Here we are, all bright-eyed and throwing sparks, after having danced and sang in a high voltage ceremony all night, for 10 hours straight, surpassing all our preconceived limits of physical exhaustion, guided by light doses of the iboga medicine.
For the second time, Chor Boogie & I visited Mother Africa to receive teachings from the Bwiti tradition and experience the sacred iboga medicine at its roots.
Africa was supernatural, to say the least...
*All photos were taken with permission, with the shared intention of raising awareness about this beautiful tradition.
Much love and thanks to Moughenda Mikala, the great Bwiti nganga (shaman). He generously shares his beloved tradition and offers healing to all sincere human beings. He is the inspiration behind my intimate memoir, Heart Medicine, which chronicles our healing journey to treat the heroin relapse of my long-time love with the iboga medicine. To learn more about how the iboga can help to heal substance abuse, explore this article.
We are also deeply grateful to the whole Bwiti community who embraced us, all lifelong devotional artists, musicians, dancers, and healers.
The Bwiti is not a religion in the typical sense, Moughenda expresses, as it is not "man-made." It is a tradition stemming from the wisdom of the plant teacher, iboga.
In our Eurocentric and enthnocentric culture, it may be challenging for some people to understand how a plant can be a teacher, however science is finally starting to catch up with the indigenous traditions by discovering plant intelligence. Furthermore, plants have no ego, which can be one of the great downfalls of human teachers.
Also unlike more common religions, the Bwiti do not hold "beliefs" in the sense that no one is expected to adopt a dogmatic ideology that has been dictated by someone else. Rather, seekers are encouraged to verify knowledge through direct experience. The Bwiti is a study of life; they practice the art of knowing rather than believing.
There are no authoritarian hierarchies in the Bwiti. Everyone is equal and free to make choices. I have watched Moughenda over the years, and noticed that he will never tell anyone what to do in an absolute sense, even when people come to him for advice. He may share observations and illuminate options, but then he will encourage people to be 110% honest with themselves and find their own answers.
The front of a Bwiti temple is always wide open. Everyone is free to enter, and everyone is free to leave at any time.
Here, Chor and our friend Manima lovingly prepare raw iboga roots for our ceremonies.
These roots were sustainably harvested from wild iboga plants, deep in the jungle of Gabon. This means that only a few roots are carefully gathered from each plant so that it may continue to live.
Before cutting any roots, there is a ritual for "asking" the plant for permission to harvest some of it.
Every part of finding, gathering, and preparing the medicine is infused with reverent ceremony. The medicine is known to respond to the intentions with which it is handled.
Some special plants may be up to 35 - 70 years old. The older the plant, the more potent and spiritually mature the medicine is.
Though our friends in Gabon have expressed that they have no shortage of the sacred medicine, other contacts have witnessed the devastating social and environmental impact of overharvesting in different areas of Africa.
For reasons of sustainability, safety, and ethics, is critically important to never order the medicine online. Refer to the SAFETY TIPS on the IBOGA page.
A better approach, though one that requires more patience, is to develop relationships with local communities and Bwiti trained facilitators.
We do not recommend seeking the medicine in any country where the medicine is illegal.
It was so beautiful to be at the roots of this magnanimous spirit! The Missoko Bwiti regard iboga as the "godfather" or progenitor of all plants, though it is essentially a dual spirit in the sense that is can serve as both "mother" and "father" at different times.
In addition to initiation and healing, the iboga medicine also helps people with ongoing spiritual discovery.
The Bwiti is an oral tradition. According to the Missoko Bwiti, when this plant was first discovered by the people, the spirit of iboga revealed that it had been "watching" the human beings for a long time and "listening" to all of our spiritual and existential questions, and it was there to answer these questions. This is not so outlandish, considering both the depths of plant intelligence and the origins of modern human beings being from Africa.
In Gabon, I sensed that I was at the very roots of the human world...
And the roots are powerful. As Chor puts it, the Bwiti ceremonies are like a roller coaster on a freight train on a rocket ship. Drums pound, aromatic torches illuminate visions, rattles tremble, hands clap, voices sing, hips shake, bare feet pound on bare earth, shamanic transmissions flow through the mouth of the nganga. The dancers' bodies move like elegant supernatural creatures, so agile and swift that one can barely see the limbs.
Through the movement, medicine, and music, the community is woven into one harmonious whole.
Beholding all this, I revere life all the more. My spirit is fortified. Joy is stoked along with the fire.
In the Bwiti temples, I could literally see the origins of all sacred ceremony on the planet.
Many elements of Bwiti ceremony can also be found in other parts of the world, such as the sacred fire, the anointment of the 3rd eye with symbolic pigment, drumming, communal dancing, singing, and more, and it all began in Africa.
Shown above: Okume, my teacher and friend.
We were privileged to witness a traditional music jam in the jungle...
Never in my life have I seen such strength, passion, and endurance in artistic expression.
Their love for life and nature was palpable. They kept going and going, until everyone was dripping in sweat and radiant. Music and dance are also beautiful medicine!
Thank you Danny Mikala, Andy Mikala, Ashil, Pharrell, Manima, Papi, Brice, Kifa, and Silver! (Forgive my spelling!)
We were also blessed to spend time with the great Bwiti harpist, Boussengue Guy Roger.
