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Journeying Safely with 5-MeO-DMT
November 9, 2022
In this episode of Nectara's Conversations, we chat with Victoria Wueshner about the "God Molecule," 5-MeO-DMT. Often described as the most potent psychedelic on the planet, Victoria shares her expertise on preparing well for a journey, advice on integrating, harm reduction practices, and what to expect during the experience.
- Best practices for harm reduction, preparation, and integration for 5-MeO-DMT
- Vetting 5-MeO-DMT practicioners and retreats
- How to source your 5-MeO-DMT medicine
00:00 – Introductions
05:58 – How to determine if 5-MeO is a good medicine for you?
08:37 – What are typical use cases for 5-MeO?
10:57 – Dosage information for 5-MeO
12:48 – The importance of psychedelic preparation
15:17 – Spiritual exploration w/higher doses
19:17 – A few reasons why 5-MeO is so popular
22:42 – Stories of transformation
26:49 – The preparation and integration process
30:07– What to look for in a facilitator
36:21 – Ethical sourcing of 5-MeO-DMT
40:20 – Aftercare for the day after the retreat
44:24 – Integration for 5-MeO-DMT
48:47 – Signs that you need to integrate more
50:48 – The chase for healing
55:12 – Overcomed challenges as a retreat facilitator
58:17 – Tips on improving your work as a facilitator
1:02:17 – Her vision for the psychedelic space
1:05:06 – 5-MeO projects and people she is inspired by
Connect with Tandava Retreats: https://tandavaretreats.com
5-MeO-DMT resources at F.I.V.E.: https://five-meo.education
Victoria’s first introduction into the world of healing was through plant medicine. Knowing she had found her path, Victoria explored the world, working with different psychedelic plant medicines over the span of a decade with both indigenous and modern teachers. In 2016 she set out to complete her Yoga teacher training in Bali, which allowed her to gain further insight into the different lenses used in spirituality. After returning to her home in Vancouver Island to share these gifts, she continued to pursue her fascination with plant medicines.
After taking time to honor her own process and growth, Victoria stepped into the role of a medical practitioner. In early 2019 she completed her Kambo training and certification through IAKP in Thailand. Later that year, Victoria then completed her first training with the powerful medicine 5-MeO-DMT, said to be the most powerful psychoactive experience known to man. Longing to deepen her understanding of medicine, she continued 2 more consecutive training over the span of a year. Deeply moved by the force of this medicine, she immersed herself in the toad community, learning all she could in order to best serve this powerful medicine to the world.
Deeply intrigued by Joseph Campbell’s work, she studied the Hero’s Journey at length and later applied it as a geographical lens in her work to assist participants in effortlessly move into their own innermost workings. Choosing to continue her education to best support others, she enrolled in a year-long psychedelic integration training, where she chose to specialize in the 5-MeO-DMT integration process. Her dedication to her craft earned her a position with the international psychedelic wellness company Kaivalya Kollectiv, where she works as both the head of education and a retreat leader, applying all she has learned over the years.
Victoria is the founder and president of Kaivalya’s education platform F.I.V.E (5-MeO-DMT Information and Vital Education). Her mission at F.I.V.E is to provide the world with a centralized hub for all resources and education on 5-MeO-DMT in hopes of bringing awareness to the ethics, integrity, and safety of 5-MeO-DMT
Pascal: Hi, welcome to Nectara conversations with your host, Pascal Tremblay, I’m the co-founder of Nectara, we're a psychedelic wellness support ecosystem, and today I’m really thrilled to be joined by Victoria Wueshner, she's the head retreat leader at Tandava Retreats, and a director of education at Kaivalya Kollectiv, and she's the co-founder at FIVE, the World's first 5-MeO-DMT education platform. Hi Victoria.
Victoria: Hey Pascal. Thank you so much for having me.
Pascal: Likewise. I first met Victoria earlier this year, and really connected with her energy and her ambition and her drive to help support people on their journeys, and really appreciated her humble, dedicated, humble service to the space, and what she's creating in her life is beautiful, and in deep service to the psychedelic community. So I’m really happy to have her today, and sharing around the God molecule, the 5-MeO-DMT medicine, which has been very popular these days, and has been a huge source of healing for a lot of people. You want to tell people a little bit more about what you're up to in the world, Victoria and a little bit about your background?
Victoria: Absolutely. Yeah, so a little bit about what I’m up to, just like you mentioned, I am co-founder and president at FIVE, which sends for 5-MeO-DMT Information and Vital Education, and this is really a centralized resource hub for people coming to work with this medicine, and the whole aim behind it is harm reductions. This is my favorite thing to speak about. I love this medicine so much, but unfortunately there's been a lot of chaos happening in the community, and a lot of harm that doesn't need to be happening. So yeah, that's something that I'm up to is really just putting together a space for people who are interested in coming to work with this molecule, whether it be someone who's never sat with this medicine and is a first-time seeker, somebody who's an avid psychonaut who's worked with this medicine many times, and even facilitators who are either stepping into the role of facilitation or facilitators who are looking to sharpen their toolsets.
And in this kind of platform, we've got over 30 pages from FAQs to documentaries, information, integration specialists, vetted retreats and facilitators; we've even got training programs. So yeah, I really encourage anybody who's really interested in learning more about this molecule to head there, and I’m sure we'll include the links in the show notes as well. I also live here, I’m in Mexico right now at retreat center, Tandava Retreats, where we focus on the safe and effective use of 5-MeO-DMT in a multi-day retreat setting; and our aim here is really to promote long lasting change in people, allowing people to really come to this work being held and supported in the way they need as they step into the world's biggest experience that one can have. And I'm also an integration specialist, and I focus specifically on 5-MeO-DMT, and I work with Kambo and obviously, 5-MeO-DMT.
And a little bit about my background, I really – I’ve been in this space for over a decade, working with different medicines, serving different medicines such as Kambo and just doing a deep dive, and it wasn't until finding 5-MeO-DMT where I really knew that I found the medicine that I wanted to serve, and the reason being is I feel there's a big disconnect right now in humanity of feeling lost, feeling confused, not really knowing who we are, what the whole point to being here is. And we all have this same question inside of us, it's like this burning question, and where do we find the answer. The only place to find the answer is within ourselves, and because we've had that disconnect of remembering who and what we are, nobody knows what to do, and 5-MeO-DMT has come in at this perfect time in humanity to help us remember who and what we are. Because in that peak experience, it does allow our default mode network to go down, the ego to go down, and for us to remember truly wholly what we are, and yeah, that's really where we find the healing.
