So, you can hear about my travel sob stories later on, that’s about it for now.
0:02:16 PA: We’ll get into This Week in Psychedelics, our typical segment at the beginning of every podcast, where I just update you on a few things that are going on in the psychedelic, and sometimes the larger drug world. The first piece of news is an entrepreneur and biohacker will share the results of her year-long psilocybin microdosing experiment in Amsterdam on June 17 and 18, at the Quantified Self conference, her name is Janet Chang. And I actually interviewed Janet yesterday in New York for the podcast. And we’ll probably be publishing that podcast in a month or so, we have a backlog of podcasts, including with Shane Moss, the comedian, and Mark Manson, a New York Times bestseller that will be coming up, and then Janet will be after that. So, she’s going to share her experience with quantifying what she found out with microdosing psilocybin for a year. So that’ll be really interesting, and we will talk about that more on the podcast with her.
0:03:14 PA: There’s a recent study done on Ibogaine that showed that it helped opioid addicts. Thirty addicts were treated with Ibogaine, which significantly reduced their withdrawal symptoms and reduced their drug use over the next 12 months. So, these results are particularly notable given the growing opioid epidemic, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate caused 91 deaths per day in the United States in 2016, and which has been recognized as a health policy priority by the White House’s commission on combating drug addiction and the opioid crisis. The Mexico study, published on May 25, showed that Ibogaine administration was associated with substantive effects on opiate withdrawal symptoms and drug use, and subjects for whom other treatments had been unsuccessful.
0:03:55 PA: Using the Addiction Severity Index and Subjective Opioid Withdrawal Scale as primary outcome measures, the study enrolled 30 participants, who received Ibogaine treatment in an independent clinic in Mexico. Twelve out of 30 participants reported 75% reductions in their drug use 30 days following treatment, 33% reported no opioid use three months later. And this paper is co-authored by Thomas Kingsley Brown and Kenneth Alper. We’ll provide a full link to the press release from MAPS about Ibogaine’s promise as a treatment for opioid addiction. This is obviously something that a lot of people know and have known in terms of Ibogaine’s effectiveness, but it would be great if we could have more and more research, especially clinical research, showing its effectiveness, considering the massive crisis going on right now with opioids.
0:04:42 PA: And the last piece of news is Ross Ulbricht, which may sound familiar. He was the founder of the Silk Road and the subject of the documentary Deep Web, has lost his appeal and may very well spend the rest of his life in prison. His lawyers focused their argument on the fact that the Silk Road has reduced drug-related harm by taking power out of the hands of street dealers and gangs. Despite the judge being convinced of the benefits of Ross’s venture and the unfairly harsh nature of our drug laws, he nevertheless sided with prohibition to give Ross the maximum sentence of life without parole. Here’s an excerpt from the article, which I will read.
0:05:15 PA: “Here is the dreadful way Lynch’s, who’s the judge, decision deals with that consideration. It is very possible that at some future point we will come to regard these policies, the drug war, as tragic mistakes, and adopt less punitive and more effective methods of reducing the incidence and costs of drug use. At this point in our history, however, the democratically elected representatives of the people have opted for a policy of prohibition, backed by severe punishment. And pay really close attention to this: In this case, a reminder of the consequences of facilitating such transactions was perhaps more necessary, particularly because Ulbricht claimed that his site actually made the drug trade safer, and he appeared to contest the legitimacy of the laws he violated. In other words, the fact that Ulbricht and his defense team dared to state out loud the obvious facts of the harm reduction benefits of Silk Road and dared to even suggest that the laws against drug sales in this manner might not be legitimate, justified the insanely harsh sentence of life without parole.”
0:06:00 PA: Wow. I mean, I think that just speaks to the completely failed policies that we’re dealing with, that someone who is basically trying to make society safer, by facilitating transactions with substances that provide a middleman, was given life without parole. Now, there are various things that Ross did within this venture that he got caught up in that he tried to carry out that were definitely really messed up. There’s a really good long foreign piece on Wired about the entire process of how he got caught and sentenced and everything. However, this also speaks to the importance of changing culture, because our judges, our Congress, our president, our whole entire political system exists within a cultural framework, and although science will be critical in terms of showing the benefits of psychedelics for medicinal purposes, the harder and more intangible work that must be done and that must continue to be done is building relationships and building communities and helping people to understand that the drug war has failed and that these substances, many of them have tangible medicinal benefits.
0:07:23 PA: And of course, I’m speaking about psychedelics, but that doesn’t go without saying about things like amphetamines and methamphetamines. We legally feed children as young as four years old some of these substances, Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta, yet we demonize drug users who decide to do crystal meth or speed or coke. Now, these things are addictive, but so are the pharmaceuticals that pharmaceutical companies sell to us and sell to our children, and this just highlights the importance of what we all are doing as a community, and the importance of stepping up. This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is we need more people to step up, we need more people to step up. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
0:08:02 PA: And that leads me to this week’s podcast, which is with expert occultist, Julian Vayne, who is author of the psychedelic manual, Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony. Julian shares with us his psychedelic experience and how he thinks traditional rituals have influenced the modern psychedelic ceremony. In this podcast, we discuss the most important factors in setting up a psychedelic ceremony so that you can have the best experience possible or the most impactful experience possible. As Jim Fadiman reminds us in the The Psychedelic Explorer Guides, we must pay attention to the six S’s, particularly set and setting, because psychedelics amplify what is already inside of us, that when we create a space and a container for these experiences, the specifics of that space will influence the experience that we have.
0:08:56 PA: And so that’s why I think this book is so incredibly important, because there really hasn’t been a manual, a guide written since the ’60s about how to set up a psychedelic space and ceremony. And finally, we have one. And so I’m really excited to share this podcast with all of you today, to share this interview with all of you today, because I think it will help you to get more out of your own psychedelic experiences. And, of course, for me, at least, the point of doing psychedelics is yes, the experience itself is fascinating and it’s interesting, and it’s sometimes beautiful, mystical.
0:09:28 PA: However, for me, the thing that matters most is what goes on after the experience, how do we integrate it, what are the benefits, the real world tangible benefits that we can bring back with us into our personal lives, into our intimate lives, into our communities, into our larger societies. And I think that’s why this interview and this book that Julian has written is so important. So please enjoy the podcast with Julian today. I wanna say two things before we get into it, one, please leave us a review on iTunes if you enjoy this podcast. It would mean a lot to me, it would mean a lot to our team at Third Wave. It would mean a lot to the larger community, especially to people who are unsure of what psychedelic podcast they should be listening to, leaving reviews helps them to make a better, more informed decision.
