Transcript: Utilizing Expanded States For Healing And Transformation – Françoise Bourzat
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Françoise Bourzat.
Françoise Bourzat and Kristina Hunter, co-authors of Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth (North Atlantic Books, 2019) sit down with Paul Austin to discuss the importance of psychedelic guides, why courage is central to healing, and the value of earth wisdom that comes from working with plant medicines.
In this episode we talk about:
- Why medicalizing psychedelics disconnects us from the “earth wisdom” of psilocybin mushrooms
- The difference between an “official” guide and “unofficial” sitter – and why both are useful depending on the context
- Why courage is critical when exploring our shadow and the unloved parts of our entire self
0:00:21 Paul Austin: Welcome back to The Third Wave podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, and you’re in for another great show with Françoise Bourzat and Kristina Hunter. Now, before I get into those details, I just want to address how we’ve been gone for the last nine months or so. We’re back. We have a number of podcasts that are ready and cued up for your listening, including Douglas Rushkoff, Dana Larsen, who just opened the first microdosing dispensary and many, many more. So continue to stay tuned to our podcast. The Third Wave, as an organization, has undergone a lot of change over these last nine months, but things are moving really great. We’re in the process of raising investment, really developing the microdosing course, rolling out a database on the website, generating more content, including making this podcast into a video podcast in the very new future, so watch out for that. Everything is going super well. We just wanna thank you, our listeners, for being with us, for coming back now with the relaunch of the show. It’s great to have you.
0:01:31 PA: Françoise Bourzat is our guest this week. She is a consciousness guide and counselor and has a master’s degree in Somatic Psychology from the New College of California and is a Certified Hakomi Practitioner. She resides in the Bay Area and has been weaving the healing potential of expanded states of consciousness and psychology together in her practice for over 30 years. In this time, she’s developed a comprehensive approach that bridges Western and indigenous modalities for healing and growth. She trains therapists and facilitators, teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies and lectures internationally. And joining her is Kristina Hunter, who is a healing guide, writer, and Certified Hakomi Practitioner living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, we brought these two on the show today to talk about their new book, Consciousness Medicine, which becomes highly regarded and reviewed by both Michael Pollan and Tim Ferriss. You all are in for a really special treat with this episode. As always, if you enjoy it, please leave us a review on iTunes and make sure that you subscribe. Without further ado, I bring you Françoise Bourzat and Kristina Hunter.
0:02:44 Françoise Bourzat: Thank you for having us. My name is Françoise Bourzat. I’m a French-born, originally, a French-born citizen, born and raised in Paris, moved into this country in ’81, pursued some schooling and master’s degree in psychology and went ahead through my different contacts, got interested in psychedelic explorations and healing for myself, originally. And moved on to becoming a passionate explorer of a safe and intentional use of psychedelics, especially mushrooms.
0:03:17 PA: And we’re sitting here with Kristina.
0:03:18 FB: We’re sitting here with Kristina.
0:03:19 PA: If you could just provide a little bit of context and your relationship with Françoise.
0:03:24 Kristina Hunter: I’m Kristina Hunter and I’m born and raised in San Francisco Bay Area here. And I grew up in art, music, psychedelia was around. And when I was in my late teens, I went down to the Amazon, down to South America, and started exploring through ceremonies and traveling and spending time with different indigenous healers and groups. And I was seeking… I, definitely, was spending a lot of time with the ayahuasca tradition, but really looking for a teacher, looking for some path that resonated for me, and I didn’t quite find it down there. I guess it was around 2011, I met Françoise. I’d heard of the Mazatec tradition from Mexico, but I loved what she was teaching and what she was sharing and her approach to expanded states of consciousness and medicine. And so I started studying with her and spending time with her and apprenticing. I live here in the Bay Area and work as a counselor and healing guide as well.
0:04:30 PA: Fantastic, great. Well, thank you. What’s been the biggest or most profound or most important lesson that you’ve learned from Françoise in working with her the past eight years?
0:04:38 KH: What I’ve learned, many things, but the one that comes to me is with expanded states of consciousness and healing, I think a question that comes is, “What are we expanding open to and where is health? What is health?” And what I have learned in my work with Françoise and through my own healing is, and it’s really opening to the greater health that’s in the field, I would say, the greater field in the Earth, in the plants, in the trees, and in community. I would say opening to… Through this work of opening our minds, opening our hearts, opening our bodies, yeah, opening to a greater beauty, a greater joy, a greater connection. And I would say, essentially, a joy of life, the joy of being, I’d say is kind of one of the core teachings I’ve received.
0:05:46 PA: Which the French do really well, right? There’s a phrase for that in…
0:05:49 FB: Joie de vivre?
0:05:50 PA: Yeah, yeah, there’s a phrase for that in French. I feel like that, that’s beautiful because that’s your lineage to some degree, where you come from, right? You said you grew up in Paris until you were 19. And then, let’s go a little bit into your background and story. You grew up in Paris and you moved abroad and yeah…
0:06:00 FB: Yes, as the introduction of the book kinda narrates that a little bit more in detail, I grew up in Paris. From a family, within a family where my mother was from Paris and my father was from a little hamlet in the countryside in south of France. So right there, there was a cross-cultural experience, very much because social class in France is very important and very determining factor in people’s life. So I grew up in this mixed family, almost like a mixed social class family, and there was a lot of community growing up in my life, through Church, I was born and raised Catholic, within that culture. So there’s a lot of community experiences through the church and through the neighborhood and through school. And my parents were very involved in the community, very much involved in nature ’cause we used to go to the countryside often regularly to visit my grandmother.
0:07:04 FB: So, I had from early on a sense of nature, a sense of very much belonging to nature and belonging to communal environments or being part of. At the time in France also, the medical system, even though it was of course westernized and modern, was also very much leaning on herbal treatment, and I remember as a child being healed by a various, various application of herbs through… At the pharmacy they used to give us herbs, they didn’t give us medication, so there was this belief that herbs are healing, there’s a direct correspondence between the power of nature and mystery of the plants and our health and the ability to recover health that way. So I realize I grew up with that evidence.
0:07:54 PA: So you grew up with the evidence that, in terms of the intuition…
0:07:58 FB: The intuition and the knowledge drawn from Earth. And for me, having been so much exploring the realm of the mushrooms in this case. Everybody is attracted to different thing, for me it was very much the mushroom that found me or I found, it made sense to me that an organism coming out of the nature would actually restore health, like Kristina was saying, rehabilitate our normal flow. And so that’s how I was raised, I was raised with this consuming of aspects of nature to rehabilitate my health and my family.
0:08:39 PA: How did that translate that into your professional work? How did that initial knowledge, how did you bring that into the professional sphere when you started to do more, I guess, Western-oriented?
0:08:51 FB: Well, when I first came to this country, and I found this modality of psychological work assisted by psychedelics, I was really much in that context of self-exploration, transformation, self-discovery, psychological work, like therapy really, like regular psychotherapy. Always an agent of what we call journeys. So when when I first came in this collective community here in the East Bay, in fact right here, I was conducting this…
0:09:23 PA: When was that?