And in my first experience with this medicine, it really did bring me to that place, and I'm somebody who has really battled with depression since a young age, and suppressed a lot of trauma, a lot of deep seated things, and in that experience, my first experience, I got to have a true homecoming to remembering my totality, to remembering unconditional love and what that really was at its core, that I did deserve that. And not only did I deserve it, but I was it. And there was this deep desire from that experience to journey back into this regular, everyday life and allow other people to have that experience as well. So that's really – it's really where my passion comes from with this work, so walking people back home to themselves.
And I found so much connection and deep service in the psychedelic space between people that were joined by the psychedelic experience that can totally change their lives overnight sometimes, and with five, especially it's such a powerful molecule, and it can lead to deep insights and felt experiences that really transform the way that we see the world in terms of connection, especially, like you mentioned, disconnection from nature, disconnection from ourselves, disconnection from spirit as well. And because of the power of five and the powerful transformation that can happen, how can people know that if this is the medicine for them, like, how can people navigate – there are so many medicines out there, and five has become way more popular in the last few years, like, how can people determine if five is a good medicine for them?
Victoria: Yeah, the very first kind of point here I always like to tell people is our heart is our compass, the heart knows all. And if we really tune into our heart space, and we're feeling that deep call from within there, that's a really good indicator, okay, maybe this is something that I’m meant to be working with at this time in my life; and then, really sitting with it and asking, okay, if this is something I’m being called to, what are my intentions around it, really getting familiar with those intentions, getting to know them inside and out.
And then, from there, if we're really convinced, all right, this is a medicine that I want to work with, am I at a space in my life where this is a good moment for me to work with this medicine. Because even though maybe we are feeling called to it and it is a medicine we are going to work with, it might not be the right time. This medicine, because it offers such profound perspective shifts in our lives, if we're not already coming from a stable environment, it can destabilize us. And we do see this quite often.
And unfortunately, there are things that happen in our life sometimes that we feel we need to heal from, say, example, we're going through a divorce, a family member has died, we've lost our job, and everything seems to be crumbling away beneath us, and there's a part of ourselves that say, this is the perfect time to go and do the world's most powerful medicine, and it might be, but it also might not be; it might be a medicine that completely destabilizes you when you enter into your environment, which is already crumbling beneath you. So that is a big question – am I in a space that when I return from this experience, having completely different perspective shifts and meaning systems, am I going to be able to land in a solid and firm way?
And yeah, then there's also the kind of obvious things of, are you on any contraindicating medications, are you physically well, are you emotionally well, where's your head at, all those kinds of things. So those are a few main things to brush over before stepping into this medicine. And, of course, doing your research.
Pascal: Yeah, for sure, research is important. And what are things that five is typically good for, and what are things that five might not be typically good for, in terms of intentions or in terms of backgrounds or the way people are entering this experience what are things that it's usually used for, and what are things that it might not be good for, and probably depends on every person, but in general, what do you think?
Victoria: Yeah, this is a very unique question to each person. I would say, what it's not good for is people who are looking for a magic pill that they've heard, this is the world's most powerful medicine. It's going to heal me, I'm going to be enlightened afterwards. And, for those who have [inaudible] we know this is not true. Instead, it offers us a different lens and perspective to engage with our patterning and our stories, and to heal those things within ourselves. But it doesn't do it for us, it's a tool.
And I would say, those are what it's not good for. What it is good for, it's so good for so many different things. This is a very cathartic medicine, so as human beings, we have this tendency to store our trauma and pain inside of us in different ways, and it might be somatically stored in our bellies or our chests, some of us might have a hard time expressing and get numb. There's just so many ways that we hold on to things, and this medicine has this beautiful intelligence, especially when we're working with intention of, where we'd like the medicine to go, of releasing these stored emotions and stuck energy within us. And that's really why we see so many different expressions with this medicine, one person can sit with it and be what we call a complete Buddha sitter, where they're not really moving around at all, maybe they have a few little smiles here and there; or you might have somebody who's dancing around like a ballerina, someone who's thrashing and fighting, someone who's screaming at the top of their lungs; and it's just because we all store our trauma in different ways.
So I would say my two favorite ways to work with this medicine is, one, working into specific trauma that we've been holding onto, and working with low to medium doses in that way, and getting really surgical with it. And then, the other, working with large doses, for those who are really wanting to step into spiritual exploration of what we were saying, remembering who and what they are so that we can feel more connected to ourselves, to our communities, friends, families, nature, and the universe in general.
Pascal: Yeah, you touched on an interesting topic, I was asking a friend of mine yesterday, what would you like to ask Victoria. And he's a facilitator, and his question was, the five experience is so varied from a low dose to a high dose, and it varies so much in terms of what happens with each one, so how do you – you just touched on it a little bit higher dose, more spiritual exploration, lower dose maybe a bit more like a trauma release or a more embodied feeling of a certain intention, like, how do you navigate that element of dosage with five?
Victoria: Yeah, so something that I like to say with the smaller doses versus the larger doses, when we take the large dose, if we allow ourselves to surrender to that peak experience, there is no I or individual identity left, we are infinite everything, there is no Victoria present or Pascal present. But in those low to medium doses, we are tuned in and tapped into that divine frequency, but we are all – we're still tuned in and tapped into ourselves as an I or an individual. So in that way, when we're in those lower doses, it's much easier for us to work into specific intentions and really get in there.
And yeah, there's – and it really is very dependent too on people's abilities to surrender with this medicine. That's why preparation is such an important key here, because if someone hasn't had thorough preparation, sometimes, it doesn't matter how high the dose is, they're not going to surrender because their brains, their minds, their egos are going to perceive this experience as they are physically dying and they need to fight the experience tooth and nail. So they're not actually allowing themselves to transcend the experience into that infinite oneness, yeah.
Pascal: Yeah, the first time I did five I had read online before going through the experience that you need to be ready to die before you interface with it, and that was a real journey for me to be like, am I willing, as a person, as me, Pascal am I ready or willing to let go of myself; and that was a process just before entering the medicine that it was like quite healing. And a side story, I heard an anecdote of a friend's friend who is a very stubborn person and he physically and mentally and emotionally tried to resist the medicine and not surrender at all, and, spoiler alert, it didn't work. It didn't work – because it's such a powerful medicine. What kind of challenges can arise from the medicine? You talked about the letting go and surrendering, what can happen if someone's not preparing properly?