0:10:10 PA: Second, we encourage you, if you enjoy this podcast, if it’s valuable for you to please make a donation. There will never be advertisements on this podcast. At the same time, we do need to pay for basic things like food and water and shelter and things like that. So if you could make a podcast to support us go a long ways towards making sure that we can do and make a high quality show for your benefit, and for your purpose, and that’s about it. Please enjoy the podcast, and stay tuned for after the show to hear a couple of questions that were asked by our audience members.
0:11:02 PA: I went to Horizons in New York last October, the psychedelic conference there, and I remember I was in the Whitney Museum afterwards, after the conference, the Monday after with a friend, and I was talking to him, is there a psychedelic museum ’cause I feel like there should be… And then a week later or a couple of weeks later, I saw that you guys were doing… When did you do the the first pop-up or the second pop-up in London?
0:11:22 Julian Vayne: So, I think we did the first pop-up, I think it was the tail end of last year, and then we did one in February of this year, which was called Alice’s Adventures in Underground Culture and that had an artist called John Coulthart, who had done some really amazing Alice stuff that was printed on blotter, as blotter art, and we had a whole bunch of objects that were just related to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the kind of link between that and the kind of psychedelic… The emergence of psychedelic culture, or modern psychedelic culture in the West. And again, we managed to find a collector who had loads of cool stuff, so we had early editions of Alice in Wonderland. We had various fliers from clubs that use kind of Alice in Wonderland iconography, various pieces of stuff on display that were particular to that theme, but the Breaking Convention one, we’ve got several aspects to it, but I think we’re gonna do really this idea of the first and second summers of love.
0:12:16 JV: So we’ll have lots of stuff, stuff from the ’60s, stuff from the ’80s, early ’90s, kind of MDMA sort of period right up to, like I say, contemporary material as well, and hopefully a couple of quite old objects in there. And it’s like the man, Bob Marley, says, you gotta know your history to know where you’re coming from, and I think that there’s a real value in that. There is a value, as well, in normalizing the use of psychedelics. Humans have always done this. This is… The fact that we live in this kind of strange, legal, prohibitionist bubble is historically very unusual, alone, in terms of pre-history and so just to… Yeah, try and give that sense.
0:12:53 JV: So, the one we did in February, we had about 600 people over the course of… Let’s see, what was it, it was like Thursday night, we had an event there and some talks, and a couple of people who were researchers or academics talking about that. Andy Roberts was there, the countercultural historian, and so we had that event, and then over the court before, we set up shop about 5 o’clock on Saturday, and yeah, we had 600 visitors, which is pretty, pretty good going for just a small little exhibition.
0:13:20 PA: So are you changing the exhibitions every time? Or are you gonna eventually get to a point where you have a consistent collection that you would like to…
0:13:27 JV: I guess it depends. I mean, in Getting Higher, there’s an imagined journey to a psychedelic museum, which of course is my sort of aspiration to how this thing might conceivably look. So yeah, I would like to see there being… My ideal fantasy would be to have something in America and something in Europe. And there are lots and lots and lots of things out there. And we’ve had already people come forward to us with very interesting collections of ephemera and papers in particular relating to various people and we’ve had some really kind of good contact. There’s a big collection of psychedelic art, for example, that exists in France. I think in Paris.
0:13:57 JV: You could fill many buildings with this stuff and certainly you would want to fill one building and then, like the psychedelic experience, you’d wanna kinda continuously change this and mix this around. Put things next to each other in kind of juxtaposed but interesting kind of a ways. So again, one of the things that we’re doing at the Breaking Convention which is towards that is, we’ll have a case which has, as I mentioned, like a high-end vaporizer in it and it’ll will also hopefully have a Peruvian DMT snuff tray and it’ll also have a Coca-Cola can crushed with some holes poked in the top for smoking weed through.
0:14:31 JV: So this is like an indigenous, North-West European sort of… Or American style of found object repurposed as a device for changing consciousness. Because there’s such a range of stuff, I mean, there’s loads of it. Loads of stories to tell.
0:14:45 PA: And I think one of the more interesting aspects, I don’t know if you guys are planning to do this or if you have done this, but bringing in aspects of Ayahuasca from the Amazon. So indigenous kind of practices and the tools. Do you have any things like that? Are you working on things like that?
0:15:00 JV: So, I’m hoping that I’ll have maybe a Fijian Kava Kava cup, we’ve certainly got a couple of things that there’s… I think that we might have… Yeah, we’ve certainly got South American Rapé pipe. Have we got any Ayahuasca stuff? There’s various pieces of ephemera and art work and so on that point to that but… See, one of the things that’s interesting about psychedelics is very often that a lot of the objects that we use are quite either disposable or they’re nothing special. So, here’s a pot. This was a pot once used to brew up Ayahuasca. Well, cool, but it’s exactly the same as the pot that next week will be cooking the rice. You know, whatever.
0:15:34 PA: Exactly.
0:15:34 JV: Yeah, so we try to find those things. And if you have something particularly delicious to bring over to Breaking Convention, if we can find space for it, we’ll stick it in a case and put it in the museum.
0:15:43 PA: I was even thinking like the icaros, like what the icaros play… The music with like a flute or something like that.
0:15:48 JV: Ah, yeah, yeah. Well, I’m hoping… I mean, we have to be a bit thoughtful about sort of sound and things, and the way that that’s gonna work. But I’m hoping that what we can do is, because we’re talking about the… Particularly thinking about the first Summer Of Love, I think we’re gonna have a bit of a sound track with some of the emerging kind of psychedelic sounds that were being created by European culture. In Breaking Convention itself, there will be Ayahuasqueros and there will be icaros being sung and that culture will be very much kind of represented there. I suspect that within the psychedelic museum we’ll probably… It will be more…
0:16:18 JV: Because of where the collection is coming from, it’s gonna be kind of people who have brought stuff that’s related to the kind of ’60s, to the second Summer Of Love, those sorts of things will come into that. But if I can get a hold of the DMT snuff tray, then I shall be very happy. ‘Cause that’s, you know, it’s an original Peruvian object. So we’ll see whether or not that comes off. I’ve got a collector, he’s in Wales. I’ve spoken to him. We’ll see whether or not it turns up.
0:16:39 PA: Well, this is…
0:16:40 JV: But we’ll certainly have things like… We’ll have a dream machine, we’ll have some plants there as well, so we’ll have some Pedro, and Peyote, Flaming Torch Cactus and, you know. We’ll have the actual, you know, the spirits will be present in the room.
0:16:52 PA: Absolutely. Yeah, it sounds like you could even, going forward, look at things from Oaxaca, the Mazatec in terms of mushrooms and what was used there.
0:16:58 JV: Yeah.
