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Episode 023

From Psychedelic Renaissance to Psychedelic Enlightenment

Jerónimo Mazarrasa

Publishing Date

January 17, 2024

Summary

In this episode, Pascal engages in a profound conversation with Jerónimo Mazarrasa, Director of Social Innovation at ICEERS Foundation. The discussion touches into the concept of psychedelic enlightenment, the integration of ceremonial plant medicines in modern society, scaling the psychedelic space well, and the interplay between indigenous wisdom and Western scientific approaches.

Key themes

  1. Psychedelic Renaissance to Psychedelic Enlightenment: Jerónimo discusses the concept of psychedelic enlightenment as a progression from the current phase termed the psychedelic renaissance. He explains that while the renaissance focuses on the clinical and pharmaceutical aspects of psychedelics, enlightenment should involve the broader integration of plant-based psychedelics in non-medical, community settings.
  2. Ceremonial Plant Medicines and Practices as Keystone Species: The conversation highlights the importance of integrating ceremonial plant medicines in modern culture while maintaining respect for their indigenous origins. Mazzarasa emphasizes the significance of these plants in various cultures and how they could benefit modern society.
  3. Challenges in Psychedelic Practices: The episode addresses potential challenges in the field, such as cultural appropriation, the commercialization of plant medicines, and the need for appropriate training for facilitators.
  4. Collaboration Between Indigenous Wisdom and Western Science: Jerónimo advocates for a collaborative approach that brings together indigenous plant medicine practices with Western scientific methods. This synergy could lead to more holistic and effective uses of psychedelics.
  5. Training and Safety in Psychedelic Use: The podcast discusses the importance of proper training for those facilitating psychedelic experiences. Jerónimo notes the responsibility of facilitators towards their participants, especially when dealing with powerful substances.
  6. Vision for the Ethical Scaling of Psychedelics: Jerónimo expresses optimism about the future integration of psychedelics into society, envisioning a world where these substances are respected and utilized for their full potential.

Key takeaways

  • The need for a broader understanding of psychedelics beyond the clinical setting, embracing traditional and community-based approaches.
  • Recognition of the rich cultural heritage associated with plant medicines and the importance of preserving and learning from Indigenous practices.
  • The importance of long-term training and safety in psychedelic facilitation, along with the potential risks and challenges in the field.
  • A call for collaborative efforts between traditional Indigenous practices and modern scientific approaches for a more comprehensive understanding and use of psychedelics.

Support ICEERS

Support the important work of ICEERS with a donation and participation in their training programs: Integration Training and Increasing the Safety of Ayahuasca Sessions.

Show notes

Our guest

Jerónimo Mazarrasa

Jerónimo Mazarrasa is a documentary filmmaker, independent researcher, and interaction designer with extensive knowledge of the world of ayahuasca. In the past decade he has produced, written and directed two documentaries about ayahuasca. The first about the Brazilian Ayahuasca churches, the second about the use of Ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addiction. He has traveled extensively through South America, researching a broad range of Ayahuasca practices, and has lectured internationally on Ayahuasca tourism and the appropriation of indigenous knowledge. He keeps a blog, curates a page of ayahuasca related news, and is currently preparing a book about his experiences.

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Pascal: Hello and welcome to One Degree Shifts. I'm your host, Pascal Tremblay, and today I have the honor of welcoming Geronimo Mazzarasa. And Geronimo, the first time I met him was around, I think four years ago, we met on a PAC board meeting and Geronimo came in and dropped a bunch of really enlightening wisdom bombs and things that I still remember to this day, like moving at the speed of trust, which I, really, align with, today still.

And so I'm really honored to have him on the show today. And Geronimo is the Director of Social Innovation at ICEERS Foundation. His work at ICEERS focuses on the integration of ceremonial plant medicines outside of their countries of origin. And ICEERS, their mission is to see a future in which ceremonial plant work can be practiced in the Global North safely, legally, and in right relationship with the cultures of origin.

So welcome to the show, Geronimo. Thanks for being here. Thank

[00:00:55] Jerónimo: you. Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.

[00:00:59] Pascal: And today we're talking about this idea of the psychedelic Enlightenment age and a lot of people will hear about these days a psychedelic renaissance, which I personally don't love that term because it ignores that the space or the work never went anywhere.

It's always been a present and people have been preserving these traditions for a long time. So it's not really a renaissance. But what do you mean by psychedelic enlightenment? What do you mean by that?

[00:01:27] Jerónimo: Yeah, this was, this was an idea that came out of, the concept came out of, Jose Carlos Bozo, who's our, ICU scientific director.

And he questioned, if we're in the psychedelic renaissance now and historically, after the renaissance came the enlightenment, what would the psychedelic enlightenment be like? and that's. and that's what it is. It's a thought experiment about what the future, what the next stage would be, or most importantly, what the next stage, what we would like the next stage to be in terms of, psychedelics.

And that's, that's something that is very close to the work that I do on ice years in terms of trying to model. A future, for, in my case, ceremonial plant work, that we would like that we would like to see. Now, the, when people talk about the psychedelic enlightenment, usually what they mean is, pharmaceutical psychedelics, used in a clinical context that will be prescribed by doctors and will be taken by people with a medical diagnose.

in the context of, clinics and hospitals and, and, health facilities as, Westerners understand health facilities,

[00:02:51] Pascal: I'm sorry, you mean, the psychedelic Renaissance, right? Oh, sorry.

[00:02:55] Jerónimo: Did I say the enlightenment? Yeah. Sorry. That's the psychedelic Renaissance. Psychedelic Renaissance is where we find ourselves now. and, and this is usually what people mean, so when the psychedelic renaissance happens, it will take place, we will have, doctors will have the right to legally prescribe psychedelics to people that meet a certain, diagnostic criteria.

so this is very much. The fitting of psychedelics as we know them into the context of our Western health model, and they become one more medicine in the, toolkit of medicines. of course, this is a wonderful thing. It's open. It's opening. the doors to the for the for the mainstreaming of psychedelics, which were, I have to, something is good to remind sometimes they were extremely, rare thing in our societies, usually less than 1 percent of, of the population has had any experience with them, so they're not, they were not at all something, popular.