Victoria: Yeah, so exactly what we just talked about, if someone hasn't had thorough preparation, the mind is going to explain to the person hey, you're dying, if you let go anymore, you're not going to come back into this experience. So they start to fight and kick and scream and the whole nine.
And this can be really scary for people, this can actually cause PTSD, because if you think you're dying, that is the most traumatic experience a human can have, and you're doing everything you can to not die. And this is where it's really important to feel safe in your surroundings, but I also like to – I'd to mention here that the challenging experience is something that we welcome with open arms. I think the challenging experience is something that people often run away from. It sounds scary to them, because obviously, there's some resistance coming up.
But if we are in a challenging experience with this medicine, it is giving us a very clear understanding of what we're holding onto, of what we're afraid to let go of what parts of ourselves we don't want to release over. And it's really where the ego is hanging onto, so I can say some of my more challenging experiences that I’ve ever had have been some of the most profound experiences showing me where I have work in real time to do here in the physical.
Pascal: And you talked about spiritual exploration for higher doses what does that mean in terms of the five experience – I’ve seen and heard experiences of complete ego dissolution and connecting with the cosmos and like this really big kind of universal ideas of the soul and the universe itself, what are some experiences that you've had with larger doses of five that you'd like to share?
Victoria: This is a really funny question...
Pascal: I see a smile coming up, like a big smile.
Victoria: Yeah, this is an interesting question because 5-MeO-DMT is so unlike any other medicine. I would say 5-MeO-DMT is the only true entheogen. And the reason for this is when we look at different medicines, whether it be ayahuasca or peyote or mushrooms, you name it, we are going on multi-hour visionary experiences where there's a lot of content to be had, whereas with 5-MeO-DMT, it's less content based, we're not having a visionary experience, instead we're having what I call gnosis, knowledge through experience.
And I’m sure, we'll get into integration later, that's why it can be difficult for people to integrate this experience, but it's very rare and seldom that the experience is visionary, and that we see things. Of course, there's moments where we relive, especially in the lower doses, we might relive trauma that happened within our lives; but in those higher doses, it's less of something that we're seeing, and something more of what we're feeling within our being, something that we're knowing, something that we are infinitely expanding into and dancing with in this totality, this cosmos, and it's, yeah, something that's extremely difficult to really put our words in. And it's really funny with this medicine, the experience every time is so different, yet still the same. It's a very familiar place, but it's always giving us this different unique experience with it.
And something that I find really interesting working so many retreats with this medicine and getting to witness people's processes, I’ve noticed that when someone works with the medicine, generally, their next medicine experience, and their next medicine experience after that, and this is similar for myself, it's almost like we're picking up exactly where we left off. It's not linear at all, but it also is – we had this experience, we had this release, we integrated it into our being within the physical, and then, we journey back in with the medicine and we're just picking up and continuing our healing process, wherever it needs to be.
Pascal: That's beautiful. It reminds me of my first 5-MeO experience, where it was a lower dose, and I did three of them, and it was a lower dose, but it was – I was in between the spiritual realm and the human realm, and I connected with the sense of joy in my body that I had never felt ever before, and it rewired my capacity and my acceptance of joy and my ability to really feel it fully, deeply into my body, and I felt like 20 pounds was lifted off my shoulders after the ceremony. And ever since then, that piece of joy has been embedded in my DNA, it's five almost cleared out all the windows of joy and opened up the windows and be like, this is it, and ever since then, I feel joyful, it's like part of my being.
And from that experience, because it was so integrative at a lower dose, I’ve done way less medicine since then, a lot less, because I feel like it opened up a big door for me because of the integrative feeling. So yeah, it is a very powerful medicine, but it can also be integrative in the moment, because it gives you that, you said I love that word, gnosis of something like ayahuasca, for example, can't – it's harder to integrate, because you get whacked around a little bit for 12 hours sometimes, and it's not as in the moment integrative. So I love that part of it that allows you to have that felt experience in the short amount of time.
And do you think that's why it's been popular is because it feels like a short investment time, or maybe it's not a short investment time, there's a lot that goes into it?
Victoria: I feel probably for some people that's something that calls them to working with the medicine, that it's not going to be like a 12-hour experience where, you know, vomiting the entire time and going through torture. But the reason that I feel that this medicine has become so popular is, A, for its ability to help us remember who we are, and really tune back into our connection as divine beings with ourselves and our surroundings; and then, secondly, for its profound ability for catharsis. I’ve seen time and time again when people go in with specific intentions of working through trauma, that's where we go, and it's just so profound, I can explain my last journey that I had, I think like about a month ago, I’m really at this point in my life where I’m fully stepping into my power and my intention was, please allow me to release anything that is in the way of me stepping into my power.
And, it took me to where I lost my virginity, I was raped when I was 13, and I had never processed it, I had never grieved it, I had never gotten angry about it, and I had never actually been in any of my medicine journeys with any other medicines, I had never been back to that space before. And that's exactly where it took me, I remember laying on the, we call it the lily pad or the launch pad, and I remember laying on the pad and my hands gripping the mattress beneath me because when I was 13 when it happened, it was on this dirty mattress in the middle of an apartment, and I completely relived the experience grabbing onto the mattress, and I went into this deeply profound sacred rage that was just emanating from me, screaming for 20 or 30 minutes.
And it felt so good to finally let go of all of this pain that I had been holding onto, all of this pain that had been preventing me from stepping into my power, because that's the first time my power was truly taken from me. And when we are talking about why this medicine is so popular, I have seen so many stories like this, and even more intense than that experience for myself where people are finally allowed to let go of these traumas that we've been holding onto and step into a new path for ourselves, a path where we feel lighter, we feel more joyous, we feel more powerful, where we feel that we are truly the authors of our own lives, rather than the world happening to us, no, it's happening for us. So yeah, this is a truly profound medicine.
Pascal: I like to relate psychedelics to the earth's immune defense system almost like the emergence of psychedelics in the mainstream after decades of oppression is a response to the societal pain and trauma that we've been feeling and just like a defense system against the systems that don't work for us anymore.