0:17:00 PA: Soma, ancient India. I don’t know if there’s anything that would be viable, or prevalent there. There’s all these different things that you could integrate, it just…
0:17:08 JV: Oh, man, when we’ve got a bigger space, we’re definitely gonna have that, man. I mean, like… There’s… I think, again in Getting Higher, when there’s an imagined bit where our protagonist who is at museum level wanders around and encounters some of the Ayahuasca stuff. So, yeah, it’s definitely… It’s one of those important stories to tell. And I think that as the project develops, and as the collection grows, and as people who are around who would be happy to loan things to the collection become aware of the project, then hopefully it will mean that we’ll have a much, much wider net to cast when we curate exhibitions in the future.
0:17:41 PA: So, where did this idea come from, like how… Where did this idea of a psychedelic museum come from?
0:17:45 JV: This came from… It came from several things. It came from the fact that… I was talking to someone at Breaking Convention 2015 and I’d always kind of kicked around in my head for a while this idea of having a museum about altered states of consciousness. And of course there have been various shows. So there was one curated by Mike Jay, called High Society, which was done in London some years ago. So there had been sort of little forays in the mainstream museum world in that direction. But I work in museums, that’s my kind of field.
0:18:10 JV: So Breaking Convention 2015, I spoke to a guy there, who’s become one of our contacts in the US, and he said, “We really need to push this idea forward.” So, I said. “Yeah, let’s do it.” So we’ve been doing the tedious things like setting up the bank account, and agreeing the structure for the organization, you know, tedious but necessary. And then, we had these opportunities to do these two pop-ups and very quickly we were fortunate enough to be able to kind of swing into action and do some of this stuff. So we do Breaking Convention as another kind of, “Ta-da, this is the idea guys.” And hopefully encourage people to participate in that in some way, whether it’s donating time, loaning objects, money, opportunities or places where they know that perhaps we could do a pop-up exhibition, just to get people enthused about the idea. Because it’s… Like I say, an idea that emerged in a really coherent way in Breaking Convention 2015. But I think it’s an idea whose time has come. Like you say, there is no psychedelic museum on this planet. So let’s us create one.
0:19:08 PA: And I think, with the increasing relevance of psychedelics, how they’re just… I think this is just starting in many ways.
0:19:14 JV: Yeah.
0:19:14 PA: Because of how effective they are at treating a myriad of mental health issues, PTSD, depression, whatever, addiction, and just with the changing attitudes about the drug war, I think there’s gonna be more and more of a need for understanding our history in terms of, you know, like, there are so many people who don’t even realize that someone like Plato, for example, likely did psychedelics with the Eleusinian mysteries and that has influenced Western civilization to a degree that we don’t even recognize or realize. So…
0:19:19 JV: Yeah. Absolutely.
0:19:19 PA: I think… Yeah, tracking that and having that history will be super important. So I’m glad you’re carrying the torch on that, and if and when there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. I would be…
0:19:50 JV: Fantastic. Well, I suppose, like I’ve said to a number of people that I’ve spoken to in the US, if you can think of like an interesting venue and we can sort of plan things obviously a little bit ahead, if we can get the community, let’s say, in the US to come together and to maybe show that happen, then yeah, collaboratively we could do this. We could run some pop-up exhibitions, we can see what the kind of appetite for this is, which I think is quite significant and develop it out from that kind of direction. So just have a think, where would you like to see your psychedelic museum be and what would you like it to have in it? And maybe that’s something that we can try and realize.
0:20:21 PA: Absolutely, I think that’s great. I want to hear a little bit more about you. So we talked a lot about the psychedelic museum, how did you get interested in psychedelics? What’s your psychedelic history, personally?
0:20:31 JV: Okay, so in terms of psychedelics, as a young man I encountered cannabis, which I think, you know, people are sometimes uncertain as to whether or not cannabis is psychedelic. I challenge anyone to eat more than a few grams of it and claim that it’s not a psychedelic. So I encountered cannabis as a young man, smoking, and of course it took me a while to get the hang of cannabis. I would just sort of feel sick and spin out and lie on the floor and not really understand why everyone was listening to the music and having a great time. Eventually, sort of found this relationship with cannabis which is quite interesting, and then because I’d been involved in the occult/pagan-y kind of world for a while, I had the opportunity of doing a lecture in London, and I guess I was probably about 21, 22, something like this, because I was involved in the field fairly early on. And there was a guy came up to me after the lecture and said, I really liked what you said but you really could benefit from this.
0:21:16 JV: And so he gave me some acid. And that was fantastic, it was marvelous, I had this acid and I took it home and of course I left it for, I don’t know, six months or a year or something. And I’d read Huxley, and I’d read William James and I was obviously very much inspired by the work of dear old Aleister Crowley, so I was hip to this sort of stuff. The only thing I didn’t know was how big acid was, and the difficulty with that was that the blotters that I had, I now realize, were these ones that you only get the full design if you have four of them together. So I had eight trips, so he’d given me eight trips. I thought this was two, so I took half and then nothing happened and I thought, “Oh, well, nothing’s happening. Might as well take the other half.” So I took the other half, nothing seemed to happen. So I thought, fuck it, I’ll take the other one. And then the next 24 hours were really quite exciting. And I was very fortunate because I already had, like five even getting on for 10 years work doing yoga, meditation, visualization, ritual ceremony stuff.
0:22:16 JV: And so I was able to navigate this thing, I like to think, fairly well. I certainly retrospectively imagined it as a really interesting beneficial experience. And I found that a lot of those techniques were really helpful in allowing me to complete the journey. So then I had that experience, and I thought, yeah, that’s great. I kinda got into my mid-late 20s, started taking MDMA, going clubbing, all that kind of stuff. Still very interested in paganism, still very involved in ritual work. And I guess it wasn’t until I got to maybe 27, 28, maybe even a little bit later, I started looking at, “Okay, so how can you combine these things?” ‘Cause obviously they’ve always had a relationship, the idea of psychedelics and I suppose what we could broadly call sort of ceremonial/spiritual/esoteric kind of practice. These things go together very, very naturally. And so I started working with various, on my own and also with other people, doing a number of things. Going to Ayahuasca ceremonies, things like Santo Daime. Going to things like Native American Peyote circles and to other people who were coming at this story from I suppose what one might call an archaic or indigenous or native sort of tradition, they have that to share, that I was able to engage with.
0:23:29 JV: And I also started experimenting with ritual structures to hold other psychedelics, perhaps ones that were new or that didn’t have a history of native spiritual use. And carried on with that for quite a number of years, and through that time for quite a while I was thinking, I’d like to… ‘Cause I write stuff, that’s one of the things I do. I’d like to be able to write a book that would be a real… That I would have found helpful. So a book that would gather together some of these approaches to psychedelics, but also would be open-ended enough so that it wasn’t about being all really po-faced about, “Oh, well, we can really only do psychedelics if we’re doing religion.” Because I think that doesn’t make any sense. But I do think it makes sense to say, if you’re taking psychedelics we know that setting matters, we know that the psychedelic state is a very plastic state. You can alter it in a lot of different ways.