And they are becoming known and they're becoming mainstream. They're becoming accepted. they're getting legitimacy. I, don't want to, I don't want to, there's a lot of things, about the psychedelic arousals that should be looked at, but I, don't want to also take away from its importance.

and in a way, this is what we all who've been in this sphere for a long time dream, we would dream a place, a future in which, psychedelics were. Respectful, to say the least, interesting, on a subject of science and study like, they've been for many of us.

However, it is also in a way a very restrictive concept in the sense that, it's very restrictive. It's, it's, only for, it's only for doctors to prescribe by doctors. people who went to our universities and got the degree, so they have the legal. Ability to prescribe things, it can only be given to people who meet a certain diagnosis criteria.

So people who are sick, ill, and, and it happens in a clinical setting. and this sort of, al opiates, the fact that, a, big, percentage, if not the majority of psychedelic use, and I would even say psychedelic benefit, up to now up to the psychedelic renaissance. Was basically done by people who were not doctors and for people who were, who did not have a medical diagnosis.

Now that doesn't mean it's helped a lot of people with different, conditions, but the majority of people taking psychedelics did not have these conditions and still benefited greatly from these things. something that worries me and many other people is that opening the door of psychedelics. As prescription medicines, which is a good thing in and of itself, because people will have access to this powerful medicines, but opening this door might automatically, if we're not careful, close many other doors because now psychedelics is only something that doctors can prescribe, and now psychedelics is only something that people with a medical diagnosis can take.

But the benefits of psychedelics are much wider. I would even argue that the, main benefits of psychedelics are actually, and where psychedelics are most effective, are actually with people who are relatively healthy, and don't have very serious conditions. Now, that doesn't mean that psychedelics cannot help people with serious conditions, that this means that when they're serious conditions in place, the level of the container that has to be built around it, because psychedelics are so powerful, is really, it has to be quite tight.

and you don't need such high security measures when you're dealing with people, who are relatively self, you could also give the same example for yoga. It's not that yoga cannot benefit people with injuries, but people with injuries have to be extra careful with yoga because they could get injured.

so what I to get to your question, what I understand the psychedelic enlightenment to be, or what we would like the psychedelic enlightenment to be, it's if the psychedelic renaissance, it's, in pharmaceutical psychedelics for, prescribed by doctors for people who have medical conditions in a clinical setting, the, for me, the psychedelic enlightenment would be it's complimentary.

Three. So it wouldn't, it's not one or the other, but it's how they complement each other. And we're not talking about pharmaceutical psychedelics, but plant based psychedelics. We're not talking about medical people, medical conditions, but we're talking about non medical uses, where they're not prescribed by doctors, but they are administered by people who are not doctors, but they have training in plant medicines.

And it's not a clinical setting, but a community setting. That would be the psychedelic enlightenment. The psychedelic enlightenment would be the integration of this whole other sphere. Also, also into our societies, also in a legal way, also legitimate, also respected. the non medical uses of plant based psychedelics in community contexts, and how we, Open up a space, a regulatory framework, a space in our societies to accept this so that this work can also happen legally and safely, just like we're working in, having legal and safe, medical psychedelic use.

[00:08:31] Pascal: And so, much of what, ICU's works at and, what you personally working at, as well as examining how this space is growing and, on, and, researching. The ancestral and ceremonial indigenous roots of these medicines and looking at ways to implement those things and join them into this renaissance so that, as you said, something more holistic, more of a complete can be offered to the population and.

The question I often have, is, do we have the spiritual fabric to grow this space well, in the sense of we're bringing the money in, we're bringing the medical and the legal and the policy things into this, and yet there's, so much wisdom and so much things that we can learn from the past and from the people that are already doing this type of work in a different setting that we need to implement and incorporate and have discussions and collaborations with so that we can have a more resilient spiritual fabric to hold these medicines because they are spiritual vehicles.

They are spiritual experiences and. Right now, in terms of the Western model, from the medical perspective, those kind of conversations and thinking is not really part of the conversation. Is that accurate?

[00:09:45] Jerónimo: Yes, at ICERS, we would like to see a future in which these, I would say psychedelics, but these sort of plants or substances, are as useful and as beneficial.

To us to our societies as they are to the societies of origin, doing what you can see that happens in societies where they've had relationships with these plants that go back hundreds, if not thousands of years, they become enormously important culturally speaking, and they become, very, very beneficial for the society.

Now, in the West, we've had a pretty bad track record. of incorporating these plant medicines in the sense that we have actually a very good track record. We've incorporated almost all of them, some of them incredibly quickly, for example, tobacco, which was, just spread like wildfire, soon after, Europeans came in contact with it, but it has never, It has never become as beneficial for us as it was for them, quite the opposite.

In many cases, it's become quite toxic. this is a pattern that repeats itself. we saw it with the coca leaf, we see it with tobacco, the way we use. psychedelic mushrooms resembles nothing the original use and you could even say the way we use cocoa, you know Which it turned into chocolate also doesn't resemble any, you know So this is to me similar if you would say some unknown some extraterrestrial culture, you know Came and became interested in wine and then, they decided that they were just going to do it all by themselves, and they didn't need to learn anything from, I don't know, Mediterranean people who've been drinking wine for, 5000 years at least.

And of course, you can, absolutely do this, and and they might even discover new and interesting ways to make wine and drink wine. but for sure on the way, they're going to make a lot of mistakes because that's what happens when you're new at something, you're not very good at it.

Nobody is. And you make mistakes. And that's how you learn. But you can also learn from people who already made these mistakes. And maybe, it's, quite basic sort of thinking. And yet it's almost entirely missing. in our approach, to these things historically, so the result has been that, these powerful things because they are very powerful, have the power has have been inverted, it's.

Something I mean, it happens with all powerful things. You can, you can use a backhoe to, make it, to dig a trench that will bring water to people's houses or you can use it to, destroy a house. it's not that backhoe is good or bad. It's just, it's simply powerful.