And you talk about that with five, like a response as well to what we need. And I love that bridge that you are making into actually like taking these experiences and actualizing it in tangible action in the real world, because that's really where the medicine gives us our greatest gifts is when we're actually able to heal ourselves so that we can help others, and I found that so beautiful and so inspirational. And for you as a retreat facilitator, what can you share around the transformation you've seen from people they step into this experience being something one day and just like over a week or two, or maybe it's like a year or two, the transformation that you've seen from this medicine?
Victoria: Yeah, there's really no words for this. I’ve seen tremendous transformation, and it's been very clear from the start, and it continues to be clear that those who are putting in the work truly before and after are the ones who are getting the most out of the experience. There's some people who show up to this work, having worked with a therapist for the last year, getting ready for this experience and uncovering all the stuff that they've been hanging onto, and know exactly what they're working on when they get here.
And they have very clear kind of roadmaps and intentions, and are just full power ready for this, and doing the work. And sometimes it gets challenging in the medicine experience, and something that we share with people will work up to three times with someone in their individual session. We have a hand gesture that allows people to know that they can go deeper into the experience if they'd like, and sometimes it can get challenging, especially if these different traumas are coming up, different stuck energy, and these people who are just really ready to do the work, go back in again for another pipe to face those shadows, face those demons, and really heal from it, and then taking the bull by the horns in their integration process, and just going for it.
And we've seen people who have had treatment resistant depression for 35 years, I would say one of our more profound experiences was, yeah, this man who had treatment resistant depression for 35 years had been with a therapist for 10 years; he did electroshock treatment when he was in his 30s, cause he is quite old, he's an older gentleman now, and he had really done everything. He read all the books, worked with all the people, and nothing was working, and because he was so ready coming into this work, he's probably the happiest person that I know now, and it's almost like this bundle of joy every time or talk to him. So those are the reasons that I like to do this work, that's what it's all about.
Pascal: And you mentioned like the – yeah, and it's beautiful work, can't think of a better way to spend our life energy than helping people navigate these journeys and changing the world in a very small way every day, that's beautiful. You mentioned the preparation process, and integration being the real key to the whole transformational intention. Can you tell us more about preparing for five, and you mentioned like a year, and preparation is often a journey of nourishing their resources around us and bringing them towards us, and like really acknowledging them and tapping into them, what are kind of ways to prepare for such an experience?
Victoria: Yeah, so preparation and integration, as is the main key to these experiences. Yes, the journey is the profound thing, but if we really want to get lasting change, then we need to engage in the preparation and integration process. And, for us, we work with people for two weeks before, we have two to three Zoom calls with somebody, really getting into their whys, why are you coming to do this, what are your intentions, what are your fears, what is your relationship with death and spirituality, what would you like to see in your life if you had all these intentions realized.
There's really a lot of content that we go into this, and so that, when people are ready to step up to the plate, they really have an idea of what they're doing. They're taking this process seriously and responsibly, and it's not like you hear that there's a 5-MeO experience that you can journey to tomorrow. You're like, oh cool, I’m going to go hop in, I don't know what my intention is, but I just want to have this big experience. What you put in is what you get out truly. And if we're really being responsible about this preparation process, we know where we want to go, we're going to get the most that we can out of our experience.
And, like I mentioned earlier, preparation is synonymous in this experience with how much we're able to surrender to the experience, because preparation is what allows our minds and bodies to feel safe enough to fully let go, when it's time to take that pipe, that we know we're in a safe surrounding, that we know that we're with safe facilitators, that we know and have been spoken to about every single thing that can happen and how that's going to be held, when it does happen.
There's no questions left, so we feel completely safe. And the deeper that we allow ourselves to surrender to the experience, the more that we actually get out of the experience. And then, in our integration process, this is what ties everything together into a beautiful package essentially. And I really to say, the integration process is as long as we want it to be the. And as much as we engage with integration, is as much as we're going to get out of it. I’ve seen people who have taken days to integrate this experience, and these are people who are not putting a lot of energy into it, and they end up probably not getting the most out of it, because they're not taking the integration seriously.
And I’ve seen people integrating from multi-years with just one journey from this medicine. And, it really is what we're putting in is what we're getting out. And something that we include, I feel truly integration is a non-negotiable with this medicine. So we do include a month of integration post the experience with people. We have a really beautiful list of integration specialists who are very familiar with the five experience, some of them are facilitators, all of them have worked with the medicine multiple times, as we do feel, if you're going to help someone integrate from this experience, you must understand and know what the five experience is about and the different kind of phases that people can enter into with integration.
There's so many kind of different phases as well with this medicine. So yeah, integration is what allows this experience to not just be a peak experience that fades away like a dream, and something that actually allows us to have long lasting powerful change in our lives.
Pascal: Beautiful. And for people that are interested in experiencing this medicine, there's a lot of facilitators out there, there's people with various experiences, people with various kind of integrity, there's people that maybe source medicine different ways, what are things to look for, like, when you're preparing for the intention of this journey to look for in a retreat or a facilitator? What are things green flags, red flags for people out there that don't quite know what to look for and whatnot, cause it's a bit of a wild west out there?
Victoria: Absolutely, yeah. I'd like to first kind of preface this question by sharing, if anybody wants to learn more about this question than we're speaking about, just head to the FIVE website, cause there's a lot on this topic. This is a really important question. I think one of the biggest issues that we're facing with facilitation is, unfortunately, the trainings for this medicine are more commonly anywhere from two or three days to two or three weeks, and we're talking about the world's most powerful medicine here; we're talking about people getting into, a lot of the time, the biggest trauma that they've ever had coming up. And if we are not super familiar with the medicine, and we're stepping into a role of facilitation, we're not coming with the tools necessary to help people through their experiences.
So a main kind of thing to ask somebody is what was your training with this medicine, and what is your relationship to it. There are, unfortunately, facilitators who are facilitating, who've never sat with the medicine itself. You definitely want somebody who intimately has sat with this medicine multiple times and mentorship – mentorship and community. So as there's not really a lineage or tradition with this medicine, it's a relatively new medicine. What we want to look for is a facilitator who is always a student, they're always willing to learn, they are part of a community where there are people that have been serving longer than them, and they always have these community members to learn from, to ask questions from.