0:24:25 JV: Here are some techniques that I and other people have come up with, that are ways of framing/directing/focusing/exploring the psychedelic state. And I wanted to put those together in a book. So it took many years and lots of notes, lots of time also showing material to other people, from different traditions and saying, “Look, do you think I’ve missed anything out? Or is there anything I need to big up a little bit more? Or whatever.” And finally getting to the stage where the lovely people at psychedelic press said, yeah we’ll take this one on. Worked with them, worked with their team to really polish the thing up and hey presto or abracadabra or whatever one’s supposed to say, there you go, there’s the book.
0:25:06 PA: Great, and I wanna track back a little bit because you had mentioned your interest in occult/pagan rituals, Aleister Crowley. I’m not super familiar, but he did Peyote, if I’m not mistaken.
0:25:15 JV: Yes.
0:25:16 PA: And was most prominent in the early 20th century, I believe.
0:25:21 JV: Exactly right.
0:25:23 PA: What you learned from occult/pagan traditions, how did that influence you putting together this book? This book about ceremonies and space and what was the influence of kind of your occult/pagan background?
0:25:34 JV: I guess there are several influences. One of them is that a lot of the occult stuff that I’d done has been within the context of group work. So for example, when I first became interested in magic, I became involved with Wicca. So I was part of a group where we did quite sort of experimental styles of rituals. So we would always write… Rather than repeating the same ritual every time we came to say one of the classic pagan festivals, we’d always create a ritual that was specific to what we wanted to achieve, to the people who were there and so on. So I had quite a good grounding over many years, of how do you create a space? How do you create and hold spaces?
0:26:11 JV: I guess also within the magical tradition, there’s all of those techniques, which I always think of as being about the techniques of the imaginal. So they’re about things like visualization. They’re about things like, we had a place for tension in particular things. Being able to use techniques like sound. So whether that’s chanting or whether or not that’s dramatic invitations to deities or whatever that happens to be. You can almost sort of strip it away from the belief system because you can see these things being evident in lots of different religious traditions in lots of different spiritual practices and you can say, “Well, what are the techniques that people use?”
0:26:47 JV: I guess as I became, as I sort of went… Gone through my own exploration of spiritual stuff, I became very interested in a style of magic which was developed in the late 20th century initially in Britain called chaos magic, and chaos magic was an attempt at, again, looking at all these different traditions and trying to find what are the key things underlying them and the two things that various people who were working in the field at the time identified was that all of these techniques are involved… Involve change in consciousness in some way.
0:27:14 JV: So some of them are very kind of quiet and yin style so they’re like long hours meditating or they’re lying down listening to a drum going inside yourself, having some sort of visualization process, whatever. Some of them are very active, so the use of sex within kind of tantrism and or drumming or dance or whatever, and you can see these within lots and lots of different spiritual traditions. So first, you can say techniques of changing, altering consciousness are important, that’s a common thread. And you can also say that the belief system, the paradigm, the envelope within which that change of consciousness happens is the thing that sort of directs and frames, if you like, the intention of the ceremony.
0:27:53 JV: So if you look, for example, at any religious ritual or indeed lots of political or military or civil ceremonies, the techniques of changing consciousness whether that’s music, whether that’s singing together, whether that’s spending long hours in a church standing up and sitting down and standing up and sitting down and listening to some guy say some stuff or whatever, incense is going, it’s there’s an envelope in which that happens, the belief system in which that happens, and by looking at those two things we can come up with psychedelics, okay, psychedelics are the way of changing consciousness and then what’s the envelope? What’s the belief system? What’s the approach that we use? And so that was really, I guess, where my understanding of the occult kind of bled into how we might look at psychedelic ritual.
0:28:36 PA: That’s fascinating. And when you talk about this envelope I think this sense of an envelope, this sense of where the ritual happens is so pertinent to psychedelics because as the messaging goes, set and setting is a fairly important thing to pay attention to when we’re having a psychedelic experience. And from my perspective, it seems like the major utility of psychedelic substances is to help people live better lives.
0:28:56 PA: So, meaning if we had that space within a container, we can create a container that enables kinda personal development or the sense of exploring consciousness so that when we come out of that space, when we come out of that envelope, ideally something has changed in our lives to make us be able to navigate reality a little bit easier, a little bit better or whatever, that might be. So whether that is with “sick people who are just trying to get back to normal,” or whether that’s the betterment of well people in terms of helping them to have a mystical experience or some sort of peak experience. So I wanna kinda dig into those separately. In terms of setting up a ceremony or a space for someone who struggles with depression or PTSD, from your perspective or from your understanding, what’s a good way to create a ceremony or a space to help kinda facilitate that healing process for someone who’s been struggling with these things?
0:29:44 JV: Well, there’s a couple of different models for doing that. Obviously, we’re fortunate to be living in an era where people like MAPS have done the work with things like kinda PTSD, for example, and we now have what appear to be quite good ideas about how we go about treating these things in that kind of medicalized or psychoanalytic context that we know there is this regime that is… That appears to be optimum, we know how many sessions of psychoanalysis can be useful, some of which might be MDMA-assisted, some of which may not be.
0:30:11 JV: So that’s one way of approaching it, and that would be sort of a relationship and a story to be developed between the therapist and the client. I think that there are other ways of doing it, so for example, if we look at something like the peyote ceremony, I remember being once with a shaman who was a Mexican guy, who said, “The thing about the peyote ceremony is the way that we structure that,” so everyone sits around a central fire, there’s drumming with a continuous rhythm and there’s singing through the night and then there’s moments of prayer and so on. He said, “The reason we do it like this is because in psychoanalysis, what we do is we bring our problems up to the surface, we talk about them and we describe them and we analyze and that’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
0:30:47 JV: But he said, “In the peyote ceremony what we do is we use a different technique, which is to create this big kind of heart chakra love recognition of all the things that we can be grateful for, so we spend time praying to, and it doesn’t really matter if we believe in a great spirit or some objective entity or not, but we spend time acknowledging the good things in our lives,” and by doing so he suggested that we use this powerful sense of gratefulness and thanks and the community feeling of being in the teepee through the night with the medicine, and that is able to kind of push out so it’s like a kind of enema type thing. It kind of pushes out all the hurt.
0:31:24 JV: So I think that if someone were entering a situation where they had a particular difficulty there’s a couple of different options. They can look to having a ceremony like that, that is almost a counterpoint to whatever their difficulty might be, or they can look at a ceremony where they say, okay, well, what I’m gonna do, is I’m gonna set up a situation with perhaps a trusted friend who may or may not be a analyst but I’m gonna take my attention to what I see is my problem and I’m gonna work with that through the session, maybe I’m going to draw things, maybe I’m gonna make something which is a way of kind of expressing my difficulty, maybe I’ll then bury that or change it in some way in the session.