0:09:24 FB: It was in ’85, 1985. The idea was that one could, in this case, one could go into a therapeutic environment and then have some journeys with substances to deepen and expand and the healing process, the understanding, the insight process. So I came into that world of being in touch with the mushroom through that collective that was doing this work back then here. And in seeing the intelligence of this work, I decided to go back to school and get a Master’s degree in psychology to give me the foundation to give myself the base and the foundation to be able to understand more of the works of the psyche and understand how to support people better.
0:10:12 PA: So through your early basically psilocybin mushroom experiences, you came to certain understandings or certain awarenesses…
0:10:19 FB: Yes.
0:10:19 PA: About the reality of nature or life, or whatever you wanna call it.
0:10:22 FB: Yeah.
0:10:23 PA: And then that is what gave you the impetus to go pursue the professional work that you did in getting a Master’s degree.
0:10:30 FB: That’s right, so I felt like the expanded state of consciousness that was provided in those moments with the substances were so potent and so efficient and so healing that I wanted to be able to offer those. And because I had done some various other practices before in movement, in body work, in various rituals that I had been part of, I was actually thinking, “Yes, the substances are really very potent clearly,” and other forms, other techniques can also be good access routes for people who are not ready to take medicine, or too scared to take medicine, or because of medical reasons not able to take medicine. So the idea of framing expanded state of consciousness the way I had been taught, with the man who was guiding my work, gave me the idea that I could do other techniques to create an environment for expanded states, and that was interesting for me, it was less substance-dependent and more framework dependent.
0:11:34 PA: And were any of those techniques things that you had learned before coming to the States things that you had taken from growing up in France or from your travels in South America or other places, or were those largely learned when you got here and were exposed?
0:11:48 FB: I had been exposed to different things. I was a dancer when I was younger, in France. So I was part of a modern dance company and I knew very deeply the power of movement, and improvisation and resonance with music and expression, and liberation and healing from movement that was very much wired into my body. I had traveled abroad in Asia and in South America witnessing rituals and indigenous rituals over quite a long time in different countries, and I was… So I didn’t learn to be part of those indigenous tribes then, but I was really feeling the potency of the collective, so I wanted to create more rituals that I would create myself, not copying anybody, but ritual in nature or ritual with movement and interfacing with the elements that would be good techniques to go towards expanded states, meditation. And then I came here and I entered the world of meditation and the world of expressive arts and the world of body work. I studied body work here. So it was all this added technologies that I could then distill into this different formats.
0:13:08 FB: I think that what we’re talking about here, Paul, is you know we’re talking about psychedelics, and then we’re talking about what surrounds psychedelics, right? What’s the intentionality? What’s the consciousness someone has prior to entering a dialogue with psychedelics? And then what’s happening on the other side of ingesting psychedelics? How does one tracks and notice and integrate the process? So, that format of intentionality, preparation and integration is valid for many different techniques that are used for healing. And that’s really interesting because I think we can assume that we all agree that the point is not to be substance dependent, but person-dependent, consciousness-dependent. We wanna be relying on ourselves with the support and the help of different techniques and technologies, including psychedelics. So, the process of empowerment of people through intentionality, and preparation and integration is really what interests me a lot. So, psychedelics have definitely proven to be an amazing tool for healing, understanding, insight, release, resolution, clarity, mood stabilizing, we can almost say it without using that terminology for medical purposes, but just as a… It really restores a sense of well-being. You will know that, too.
0:14:39 PA: Presence. I think a lot of it comes back to presence. Just being able to be like here and now.
0:14:43 FB: Presence. Yeah. Here and now, awake. You know, able to relate to your oneself, to others, to nature, to people. Psychedelics have had a lot of that quality and other things as well.
0:14:55 PA: And do you find that to be a largely… This approach of prep, experience, integration, intentionality, where we’re working towards a specific objective or outcome, whether it’s healing PTSD or whether it’s for creativity, how does that juxtapose with what you’ve learned from more indigenous approaches? Like, do they have a similar sort of, kind of result-focused approach or is there a different way that they work with these medicines that’s, I dont know, more circular in nature, or maybe just more about the ritual and less about what happens after the ritual? What are some of the differences that you notice between the two approaches?
0:15:35 FB: I have noticed that indigenous people consume a medicine, or I could say the people dealing with the mushroom, the Mazatec ingesting mushroom, because I don’t wanna assume about other cultures. They ingest mushrooms when there is a need for it. It’s not just, “Oh, let’s take mushroom and see what happens.” They have a very strong intention. Either, they are physically ill or they are emotionally stuck, or there is disharmony in the family, or they want to pray for someone’s well-being, someone who is sick or someone who is away, a child who is away, and they want to send good prayers and spirits, alliance, to this person. So there’s a very strong intention, it’s never random. And the way they prepare, this is all in the book, there’s many different aspect of their preparation. They pay attention to what they eat, they pay attention to their state, they don’t go into streets and roam around. They create a sense of solitude and concentration to their purpose and intention.
0:16:31 FB: So, they’re focused, they don’t do it randomly and they don’t get busy until it’s time to eat the mushroom. Then they are in a room, they have a special room for it, and they have a whole ritual of candles and cleansing and Copal, and you know, incense, the local incense creating an altar. They have a very strong relationship with the environment in which the journey will happen, and then they do the journey, and they pray and they sing, and of course they have a lot of catholic prayers woven into the ritual. And then when that is complete, they’re resting and they’re with themselves, and don’t interface too much with other people, they don’t talk about their experience very much immediately after. They kind of create a little nest around their process. They may go somewhere to give gratitude to the spirit of the land, or make a ritual at the church or again on the altar.
0:17:28 FB: To answer your question, yes, there’s a lot of intention, a lot of preparation and a lot of integration. And that’s the interest here. Kristina and I have been diligently teasing out, is all this framework of preparation, intention and integration is in fact existing in this indigenous culture as well as what I’ve seen in other indigenous culture. Again, that’s humbly what I’ve seen, that doesn’t mean it’s across the whole planet here. And we feel like this template is applicable to what we do in an industrialized world, which is often missed in translation.
0:18:06 PA: And maybe this is too soon in the conversation to dig into that, but you know one of the concerns or criticisms with the medicalization of Psilocybin is that the psychoactive compound in magic mushroom, Psilocybin, is being extracted and isolated, and this is fairly typical of industrialized countries. We try to take things from like a reductionist perspective, because you can scale things that way, and you can make it accessible to many, many people. Whereas, you know, and again, you can say more about this, people who come from more indigenous backgrounds, it’s obviously not about scalability, but it’s about ritual, it’s about ceremony, it’s about the intention, it’s about having that sort of specific purpose. So, I guess one of my questions would be like from a healing perspective, and from just a consciousness expansion perspective, when you had saw what had been going on with COMPASS, the company that’s raised, I think, $38 million at this point, what concerns came up for you regarding that approach? And let’s start there, yeah, what concerns came up for you, based on kind of your background and the history that you have with some of this indigenous wisdom?
