Researchers Measure Psychedelic Trips with a Mystical Experience Questionnaire (Study)

A team of researchers from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine believe they have developed a method to scientifically study the “mystical experiences” produced by shrooms.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the team defines “mystical experience” using four central characteristics:

1. A sense of “mysticism,” meaning a sensation of sacredness or unity with all things

2. Positive mood

3. Transcendence of time and space

4. Ineffability, a feeling that the experience is beyond words.

The team of psychiatrists and neuroscientists created a 30-item Mystical Experience Questionnaire, called the MEQ30, which addresses all four of these “mystical experience” elements and can be used to obtain an overall score to describe the intensity of the mystical experience.

This was achieved by analyzing data collected from five laboratory-based experiments, in which a total of 184 participants were given moderate to high doses of psilocybin mushrooms and asked to describe their experience.

The results led to a number of theories. Psilocybin is thought to cause a decrease in brain activity in the parts of the brain typically associated with the “sense of self,” or “ego.” At the same time, an increase in communication between certain other parts of the brain was observed, producing a pattern of activity that resembled “dream sleep.”

> Scientists Can Now Measure The “Mystical” Effects Of Magic Mushrooms | IFL Science

Acid Casualty a Myth: No Link Found Between Psychedelics and Psychosis (Study)

Acid Casualty a Myth: No Link Found Between Psychedelics and Psychosis (Study) | Third Monk

Psychedelics and Psychosis

Data from population surveys in the United States challenge public fears that psychedelic drugs such as LSD can lead to psychosis and other mental-health conditions and to increased risk of suicide, two studies have found.

In the first study, clinical psychologists Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Suzanne Krebs, both at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, scoured data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual random sample of the general population, and analysed answers from more than 135,000 people who took part in surveys from 2008 to 2011.

Of those, 14% described themselves as having used at any point in their lives any of the three ‘classic’ psychedelics: LSD, psilocybin (the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms) and mescaline (found in the peyote and San Pedro cacti).

The researchers found that individuals in this group were not at increased risk of developing 11 indicators of mental health problems such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts. Their paper appears in the March issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The findings are likely to raise eyebrows. Fears that psychedelics can lead to psychosis date to the 1960s, with widespread reports of “acid casualties” in the mainstream news. But Krebs says that because psychotic disorders are relatively prevalent, affecting about one in 50 people, correlations can often be mistaken for causations.

Psychedelics are psychologically intense, and many people will blame anything that happens for the rest of their lives on a psychedelic experience. – Krebs

The three substances Johansen and Krebs looked at all act through the brain’s serotonin 2A receptor. The authors did not include ketamine, PCP, MDMA, fly agaric mushrooms, DMT or other drugs that fall broadly into the category of hallucinogens, because they act on other receptors and have different modes of biochemical action. Ketamine and PCP, for example, act on the NMDA receptor and are both known to be addictive and to cause severe physical harms, such as damage to the bladder.

Absolutely, people can become addicted to drugs like ketamine or PCP, and the effects can be very destructive. We restricted our study to the ‘classic psychedelics’ to clarify the findings. – Johansen

The ‘Acid Casualty’ Myth: Psychedelics and Psychosis

“This study assures us that there were not widespread ‘acid casualties’ in the 1960s,” says Charles Grob, a paediatric psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has long has advocated the therapeutic use of psychedelics, such as administering psilocybin to treat anxiety in terminal-stage cancer. But he has concerns about Krebs and Johansen’s overall conclusions, he says, because individual cases of adverse effects use can and do occur.

For example, people may develop hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a ‘trip’ that never seems to end, involving incessant distortions in the visual field, shimmering lights and coloured dots. “I’ve seen a number of people with these symptoms following a psychedelic experience, and it can be a very serious condition,” says Grob.

Krebs and Johansen, however, point to studies that have found symptoms of HPPD in people who have never used psychedelics.

The second of the new two studies, also published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, looked at 190,000 NSDUH respondents from 2008 to 2012. It also found that the classic psychedelics were not associated with adverse mental health outcomes. In addition, it found that people who had used LSD and psilocybin had lower lifetime rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

“We are not claiming that no individuals have ever been harmed by psychedelics,” says author Matthew Johnson, an associate professor in the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Anecdotes about acid casualties can be very powerful — but these instances are rare,” he says. At the population level, he says, the data suggest that the harms of psychedelics “have been overstated”.

> No Link Found Between Psychosis and Psychedelics | Nature

Using Psychedelics For A Spiritual Journey (Video)

Using Psychedelics For A Spiritual Journey (Video) | Third Monk

A bag of shrooms can send your mind racing on a spiritual sprint, turning you into a soul surfing psychonaut. In this psychedelic speech, Jason Silva explains how a psychedelic experience can be a tool for interpersonal transformation.

Check out the in depth guide: A Guide to a Successful Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary

The program is a voyage chart, a series of signals, which, like the pilot’s radio provides the basic orienting information required for the trip. – Programming the Psychedelic Experience, Timothy Leary


Smarter People Stay Up Late, Do More Drugs, and Have More Sex (Study)

Smarter People Stay Up Late, Do More Drugs, and Have More Sex (Study) | Third Monk image 2


Sex. Drugs. Late nights.