And this is what this. That's what these substances are. this has happened every time, and that we, with all these plants that we have encountered except one, which is a recent, exception and it's ayahuasca, when you look at an ayahuasca ceremony, in the West, you're going to see something that.

that very much resembles, a traditional, ayahuasca ceremony, and I'm using the word traditional widely, to include indigenous groups and also the ayahuasca churches, it resembles it. Now, this for us that work with ayahuasca seems common sense. Of course, this is how you drink ayahuasca, but that's, it's not common sense at all in the sense that it had never happened before.

There's a very. Singularity, a very important historical, exception that is happening there. And that shows that actually, culturally speaking, for whatever reason, we are able to do this. So we are actually able to learn, the, some of the accumulated wisdom from people who have been doing longer, things this longer than we have.

we haven't done much of it in the past, but we seem to. subculturally, it seems that things are changing. When, the, now this is, of course, more complex than this, there is, there's many issues. There's issues of sustainability of the ayahuasca vines and the plants. There's issues of, cultural appropriation.

I don't want to gloss over these things. all of these things are there. They're very important. And then, but I also don't want to. Missed this, what I think is very important thing that is happening, with ayahuasca, which is that, for the first time, a plant teacher from the Americas has traveled to the West with some of its original sort of context or way of use of wisdom around the use, you could say, and this is a very, development in my opinion.

Now

It gets tricky in terms of commercialization. It gets tricky of recent developments that are happening where, it's not an ayahuasca ceremony, but it's a sort of buffet offering of a weekend retreat where you can have ayahuasca, combo, buffo, mushrooms. And, and, this sort of some sort of like a menu where people get to pick and choose, there's lots of, great sort of compression of the number of ceremonies and the number of time, none of these has any connection whatsoever to indigenous ways.

they never mix these plants together. They never, Pack things like that. et cetera, et cetera. there's a lot of, questions there. and it's really, up to us how, well we manage this, and by us, the people who are engaging with these plans and these psychedelics.

[00:15:59] Pascal: And you've talked about this before in terms of, and that, that is so important as the space is accelerating and as the space is growing and as more people come into this and. Everyone wants to open a retreat these days it seems and everyone's so curious about these different medicines and how to use them and a lot of them are learning as they're going and as we all are and nothing is perfect and the same time, something to that I thought was really interesting in your talk was this idea of the gift of the gods, which was that, anything can be a blessing or a curse or it can be Thank you.

medicine or poison. You gave chemotherapy as a great example of like in small doses, it can be medicine and at higher doses, it is a poison, but at higher doses, it can literally kill you. And it's the same with psychedelics. And I would love for you to talk about that a little bit more because I do feel like there's, a sense of exceptionalism with psychedelic medicine as if it's always good, but it can actually create a lot of harm.

And at the same time, as the space is growing, there's a lot of. Doors that are closing to ceremonial practices and these containers that have held the medicine for thousands of years and in some countries They're more persecuted than ever like in Europe, for example There's places where there's persecution of that and I currently live in Indonesia where it's highly illegal I mean you can go to jail for five years for having a few coca leaves and I serious actually was involved in a case Like that recently And so can you talk a little bit more about that?

idea of gift of the gods in relationship to plant medicines and what that means for you.

[00:17:30] Jerónimo: Yeah. The gift of the gods is a no, it's a no myth. I can't do it because, or I use it because I find this actually a lot. There is a way to talk, from different like academic or scientific angles about what, these cultural encounters mean and how plants are important and why people in some cultures have different relations and abuse or not abuse of the plants.

And, there, it's a, gigantic work. I spend. better part of 20 years thinking about and reading about these and, and what addictions is and how they change from place to place and what cultures get in trouble with which substances and why and what are the pharmacological reasons and what are the sociological reasons and what are the psychological reasons why people, fall into patterns of abuse or not or positive, this thing is, you can really literally spend A lifetime.

and what I found was that, on the other hand, a, very simple, very old, myth contains a sort of, a nugget of, truth and explanation that does a pretty good job. and actually explaining what's going on, without the need of materials. it's a known myth.

It takes different shapes in different cultures. But there's a part of it that is common, which is the part that I tell, the myth, cause, it goes. It's goes, like most myths, it's a creation myth, it's just at the beginning of time, at the time of the first people, the gods gave the humans, the people a gift, this was a very powerful gift, but it came with a catch, depending of your relationship to the gift, it could be a blessing, or it could be a curse, so if you approach the gift, with respect and wisdom, it Then the gift would flower and, and shower blessings on the people.

But if you approach the gift with disrespect or with ignorance, then the gift would turn into a curse and it would just wreak havoc and just bring great destruction. The part that changes when in this myth in different cultures is that they don't say there was a gift. They say the gift was this, it was a thing in particular, but the part that's universal is that you can actually change that.

And it works for many, things. you can say that, the gift was fire and, fire can cook a meal and can keep you warm or it can, burn a forest and, pollute. The earth and the air, or, or the gifts, today could be artificial intelligence, is it going to be a great blessing or is it just going to destroy the earth, either way is absolutely possible.

And it depends on this relationship. the gift is a metaphor about the types of relationships we establish. With powerful things, generally speaking, but just the type of relationships we establish period also with one another, our relationship to life, our relationship to optimism, our relationship to work, our relation to love, to sex, could be, positive and life giving, or it could be, life destroying and negative.

None of these things are, there is in the, it's in the nature of the relationship. Especially with these plants, and with these compounds, because they are so powerful, there is, I think, this is slowly changing, but during the early beginning of the psychedelic Renaissance, there's this sort of been this implicit idea that, okay, there's been accidents in the past, because that's because doctors were not administering these.

But when doctors administer these, and they do it in a clinical setting, and they do proper screening, then, we can do away with the challenging effects, and they're like an, extreme reactions and, the quote, unquote, bad trips. this, of course, has yet to be proven is.

Basically, wishful thinking, the little we know about how some of these, clinical research is going points to the direction that no, points the direction of something that, we already knew in the underground, that, these things, mostly go very well, to extraordinarily well.

And then, Every once in a while for reasons that nobody's sure of, and they're very hard to pinpoint, people have extremely weird, challenging, difficult, long lasting problems with this. as long as he was in the underground, just, chuck it to, the risks of the.