0:19:13 FB: Well, I can say that I understand the seduction of the business model and the scaling in the face of the interest in the population and the benefit of those treatments as the research has demonstrated. So I can hear it, I can feel it, I can see that there is validity in creating a model when things can be scaled, so more people would have possibly access to this medicalization, but it’s also a healing process. And we all wish for everybody who is so depressed or so anxious to have access to some treatment. So I’m glad this interest is renewed and then there is a possibility for more people to have access to it. The issue of medical application and synthesizing of the material from an organic compound such as fungi is an issue in the sense that is, it’s losing the Earth connection. So it’s really about addressing a symptom and gearing towards a medicalized system, which is treating symptom rather than supporting the entire healing process from the core outward, I should say, which is the purpose of healing.
0:20:29 FB: Healing is not… Healing is about restoring health, it’s not about treating symptoms. We can feel better with anxiety, we can feel more creative, more present, more… And it’s wonderful, but the purpose of expanding consciousness, having more of a sense of global unity with things as this compounds can offer in the connection with Earth wisdom, which is really what this compound carries inherently in its organic self, that principle gets lost when the synthesized compound is extracted. That worries me.
0:21:05 PA: Can you clarify what you mean by Earth wisdom? Can you just go a little bit deeper into that, like what is that Earth wisdom?
0:21:11 FB: When we look at the mushrooms?
0:21:13 PA: Mm-hmm.
0:21:14 FB: We look at mushrooms here, we can look about Ayahuasca, Iboga, Cacti. Ayahuasca we can look at many different organism. What they have in common, they grow on Earth in Earth, on Earth with Earth wisdom, with the body of the Earth as one organism informing those molecules and those plants, right? I mean, it’s true for mint or verbena, or anything we… Thyme and tarragon or whatever, anything we put in our food is the same, it has Earth wisdom. The quality of those compounds, of course, because of their molecular formation impacts the brain, impacts the… A lot of our serotonin, dopamine, etcetera. So we have a changed mind, we have an expanded mind, which, if you eat the lemon juice, you don’t wanna have that quite the same.
0:22:08 FB: But every organism that is based and grown and nourished by Earth carries a wisdom that is of Earth. Anything that is made and synthesized in a lab has much less body to it. It has mind. People… I was talking to a friend recently who was reminiscing on her LSD experiences, and then her mushroom experiences with me in Mexico, and she was saying how she could tell that in the LSD experience, it was a lot of mind, it was a lot of visions, it was a lot of fantastic world, and with the mushroom she felt the body, she felt her emotion, she felt her visceral sense of oneness with the planet. There was definitely a matter. Yeah, it was about matter, whereas LSD was more into spirit and vision, and a different dimension which has value, too. We’re not minimizing the value of LSD, what it can hope for people, too. There has been possible treatments with LSD.
0:23:11 PA: Well I think that was part of the appeal of LSD in some ways, is that it was completely free. That it was this chemical that was synthesized in a lab, and that it didn’t have that historical kind of thing and that you could just take it and you could feel the sense of liberation that hadn’t been felt before. Because I know even speaking from personal experience, I’ve been… A lot of my early experiences with psychedelics were with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as well. And then over the past year, I’ve been moving more into the plant medicines like Ayahuasca and San Pedro, but also into things like ketamine and there’s a… Like you were saying, there’s a really interesting difference.
0:23:51 PA: And in fact, I heard this best explained by one of my mentors who has sat in over 750 Ayahuasca ceremonies. He used to play the guitar for the, I believe, the Santo Daime, the church in Oregon, he traveled all over. So he has sat in a lot of Ayahuasca but also has recently done intramuscular ketamine with the psychotherapist, Will Van Derveer, who’s out of Boulder, who runs a ketamine integrative psychotherapy clinic. The way that he described ketamine compared to Ayahuasca, was that when you’re working with the plant medicine, it does have that body, it does have that kind of depth. And with that depth comes this sort of weight to it. The way that he described it is you kinda get stuck in it a little bit. Whereas the way that he described ketamine was like, you go in, it’s 45 minutes, you have the experience, you open up, you get these, what a lot of people term as insights or downloads, it’s free from everything, you’re clear, and then you integrate and you move on and it doesn’t come with the same sort of like heaviness and need to process as like Ayahuasca does.
0:24:54 PA: And I’m just kinda riffing on because it makes me think also of like what we’re talking about with psilocybin and mushrooms, like with COMPASS compared to an indigenous thing, maybe that is the way for the Western world to have these experiences because they don’t… They’re quicker, so to say. Because with the indigenous wisdom, with doing the whole ritual and the ceremony and everything that the Mazatec might do around that, I’m not sure if that would be feasible to do for thousands, if not millions of people. So just…
0:25:17 FB: Yeah, well, quick is the word here.
0:25:17 PA: Right.
0:25:17 FB: Can it be consumed faster and more efficiently with the least pain possible? [chuckle] I think a lot of people want that, except that in my psychological understanding, the process of mastering courage through pain and self-observation and resilience to face things that are difficult is the healing. The healing is not so much, “Oh, I’m gonna feel great and I’m not gonna have any hard trip, any hard feeling and I’m gonna go straight into this big opening.”
0:25:17 PA: So it’s kinda what ketamine is or LSD.
0:25:17 FB: It’s ketamine. Yeah, yeah. I mean I know ketamine very well and I can tell you this is a great medicine and it’s… It has nothing to do with mushroom work. It has nothing to do with the thoroughness and the multi-layered facets of mushroom because it cuts through. You’re right, it cuts through. And by cutting through, the danger is bypassing. Spiritual bypassing, this is very convenient, nobody has to suffer, and the healing is not complete. The problem is the healing is not complete, that’s my worry about those things that are very fast and furious, and are more pleasant. The human healing, the human psychological burden that we carry has not gone anywhere, it’s just transcended and it keeps appearing everywhere, in our relationships, in the way we think, in the way we behave, in the way we feel. So it’s an interesting conversation, I agree with you. I agree, I love the experience of I’ve loved in the past when I was doing this and I’ve had some experiences more recently of ketamine. I was in clinical setting and love it, but I know it, for me, it’s not bypassing.