You may be reading the first four words of my memoir. Or you could be simply listing three things that show signs of being a genius, according to various studies. There’s evidence that shows that if you’re spending less of your nights hitting the books and more time smoking weed and getting laid until 3am, then you’re probably wiser than the rest of us.

Researchers in England have found that students studying at prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge spend more on sex toys than their peers at other universities. Cambridge and Oxford’s sex toy sales on just one website (, who funded the research) totaled a staggering $31, 461. No word on what products they ordered, nor whether they kept their glasses on while they used them.

“The correlation probably has something to do with the open-mindedness that comes with intelligence,” says Annalisa Rose, 23, who works at Honey, a high-end sex shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I think that the ability to engage in an open sex life comes with the abilities of introspection and logical thought, and those require some level of intelligence. If we’re talking about an open sex life that comes from an emotionally healthy place, sexual mores are mostly made up anyway and intelligent people can rationalize past them. – Annalisa Rose

hunter-s-thompson-sex-drugs-hunter-thompson-fear-and-loathin-demotivational-poster- smarter people

The 2nd part of our “genius trifecta” is drugs.

Smarter people are more likely to smoke pot or do a line than the average simpleton. This is because, according to many studies, a smarter person isn’t more likely to choose the “smarter” choice of not doing drugs but is instead more likely to pursue the more evolutionary novel choice, one that would inherently expand their horizons. Smarter people don’t necessarily ‘think smarter’ – they simply rationalize where they’re supposed to “feel.” So while a less intelligent person is less likely to pick up a heroin habit in the first place, the more intelligent person will rationalize it. (This explains every good jazz album ever made and also every Christian rock album ever made in the same sentence.)

So while a less intelligent person is less likely to pick up a heroin habit in the first place, the more intelligent person will rationalize it. (This explains every good jazz album ever made and also every Christian rock album ever made in the same sentence.)

A 2010 study that ran in Psychology Today (what, you don’t subscribe?) also states that those with an IQ of 125 or higher are exponentially more likely to use drugs. Says the study:

Net of sex, religion, religiosity, marital status, number of children, education, earnings, depression, satisfaction with life, social class at birth, mother’s education, and father’s education, British children who are more intelligent before the age of 16 are more likely to consume psychoactive drugs at age 42 than less intelligent children.

…there is a clear monotonic association between childhood general intelligence and adult consumption of psychoactive drugs. “Very bright” individuals (with IQs above 125) are roughly three-tenths of a standard deviation more likely to consume psychoactive drugs than “very dull” individuals (with IQs below 75).

Late nights, too, play a leading role in that of the smart person: an academic paper entitled “Why The Night Owl Is More Intelligent,” published in the journal Psychology And Individual Differences, says that for several millennia humans have been largely conditioned to work during the day and sleep at night.

Those that buck the trend, the paper suggests “…that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences than less intelligent individuals.”

The paper goes on to say that those who are more liberal and more inclined towards atheism are more likely to be intelligent, too.

Essentially, if you’re more of a forward thinker, if you’re trying something new and pushing your boundaries, you’re most likely more intelligent. This doesn’t mean that Toronto mayor Rob Ford is some kind of lucid genius, however. It merely suggests that smarter people are more likely to have more sex, do drugs, and stay up late.

So if you’re getting laid at 3am on Sunday morning and have a full bowl packed beside the bed and you aren’t going to church the next day, you’re probably a genius.

Either that or you’re incredibly good at living your best life.


> Smarter People and Their Habits | Esquire

My Experience as a Guide in the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project

My Experience as a Guide in the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project  | Third Monk image 1

JHU Session Room - Psyilocybin Research Project

Written by Mary Cosimano, M.S.W.

Johns Hopkins University initiated their psilocybin studies in the year 2000. Since that time, I have been extensively involved with the research and clinical components of all six psilocybin and other hallucinogen studies that have taken place at Johns Hopkins. I have also personally guided over 300 study sessions and have participated in over 1,000 preparatory and integration meetings.

Based on my clinical perspective, I would like to share what I personally believe to be one of the most important outcomes of this work: that psilocybin can offer a means to reconnect to our true nature—our authentic self—and thereby help find meaning in our lives. The experiences recounted to me by study participants, as well as my concurrent personal journey, together with our study results, represent a large body of data from which I derive my conclusions.

When I have difficulty expressing myself, I remember what Ernest Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast about what he did when he had a hard time getting started writing. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

What comes to me now is a very short sentence—in fact, not a sentence but a word: love. I believe that what humans really want is to receive and to give love. I believe that love is what connects us to each other and that such a connection is brought about by being intimate with each other, by sharing ourselves with others. I believe that the nature of our true self is love.

