Spirit Plant Medicine Conference
Finding others who are interested in psychedelics and consciousness can be a daunting task. Our society doesn’t typically support us to explore these ideas openly with others. Though most people may be interested to hear about our experiences or ideas, they shun away from sharing their own stories. It’s a bit easier to talk about the spirit and plant medicines when you are around like-minded individuals and is why the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference is a great option for those who are looking to connect to others who see plants and fungi as a medicine that can help heal the planet.
Take part in one of the most informative conferences of the year
Every year in Vancouver BC people around the world convene to take part in a collective discussion at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference for precisely this reason. They discuss spiritually empowering plant medicine that has changed not only their lives but others as well. Professionals in the field of consciousness research, psychedelic research, and more also come to this conference to give talks about what they have learned and experienced through their lifetime of work. They take their work very seriously, and for a good reason, plants are a medicine that is not only changing out people perceive their reality but also helping individuals overcome some severe ailments like depression, PTSD, and drug addiction.
Meeting New People
Though last year was my first year to have visited the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, it wasn’t the last. I enjoyed listening to the speakers that presented their information and taking in the culture that was around me. It’s not typical in my life to be surrounded by hundreds of spirited people. In that sense, it was mind opening or psychedelic itself. What was most profound was meeting others who were into the same subjects as me and seeing their views about life, plants, and spirituality as they discussed the stories that make up their lives.
Though some of the views of those who attended were different than my own and I found myself in conflict with some of what was presented, it did open my eyes to other prospectives on a topic that is often not discussed in culture or society. These different views gave me a wider perspective on how I can take steps forward in order to make long lasting positive changes in my life when it comes to my exploration into plant medicine.
Meeting others was a big goal of mine at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference. Making real connections with a tribe of people who I find interesting and also more aligned with my views is a real challenge in the “normal” world as individuals who are normally into spirits and plants often keep to themselves. When it comes to a conference where everyone around you is into plant medicine, bringing up conversations about these amazing plants is a lot easier. People are open to talking about their experiences and what they know or have learned, it just takes a little effort to strike up a conversation whenever is possible. Make sure to use your time at the conference wisely and strike up those important conversations as this is a once a year opportunity to make new friends and connections.
The placement of the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference is also unique. Vancouver BC is a diverse and amazing city when explored. Though you won’t have a lot of time to do additional activities while the conference is going on as the schedule is cram packed with interesting events if you do come early or stay a little later the city life offers you adventure. My wife and I ended up taking a trip to explore the raised bridges that wonder the hills and valleys of Vancouver BC.
My wife and I also ended up staying in a nice Bed and Breakfast a little bit out of town rather than staying in a hotel or on the campus. This gave us some time to relax but also strike up some great conversations with the residence of the home and speak to them about the Canadian culture and their views on politics and the world. We found this very enjoyable and gave us a perspective about our own culture that others see rather than just living in our own worlds.
One key point about the importance of visiting the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference was the speakers. There is a vast selection of speakers that come to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference each year, some more known individuals in their field of research such as Dennis McKenna, but also some unknown like Kilindi Lyi.
Kilindi Lyi was a speaker at the conference in 2017 and discussed his experiences using psilocybin mushrooms at heroic doses. When Terrence Mckenna was talking about using mushrooms at doses of 5 grams, Kilindi Lyi has been exploring 20-30 grams. Most would think that his choice to do so was a bit reckless, but Kilindi has been exploring consciousness with this high of a dose for decades and is well-educated as a master mycologist, a master martial arts instructor, and an organizer the bi-annual Detroit Entheogenic Conference. Kilindi is just one type of speaker you can expect at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference.
If listening to speakers talk about psychedelics is not your thing, the discussions happening at the conference are diverse. For 2018 they have a number of speakers that may appeal to those trying to explore more into the spiritual realm as well.
Aryshta Dean who is planning to talk about Quantum Consciousness, Entheogens, and Container Theory will be at the conference this year. She has a broad understanding of the holistic use of entheogens and has over fifteen years experience in the ceremonial and shamanic practices.