0:32:00 JV: And you create a kind of, I suppose almost a kind of sympathetic magic, so you create this idea that as I am drawing my problem, so my problem is becoming externalized into this object and then I’m gonna draw something on top of that which is emblematic of my ability to transform whatever my problem is, for instance.
0:32:19 JV: So what we do is we use the kind of the metaphorical nature of the psychedelic experience and maybe we use even more or less ritual, depending on what that person is comfortable with. Again, in Getting Higher there’s a bit where it sort of says, if you wanna create a good setting, sure, some people will wanna go for that whole kind of, I don’t know, boutique hangings and pictures of Shiva kind of a vibe, but if you find that a picture of, I don’t know, Aerosmith on the wall or a poster, a picture of your favorite sports guy, if that’s the thing that is your ally, then use that.
0:32:50 JV: So it’s about reflecting on the fact for psychedelic experience you create that good environment, whatever you conceptualize that to be. With either just you, if you’re just doing it on your own, maybe with one other person, maybe with a group of people, and then very often you have a sort of metaphorical process that represents that transformation and you would engage with that and what that would be for a particular person, I guess would be something for them to reflect on, for them to work with, you know, friends or maybe a group if they’re working that kind of context to come up with. So, it’s gonna vary hugely, there can’t be…
0:33:22 JV: I don’t think there can be a simple script, for this is how you should do it. But those are a couple of different models so you can either bring the problem up and explore it and maybe transform it in some way. Either linguistically or metaphorically, in the session and/or what you can do is you can have a session which is designed to almost allow you to notice all the stuff that isn’t wrong, so to allow you to really recognize the fact that, “Hey, you’re alive. All the atoms that you’re made from come from the core of long dead stars. Isn’t that astonishing?” And yes, you’ve got your problems. Frankly, we all have our problems, but nevertheless the beauty and the magnificence of being alive and perhaps being alive with this in, say, a group setting with a bunch of other supportive people, focus on that. Bring your attention to that, let that push through whatever the difficulty is, and transform it.
0:34:08 PA: And so how do you… From your perspective or from my perspective, from our perspective, there are two main types of ceremonies that we’re seeing right now in the psychedelic space. And “main” is a generalization, but just the ones that people are most familiar with. I would say there are those Ayahuasca circles or Peyote circles and then there are the ones that are, for example, therapy-oriented, whether that is the above ground ones going on at Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Imperial or, you know, underground therapists who are working with people with psychedelics.
0:34:37 PA: What do you think about those spaces as ceremonies? Do they incorporate and integrate those aspects that you just mentioned, or do you think that there could be kind of an evolution of the way that we treat the psychedelic ceremony and experience so that it draws on what we know from modern healthcare in terms of the therapeutic session, but it still incorporates indigenous aspects of this connection with the earth and whatnot?
0:35:00 JV: Okay, so I think that there is, if you talk to the people who do, let’s say, MDMA psychotherapy, they’re very, very clearly aware of the importance of things like music. They’re very clearly aware… Very often it’s done as [unclear speech]. So I think that there’s… Although we talk about these as two different things, there’s a huge kind of cross over and cross-fertilization between those two things.
0:35:17 JV: If we look at those two models. If we look at the psychotherapeutic psychedelic model of, you know, you had the therapist and you had the client there, and we then compare that to the sort of the indigenous approaches to the use of psychedelics, I think that what we’re actually going to see, and I hope that Getting Higher is going some way towards this, is the confluence of these two approaches, so we can take from the psychedelic research that’s going on a really now very detailed understanding of how these substances work in the brain, and what their effects might be and so on.
0:35:50 JV: We can take from those indigenous cultures. And I say take obviously… Or be inspired by, ’cause we’re trying to do this in a, hopefully, a thoughtful and respective way, a respectful way. What we can see is, hopefully the emergence of people creating ceremonial strategies that work for them, which don’t have to be about pretending to be a shaman from South America, necessarily, but they can be informed by that lineage, informed by that tradition, and they can also be informed by our contemporary understanding of psychedelics and the way that they work.
0:36:17 JV: So I think that what we’re gonna probably see in the next few years, is the emergence, not of exactly psychedelic cults. That’s not what we’re aiming for, I don’t think, but what we’re aiming for is we’re aiming for groups of people coming together to say, “Look, we’ve got access to these medicines, how can we best use these? And what can we draw on, what sources of inspiration have we got to draw on, so that we can create the stuff?” We’re living in an era where lots of people have access to psychedelics, particularly through things like the internet, and so on, where it’s going to be about people who don’t necessarily have mentors, who don’t necessarily have the luxury of being able to jump on a plane and fly to Mapia. About empowering those people to create their own approach that works for them as individuals and works for perhaps their own community. And I think that that’s the way that we’ll see these two things begin to blend together.
0:37:03 PA: Speaking of that, that reminds me of something that the London Psychedelic Society is now doing, where they’re offering trip setters that are for people who want to consume these substances. And I’ve even thought of that as a great model to continue to for many local psychedelic societies to offer basically if someone is going to do these, they’re gonna do it regardless, it’s much better to have them be educated about what makes for a good ceremony. How do you create the space necessary for that based on the reason that you’re doing it and your “objective” in taking the psychedelic, if there is one.
0:37:34 JV: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And for people to be able to understand that the psychedelic state, although we’re talking about it primarily in terms of the use of drugs, there are other ways of getting into the psychedelic state, whether that’s breath work or with that’s core shamanist stuff, that people like Michael Harner have developed. So there’s all kinds of ways of getting into these altered states of consciousness. Altered states of consciousness are, in my view, a human right, they’re certainly a human given, they are exactly what we do. As soon as we can stand up, we turn round and round and round and round and round and sit down, because we want to explore our consciousness and what happens when we do stuff, this is how we are as these creatures. But having an understanding of the relationship between setting and substance, I think is really critical to get the best out of these things.
0:38:16 JV: As cultures we’re actually, we’ve got our own insights into this now, because when LSD happened we evolved a thing called the rock music festival, and the rock music festival was a way that we culturally came up with to hold the space of being on acid. That was one of the things that we did. We also created then later on in the second Summer of Love, a thing called the rave and the rave was a way of both accelerating and again, holding the experience of being on MDMA.
0:38:41 JV: You can presumably take huge amounts of MDMA and sit inside in darkness should you wish to do so, there may be a value in doing that. But actually we found as a community that creating a chill out room, creating a dance floor, creating the use of music consisting wholly or partially of a succession of repetitive beats was the way forward. We discovered the optical effects of MDMA could be actually increased by the use of various types of lighting and ultraviolet and sort of fluoro stuff and so on.