I believe this theme—love, the need to reconnect with our true selves—addresses the underlying outcome of our psilocybin studies. Yet very often we’re afraid to open ourselves to this connection so we put up barriers and wear masks. If we are able to remove the barriers, to let down our defenses, we can begin to know and accept ourselves, thus allowing ourselves to receive and to give love.

In her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability,” Brené Brown, Ph.D., helps us understand how important this sense of connection is on a deep level. Briefly, she states that connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The way to connect is by being vulnerable, which means having the courage to face our fears—fears that we might fail, fears that others will realize that we aren’t perfect, fears that we are somehow unworthy of connection.

Because this honesty could risk jeopardizing a connection, we shut down, cover up, or “fake it.” Dr. Brown’s answer for overcoming these fears is courage. She points out that courage comes from the Latin word cor (heart), and that the original meaning of courage was to tell your story with your whole heart.

How do we help psilocybin study participants achieve a state of mind wherein it is possible for them to reconnect to their true self and face their fears? I believe it’s a combination of our preparatory meetings with the effects of psilocybin itself.

In our preparatory meetings, we aim to create a space where participants feel secure and safe. We believe this peaceful, positive environment is necessary for them to have the courage to tell the story of who they are. We work to create a deep sense of trust so that the participants feel comfortable to share anything and everything—their fears, joys, disappointments, and shame—without fear of being rejected. Intimate conversation is one of the most important practices to assist in this self-disclosure, and some of our participants have shared that their session was the first time they felt they had been fully seen.

Once they have opened up and shared, they are much more likely to let go and progress though their psilocybin experiences, managing difficult moments with more ease, and eventually restoring their deep and intrinsic connection to their true selves.

After their story has been told and trust established, the psilocybin session follows. In order to achieve maximum benefit from the psilocybin sessions and to access these states of a deep sense of love and connectedness, I believe it is necessary to be relaxed in both body and mind. When we are stressed, anxious, or afraid, we hold ourselves in and tense our bodies.

These states of mind and postures keep us from being able to relax and expand our consciousness. In order to relax, a safe and trusting environment is necessary. Ideally, our preparation meetings have provided that, thus enabling participants to relax into a deeper and more expansive experience. This expansiveness often leads to a deep sense of love and connection for self and all; both this expansiveness and this sense of connection are recurrent themes in psilocybin experiences.

fb-tw-gp-tu-psychedelic-contemplation-alex-grey Psychedelic Research

After their session one participant wrote: “I was reveling in the undeniable feelings of infinite love. I said [to myself], ‘I am love, and all I ever want to be is love.’ I repeated this several times and was overwhelmed with the intensity of the love. I was aware of tears flooding my eyes at this point. All the other goals in life seemed completely stupid.”

InLove 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., wrote: “Love is far more ubiquitous than you ever thought possible for the simple fact thatlove is connection.”

Another participant said: “Once I was past the darkness, I began to feel an increasing feeling of peace and connectedness…An intense feeling of love and joy emanated from all over my body and I can’t imagine feeling any happier. I knew that the worries of everyday life were meaningless and that all that mattered were my connections with the wonderful people who are my family and friends.”

The first two psilocybin studies conducted at Johns Hopkins (Griffiths et al. 2008, 2011) showed that psilocybin occasions personally meaningful and spiritually significant mystical experiences producing positive changes in attitudes, mood, altruism, behavior, and life satisfaction. A further analysis (MacLean et al. 2011) found significant increases in openness following a high-dose psilocybin in participants who had mystical experiences.

I believe these findings suggest that increased personal meaning, a sense of spiritual significance, and an increase in openness are what allow humans to connect to their true selves—which is, at its core, love.

I observed how participants in our study of psilocybin-assisted therapy for cancer anxiety often came into the study feeling “disconnected”—not only from their place in the world but also more importantly from themselves, due to the fact that their lives had changed dramatically since their diagnosis. Many are too weak to continue to work, and many have lost their jobs. Outward appearances may also have changed, as they lose weight, muscle tone, and often their hair. Their thoughts and feelings of what had once defined them are no longer accurate. What once gave purpose and meaning to their lives seems meaningless.

One participant said: “Once you have a cancer diagnosis you’re like the ‘walking dead.’” Another told us that she was living like she’d already died.

Our structured psychiatric interviews include two questions that target this sense of disconnection:

1. Have you all of a sudden changed your sense of who you are and where you are headed?

2. Do you often feel empty inside?

Among our cancer participants, there was a high positive response rate to both of these questions, which I believe was due to their loss of a sense of self and meaning in their lives. Our cancer study often enables our participants to get back that connection to their true self, to believing that they are worthy of love and connection. One participant wrote in her six-month report that her “depression lifted completely” and that she was “able to get out of the ‘cancer world’ and back to myself…and able to connect with others and care better for [her partner].”

Two additional quotes from our volunteers nicely summarize my thoughts about the importance of love, true self, and meaning during and after the sessions:

Everything is swept up into a climactic epiphany of love as the universal essence and meaning of all things.

The journey of spirit coming to itself, revealing to itself its own inner mystery, is nothing but the self-realization of love.