Now as this becomes a legitimate legal thing that is covered by insurance and all of these things happen I fear that the lawsuits are going to be epic there is a Among other things because we are talking about turning this into a prescription medicine That means that your doctor is going to tell you that they think that you should take this.

This is not a, this, I would say already breaks one of the, main counter indication of psychedelics. I would say that the main counter indication of psychedelics is not wanting to take psychedelics. You should never take psychedelics if you don't want to, because they're awful. If you don't want to, I tell my children, it's like a kiss.

If you want that is the best thing in the world is so sweet and wonderful. And if you don't want that is the sloppiest, most disgusting, intrusive, awful thing. You could have a psychedelics are the same. So if your doctor is going to tell you that you should take something and then you take it because your doctor told you and then you have an awful time, you're going to be very, angry with your doctor.

And that's what the lawsuits I'm afraid are going to come.

[00:23:53] Pascal: So the question here that you're sharing about, which is a very big question. And I, when you say the lawsuits are going to be epic, and you're talking about this medical system that is. overlapped or over the traditional ceremonial settings of delivery and the people delivering these medicines in those cultures.

How do you imagine then, how will they live side by side? And of course that's a big part of ICER's work and it's obviously a big question, but you're talking about prescriptions and doctors prescribing medicines for different pathologies that may not even be present or may not even exist.

And Potentially not having the right skills to administer these things and really hold people well before, during, and after. And in your talk at Psychedelic Science, you talked about this idea of, shamanic practices. And you've done a study on this, which I thought was really interesting. is how can, indigenous elders and teachers and medicine and people, could they potentially work with Western scientists and doctors and how will they communicate and talk to each other so that they can complement each other with the skills that they do have?

they have skills in different areas, but how can they potentially work together to create something greater than the sum of its parts? And I'd love for you to share a little bit more about that because as you've said before, There's no guarantee that these, very useful and old traditions and wisdom are going to be included in the psychedelic renaissance.

[00:25:30] Jerónimo: Yeah, this idea it's not research, but more like a personal study, came out of, I was in a psychedelics conference years ago and I was, I, found a quiet room to do some work and the room slowly got filled.

I didn't know, but it was, a closed door meeting of. Of people who were to be future, psychedelic, therapists. So most of them were psychologists and they were in close. They were just talking to each other. And I was happy to be able to hear him because I was working there and do things blew my mind about the conversation.

That one person raised their hand and said, I just find, I want to know if anybody else has this problem, but I just find that, I have to sit next to a person I administer in this case, mushrooms, I have to sit next to the person. And then very often that for during the duration of this, which is, four to six hours.

Nothing much happens and I don't have to do anything and, I'm just sitting there and I just find it really boring and I wonder how you deal with the boredom. he was asking to the other, And then, another question that came up and this was a serious question was like, are, are we, sure, that, is it necessary for me to also know, this substance to also have tried this, substance myself, before I give it to other people, these were the two questions that are being discussed and, both of them, blew my mind, because coming from, traditional practices, these are non issues.

Yeah. and then related, you're bored because. You can't sing, and, you're bored because you didn't take the medicine with the patient. And I would take it one step further, if you look at, the indigenous traditions, these plants are mostly for doctors and occasionally for patients.

So if someone has to take it, it's the doctor, not the patient, and I know this puts, I know this absolutely puts, Western science on its head, but I think that's precisely the point of this conversation, and that these things should be taken into account. I think the most revolutionary power of psychedelics, is not it's not in, it's not in treating people with really difficult mental conditions, though there is, there is some, usefulness there's, and it's not even non medical applications of psychedelics, it's what happens to doctors.

When they start taking this, and how that revolution revolutionizes their world, their worldview and the way they deal with, with their patients, I would say there's an even crazier idea there that it would be after the psychedelic enlightenment, which is what happens, when doctors begin to do this, there was a, In Spain, I'll just go in a slight tangent and come back to your question.

in Spain, as there was a, a fascist dictatorship for 40 years, Catholic military, very conservative, and they had a very well known psychiatrist that was a sort of the psychiatrist of the regime, the Dr. López Ibor. So he was, as you can imagine, an extremely conservative psychiatrist, and he was always in the news, in the TV when they ever talked to a psychiatrist, he was the one on TV.

It was the official psychiatrist, so very conservative, very Catholic, very, very, and, but these people were also experimenting with LSD in the fifties, like many other university, and they asked him about LSD in an interview, and he said, I think LSD would be the initiation ritual of the psychiatrists of the future, and that's something, that is, that was thought about then forgotten is not exactly on the table now, in the conversations, but it is perhaps where the revolution happens, the revolution, quote unquote, does not happen. when, the patients are healed, that there is a, healing that takes place, but in terms of the revolution, every doctor that changes their perspective affects, hundreds of patients over decades.

That's where, if, I had, a few million, that's what I would focus on. I would give this to the doctors and see what happens. And this is also what we learned from indigenous, use.

[00:30:19] Pascal: And that does the thing like in, in. Psychedelic activists, young activists, like activists about putting MDMA into water supply and everything would be fixed from there.

But actually, what you're saying is, let's give some medicine to the

[00:30:32] Jerónimo: doctors, not to the politicians. Exactly. It's not about Donald Trump. and then, so then to go back to your question, today, doctors, the training that doctors receive, so you might have, two PhDs from Yale. one in psychiatry and one in, neuroscience, you've been studying 20 something years, you are, consider widely consider, the person who knows about, mental health conditions, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, you are the person who are going to be prescribing the psychedelics and you actually, there's nothing in your 20 years of training, nothing that actually trained you to sit next to a person to the type of things that will happen when you sit next to a person who's going a psychedelic experience.

As a matter of fact, all your training is about giving people things to bring the symptoms down, not to sit with them while their symptoms temporarily increase. there's a deep discomfort by the nature of the training that comes when you give something to someone and they become more agitated, more excited, more everything, which is what psychedelics do.

And very often, of course, and this is very quickly and there's even, startups and they're developing things about this. The question is, but is there an antidote? Can I make this stop? Can I make this stop with another drug? Not can I make this stop with something that I have to do, with an actual intervention that, requires me as a person to engage.

is there a pharmacopharmacological antidote that I can give because this what's being described makes me very uncomfortable. there's discomfort, there's boredom. So boredom when nothing happens, discomfort when things do happen, and generally a terrible lack of training that is not being addressed.