One can hear a lifetime of devotion and discipline in his music...
Have you ever met your own soul, face to face?
I will never forget the first time I did, three years ago.
In the Bwiti initiation, people are guided to connect with the tradition, the iboga medicine, and their own soul. It is a rebirth, and a gateway into one's full humanity.
During this initiation ceremony, one young man discovered his abilities as a seer, after being guided into the visionary state... Moughenda invited each person in the temple, one at a time, to sit in front of him. He then proceeded to stare into each set of eyes and "read" them, speaking their deepest secrets, life challenges, good qualities, and some things that might be yet to come. He said things that should have been impossible for him to know in the ordinary world.
As I watched this amazing scene unfold, I wondered what he would see in me. When I sat down in front of him, I intentionally opened my heart, mind, body, and soul. I wanted to be completely transparent, hiding nothing, so he could see into me as deeply as possible. When I looked into his eyes, I could see that his personal ego was simply not there at that time. I was looking into the eyes of the medicine itself. I will never forget the first two words he said to me:
The temple chuckled. Two words that hinted at so much more.
He then went on to tell me a few intimate, resonant things. How could he know? I will keep these sacred gems to myself. It was affirming to be so deeply seen, and powerful to be receive prompts from the medicine itself. My purpose, direction, and spiritual prescription were solidified.
With the aid of the iboga medicine, the Bwiti know that we can enter the spirit world, which is actually a spiritual realm rather than a hallucination. This may sound wild to some, but after you actually travel there, you will understand.
In the temple... reborn through INITIATION... I see...
LIFE is a GIFT, freely offered from Creator, to do with what we will.
We are free to create healing, art, beauty, & discovery--or darkness and misery.
I am the artist of my own life, my purpose, and my mind, in every breath.
They start 'em young here!
One can see just how deep the roots of this tradition go, watching this young nganga move...
The RITE OF PASSAGE in Gabon is a test of strength, patience, endurance, skill, & humility. You'll know what you're made of at the end of it.
It is generally for young people between the ages of 6 - 18, and it serves as the entrance to the community of respected adults. There is no common equivalent in our mainstream culture.
For this visit, Chor was able to help facilitate the men's rite of passage, being a graduate himself.
The women have their own rite of passage, which I experienced during our first trip.
Some elements must remain a mystery, but I'll say that everything in life feels easier—and more precious—after it.
This was a traditional cleansing treatment, with medicinal aromatic smoke. After a few intense minutes of sweat and tears in that hut, my eyes and breathing passages felt brand new.
I like to say... the Bwiti are the original Jedis....
Below are images from a rare healing ceremony. More often, ceremonies are for other purposes such as initiation, welcoming visitors, marriages, or spiritual discovery.
This particular ceremony was requested by a family who wanted help from the Bwiti. They had been practicing dark sorcery, and they wanted to cleanse their lives of it.
The Bwiti itself is a healing culture, but other practices are known to exist in Africa that are malevolent.
So what differentiates the benevolent from the malevolent? This is an important question. During colonial times, prejudiced Christian missionaries brutally persecuted the Bwiti people and demonized their tradition. Even today, sometimes Bwiti temples are burned and the people are stigmatized. Though no one should be hurt for their personal esoteric practices, the ignorance of the differences still persists.
The Bwiti know that whatever one puts out into the world comes back, ten fold or a hundred fold or infinitely stronger. They are the healers and protectors. And they know that the most important "battle" between dark and light is in one's own mind, every day.
As my Bwiti elders have said:
Bad spirits try to control free will.
Good spirits support free will.
My humble observations:
Malevolent practices are rooted in fear—hate, greed, envy, rage all sprout from fear.
Benevolent practices are rooted in love—you know, the true kind, without self-centered attachments.
Bad spirits try to dominate nature.
Good spirits harmonize with nature.
What are your reflections?
Many long days in village were spent doing nothing other than JUST BEING—in the heat. It was the perfect pressure cooker to connect with myself and the people around me.
No one seemed to hurry anywhere, and there was no strict schedule. Each day, "time management" was dictated by an organic process and full presence. Moughenda spoke to us about valuing our quality of life more than so-called efficiency.
Though cell phones are starting to penetrate even remote villages, internet access is still extremely limited. I was happy to unplug from the matrix for a while.
I noticed, someone was always playing with the baby... The baby had countless relatives around at all times, and thus, everyone had fresh energy and attention for him. This is very different than our mainstream culture, where the nuclear family model leaves people isolated, stressed, and fatigued. I see how people here in Africa grow up feeling loved, supported, happy, and confident.
Everyone spent most daytime hours outside, in nature. Sunlight and fresh air are also forms of medicine that we all need more of! We cooked, washed dishes, played soccer, washed laundry, all outside. I did not miss my stove or dishwasher or washing machine, and I began to doubt the value of doing everything in such a fast, automated way.
With no running water, the men in the village had to go to a local well with containers, every day. It was a communal effort infused with fun. Though running water is a great thing, I found myself appreciating every drop of that water—and especially the bucket-showers on those hot days.
There was no television in this village. (GASP!) In the evenings, everyone sat around actually talking and enjoying each other. Chor and I noticed, jokes and laughter filled the air continuously.