The purpose of all of us here together is to be constant reminders to each other of Who We Really Are.

It is interesting to reflect on the differences and similarities between our Johns Hopkins psilocybin studies and MAPS’ MDMA-assisted psychotherapy studies. The Johns Hopkins studies have characterized the phenomenology of psilocybin experience in healthy volunteers, and explored the therapeutic use of psilocybin in treating anxiety associated with life-threatening cancer diagnosis, and in treating cigarette smoking addiction.

Although the therapeutic endpoints differ between the psilocybin (cancer anxiety and addiction) and MDMA (posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD) studies, both approaches highlight the importance of trust and rapport between participant and guide/therapist. One notable difference is that the psilocybin studies have characterized mystical-type experiences, and have suggested that such experiences may underlie the therapeutic and other enduring positive effects of psilocybin session experiences. It would be productive and valuable to assess whether similar changes occur in response to guided MDMA sessions as well.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Team, our study participants, and our funders.

Hemingway, Ernest; A Moveable Feast. Scribner Classics: New York, 1996.

Fredrickson, B. L. 2013. Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become.

Brown, Brené 2010. TEDx talk: The Power of Vulnerability June 2010

Griffiths, R.R., Richards, W.A., Johnson, M.W., McCann, U.D., Jesse, R. 2008. “Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later.”Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22(6), 621-632.

Johnson, M.W., Garcia-Romeu, A., Cosimano, M.P., and Griffiths R.R. 2014. “Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(11), 983-92.

Griffiths, R.R., Johnson, M.W., McCann, U., Richards, W.A., Richards, B.D., and Jesse, R.. 2011. “Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects.” Psychopharmacology, 218(4), 649-665.

MacLean, K.A., Johnson, M.W., and Griffiths, R.R. 2011. “Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1453-1461.

is currently with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has served as study guide and research coordinator for the psilocybin studies for 15 years. During that time she has served as a session guide for the six psilocybin studies and other hallucinogen studies and has conducted over 300 sessions. She has worked as a clinician teaching individual and group meditation to breast cancer patients in research at Johns Hopkins, was a behavior modification counselor for weight loss, and has 15 years of experience with direct patient care as a hospice volunteer.

> My Experience as a Guide in the John Hopkins PRP | MAPS

Psychedelic Trip Sitting (A Helpful Guide)

Psychedelic Trip Sitting (A Helpful Guide) | Third Monk


Psychedelic Trip sitting just means a sober person being present while one or more people take a psychedelic drug, such as magic mushrooms or LSD.

Let’s take a brief look at some things you should be thinking about if you’re going to be someone’s trip sitter.

The presence of a caring sitter provides safety and comfort, ensuring the trip goes smoothly and allowing those tripping to immerse themselves in their experience more freely and without some of the worries or concerns they might otherwise have.

Gather Knowledge…

For starters, you must be well-informed about the substance in question. Do some research until you are comfortable answering questions about duration, dosage, effects and possible side effects.

Having personal experience with the substance is extremely useful, and although recommended, it isn’t necessary. Read reports of people’s experiences, both positive and negative, to get an idea of what an experience on this substance looks like. A great place to find such trip reports is on Erowid.

Have a Conversation…

Having a conversation prior to the trip is important. Ask what they expect from you as a sitter. One person might want you to be quietly present unless something is needed, whereas someone else might want you to play a more active role in the experience, perhaps by talking or guiding a meditation.

Additionally, ask how they would like you to respond if they feel anxious or panicked.

You can also use this opportunity to set some ground rules, such as establishing that it’s okay for the tripper to express sexual or aggressive feelings, should they arise, but that they cannot act on them.

Another ground rule could be that sexual contact can only take place between people who have a pre-existing relationship. Setting such boundaries helps ensure that the trip goes smoothly and without confusion as to what is and isn’t appropriate.

During the trip, your role is to create a safe and comfortable setting in which they can have their experience. The setting includes things like lighting, music, room temperature and, more generally, location. A good place for a trip is in the comfort of someone’s home, where the sitter can easily regulate the environment. Being outside or at a party are less ideal places for tripping, as the setting is more unpredictable and difficult to control.

Above all, remember that you are there to facilitate someone else’s experience, and not to have your own. Don’t treat their trip as your novelty by asking them how they’re feeling, what they’re seeing or trying to show them things that you think might be “trippy” to see how they’ll react. It’s not that you shouldn’t talk at all, but be mindful that you are enhancing someone else’s experience.

Stay Open-Minded…

Try to keep an open and receptive mindset. If you meditate regularly, those skills will come in handy here. Rather than actively searching for whether you should intervene, try to remain uninvolved unless you’re needed. Make it clear that you are there to help and that they shouldn’t hesitate to ask if they want snacks or water, to talk or have a change of setting, or if they feel anxious or uncomfortable.

If the tripper finds themselves in a state of panic or anxiety, the presence of a caring sitter is itself very comforting. A gentle touch on the arm or shoulder can be reassuring, and a change in setting can also help, but be sure to ask and get their consent prior to either of these.