It's not being addressed, in the sense that it's not being recognized. It's saying, this is a medicine and people who administer these substances are doctors and Doctors obviously will be the ones to administer this and, they will need some training, but this training, we're talking about a few weeks, at most, this is what the trainings for doctors are looking like.

This is, of course, doctors are very well trained, they don't need much additional training to do screening. I would say for psychedelics, they will need some few things, but in terms of pharmacological interactions, the screening, certain counterindications, our doctors are very well prepared for that.

They just need a little extra. And, some of our doctors could be very good talking to people after the experience, that would need again, a little bit extra of, some particularities of our. this type of experience, but generally speaking, they have pretty solid or psychological training.

it's pretty solid. It can be pretty solid in terms of talking to people and helping them integrate these things. But in terms of what happens during, they are just as battered as somebody who no medical training, who just started. Because they have, as a matter of fact, it could be that a psychiatric nurse has better training, or, a better starting point to simply be with someone during the experience that a psychiatrist, that's certainly a psychiatrist and, and most likely also a psychologist because, psychologists and psychiatrists are just used to, they're trained to give people things to bring the, symptoms down and psychologists are trained to talk to people after something happens.

Not to be with them while it's happening. So my, at least, psychiatric nurses are actually trained to be with someone while something is happening, that can be alarming. Don't get bored. so we have these, doctors, they're going to have all the permits and they have the before and the after very good, and then we have.

These people who are, traditionally trained or they just learn through experience, there's all sorts of, underground ways they might not have a medical license. They might not have a medical. A degree, they might not have any proper degree, but they actually have the experience to deal with these, not just one by one.

They can actually manage groups. They know what to do when people are having challenging experiences and they will really do it. They could really use help with the screening and the integration, right? So in an ideal world, there is a beautiful collaboration that could happen there that needs to happen there.

And in some places it is already happening. These have seen happening in some of the. salicycline clinics that are starting in the Netherlands and in other countries where they end up hiring, people that come from ayahuasca from traditional world to run the actual ceremonies while, there is a team of doctors and psychologists that do the screening and the integration and all of these afterwards.

so this hopefully would be a, middle, step, before a time in which you have to complimentary services. You have clinics where people who have, very serious conditions are treated and they are run by doctors and they are using pharmaceutical psychedelics.

And then you have something else that doesn't even have a name. We can call it centers. We can call it, I don't know. And these places will be sometimes in the cities, sometimes outside in nature. And there will be places that have more to do with what I would call transitions or life crises. But these are not, these are not, the medical conditions.

This is not people who have a medical diagnosis and yet they're going through some period in their lives, some change, some difficulty, some. Confusion, That would greatly benefit from taking some time off, going to a place where people who are trained in handling these plants and in a community setting, in a group setting, not an individual setting, will engage in this process that is usually longer.

That is it's maintaining time. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes it takes years. As they process this, transition and I think transition is the right word and transition includes many things. it includes when we take when we have to deal with a terrible loss, it includes when we have to, change or grow up into something bigger.

It includes, when there's, different challenges https: otter. ai You know, words for it, and generally speaking, this is a place where psychedelics can be really, helpful.

[00:37:47] Pascal: Yeah, thank you. And what I'm hearing essentially, Geronimo, is this idea of, the essential collaboration between the ancient traditions. And the plant ceremonial traditions and this newer medical kind of Western perspective. And really the essentiality of collaborating so that we can create a better system together.

It's not about one being better than the other. It's working together and speaking more together. And part of that is really acknowledging the empirical accumulation of knowledge that's happened over thousands of years. And are we able, as a society, as a Modern society to accept this other type of science and seeing it as science as well.

I think there's a sort of perspective in the Western world about, science is numbers and, everything's a straight line, but actually in the ancient wisdom traditions, it's a lot more, Not linear, essentially, and it connects with different senses, it connects with different parts of our brain and our heart and our spirit and different languages even in terms of connecting to plants and it's all kind of foreign to us and yet we there needs to be a lot more humility in how we are approaching this to include those voices and from what I'm hearing your sort psychedelic enlightenment era is around Yeah, including listening, collaborating, humbleness and instead of competition, collaboration, those type of ideas that Plants often try to teach us as a human species.

[00:39:20] Jerónimo: Yes.

the future needs to be imagined, right? The future happens, but it also happens in a direction that often, it's it matches things that we were that we imagined. futuristic cars look like futuristic cars in science fiction movies. not because the science fiction movies predicted the future, but because they made a model of it.

And then when you want to make a futuristic car, you make it look like the ones in the movies. And then at the end, the cars of the future resembles the cars of the future in the movies, right? This exercise of how we create a future that becomes an attractor for the actual future. it's part of a lot of the work that I do or is at the core of the work that I do.

in terms of, imagining this, what I imagine is first a collaborator. So first a collaboration, between doctors and, between, doctors and, traditional facilitators, then, a legitimization of traditional uses as they are, not, exactly as they are, this, idea of the center, and decide this is a new, this is a new space for us. This is something that didn't exist. We have lost it. We have hospitals, we have churches and we have universities, but we don't have. a name even for a place that is therapeutic, but it's not a hospital that is a spiritual, but it's not a church and that it's something to do with adult education, but it's not a university, but this is what we're talking about.

This is that place. That place is it's emerging and will emerge. And, I imagine the future in which, most cities in the world have a place like this or many outside and inside where people know that they can go for these things,

[00:41:20] Pascal: Yeah, that's a there's a part of that.

That's a language and cultural thing. And that's a kind of a lagging sort of thing that takes a long time to change, social, cultural norms and things of that nature. And it brings me to the next question, which is. this idea of, the space is growing and people are in a mad rush to train a bunch of therapists.

I was on a call this morning where I heard that, a friend of mine where, in Canada, she's a real estate agent and she was a real estate agent as far away as just six months ago. And she took a training, a retreat space, over three, four days. And now I'm learning that she's pouring medicine for people.