As Moughenda says, no place is "perfect." Africa is a great land, rich with tradition and nature, and we were fortunate to connect with wonderful people there. And yet, Africa has problems, too. It has good people and troubled people. It has political, economic, and social issues, like we do.
It can be easy to idealize one place over another.
It can be easy to dream of far away places as the source for fulfillment.
It can be easy to put off tending to your own soul, by fixating on some external circumstance that has not yet come into form.
LOVE NOTE: No matter where you may be in the world, the greatest temple is within & the most important person is the one in front of you!
"for it is the seeking that keeps you
from being where you are"
—excerpt from Traveler, a poem by Martin W. Ball
host of the Entheogenic Evolution Podcast
Check out the iboga inspired artwork by Chor Boogie...
I had the pleasure of meeting Rachael Madori at a talk that Chor Boogie and I offered about the iboga medicine with the Aware Project in Los Angeles. At the time, this polymath was exploring her expression as an adult film star, in addition to other gifts such as writing, activism, culinary arts, and fitness education. I would come to know Rachael as a multifaceted and compassionate being; she shared her inner world and raw struggles on her blog and social media platforms as much as she did her physical form and fire. It's a paradox: in the world of mainstream professional erotica, it is supposed to be about "revealing," but it generally only goes skin deep. Personally, I find the holistic, honest view of an artist far more compelling than any marketing mirage. (And yes, erotica can be art.) Through Rachael's journey and authentic unveiling, she has helped educate and inspire many people about mental health, mental illness, suicide awareness, psychedelic medicine, creative freedom, and what it means to be a real, whole person...
Rachael Madori resides in Hollywood, California. She is pursuing opening a restaurant on the east coast. Both her and her fiancé, a chef in Beverly Hills, plan on combining their love of food and service to own their own establishment. Currently she’s learning skills at a fine dining restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and taking classes with Ashworth College.
Rachael is a mental health advocate and social activist. She is a suicide survivor and has been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder; she helps to educate people about these issues. She volunteers with and fundraises for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Rachael advocates for alternative psychedelic medicine. She supports the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. She also attends events put on by the Aware Project in Los Angeles. Their mission is to “balance the public conversation about psychedelics, spread accurate information and give a new face to psychedelia”. A self proclaimed psychonaut, Rachael tries to teach the world through her understanding and years of experience using psychedelics as healing medicines, not only for her mental health but her overall well being.
A passionate writer, Rachael has published articles at sites such as SimplySxy and AVN. She is also a contributing author at Consumer Health Digest. She has accomplished her first written piece of fiction which will be published by Cleis Press in a book curated and edited by Asa Akira. Rachael continues to blog as an outlet for her advocacy and creativity.
A former adult film performer, Rachael holds multiple awards including 2015 Inked Awards Starlet of the Year and 2016 Inked Awards Best Scene of the Year. Her proud and unadulterated voice as a pervious sex worker sheds light and dismantles the stigma associated with the sex industry.
Her blogs pertain to many different subjects but the main objective here is voice. The point of a voice is to be heard, she writes not only to be heard but for anyone out there to find comfort knowing that someone is listening.
Do you feel that living with transparency helps us, as a collective, to heal?
Absolutely. I look at humans as this one large organism and we all, whether we recognize it or not, affect and feed off each other. Not always in a bad way. Truth, transparency and honesty will feed truth, transparency and honesty. Facades will feed facades. Negative will feed negative. It’s all about whether we choose to heal or poison. I want to be on the end of the spectrum that is helping society find what it means to be real again.
What do you feel are some of the gifts of being bi-polar?
Being bi-polar creates this completely altered reality that I live in and because of this I’m creative, different and expressive beyond words. I feel hard, I feel deeply. Sure it’s all over the place but there’s some kind of beauty in the constant chaos inside my mind. Honestly all I’m trying to do is focus on manifesting that chaos into beauty. I feel like we’re all trying to do that in one way or another.
How can people be sensitive and supportive for loved ones who are dealing with mental illness?
It's not easy loving someone who has a mental illness but patience is key. I think the best way to be supportive is to be open and frank about it. It's not something anyone should be embarrassed or ashamed to struggle with so their loved ones shouldn't feel that way either. I can't tell you what a difference it made to finally have an open dialogue between my family and friends about my diagnoses. Sometimes when I was having an episode they could tell when I couldn't. I need that. I don't want to be treated any differently, I just want to know someone will be there when my mind fails me.
What drew you to the adult film world, initially?
I was always fascinated with pornography. I used to envy the women I would watch in videos because I found it so amazing that they had the confidence to show to the world an intimate action that most people shy away from even talking frankly about. I wanted to know what that position of empowerment was truly about.
What did you like about it?
I loved that I had a safe environment to practice and learn about myself and other people sexually. I enjoyed how much emphasis is put on safety and consent. It honestly helped me appreciate how we are all sexual creatures with our own likes, dislikes and boundaries. It let me develop a confidence and sense of self worth I didn’t know before.
What didn’t you like about it?
I didn’t like how political it can all be. Whether it be award shows or the aspect of “Who you kiss up to”. I think all the arbitrary ideas and cliques take away from the industry what it should be about which is creating amazing content.