Unless agreed upon before the trip, it’s best not to probe them about what they’re going through, as having to do mental excavation in the moment may become an added stress. Instead, remind them that they’re safe, that you’re there with them, and that it’s okay for them to let themselves experience whatever they are experiencing.

28 Days Later…

In the days following the experience, make yourself available to discuss it.

Psychedelic experiences can be profound and rich in content, and you can help them understand and integrate this experience by providing a space for them to process it. Talking it through can ensure that important aspects of the trip are not forgotten.

Sitting for someone’s trip is a privilege. Being asked to be someone’s sitter is an expression of their trust and of their willingness to have you be part of a highly personal and intimate experience, so approach it with care and respect. Done right, it can be an insightful experience for both parties. And who knows, they might be willing to return the favor.

Safe and happy travels!

> Trip Sitting | Link Newspaper

What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital

What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital | Third Monk


The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm.

Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field. – Dr. Somé

These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study was how this country deals with mental illness. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to “nervous depression,” Dr. Somé went to visit him.

I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village. – Dr. Somé

What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself…

So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.

Another way to say this, which may make more sense to the Western mind, is that we in the West are not trained in how to deal or even taught to acknowledge the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world. In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated. When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening. The result can be terrifying. Without the proper context for and assistance in dealing with the breakthrough from another level of reality, for all practical purposes, the person is insane. Heavy dosing with anti-psychotic drugs compounds the problem and prevents the integration that could lead to soul development and growth in the individual who has received these energies.

On the mental ward, Dr Somé saw a lot of “beings” hanging around the patients, “entities” that are invisible to most people but that shamans and psychics are able to see. “They were causing the crisis in these people,” he says. It appeared to him that these beings were trying to get the medications and their effects out of the bodies of the people the beings were trying to merge with, and were increasing the patients’ pain in the process. “The beings were acting almost like some kind of excavator in the energy field of people. They were really fierce about that. The people they were doing that to were just screaming and yelling,” he said. He couldn’t stay in that environment and had to leave.

In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds–”the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community.” That person is able then to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with information and healing they need. Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer.

The other world’s relationship with our world is one of sponsorship.More often than not, the knowledge and skills that arise from this kind of merger are a knowledge or a skill that is provided directly from the other world. – Dr. Somé

The beings who were increasing the pain of the inmates on the mental hospital ward were actually attempting to merge with the inmates in order to get messages through to this world. The people they had chosen to merge with were getting no assistance in learning how to be a bridge between the worlds and the beings’ attempts to merge were thwarted. The result was the sustaining of the initial disorder of energy and the aborting of the birth of a healer.

“The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,” states Dr. Somé. “Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention. They have to try harder.” The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized. “The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,” he notes.

Those who develop so-called mental disorders are those who are sensitive, which is viewed in Western culture as oversensitivity. Indigenous cultures don’t see it that way and, as a result, sensitive people don’t experience themselves as overly sensitive. In the West, “it is the overload of the culture they’re in that is just wrecking them,” observes Dr. Somé. The frenetic pace, the bombardment of the senses, and the violent energy that characterize Western culture can overwhelm sensitive people.

Schizophrenia and Foreign Energy

With schizophrenia, there is a special “receptivity to a flow of images and information, which cannot be controlled,” stated Dr. Somé. “When this kind of rush occurs at a time that is not personally chosen, and particularly when it comes with images that are scary and contradictory, the person goes into a frenzy.”

What is required in this situation is first to separate the person’s energy from the extraneous foreign energies, by using shamanic practice (what is known as a “sweep”) to clear the latter out of the individual’s aura. With the clearing of their energy field, the person no longer picks up a flood of information and so no longer has a reason to be scared and disturbed, explains Dr. Somé.

Then it is possible to help the person align with the energy of the spirit being attempting to come through from the other world and give birth to the healer. The blockage of that emergence is what creates problems. “The energy of the healer is a high-voltage energy,” he observes. “When it is blocked, it just burns up the person. It’s like a short-circuit. Fuses are blowing. This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people. Here they are yelling and screaming, and they’re put into a straitjacket. That’s a sad image.” Again, the shamanic approach is to work on aligning the energies so there is no blockage, “fuses” aren’t blowing, and the person can become the healer they are meant to be.

It needs to be noted at this point, however, that not all of the spirit beings that enter a person’s energetic field are there for the purposes of promoting healing. There are negative energies as well, which are undesirable presences in the aura. In those cases, the shamanic approach is to remove them from the aura, rather than work to align the discordant energies

Alex: Crazy in the USA, Healer in Africa

To test his belief that the shamanic view of mental illness holds true in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures, Dr. Somé took a mental patient back to Africa with him, to his village. I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that

I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that mental illness could be connected with an alignment with a being from another world. – Dr. Somé

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14. He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression. He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping. “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé. “They didn’t know what else to do.”

With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa. “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal, Dr. Somé reports. He was even able to participate with healers in the business of healing; sitting with them all day long and helping them, assisting them in what they were doing with their clients . . . . He spent about four years in my village.” Alex stayed by choice, not because he needed more healing. He felt, “much safer in the village than in America.”

