The Secret Chief - Appendix I: Personal Accounts
Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Epilogue | Appendix I | Appendix II | Acknowledgements
The results of the author's in-depth interviews with five different individuals who have gone through the program described in this book are summarized in these personal accounts. The information was mostly prompted by questions asked of the individual participants. Assumed names are assigned in each case.
A word about the questions. Those of a scientific mind would no doubt like to see the questionnaire that was used for these interviews. As a matter of fact, it was my intent to develop a questionnaire that could be filled out by all the participants, and I would summarize the results by analyzing the answers.
Jacob objected very much to this, as did others who had extensive experience with persons going through this program. The problem is that these experiences are such expansive openers, and lead into so many dimensions of understanding and experience that it is quite restricting to attempt to channel the results into the narrow ruts of a preconceived set of questions. The attempt to do so is limiting and frustrating to the person being interviewed.
Consequently, I armed myself with a checklist to make sure I covered areas of interest, and at the same time encouraged the participant to relate what they found to be most interesting and valuable. In this way I hoped to capture important areas of functioning, while allowing the participant to communicate more fully the extent of her or his experience.
Robert is in his early forties, unmarried, and works as a commissioned salesman. He first became drawn to psychedelics through reading about them. After he participated in his first psychedelic session, he continued with one experience per month for eleven months. By the time of this interview he had completed seventy-five to eighty psychedelic sessions, ten of these on his own. The compounds which he has experienced include MDMA, ibogaine, LSD, LSD with harmaline, peyote, mushrooms, MDA, and 2C-B (4-Bromo-2,5- Dimethoxyphenethylamine, a new chemical that was investigated for a while, then abandoned because of the variability in response and the fact that it did not lend itself well to group experiences).
When Robert became aware of a program that used psychedelics therapeutically, he entered it. His sense of adventure played a part in motivating him to participate. He was also motivated by his yearning for an experience of God, feeling that this was an important aspect of life that he was missing. In addition, there were a number of things about himself that he was not happy with and that he hoped to change through the therapeutic use of psychedelics.
In Robert's first session, he ingested three grams of mushrooms. He felt his female companion became a leopard woman. When they reached out and touched, red energy passed between their hands like a neon light. Later in the afternoon he found that everything was gorgeous. His first group experience was with ibogaine, where he had very rich and enjoyable interior visions for many hours.
During a memorable experience in which he took a combination of LSD and harmaline, Robert found the power within himself to feel his strength and explore his masculinity. He found himself to be fearless and a powerhouse of energy. During this session Robert felt strong like a leopard and was able to overcome his fear of snakes.
After his second most significant session, a powerful experience with 2C-B, he felt that he had "cleansed his lenses"; the world looked different, like washing a muddy car. A heightened sensory awareness stayed with him after this session, and opened him up to and was extended by a subsequent MDMA session.
Robert describes an experience with MDMA as his most profound psychedelic session. The session began with the ingestion of 150 milligrams of MDMA. After one and a half hours he had not noticed any effects so he ingested 75 more milligrams as a booster. This first booster did not achieve the desired effect so a second booster of 50 milligrams was reluctantly administered. Even after being administered a second booster his experience had not started. Robert asked for another booster but his request was denied. He was told perhaps it was about time that he had a nothing trip. Three hours after the beginning of the session he had a profound experience of God which he describes as the most joyous moment of his life. A month later he was still happy, joyous, grateful, and completely satisfied.
Robert attributes many of the positive changes in his life to his psychedelic therapy. Of the benefits he reported, the most outstanding has been that of profoundly experiencing God within himself. Before he had these psychedelic experiences, Robert had rejected Christianity and had no feeling for the existence of God. He has since joined the Unity Church and attends services, which have become the highlight of his week. He is now engrossed in reading spiritual books, listening to music, looking at nature, with gratitude at the beauty of the world welling out to God every day. He has not undertaken any new formal education, but has greatly increased his reading and study through the Unity Church.