0:27:15 PA: That’s kinda the point that I was trying to work towards is, for some of these molecules that there is this element of spiritual bypassing. And there was a quote in your book that spoke to me in that way, where it was something like the point of healing or the point of working with psychedelics is not to always be happy, but the point is some element of integration or individuation or just being able to both go into those dark spaces, those shadow spaces and have the courage to face them and then also understand that without that we don’t have the happiness, the joy the…
0:27:48 FB: That’s right, striving for happiness is a great goal, we all want that. And if happiness has to do with avoidance, something in us knows that we’re not really gonna… It’s not a good bet, it’s a temporary bet, we can feel better awhile, but if we don’t deal with what we carry, this body is the vehicle for everything we’ve gone through. And if we wanna put something on the shelf and continue to move forward, it just doesn’t work on the physique level. If this body, if we think, okay, that’s a supposition, that this body is the vehicle of all the memories since childhood that you have lived through, all your traumas, and all you depression, and all your great adventures and discovery, and then you wanna move forward thinking that only the good things remains and the bad things is not acknowledged, well, it’s still your body moving forward with that inside that is not really clarified. So in my understanding of what I’ve seen over my experience of 30 years working with people, is that we have to deal with what we have to deal with, because in the medicine we are gonna be either confronted by it, and we better have a good guide and a good understanding of how to work with this, or we’re gonna bypass and then with hard medicine like ketamine and all and then we’re gonna just avoid the situation altogether.
0:29:06 PA: And those things will just continue to manifest subconsciously…
0:29:09 FB: That’s right, and they contaminate your inside and they contaminate and they just keep showing up in moments and places that you least desire. So I think that the process of psychedelic healing is not at all an easy one, it’s a very challenging and confronting process, as well as an inspiring and magnificent process. But the thoroughness of the insight and the illumination on dark places that we have inside is really the purpose of this work. And that’s why the indigenous people have done that. When they have a problem, they say, “I have a problem that I don’t understand, I need to go deeper into myself.” They don’t say, “I need to forget it and move forward into the light.” They say, “I wanna go into my problem and see why I have this and what’s happening and who is thinking bad of me and what’s the dynamic that’s happening inside me?” And they wanna go deep into dark places, indigenous people are not into going into the light, they’re into going inside.
0:30:09 PA: To me that kinda maybe speaks to the difference between us and our relationship to Earth and the indigenous people and their relationship to Earth, almost because I feel like when you have this Earth wisdom, when you’re more in touch, connected, aware of it, then I feel like, especially with where the Earth is at now, it’s hard not to go into those dark spaces.
0:30:29 FB: Well, indigenous people are in a life that is balanced and has a rhythm according to seasons, and when is the rain coming and what is the corn growing, and when is it dark and when… The reality of nature that surrounds them dictates their life and survival, and that’s true in all indigenous people. In farming land, that was true in my grandmother’s land. Well, do we have enough walnuts to last the winter, was the big thing. Do we have enough cheese dried for the… It was always what’s coming and do we have the reserve to sustain. And the relationship with the land is really one of winter, summer, long days, long night, rain, dryness, and people understand that some things are easy and some things are not, and some things are light and some thing are dark, and sometimes we’re happy and sometimes we’re struggling. And that acknowledgement of the reality of what nature impacts them on every day or every season level is what they do with the medicine. They realize that, well, we go into medicine and sometime we’ll struggle and sometime we’ll be happy, just like we’re in nature. That gets translated directly into their experience.
0:31:49 PA: And I feel like then maybe there’s resistance from Western people who go into that because we don’t have the same exposure to that totality of nature.
0:31:57 FB: That’s right.
0:31:58 PA: So when we’re then exposed to that in the throes of a psychedelic experience, that’s where that resistance comes up and that’s maybe where we get this actually we have a bad trip because…
0:32:06 FB: Well, this is… So hence, I agree with you, hence, the necessity of a guide or expert or a master who has been there before who understands that cosmology, who understands that framework. This is only a framework, I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, this is just my observation, right? And so this is what we try to do in the book with Kristina, is collect this wisdom or knowledge from those years of experience because…
0:32:35 FB: Yeah. Because the reason to have a guide is to be taken into a territory that is otherwise unfamiliar. And I’m not saying our inner territory is familiar or unfamiliar. Of course, it’s familiar, of course, it’s us inside. But it can be disorienting, and it can be frightening, and it can be scary, or it can be destabilizing, and we need to have someone who’s gonna tell us, “You’re fine. You’re actually facing something difficult. And good for you, more courage to you.” If you’re going into a place of your childhood that’s really dark, or a place of poor relationships that you’re a part of, you can look at it, you can examine it, you can really understand it and love yourself better in a way, at the end of it. Have more compassion for what made you be so clumsy. Then that’s when the healing comes from, the liberation. And so, you can’t liberate yourself unless you know what to liberate yourself from. Right? Or you cannot dissolve ego until you have an ego.
0:33:38 FB: Or you cannot, right? You cannot go into the light if you don’t have shadow to come from. So it’s the same principle of being guided. Everything… This is really a big part of what I believe. I’ve learned through working with some indigenous people, and with other people, is that there is a guide. There is a presence of someone who has been there, done that themselves, deep enough, and thorough enough with a master. They’ve learned, they have apprenticed, they’ve done their personal growth. And that they’ve trained also to be clear and educated into the process, and then they can accompany people. Then everything is a good trip. Everything is a powerful, meaningful, healing trip, which is ultimately a good trip.
0:34:32 PA: You did… Well… Sometimes the word I like to use which… Productive trip. Right?
0:34:37 FB: Exactly.
0:34:38 PA: We learn something from it. We take something from it. There’s an insight, there’s an understanding. It’s not just, “Oh, we’re going to puke our guts out.” And it’s like, “No, there’s something… ” And this is what a lot of people term “The work”. Like, “I gotta go do the work.”
0:34:58 FB: Yeah. I believe that doing the work is a really powerful, very self-empowering, strengthening, grounding, clarifying process. It’s very… It’s powerful, it’s mighty, it’s not always pleasant and nice. But it’s… Everybody says whatever journeys they’ve had, or experience with expanded state, that was challenging, that was really like a rite of passage, that was rough, that was rough, that was painful, that was raw. That’s the one they remember as most transformative. The la-la land on expanding into the cosmos is very nice, but those hard places are the ones that are remembered. Not because they were great being hard, but because we worked through, and we survived them, and we understand them and we became warriors. And that’s really where the strength comes from. Not from the expanding into wonderful expanded cosmic places.
0:36:11 KH: Yeah, I’d love to add. Yeah, I think the true… The courage is earned. It’s not gifted, it’s earned and it’s… Yeah, we live in a culture that wants… Doesn’t wanna deal with the yucky shadow material in those darker places. But the paradox really, in my experience, is that going into those dark places and going into the suffering, that actually getting down in the muck and even getting disgusted with yourself, or getting so deep in there that the liberation from those places and all the ways that they impact our lives and are shaping our lives unconsciously. The liberation is actually in those places, and there’s an experience I’ve had in journeys working with the mushroom down in Mexico, of being so deep in it, it’s being so deep in those hard places that it’s almost like in the very middle of these psychological emotional states, there is this… There is an awakening. There is an opening, something opens. It’s earned, and in that comes a real sense of true freedom. I’d say true freedom, liberation, and something gets metabolized. Something deep gets metabolized, and that’s a process. It’s not a one-time thing, it’s a path, it’s a process. It takes hence… And it’s hard. So having that support in the preparation and support for the integration afterwards is crucial.
