Whether you dive into psychedelics for recreation, mental health support, or for spiritual healing, this post is relevant! There seems to be a great lack of information out there about having a facilitator/trip sitter, working with a shaman and the overall spiritual risks in casually working with plant medicine and other psychedelics. With all the excitement and openness towards these substances and the decriminalization movements occurring around the country, I feel these topics have been left behind.
As a facilitator in plant medicine ceremonies, I have a great deal of experience working with people of different backgrounds and history of psychedelic use. Due to the things I have seen and experienced, I have opted out of working with plant medicines/psychedelics recreationally and do not engage with synthetic substances at all. More on this below.
To be real, I see what each person carries in their energy body and field. This ability of sight is one of the reasons why I want to break down the importance of sitting with an experienced facilitator during a "trip", while also touching on the risks of diving into this world with no regard for the spiritual side of it.
So, here is my take on the importance of hiring a skilled practitioner or facilitator. By this I mean a shaman, psychic, energy worker, etc. to facilitate ceremony/psychedelic experience with you. Someone who works with these medicines intentionally and who is well rounded and well versed. Also, it is important to have someone who has done their own work. There's nothing worse that having a facilitator project their own crap all over you.
Personal Note: I work with plant medicines both personally and professionally and exclusively for healing. My approach is of a shamanic nature and my perspective reflects that. The process to work with me is one of great depth, requiring extensive screening and integration support. I recognize that this may not resonate with everyone who reads this and that is ok! My perspective won't serve everyone.
Dosing. There is no perfect dose for everyone and working with an experienced facilitator can help you decide what's right for you. Having too much can put you into psychosis and having too little can cause you to feel like your time has been wasted, perhaps dissuading you from coming back. Most importantly, having someone who can listen to the medicine, the real one who decides how much you take, instead of making the assumption that you should take x amount because the facilitator has some belief that you need that amount.
In my experience, the most important part of working with Plant Medicine/Psychedelics is knowing how to keep the energy moving and clear. All the "bad trips" you hear about are typically a result of a space not being cleansed and well orchestrated. This work is challenging and sometimes we face some hard things when we go in, that is not the same as having a bad trip. Having a bad trip happens a lot when you are moving energy and the energy doesn't leave. You swim in it instead of letting go and you get "stuck". Many trip sitters do not see the importance of clearing, nor can they get you "unstuck." This is a skill that is cultivated through time and experience.
Stepping into this world is like turning on a spotlight in the spiritual realm and more often than not things come running to the light. I was in ceremony with someone last year and literally saw these two beings standing at her front door mid-journey. They were energetically masculine, appeared in a skeleton-like form and were peeking through the windows. I watched them try the door a few times and lurk on the front steps for a good while before turning away. They knew what we were doing and wanted in. This experience was unique in it's detail, but the occurrence is all too common. When we step into the energetic space, there are things that are selfishly happy to see us there. We are an energetic being to attach to, attack or feed off of. Since this is a true risk, protection of the space is required and needs to be maintained throughout ceremony.
There is nothing quite as overwhelming as sitting with someone in Ayahuasca who has been using DMT or LSD recreationally for years - there are sometimes more attachments/entities than you see in a Ghostbusters movie... Though these guys aren't nearly as cute! As facilitators, and shamans specifically, we can be tasked with purging, holding or clearing less-than-desirable energies in your energy field, which means I get a front row seat to what's hanging out with you in everyday life. Sometimes, I assist someone if there is "too much" for you to release alone, to help you handle the load and/or to assist in moving it out. If you have a lot of unprocessed trauma, a history of heavy drug or alcohol use, or many unprotected adventures with psychedelics, there is a good chance you have a swarm of entities/lower energy attachments in your energy body. A person journeying, as well as a trip sitter, rarely see these and even more rarely is able to move them out for you. I talk to many people who use psychedelics and claim "I have never seen attachments or entities". Like all things, just because you don't have the ability to see them doesn't mean they aren't there.
Possession! Not too long ago, I discovered that I have this ability that allows me to see when someone is Possessed. It's truly a blessing AND a curse lol. Now before you write me off, know that possessions can happen for many reasons. For example, it may happen if you have a traumatic event and there is a spirit nearby that wants to help you cope with it, they will stand in. Or if you are in a very low and weak place, something can come in to take control. This happens a lot to children and when something has been with you your entire life, you are not likely to even recognize that they are there. I can often tell immediately when this is going on with someone, sometimes even when I am on my way to meet them for the first time! However, at least once, I did not see the possession until we get into medicine work. That was some scary stuff. People are usually unaware of this phenomenon and may have dissociation episodes, blacking out, concussions, history of drug use, feel like they're being "sucked dry" in some way or have a general feeling of not being fully themselves. If this is a possibility, I feel like you would want someone who is capable of addressing it! Possession and working with demonic energy is a specialty and if any of what I have typed here resonates with you, you want to work with someone experienced.
Sometimes we go in and it all feels undirected or overwhelming, even with our prepared intentions and instruction (if anyone has been kind enough to give us instruction). It can make a world of difference to be with someone who knows how to ask the right questions to keep things moving or stirring. These questions are often channeled directly from spirit. When your facilitator is divinely guided, they can channel in healing energy, questions and answers, or support that you didn't know you needed.
Working with psychedelics is becoming so big that we have people awakening at records rates. Once you have awakened, you will undoubtedly need ongoing support and guidance, something you are not likely to be able to provide for yourself. Sometimes you come out wanting to get divorced or quit your job (we always advise against this) or seeing people who have passed on in your every day life and it is super important that the person you are with can guide you with integrity and support that you need at this vulnerable and exciting time.
One last note: I would not take this service for free except on the extremely rare chance that you are in dire need and you feel very strongly that you are supposed to sit with the person offering. If they take all their clients for free, that's a red flag. This work is challenging and very energy consuming. It is also a service that requires some type of payment or exchange in order for all parties to be getting the most out of the experience. We are no longer in tribal time, where the village takes care of the shaman in exchange for their healing and guidance. Shamans need to pay mortgages and car payments just like the rest of society. If someone is offering themselves up to everyone for free, there is likely something more at play here.
So I am not saying that everyone "needs" a facilitator. I am not saying that all people who call themselves a trip sitter are bad, neither are the licensed therapists. But I do want to offer some input and perspective on the topic. Personally, when I sit with a plant medicine, I want a bad ass shaman by my side to support me on all the levels I need. I want them to be able to keep my space clear and bring me back if I get lost. To support me when I have to bring this new knowledge to my clunky 3D human experience. All I am saying is that we are ignoring some pretty awesome and important aspects of this work and I hope they will be considered if you are thinking of taking the plunge with psychedelics and/or plant medicine.