To bring his energy and that of the being from the spiritual realm into alignment, Alex went through a shamanic ritual designed for that purpose, although it was slightly different from the one used with the Dagara people. “He wasn’t born in the village, so something else applied. But the result was similar, even though the ritual was not literally the same,” explains Dr. Somé. The fact that aligning the energy worked to heal Alex demonstrated to Dr. Somé that the connection between other beings and mental illness is indeed universal.

After the ritual, Alex began to share the messages that the spirit being had for this world. Unfortunately, the people he was talking to didn’t speak English (Dr. Somé was away at that point). The whole experience led, however, to Alex’s going to college to study psychology. He returned to the United States after four years because “he discovered that all the things that he needed to do had been done, and he could then move on with his life.”

The last that Dr. Somé heard was that Alex was in graduate school in psychology at Harvard. No one had thought he would ever be able to complete undergraduate studies, much less get an advanced degree.

Dr. Somé sums up what Alex’s mental illness was all about: “He was reaching out. It was an emergency call. His job and his purpose

He was reaching out. It was an emergency call. His job and his purpose was to be a healer. He said no one was paying attention to that.

After seeing how well the shamanic approach worked for Alex, Dr. Somé concluded that spirit beings are just as much an issue in the West as in his community in Africa. “Yet the question still remains, the answer to this problem must be found here, instead of having to go all the way overseas to seek the answer. There has to be a way in which a little bit of attention beyond the pathology of this whole experience leads to the possibility of coming up with the proper ritual to help people.

Longing for Spiritual Connection

A common thread that Dr. Somé has noticed in “mental” disorders in the West is “a very ancient ancestral energy that has been placed in stasis, that finally is coming out in the person.” His job then is to trace it back, to go back in time to discover what that spirit is. In most cases, the spirit is connected to nature, especially with mountains or big rivers, he says.

In the case of mountains, as an example to explain the phenomenon, “it’s a spirit of the mountain that is walking side by side with the person and, as a result, creating a time-space distortion that is affecting the person caught in it.” What is needed is a merger or alignment of the two energies, “so the person and the mountain spirit become one.” Again, the shaman conducts a specific ritual to bring about this alignment.

Dr. Somé believes that he encounters this situation so often in the United States because “most of the fabric of this country is made up of the energy of the machine, and the result of that is the disconnection and the severing of the past. You can run from the past, but you can’t hide from it.” The ancestral spirit of the natural world comes visiting.

It’s not so much what the spirit wants as it is what the person wants. The spirit sees in us a call for something grand, something that will make life meaningful, and so the spirit is responding to that. – Dr. Somé

That call, which we don’t even know we are making, reflects “a strong longing for a profound connection, a connection that transcends materialism and possession of things and moves into a tangible cosmic dimension. Most of this longing is unconscious, but for spirits, conscious or unconscious doesn’t make any difference.” They respond to either.

As part of the ritual to merge the mountain and human energy, those who are receiving the “mountain energy” are sent to a mountain area of their choice, where they pick up a stone that calls to them. They bring that stone back for the rest of the ritual and then keep it as a companion; some even carry it around with them. “The presence of the stone does a lot in tuning the perceptive ability of the person,” notes Dr. Somé. “They receive all kinds of information that they can make use of, so it’s like they get some tangible guidance from the other world as to how to live their life.”

When it is the “river energy,” those being called go to the river and, after speaking to the river spirit, find a water stone to bring back for the same kind of ritual as with the mountain spirit.

“People think something extraordinary must be done in an extraordinary situation like this,” he says. That’s not usually the case. Sometimes it is as simple as carrying a stone.

A Sacred Ritual Approach to Mental Illness

One of the gifts a shaman can bring to the Western world is to help people rediscover ritual, which is so sadly lacking.

The abandonment of ritual can be devastating. From the spiritual view, ritual is inevitable and necessary if one is to live. To say that ritual is needed in the industrialized world is an understatement. We have seen in my own people that it is probably impossible to live a sane life without it. – Dr. Somé in Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community.

Dr. Somé did not feel that the rituals from his traditional village could simply be transferred to the West, so over his years of shamanic work here, he has designed rituals that meet the very different needs of this culture. Although the rituals change according to the individual or the group involved, he finds that there is a need for certain rituals in general.

One of these involves helping people discover that their distress is coming from the fact that they are “called by beings from the other world to cooperate with them in doing healing work.” Ritual allows them to move out of the distress and accept that calling.

Another ritual need relates to initiation. In indigenous cultures all over the world, young people are initiated into adulthood when they reach a certain age. The lack of such initiation in the West is part of the crisis that people are in here, says Dr. Somé.

He urges communities to bring together “the creative juices of people who have had this kind of experience, in an attempt to come up with some kind of an alternative ritual that would at least begin to put a dent in this kind of crisis.”