Another speaker, Christopher Bache who is a professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University will also be attending the conference. His goal while at the Spirits Plant Medicine Conference is to share his knowledge about the philosophical implications of non-ordinary states of consciousness.
Some Key Speakers from Past Spirit Plant Medicine Conferences
One speaker at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference that I was most interested is Christopher Solomon. Christopher has a long history of exploration with the plant Salvia Divinorum which many consider a misunderstood powerful healing plant. Christopher has been fostering a bond with Salvia Divinorum for over a decade and has recently taken part in a study at Johns Hopkins University about the effects of salvinorin A on human brain activity and connectivity utilizing fMRI techniques. It will be interesting for me to listen to what Christopher has to say about his experiences as well as how others can cultivate the same relationship with Salvia that he has developed over time.
Overall the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference offers individuals like myself a way to connect with others who are interested in psychedelics and consciousness. People are currently planning on traveling around the world to take part in this fantastic adventure that happens each year in Vancouver. Will you be there?
Paul is a speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher, and entrepreneur. He is the author of 6 books on mushrooms and also has various patents on mushrooms.
Wade is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 1999 to 2013.
Aryshta is a retired Silicon Valley executive turned modern-day Priestess and entheogenic historian. She has over fifteen years experience in the ceremonial and shamanic practices.
Spirit Plant Medicine Conference 2018 Report
With three rings of a gong chime, the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference began. Looking around, I couldn’t help but notice the numerous numbers of young men who looked like males of the hippie era, with long scruffy hair and loose-fitting clothing. Many women, too, wore colorful clothing made of every imaginable natural fiber. People were generally reserved, had serious looks on their face, and kept to themselves.
Spirit Plant Medicine Conference Day One
Dennis McKenna and Wade Davis
The first speakers of the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference were Dennis McKenna and Wade Davis. Dennis regaled his long 40 year journey of using Ayahuasca, beginning with a wild trip with his brother Terence into various parts of South America. He continued with a further discussion of subsequent trips into in the Amazon conducting research for his doctoral dissertation, followed by humorous attempts at bringing specimens and psychedelic medicines back through customs into the United States. Although Dennis’ speech was relatively light on scientific research, it was heavy on stories and personal experiences, which was to be a common theme for the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference.
After Dennis came Wade Davis, who might as well have coordinated his speech with Dennis since his focused similarly on his own journey of discovering psychedelics. He shared similar stories of his early research and challenges over the years. Wade and Dennis had a similar refrain that would also be found throughout the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference: their belief that psychedelic medicines, particularly psilocybin and ayahuasca, were among the best hope for healing the broken world of humanity.
A Fireside Chat
After speaking, Dennis and Wade closed the late Friday evening with a “fireside chat.” In this the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference showed its youth and naivety, as the discussion among friends felt forced and arbitrary. Dennis and Wade talked about their own experiences primarily and disagreements soon emerged. In this sense, speaking to the 400 Spirit Plant Medicine Conference attendees, it was as though each speaker held tightly to their own viewpoints as though to not do so would be to lose face.
One question about ayahuasca stood out particularly here: Dennis pondered why so many Westerners returning from ayahuasca ceremonies were reporting good experiences, compared to his and others’ of old which were almost ubiquitously challenging or nearly traumatic in and of themselves. Dennis assumed these experiences were actually positive or that the plants through which the medicines speak had a changing collective consciousness that was becoming more happy, healing, or “good.” Dennis shared his common refrain that “We aren’t running things, the plants are,” which he felt would indicate that, if anything, the plants were leading humans to a more positive experience.
In contrast, my feeling was also that perhaps Westerners are being taken advantage of in these ayahuasca ceremonies, which are becoming a form of extreme tourism and may be diluting the sacredness or seriousness of these medicines. This concern of psychedelic tourism and the damage it creates on both the environment and on cultures was noticeably absent from the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference.