The overall quality of the relationships in Robert's life has improved. He now feels more relaxed around people, more in the present. He has dropped some of his shyness, and is less clinging. He has discovered that he essentially loves his mother, whom he had felt was a very difficult person. His experiences have allowed him to keep relationships going despite resentments. He feels an ability to experience love, which he had not done for years.
When dealing with the world at large, Robert no longer feels the need to be constantly on the lookout, scanning for danger. The fear of danger has now fallen away. His fear of death and anxiety levels have also diminished.
There has been a significant change in Robert's relationship to his work. He has dropped an old, stressful job and has taken a job based on commission. Previously he was much too rigid and anxious to consider a job where income was uncertain.
Robert has also experienced a change in his recreational activities due to his psychedelic therapy sessions. His appreciation of nature and his love of music have increased. He has abandoned his television set, acquired a huge record collection, and reports a greater interest in reading, particularly metaphysical books. After sessions, he often has spontaneous flows of writing.
The detrimental effects that Robert has experienced have been occasional feelings of paranoia. One of these experiences began with a group session in which he had taken a peyote extract and mushrooms. The initial dose did not achieve the desired effects so Robert took a booster. The first part of the experience was pleasant, but in the afternoon he turned quite paranoid. This feeling lasted for a week, until a solo experience with MDMA erased it.
Robert had another bout with paranoia when he ingested 100 micrograms of LSD with a friend. In this instance, talking it through with his friend cleared about eighty percent of his paranoid feelings. Robert also experienced paranoid feelings for a period of close to three months after his 2C-B encounter; however, he felt that this experience laid the groundwork for his magnificent MDMA journey. On another note, though his intuition has increased somewhat and there are times at work when he gets a sudden flash of understanding, his energy level has gone downhill. He finds it hard to get started in the morning. This is sometimes disturbing. He thinks it may be aging.
Overall, Robert reported a great improvement in the quality of his life because of his psychedelic therapy sessions. All of his experiences have contributed to this, but the MDMA experience was the most outstanding, with the 2C-B experience next. He can better appreciate the beauty in the world and God plays an important role in his life. One of the greatest gains is the contact with the group, sharing experiences. These relations are now the richest part of his life. Through his psychedelic therapy sessions Robert has gained innumerable insights about himself and the world in which he lives.
Susan is 34 and a freelance graphic artist. When she learned of the program of psychedelic therapy, she immediately wished to participate (3-1/2 years previous to this interview). She has had approximately 40 experiences, about half of which were on her own. She has used LSD, LSD and harmaline, MDA, MDMA, ibogaine, mescaline, 2C-B, and mushrooms. She entered this program looking for a booster in life and to further develop the progress made through another personal growth program.
Susan has had a number of outstanding experiences with psychedelics. Some very dramatic ones have occurred with ibogaine, her favorite material. She finds that ibogaine forces you to look at what you have placed between yourself and love and that you have no choice; it will not let go of you until you are redeemed. Many people do not like it but she finds that the best thing to do is "confront your crap rather than laying around in paradise." She always feels best after experiences in which she has confronted fear.
Before one ibogaine experience, Susan had set herself up for a perfect boyfriend where she would function out of love with no projections. She took up with the boyfriend of her best girlfriend after the two broke up. Her girlfriend returned after thirty days and reunited with her old boyfriend, which hurt Susan very deeply.
She took ibogaine and went through cycles of resentment, fear, anger and sadness for hours and hours, over and over again. It wouldn't stop. At the end of the day she sat up and decided that at least she could get up and go to the bathroom. She suddenly experienced her head filled with light. For the next half hour she felt like the Buddha, a most beautiful experience. Her conclusion is that Mr. Ibogaine does not let go of you until he is through with you.
During another ibogaine session, she thought knives were hidden everywhere and she was filled with murderous thoughts. She saw Jesus being crucified and finally drove in the nails herself. After hours and hours of experiencing Christ crucified, she realized that Jesus forgave her despite her abominable act, and that He also forgave Judas. She then reached a sense of Cosmic Consciousness, One Mind and the knowledge that God was real.