And, God bless her. She's a lovely person, but, three or four days is not enough of a training to serve medicine. And so when I hear about The growth of the space and, this mad rush to train thousands of different therapists and, there's many, programs out there. I think there's 80 or 90 different programs of facilitators.

how do we grow the training of these people that are going to serve this new demand? And at the same time bridge indigenous wisdom, ways of doing and practicing, which often surrounds itself around this idea of apprenticeship over many, years. And yet there's this want, and need to grow really quickly, but how do you blend that sort of demand and really the crisis that we're facing with this.

indigenous way of training and learning, which can take many years. How do you see that? You see that model of including those voices and having these sort of middle way places and training programs to be the building blocks for something that is much more culturally driven in a sense that.

Eventually, this will just be, the ceremonial way of doing things will just be naturally included in this new way of serving the earth and people. Really?

[00:43:22] Jerónimo: Yeah, that's the tricky question, right? And it's not unique to this. It happens with every new profession.

another thing that I've done is I've looked at how other new professions got established, for example, coaching, there was a moment when there was a time when coaching was a very rare thing. and as it began to grow, some suspicion and criticism coming from psychologists who were saying, who the hell are these people giving advice?

And listening and giving advice. that's my profession. And these people are not psychologists and they're giving advice and and this is, this, could go very wrong. And they had the point and there was a point where there was a process by which coaching became more legitimate by coaching became officialized by training and, answered and certifications became came into place.

And also. In which, very clear boundaries were made between what is coaching and what is psychology and where coaches should not go and where coaches can go, this is especially true for the most professional coaching. I don't want to insult anybody, but, executive coaching new people working with businesses are very, professional that way professionalized anyway.

And then there's a sort of a free for all thing with life coaches and, and, purpose coaches and, which again, I don't want to take anything. Away from the work that they do, but there it's a different, it's a more open environment, more, more flexible. So it's closer, to, for example, art and, anybody who wants to make music, then they make music and you don't need, nobody was going to certify that you're a musician, right?

it's your music that does it all of these things. Are there and will remain there, but generally speaking, and there's a lot of the sort of pushback in terms of, I'm being, repressed or whatever, or I should be free to do what we want to do, or I'm going to, I'm being, a pressure or controlled, of course, everybody should be free to do what they want to do.

and I agree with this wholeheartedly, and nobody has the right to tell you, or to control you, including governments, et cetera, much less what you do with your own body, which you are absolutely sovereign and over with that said, when you administer a powerful. Psychedelic plant to somebody else, then you have a responsibility now towards that person the same way that you know, if I'm walking on the sidewalk, I'm free to do what I want, I can jump, I can do cartwheels, but if I'm driving a bus, and there's 40 people in the back, then I am just less free than I would be if I was working on the sidewalk.

And that's just it. It's like that. There's a responsibility over others, especially if your actions might harm them. Yeah. So as you grow in responsibility, so as you go from drinking ayahuasca to serving ayahuasca, that is a gigantic step in responsibility. When you're drinking ayahuasca, you might drink it better or worse, but hey, it's your life, it's your body.

Ultimately, if you want to, hey, however, when you start serving to other people, that's something else, and then, just about anybody can. take a boat out into the lake and bring it back. If the, day is sunny and the water is flat, it's not very difficult, it might take some trick, but you can do it and you bring it back and you might have a little bit of, but you will do it and you might do it, a decent job of this, however, when the wind blows and there's a storm and there's three meter waves, then we're going to see who are the, sailors and who were the hobbyists.

Bye. Bye. Bye. And the thing with psychedelics is that sooner or later, there is going to be, three meter or 10 meter waves. And again, if you're alone in your house experimenting, psychonaut, whatever, okay. But if you just gave this to other people and took their money. it's really, it's, really as simple as that, how, long will it take for this common sense, which is all it is just common sense. How long will it take for this common sense to trickle down into, this, into the scene? I don't know, but eventually it will. when we started, when people discover x rays, they went crazy with it and they were doing x rays to pregnant women and they were doing, very long x rays.

Everybody was playing with it. It was so much fun to see inside the bodies of people and, and, so interesting and so many things were being discovered and, and it took quite a few years before people realize, holy shit, wait a minute, this is radioactive and we have to, there's some all sorts of, safety measures that have to be added in order to be able to use this safely, and beneficially.

I think we're in that process. The problem is that this process, which happens naturally where people learn by making mistakes, and then everybody sort of the level rises becomes stunted when, when the practices are underground or forbidden. surfers in a beach learn very, quickly from each other what the good tricks are.

or skaters or, or any of just anything, baristas, have you seen, in the eighties they started drawing, tulips on, on, cappuccinos, and now they can make the Mona Lisa, right? This is they just learn from each other very fast.

Humans are very good at this. It happens by itself. No need to, unless it is forbidden and underground. And then this flow of knowledge does not happen, or it does not happen the same, or it happens very slow. we've been taking LSD for 60 years. or LSD has been in our culture for 60 years. Are we much, much better at it than we were 60 years ago? I guess, but not compared with skating. you look at the way we're skating 60 years ago and how they're skating now. And it's it's another planet. And the reason is these, part of the, work, That I do and that we do at ICERS is trying to make sure that these best practices from indigenous facilitators, but also from non indigenous facilitators have the possibility of flowing and they are, and people and this knowledge can pollinate each other, and that's the work that we do in our, ICERS Academy.

So we have two training programs, one for people who plan facilitators and it's about safety, legal safety, psychological safety. Physical safety and one for health professionals and it's on integration. So this is for people that already work and just to help people after the experience. But these are not like many of the stories that I told today, not all of them.

This is not my ideas. all I'm, doing is collecting, things that are out there that I heard good practices, good, interesting knowledge, good insights and just pulling them together. And trying to, pollinate them and spread them because I don't work with plant medicines. So I can be public about this.

I don't have to worry about what my services are, how I give back to the plants, for all the wonderful things that they did to me. I did not become a plant facilitator. I don't work with plant medicines. I work with people who work with plant medicines.

