Interesting. This year I started attending church, but I later dropped out feeling out of place since I had the psychedelic mindset while others didn't. While the clergy there wasn't hostile about my stance, I also felt there was a big experience gap between us. I felt it would be best for us to part ways. It was nice getting to know the people there, though. That's what I miss the most. I wanted to learn more about Christianity... Well - about 'something/anything' - this was all rather unexplored to me. I was in a sort of seeker mindset. I wanted to belong. I still want to belong.

Expand full comment

What Hunt Priest describes during his journeys is what I would call a Kundalini awakening. This happened first for me at age 16 from an intensive practice of yoga in a ashram setting here in the Bay Area. More recently, I have had other Kundalini experiences during psychedelic journeys and in day to day life. There is a Mighty Networks group called When Lightning Strikes that is a resource for people navigating this territory. Their YouTube channel has interviews and other material on this topic including a Member Highlight about my story. I can also recommend Brent Spirit for YouTube videos including an interview with me about this topic.

Thanks for sharing this interview with Hunt Priest.

Expand full comment
Dec 12, 2022·edited Dec 12, 2022

First, just to be fair, I am atheist who was a born again teenager in my teenage years to early 20s. (This is just so people are aware of my frame, not because I am a proselytizing atheist.)

That said: I strongly support the idea of religion including appropriate and safe use of psychedelics in their ceremonials - with the proviso that those who are contraindicated for medical or psychiatric reasons are excluded. (There are other ways to ecstatic states for those who are not suited to the use of psychedelics.)

I would also recommend that the approach used in the article be used, and a setting in nature is preferred as it is inherently less edgy and distracting than in an urban setting where the noises of the city can intrude.

I would also recommend that the lessons learned from psychiatric research with psychedelics - including integration sessions - be part and parcel of the retreat, and that sizes of groups not exceed a fairly low number for the psilocybin sessions, and that enough attendants with experience with psilocybin sessions be present to assist anyone encountering psychological-spiritual difficulties or medical issues. (Psilocybin is very well tolerated, but there are some medical considerations for people who may be on SSRI or SNRI medications and specifically with regard to Serotonin Syndrome.)

A group ceremonial that is a part of the religious practice is probably a great way to end the retreat.

One thing to avoid is the appropriation of ceremonials from other traditions, and especially indigenous peoples. (Make the ceremonials something that are well aligned with the traditions of the people on retreat, and which do not promote anxiety. The old rules around set and setting apply.)

It is my hope that the use of psychedelics will benefit the participants, their faith community and create a sense of unity over alienation in general, be it with other peoples or nature.

Expand full comment

Proud of the important work Hunt is doing and the ability to say I knew him back when we were in Seminary

Expand full comment

Priest writes, "The way I think about this is that psychedelics are a way to rebond, or bind ourselves with God and the mystery of the universe."

What makes us feel separate, thus generating the desire for rebonding, is the nature of what we're all made of psychologically, thought. Thought operates by dividing the single unified reality in to conceptual parts. This is a very useful process, which comes at the price of significant distortion. And so "I" and "God" and "the universe" are perceived as being different things, which feels right, but isn't true.

This is a very compelling illusion of division, because every human being is made of thought, and thus the group consensus takes it to be an obvious given that reality is made up of separate things. But the truth is that the division we perceive is not a property of the reality we are observing, but rather a property of the tool being used to make the observation, thought.

A key problem for many religions is that they try to use thought in the form of beliefs and doctrines etc to address this fundamental built-in human misperception of division, and in doing so they add fuel to the process generating the illusion of division. And because such religions are using thought as their methodology, we see very sincere well intended religions based on bringing people together in peace dividing internally in to competing sects which come in to conflict with each other. The source of such divisions is not the particular people or beliefs so much as it is that which all people and beliefs are made of.

A danger to be aware of is that psychedelics too can become just another "one true way" built of thought generated illusions of division. Or, to be more precise, perhaps not the psychedelics themselves, but our relationship with these experiences, our attempts to explain them. All explanations are made of thought, and thus are subject to the same distorting influences.

Expand full comment

Great post. I think there's at least some evidence to suggest Moses, Jesus, & Paul all had psychedelic experiences of some sort. I'm sure the same is true across many traditions.

Expand full comment