At another time she took MDMA and had a glowing experience. A week later with ibogaine, she asked why life could not be like the MDMA experience all the time. The answer came quickly, "Because of fear." She thought she now had the answer and was through, but a voice said to her, "No you don't!" She was then forced to experience fear in every conceivable way. She kept trying to hide but was unable to, so she finally gave up. The experience was horrible, with much yelling. She described the most comfortable she could feel was to have one million razor blades stuck into her body and have them explode. She saw no hope and finally gave up and collapsed on a pad. She was then filled with a channel of white light and felt reborn. Beauty came, and there was pure, exquisite tension between fear and beauty. She did one of her best designs after this experience.
In her personal growth pursuits, Susan felt her biggest decision was to stop making herself miserable. Before, her energy was hyper and frantic and she felt she wasn't "home." Now she realizes that she can be still, rather than constantly chasing after activities. She is willing to make peace with the past, allow herself to feel depressed sometimes, and look inside herself for her real intention.
The biggest benefit of Susan's psychedelic therapy has been freeing herself of projections. She used to project onto everything. In her relationships, she would fall in love, project all over her partner, and drive herself crazy. She has since learned to ask herself what she really wants and has discovered that love is not "out there" to be found, but comes from within yourself; you don't need to go running after it.
Interestingly, Susan reports that she stopped wearing glasses. She feels that she doesn't need them because her vision has improved. She is more aware of detail and color and is less distracted. She can become absorbed in the beauty of simple things, like the reflection of lights from waves on the surface of water.
In the area of sensitivity, she finds herself more open, not as defensive, and has dropped fears and judgements. It is much easier for her to make close contact with people in everyday affairs such as clerks in stores.
In terms of her creativity, Susan reports that her graphics have gotten "very clean in design." She finds that after confronting her fears in experiences she does her best designs. A significant change took place in her work activity. She was a supervisor for a while, and went through a period of attempting to make her department very efficient, eliminate sloppiness, "get on the ball." She wanted to run things in a regimented manner, but no one was interested. In pondering the problem, it came to her to attempt not so much to control her coworkers but to relax her stranglehold on them and trust the process. In finally deciding to "let them do what they want," relations immediately improved, the employees were happier, and things operated more efficiently.
Susan had been very resentful of her mother and father, despite having been given everything. She previously saw herself as a "snotty little kid" resenting authority and wanting to grow up immediately. In her first psychedelic session she realized the contribution her parents had made to her life, and totally flipped in her attitude. She forgave them even though there was nothing to forgive, and the relationship has been wonderful ever since. In addition to the renewed relationship with her parents and the continued easy, open relationship with her three sisters, she now has a whole new set of friends, mostly those from the group psychedelic experiences, who now feel closer than her own family.
The biggest change in her life regarding her conduct with other people has been learning to mind her own business. She has found it best not to sympathize or empathize with others to help them get over hurts, but simply to tell the truth and mind her own business. This is working very well.
Susan at first had a strong feeling that she had to help save the world. Despite volunteering eight hours a day on top of an eight hour job, she was compulsive and felt guilty that she was not doing enough. She now feels that whatever you do makes a difference; what is important is how you do it rather than what you do. She feels that working on herself is making a contribution to the planet. Since all minds are one, one day there will be enough clear minds to achieve a mass world improvement.
Susan has had some incredible experiences of God, or the One Mind of Cosmic Consciousness. Susan found that her own energy was insignificant compared to that of God. She learned that if she was stuck in an experience and was thrashing around, the answer was not to go looking for God but to realize that God is inside and to come from God. She has had some profound biblical-type experiences. The implications of these experiences for herself are to remove her own barriers and make decisions, take responsibility for herself, tell the truth as far as she knows it, and to understand that being willing is what frees one.
The only detrimental effect that Susan reported is that sometimes she would be tired for a couple of days after a session. There have been no long-range adverse effects.
Dick is 33 and has been married nine years. He owns and operates a stained glass business with his wife and another woman as partners. He had used psychedelics previously to entering this program, but mostly for recreation. His experiences were meaningless, had no direction, and he got nothing from them. Dick had about ten experiences before entering the program and has had ten to twelve experiences subsequently, starting about one year before this interview. Going through a non-drug personal growth program had opened a crack in his structure, and his psychedelic sessions have been a wedge to push him through to greater openness. He has used ibogaine, mushrooms, harmaline, LSD, and MDMA.