One lingering question from the first day of the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference was that these two men, and many later speakers as well, were simply just telling their story, indeed a series of storytelling oriented around psychedelics. Given the adoration that such pioneers are given by psychonauts, and particularly the audience members, one couldn’t help but think that nearly everyone in the audience likely wished they were the ones up there speaking and storytelling. One would hope they realized, then, that there is nothing special about Dennis or Wade or most others who spoke at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, but that any of them, too, could speak as cogently, possibly more, by undertaking and writing about their own usage of psychedelics.
Day Two of the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference
Paul Stamets opened the second day of the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference with a riveting speech about psilocybin and its ability to help build a better world. He affirmed that people either “get on or get off the bus” of promoting psilocybin. Paul’s speech was a breath of fresh air compared to other speakers at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference; he talked not about his personal experiences with psilocybin but instead about the state of research surrounding and supporting a changing cultural orientation, centered around the mushroom.
Stamets first talked about his recent research he published in Nature, showing that extracts of certain mushroom species have demonstrated potential to prevent a certain virus causing collapse of bee colonies. This research, brand new, showed the fundamental importance of the mushroom to bees, which are a key to the survival of numerous species of plants and, likely, humans. Offering unique insights at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference like only Stamets can provide, he also linked the mushroom to the portability of fire through the amadou fomes fomentarius which burns extremely slowly. Other interesting ideas was the link between mushrooms and early art via the Bee Man Shaman painting in Algeria as well as possibly being the fairy dust–mushroom spores–talked about in medieval lore.
His speech at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference continued by showing how mycelial networks almost exactly mimic that of computer neural networks leading to artificial intelligence. This made complete sense given that in mushrooms may lie the oldest common ancestor of all creatures of the animal kingdoms. Thus, this network pattern is likely ingrained in our consciousness. Stamets suggests this ancestor may be somewhere around 600 million years ago, around a time when mushrooms ruled the world and left behind giant mushrooms suggesting this was the case–called prototaxites. In this light, Stamets promoted the viability of the Stoned Ape Theory as the answer for the question of the evolution of human consciousness, which he pointed out is actually a hypothesis at this point.
Research wise, Paul’s speech stood out as unique at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference and he cited numerous studies proving the means through which psilocybin can build a better world. Among these: “Psilocybin facilitates extinction of conditioned fear response” which I took to be directly related to conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. In other ways psilocybin induces courage and kindness, which are essential leadership qualities. Another interesting bit of research Stamets pointed out was psilocybin causing a significant reduction in violence among perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV). One last bit of research he pointed to was the tendency for psilocybin to increase pro-ecological behavior, which seemed as strong a support as any offered by Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers for how psychedelics can help build a better world.
Stamets also offered numerous tidbits of useful information to Spirit Plant Medicine Conference attendees regarding proper use and growing/extraction of psilocybin. First, he stated that the blue light range of 320-400 nanometers represented the ideal wavelength for promoting psilocybin growth. Second, he gave brief instructions on making “blue juice” by placing intact psilocybe mushrooms into a jar with ice, placing it in the refrigerator for several days, and having a ready to use extract as a result. Finally, Stamets offered a stacking formula which he believes offers the best combination for healing human cognition. This formula was .05 grams of psilocybin, 5-20 grams of lion’s mane, and 100-200 mg of niacin.
Yessia Muse offered the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference a perspective on Kambo, which she claims works on the spirit, emotional, and physical bodies simultaneously. Kambo is a substance found on an Amazonian tree frog which is used by indigenous groups beginning around age two or three, which Muse suggested was due to that being the time the ego starts to develop. In this sense she describes kambo as a kind of vaccine which wards off all kinds of mental and physical ailments.
Kambo is collected by scraping a substance from he back of the frog. People who will take it fast for 12 hours, and then the place where it will be applied it is burned to allow for quicker intake. Someone drinks significant amounts of water right before to promote a purging, and then “points” are applied to the burned skin area; inside the ankle for women and arm for men. In more experienced takers numerous points might be applied. After the purge, Muse told everyone at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference how she conducts a “purge reading” based on the various colors by interpreting them based on their coloring, with each color being related to a specific organ.
