She opened her lips... and children suddenly became quiet, guests took a deep breath and forgot their names (and everything else outside of the present moment), heartbreak revealed its sweet side, fairies smiled somewhere, and portals opened to celestial realms. I will never forget that first time I heard the music of Marya Stark. She is a divine siren and wise woman, who's songs spark awakening, love, prayer, peace, magic, myth, dreams, and everything beautiful about human life. That was over a decade ago, and since then, I have watched in awe as she evolves, deepens, and expands in the realms of music, performance, sound healing, addiction recovery support, and teaching...
How did you come to understand that music could be a healing modality?
I think a part of me always knew intuitively. When i was young I would sing to my pains, I would sing to ease the children I worked with. I would have moments of ecstatic singing where I would feel to myself "wow, there is a multi-dimensional gate opening to the mystery," and I could feel myself remembering codes of sound. I could feel the power of music in the choirs I sang in to move us all to tears when it hit just right. Even as I began writing songs as a part of my own developmental journey, I could feel like something mysterious was going on that was profound, but it wasn’t defined for me until I took my first class in music therapy. That was a game changer.
What was your inspiration for pursuing a degree in music therapy?
You know, I think it was more kismet than anything particularly inspired. The only thing I had really been into was music. I knew Chapman University had a music therapy program, and I think on some level my soul knew before I did that I was going to do it. I chose to take the class once I was there cause I was curious about the relationship between music and spirituality—and that seemed like the gateway. Once I landed in that field, everything shifted in my worldview, and it felt more like I was coming back to something I had always known
How would you say that music can be a vehicle for self-realization?
I can speak to my own process. Once I got into writing songs for my healing, I kept a close chronological track record of them. I now have access to hundreds of songs from the last 20 years of life, and I have realized much about myself through both the process of writing these songs, how they come in, and looking back and seeing bigger cycles of emotions and themes that run through. I think of songs as time-capsules, as tools for my own souls embodiment. Having powerful experiences with music, getting to reflect and be able to tap into different states of being and stages of development has been incredibly insightful as I’ve come to know my psyche a bit more. Sometimes I have written songs, and it takes me years for my nervous system to integrate the energies carried through those muses. Those songs feel like gifts to my future self, that carry codes that help me open to deeper states of presence. Also, just from an emotional integration perspective, I can’t tell you where I’d be without the formative songs of my youth. Hearing songs from older songwriters who could articulate my felt experience helped me to go to deeper layers of understanding and feeling, mourning, and expansion. Its like we pull through clues for each others process, and can then journey together back home to where ever it is this awakening train is guiding us.
Did you have any reference for a "coming of age" stories, songs, or ceremonies before writing your own?
Not at that time. Receiving those songs on the Fork In The Road felt like a special initiation into learning about the hero’s journey. I only had a reference for that in hindsight, and then began seeking out other "coming of age" stories, learning about the architecture of mythology. It emerged spontaneously.
Did you ever come up against the limitations of classical music as you were discovering yourself as a musician?
The main limitation I found in studying classical music was the relationship I had to "performing," and, as a child, it wasn’t an issue. I found classical training to be amazing and helped me to learn music faster, but in a music conservatory environment, I could intuit the inherited structures of our value being our ability. By that time I was having a complete existential breakdown, and had no capacity to find myself within the hierarchy of the opera reality—so the muse grabbed me by the hair and life became my master teacher. I find myself now coming back to classical training, but from an intuitive embodied perspective. Classical structures are like good yoga teaching: once the body is flexible, movement is easy.
What are “song lines”?
What I call song lines are energetic threads I envision run through our souls. People talk about the earth having lay lines, an energetic grid; it is the same with humans, we have channels where energy moves through. There are times when I vision songs coming through us, traveling on similar lines of energy—from other dimensions, star systems, universes, timelines, multi-dimensional star light passage ways where universal poetry and magic comes in like some potent alchemical force. I like to picture myself as a vessel, standing at the center point of a constellation of these lines catching songs through my being.