In his first solo experience, Dick broke down a lot of resistance and got in touch with a deepened sense of love for others. This has led him to no longer discriminate against people. He now realizes how important it is to have a support system. He has found that he is no longer interested in giving unsubstantiated opinions, but needs facts. Otherwise, communication is a waste of time. Before he loved picking holes in other people's positions, and considered himself a real "shit stirrer," which made people around him uncomfortable. He was a master of finding errors; one slip and they were dead. Since he is less preoccupied with himself, he can see others better, which has opened up relationships in many ways.
Dick's experiences in the psychedelic program have contributed to the cleaning up of specific areas of his life. In one experience, he wrote a letter to his deceased father and feels that his relation to his father is now complete. There is a break in his relationship to his mother - they cannot talk because of her attitude - but he has dropped the resentment from his side and has written her a letter of complete validation. He would be in instant ecstasy if she would call him. He has made it his intention to be back in a relationship with his mother in two months and to have an excellent relationship in six months. However, he is willing to have it the way that she wants it.
His relationship with his wife is now magnificent. Having experiences together has broken down the barriers between them and has allowed him to see his deep commitment to her. Communication has been opened up and he now gets tremendous support from her. They can work things out between them and let each other have their own being and their own space, which includes space for good fights. They can no longer get away with crap and find it easier to just tell the truth and act.
The most satisfying benefit has been to discover that "he is not bullshitting any more." These experiences have snapped his resistances and have had a total effect on all of his reactions. He has had powerful experiences of himself and other people and now responds out of who he is. Discussing specific changes, in the area of awareness Dick feels that he is clearer, more willing and more open. He is much more aware of other people and their names and is more willing to be supported by them.
He has also had profound experiences of God which have increased his sense of connectedness to others and all things. He has found God and lost his fear of death. Dick was always aware of nature, but in his first experiences he was able to notice just how aware he was. He always saw the detail but now he sees God everywhere. He has become less destructive to the environment and has cut out using pesticides. Gardening and mowing the lawn are jobs that are a thrill to do. He makes time for them even when he is pressed.
In the religious area, he used to think that the Catholic Church was God, and had gone to seminary. He has found God and his connectedness to the rest of reality in his psychedelic experiences.
He reported that during one ibogaine experience, he was scared shitless. He left it in God's hands and was willing to feel whatever emotions were coming up. He has symbolically died twice during experiences. The result was loss of all fear of death.
Since beginning the psychedelic sessions, he has gone to glass school and a communication workshop and has signed up for the Course in Miracles. He has made a commitment to run in next year's marathon. He had previously considered that running any distance was ridiculous and used to make fun of his wife for running. He now finds that when he gets tired running, he can pull energy in through the palms of his hands. It is almost like having a session.
Dick has always been energetic, but he now finds that he wastes less energy. He has eliminated fretting, finding it easier to start producing results rather than fret over problems. He is more willing to confront failure, which releases energy for positive action. He is better able to focus energy and has discovered how useful it is when working with other people to have them all sit down and focus their energy together. Otherwise there is a tendency to act from an unconscious place which dissipates energy and life and is not as satisfying. If things are left to fate, one remains unconscious.
He and his partners, who are also in the psychedelic program, now have more significant relations with their clients and feel that they make a difference in people's lives. They have endeavored to clear out all unconsciousness from their business operations, getting together to go over the operation and plan the work. They have hired a consultant, changed the name of the business, studied the market, and reviewed all aspects of the operation in order to carefully choose their direction. Finally, they have shifted the context of their business from profit making to being a source for their favorite charity. This was scary at first, as it was hard to ask people for donations and risk losing their business.
With regard to creativity, Dick is now aware that he can be the creator. He is willing to let go of the past and has more facility producing new, different designs and having them be exactly what he wants. He can stay with an idea and keep working until it is just right. The improved focus on creative work has lead to an award-winning design. Clients are now ordering larger pieces, worth two to three thousand dollars.
