“In an effort to minimize the dangers, I have the following suggestions:
Point number 1: All ayahuasca retreats should staff a psychotherapist who is well-trained in the somatized nature of trauma and in the way that these traumatic holdings can interface with the plant itself. And I am not talking about the yogi who organized the retreat.
Point number 2: All ayahuasca retreats must leave more than one day between ceremonies, for the purposes of sustainable integration.
Point number 3: All ayahuasca retreats should provide a list of conventional medications that are dangerously incompatible with the plant. This list should be clearly noted on the website of anyone who is marketing retreats.
Point number 4: Journeyers should be encouraged to have their own personal therapeutic and/or emotional support in place to reach out during, and after, the retreat. Someone who knows their material, and whom they deeply trust.
Point number 5: An attempt should be made to co-create and enforce the use of a rigorous screening protocol that will weed out those applicants whose emotional and/or physical state/stage will put them in peril. Key: this protocol should not be constructed by those who will benefit economically from the retreats.
Point number 6: Seekers should choose not to participate in those ayahuasca retreats that guarantee ‘enlightenment’, that are run by novices and/or ungrounded new cagers, or that charge utterly exorbitant prices for the experience. If they are doing it to make a fortune (rather than as a manifestation of their sacred purpose), they are probably less likely to hold your well-being safe.
Point number 7: Spiritual activists should actively spread the word that this experience is not for everybody. I do not actually believe that the plant only brings up deep truths waiting to be seen and embraced. Depending on someone’s emotional state and physical constitution, it can also bring up dark lies that distort and destroy.
Point number 8: We should stop calling ayahuasca ‘the medicine’. It’s not the medicine. It’s one medicine, and only a medicine for some. What is one person’s medicine is another person’s poison.
Be careful, dear friends. You are playing with fire when you venture down the ayahuasca trail. Yes, for some, it’s a holy wondrous fire. For others, it’s the fire that takes their life.”