0:37:55 PA: Well, it’s like a… It’s a developmental process. And I think that’s often the way that I’ve thought about it, or even been closer coming to it. I’ve been reading a couple books lately by this philosopher… This made-up philosopher. His name is Hanzi Freinacht. And he published two books called The Listening Society and the Nordic Ideology. It talks about this concept of meta-modern philosophy. And it’s basically like what’s after postmodernism, right? ‘Cause postmodernism is the farthest reaching philosophy that we have anyway. So when talking about this meta-modern philosophy, a lot of what he talks about is developmental stages. And then what he talks about within developmental stages is depth. Right? And so depth is this ability, where he ranks it from zero to 12. Zero being experiencing the most harrowing thing that you’ve ever experienced.
0:38:47 PA: And what is so great about psychedelics is, unlike what they might have done in, for example, ancient Sparta where they sent out a 12 year-old to go kill a wolf with a spear, which was harrowing, and terrifying, and an initiation, what we learn that we can do with these medicines is, we can create that container, we can create that space to replicate a harrowing experience, something that brings that sort of liberation and that soulfulness to it, without actually exposing ourselves to actual physical harm. And this, of course, is where the role of the guide comes in, is really, when we think about the role of the guide and what a guide should be, it’s exposing people to these elements of who they are, the totality of who they are and doing that in a way, like you said, that supported and guided and loved so that they know that they feel safe and secure in going into those spots, ’cause I think most people don’t if they’re going off and doing it by themselves, they don’t feel that sense of safety that comes from knowing that you have someone who’s been there before and who can guide you through that process.
0:39:55 KH: And I’d even add that it’s part of the kind of psychological technology of how this works as a modality, is that having a guide, having someone who is in a stable and holding state of consciousness is what allows someone to let their own ego structure and safety mechanisms relax and actually go into those deeper places, go into those… The deeper oceans of their body and of their unconscious that you actually, in my experience, need it. You actually need that support, so.
0:40:38 PA: When you were saying, Paul, so what came to me, the harrowing experiences is like the Hero’s Journey, the Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the mythology of that and how when we are really… When we are well accompanied and there’s a container that can hold this process for psychedelics, the journeyer really goes into this archetypal fear kingdom where the demons are really all inward, of course, but they can be also demons of memories that are involving other people in terms of abuse issues and such. So, and cultural situation, wars that don’t… They are held within the self, of course, but they’re not necessarily self-created there also. And that the rite of passage to go in through the hero’s journey by facing this fear, the fear of oneself or the things that have been lodged in the psyche or the fear that has been created by a certain situation around… Those, the courage to face the fear is really what transforms the process. The process will not change, the abuse will remain, the cultural situation, the war, that we can’t erase the memories, but we can look at them, having the courage to look at them, and that’s what the psychedelic, a well held psychedelic experience can provide.
0:42:05 PA: I like that. And let’s go deeper into that. When talking about guides, right, what’s then the role of a guide in preparing someone for that? How does… Let’s say I wanna guide a friend or a loved one through an experience, how do you prepare someone in knowing, in developing that courage to face that fear?
0:42:23 FB: If you are a Mazatec person and you have a whole life-long full of experience with the mushroom and you are able to sense and read someone’s fear and someone’s agitation and you are so attuned to this modality that you can perceive the kind of situation may occur in the journey, then you just hold the space at the moment. In our culture, I think what’s happening with the interest that we have in our psychological understanding of our psyche and the world of therapy and psychology is now very much part of mainstream, we can say, and all the research is in fact getting included within a psychotherapeutic model because we know that the Western psyche is wanting a cognitive interest onto the process.
0:43:18 FB: It’s not just a raw process, you go, you do your medicine, you feel what you feel, you go out and you continue your life. The Western mind, the modern world, what we called in the book, the modern industrialized world, has an interest in putting words on the processes. It’s an understanding and making meaning. It can be to a fault, but there is a… We’re not psychoanalytical processes here, but we want to explain what’s going on with this.
0:43:42 FB: So a lot of these processes of psychedelics as well as other techniques, by the way, that can happen. You can meditate for 10 days and have a lot of psychological process come up, or you can go on a vision quest and have a lot of relational and emotional or spiritual thing coming up. I mean, the moment of rapture or clarity or awakening or nightmare can happen in any context, of course, but I believe that someone who is dealing with psychedelics, I believe, in this world, in this reality here in the Western world, should have psychological training because of the intricacy of the processes that emerge, that as a good guide, it’s up to the guide’s responsibility to help the journeyer decipher, decode, debrief, what has taken place and to be able to guide that process forward.
0:44:41 FB: Holding a space for a journey is… Anybody can do it. We can be a good sitter, keep someone safe, hear an intention. Someone is safe, the boundaries are good, there is a good ethical good practices, and then the person shares after, if it’s a good sharing. That’s a safe container and that’s called the sitter. In the Shamanic tradition, the guides has a lot more… Have a lot more work or responsibility or possibility of intervening during the experience itself and the way it’s gonna be supported afterwards.
0:45:16 FB: So, for example, and that’s the interest that we’ve been trying to tease out in the Mazatec as we are trying to bridge that into the Western mentality, through the book is, what are those ways that a guide guides in Mazatec tradition that can be learned from and somewhat replicated and someone followed in our Western model. So, a guide in the Mazatec tradition is impacting the journey by their presence, by their voice, by their intervention, by their intention, and they have a lot of power through the intention. It doesn’t have to be expressed at all, but the power of manipulating a journey through intention, energy moving, is very, very potent.
0:46:08 FB: And the way they close the work and the way they talk to the person after. So all these skills from guiding is very different from a sitter. And we’ve been having a lot of conversation with Rick Doblin about that too, him and I because we have… We agree and have a different protocol due to the research, of course, but there is an interesting dialogue that’s starting to take place actually in the way we support the work. The idea of a guide with a psychological understanding of the psyche and the human process can support psychological issues. The process of addiction, the process of attachment wounding, relational situation, narcissistic processes, sexual abuse issues, cultural situation.
0:47:09 PA: They’re more effective. They’re much more effective.
0:47:10 FB: It’s a lot more effective to have someone who understands the psychology of it rather than someone who doesn’t. So it doesn’t mean that an experience with psychedelics would not be fruitful, but it would have a lot more fruitfulness if the guide has some understanding of psychology.
0:47:28 PA: And then what’s a sitter? If a guide is someone who… And when you say a psychological understanding, would we go so far as to say that someone who has a clinical background?
0:47:38 FB: Yes, someone who has a training…
0:47:39 PA: A therapist?