I would say the majority of facilitators out there do not have this. If we're taking a two or three-week course or multiday course training with this medicine and we have no community around us to support us, then that is where the wild west comes from. We have a situation where a participant comes, who maybe what they're coming with is out of our skillset, but because we don't have a community to reach out to, we don't know what to do, and sometimes people will just step into working with that person anyway. And then, that's where people have psychological issues coming up because – or even physical issues, because they're on contraindicating medications, deaths can occur. So that's something that we're looking for as well. We want somebody as well in a facilitator who wants to ask a lot of questions. They want to – they're not just here for a paycheck, and when somebody's hey, I want to work with this medicine, cool, let's sign you up – instead asking, why are you coming to work with this medicine, are you in a place in your life where you're ready to work with this medicine, are you on any contraindicating medications, what are you like physically in your body, are you safe, what's your heart doing, what's the screening process like.
So when we are saying yes to working with this medicine, somebody should get a very thorough screening process, and, of course, it's going over the main things, physical, emotional, spiritual, but also getting deep into what that person's trauma is so that the facilitator has a really good understanding of everything that participant is bringing to the table. A facilitator should also be including preparation and integration in the container. If they're not taking a serious approach with preparation and integration, it's very clear that they don't have the participants' long lasting change within their mind. It sounds like more of a paycheck, because the whole idea here is that the person coming to do this work is getting the absolute most set of the experience. So if there's no preparation or integration that goes out the window.
And if they themselves are not a trained integration specialist, they should be pairing the participant up with an integration specialist who already does understand the 5-MeO experience. And those are main things in a facilitator to look for. Of course, there's other things as well. We want to look for allegations of malpractice. So there's been reports of people under on medicine, where the facilitator is on top of the woman, taking her clothes off, we don't want that, eye-gazing, imprinting.
So one of the unfortunate things in this space is that as we are working with the medicine of the ego, it can take our ego either way, especially if you're in a role of facilitation. It can take our ego to a place if we're integrating it to be able to live and interact with other humans in oneness, and really being present with people in a really beautiful way. But if we as a facilitator are consistently doing medicine over and over, saying more, give me more, and not integrating it, what it actually can do is inflate the ego, and we can step into what's called ego superiority, and even fall into Messiah complex. And this is where the facilitator really feels that they are the leaders of everyone. And sometimes you might see people all dressing the same like groups, almost like cults, and yeah, there's a lot of interesting stuff that's going on behind the scenes.
So I would say a really important facet that I’m trying to get to is that you want to find a facilitator that is participant-focused. This experience is all about the participant, a 100%. And if there's any kind of red flag coming around the facilitator making it about themselves, then it's probably something that we don't want to engage in.
Pascal: Yeah, thank you, and we'll put the link to FIVE in the show notes so people can refer to, yeah, a long list of resources that are available there for vetting retreats and facilitators; and thank you so much for putting that together, it's very useful for people out there. And one thing I’d like to touch a little bit more on preparation is the sourcing of the medicine. Of course, it's a natural source from the bufo toad, and there's a more synthetic one that's available. Can you talk a little bit more about that, and what are the differences between both, and what to look for in engaging with the sourcing of the medicine?
Victoria: Absolutely, yeah. So this is a really hot question, for sure. 5-MeO-DMT comes in different forms. So oftentimes, if people are coming with 5-MeO-DMT, it is either with the bufo toad secretion or it comes from synthetically made in a laboratory. And why would we choose one over the other, first, I would like to say from my own personal experience, both of these experiences with both of these molecules are the exact same experience. And I personally did not want to believe that, I had come from working specifically with bufo secretion, and I had many facilitators saying, why don't you make the switch over to synthetic. And I’m like, ugh, synthetic that just sounds – no, I don't think I want to. And they're like, just give it a shot.
So I started to work with synthetic or also known as a pure molecule or Jaguar, and I realized the exact same thing all these other facilitators realize, it's the same experience, it really is. And of course, a main component here is understanding it's the same experience, but also there's three kind of things to touch on, one is toad conservation. So as this popularity is really rising, the toad population is being put out, they're suffering a lot, and the reason they're suffering is people are going into the Sonoran Desert, and they're over-milking. When we're over-milking, we are leaving the toads defenseless, because that's their defense system; they're being taken out of their homes into captivity is not good, it's not good for the toads; sometimes they're being taken out of their homes, just a short distance away to be milked, but they're not being taken back to their location where they live, and they only go very short distance from their home in their entire life, so they'll be spending their entire lives trying to get back to their homes, and oftentimes being ran over constantly jumping into fences and physically harming themselves. And we're also releasing a fungus into their habitat, which is harming them called Chytrid fungus, and this is from us not wearing gloves when we're milking them.
And there's just a few things that the toads are experiencing, and we just, personally, I don't want to have anything to do with harming the toads, especially if this experience is the same.
The second thing here is dosage specificity. So with the toad secretion, anywhere from 10 to 30% of the secretion is 5-MeO-DMT. That means that all the other additional tryptamines and alkaloids, one of them, for example, being cardiotoxic, which is another reason why we don't work with that, if somebody has an underlying heart condition, we don't want to put someone into cardiac arrest. But that 10 to 30%, that's a huge margin of error. That means we actually have no idea how much we're giving somebody when we're giving them the bufo toad secretion.
Even if we have the most accurate scale, we do not know. And that could actually push someone overboard into having what is known as a white-out. And if someone has a white-out, if you give someone enough medicine, that actually can also push them into very extreme reactivations where it's happening anywhere from, I’ve heard anywhere from multiple weeks to even multiple months of reactivation. And some people where they have – they've actually had to quit, they can't sleep anymore, they think they're going crazy, and it's a [inaudible] process. So yeah, there’s many reasons why switching to the pure molecule is something that might be something to think about.
Pascal: Yeah, so for the people out there, don't do the frog bufo, just go synthetic, that's the main lesson here. In terms of, you mentioned like what you put into prep and integration is what you'll get out of that, for someone who enters these really powerful five experiences, what is it like for aftercare the day or two after the ceremony, what are things that you recommend for people?
Victoria: I always like to recommend people that they are in a very conducive environment for nurturing themselves. I like to recommend a minimum of three to seven days of just being in your own space, nature, being mindful of course, what we're taking in, any kind of diet, not just food, but TV, news, media, music, books people events, to-do lists.