0:39:09 JV: So we’re starting as a culture, a Western culture to… We’ve got some ideas too, actually. And so to be able to get the inspiration from those fabulous teachers who are coming… Who have engaged with Western culture, which is itself is marvelous. Because if you look at the, say, the the story of Maria Sabina, sometimes it doesn’t work out so well for people in the indigenous cultures when westerners turn up. But nevertheless, we are fortunate in having those insights from those communities. We’re also, we’ve got now really interesting material coming out from a lot of that… The psychedelic research that’s happening. And people are gonna have to autonomously do this and put these things together.
0:39:45 JV: Because like I say, you can go online. If you know how to make the appropriate conjurations on the dark web, I’m reliably informed that you can buy lots of different things there. So, okay, the stuff turns up in the mail. Brilliant, but then you have to think about, well, this is a powerful substance. And if I want to make it a medicine, if I want to make it something that’s a genuinely transformative experience, I need to consider what my own psychological state is, what my set is. And I need to consider the setting, the environment I’m gonna create and whoever else is gonna be involved, and all of those considerations. So we can be informed by all those different streams and we can create psychedelic sessions. Either a peer-led kind of sessions for people or we’ve got the emerging model of things like the psychedelic societies and other groups who are saying to people, “Well, we will act as guide. We’ll take you to somewhere where this stuff is legal. We’ll take you through this experience. We’ll support you through that experience, and we’ll do things that way.” It’s like, I think, most things in the 21st century. It’s gonna be about a multiplicity rather than a monolithic cult of Eleusis or whatever.
0:40:45 PA: Yeah, it’s about finding the glove that fits for you, so to say. Based on your past, based on your preference for the psychedelic experience, based on your group of friends. I think that’s where this seems to be going more and more towards, it’s like, how do we find tools or technology, or substances or whatever you wanna call them, that works for us based on our unique place and space and time. And then, how do we set up a space to facilitate the transformation that we wanna undergo, and…
0:41:16 JV: That’s why… To pick up on that point, ’cause it’s a really important one, that’s why in Getting Higher, what I’ve done is, I said, you only have to believe in the value of the psychedelic experience in the world of your own neurochemistry. So you don’t have to believe in any of this stuff. So, although in the book, for example, it talks about regarding the psychedelic substance as a spirit, it also says, look, you can think of this as a neuro-hack, if you like. You can think of this as just a hack that human neurology is geared up to deal with other intelligent entities. That’s why the first thing we recognize as humans is a face. And so, sometimes by entering this kind of animist or panpsychist kind of view of the substances that you’re working with, that may be beneficial in the ceremony. After the ceremony, you might choose to look at it in a completely different way.
0:41:57 JV: And, if you hang out with shaman for any length of time you see that actually they do as well, very often. So you don’t have to necessarily enter into this with any kind of card-carrying spiritual viewpoint, it’s just a question of saying, these techniques, some of which are drawn from psychology, some of which are drawn from religion, some of which are drawn from kind of esoteric work; these things are all potentially useful… What… How you choose to make sense of it.
0:42:19 JV: So you had the DMT experience. If you choose to make sense of that as, “Hey, man, I met the gray aliens, Terence is right,” then that’s fine. It may be interesting to reflect on that in a year’s time and think about that and perhaps explore that in different ways. It doesn’t really matter what sense you make of it. The mechanisms for holding that space and for having… And for using those, kind of, getting the transformative potential of these experiences to come out is the thing that we can all work with. And your belief system is kinda, gonna almost sort of come along afterwards, to pick up the pieces and make sense of whatever it was. And if you’re being thoughtful about it and you’re really engaging with the psychedelic experience, your belief system will shift as well over time. That will change. I like to think.
0:42:53 PA: So earlier you mentioned using breathwork or sound or some of these other things that we can use in combination with the substance itself. Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve personally used with your psychedelic experiences in terms of other aspects of altering your states of consciousness and how that has impacted your experience?
0:43:10 JV: Yeah, so let’s take a really simple example. So one of the things that you can do to change your consciousness, and lots and lots of pretty much every religion and many kind of civic ritual systems have this in, is, you can sing. So the use of sound, the use of singing, it changes the way that we breathe, it changes… It has all kinds of interesting kind of subtle psychological and physiological effects on us. And if you, for example, let’s imagine that you’ve got a group of friends and you’re gonna take some DMT. So you sit round, you find a nice place, a safe place to be, a good place to be and you take the DMT. One of the things that you can do to help hold the experience for others and also to allow you to have some sort of agency… Sense of agency in the DMT trip, and allow you to have something to sort of allow you to follow your way through the ceremony, is you can sing.
0:43:57 JV: Now, what you sing could be just kind of, the kind of stuff that you hear shaman singing. So it can be kind of explorations of different sounds or it could be a mantra or it could be just noises that come up from that. So what you’re doing is you’re maybe creating, hopefully a reasonably sort of gentle but nevertheless significant soundscape for people who are taking the DMT, they’re smoking the DMT. They’re hearing the other shaman chanting, it gives them something to follow through the experience. It gives them, if you like, almost a pathway to lead through that journey.
0:44:27 JV: And also, if you can encourage… If the person feels comfortable with it, they also can use sound and that gives you a sense of agency in what can be, you know, potentially a very powerful experience. So you could use something like singing, for example. And of course, we see this turning up in things like the Peyote ceremony, you see this turning up in some Daime ceremonies and lots of icaros and all that kind of stuff. So sound would be an obvious example. You can go into more complex stuff as well. So you might say, right, well, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna sit together… We’re gonna spend the day in the house, hanging out, with a bunch of friends, we’re gonna do some acid. But what we’re gonna do is that throughout the trip we’re gonna maybe… Maybe you’re a group who are interested in Hindu cosmology, let’s say, or that you kind of get off on that kind of style.
0:45:07 JV: So we’re gonna meet at various points as we go through the journey and we’re going to sit in whatever our room is and we’re gonna sing the Bija mantras of the chakras and we’ll have some lighting which is red for the first chakra, orange for the second, whatever, so you can use lighting to do something like this. You can use experiences like… Let’s imagine that you’ve taken… I don’t know, San Pedro, San Pedro and you’re going for a walk. So you’re gonna do a bit of psycho-geography, you’re going to walk around a beautiful place. So what you might decide to do is as you get to a particularly important place on the journey, or it feels like an important place, you’re going to do some kind of prayerful activity there, or you’re going to make an offering there, or you’re going to spend some time in meditation there, or perhaps if you’re just at home and you’re gonna have journey that’s very inward, very quiet, you say, “Okay, well, I’m gonna find… I’m gonna get myself a pre-recorded story.” So there’s a couple of examples given in Getting Higher of, if you like, inner world journeys. So stories, narratives you could follow that you could imagine, that you could allow yourself to slip through into the story and explore that in the psychedelic state.