Could you tell us more about "Scarlet Moon" and the archetype of the shadow feminine?
When I was in college, and receiving many of the visions I still hold today as part of my life's work, Scarlet Moon was an archetype that kept coming in. I knew that I would be going within to learn about the feminine mythos. I think our culture really elevates a few versions of the feminine: the beautiful one and the kind, gentle, loving one. The raw, angry, wrathful rage filled one, not so much. She is demonized, and so there is a whole spectrum of emotional range and nuance that goes under ground. This is one small piece of the pie on this conversation—and Scarlet Moon is where she comes alive in me to dance and find her voice.
Who is Magdalene, to you?
I have come to embrace Magdalene just recently in my life. There is a potent narrative I've come across where "Mary Magdalene" is spoken of as a female counter part to Jeshua, one who holds the keys of the lineage of sexuality that she and Christ held together. I appreciate the ways that the remembrance of this aspect of her archetypal fits into the grid of what is emergent right now within the collective reweaving around sacred sexuality and feminine empowerment. So, I've been aware of these perspectives, and considering where that energy lives within me. Many folks come up to me with dreams that I am of the "Magdalene lineage." And I love the energy that I experience when feeling into those dimensions.
In recent years I have gone deeper into healing my womb stories, activating the energetic creative blueprints of the womb, and opening the possibilities of a greater collective story at work within my psyche. I wrote the song Child of Magdalene after watching the film Magdalene Sisters about the Magdalene Laundries, which is a totally wonky piece of recent European history. Seeing how the name of the feminine was dragged through the mud in the religious structure I grew up in burned something raw in me. I could feel the historical oppression of female sexuality carved in my bones, and this song came as an apology and honoring of that aspect of the Mother, the one who went underground, into the shadow with her magic. I keep finding this story over and over. Claiming Magdalene now, poetically speaking, is reclaiming my own sexuality as sacred, rather than the prostitution-sin situation that we need as women to spend the rest of our lives apologizing for.
What is your relationship to the witch burning times?
My interest in the burning times is a spectrum, from having personal recollections, visions, dreams, and soul connections with others where I have experiences of us all having been from that time. I’ve written songs inspired by that period of history, and it feels like an aspect of the collective epigenetic unwinding that comes through inside of the cauldron of exploring music and storytelling as an opportunity for healing on a DNA level. Currently I have a special interest in grief work, and the power mourning as a vehicle for emotional freedom. The burning times to me occurs as a huge piece of our history that has gone largely unmourned in a way where the quality of life and breakthrough can be felt at a cultural level. Our Western culture, I think, is resonating in a state of collective amnesia and PTSD around not only the burning times, but slavery, genocide and many other historical archs where numerous people suffered unimaginable horror, and then certain infrastructures that are a part of our system of operation came into play to organize the peoples. There is one in me who tracks this in my own nervous system, and the nervous system of the collective woundology and heart. When I chose to create art about it, my prayer is that these stories can be told in a way where repair can happen and we can begin to rework the narrative of oppression and violence from our bloodline, and make space for a more coherent way of relating to come online, one where we are not afraid of differences, and where we are honoring again of the mystery and our relationship with all of life.
Do you ever feel that the music industry pressures artists to fit neatly into a specific niche or genre, for commercial success? If so, how do you navigate, as an artist that cannot be contained by a niche or genre?
Ha! totally. I have navigated it by both trying to fit inside a box, completely ignoring the box, pretending I’m not part of the music industry, and then deciding firmly to dissolve within me the places where I’m playing into hierarchical art making. I’m choosing to live more intentionally as a multidimensional being who makes art and expresses my profound love for life. Wholehearted expression. What does this look like? This is the question of every day. I will continue to receive visions of music and do my best to make them happen. I feel myself more and more in devotion to the muse with less attachment to how its received. Before, when more "industry" based in my strategies, I was much more concerned about being "successful" as an artist. This internalized way of seeking feedback externally is something I'm tracking in my ego process. As an artist, of course we want to reach as many people as possible. I also don’t want to change my tune to do so.