Although kambo is an interesting and not well known plant medicine, as well as being one of the only non-hallucinogenic ones discussed at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, there are significant issues of sustainability which were not acknowledged for being as problematic as they were. Specifically, since kambo is scraped from a frog, and Western demand notoriously voracious once things catch on as trends, one can easily see how this frog’s survival will be in serious question in the future. Muse did not acknowledge this problem, nor her essential role in this possible outcome as someone promoting its use. She offered little defense to the obvious critique: why should anyone interested in kambo use it instead of far more sustainable options given these major concerns of sustainability?
Tom Hatsis, author of Psychedelic Mystery Traditions, spoke not of specific psychedelic medicines but on the various means through which they can be used through mindful intention. Using poetic language and imagery, Hatsis offered the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference insights into what he describes as magic. Hatsis broke his views into five specific uses of psychedelics: somnitheogens, extheogens, mystheogens, poetigens, and pythiagens.
Described briefly, somnitheogens are using plants and psychedelics to generate divinity within dreams. In this sense a somnitheogen is using these medicines to help one fall into a lucid dreaming state, such as via the Egyptian opium potion in which ingestion would allow one to seek to be healed by the goddess Isis. In this view, psilocybin, used before going to sleep, could similarly lead to such state in which answers could be sought or healing obtained. The second intentional use offered at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, extheogens, means generating divinity without. In this Hatsis pointed to the Rites of Eleusis as example, and one outcome of an extheogen being that someone can be brought closer to a realization of their own death, which can be therapeutic and restorative.
Mystheogens are generating epiphany which is like creating a vision, prophecy or, as Hatsis described, like the Mystery of the Light Maiden in early gnosticism. In the latter, seven women and men would be selected by their society to become as perfect beings in order to remind of the sins of materialism, which seemed essential to early Christianity. Thus, the burdens of their culture’s materialism, which can be divisive, was lessened through these paragons. Poetigens refers to the use of psychedelics for generating artistic insight, becoming more creative. The final intention offered to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference was pythiagens, which is generating psychedelic magic–defined by Hatsis as personal empowerment.
“Without movement there is death, without reciprocity there is chaos.” — Laura Sudgeon
San Pedro was one of the more interesting psychedelic spirit plants talked about at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference. One common refrain heard throughout was the issue of sustainability and being respectful of indigenous methods of using these substances. Laura Sudgeon spoke to attendees about San Pedro, which has neither of these issues. As Sudgeon related, San Pedro is an internal feeling kind of psychedelic which creates the effect of something moving throughout the body, searching, cleansing, and purifying.
Unlike Peyote, its mescaline-cousin, however, San Pedro does not have any issues of sustainability since it grows much faster and has a wider climate of growth. Given that ayahuasca, the most heralded psychedelic, is already starting to have glimpses of this sustainability issue, I found this a noteworthy takeaway from the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference. Another interesting element of San Pedro is that there is no established framework for working with it as medicine, either because there was never one developed or because history has erased it.
At the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference the concern of cultural respect was a theme, and without that as an issue San Pedro lacks one of the obstacles that a great many of the other psychedelics do hold. Although an entire discussion could be made about whether this concern is even a valid point given the possible benefits psychedelics have for undoing Western destruction, it still makes San Pedro all the more interesting. Even psilocybin, to many Native American groups, has rituals associated with it and thus it is considered disrespectful to improperly use it.
“It’s not about the triumph of good over evil, but about the return of balance between them.” — Laura Sudgeon
“Suffering and self-transformation are two sides of the same coin.” — Samantha Retrosi
Samantha Retrosi is a yoga teacher at the Temple of the Way of the Light, an ayahuasca retreat center in the Amazon. She spoke at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference about the theme of spiritual disconnection and integration, something which speaks directly to my readings of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. In a rousing speech, albeit one in which she read directly from a script, she framed the discussion, like so many other speakers, with her own personal kinds of trauma, including a disconnection from Christianity.