For example, I call this the washover, so what I mean by the washover is if someone has this profound experience, and they just go straight back into their everyday, regular lives, they're back at their desk job, the phone's ringing, their boss is nagging them, maybe they're in an environment at home that's toxic, all these kinds of things, they're not giving themselves the time and space to truly emerge from this experience, because it really is a death and rebirth process. And in that rebirth process, there's so much coming up to see and to be witness to, to show us where we have work to lean into, and really showing us the different stories and patterning that are present within us, and from seeing those with a heightened awareness, making a decision of where we'd like to go. And we don't have that opportunity when we step right back into our everyday, regular lives, it's like a washover, we just had this experience and everything got washed away, the experience fades away, and it was not for nothing, but we definitely don't get out of it what we wanted to, if we would've made that, what I call, the nest for ourselves.
And yeah, I really like to say boundaries are so important here, and sometimes, it can be difficult to tell our family members, hey I need a week to myself, it has nothing to do with you, but it has to do with my own healing process, and I just need to be in my own space. So really learning how to, in those moments, make very clear boundaries. And I like to say also the nest, this nesting or landing period is something that should be prepared before you even do the medicine, it's your preparation for the integration process, because sometimes it can be something so easy to just be like, eh I don't really need to – that experience was so blissful and so amazing, it changed me in so many ways, so I’m just, I don't need to integrate. And then, suddenly, that's where we step into problems.
Pascal: Absolutely. And our motto at Nectara is every day is a ceremony, because every day can be grounds for integration. But after the ceremony itself you're right, I love that washover term is so important to really make the time, and calling in the resources and the support systems that can help you after the journey. What are things that you recommend for people typically that go to attend a retreat in terms of like offering them support after their ceremony?
Victoria: Yeah like I said, minimum of three to seven days of nothing to do, being mindful of that diet. We have four weeks, a month of integration post with the integration specialist, so making every single one of those meetings and really being serious about this. And then, also on top of that, on top of your integration, and your integration sessions with your integration specialist, making time and space with yourself every day, and making a commitment plan and committing to your growth, so being really realistic each day of where and when you have time around your schedule.
So for some people it might be taking five days out of seven days, we're at three o'clock, I know I have 30 minutes to step into a practice of meditation and breath work, and really tune into myself in that connection; for some people it might be two days, whatever, but you're making a very firm commitment and you're staying with that commitment to really keep that channel wide open of where you are able to receive these downloads of where your path is unfolding and where the healing needs to take place.
Pascal: And how does the integration for five differ from other medicines, is there any differences?
Victoria: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah one, the washover, absolutely, because it can be so easy for us to say that was such a beautiful experience, I don't need to integrate it. And then, suddenly, because we didn't integrate, it's that was a good experience, but what did I actually get out of it, cause we didn't put the integration in.
One is something that we call the falling away experience, so this is something where this is such a high vibrational experience, I can't think of another experience that is more profound than this. And even though we're off of the mat, and we're not in the experience anymore, it's still with us. That vibration is shifting us at a cellular level. So oftentimes we can journey back into our lives and everything, it might be everything, it might be something very small, it maybe just one thing, but it could be everything doesn't fit us anymore: oh my gosh, these clothes, like, how could I – why was I wearing these clothes, why am I driving this car, wow, these friends don't fit me anymore, I don't want to do my job anymore. And this can actually, this is a fear a lot of people have stepping into this medicine is like, what if I am not the same person when I come back. And if we are shifting and evolving and changing after this experience, it's for the better, it's something – it's almost like a divine reorganization of our life that's making room for a happier, more in tune version of ourselves.
So while it might seem a little bit scary, it's also very liberating. Another challenge that people have with this experience is, this is the ground of mystical experience. There's no bigger experience than this. And oftentimes, when we come back home into our everyday regular lives, usually, the people around us have not had this experience, and our loved ones, family, friends, community, coworkers, might not have the same ideas around this experience, and it can be we've seen people resistant where we've just had such a profound experience, we're glowing, and we want to share this beautiful experience with others, and it's like a – it can be a mirror to others of them not doing their own work. And sometimes we can actually have people really close to us, pushing us away.
And it is really important to let people know that we have to be gentle with the people around us. It can be something that we can step into being evangelical with this medicine – everybody needs to do this medicine, it's going to change and shift the world. And while it might be true that it will change and shift the world, not everybody is ready at this moment in their life to step in with this medicine, and that's okay, it's completely okay. So just being gentle with the people around us and understanding of all the other journeys that people are having simultaneously around our own journeys. And meaninglessness – meaninglessness is something that people can also experience, of having this grand mystical experience and realizing, wow, everything means so much, but it means nothing at all. And we can feel like, what's the point, what's the point of having this experience. And it can be a really interesting place to be, we can step into this work and be very present and aware of everything going on around us, but we still have to engage in this experience, we are still here having a human experience for a reason.
And this is something important to talk to people about. And there really is endless kind of phases with this, the integration with this medicine that is different from other medicines, but those are a few of them.
Pascal: Thank you. And how does someone know that they haven't fully integrated or integrating properly, what are signs to look for?
Victoria: That they're having – they're struggling. If somebody is struggling, I can speak to one person where they stepped into their integrative practices, for a week post, they were feeling great, they were feeling very connected; and then, suddenly, life came around and they completely fell out of their integrative practices, they stopped meeting with their integration specialist, because they thought everything is good. And then, like we say, this is not a magic pill, this medicine is going to give us the heightened awareness to see our own patterning.
So when we do dip down into our pattern, say, someone cuts us off in traffic or something and we curse at them or whatever our patterning is, not feeling oh my gosh I ruined everything, I need to go back and do 5-MeO again, because I’m unenlightened and whatever. And it's really important to understand the integration processes and the phases and have someone there to support you and stay committed to your process with it, because, eventually, when we do fall into our patterning, because it doesn't wipe it away, we have to work with it. It's knowing that it's not all for nothing, this is coming up right now to be worked with.
And if we just have it come up and we are upset with it, then that puts us into a place where we feel like we're not worthy of healing or something, or, but if we understand the integration process and we have support around it, when it does come up, we have support to work with it and get into it. So I would say somebody knows, like a sign to know that we are having a hard time integrating is feeling like things are becoming challenging we are constantly in our patterning and we're feeling feelings of anxiety coming up around that.