[00:51:45] Pascal: Yeah, it's beautiful and thanks for doing that work and so important. I have two more questions. I really wanted to mention this because I thought it was really beautifully put but you called ceremonial cultures and practices in this space as keystone species. And this idea of keystone species, we can see it in, in nature, where, for example, When you pluck wolves out of the Yellowstone Park in the U. S., that changes the entire ecosystem. And when you put them back in, all of a sudden there's a lot more health and flow and energy that goes through the web of life there.

And, ceremonial practices as the same for psychedelic, the psychedelic space in general. Can you talk a little bit more about that idea of keystone species?

[00:52:24] Jerónimo: okay. Keystone species. Yes. yeah, it's exactly as you say, Keystone species that basically in, in ecosystems, there is a number.

Of species that, when they go extinct, they, it has some effect on the ecosystem, but the effect is not, is not, hugely significant. And then there's other species that when they go extinct, the effect on the ecosystem is gigantic. And these are called keystone species.

Usually Keystone species are, are, the ones that have the most relationships. That's why so they have relationships with the most other species. That's why when they're taken out. They have such a big effect. I consider ceremonial plant practices to be a keystone species in the, larger, psychedelic ecosystem because.

Also, because they have the most relationships because they deal with indigenous and non indigenous with medical and non medical with doctors and non doctors. So even though they are, for example, you look at, the number of people who take psychedelic mushrooms, and it's gigantic compared to, for example, ayahuasca.

So they're not you know, They're not the largest, player by any means. And yet I feel that if that, if it gets lost, we would lose something profoundly important, not just, not just the connection back to the cultures of origin and all of the. Wisdom that comes from there, but a wider understanding of the application of these, of these, of the power of these plants and these substances.

[00:54:19] Pascal: Yeah, beautiful. And my last question is, you've been around for multiple years doing this work with ice years and on your own and you've been on a. A quest and a beautiful journey of, exploring the space and, always being present to it and always attending to it. And I'd love to hear from you, on a personal level, what gives you the most hope these days, in the field and what's, really lighting you off in terms of what's happening, what's changing.

[00:54:47] Jerónimo: That's a good question. my, daughter, my smallest daughter. Some years ago, I guess it must have been like eight, something like this. Nine. I was putting her to bed one day and she said, I still don't understand what you do for a living. And, and I thought, a long time ago, we don't know how long, a very long time ago, somewhere in the Amazon jungle, somebody, we don't know if it was a person or many had this idea of putting these two plants together.

And it was the first time that somebody had this idea and they put these two plants together and they cook it and they tried it. And, at first it looked a little bit strange, but then they tried it and they said, this is interesting. And then his family saw what they were, what he was doing or she was doing.

And they said, what are you doing? That looks strange. But then they tried it and they thought, this is pretty interesting. And then the rest of the people in the tribe, they said, this family, they're doing something strange. But then when they tried it, they thought it was interesting.

And then, so then the whole tribe was doing this. And then, the tribe next door said, the tribe next door is doing something that looks strange. But then when they tried it, they thought it was pretty interesting. And they started doing it as well. And then the other tribe, and then the other tribe, and then You know, eventually, many, tribes in the Amazon, and then from there, they begin to have cities in the Amazon, and then they went to the cities of the Amazon, and from the cities they went to other cities in that country, and then they went to other countries, And now it's beginning to arrive here, and people are saying, I think this is strange, but I think that when they try it, they're going to think it's pretty interesting. And that's my job, so I don't, I couldn't do what I do if I didn't think that this is unstoppable. and I think it's unstoppable because when I look at it historically, I see that's all that's happened.

this, Ayahuasca in particular has done nothing but expand since the moment zero, when someone put these two plans together. It has done nothing but expand. it's in the nature of it. I don't know, and it's, and it has a very simple explanation, People find it interesting. So it expands.

It expands from person to person saying, Hey, this was interesting. And then he moves on to the next. it really is that simple. it's not a, you can call it, you can say that the plant as a design and stuff, but you mean you don't even need to, it's just humans, human beings happen to find this.

Interesting, and then useful and what we can see in the cultures who have had a very long relationship with this is that it actually becomes deeply important for the culture. It doesn't become a side thing. this is also the nature of it. So I think these things will become deeply important for us as well.

I don't know how long it will take, maybe it will take 10 years, maybe it will take a hundred, maybe it will get, it will get, it will go underground again. Maybe they will make it illegal again and, go figure, what I know is that the genie is not going back in the bottle, this isn't.

It's, it's an, it's, unstoppable. It's going to happen. This is too useful, too important, too special, for people to give, to, to give it out. So they're not going to give it up. and eventually, the culture at large will come to terms with that. I'm not, in, in the short term, I'm not very optimistic.

I think we're going to enter the stage where we were with the x rays, where all the bad things are going to happen. And all of these things are coming up, all of these sort of bad uses and miss, all of these, it's, there's no, I wish there was a way around it, but I'm not sure there is.

so in that sense, I'm sometimes I feel a lot of the work that I do is damage control, but I'm very optimistic for the further future in the sense that I look at what happened in indigenous cultures and I see the role that these, that these plants play and how they integrate with the culture, with society and, how beneficial they are and then, I believe also that's

unavoidable.

[01:00:04] Pascal: Thank you. And, I feel the same about the first point and that's why I do what I do. And on a second point, thank you for all the work you're doing, controlling damage sometimes, but also sharing things on this podcast, for example, where it spreads a little one degree shifts. web of life and people get inspired to a new perspective.

And all of a sudden you've changed the lives of a thousand people. So that's very important work you're doing. And how can people support ice years and how can people get involved in your really important work?

[01:00:34] Jerónimo: Yes. there's a, we're an NGO. We're a foundation based in Barcelona. we do our work.

Which is many things. We do scientific research, we do, legal support. So we support people who get in legal trouble. We also have a support center where we help people for free who have, very difficult experiences. We give free advice about pharmacological interactions. we have a training program.