Retrosi told Spirit Plant Medicine Conference audience members about how, as we are born into this world, a separation occurs–a split between Spirit and Matter. Out of this forms an imagined self, about which many start to believe is the real them. This imagined self, stemming from early trauma large or small, conforms to the many cultural norms now extant in modern society. It builds and builds, a kind of deception based on needing to adapt to modernity’s whims, resulting in a hidden, deeper Self, which is not generally accepted. In terms of Carl Jung, whom she talked about, and Joseph Campbell, about whom she did not, this is the same outcome of facing our Shadow through individuation and the Hero’s Journey, respectively.
Samantha told the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference how the many forms of self-destruction, such as depression, anxiety, poor self-image, meaninglessness, addiction, and isolation all lie as byproducts of existing at the roots of this blackened tree we all live underneath. In this sense, the basis of our many forms of suffering abounding in the West stem from this disconnection and the lacking of spiritual reconnection as we pass through our lives. It also results, she told Spirit Plant Medicine Conference attendees, in consumerism as an outgrowth. Consumerism, in her view, along with capitalism, are a kind of black magic offering solutions to the very problems they create.
The speech given at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference by Retrosi was well grounded in pscychoanalytic literature and served as a fresh outlook away from simply emphasizing personal experiences that was commonly found throughout. Lacking, however, as was lacking from a great many speakers aside from Paul Stamets, was scientific evidence showing how this integration can be proven to occur, as well as the guided process–if a guide is even necessary–for proper integration.
Sheri and Tom Eckert
The Oregon Psilocybin Society is a group founded by Sheri and Tom Eckert with the stated goal of legalization of psilocybin in the State of Oregon by 2020. Among Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers, this was also unique in the sense that they seemed to have a tangible, albeit loose, plan for getting psilocybin more into the mainstream of society. Following upon the theme of Samantha Retrosi, they spoke primarily about the idea of integration, which they claim psilocybin can produce through several distinct manners.
They spoke at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference about the mind that naturally wants to divide everything into dualities, opposites, creating divisions and arbitrary lines in the process. This process seems a natural outgrowth of human consciousness. Among these divisions are Mind/Matter–which should be more properly described as Spirit/Matter–Self/other, past/future, being/non-being, and life/death. In terms of psilocybin, while light on scientific evidence, they spoke to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference audience affirmatively of this occurring through psilocybin by deenergizing frontal parts of the brain and deepening connections within deeper parts of the brain.
Another interesting point they made was that psilocybin, in part because of its ease of access and relatively less extreme experience compared to ayahuasca and peyote, would democratize the psychedelic experience and remove barriers to mental health. However, they, along with hints from a few other speakers at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, suggested that there would be a kind of licensure necessary for guides to lead people through this experience. This struck me as extremely problematic, since this had the strong stench of the earliest beginnings of a religion or structure. Given how religions appear in modernity, these institutions tend to create rules and regulations regarding access. Rather, as opposed to what few Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers seemed to imply, access to these medicines should remain as open as possible if they are to truly change the world.
Spirit Plant Medicine Conference Day Three
Giving perhaps the clearest indication thus far of the foundations of a religion based on psychedelics at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, Chris Kilham gave a “Psychedelic Sermon.” Kilham is a psychedelic plant explorer that is well known and has appeared on Fox News as a proponent of various plant medicines. Like Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers from the day before, Kilham spoke on the theme of integration, which he termed the bridging of worlds. This imagery resonated of Joseph Campbell, who speaks of the Hero, transformed through integrating their psyche, as capable of living within and being the master of two worlds–representing the left and right brain hemispheres.
Kilham spoke from personal experience of bridging this gap and the changes in his life that resulted. For example, he told dutifully listening Spirit Plant Medicine Conference adherents of how this transition was at one time going from the Amazon directly to Las Vegas, as polar opposite as one can get. In another it was starting to see dark sides of others as symbolic representations; as kinds of hungry ghosts feeding off of others. At the same time, he communicated to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference how this did not separate him further from others but instead brought him closer to others. This seemed hypocritical to me, given that in seeing others as hungry ghosts he implied he was avoiding those kinds of people rather than trying to connect with them.