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
I would like to see performers act more like a family of coworkers and less like competitors. Pursue being the best, win awards, become a top tier performer but leave your ego at the door. We all face enough stigma from the outside world, to create drama within your own industry due to ego is unjustified.
Why did you limit it to three years?
I always heard this saying that three years is the best time frame for a female performer. I didn’t go into sex work for the money, I did it because I felt drawn to it and ended up falling in love with performing. I knew it was a side step off my path so I figured giving myself a time frame would keep me headed towards all my other life goals.
What did the adult film world teach you about human beings?
The good things it taught me about humans was both physical and mental. I learned ways to please and be pleased that I think would take a lifetime of experimenting with different partners and I’m proud of that. I learned about having pride in yourself as a sexual creature and holding steadfast to that. We’re all organic, developing beings and the adult film world taught me never to be ashamed of that.
I also learned that ego can destroy people without them even knowing it. I found out very quickly that to some people - how popular they are, how many followers they have on social media, how many trophies they hold and what they see in the mirror is all that defines them. And it’s sad.
Have you ever encountered judgment and/or discrimination from people in reaction to your work in adult film? How so?
I’ve experienced people who were caught off guard by how frankly I talk about adult films and sex in general. I’ve gotten hate mail from religious people, I’ve gotten called countless slurs because I did publicly what people do behind closed doors. It even took a long time for my family to see me as credible because they feared this industry, clouded in mistruths and taboo, had destroyed a part of me. My love and life partner has been harassed online by people who cannot see sex work as work. I’ve been misjudged as unintelligent and have been discriminated against far enough that I’ve been told my choice to be a performer was due to my mental illness. At first I ignored it but to be honest it started to hurt me. Not my confidence or sense of self worth, but I hurt for all of the people who have developed such a distorted view because that kind of tunnel vision leaves zero room for growth of your inner self.
Most porn stars I’ve seen tend to create a very slick, one dimensional, “adult fairy-tale” image for marketing purposes that appears to have few real world human challenges. Yet, while in the adult film industry and beyond, you have been so open about your full-spectrum human self, sharing about your experiences navigating mental illness, psychedelic medicine, personal relationship, dreams, and multi-faceted creativity. You started this intimate expression on social media, then it expanded onto your blog. What made you want to break that mold?
For a while I marketed myself the way everyone else did. I only posted what I was told to, I never kept my presence online too serious and conveying a brand like that and separating it from your true self is successful for some people. I just don’t happen to be one of those people. People have been trying to fit me into boxes my whole life and I wasn’t aware that there were boxes for pornstars too. I have this innate and deep conviction to bare my true self to the point were upholding a manufactured image of myself online wasn’t even possible. I am sexual and filthy and heated, all the things a sex performer should be, but that’s not even half of me. So I decided I wasn’t okay with only being seen as that. It’s just not in my personality and I had this deep feeling to throw my entire self out to the world. Whether I lost or gained fans because of that didn’t concern me. This became a movement to show the world something much more intimate that me having sex.
What kinds of feedback (positive & negative) have you received from your adult film fans after revealing more about yourself?
I received some negativity. I was told to stick to the basic frame work of a pornstars internet presence because I had no business being anything else. I was told that people weren’t there for me they were there for my body. Which I’m all well and good with. My career was of the human body. However, that doesn’t negate my right to express every other aspect of myself.
I got a lot of positive feedback too. There were people struggling inside and outside of the industry who reached out to me because they knew I wouldn’t judge them or they knew that what they saw is what they got. I have lifelong fans that started watching me because they loved my videos but now they follow me on my life journey because at some point sharing my humanity became just as entertaining.
When did you start your public blog?
I started it two years ago. My website has always had my blog section because I love to write. I’ve been writing ever since I could spell. I used to have links and such to my adult films but once my fan base started growing from outside of porn I made the decision to make my site completely PG about a year ago. Not because I wanted to hide my career, I embrace it fully. I did that so now my words could reach a wider range of people who may need to hear something that touches them.
What kinds of people follow your blog?
All ages, genders, interests. A lot of young women and men. Fitness and wellness is one focus on my website so a lot of people looking for tips or motivation tend to follow along. I also converse with a lot of people who struggle with mental health or live with someone who is struggling and I’ve been told I help them by putting into words that they otherwise cannot to describe what’s happening to them or their loved one. There are still fans of my adult films that continue to follow my life and my blog which I think is great. I broke this barrier where you can enjoy my sex work but also the rest of me as well.
What kinds of feedback have you received about your blog from your readers that are not necessarily your adult film fans?
Some people call me brave. I’m not sure how I feel about that word because I just feel like I’m doing what I have to do to help. There’s a few particular fans of mine who live with wives struggling with Bipolar Disorder and they’ve let me know how much my blog has helped their understanding and their marriage. I feel like some people are taken aback that I went from a one layer pornstar to such an open advocate for many things personal to me but the feedback has been mostly positive. If I can make one person feel even a little better, I think I’m doing my job as a human.
Now that you’ve retired from adult film, you are onto other projects and visions. What is next for you? What are you excited about?
I’m focusing on my position in the restaurant industry and opening one of my own. I’m working in a great company at a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles until I move back home to New York City to pursue a second degree in Culinary Management. Another creative endeavor I’m working on is a streetwear line called Feel Hard where I’ll be donating a percentage of the proceeds to non-profit mental health organizations. I’m also trying to dedicate whatever free time I can find to compiling my first book.