Dick has had to learn how to get free of his own thoughts and the thoughts of others and address the person and the context. He has found that focusing on reality creates realities. He can change reality instantly by confronting the context and not what people think about it. This leads to very positive results and is freeing and ecstatic. This approach can be used anywhere to plough through the junk in life. In a personal growth program, he learned to understand the concept of coming from context rather than content, but he found that he had to experience it before he could use it. Now by owning the project, he can make it work.
Mentally, he has experienced the meaning of larger contexts, which has been freeing and ecstatic. Formerly, he was unable to imagine a context larger than himself. He can also experience the power of operating from a larger context.
Dick has testified that he finds it extremely important to plan his experience ahead of time and know what he wants. He feels it is very important to have psychedelic experiences together with those to whom you are close. In such cases, it is good to share with the others ahead of time what you wish to get out of the experience. Having a psychedelic experience is a tool to be used when it is necessary. It is not a good enough purpose to just go along: One must be clear upon entering, and use the experience as a tool. He is confident that what happens depends on the way that you enter and how willing you are to have it the way that you want. He has found that it is difficult to have it very, very good, and this is sometimes harder than dealing with a problem. He also found that if he didn't want problems during an experience, he didn't have to have them.
Detrimental effects occur mostly when he is coming down from experiences. He usually goes through a period of agitation when the chemical is wearing off. Also, he doesn't like to go to work the next day.
Carol, 36 years old, started her professional career as a teacher, but dropped this to work in administration at a university. During her psychedelic program she decided to go to graduate school and study psychology. She had a job in research, followed by an internship in which she counseled people. She ultimately returned to working with children, where she could combine her training in both education and psychology. She is now in private practice, specializing in working with youngsters.
Carol started therapy with Jacob at age 23, participating in a Gestalt Therapy group. She had no previous experience with psychedelics. She was unhappy with herself and was impressed by what some of the other members of the group had to say about their psychedelic experiences. She admired and respected the other members of the group. From their commentaries, she thought a psychedelic experience might be a good tool for her to get in touch with herself. She has since had around 50 experiences over a period of 13 years, about one half of which were on her own with friends.
She has tried just about everything: LSD, ibogaine, mushrooms, MDA, MDMA, mescaline, peyote extract, TMA-2, harmaline and ketamine. Her favorite material has been ibogaine, followed by MDMA. Beyond these, the choice depends on her mood. While psychedelics have opened her up, she feels that she has also benefited from other personal growth programs, meditation, and healthy eating.
One of Carol's most memorable experiences was a very heavy trip with harmaline during the time that she had been studying behaviorism in school. She imagined herself walking down a one way street like a movie set, acting out behavior that wasn't appropriate. At the end of the one way street was a bucket, and she would throw up in the bucket. As she experienced this in her mental imagery, she would actually throw up. The whole scene - visually, kinesthetically, the whole situation of behavior - would end up with her throwing up into the bucket. Then after a while she would be on same street again doing a different behavior, feeling it all out and throwing up. A whole series of inappropriate behavior ended in her throwing up this way. This was a very strong lesson in her kinds of behavior, where they were getting her, and where the pain and suffering came from.
A bucket and a box of kleenex used to be important adjuncts to her psychedelic journeys, but not so much any more. Either she has cleaned out her stuff or found a different way of operating.
Carol has opened up to her own feelings and is better able to feel them, even though they may not necessarily be pleasant. During psychedelic journeys, feelings are sometimes unplea- sant, even painful. In a supportive, encouraging situation, she is able to feel these difficult emotions and ultimately accept them, which makes her more sensitive to the feelings of others. She now knows that the emotional discomfort will pass and afterward she will feel more energetic, more connected, and there will always be some benefit. She finds real value in facing fear and believes there is no rational reason for fear. She feels the fear when confronting it, getting down to it. Then it comes to the surface. She no longer resists it but finds she is freed from it. Having been through the fear, she can move on.