0:47:40 FB: Yeah, someone who has a therapeutic training. Someone who has been educated in the science of the human psyche. If I ask you or if I asked someone to come and fix my shower because I know they have a skill in plumbing. Or if I ask someone to make my website, it’s because or my whatever, something on my tech level that I have not trained for, I rely on their skill, I rely on what they’ve studied in their practice. Or if I go to the doctor, I believe, well, I have a broken bone, you have studied this, I believe you can help me straighten my bone and put a cast because I know you’ve studied that. So I lean on your expertise, and that’s the same. A guide who has psychological training, the person can lean into the evidence and into the assumption that the guide has a training in psychology further… So hence, the capacity of the journeyer to then unfold the psychological process much more likely than if the person holding the space was just a sitter. Because this…
0:48:48 PA: What would be a sitter, according to you?
0:48:50 FB: A sitter is what you have at Burning Man when you… If you go to Zendō. You have someone coming there, it can be a bit more, a little bit… I’m gonna take another example. You have a friend, you say, “Hey, I would like to take some mushroom, would you sit for me?” And so you come, you have done your personal what would you consider your preparation. Maybe you didn’t eat that day, maybe you didn’t drink five beers the night before or maybe you arrived kind of rested, you wrote in your journal. You did some… A little something intentional. And that’s the optimal sitter situation. And then you go, you lie down on the bed and maybe you put headphone.
0:49:34 PA: This is exactly what I did for my dad like last weekend. I sat for him, I didn’t guide, but I sat and… I got him some water, helped him to the bathroom.
0:49:44 FB: Exactly. You gave him tissues, he was crying a little bit, you gave him tissue. At the end you said, “Okay, how are you feeling?” And he said, “I’m good.” And then…
0:49:51 PA: Have a little walk. Talked about a few things. It was nice.
0:49:53 FB: Yeah, yeah. Gave him a little fruit and make sure he’s feeling good and he’s ready to rest or drive or eat, you take care of him. That’s a sitter, and that’s really good. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong about providing safety and support and care and love, and if someone is in bad shape you hold their hand. This is good sitting and it’s definitely better than no sitting or someone being afraid alone and feeling disoriented. So sitting is definitely a meaningful but yet basic translation of what we’ve taken from how it goes out there in these traditional cultures. I mean, in traditional cultures, nobody goes buy a vial of Ayahuasca and in the jungle alone. I don’t know if they do that, but I don’t think so.
0:50:42 PA: I don’t think so.
0:50:43 KH: Only if you’d been in training under someone’s guidance and someone would be sitting back. They’d be like a home fire or someone that’s energetically tracking you out there. That’s very unusual.
0:50:53 FB: I remember once, Julieta, my teacher in Mexico, she said, “Okay, you’re gonna go journey alone now.” And so she gave me the mushroom, she… Well, the daughters walk me to my cabin in the woods and then they came back, and then I locked my cabin and I journeyed by myself, and that was an intentional thing. And during my journey, they were all praying out there back at the house by the altar and they were doing prayer for me. Now, I don’t know if they prayed the whole time, but probably the first three hours, I was ready for that. So I was invited to that experience which required to have enough self-holding.
0:51:27 KH: And how long had you been studying at that point before that with Julieta?
0:51:30 FB: Probably 10 years.
0:51:30 KH: 10 years.
0:51:31 PA: Before you were allowed to go do a self-journey?
0:51:35 FB: Yes. Yeah. Well, I never thought of asking even. I never thought that it was something I would wanna do, or would be good for me. But they felt it was good for me and that I was ready for it and that was an important part of my apprenticing to go out there in the mountain and be with the spirit of the mountain, and be in my little cabin and alone. And it was wonderful. It was actually very, very beautiful. I was worried to be afraid. I was afraid to be afraid, which is, of course, the worst thing we can have in a journey, right? I was afraid to be afraid, to be afraid, to be afraid.
0:52:06 FB: But it was actually superb, superb experience of initiation, yeah.
0:52:06 PA: So one thing you mentioned, you know, you said you’ve been having conversations with Rick Doblin about this, and obviously according, or at least what I’m hearing according to your definition of a guide, none of the Mazatec would qualify. Is that true?
0:52:06 FB: No, the guides are very much Mazatec. I mean, the Mazatecs are very much a guide.
0:52:31 PA: I guess to understand… I guess more my point is, according to this Western definition of a guide that we have, right? Understanding these psychological elements, these elements of where addictions come from, or trauma or abuse, and then being able to hold space and kind of guide them in such a way to come to their own understanding. Would you say that the Mazatec are guides according to that definition?
0:52:53 FB: No, they are not. And that’s part of the point that we make in the book, is that part of the… The purpose of the book is to make a bridge between a Mazatec tradition that is essentially energetic and spiritual and physical of healing, with the Western model of cognitive emotional understanding of the psyche. And one without the other doesn’t work. The Mazatec tradition… I’m saying that with a lot of respect, but you know, whatever. I’m just gonna cut short here. The Mazatecs…
0:53:26 PA: Say it how it is.
0:53:26 FB: The Mazatecs are fabulous, but they don’t know how to talk about emotions. They don’t know how to talk about anger and disturbance, and the sadness and the… To connect the dots between what they feel now with the situation of their past. They don’t resolve the past, they just have a different way of dealing with their energies. And I have tons of respect with what they bring, the community nature, spirit. They have… We have a lot to learn from them. And what we bring is an understanding of the human psyche. We don’t understand very much about spirit, we don’t understand very much about community, although that is changing. We’re pretty disconnected from Earth, the way they think of Earth, and I said earlier about the season and the darkness and everything. But we have a lot of understanding about the psyche and the way the psyche constructs itself and the way it wounds, it gets wounded, and how to repair it. And we know those steps because that is part of the Western psychological model that has grown over the last 200 years, that is valid and a great gift to the human development. So I think we ought to use the two together and create a bridge. A perfect guide is not just a therapist.
0:54:37 FB: You see, a perfect guide is a person, considering from the Western perspective, who is also capable of holding space and so supporting people in expanded state of consciousness depending on what’s legal and where they work. A Mazatec person can hold all this complexity of the Mazatec tradition and learn a little bit from what we are about. And in fact, over the last, I should say, 10 years probably, they’ve been asking a lot of questions about psychology and family dynamics, and communication skills and raising children and abuse issues and the impact on people’s health. There has been a cross-pollination. I can talk about what I’ve seen in the little bit of a microcosm that I’ve been interfacing with, but there has been a cross-pollination between an exchange of information, I may say. And their interest is, especially the new generation, the generation of the teachers’ kids who are in their 40s, 50s, but they’re younger, a little bit of younger people who are very interested in the intelligence of the psychological modalities, and they see that it would be good for them to have a little more knowledge about that. And when I go there, they ask me to do therapy with their family or, “Can you listen to me and then you listen to her and then… ”
0:56:00 PA: That’s not what I came here for.
0:56:00 FB: “You will help her.”
0:56:00 FB: “You’ll help us communicate better. Oh, we were waiting for you.” And it’s just kinda, it’s so sweet that I become a psychological support system for the family.
0:56:11 PA: Do you see the same level of receptivity in the Western world to indigenous practice?