Pascal: And do you see a lot of recurring people that don't have the proper support and they keep chasing healing – there's like a thing in the psychedelic space, in the healing space in general, like you mentioned it earlier chasing the peak experiences, chasing more healing, and the more ceremonies I do, the more I’ll be better. And I’ve met people that have done 200 ceremonies, and I asked them, have you integrated, they are like, no, not really. They're just piling on medicine. Can you speak to that from a cultural perspective what does it speak to in terms of our society to constantly be chasing the peak experience, because it feels very much like following the old paradigm of just plowing through stuff, or just adding more is better reaching higher experiences is going to be better? Yeah, I’d love to hear your thoughts around that from a cultural perspective.
Victoria: Yeah, I think as human beings we're – it's part of the ego to want to add to ourselves to make us better somehow, and the ego is also really good at spiritual bypassing as well. So I can speak in terms of this medicine as this is the one that I’m familiar with, but this experience, it's so profound that the mind or the ego can wrap itself around it, and create a story around it. And in that story, it perceives that experience, as when we were healed, or when we were enlightened, or when we were better or worthy.
And suddenly, when we step back into our everyday, regular lives, and we're further and further away from that experience, and we're not integrating it, that connection gets cut again, because we're not integrating it, we're not treating it with respect, we're not being responsible about the integration period, and we have a low again. So we had a high, and then, now we're down to a low. And in that low we have this, because the ego's created a story around it, the ego blows back to, oh maybe I need to do more medicine again. And we get stuck in this perpetual cycle of consistently going for highs and falling to lows and going for highs and falling for lows, and it's almost, it really is like addiction. When we're in an addiction, we fall into that low, oh, we need to go and take another hit of whatever drug that was or experience, and this is why integration is so important, we can do medicine over and over again and be stuck at the same spot forever if we're not integrating the experience.
And actually, we might not even be stuck at the same spot with this medicine, we actually might be building super egos and taking us way further on the other side of things. So I would say with this medicine, more than anything, integration is so key – if you are not choosing to integrate, this is not the medicine for you.
Pascal: Beautifully said. Is that one of the challenges you have as a retreat facilitator is like people coming back again – and I’m sure it's not the same, because you have such a good structure around prep and integration, but, in general, has this been one of the things that you, not filter, but, have a barrier around, or, like, how you bring people in the intake process, is that part of your process to look like, hey, maybe you've done too much medicine, is that one of the things you look for?
Victoria: Yeah definitely in the question of why are you coming to work with this medicine, if we see somebody who's been peak chasing, then we really get to the bottom of why do you really want to work with this medicine, and are you truly ready to take the time and space that it means to actually integrate this experience. and if the person is not, maybe this is not the right medicine for you at this time, and we will let people know that it might sound like a short experience, 15 to 45 minutes with X factors on both sides, but even though it does sound short, it is a very serious and long process. And really, I think it's important for facilitators in that first call to get that point across to people, because a lot of people do see it as just a short experience, it's going to be that magic pill, and yeah, letting people know so that they can prepare for the commitment they're about to step into.
Pascal: Can you speak a little bit about other challenges that you have as a retreat from a medicine perspective, but also in terms of your intake process or the support or the education piece because the five is such a powerful experience what are things that you've had to figure out on the way to creating Tandava, and what are you working on these days to improve the experience?
Victoria: I'm trying to think of challenges that we've had – can't think of any challenges right now. We're constantly working to improve the container always. There's always room for improvement, and just really tuning in and checking in with people's needs and what they need in their own unique process. I think that's such a key in whether you're working in a retreat setting or not, whether you're working with mushrooms or 5-MeO is consistently checking back in for us, we do one-on-one integration sessions onsite and then post, checking in with people, what do you need, what do you need that you haven't gotten yet, how can we support you, what would make you feel more comfortable right now. And then, from there, that's really where you get to see that, where more improvements can come in.
Pascal: What kind of improvements give us a few examples of improvements you've made recently to your container, like the experience itself, or maybe the intake or the preparation/integration process, what are things that you've figured out and you could improve for people?
Victoria: We recently added in neural feedback helping people to get into that state of centeredness, of presentness, I would say, because in this medicine experience we were talking about, that channel is blown wide open, and integrative practices are so important in being able to strengthen and build that connection with that divine entity that's inside of ourselves and outside of ourselves. And all of us are going to have different practices, so some of the practices that we do here is yoga, breath work, meditation primarily, but we've recently added neurofeedback as well. So as people are in this very neuroplastic state, building that, strengthening that, learning how to keep that open, the specific technology we use lets people know when their mind is starting to wander, and lets people know when their mind is coming back. And in between the container of doing medicine and preparation and integration, using these different practices to help teach people how to stay open, and then, bringing that back into their everyday, regular life so they can keep these channels open.
Pascal: Beautiful. I'm curious about the neurofeedback, I've never tried it, I've heard about it, but I’m curious for people out there that are facilitating or want to be facilitators who are looking to create a retreat, or they're maybe running a retreat already, what are resources for people to go to, to deepen their knowledge, maybe connect with other people that are hosting or holding space with five, what are the ways that people can create better containers for people?
Victoria: That's a really good question. So this is something that we're working on right now currently. So if you do, if this is you, somebody who's listening and would like to strengthen your toolsets, really understand how to hold a safe and effective container, if you head to the FIVE site, we do have different training programs that are out, we have two, they start in January and we'll be running them annually. One is a three-month facilitator refinement training, so this is people who are already serving this medicine, but would like to strengthen those toolsets.
And then we also have a year-long one for people who have a deep relationship with this medicine already, but are stepping into role of facilitation, and we really brought in so many amazing guest teachers and speakers. We have over 30 guest teachers, and these are people who are experts in their fields, whether it be psychology, trauma, first aid, and all of the important facets. So and then, on top of that, we also have onsite as well, so the year-long training is a year of coursework and videos and live classes, but then, we have three weeks here on site at the retreat center, really getting hands-on experience, and getting comfortable and confident with being a retreat leader. So that's one resource, and then, the other side of things, I would say, is community, mentors, teachers, guides, continuously learning. So finding a community of other facilitators who are also on the same path and learning from another – you have a question, drop the question and see all the different responses, and really start to build from there of, the right and the wrong ways to hold space for people.
Pascal: That's such a key having teachers and mentors and peers really to bounce things off or learn something or check in on ourselves, yeah, that's really important. And how would you say, like someone – it's probably different for a lot of people, but how can someone know that they're ready – we have a therapist friend who said that for him personally, what he believes is you need to have done, at least, five years of like deep personal work on your journey before you start serving any medicine, what's your perspective on that, it's a vague, requirement, but what do you think about that as a general rule?