Although Kilham was a friendly enough person with plenty of interesting personal experiences to share about his journey with ayahuasca, he struck me, along with some other Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers, as living in a kind of dualistic world bordering on hypocrisy. He, like other Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speeches, emphasized that psychedelics could heal the immense damage being wrought upon the world. Yet, he flies thousands and thousands of miles regularly to lead fortunate well-off Westerners into the Amazon for ayahuasca journeys. Although he affirmed that he was achieving some greater good, I did not agree since there is no reason an ayahuasca experience cannot be similarly as transformative and valuable here in the United States as it is there.
“We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth.” — Claudia Ford
Of all Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers, Claudia Ford gave the clearest indication the direction this burgeoning psychedelic religion is heading–towards worshiping of a feminine goddess.
Ford spoke strongly from a feminine perspective which, while welcomed, had troubling undertones. She talked to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference about various plant medicines for women outside the Western medical system, and relayed the theme of decolonization as necessary when discussing spirit plants. Decolonization, the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference was told, means reclaiming place in terms of people irreparably changed in that place. For the West, this means indigenous groups, which she lumped African Americans into given the painful conditions in which migration was forced upon them. This means rewriting the historical narrative in terms of oppressed groups of people, namely women and people of color.
In other terms she was getting to the problem of cultural appropriation which is something that, for positive or negative, has certainly occurred with psychedelic plant medicines. However, the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference was left wondering what the implications of this cultural appropriation should be. Many seemed to veer on the side of caution and respect, whereas I personally wonder what birthright anyone has to any plant, if the plant belongs to a feminized version of Earth and not any particular group to begin with. Although cultural appropriation is a nice idea on paper, it has little grounding in reality given that cultures and beliefs, regardless of whether those groups have been oppressed, are still constructed notions and don’t reflect any reality except a shared human psyche. There was no acknowledgment of this by her or other Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers who, it could have been said, were simply appropriating these medicines as well.
Finally, Ford spoke of the need to connect with the Sacred Feminine as the primary purpose of modern human beings. A question from a Spirit Plant Medicine Conference male audience member seemed to like this idea but also wondered about the sacred masculine. Ford did not answer this question and, with not one mention of the word masculine at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, I was left wondering whether the masculine has any role as all within their views. My personal problem with the emphasis of feminine is that it contradicts the idea of integration which, along with integration of the left and right brain hemispheres, also represents integration of the masculine (left) and feminine (right). Any emphasis of one to the other is simply the creation of another hierarchy. Taken to the far future, the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference creating a religion based on feminine values will ultimately end up isolating the masculine or compartmentalizing and oppressing it.
Christopher Bache spoke to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference about his book A 20 Year Journey into the Mind of the Universe.” His book related some 70+ experiences with high dosages of LSD using methods derived from Stanislav Grof and then made into his own. As though building off of Claudia Ford and other Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers, Bache spoke repeatedly through relaying his experiences of how he experienced a feminine goddess, and even in becoming a woman himself.
Bache’s 73 session journey had within it a series of journeys taking him from one end of Consciousness to another. At the beginning, in the early stages, he seemed to indicate to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference of how it was as though being constantly purified, cleansed, and purged. This idea resonates with other psychedelics like psilocybin and spiritual paths as a kind of initiation. The Hero’s Journey emphasizes how the symbolic world is restricted from those who are unprepared, not allowing one to see messages and meaning until they are ready. Given the course of Bache’s personal regimine, this struck this Spirit Plant Medicine Conference attendee as him taking a complete Hero’s Journey through LSD.
As he continued he started to experience deeper and deeper layers of consciousness. Before being taken into deeper layers he would often have to undergo a few more sessions of cleansing, followed by transcendental experiences. Towards the end he approached what seemed to be oneness, only to be presented with yet another, deeper, level of consciousness. At this he diverged from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, since he told the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference that he felt the course of events were going on infinitely, with no end in sight. Although I still question his emphasis of the feminine and found odd his calling the consciousness his “beloved,” Bache’s Spirit Plant Medicine Conference talk countered my preconceived notions about the dangers of LSD.
