Media Q & A
From an Interview with FRSHMND
I’ve included some questions below. If you have any other input/ideas for what you think readers need to know about you and your business (I use the term “business” generally here), feel free to include. You can write as much or as little as you want:
What inspired you to start a psychedelic practice/business?
I have received profound healing and insight from plant spirit medicines and want to offer my experiences to others. My extensive participation and leadership in esoteric spiritual communities have prepared me to hold space for others with humility and sensitivity. The medicines have helped me feel gratitude for this life and heal my fractured history, which has so often impeded my ability to fully embrace myself and others.
In my 20s, I became a member of a group that formally studied and practiced the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, leading to a serious undertaking of over 25 years that involved weekly group meetings of intentional discussion, meditation, and work in the sacred dances Gurdjieff called “the movements.” In my late 40’s, I left the group and simultaneously began participating in a weekly traditional Inipi (sweat) ceremony, Dzogchen Buddhist teachings and meditation, and Ayahuasca ceremony circles. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for these life influences. During this time, I began working with Psilocybin and holding space for friends during their journeys. My formal guiding practice evolved as my life allowed this to take place. Facilitating another’s journey with an entheogen is an experience I feel privileged to participate in. It never gets old.
Can you provide me with an overview of what you do, how you do it, the services you provide?
I guide individuals, couples, and small groups on immersive psilocybin journeys and provide preparation and integration support. These journeys primarily take place in my prepared studio.
I recently completed a certificate course in somatic relational trauma skills with Albert Wong, PhD, at Somatopia. The training and coursework have significantly benefited me since many of my clients struggle with past trauma.
I have found my healing with plant/fungi spirit medicines. I realize that not everyone refers to them by this name, which is fine with me, but I have experienced the opening of consciousness they provide and consider them an independent form of functioning consciousnesses.
How I conduct the session for my client flows from the premise that my role is to facilitate and create a container for a connection between this individual and the medicine. I begin by screening for contraindications, honouring the premise that the client should be in a conducive physical and mental state. Then, the client and I have a Zoom chat that allows them to meet me, preview the room where their session will take place, and ask any questions. Doing so helps me gauge whether they are in a good place to embark on a journey.
My view is that the decision to take a journey is personal, and I never try to convince. I feel that there is unhelpful hyperbole surrounding the current psychedelic movement that builds unrealistic distracting from the real need for each of us to take responsibility for our existence and current incarnation in every sense, especially when working with plant/fungi spirit medicine. Accordingly, I take these details seriously:
I provide information for my clients to prepare for their journey in the days prior to their session and the days after, especially. This process is now referred to as “integration.” In my experience, integration can occur over the years.
On the day of the session, I cleanse and clear the room, the client, myself, and the medicine with sage and copal. I make my client feel comfortable in the space. I encourage them to bring any personal items, such as photographs or small objects they would like close to them during their journey. And, of course, I recommend they wear comfortable clothes. Essentially, I want my client to feel safe and to be present during their journey without my intruding into their experience with the medicine. To ensure the ideal environment for the medicine to be effective, I practice ritual acknowledgement through prayer, intention, and inclusion cleansing and clearing with traditional plant medicines.
What I have just described is often called “set and setting”—one’s mindset and the setting for the journey.
Can you describe your process? Usually, there’s some sort of intake process, preparation, ceremony, integration, etc. How does it work with your practice/business exactly?
Intake begins with screening for psilocybin contraindications. I then follow up with a video call. If the client wishes to move forward, they receive a medical intake form and written support for preparation, the journey, and integration. The journey takes place during the day in my studio. We have an integration session within one to three weeks of the journey, usually over Zoom. This session is a time for the client to share what has arisen for them in the week/s following their experience.
What would you say makes what you offer unique?
I am in the crone stage of life, having spent considerable time attempting to understand the nature of existence more deeply through human relationships, teachers and mentors, sacred rituals, plant spirit medicines, and trying, as sincerely as possible, to “be here now.” The experience of the psilocybin journey, the time with the “little people,” can show us that, like the mycelial network that travels unseen underneath everything, we are part of each other. In that sense, I become, in some ways, a part of my client’s journey, along for the ride, so to speak. On that ride, I am both the lion standing guard, protecting my vulnerable client as they are carried forward into the known and unknown territories of the spirit, mind, heart, and physical body, and the lantern bearer shining the light ahead and beckoning with assurance to “step forward; everything will be okay!” It is my belief and experience that each of our journeys unfolds exactly as they were meant to occur.
If you could tell a prospective client one story about an amazing transformation you saw as a result of the work you do, what would it be?
A client who suffered from crippling anxiety, night terrors, PTSD from work as a first responder, and persistent, unresolved grief associated with the loss of a loved one was healed by one journey. They also spontaneously chose to cease their seven-ounce-per-month consumption of medical cannabis.
What are the important factors people should consider when seeking help/guidance from a practitioner/business like you (e.g., screening, safety, certifications, diets, etc.)?
They should follow their instincts when choosing a guide. They should ensure they trust the guide and that the guide is transparent. They should determine whether the guides have extensive experience with plant spirit medicines. They should also ask if the guide is screening for contraindications. In other words, if the guide works with other substances, such as MDMA, they should ask how these substances are safety tested. Testing is essential because drugs, including fentanyl, are found in MDMA and ketamine. Formulating intentions for a journey will help guide people in choosing the right person.
How do you see the role of psychedelics evolving within the larger healthcare landscape?
I do not relate to the term “psychedelic-assisted therapy” because it does much disservice to plant spirit medicines, which are themselves the teachers and the therapists. Talk-based psychotherapy is beneficial for healing and understanding and can be used alongside psychedelic journeys. However, the problem, as I see it, is that therapy is co-opting plant spirit medicines and essentially disregarding the thousands of years of knowledge and wisdom gained by Indigenous peoples about them. I am not Indigenous, but I know enough from my experience and direct teachings from Indigenous teachers I have sat with that plants are teachers. This concept is poorly understood in contemporary Western culture, which has involved spending a few thousand years taking whatever we want from the earth and calling it ours. Plants are teachers. We need to find the quiet place where they talk to us. Hopefully, the field of psychotherapy will flip the current psychedelic-assisted therapy and use the knowledge gained by studying psychotherapy to assist in the healing relationship between plants/fungi and their clients.
I value the rigorous research studies undertaken on psychedelics, especially the work of scientists Bill Richards, Roland Griffiths, and Robin Carhart-Harris. I also appreciate Andrew Huberman, who presents scientific research in formats accessible to laypeople—fantastic stuff!
Unsurprisingly, I am not a fan of the attempt to break down the components of the Psilocybin mushroom to attempt to tease out its healing properties and eliminate the journey. But it is understandable since the delivery of Western medicine is bound to a capitalist model that wants to remove anything deemed unpleasant and substitute it with the “24-hour corn syrup glucose drip.”
Scientific proof of the efficacy of psychedelics to alleviate and heal depression, PTSD, brain trauma, smoking and alcohol cessation, anorexia—the list goes on—has gained the public’s attention to the extent that these medicines are no longer ignored.
When or if plant spirit medicines are ever recognized as our birthright to partake in are questions that remain to be answered.
How do you see your practice/business fitting in that future state?
There will always be guides like me who have gained their knowledge by working with medicines, finding mentors they trust and respect, and leading a life emphasizing the development of awareness, compassion, and gratitude. I prefer to work independently, but not in isolation, and listen to the plants and fungi for direction in next steps for my practice.
I am not going anywhere, and if someone is looking, they will find me.