Guides and Risk

If you are new to the experience, you may want to journey with a guide—perhaps a friend who is experienced with psychedelics and willing to spend time with you while you practice ritual alone or together. If that’s not an option, use someone with whom you have a high degree of trust and security, and make sure your location is in a safe space. Psychedelic mushrooms are emotion amplifiers. The single truth and the relational universe teach us that whatever we focus on grows in intensity. It is easy to become absorbed in a specific direction during the psychedelic experience, and sometimes that can be a direction we would prefer to avoid. The mushroom will direct you where it decides. You can go to dark places, but trust that they will brighten your being in the long run. It’s called a journey for a reason. We venture into the unknown. 

Guides can be individuals or groups who have worked with you to prepare for and undergo high ritual. The guide helps the individual take a journey of love and introspection and helps guide focus and energy. They engage with the individual or the environment when necessary but prioritize the space to explore. Guides have helped others glimpse the whole for hundreds of thousands of years. They may serve as a source of security, safety, comfort, reassurance, and redirection during the journey. Guides may also assist individuals seeking guidance in practicing their small rituals prior to the high ritual and facilitating individual or group sessions. Anyone may act as a guide, and more formal guidelines than those outlined earlier may be established to better specialize volunteers for the task. Their role may be suggestive when necessary but is by default passive. Ideally, guides have personal experience with high ritual and support their partners sober. However, that won’t always be an option. If you choose to experiment with high ritual in group settings, you may find yourself acting as a guide whether you are prepared or not.

I remember an experience where I imbibed in a group setting and one individual recalled a traumatic experience. In that moment, they were gripped by an overwhelming struggle. I knew them to be more experienced in psychedelic exploration than I was, but it was obvious that they were embarking down a path they were attempting to resist—further compounding the struggle. When I realized what was happening, I decided to act. As the day shifted into evening, our room became dark, so I turned on the lights and put on some relaxing music. Within moments, the group atmosphere had changed, and the individual could continue their journey without stress. My intentions were pure, and I remain confident that they would have opted out of public terror and vulnerability if given the choice. Yet I recognize that there was never any alternative to the mushroom bringing them to that moment and question if I did more harm than good by not allowing their journey to proceed without interference. Part of leveraging psilocybin in spiritual ritual is to respect the journey for what it is. Reliving past moments or venturing into alternative futures is a journey of healing, even if we rarely understand that during the moments of occurrence. Had this been an alternative situation, where I was acting as a guide in a personal setting, I would have likely allowed the experience to continue uninterrupted, offering moral support and guidance in navigating the circumstance. I share this to highlight the unpredictability of high ritual. 

Although a guide may be helpful in times of uncomfortable introspection, they may not be enough. The individual bears all responsibility for the journey. Ingesting the mushroom is a point of no return. Earlier we explored why surroundings are an essential component of high ritual, especially when considering the relational universe. People and places that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe should be absolutely avoided for high ritual. Dealing with trauma is one of many healing properties of the mushroom, but we shouldn’t create new wounds in the process. There is also the risk of physical harm in unsafe environments. The high-dose mushroom experience alters individual time experience in ways that are inconceivable to the unaware. 

While an individual’s first high ritual should be in a safe and secure environment, shared ritual is a practice predating all we presently inhabit in this moment. Have faith that the mushroom guides you to where you’re supposed to be. Experiences range from topics we’d rather avoid, to the infusion of knowledge, to harmonious love so overwhelming that it brings you to tears, to a terrifying awe that has you begging for answers as to why you are beyond such monstrous magnificence. Do not be afraid; you are accessing a network of intelligence much more extensive than any of us. It is overwhelming to say the least, but in a great way. In the end, the individual hero emerges unscathed from their journey, resurrected and bearing the lasting scars of new understandings and connections. High ritual creates an individual who is born anew. To intentionally imbibe in circumstances out of alignment with sacred intention risks time experiences of powerful miseries, existential dread, and the reexperience of trauma. 

Guides provide an extra layer of security because they can help create thought frameworks during the experience, guiding a journey down specific paths. They accomplish this by asking the right questions, bringing up ideas and experiences that evoke joy, or just being available as trusted confidants who can share positive perspectives during an unfamiliar time experience. As we frame the high spiritual ritual around a sacred fungus, we do so intending to commune, but that doesn’t mean we get to pick the topics. Proper preparation and practice before ingestion help mitigate the risk of a bad trip. While nothing can ever guarantee a specific journey, there is no reason to fear. The sacred ritual of psilocybin consumption is an active effort to reshape ourselves. When we engage in it, we become more capable of expressing our latent divinity through the dissolution of our egos. 

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Cannabis, Sin, and the Joy of Novelty
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