Where else can we find you and your work?
*Check out the DONATE section on the website with links to the organizations that Rachael fundraises for including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies.
Support Rachael's Fundraiser:
Streetwear Line for Mental Health Awareness
We don't make art for the applause. We make art because we MUST—or our soul will starve to death. You know.
And on a deeper level, my ego can't take personal credit for the art that I make. My job is to get out of the way, more than it is to "accomplish" anything.
The act of writing my book about our healing journey with the sacred iboga medicine was a practice of surrender, letting spirit weave the story that wanted to birth itself through the etched vessel that is me.
I had no idea if anyone would even "like" the book that came through me because it was so... radical. With ruthless honesty, I revealed our most intimate struggles. It wasn't a flattering work, but I knew I had to do it, even to help one person by sharing our story.
But when applause happens, it's nice. It is. This means that someone found the creation to be useful, and it is good to feel useful within the human hive. It's just a human thing.
So thank you! I am honored and grateful that Heart Medicine recently won the National Indie Excellence Award for the Spiritual category, and it was the top finalist for the Addiction Recovery category. It was also a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for the New Age category, and received an honorable mention in the San Francisco Book Festival. Yay!
And I gotta add, it was truly a tribal process to birth the book. I couldn't have done it without the blessing of Moughenda Mikala, the generous and skilled shaman we worked with, and my beloved husband, Chor Boogie aka Joaquin Lamar Hailey, for his courage to be so transparent, steady support for this project, and beautiful ART, the multifaceted maestra Anandha Ray for the book cover design, author photo, and love, Mark Weiman of Regent Press for his wonderful production skill, and all the magical ones who contributed quotes!
Mr. Boogie created a mind-boggling, capricious, utterly delightful new mural in Brooklyn thanks to the Bushwick Collective, and he put on the final touches during their Annual Block Party. The mural looked to me like someone ate a large amount of friendly psychedelics, then raided a candy store, and we are left with with the experience of psychic candy. I love it! Sometimes you just gotta have fun and stick our your tongue and get weird.
The gorgeous NY crowd flooded through the streets, celebrating life in their full-throttle way. Plenty of families and kids rolled by, taking fun pics in front of the mural and carefully studying Chor's techniques. A few kids even got their hands on some paint and tested out the medium. We had a visit from the young spray paint artist, Lola the Illustrator, and Chor happily shared some tips. The music rocked. It was a beautiful day of community and creativity. Much love & thanks to the awesome Bushwick Collective for making it happen!
Photo by Roman Akkerman
What a beautiful blessing it is to serve couples with private yoga sessions & facilitate a deep dive into partner asanas & meditations, tantric transmissions, inner kundalini yogas, sacred oil anointments, the shakti of relationship... and of course, a chocolate meditation.
There is something very magical about a private space that cannot be found in any public class or workshop. Again recently, I held space for two beautiful souls, and again I felt so honored to witness as they melted into bliss through a unified practice. Energetic roses that seemed to bloom in the space.
These words the next day from my guest made my heart sing...
"You made last night very special for us. I can't thank you enough. You are amazing at what you do, so talented, gifted, healing, & beautiful on every plane. It was such a juicy treat for my partner & I! We are still glowing & vibrating from the cocoon you left us in. Being in love with someone I respect, admire, trust & desire is such a blessing... and for him to love me back like he does makes my heart explode. We've had some struggles in our relationship recently that we have been working through, and what you did last night really showed us how deeply we care and are here for each other. It was exactly what we needed to feel and see in each other. I'm grateful for the magical services you offer! The strawberries, chocolates, roses, your energy. It was all wonderful. I'll be smiling for days!"
— Jessica Drouin
Would you like to create your own private immersive retreat?
ALCHEMY: Partner Yoga
Dancing for people is all well & good, but don't forget to dance for the many other honored guests... the sun, moon, the sacred plants, the spirit of water, fire, earth, air... the ancestors... the many nature spirits... nagas, yakshinis...
Temple dancers, offer the these secret performances, and venture ever deeper into what it means to be a sacred vessel.
Photo by the maestra & women's empowerment coach Robin Clark.
My beautiful husband, artist Chor Boogie, continues to amaze and delight me with his prolific creativity and professional dedication. Check out the solo show, "VISUAL JAZZ," featuring over 20 original works on canvas, on exhibition through June 3rd at Monarch | Arredon Contemporary art gallery in La Jolla, CA.
There is a deeper story here...
The critically acclaimed spray paint maestro returned to his roots in the San Diego area after circling the globe to share his latest body of work—and to offer a percentage of the sales to benefit Writerz Blok, a youth arts program, where Chor Boogie found community, support, and inspiration as a young, emerging artist.
VISUAL JAZZ celebrates the creative power of the human spirit—and art as the intersection between the physical and the metaphysical. Vivid colors and multidimensional designs reverently embrace classic figures of jazz maestros. The composition and forms are unpredictable and yet harmonious, like jazz itself. The audience is invited to feel the music through the soulful works.
