How to find comrade psychonauts?
August 2, 2016 9:14 PM   Subscribe

I've decided I want to explore the use of psychedelics for spiritual growth. I live in a part of the world (SF Bay Area) where finding collaborators for this should be easy, but I don't know how to go about it.

I have some experience with psychedelics, not a huge amount but enough to have a good idea of what's interesting to me. Basically, what I would like is to eventually be part of a community of people who use psychedelics occasionally and responsibly for personal and interpersonal growth and spiritual exploration, not necessarily so much for the experiences themselves as in order to use them to illuminate their everyday lives. The few experiences I've had were extremely mind-opening but always in a temporary way: they were one-offs and I felt I lacked sufficient tools or support to build on them and incorporate the insights into my day-to-day life. I think what I'm missing is community. Where do I look for it?

No one in my circle of friends, as far as I know, is interested in this. I've found a couple of Meetup groups that seem relevant and gone to one or two events, but making friends with strangers isn't a skill I'm particularly good at and I ended up leaving without making any new connections. It seems like there should be plenty of experienced, responsible, spiritually minded psychonauts in the Bay Area, but for obvious reasons they don't tend to advertise their existence. I know about MAPS and their research, but I don't qualify for any of their studies. I know of CIIS and Erowid and have spent time on both their websites, but I'm not sure where to go from there. So where and how do I look for the people I want to find?
posted by zeri to Human Relations (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
According to my friend and his wild stories, college drug-policy reform/harm reduction clubs are good for meeting drug geeks and psychonauts.
posted by Taft at 10:01 PM on August 2, 2016

Ayahuasca circles might be exactly what you're looking for. There are several dozens in the Bay Area - I believe MAPS estimated over a hundred. These are groups primarily focused on spiritual exploration and interpersonal growth/healing, as you describe, as well as a sense of community. They will have a trained, experienced curandera to situate you in the spiritual traditions associated with the plant, and explain to you the context and practical considerations of what you'll be going through, so you can get the most impact out of it. They have to be secretive by nature of what they're doing, so they have strict rules against divulging details on public forums. Persistent googling might turn up a few options near you, though. Feel free to DM me if you'd like.
posted by naju at 11:41 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would be wary of any group or ritual that has one person leading every ceremony. Especially if that person is white and if Ceremony is capitalized and they call themselves a shaman. It's phony (at best) and controlling or cultish at worst. If you really want to do the ayahuasca thing, you could plan a trip to South America and do it there. There was a good article in National Geographic not long ago detailing a reporter's experience.

If you might be interested in a DIY approach, like home plant extractions, you could google DMT Nexus and poke around their site.

Otherwise...there's always mushrooms. Which would probably be the easiest route for what you're seeking, based on your question. And no shortage of information out there (Erowid is overwhelming, but good for this in particular) on how to structure and maximize a psilocybin experience.
posted by witchen at 6:13 AM on August 3, 2016

The SF Psychedelic Society may be a good place to start.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:00 AM on August 3, 2016

I know you say making friends with strangers is not your thing, but try to look at that as the first step on your spiritual growth path. You will be considerably challenged in many ways that are uncomfortable should you choose to use psychedelics (especially ayahuasca!) as an aid for this, so you may as well start now.

MAPS conventions, Bicycle Day, and psychedelic groups on FB are a good way to meet like-minded folks and start forming the relationships you will need to get invited to the next weekend retreat in Shasta or whatever. Push past your comfort zone and try to make friends :)

If you do choose to take ayahuasca, I cannot stress strongly enough how careful you need to be with choosing a shaman, and following all the diet restrictions both before and after your experience. Traveling to South America for this experience, in my opinion, is far better and will allow you to get more out of it. Part of spiritual transformation relies on you being outside of your normal routine and familiar surroundings. PM me if you want details about that.
posted by ananci at 1:06 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This isn't quite my thing, so I can't provide any specific organizations, but for what you want (i.e., specifically exploring how to integrate spiritual revelations into your life, rather than figuring out who will sell you shrooms), you might also consider looking at spiritual groups, hippie churches, meditation-focused organizations etc. rather than groups that are directly focused on psychedelics. The nice part is that churches etc. are often quite good at socially integrating non-outgoing people -- lots better than Meetup groups.
posted by phoenixy at 2:50 PM on August 3, 2016

You live in the Bay Area and don't know any burners?
posted by bradbane at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2016

If you really want to do the ayahuasca thing, you could plan a trip to South America and do it there.

There are rip-off merchants there too looking to prey on dumb gringos. Get recommendations and go with a group you trust!
posted by lalochezia at 7:36 PM on August 3, 2016

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