Before this program, she didn't get along well with either parent or her older brother. Now she gets along well with all three. All the areas of growth activity, including graduate school, contributed to improving these relationships. Her psychedelic experiences had a strong influence on these changes.
Carol reports being more connected to nature. This derives both from psychedelics and meditation. She finds much similarity between the two. She often meditates when on psychedelic journeys, and has psychedelic-like experiences when meditating. Her fiancÚ teaches insight meditation, where one watches one's breathing and anything that comes up. This enhances awareness and introspection, leads to compassion, and helps gain insights into connections with the world. It is based on Buddhism. One notices how everything changes. Most days she spends an hour a day meditating. She has experienced a very intense three month meditation retreat with 100 people where there was no talking.
She has an improved ability to get her attention off of herself; this frees a lot of energy tied up in fruitless energy loops. She feels she has gotten past her mind and has cut through a lot of verbal dialogue and chatter. She has a deeper sense of what's going on. She finds herself more centered, more grounded.
Earlier in her life, Carol wanted to get married, and wondered if she ever would. Then came a period of not wanting to get married and thinking that she never would. This was followed by once more wanting to marry, and now she is getting married to a man with whom she shares psychedelic experiences. Psychedelic sessions definitely helped to sort things out, cut through arguments and create the space to be open to communicate and hear what each other has to say.
Prior to meeting her fiancÚ, her psychedelic experiences helped her to get clear on who she is and who she wants to be with, how she wants to act, and what kind of behavior is appropriate. Her relations with friends have improved considerably. Some of her best and closest friends are in the psychedelic group and they share their experiences. A number of times when there has been trouble, a shared journey clears up what's going on. It permits Carol to put herself in the other person's shoes and helps her become more compassionate. Two days later she can often see the other person in a totally different space in the relationship. She doesn't necessarily need to talk about what the problem was. She feels this is a big area where psychedelics have helped her to relate more easily to people.
Carol feels she has become more forgiving and doesn't beat herself up as much. She hesitates on this point because before her psychedelic program she was politically more active. She wonders if she's become less ambitious or driven. However, she observes that before her activities were more like racing her motor; now she feels that what she is contributing is more rewarding and fulfilling. As a college student, she was in the streets, sitting in at gatherings. Her psychedelic experiences started after she finished college. Now she is much less politically active. She still volunteers at a local school six hours a week as community service. She now wants more sense of satisfaction from her volunteer work and prefers to be one-on-one rather than work in a large organization. She enjoyed being in an anti-nuclear march recently and contributes large sums of money to her favorite charity. She is presently forming a community for meditators which will be a retreat center, which she feels will be a positive contribution to the world.
Carol feels she has become aware of barriers, obstacles, and things that she does to sabotage her own energy. Her psychedelic experiences connect her more with what she really wants and where she's really going; she is more in touch with her priorities, and doesn't waste as much time. This is more fulfilling, and raises her energy level.
She noted several changes in her work attitude. Previously she was more afraid; she felt she had to do certain jobs or be fired and be out in the cold. Now she is more creative, competent, and not so self-pressured. Her career goal changed several times. She is now more accepting of change, and doesn't need a single lifetime goal. Goals drop or change; she is more fluid. These changes have covered some 20 years.
Carol finds herself more perceptive, feeling that she has less to guard against. She is more willing to see herself in others, less judgmental, "better able to see what's going on," and more compassionate. Since compassion leads to higher awareness, she doesn't have to struggle against what she sees. This makes her more accepting and aware. Sometimes this is painful if there is a time lag between becoming aware of something she is not happy with and accepting it. A consequence of these shifts in her awareness is that she feels more confident, more at ease and more trusting, which allows her to put more energy into doing than wondering how she'll do it.
Carol reports feeling a lot more alive. She thinks she looks younger. She feels younger, less dragged out, healthier, and more spontaneous. She feels that her intuition is much stronger. She trusts her intuition more and it has developed and grown. She has much more creativity, again because she trusts herself more, and is more relaxed when looking at situations.