We do policy work. We work with indigenous cultures and cultures of origin. it's a multifaceted issue, the globalization of plant medicines and it requires a multifaceted Approach. And that's what we do. We couldn't do any of these without the generous donations of the people who donate money for us and make it possible for us to basically the butter stuff to this.

please, visit our website. Please donate. And if you want to, if you find this interesting or you want to hear more, there's a lot of my talks online, but if you want to hear more precisely on the topic of better practices and best practices, there is a course I teach in ICERS Academy, which is on safety, where I go very, into detail into sort of techniques and ways to increase the safety and avoid, hurting other people if you're going to give them.

Plants. and we also, have the, the integration program. so yeah, please, visit, take a look, please donate. that's how we keep this work going. And, thank you for listening.

[01:02:19] Pascal: Yeah, thank you so much. And I'll put some links in the description of the show and yeah, please donate and check out the course of the program for integration.

For example, it's led by a really good integration specialist, Mark, who's a part of ICERS and obviously Hieronymo for safety is really good people to learn from. So yeah, please support their work and thank you so much for your time Hieronymo and blessings on your work and your journey. And thank you for being here.

[01:02:46] Jerónimo: Thank you. Is it possible to add one last thing to serve like a bonus?

[01:02:51] Pascal: Bonuses are always welcome. Please go ahead.

[01:02:53] Jerónimo: yeah, it's just one topic that I, it's, I haven't, I only mentioned in passing, but I think it's important to just go a little bit more into, which is the topic of appropriation, of cultural appropriation, because I've spoken a lot about learning from Indigenous people, but there's also very bad ways of doing this.

and, I haven't spoken about it, but I would like not to leave that, without at least mention a little bit about this, it's, I think, people have a very misguided notion about what can be learned from indigenous people, from other cultures in general, and because of this misguided notion, they end up taking a sort of empty shells similar acronyms, so it's say if I wanted to, so very often people go and they want to learn plant medicines, and what they do is they learn to sing some songs and, stick, make a shaa, ayahuasca and, put on a dress or put on some feathers.

we grab, it's like we want Michael Jordan's shoes to play better basketball. Michael Jordan's basketball is not in his shoes. It's in the act of doing this, for decades. It's just, it's a, it's just, it, takes decades to be a good basketball player.

so how long do you think it would take to be a decent? facilitator of very powerful psychedelic experiences, now this gets doubly compounded in terms of difficulty. It's not impossible, but it gets even more difficult when you are talking about in learning from an indigenous culture, which is very, remote and foreign to you, which is happening in a foreign language in these because it's even much harder to grasp the temptation to just grab the it.

The surface is even bigger. It's the temptation to just, copy the songs and copy the clothes and copy the feathers. And you can't, you're copying the gesture, but your ball is not going to go in the hoop because actually this takes years, right? But you're surrounded by people that don't know any better.

So they can't tell, they can't tell if the ball is going in the hoop or not, because who knows? nobody ever seen a basketball player in your town, right? you call yourself a shaman and you say this and everybody's going to take it at face value. This is not, what learning from indigenous people is.

What learning from indigenous people is, what anthropologists said is control equivocation. Martin Van Hildebrandt was, he was, he's working, he's been working with indigenous people for more his entire life. And this is not amazing things. he once told me, I've been working with indigenous people for, I don't know, at that point it was 40 or 50 years, he said.

And, I still don't understand them and they don't understand me. But we have a good time trying. So this is coming directly from the horse's mouth, 40 years and you still didn't understand. So it's not about understanding, contacting their spirits or, it's about what inspires in you.

and you have to understand that you're not learning, you were, you were inspiring to something and you're not doing Shipibo shamanism. You're just, you, came close to Shipibo shamanism and it made you realize a number of things, which it does. this is the experience of life. Any other culture, when you travel to other countries, you learn about yourself.

You learn a little bit about them, but you mostly learn about yourself because they do things different to you, and you realize that you don't do them that way. And then that makes you think, and then you learn, right? And this is the anthropological experience. it's really rich and it's beautiful what happens when you come in contact with other cultures.

Because how much you learn about yourself. The, and your culture, the mistake is thinking that you're learning about their culture because you're actually getting mostly things wrong. You're projecting, it's a game of shadows. there is a right way to do this, and it's possible to learn from indigenous people, but it doesn't involve taking things that are not yours and making cheap copies of them.

and there's no, there's just no other, I'm sorry. There's no other way to, to, say it, in Spain, we have this, Frank Sinatra, has a number of songs in Spanish, they sound terrible. His Spanish is awful. he has a bad accent, but people who don't speak Spanish, they love it because it sounds great and it's Frank Sinatra, right?

This is what we're talking about, right? You don't want to be that, you don't want to be that person singing in bad Spanish, right? Or if you're going to be that person singing in bad Spanish, you should know that Spanish people think you're funny and that you're not doing a good job. And that actually that song is not like that.

just to be super blunt and honest with this, there is absolutely fantastic things that can happen, and much learning and collaboration that is possible and necessary and mutually beneficial. But just again, keep common sense, keep common sense, it's really about common sense

[01:08:52] Pascal: and self awareness and humility and knowing that you don't know, and that there's a lot to learn from others and, listen a little bit more and, Acknowledge the practice and that you can put the Jordan shoes on and become Jordan.

that's a really good analogy. Actually, it's the best one I've heard so far. So thank you so much for sharing about that. That's important for people to hear and explore within themselves what it means for them to, to, to work this path and to learn from indigenous people and, and learn about themselves.

I think that's a really good point. Thank you so much for sharing that.

[01:09:28] Jerónimo: Thank you. for having me.

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From Psychedelic Renaissance to Psychedelic Enlightenment
Honouring the Spirit & Dreams of Psychedelic Medicines
Honouring the Journey After the Journey
War, Peace, and Integration
Integrating with Systemic Constellations
Exploring the Ethics of Integration
Ethics, Responsibility, and Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness
Somatic Plant Medicine Integration
Re-Indigenizing Consciousness
The We Space
Minority Perspectives
Psychedelic Storytelling
Ethical Stewardship
Indigenous Reciprocity & Interbeing
The Science of Sound Therapy
Being in Right Relationship
Breath as Medicine
Journeying Safely with 5-MeO-DMT
Psychedelic Safety and Preparation
The Eastern Medicine Perspective
Scarlet Heart Living
Exploring Men's Work
Adventures in Medicine

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