Another ritual that repeatedly speaks to the needs of those coming to him for help entails making a bonfire, and then putting into the bonfire “items that are symbolic of issues carried inside the individuals . . . It might be the issues of anger and frustration against an ancestor who has left a legacy of murder and enslavement or anything, things that the descendant has to live with,” he explains.

If these are approached as things that are blocking the human imagination, the person’s life purpose, and even the person’s view of life as something that can improve, then it makes sense to begin thinking in terms of how to turn that blockage into a roadway that can lead to something more creative and more fulfilling. – Dr. Somé

The example of issues with an ancestors touches on rituals designed by Dr. Somé that address a serious dysfunction in Western society and in the process “trigger enlightenment” in participants. These are ancestral rituals, and the dysfunction they are aimed at is the mass turning-of-the-back on ancestors. Some of the spirits trying to come through, as described earlier, may be “ancestors who want to merge with a descendant in an attempt to heal what they weren’t able to do while in their physical body.”

“Unless the relationship between the living and the dead is in balance, chaos ensues,” he says. “The Dagara believe that, if such an imbalance exists, it is the duty of the living to heal their ancestors. If these ancestors are not healed, their sick energy will haunt the souls and psyches of those who are responsible for helping them.” The rituals focus on healing the relationship with our ancestors, both specific issues of an individual ancestor and the larger cultural issues contained in our past. Dr. Somé has seen extraordinary healing occur at these rituals.

Taking a sacred ritual approach to mental illness rather than regarding the person as a pathological case gives the person affected–and indeed the community at large–the opportunity to begin looking at it from that vantage point too, which leads to “a whole plethora of opportunities and ritual initiative that can be very, very beneficial to everyone present,” states. Dr. Somé.

Excerpted from: The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia, or The Natural Medicine Guide to Bi-polar Disorder, pages 178-189, Stephanie Marohn (featuring Malidoma Patrice Somé).

> Shamanic View of Mental Illness | Waking Times

Terence McKenna at His Best: Drugs, Legality, and Love (Interview)

Terence McKenna at His Best: Drugs, Legality, and Love (Interview) | Third Monk image 1

Terence McKenna is one our favorite psychedelic luminaries. Here is a short interview of his where he talks about many ideas concerning drugs, legality, and love that are increasingly becoming commonplace among a larger and larger portion of our global populace.

Ideally, we’ll look back at this time in history and laugh at our collective foolishness and hubris.

shroom spiral - terence mckenna

My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts. – Terence McKenna


Artist Draws Psychedelic Self-Portraits While On Different Drugs (Gallery)

Artist Draws Psychedelic Self-Portraits While On Different Drugs (Gallery) | Third Monk image 17

Bryan Lewis Saunders likes to take drugs, both legal and illegal, and then draw pictures of himself. The results are strikingly different from drug to drug, and they vary from beautiful to grotesque, abstract and just plain bizarre.

[I’m most interested in] things that are still a mystery to us all. – Bryan Lewis Saunders

Bryan devised an experiment in which every day he took a different drug and drew himself under the influence. These psychedelic self-portraits are a window into Bryan’s different states of mind.

For more of Bryan’s self-portraits make sure to check out his website. Enjoy!

Psychedelic Self-Portraits

Abilify/Xanax/Ativan (dosage unknown in hospital)


Psilocybin mushrooms (2 caps onset)


1 sm glass of “real” absinthe (not the fake crap)


10mg Adderall


10mg Ambien


Bath Salts


15mg Buspar (snorted)


Butane honey oil (cannabis)


1/2 gram cocaine


1 “bump” of crystal meth


1 shot of Dilaudid/3 shots of morphine (in the ER with kidney stones)


DMT (during and after)


Hash (cannabis)


Heroin (snorted)

3db6eebc-cac3-46f7-b48c-e6d0ae8a619f (1)

7.5mg Hydrocodone/7.5mgOxycodone/3mg Xanax




Morphine IV (dosage unknown)


Nicotine gum (after quitting smoking for two months)


20mg Valium


Salvia Divinorum


Nitrous Oxide / Valium I.V. (doseage unknown in hospital)



After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of self. – Bryan Lewis Saunders

30 Self-Portraits Drawn While the Artist Was Under the Influence of 30 Drugs | Alter Net

Study Confirms: LSD Still Awesome

Study Confirms: LSD Still Awesome | Third Monk image 1


The incredible therapeutic properties of LSD have once again been confirmed in a recent Swiss study.

The first therapeutic study on LSD to take place in 40 years specifically focused on treating anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses. Psychotherapy was also used in conjunction with LSD to treat participants’ anxiety.

Amazingly, every single participant (out of 12) reported experiencing major decreases in anxiety levels due to the LSD-assisted psychotherapy. These decreases in anxiety persisted even 12 months after being administered the LSD. Furthermore, no negative effects were reported by any of the participants. The study was led by Peter Gasser, M.D., who stated:

…we had in 30 sessions (22 with full dose 200 μg LSD and 8 with placebo dose 20 μg LSD) no severe side effects such as psychotic experiences or suicidal crisis or flashbacks or severe anxieties (bad trips)…That means that we can show that LSD treatment can be safe when it is done in a carefully controlled clinical setting.