0:46:08 JV: There’s a whole bunch of different things that you could use. And in my own practice, I’ve used all of those examples and others. In the book there are some examples that are given of different ceremonies, and all of those ceremonies are write-ups of ones that I’ve been involved with. So those are not designed to give people something to copy, but they’re just serving suggestions, they’re just like, okay, here’s a for instance of how a ceremony might exist that combines the use of sounds, say the use of mantra, it might involve the use of particular meditative techniques, it might involve the moving from one location to another and doing stuff during that as part of that process. So those are all sort of instances of the kind of techniques that I’ve used, and they vary from very light touch, simple ones.
0:46:52 JV: So you’re at a rave and you decide that you just need a few moments to chill out, and you will smoke some tobacco. Tobacco is traditionally used by many cultures as a way of praying. So you think, “Okay, yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette, but I’m gonna take some time and I’m just going to use this as a opportunity to pray,” and by pray, what I mean is, again, you can think of it as a neuro hack. You can think of this as, “I’m gonna bring my attention to all the things in my life that are good,” because we spend a lot of time thinking about all the kind of shitty, horrible things that happen to us, and our neurology is geared up so that we only notice our left foot if it hurts.
0:47:24 JV: We don’t notice that our left foot has carried us around all day quite adequately. And so it’s an opportunity to focus on your foot and anything else in the world that’s good for us, that’s working well, and to pay attention to that, and we know again, psychologically, we know this is a beneficial thing, and we also know that this is potentially a very beneficial thing to do while you’re on a psychedelic.
0:47:42 JV: So you smoke your cigarette, you bring your attention to that stuff, maybe you make a prayer of thanks to whatever entity or belief or the force out of Stars Wars, doesn’t really matter. So you make this offering, in a sense to yourself, but also you articulate it in some way as you do that process. And then you go back and you carry on with your mates and you have a nice rave. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a way of taking a simple technique and using it.
0:48:04 JV: There are more complex techniques in the book. So there’s an example given of a ritual involving [unclear speech], which is a whole death/rebirth initiation ritual that involves ritual restraint processes, and then the ceremonial release of those things. That’s a much more complicated undertaking, but all of those examples given in the book are practices that I’ve been involved with.
0:48:25 PA: As you’ve talked about these examples, for example, when you were just mentioning the tobacco as a neural hack of prayer, in a way.
0:48:30 JV: Yeah.
0:48:31 PA: I wanna go into that a little bit more in terms of the difference between an okay ceremony, or an okay space in which you take a psychedelic, and the difference between an excellent one, because when I… Again, when I think of psychedelic experiences, just because of my framework, I often think of utility, I often think of, okay, we’re doing this, yes, for the experience itself, but also because we expect that at the end of the experience, or after a month of integrating the experience we’ll have acknowledged some benefit in our everyday waking life. Is there a way then to set up a space, a ceremony that helps to synthesize these different tools or these different hacks to accelerate the healing process, or accelerate the development process?
0:49:13 PA: For example, one thing that I think of is, what if we combine micro-doses or lower doses of psychedelics with meditation, what would be the utility of that for helping someone with depression compared to someone who’s only meditating, or compared to someone who’s only taking micro-doses of psychedelics? So can you speak to that? Is there a synthesis of ceremonial space that we could create that would help to facilitate an even greater experience?
0:49:37 JV: I think that a lot of it comes down to having… If it’s an individual who’s looking for the answer to this as opposed as somebody who’s kind of going to someone who’s a therapeutic or shamanic practitioner or whatever, then I think it’s a question of looking at the kinds of approaches that we have. So we know, for example, that we can use meditation, we know we can use breathwork, we know we can use inner worlds of guided imagery stuff. So if you had a particular…
0:50:01 JV: Let’s imagine that you are a writer and you have writer’s block, you’ve got a creative block and you want to use the psychedelics to stop that, to break that, in some respect. That would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do because we know that psychedelics basically join up bits of the brain that are normally not joined up. And so one of the things that we might hope for as an outcome from using a psychedelic might be the release of a creative block and/or the development of new and interesting ideas. So we would want to think about, okay, so if that’s my intention, what might be the mechanisms by which I do that? So as an example of that, we might say, well, I’ll use… There’s a technique given in the book which is a kind of standard issue piece of Western magical technique which is called a sigil.
0:50:43 JV: So a sigil is essentially a symbol that represents an idea but is encoded in such a way that it is not immediately apparent to the conscious mind that this thing represents this idea. So a classic way of doing this would be to take an intention, it is my wish, it is my desire to remove my writer’s block, to write that down and then to create a monogram, to create a symbol from those letters. And what you might do at the appropriate point in the psychedelic experience, having maybe meditated on this, maybe spent some time thinking about, drawing or in some other way relating to the experience of your writer’s block, is you might take that sigil and you might burn that.
0:51:18 JV: And say, okay, I’m taking my intention now, I’m putting this into my unconscious, into my deep mind, and I’m gonna let that sort of just do its thing. So you might for example use a technique like that and you might be able to use that, a great or a smaller dose of a psychedelic, something like this, you might decide that actually, no, what I need is, I need inspiration, that’s really what I need. So I’m gonna take a low dose of psychedelic and I’m gonna go to a gallery that I have never visited before and I’m gonna ignore my writer’s block, and I’m just going to almost do like the peyote circle, I’m going to do, use the opposite mechanism, I’m going to find things that inspire me and I’m gonna get really into those and I’m gonna ignore the fact that I can’t deal with whatever my project is at the moment. So there are lots of different ways, again, that we can do this. I think it’s the reason for me for writing Getting Higher is to empower people and say, look, this isn’t, by no means, a total list, but it hopefully gives people an idea of here are some of the approaches that you might choose to use.
0:52:07 JV: So that approach if you’re using say a sigil is a technique that, like I say, appears in the most magical tradition quite frequently and that’s one mechanism whereby you might have a specific intention, you encode that into a symbol and then you do something with that symbol, you write it on rice paper and you eat it or you bury it in the garden or you set fire to it, or you do whatever you do, which is your way of symbolically releasing this thing into your unconscious psychedelicized mind, and of course with the hope that that intention would be realized.
0:52:39 PA: Fantastic, yeah, and some words that I wanna put this into is intention, having an intention, going and understanding what the intention might be in terms of why are you taking a psychedelic and then setting up the setting to facilitate that intention, and of course you’re getting into then the details about going to the museum or… So drawing it back to these principles that people are familiar with, I think is most powerful.