MONARCH | ARREDON CONTEMPORARY is La Jolla's exclusive gallery of emerging art founded on respect, passion and trust. The Gallery offers high-quality crafted artworks along with the category expertise and individual-focused approach to collectors, art professionals, and art enthusiasts. Monarch | Arredon Contemporary is located at 862 Prospect St, Suite A, La Jolla, CA 92037. Hours: Thursday through Sunday 11 am to 5 pm, and by appointment Monday through Wednesday. For more information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-454-1231.
Read the exhibition review on ARTSY.
Mi amor, Chor Boogie, and I were super honored to bring our art and words to Psychedelic Science 2017, produced by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. It was the largest conference for psychedelics in the world to date. Of course, it was a fun crowd! There was a thrilling balance of science, art, music, dancing, humor, culture, community, tea service, and delightfully odd inflatable creatures.
We offered a talk on the Psymposia Stage about our healing journey with the iboga medicine and also the additional factors that supported our positive experience with the medicine. The "medicine" is never just the the physical material alone; it is a holistic experience involving intention, preparation, participation, integration, community, tradition, spiritual technologies, and so much more...
To watch our full 20 minute talk, click HERE and forward into minute 59. Enjoy all the other great presentations included in the footage as well!
Heart Medicine, my intimate memoir about the iboga medicine, was present in the MAPS bookstore, and Chor exhibited two iboga inspired original paintings for the very first time...
48" X 60"
SPRAY PAINT ON CANVAS
48" X 60"
SPRAY PAINT ON CANVAS
This was one of those moments that it would have been handy to have ten heads like some Hindu dieties and the ability to bilocate, as there were so many exciting and revolutionary presentations offered, but it was impossible to take it all in due to events overlapping. That said, here are some of the presentations that were highlights for me...
*Links to videos or other media are provided when available.
Film Screening: Curandera
Presented by Ethan Goldwater of Hover Pictures
Cognitive Liberty, Neurodiversity, & Non-Pathologizing Approaches to Mental Health
Presented by Adam Andros Aronovich
Evaluating the Efficacy of Ayahuasca-Assisted Treatment for Substance Dependency
Presented by Anya Loizaga-Velder, Ph.D.
Rapid Antidepressant Effects of the Psychedelic Ayahuasca in Treatment-Resistant Depression:
A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial
Presented by Draulio Barros de Araujo, Ph.D.
From Taboo to Treatment: The Evolutions of Psychedelic Medicine
Presented by Amanda Fielding
Psychedelic Use Predicts Reduced Suicidality:
Findings From a Longitudinal Study of Women Sex Workers in Vancouver, Cananda
Presented by Elena Argento, Ph.D. Candidate
Neural Changes and the Relationship Between the Acute Peak Experience and Clinical Outcomes
Presented by Leor Roseman, M.Sc.
Ayahuasca Legal Prosecution Worldwide: Connecting the Dots
Presented by Benjamin De Loenen, M.A.
Duncan Trussell Family Hour Presents the Microdose VR Experience with Android Jones & Bruce Damer
PANEL: Psychedelics, Injustice, & the Intersectionality of Trauma
Film Screening: Sacred Plants
Presented by Javier Prato
Honoring Huston Smith
Presented by Austin Hill Shaw
Subjective Effectiveness of Ibogaine Treatment for Problematic Opiod Consumption:
Short & Long-Term Outcomes and Current Psychological Functioning
Presented by Alan K. Davis, Ph.D.
Debunking Common Ibogaine Safety Myths
Presented by Jamie McAlpin, R.N., B.S.N., & Christine Fitzsimmons, R.N.
Characterization of Mystical Experiences Occasioned by 5-MeO-DMT-Containing Toad Venom & Comparison with Prior Psilocybin Studies
Presented by Joseph Peter Barsuglia, Ph.D.
My Life Reset: A Journey with Ibogaine
Presented by Kevin Franciotti
New Findings from the University of Zurich Studies into the Mechanism of Action of Psilocybin & LSD: Relevance for Treatment of Major Depression & for Enhancement of Psychotherapy
Presented by Dr. Rainer Krahenmann, M.D.
Ibogaine & Opiod Withdrawal: Does it Work & Is it Safe
Presented by Paul Glue, M.D. , FRC Psych
Esalen's Legacy & the History of Psychedelics
Presented by Dr. Jim Fadiman & John Harrison, M.A., Psy. D
Psychedelic, Morality, & Virtue
Presented by Claudio Naranjo, M.D.
Film Screening: Shamans of the Global Village
Presented by Rak Razam
Ibogaine in Brazil: Finally Stepping Out from the Underground?
Presented by Bruno Rasmussen Chaves, M.D.
Cannabis & Spirituality: An Explorer's Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally
Presented by Stephen Gray, author
PANEL: Insights from Contemporary Ibogaine Research for Addiction
Ibogaine and Neurotrophic Factors: GDNF, BDNF, and NGF Releasing Properties of Ibogaine & Activity of Novel Ibogaine Analogues
Presented by Ignacio Carrera, Ph.D.
The Role of Experimental Language in Psychedelic Research
Presented by Nese Devenot, Ph.D.
The Past & Future of Psychedelics
Presented by Mike Crowley & Ben Sessa
Psychedelics as Behavior Change Agents: Addictions Recovery & Beyond
Presented by Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.
Psilocybin Mushrooms & the Mycology of Consciousness
Presented by Paul Stamets, D.Sc.