Subjects receiving 200 µg LSD and psychotherapy, compared to an active placebo of 20 µg LSD, experienced a reduction in anxiety. Because the reduction in anxiety was still present at a 12-month follow up, Gasser believes that LSD has incredible potential for treating a whole array of psychological conditions.

Researchers noted that one of the most important aspects of the study was that the participants were able to freely contemplate and discuss their experiences while under the effects of LSD, as well as after the trip had ended.

Psychedelics such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin do not cause brain damage and are considered by medical professionals to be non-addictive.  Over 30 million people currently living in the US have used LSD, psilocybin, or mescaline.

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was discovered accidentally by Albert Hofmann on April 16, 1943. He had actually unintentionally created it 5 years prior while attempting to synthesize potentially medicinal active constituents from ergot fungus, a fungus that grows on rye. For 5 years the synthesis collected dust until he decided to reexamine it. While reexamining the LSD a small amount was absorbed into Hofmann’s fingertip.

Last Friday, April 16,1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away. – Albert Hofmann

Hofmann was intrigued, and three days later he tried it again, marking April 19, 1943 as the first day a human being ever intentionally consumed LSD.


This day is now known as “Bicycle Day,” because Hofmann rode his bike home while he was tripping. Hofmann and his wife spent the rest of their lives advocating the use of LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics in the field of psychotherapy.

Below is a documentary on LSD which focuses on Albert Hofmann.

Hofmann’s Potion – Albert Hofmann LSD Documentary

By the mid-1950s, LSD-research was being published in medical and academic journals all over the world. It showed potential benefits in the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction, and other mental illnesses. This film explores those potential benefits, and the researchers who explored them.

> Effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide 100% Positive | Wonder Gressive

Shroom Awareness – Tracking Activity of the Sober Vs Psychedelic Brain (Study)

Shroom Awareness - Tracking Activity of the Sober Vs Psychedelic Brain (Study) | Third Monk

Psilocybin is a chemical found in shrooms that causes a sensory overload of saturated colors and patterns. Recent research has found that this effect happens because the brain becomes “hyperconnected” and allows for increased communication between different brain regions.

Prior studies have found that shrooming doesn’t just create a colorful, psychedelic experience for a couple of hours; it can cause positive neurological changes that last over a year. These changes resulted in a personality that was more open to the creative arts and became happier, even 14 months after receiving the psilocybin.

Psychedelic Connections


The study used 15 participants with prior positive experiences with hallucinogens to avoid a bad trip inside the enclosed machine. Some of the participants received saline placebo (a), while the other half received psilocybin (b) .

Surprisingly, the researchers saw that upon receiving psilocybin, the brain actually re-organized connections and linked previously unconnected regions of the brain. These connections were not random, but appeared very organized and stable. Once the drug wore off, the connections returned to normal.

We can speculate on the implications of such an organization. One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synesthesia (subconscious pairing of two things) which is often reported in conjunction with the psychedelic state. – Giovanni Petri, Lead Researcher at ISI Foundation

The mechanism of how psilocybin is creating these changes is not yet known and will require further study. The researchers believe that in understanding the drug’s mechanism for temporarily re-wiring the brain and altering mood, it could potentially be manipulated into making a functional treatment for depression or other disorders.

How Magic Mushrooms Change Your Brain | IFL Science

True Hallucinations: A Terence McKenna Psychedelic Book (Audiobook)

True Hallucinations: A Terence McKenna Psychedelic Book (Audiobook) | Third Monk image 3


Hearing Terence talk about his ideas is even better than reading them.

His eloquent passion drips with every spoken word, and his emphasis on certain words reveals glimpses into his mind-set when he was writing.

True Hallucinations is, well, perhaps Publishers Weekly’s hilarious review said it best:

In 1971 ethnobotanist McKenna ( The Archaic Revival ), his brother Dennis and three friends boated to a town in Amazonian Colombia, seeking a hallucinogenic plant that enables the Witoto tribe to talk to elf-like “little men.” In psychedelicized ravings interspersed with diary excerpts, McKenna records their experiences after ingesting mind-altering mushrooms and other psychoactive plants.

A flying saucer slowly flew over McKenna’s head; he calls it a “holographic mirage” of a future technology. Dennis had a revelation about a “psychofluid” that pervades the universe. McKenna flashes forward to Hawaii in 1975 where mantis-like creatures from hyperspace attack his lover, and flashes back to his tantric lovemaking in Tibet and to Indonesia where unrepentant Nazi scientists tried to recruit him in 1970. He posits the existence of a particle of time, the chronon , which conditions matter. A bizarre book. – Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc

True Hallucinations Audiobook

Prefer reading: True Hallucinations PDF

Our self discoveries make us each a microcosm of the larger pattern of history. The inertia of introspection leads toward recollection, for only through memory is the past recaptured and understood. In the fact of experiencing and making the present, we are all actors. – Terrence McKenna

terence_mckenna True Hallucinations