0:56:15 FB: There’s a curiosity. There’s a curiosity. I think that people are more understanding, even though there’s definitely medicalization and an extraction of the synthetic out of the mushroom. There is an interest in rituals, there is an interest in Earth knowledge, and that has been happening. The Native American traditions that have been coming into the mainstream Western world, or I don’t know, modern world, it’s like… Like meditation. Meditation was pretty obscure, and then it kind of went into mainstream, even into insurance, like people now learn mindfulness as part of the Kaiser Permanente Program, or meditation classes are reimbursed by insurance because… Because it’s part of the de-stressing. It’s part of health. It’s part of…
0:57:08 PA: Do you think the FDA can now…
0:57:10 FB: Yeah.
0:57:10 PA: Or pretty soon they’ll be able to legally prescribe meditation as…
0:57:14 FB: That’s right.
0:57:14 PA: For depression through head space for problems, one of those things, yeah.
0:57:16 FB: Exactly. And acupuncture was very obscured when it came in from China out there. All this technique that have proven to be really helpful are slowly being brought in. And I think that the Native American rituals, there’s so many Sun dance now, there’s so many pow wows that people go to, so many books that have been written about Native American traditions and rituals that are coming into more mainstream. So… And I think it’s the same for the indigenous practices with psychedelics, with sacred substances, they’re called.
0:57:53 PA: Yeah, it’s funny, we have a recurring joke with my friends. There’s so many people who now call themselves shamans and we’re gonna make t-shirts that say “I am not a Shaman”.
0:58:02 FB: Oh yeah.
0:58:02 PA: Or, “I am not a guru.” Because, and I think that’s one element of, we’re seeing this with mindfulness meditation as well. Once something becomes… I won’t go so far to say it’s like this concept of self-naming, calling yourself a Shaman is mainstream yet, but I definitely have had, for example, friends in the tech world who’d go on a psychedelic trip and then automatically start referring themselves as to a neo-Shaman. This to me also signifies that there is an element of receptivity, once we can start making fun of people who are maybe saying that, and it’s like, “Do we… ” There’s receptivity but there also should be sensitivity in terms of how we start approaching it and talking about it and being aware of cultural appropriation and some of these other things.
0:58:29 FB: Absolutely, I remember taking a couple down to Mexico long ago. She was ill, she had cancer and she wanted to do that trip. Kind of a… Making peace with dying. She was a very devoted meditator, but she wanted to do that trip. So I had met them in India and I decided to go ahead and take them, so I take them there and then… And then, so it was a meaningful experience. She remained alive for about almost a year after, which was good. It was better prognosis than what had been given to her. She eventually passed away and… But they referred to me as a Shaman forever. For the whole year we were communicating, they came to visit me in my home, with my husband. We were close. We developed a sort of a friendship of sort.
0:59:34 FB: They were our age, in my generation. And they kept totally referring me as a Shaman. There was a way that they had respect towards it, and I could see that it meant something to them. They were not making fun of it or they were not pushing my ego somewhere. It was really for them what it was. Like I had been able to help her cross over to another dimension visually before she did it literally. And that shamanic practice for her was really important and she felt it was the right word. She was very educated. She knew exactly what she was talking about, and it felt very honoring. Whereas any other time someone calls me a Shaman, I cringe because I don’t… I feel like this is just wrong label. This is appropriation or… So I don’t like to call myself anything really.
1:00:29 PA: Right. I like that. That’s a good approach. I don’t have an identity. I don’t need any of those labels or those terms.
1:00:39 FB: My French friend, they have a word. There’s a word in French called “accompagne” which is the one that accompanies, and is very appropriate because it accompanies you. It’s a bit more than accompanying. I think it’s more of a guide. But they call it, they call it the one who accompanies you.
1:00:57 PA: I like that Ramdas has this quote or this phrase about walking each other home. Right. That’s all that we’re doing. We’re trying to walk each other home, through not only these experiences, but generally coming into an awareness of what the self is and how we’re connecting to self.
1:01:12 FB: Sure, I agree, I agree.
1:01:13 KH: Yeah, and I’d just love to… These two question you’re asking about how is the psychological work received down in Mexico by the Mazatec, and then how is this, the indigenous practices, how are they being received up here? Our intention in writing this book, right, was to bringing Françoise’s experience down there, spending time learning all these indigenous practices and the rituals and the ways and the integrated ways that preparation, everything is… We say, preparation and integration, down there it’s all woven together. Before journeys you are in a natural preparation phase. It’s part of the culture. Afterwards you’re in a natural, organic integration phase.
1:02:00 KH: So her experiences down there and then the psychological training up here. Where we are, in our culture and what we’re needing, is really a synthesis of both of these ’cause we need the psychological understanding because of the complexity and complication of our, most of us, psychologically, emotionally, and we really need to borrow from these practices, to learn from to be… You know, we say, adapt or adopt, but really it’s, we’re being blessed by it, we’re receiving, and they’re in all of our histories. We all have indigenous ancestors, if you go back far enough. And so our book really is a… The intention was to weave these together.
1:02:47 KH: And in talking about the role of the guide, it’s someone who has this psychological framework and understanding as well as it’s an ongoing cultivation of relationship with the Earth and with seasons and having balance in one’s life, which for a lot of Westerners, it’s a practice to undertake. It’s a reclaiming for most of us. Our attempt is to really synthesize both of these and to offer this to therapists, and to facilitators, and people who are out there supporting people in expanded states of consciousness, to be able to draw from both and… And so this book being a real reference and a manual, and something people can learn from.
1:03:32 PA: Well that’s something, that’s what I wanted to finish up the conversation with, is like, what does that look like? What does that framework potentially look like as the substances becomes medicalized and decriminalized, and just generally more available and people become more educated about them? If we look into the future, even just two or three years from now, with MAPS trained therapists. We get the psychotherapeutic approach, I understand we understand enough about that. But what’s being done to ensure that we’re embodying the indigenous wisdom as well?
1:04:02 FB: This is an interesting topic that I was just talking yesterday with a couple of friends of mine. Right now, the FDA is looking to a group of people, to which I’m part of, to create a guidelines or credential for guides of psychedelic journeys because of MAPS, and COMPASS, and Usona, and the Ketamine clinics. And pretty soon, I guess, possible opening of access for people to possibly consume this substances in a less criminalized way. We’re seeing that here in Oakland, next door in Oakland, and that may spread rapidly.
1:04:44 FB: So the fact that people will have access to consuming these substances without it being criminalized opens the door to possible centers in the future where people could go to and be sat for or guided to into those experiences. So the process of creating what constitute the training of a guide is the conversation that’s taking place right now. And all these different organizations have agreed to communicate and dialogue and create a criterias of what constitute good guiding. So that’s a conversation that’s in the process as we’re talking right now, it’s totally a… Because there’s a lot of conversation going on with insurance or so. There’s a woman who dealing with insurance. Cross-communicating between those clinics and those legal processes, right, of medicine and the insurance companies.