Cosmic Sister's Psychedelic Feminism Grant Recipients
Presented by Nese Devenot, Ph.D., Selma Holden, M.D., Katie Bain, Faye Sakellaridis, & moderated by Leia Friedman
INTERVIEW WITH DEANNE ADAMSON: Founder of Being True To You—Recovery Coaching & Entheogenic Integration
I had the pleasure of meeting Deanne Adamson at the Global Ibogaine Therapy Conference in 2016, and then I had the privilege of working closely with her on a private ibogaine detox integration retreat. I was inspired to see her in action. She is highly intuitive as well as well-versed on the subjects of addiction recovery and coaching. She understands and respects sacred medicine work while being beautifully grounded in the professional world.
I am excited to share that I am now in the midst of the Addiction Recovery & Psychospiritual Integration Coach training program led by Deanne with Being True To You. This coaching program is utterly unique in that it supports people who work with entheogenic (psychedelic) medicines as part of their healing and self development. The program is incredibly progressive, compassionate, and intuitive. It builds on the wisdom & experience of all previously existing approaches to addiction recovery. I am only on level 3 out of 16, and my mind has already been beautifully blown open.
Deanne Adamson, founder of Being True To You Integrative Recovery Coaching, is paving a new era of addiction recovery. Deanne trains and certifies Addiction Recovery Coaches to work one-on-one with people in need, allowing for a perfect match. Deanne mentors the coach-client relationship for many individuals and families. Deanne & the Team provide a wide-range of tele-classes to the public about the new era of addiction recovery and the importance of continuity of care. Deanne illustrates how the fundamental principles of life, when refined through daily discipline, allow people to more naturally mature out of their addictions.
Deanne has a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and an academic background relating mostly to spiritual psychology. Deanne started with psychotherapy but transitioned pretty quickly to recovery coaching. Over the last seven years Deanne has discovered her talent in, and mission to, change the way people perceive and approach addiction and suffering, and guiding the transcendence beyond addiction and other life blocks and attachments. If you or someone you know needs help with addiction or similar phenomena, one of the best things you can do is contact Being True To You.
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What is Being True to You?
Being True To You is a network of specialized recovery and integrative coaches working virtually with individuals, families, and groups through our addiction recovery and transformational online and in-life program. Client focuses are based on the fundamentals of addiction recovery, self-growth and life skills, mind, body, and spiritual wellness, holistic healing, entheogenic integration, and life purpose and true self actualization. Being True To You specializes in providing preparation and integration around Ibogaine treatment for addiction, so our services have emerged with much depth guiding the greater journey of one’s human experience.
What inspired you to create Being True to You?
Life paved a very synchronistic path for the emergence of Being True To You. Like many, I grew up within an addiction culture, with sweets, coffee, nicotine, alcohol and street and rx drugs being the norm, and material possessions, fame, power, and money being the goal. I spent 15 years of my life using substances and witnessing the shadow aspects of my mind, body, and life. I experienced first hand the emptiness, loneliness, meaninglessness, and pain that comes with one’s endless pursuit of happiness through things external. I also experienced the wonders of intoxication, altered realities, and the expansion of perspective that can be gleaned through these experiences. I saw the beauty to know oneself through the journey of the forgotten self.
Beyond teenage years I majored in psychology and mental health counseling. I had a strong drive toward psychology, philosophy, theology, personal development, spiritual cultivation and enlightenment, and the study of behavioral change and role of consciousness. Working in the sectors of community nonprofit, judicial victim advocacy, and counseling in the medical field, I saw many problems, gaps, and unmet needs. My passion to make a real difference spawned a personal oath to sobriety from alcohol, a leap of faith to start my own coaching business, and a recalibration of life overall with clearer intention, purpose, and morals. This leap of faith quickly resulted in the invitation to serve in the Ibogaine community where all this magic has unfolded.
How have entheogenic journeys changed your life?
I’ve have enjoyed two very different chapters in my life taking entheogenic adventures. The first phase started in my younger years using psychedelics recreationally. These early experiences started my awakening process allowing me to see behind one veil after the next, foreshadowing the depth, complexities, and mysteries of my own psyche as well as the greater cosmic field. I saw that I was but a speck in the universe but at the same time a being of great power, which could only be known and harnessed through my own self-actualization. This prevented me from taking life too seriously and falling too deeply into social conditioning, and helped me face life's hardships as challenges with an inevitable bright side.
The second chapter started in my later twenties when I discovered Ibogaine. I realized that psychedelics are not just recreational drugs that alter your reality, but rather entheogenic medicines that open doorways to your inner world, higher truth, and greater life purpose. Since then I’ve explored a number of different medicines realizing more each journey, that we are in fact here to cultivate our true selves and that the answers are already within us. These medicines have landed me in the evolutionary journey of my true self, practicing through a single mind-body cultivation way.
Why is recovery coaching and psycho-spiritual integration coaching important?
Addiction takes you on a journey of your shadow side revealing parts of yourself you never thought possible, emotional states that seem intolerable, and hardships that feel unmanageable. Entheogenic experiences too, unlock new depths in your subconscious, activate intuition, truth, and wisdom, and in the process defragment the splintered aspects of your personality. Conquering either of these states of consciousness does not happen in a single experience; both leaving you in a deep contemplation about life. Whether you take a journey through the depths of addiction, or psychedelic adventuring, once you enter there's no turning back. Being True To You Coaching serves as an expansive support container for ongoing reflection, introspection, and integration ensuring that the insights discovered are in fact implemented in the genuine cultivation of oneself.