0:53:02 JV: And even just taking that intention and articulating that before you take the psychedelic. So again, here you are, you’ve got the 1P-LSD in front of you and you’ve sorted out what it is you’re gonna do for the next N hours to utilise this really well and to hold this space successfully and safely, and as you take the medicine, or before you take the medicine, you hold it in your hand, you say, “Medicine, what I would really like from this journey, I’m really hopeful that you can help me find a way to get through this writer’s block, it’s really been troubling me, and I’m really hoping that this journey… ” So you articulate your intention. Now. Sometimes our intentions can’t be articulated quite as easily. Because we’re going there, we’re going into the state to explore, we’re going in there to be… To listen to whatever it is rather than us always trying to consciously, have the conscious mind come up with a plan and try to actualize that in the world.
0:53:51 JV: Sometimes it’s useful to go into the psychedelic state and say, “Okay, medicine, what I want to do on this occasion is I just wanna listen to you. I wanna be attentive to the unconscious processes that I know are within me but I don’t always notice and I want to have an open-ended time where I’m gonna do maybe some artistic practice, maybe I’m going to again go into the landscape or whatever and I want to be more passive about this, I want you to speak to me, please.” And addressing this experience and this medicine, and again, whether you think it is a neuro-hack or you believe in some other way about the nature of psychedelic spirits doesn’t really matter, but you would articulate… You address that intention to the medicine. So it may be just as simple as that, just that, you just place into that your desire for that session.
0:54:33 PA: Perfect, that’s a great way to wrap up. We’re at about the hour mark now. Which is when we typically wrap. Could you just give our listeners a few details about where they can find you, whether on Twitter or a website and also just the name of your book and the best place to get it.
0:54:47 JV: Okay. The book itself is called Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony. It’s available from Psychedelic Press UK and I also maintain a blog, which is called theblogofbaphomet.com, so that’s The Blog of, Baphomet is B-A-P-H-O-M-E-T, Baphomet.com. And that’s where I put lots of writing, that’s kind of an ongoing diary, think space, for the kind of stuff I do and you’ll see on there sort of links to various other books and things that I’ve done, and I would encourage anyone who is still able to do so, depending on when this podcast goes out, to grab their ticket for Breaking Convention and come and check that out as well, in Greenwich, in London at the end of June.
0:55:29 PA: I think we’ll publish this in about a week and a half, so end of May.
0:55:31 JV: There may be tickets for seat…
0:55:34 PA: They’re probably selling out pretty quick.
0:55:37 JV: I think we’re down to the last, we’re less than 100 now.
0:55:39 PA: Less than 100. How many tickets were available in total, how many… What’s the capacity?
0:55:43 JV: There was… The capacity is about 900.
0:55:45 PA: Nice. Great. That would be great. I was at Psychedelic Science, they were about 2800 and that was a bit overwhelming. It was a great conference, regardless, but it will be nice… This will be the first Breaking Convention that I’ve attended, and I’m really, really excited for it because I’ve heard such great things about it, so I can’t wait to be there.
0:56:01 JV: I look forward to seeing you there.
0:56:02 PA: Yeah, it’ll be great. So let’s connect at that point. Julian Vayne, Getting Higher. And we’ll provide all these details in the write-up for the podcast as well. So, Julian, thanks again for coming on the show.
0:56:12 JV: Thank you very much for inviting me, Paul.
0:56:12 PA: Have a great rest of your evening.
0:56:20 JV: Cheers. Bye.
0:56:26 PA: Cheers. Bye-bye.
0:56:33 PA: And we’ll now get into questions. We just have two questions this week. One is from Mathias, and Mathias asked, “Can microdosing take the place of all other nootropics?” I don’t know if I would say that it can particularly take the place of all other nootropics, but I think for specific utilities it is way, way more effective than most other nootropics that we have. I actually get into this in an interview that I did with Jesse Lawler, who is the host of the Smart Drug Smarts podcast and we get into nootropics specifically and what Jesse made a point in saying was, focus and creativity are two different things. Meaning, if you’re trying to focus on something that’s more rote tasks, that’s more just doing things, that’s more getting things done, being “productive” and making the most of your time.
0:57:18 PA: No, for things that are particular to just focusing, LSD microdosing seems to help with that. However, I would argue that there are other nootropics that are probably more effective for helping you to focus. One that I wanna try out is called Qualia by Neurohacker Collective, and I think that will really help with focus. But I think in terms of creativity and then also even if we get into things like empathy, things like relationship building, I think microdosing is definitely the best substance that we have, the best protocol, the best tool that we have to help improve and increase our creativity and in fact, it’s the best thing I think to access and get into states of flow.
0:57:55 PA: I think microdosing is the most effective nootropic to access flow states, and as I’ve spoken about on the podcast, the future of work will be how we can leverage flow states to solve more complex problems. As automation and AI starts to take over, a lot of these rote tasks that we do will be unnecessary. And, for that reason, the people who will be valued most within our economic system will be those who can solve extremely complex problems, and the best way to do that is by accessing flow states, and microdosing helps us to do that. So, can it take the place of all other nootropics? No, but can it be much more effective, especially considering where the future of work is going? Absolutely.
0:58:32 PA: The second question is from Rob. “How will the rise of legal synthetic drugs influence the future of microdosing? Could labs compete to create the ideal microdose?” I think this ties into the first question about nootropics, where we’re going to see this interesting blend in the future of microdosing psychedelics and nootropics. And again, it’s going to go into these things of what I’m talking about, where we’re going to create synthetic substances that will help us to better access flow states. So, some concerns that have been brought up about microdosing is the fact that consistent use, especially with psilocybin, could potentially lead to certain health issues.
0:59:09 PA: And so, if we can create a legal synthetic drug that minimizes any of those downsides and maximizes all the upsides that we know from microdosing LSD or psilocybin, then I think that could lead us to a substance that helps us to be more effective at the work that we’re doing on a consistent basis. So will the rise of legal synthetic drugs influence the future of microdosing? Absolutely, and I think that’s a very positive thing, especially as, I’m crossing my fingers here, but especially as the drug war continues to wane, there will be more research invested. We’re already seeing this in the cannabinoid and the cannabis industry, there will be more research invested into other substances that we can create, that will help us to access these states of flow in an effective and efficient way.
0:59:52 PA: So those are the two questions for this week, guys, if you have more questions for us, please send us an email, tweet at us, write on our Facebook, do whatever you gotta do, but just get in touch with us. If you enjoyed this podcast, again, please leave a review on iTunes, we would definitely appreciate it. And that’s it. Next week, we will have Jesse Lawler, from Smart Drug Smarts, and I look forward to that interview. Thanks again for tuning in, guys, and I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your day, and week, and month, and if you’re going to Breaking Convention in London, I will see you there. I’ll be giving a talk on microdosing there and please, if you listen to this podcast, come up and say hi and tell me what you think we could do better for the podcast. Cheers.
This Week in Psychedelics
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