1:05:47 FB: Why would they possibly reimburse as treatments using psychedelics? And then what would it mean in terms of also, like I said, the consuming substances that would not lead to criminal issues? I’ve been very interested in teaching for many years, teaching what constitute good guiding, what constitute good preparation, what makes a guide be a guide, what makes someone being able to support an integration? How do we support the process of the journey itself? May it be with psychedelics or other techniques. So I’m very interested in the training of a guide, and like Kristina said, this originally, this book was gonna be called a practitioner guide, and we decided not to put it on the cover because we didn’t wanna sell it as a manual for giving green light to people to use psychedelics. And we didn’t wanna be coming into that conversation, right? Because that was not the purpose and it could be mistaken.
1:06:55 PA: Enabling illegal use in some ways.
1:06:56 FB: Enabling illegal use and yeah, because in the book, we really say that a guide should be trained, that a guide should be apprenticing with masters, that a guide should be supervised, that a guide should have peers to talk to, or mentors to lean onto. And so we are very specific into the… What constitute a guide, but we didn’t wanna give people too much the idea that it was a green light for using that as a manual, even though there’s a lot of guidelines and a lot of useful tools. But yeah, the idea of creating a meaningful, potent, thorough training is what I’ve had passion for for many years, for over 25 years. So this is really my angle and my class at CIIS, in this institute here in San Francisco is that, is to give people the tools and the notions of what constitute a good preparation and a good integration. So I’m not here to tell people how to guide a psychedelic journey because it’s not appropriate for me to do that, but I can give the entire context of what to do around that experience.
1:08:07 PA: Fantastic, so if our listeners wanna get more details, I’d say check out the book.
1:08:12 FB: Check out the book, there’s a lot of information.
1:08:14 PA: Because it’s very thorough, I have it next to me right now, and it’s what, 300 almost, just about 300 pages. And it’s extensive and well footnoted and it has some excellent endorsements from Jim Fadiman and Rick Doblin. I read through probably the first three or four chapters before we spoke, and I really enjoyed it, and I wanna read through the rest. So, go into that for more detail. One thing I wanna ask you before we wrap up is about the Mazatec and this whole microdosing thing. Do people microdose in indigenous tradition, specifically with mushrooms? I know it’s been done with the Iboga in Gabon from what I understand, some Shipibo healers might microdose with Ayahuasca. Is there a role for microdosing mushrooms within an indigenous practice or is that something that’s purely Western in nature?
1:09:03 FB: They do, they do. They do use mushrooms. They do use mushroom of course within the ritual, with what I described earlier in the conversation, with all the setup and the altar and all the many different facets of a specific ritual for a high dose journey, for deep ceremony. But I’ve known people, I’ve seen people consuming a little mushroom when they feel tense, when they feel worried, when they feel physically ill, with the guts, especially ’cause it’s a good gut-soother or resolver or whatever is happening. For headaches, I’ve seen them take a little mushroom. So they don’t take it like, “Oh, and they go and… ” They take it, they go to the ceremony room, they have a little prayer with it, they have an intention. It’s not just on the fly, like this. So they will do a little intentional moment and they’ll kiss the little mushroom, and put it on their forehead and on their mouth and on their heart, and then they take it, and then they go about their day. They chew it, they bow to the altar and then they go on their way.
1:10:11 FB: So there’s a little bit of a… There’s a mini ritual of intention, of being in relation with that medicine, right? They don’t wanna create too… But they do, they do microdose, they do microdose, and I think microdosing is a very, very wonderful and meaningful, and I’m really happy you doing that, ’cause I think it’s a meaningful door, like you said earlier, before we started this conversation. It’s a meaningful door to getting to know the space, to getting to know the state that these medicines or LSD or mushroom can help us access a sense of well-being, or weller-being, a sense of being less anxious, less depressed, more relaxed, more present, more engaged, more clear, effortless. Those qualities are really important for anything we’re gonna do and anything we’re gonna do. If we do deeper journeys or if we go on with our lives, or if we wanna be more performing, or more uplifted, more relational, I think that’s a very, very potent way to enter the space and to address symptoms in a very efficient way.
1:11:24 PA: Yeah, to me it’s almost like it’s just this reminder. Sometimes like with these high doses, it’s you face what is… What you call truth or reality or whatever it might be, where you’re at, where you wanna be, and those can be very jarring at times, it can be very harrowing and that’s why we need guides.
1:11:30 FB: Yeah. Yeah.
1:11:30 PA: For these sorts of experiences. And it’s almost like with microdosing, you just sort of like, you remember a little bit about that sense of clarity that you had and that sense of peace and contentment and ritual regardless of whether it’s a high dose or a microdose is important in terms of cultivating that intention and like, “What are we doing today and why am I taking this?” And intuition plays an important role in that as well, in terms of… Like for me now, the way that Jim Fadiman popularized microdosing was, “Do this twice a week, do it for five weeks, see how you feel and then go from there.” But after that initial sort of getting to know the medicine in that way, it’s almost like, well then like you said, with how the Mazatec use it, it’s very much based on intuition. Like if it’s a gut thing, or if it’s a headache, or if it’s an energetic thing, right? Just like knowing that that medicine is in your back pocket and that it’s able to be utilized is a really reassuring thing. And it brings that knowledge and that just understanding that it’s available is… Has a sense of peace to it. And so…
1:12:44 FB: Yeah I agree and in the book we talk a lot about this holistic model method for balanced life and these different aspects of the human experience and how we have an intuition. Like, “I’m really not creating a lot of relationships, I’m kind of isolated. This territory of my life is not very well.” So you could do microdosing or you could have an experience of expanded states or psychedelics and explore that or open that territory. So I think that the intentionality is based also on an observation of clarity towards what place in you is well and what place in you may need a little attention or presence, right? So I think intention and becoming more aware of why we’re taking something in our body is a lot of what creates the healing, right? The presence with the substance is half of the healing, and then there is the substance and the way it works in us. But I agree with you, intention is key here. No I…
1:13:43 PA: You could take it on… So okay…
1:13:44 FB: I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation…
1:13:45 PA: Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth with Françoise Bourzat, is that how you say it? Or I’m I butchering your name?
1:13:56 FB: That’s okay. Françoise Bourzat.
1:13:58 PA: Okay, and Kristina Hunter. So, thank you both for joining us today.
1:14:03 KH: Thank you so much.
1:14:03 PA: This has been lovely.
1:14:04 KH: Yeah, thank you, very good to be here with you.
1:14:06 PA: Thank you, Kristina. And I just wanna thank you for all the work that you’ve done, for the work that you’re currently doing.
1:14:12 KH: Thank you.
1:14:13 PA: For writing this book, it’s really important and I think it will be a really useful resource as this.
1:14:18 KH: Thank you, I hope so.
1:14:18 PA: As this movement grows. So thank you Françoise.
1:14:20 FB: Thank you. Thank you, Paul.