In addition to coaching, what integration activities might be helpful, after an entheogenic journey?
How one integrates their transformational experiences will vary from person to person and also from culture to culture. Talking with a trusted specialist provides a sounding board to externalize the inner workings of the mind for greater understanding. Additionally there are a variety of other practices such as: mindfulness, self-reflection, looking inward, meditation, journaling, artistic expression, musical composition, nature walks, breathwork, vision quests, vegetable and/or juice fasting, slow yoga, and generally implementing positive changes in life.
Photo: the sacred iboga medicine © E. Bast
Is it enough to bathe only once in a lifetime? Is it enough to practice yoga once? Meditate once? Go to the chiropractor once? Do an internal cleanse—only once? I suppose that all these, like the "booster dose," are ultimately subjective.
And what is a "booster dose?" This can be referred to a subsequent lighter dose of an entheogenic or psychedelic medicine, administered some time after an initial full ceremonial dose or "flood dose." The term "booster dose" is most often used in reference to iboga and ibogaine, the visionary sacred plant medicine from Africa and its pharmaceutical extract, respectively. Depending on the individual, a booster dose of iboga or ibogaine can be helpful or even critical to a person in recovery from severe drug or behavioral addiction.
My husband, artist Chor Boogie, and I first experienced the iboga medicine in a traditional Bwiti ceremony several years ago. We were initially drawn to the medicine by a terrifying healing crisis: Chor's opiate relapse. Once I started learning more about the medicine, it called to me to assist me with my own struggle with PTSD. Long story short, the medicine ceremony—as well as the highly skilled facilitation of our traditional shaman—rapidly helped to heal our primary issues along with much more than we ever anticipated. Six months after our first ceremony, we traveled to Central West Africa to immerse ourselves in the beautiful Bwiti culture, receive full initiation with the iboga medicine, and undergo a rite of passage. Six months after that visit to Africa, we were able to attend another Bwiti ceremony closer to home with the iboga medicine. Medical and therapeutic jargon might label these subsequent meetings with the medicine as "booster doses." Chor and I would simply call these being rerooted—to the iboga medicine as well as our Bwiti tradition. Though Chor did not need these booster doses in a critical sense after his first iboga healing ceremony to maintain his sobriety, they were extremely supportive for his continued well being—and mine.
Read the nutshell version of our process with the booster dose in this article in Rolling Stone magazine.
In Africa, the "booster dose" is what the tribe would regard as a regular part of village life, the medicine ceremony, held for a variety of purposes: healing, inspiration, divination, community relations, to celebrate special events, or to honor guests. These booster doses can be a healthy, occasional form of spiritual, mental, and physical cleansing and realignment. They may also serve as a deepening learning or initiatory process with the plant. They can reconnect our body and soul to the the ecosystem, that great web of life and Spirit.
In the same breath, we approach these "booster doses" with the medicine in a respectful way, as apprentices rather than entitled consumers. We inwardly ask the plant permission to partake of it, as our friends in Africa do, and then we listen intently for the silent answer. We wait for auspicious opportunities to commune. It's not just a matter of us humans deciding to take the medicine. It's the medicine calling to us as well. When we are fortunate enough to have medicine come into our lives, we infuse the sacrament with intentions, offer gratitude, and let go of our human ideas around how the medicine is doing it's work. Ultimately, we may become the full embodiment of our living prayer.
As our Bwiti teacher Moughenda says: We practice living without attachments, and we cannot even be attached to the medicine! If we are inwardly grasping at the medicine and choking it with the expectations of our limited minds, it can be disastrous rather than healing. Booster doses are a divinely timed gift of Grace.
Is a booster dose always necessary for people recovering from addiction? No. Some people have one flood dose of medicine, and that's all they need, for their healing and initiation, forever.
Yet, booster doses or seasonal ceremonies do have the potential to be good medicine for anyone, when the medicine calls, because we are all essentially "in recovery" from the human condition, every day. We are precisely wired with the receptor sites to receive the teachings of these sacred medicines. According to the Bwiti, sacred medicine is essential for most people to become fully realized human beings. Though sacred medicine might not be appropriate or necessary for every individual, they are right for humanity as a collective, and they work through some for the benefit of all.
Will a booster dose be needed or helpful? Again: We practice listening to our soul—and to the call of the medicine. And, hopefully, we are paying attention to the delicate issues of sustainability, ethical sourcing, and social impact on indigenous communities. We don't ever want to take more than we need or more than the earth can produce in a good way.
Sadly, the iboga medicine, along with all other psychoactive medicines, are currently highly illegal in the United States, even for qualified medical professionals and traditional practitioners, despite evidence of tremendous healing benefits and safety with good protocol. This is not only an issue of drug policy reform, but also one of of religious freedom. We pray to someday see the medicine made regularly available to all those who are called, in a way that is not only safe and responsible, but also culturally sensitive.
Cheers to the booster dose—and the rerooting of the soul.
Photo: Bwiti temple in Gabon © E. Bast