Carol's quality of life has improved immensely. Before psychedelics, she had no sense of fulfillment. She is happy that this has reversed. She participates in more recreational activities, enjoys them more, and does more of what she likes to do. She is more efficient in doing what chores and housework need to be done to make life pleasurable and satisfying. She is more careful about diet, and gains satisfaction from exercise. Psychedelic experiences are sometimes recreational, but this she can't count on.
Carol describes two effects that could be considered harmful. The first is that her memory is sometimes a little shaky. This might be due to a lot of marijuana smoking; she has also consumed a lot of alcohol. She sometimes wonders if there is any correlation between memory loss and taking psychedelics. She has cut back more on alcohol and marijuana than on psychedelics. The other adverse effect was that she recently got a bad kidney infection after an experience with MDMA. She probably picked this up when she was in Asia, but she felt that the MDMA experience may have lowered her resistance and permitted the kidney infection to manifest. She feels that in general, MDMA is not good for the body.
In conclusion, Carol was at first alienated from God or the spiritual. She felt unhappy and had psychological problems. She hoped she might be helped and was open to trying. Her psychedelic program was a long transition for her. She gradually let down and extended her boundaries. At first she felt tremendously isolated and alone. She had friends but was not really connected with other people. She no longer feels that she ends with her physical body, but is much more connected to the world; first with friends, then objects of nature, then more and more with the whole world. It is still hard for her to use the word God. It is not intrinsic to her vocabulary. She's a Buddhist and is very trusting of the process.
Carol feels the most important aspect in the use of psychedelics is the group context that she has experienced. The person leading the group, its structure and the attitude of the participants are more important than the use of the substances. It's about people not seeking quick thrills but earnestly searching for greater spiritual or personal growth.
Sally is 29 years old and is married to Dick. She is a partner with him and another woman in a stained glass business. She also does some work in massage. She has been in the psychedelic therapy program with Jacob for about one year, and has had ten to twelve experiences over this time. The psychedelics she has used include LSD, ibogaine, mushrooms, and MDMA.
Sally discovered in her first experience that life is about expressing what she calls the Real Self, a concept which she had not previously explored. After her first trip alone, it was very evident to her that there was a Spirit, an entity higher than herself that was part of her. She has found the psychedelic sessions helped her to cut through the layers of unconsciousness that keep her from realizing her true nature. This newfound ability has allowed Sally to progress in her personal growth at a rate that she never before thought possible. Problems and situations arise rapidly and are quickly resolved.
Most of her life Sally had beat herself up, been unforgiving of her own limitations. After some very uncomfortable experiences, she has learned to no longer do that. On her first trip with MDMA, at 75 mg., she felt she was wrung completely out and that elephants ran all over her body. On this experience she went through all of her fears. She meditated for five hours in the bathroom; she had never felt so horrible in her whole life. It was terrible. She determined that she would never again put herself through such torture. Since then she has had no physical discomfort when doing MDMA; perhaps on occasion a little nausea.
Sally's relationships with other people have changed since she began her sessions with Jacob. Her relationship with her family has improved tremendously. She is now much closer to her family than she has ever been. This started with her very first experience. Everyone in the family has come to understand that even when problems do arise that it does not affect the feeling of love that they share for one another. This deepening of con-nectedness can be seen in Sally's relationship to her sister. She always got along fine with her sister, but they did not communicate with each other very often. The relationship was nonchalant. After starting the psychedelic program, she began to talk to her sister more often, and the relationship deepened. They still don't see other often, but they are now very loving.
She describes her marriage relationship now as magnificent. She and Dick have been married nine years. They are deeply committed to each other, and hold their intention to maintain the relationship even when they are fighting. Before beginning the program there were issues in the marriage that she could not acknowledge or break through. But the psychedelic experiences permitted breaking through them, even exploding through. An ibogaine experience that Sally and Dick shared particularly illustrates this point. This session blew the lid off of the relationship. It came to their attention they were not being truthful about a lot of things in their lives. They took a good look at their commitment to each other, and felt very committed despite their old issues that were resurfacing. They found it was very important to have the experience together, as it created a safe space for complete sharing and open, honest communication.