Victoria: Yeah, we need to do our own work first. That is a key. And the only person who's going to know that you've done your own work is yourself. So you need to be – we need to be really honest with ourselves. We really need to take sincere looks within, if we're feeling called to work with any medicine, being with ourselves and asking, do I want to work with a medicine because this is coming from my ego, and it's something that I really do love and I think it'd be cool to do, or am I truly ready, is my heart telling me I’m truly ready, how much work have I done, do I feel that I’m in a position where I’ve been through enough with this particular medicine and understand it on a deep enough level to hold space for others as they're going through their own processes, and their own phases with this medicine.
So I think, yeah, I think really taking a sincere look within ourselves is a key here, and it's been really interesting actually getting in applications for this training program. We've had all sorts of people apply from clinicians to the other side of things, and it's been really interesting to see how many people are applying who have never sat with the medicine before. And from that, I'd say, okay, let's take a hard look, why do we want to work with this. And if we're really wanting to be serious about it, let's really take some time to build a deep relationship with it before we attempt to serve the world's most powerful medicine to other human beings that are going through very serious processes.
Pascal: And you speak to the training of the facilitators, and you speak to with your work, the education of the community around this what is your vision of the future for five, what do you see its role in society in the next five to 20 years, and what does it look like in terms of structure, in terms of delivery, in terms of training, in terms of accountability systems? I'd love to hear the ideal vision of the future there.
Victoria: I love this question, this is fairly beautiful. I would imagine in that timeframe that we have fully transitioned out of this teething process where we're hearing people of physical harm, emotional harm, death, and that happening because of solid trainings like the one that we're offering, and a strong sense of community. So I would imagine by this timeframe, that there's going to be a really strong community of 5-MeO, a lot of people that are coming also not just from the spiritual exploration side, but from the clinical side who understand both sides, and we're really able to build a strong foundation of merging the east and the west together while offering this service to people. So I would love to see more facilitators in the world. I would like to see these facilitators thoroughly trained, really taking their facilitation seriously, continuing to be students and supporting one another. I really have this vision, if you can see a globe and facilitators all around the globe that are creating ripples by sharing this beautiful sacrament, that all those ripples are going to meet and intersect with one another, and it's going to cause huge change. But in order to do that, we really need to, yeah, take the bull by the horns, and train facilitators in the right way, in the effective way.
Pascal: What are some – that's beautiful, and I see psychedelics, in general, having a huge role in the future, and it's not that it's a silver bullet for everything, but it's definitely an inspiration to a new paradigm of living that all of us have a role to play in sharing and being in the world really. I think it really starts with being and doing our own work with prep and integration. I think that's where it all lands for me.
Pascal: Yeah, what are things that you're up to in the world these days – we're going to put some links to what you're up to in the show notes, but what are things that are present in your mind these days?
Victoria: what we're up to in the world right now is getting this training program ready, getting this training program ready and up. We're starting in January, we've got an amazing list of applicants which I am super, super excited about. It's been really beautiful to see how many clinicians are curious of stepping into working with this medicine, and also other people, but just, yeah, getting this training together and ready, so that more people can experience the healing potential of this medicine, and experience it in a way that they know they're stepping into a very safe container, they have no worries, and that it's going to be effective as well, that they're not just going to be stepping into a container where it's going to be that peak experience, but instead they're going to receive long lasting change in their lives. So right now, all of my focus, other than doing the retreats here on site is creating this training program with my partner, Joël Brierre, and really doing everything we can to bring in not just our own knowledge and wisdom, but knowledge and wisdom from all of these guest teachers and speakers from around the world, to give students a very broad understanding of many different perspectives, so that we can bring all these perspectives together into one kind of solid path of facilitation for people. And yeah, that's what I’m up to, that's what I’m up to right now.
Pascal: Beautiful. I love this idea of bringing people together, because that's really what replicates the systems in nature, which is all about diversity and having various perspectives of different inputs and outputs to create something that's beautiful and holistic. And what are some people that you're most excited about having as part of your training, and why?
Victoria: Facilitate, some teachers or?
Pascal: Yeah, teachers or people that are like adding something beautiful in the space, yeah?
Victoria: Oh my gosh, there's so many of them. Ben Malcolm, the Spirit Pharmacist, he's doing an amazing course on pharmacology with 5-MeO-DMT, it's super juicy. I’ve actually watched the video a few times and get something out of it every single time. Bianca Sebben, she's an incredible psychologist, she's going to be teaching on the kind of layers of trauma and how to identify trauma, people coming to come in to work with this medicine in that what kind of trauma can come up, how to hold space for it. Yeah, there's so many [inaudible] I’m sure you've probably heard of him, he's a legend in the 5-MeO-DMT space, he's going to be teaching a class on the history of 5-MeO-DMT, and he's just such an incredible storyteller to understand all the minutiae of the history. It's going to be really juicy, so yeah, we're really bringing in so many different voices, and I'm really excited for students. I can speak for myself. One of the reasons that we're putting this training program together is that these trainings that people are having, which are, like we talked about earlier, in a few days to a few weeks, they're really not giving people the right tools. And for myself, I had to go through three separate trainings before I even felt confident to hold the pipe, or even felt like it was an integrity to serve somebody. And I’m just really excited to be able to offer a training to facilitators that I wish I had.
Pascal: Beautiful. And it's so very much needed, and thank you so much for putting that together, that's going to make like lots of ripples in the world. So really grateful for that, looking forward to sharing it with the world as well. Would you like to share something for the viewers out there something you'd like to share as a closing thought for our conversation?
Victoria: So I’m sure there's a lot of people who are listening to this who are curious about working with 5-MeO-DMT, and I would say, if you are curious about working with this medicine, please, yes, head over to the FIVE website, listen to your heart compass. If there's any questions that are outlying that you're not feeling you've been able to find on the site, please reach out to me. I’m always open to questions and I love to support anybody who is interested in working with this molecule. So I’m here always.
Pascal: Beautiful. Thank you so much for being here, and it was a beautiful conversation and I look forward to another one in the future.
Victoria: Me too. Thanks so much for having me, Pascal.
Pascal: Take care. Bye-Bye.