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***See below for a complete topic breakdown.***
Safety and Best Practices for Ayahuasca Facilitators in Non-Traditional Contexts
Psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, are like fire. Fire can cook your food, warm your life, and light your way, but when handled poorly it can also burn you and even can cause life-altering devastation. Like fire, the skillfulness of how psychedelics are handled makes the difference between our journeys being blessings or disasters.
This is not news. You almost definitely already know this. That we can be harmed by psychedelics like ayahuasca if our context of use is not well tailored to our needs is culturally evident these days. However, what is less evident is what dangers ayahuasca—and other psychedelic plant medicines—present to their facilitators, both through potentially harmful consequences on participants, but also the potentially harmful consequences that just being a facilitator can have on that facilitator’s mental health and behavior.
It is these dangers we will explore on this episode of Adventures Through The Mind, with our guest Jeronimo MM.
Jerónimo MM is the Director of Social Innovation at the ICEERS Foundation and has been an ayahuasca community activist for more than a decade. In the past 5 years, he has devoted most of his energy to exploring how ceremonial plant practices can be integrated outside of their cultures of origin, in the process of incubating a training program, a support center, self-regulation initiatives, and strategic research. Before that, he wrote and produced four documentaries on various aspects of the West’s encounter with indigenous knowledge, from ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addiction, to Colombia’s Kogi Mamos, to the Brazilian ayahuasca religions. He has traveled extensively through South America, researching a broad spectrum of indigenous, mestizo, and Western ayahuasca practices, and has lectured internationally on ayahuasca tourism, the appropriation of indigenous knowledge, the future of traditional indigenous medicine, and the aftermath of the psychedelic renaissance. Jeronimo also keeps an active Facebook account if you would like to follow him.
We welcome Jeronimo back to Adventures Through The Mind for his fourth feature. His previous episodes were a dedicated interview on the complexity of the ongoing mainstreaming of psychedelics and the others were psychedelic cafes on how to protect from corporate influence and bad actors in the psychedelic scene, and the importance of ethnopharmacology for the future of humanity.
This episode explores the potential dangers and pitfalls present for ayahuasca/plant medicine facilitators in non-traditional contexts. Those dangers include things that can happen with participants during ceremony that might result in them being harmed, as well as some dangers specific to the facilitators, dangers that Jeronimo refers to as The 6 Pitfalls.
More specifically, Jeronimo gives us a deep dive into what a “non-traditional context” is, two potential harms that might come up for participants, namely “when the experience is too much” and “Ayahuasca told me that…”; as well as each of those 6 pitfalls mentioned before, which are Sex, Money, Power, Intercultural Relationships, and Legal Situations. Not only do we explore what these dangers and pitfalls are, but also why they require structures in place to prevent them from happening, as well as what some of those structures can look like.
To use Jeronimo’s words from the interview you are about to hear, this episode explores “How to avoid harming people who have put themselves under your care”
If you are a plant medicine facilitator of any kind or know facilitators, This episode is definitely for you. However, this episode will be relevant to anyone interested in participating in any kind of plant medicine ceremony. As the dangers presented, facilitators are also dangers present to participants under those facilitators’ care. Having a sense of what they are in advance empowers your capacity to better navigate the often murky world of underground facilitation.
This episode is a vignette into a portion of the 6-month course Jeronimo is putting on through ICEERS.
See Below For Details.
***Featured image is courtesy of and copyright iceers.academy 2023
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Episode Breakdown and Timestamps
- (0:00) Opening
- (7:01) Increasing the Safety of Ayahuasca Sessions Course
- (7:50) Patron thanks
- (9:11)) Interview Begins
- (10:21) A harm reduction course for Facilitators in non-traditional contexts.
- (14:31) Why non-traditonal use contexts for ayahuasca require additional protocols to protect participants and facilitators
- (20:03) Dangers for participants: when the experience is too much, flight-response, disassociation, psychosis
- (29:18) The fine line between when to let difficult experiences unfold naturally and when to intervene
- (38:21) How to protect an ayahuasca participant from falling into disassociation
- (42:18) The dangers of “Ayahuasca told me that…”
- (50:15) Discerning between internal and external truths as a part of psychedelic integration
- (54:57) The 3 confirmations rule for psychedelic realizations
- (57:01) The 6 pitfalls for ayahuasca/plat medicine facilitators | Sex, Money, Power, Isolation, Intercultural Relationships, Legal situations
- (59:34) How the social structure of being an ayahuasca facilitator can push them into these pitfalls
- (1:10:11) The Pitfall of Money | the importance of payment, but the manipulations that can occur through payment
- (1:12:42) “Ayahuasca told me…” sex, love, and relationships
- (1:21:37) Its nice to be celebrated, but eventually it becomes a poison
- (1:27:31) The pitfall of “Intercultural Relationships” | relationships between non-traditional facilitators and traditional cultures
- (1:38:54) “How to avoid harming people who have put themselves under your care” | freedom vs responsibility
- (1:43:47) Follow-up links for the ICEERS course:
- (1:44:54) Closing