“The false self is for survival, the true self is for living.” — Bruce Sanguin
The final speaker was Bruce Sanguin, a former pastor turned psychotherapist working with plant medicines for integration. In relating his experience to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, Sanguin stated that his journey with psychedelics began after he found someone who he felt to be his soulmate. In his early relationship with her, he found himself being constantly triggered by things she would say or events. Somehow he came to conclusion that his Shadow needed facing, that “everything which was not love had to come out.” This was an interesting element unique to Spirit Plant Medicine Conference speakers, as Sanguin was the only person I recall specifically stating how he first came to using psychedelics.
In undertaking his journey Sanguine discovered a startling fact about himself which slightly unhinged him, epitomized in this quote: “My life has not been my own for 55 years.”” In this sense he rested the responsibility towards trauma as failures to love. He told Spirit Plant Medicine Conference attendees that much of this seems to stem from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), commonly as an inability of parents to mirror back the radiance and beauty of their children.
Although Sanguine spoke much and often of the theme of integration, one element stood out as unique: the concept of the spiritual ego. This idea struck me hard and challenged many of my preconceived beliefs. In some sense, the spiritual ego results from the diminishment or death of the normal ego, transformed into a holier than thou attitude. The base Ego, left unfaced, tends to manifest destruction outward or inward, a kind of violence or aggression (Kalsched, 2013). Sanguine pointed out to the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference that this spiritual ego is a new form of the ego, taken to what may be called positive rather than negative directions. This ego, he claimed, was just as pernicious as the normal more aggressive ego.
This latter fact is what struck me in a challenging way since, in undertaking my spiritual integration using psilocybin, I was becoming blind to the fact that my ego was simply changing forms. Thus, it left me slightly irritated and somewhat with an empty, lost feeling. However, I was once again saved through Joseph Campbell, who calls this spiritual ego the superego and it seems an easy pit to fall into while undergoing integration. This superego transformed into “good” directions is the opposite of the normal destructive ego, which is the Id, from where our conception of “evil” comes from. The answer to both appears to be the Middle Way.
The Spirit Plant Medicine Conference was an informative event which improved my knowledge of psychedelics and also challenged the uniqueness of my personal experiences. In the latter sense it was extremely humbling to hear that my experience was not at all unique and this was the greatest takeaway for me. Psychedelics can give us humans a transformative experience which can easily be led away into a new sense of grandiosity, a new transformation of the ego. Realizing that the ego merely changes form helped me take a step backwards and realize that, in so doing, I had simply ignored my Shadow in a new way. Stepping back, I can now hope to keep my ego in check by becoming aware of another part of it I was scant aware of.
In problematic ways, I found that the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference had clear undertones by speakers both male and female of some orientation towards a feminine side of the same Consciousness God. Given that modern Christianity represents a masculine version of this Consciousness, and that both feminine and masculine are dualities made from the unity of both, this did not seem like a good direction for them to be going. Although I cannot know whether the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference had clear intentions of taking it in this direction, some of the speakers made strong indications of doing so. A more apt direction, I feel, would be a more open discussion and realization that masculinity and femininity are neither good nor bad, but simply outgrowths of the same concept.
Along those lines, with the feminine undertones and use of words such as sermon and numerous ceremonial aspects, the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference seems to be an incipient form of a religion. Given the early history of Christianity or other spiritual traditions and cults which seem to be oriented around psychedelic plants, we can see clearly the direction in which organized structures tend to lead. Structures tend to ultimately divide, in the same way that Good and Evil are just arbitrary divisions and have no inherent meaning. Indeed, the Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote a book called Leviathan in which he predicted that hierarchies inevitably grow increasingly complex over time. Any religion, although perhaps benign and peaceful early on, will inevitably result in human oppression over time. History shows us this much.
A Great Way to Connect
If you’re looking for a way to engage with others and connect more with your psychedelic community, this conference would be a great way to do so. They offer a number of options for those who are wanting to meet and greet with the speakers as well as those who are just wanting to listen to some great discussions. Overall it always is a great time. Check it out