Sally's professional life has also seen improvement from her involvement in Jacob's psychedelic program. Sally, Dick and their partner hired a business consultant and installed better management systems. They are committed to cleaning up unconsciousness in their operation and improving communication. The quality of their glass work and the panels they produce has substantially improved. She also notices a difference in the way she massages people. She used to work intently. Now she works more slowly and feels it is much more healing. She puts herself in the place of being God, just as in a psychedelic journey. She feels that by doing this it allows her to connect more fully with her clients and their particular needs. The change is wonderful. She feels that miracles really happen with people on the massage table. Sally now views her massage work as a means to communicate with the higher Self and to contribute to the healing of her clients, whereas before her psychedelic experiences she was just working with people's muscles. Sally states that she now has more energy, a stronger ability to focus, and greater healing ability. She claims that there is no comparison between the way these things used to be and the way they are now. She is absolutely clear that she can heal, not by doing the healing but by being a conduit for healing.
With regard to chores like housekeeping, Sally feels that giving service is a fulfilling pursuit. It's a way of being responsible for life, and being a source for relationship. Sally now sponsors two children in a ten day course for 80 youths at risk. These are kids who could go one way or another in their life. Her sponsorship is a lifelong commitment. This comes out of directly wanting to help keep their hope alive.
Concerning attitudes toward social issues, Sally had been exposed to the difference between content and context in EST (Earhart Seminar Training). However, this difference was not really comprehended until she started her psychedelic program, which has made it much easier to distinguish between the two. Now she can readily transcend chitchat into the bigger picture.
Sally once had doubts that she could create new life. In one of her sessions, she experienced life fully. She knows that life is about now, and that she is responsible for life. The feeling was like giving birth. Now she knows she can create new life. A crucial part of this experience was seeing Dick's mother, and realizing she could make life now. For Sally, part of choosing life is having children, and she knew that Dick's mom will live in her children. She was willing to make life right for her mother-in-law so that she can continue to live on in her grandchildren. Sally's willingness will help bring it about.
Sally has come to realize more fully the importance of continually participating in the world around her, to keep expanding her realm of experience. She has sought out more personal growth workshops and has sought to develop neglected parts of her life. One such development is that Sally has started singing again. She used to sing when she was quite young but as she grew through puberty into adulthood her ability was covered up with uncertainty and fear, and she could no longer do it. On one of her journeys she was very moved upon hearing a classical version of "Danny Boy." She discovered then that she really likes singing. She saw the whole universe laid out before her, and that she could do anything she wanted. When she asked what she should do, God replied, "Sing." She started taking singing lessons. Her husband reported that her voice has changed; it has expanded and opened up and has a much better sound quality. One interesting incident during an experience occurred when she was singing; she noticed that insects landed on her. When she stopped singing, they flew off. She has no explanation, but has good retention of the event.
Through her psychedelic experiences, Sally has become more of a spiritual person. After her first trip alone, it was very evident to her that there was a Spirit, an entity higher than herself and that was part of her. She finds that love is communication with God. Once Sally had accepted this notion into her life she experienced an immense respect for everyone in her life.
Sally finds ibogaine has the most lasting effect of all the substances: It "really hangs in there," and it provides much material to evaluate and gain insight from. On her last ibogaine experience, it took her seven days to reenter her previous state of consciousness. She became quite shaky by days four and five, and was very upset. Then all of a sudden she was completely back into life again. Overall, it was an excellent experience in which she saw that everyone is connected to Spirit. This connection was illustrated during the session by the image of a flame. Now when she talks to people she directly addresses the light or spark which resides within us all. Knowing this has allowed Sally to better understand and more effectively communicate in her dealings with people.
When asked if she has experienced any detrimental effects, Sally says that it often seems like she had difficulties when she was in the middle of a journey, or even a couple of days afterward. But when the experience is complete she always knows that it was very valuable. There have been no detrimental bodily effects.
Sally now knows that there's a Universal Mind out there. It never stops generating; it's an endless creating machine. One can learn to participate in the process.
Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Epilogue | Appendix I | Appendix II | Acknowledgements