Fork in the Road is a therapeutic concept album as well as a curriculum for people working with addiction recovery. Can you tell us a little about your own journey with addiction?
When I was in college studying music therapy, I was in a deep process of substance use as a way to numb out and manage the complexities of interfacing with the impact of traumatic experiences. After recognizing the impact of my behavior from years of use, I started therapy, and began working to heal these edgier places in my psyche. I was looking for the first time at family of origin fractures, sexual experiences in my coming of age that were imprinted with fear and intensity, and sorting out the cultural trances of being an empath, shutting down the deep feels, silencing my own voice in order to survive and stay in good social standing. The songs and vision of Fork In The Road came through during this period of detox. My experience with addiction didn’t stop there, but this body of work helped to orient me towards a path of resolving and healing.
There is a big stigma around addiction. I didn’t formally come forward with my story even though my first album was about addiction because I didn’t want to talk about it with my family, didn’t want it to have a negative impact on my "brand," and I really hid from it. It's coming forward more and more now, because I think its really important for us to have community dialogues about how we are managing our pain. I was in a lot of pain as a youth, and I felt alone in it. I long for greater conversations around the impact of rites of passage, and how badly we are missing that in our culture. Once I began having rites of passage, finding my tribe, and being held spiritually by the elders in my community, and once I had that level of being seen, celebrated, and tracked, my need for substance use shifted.
Have entheogenic (visionary/psychedelic) medicine been a part of your journey? If so, how?
My experience with entheogenic medicine has played a critical role in my healing and creative journey. When i was in high school, I had my first experiences with mushrooms, and MDMA. These experiences opened me up to multi-dimensional reality, as well as had an impact on my capacity for empathy, shadow work, emotional intelligence, and intimacy.
In college, I formed some daily use habits with more addictive substances. When I went to my first Burning Man at age 20, I sat in my first ayahuasca ceremony (at Burning Man.... seriously) and that experience changed my life. It played a major role in my awakening, I had a full cosmic soul rebirth experience, which purge my system of the toxicity of my addictive patterns, and of the substances i had formed dependency on. This was a cornerstone of my journey with writing The Fork In The Road, as the songs and vision of this album came directly from that first sit with Aya.
My last semester of college, and the time shortly following graduation, I sat with Aya several times. I traveled to Hawaii for a 3 week Aya cook. I experienced things there that seeded my life's work currently with women and womb healing. In fact the story I told at the Yoniverse Monologues last year was about my journey to Hawaii, and sitting with Aya, and the clusterfuck of drama that occurred on a hilariously mythic archetypal level in my relationship to my blood and the moon time mysteries. I also received visions of creating children's meditation based albums at this time.
I have not sat with entheogens since that time, over 10 years ago, as my guides in the esoteric trainings I continued with after graduation requested me to abstain from uses of any substances, including entheogens, so I chose to walk the way of cultivating visionary states through meditation and qi gong practice.
The truth is that entheogens helped me heal from addiction and cracked me to be open enough to receive visions of my life's work, the destiny threads I continue to walk to this day. I feel grateful for those times and experiences, and how they have informed my hero's journey.
VOICE OF MY WOMB
Online course starting Nov 7, 2017
ANCIENT VOICES RETREAT
Feb 15-20, 2018
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...
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
I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie McAlpin at the Global Ibogaine Therapy Conference in 2016, and I was touched by her genuine passion for healing and helping. Not only is she a skilled medical professional, she also has incredible nutritional wisdom and spiritual awareness in relation to iboga & ibogaine, known in some circles as one of the world's most powerful psychedelic medicines for addiction recovery, psychotherapy, and spiritual healing.
Jamie McAlpin is co-founder of IbogaSafe, a medical training service for iboga & ibogaine medicine providers aimed at reducing the amount of adverse events during Ibogaine treatment through safety advocacy, empowering providers, and improving the client’s experience. Jamie graduated with honors in 2000 with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University, in North Carolina. Her specialties include Coronary Care Unit, Cardiovascular/Open Heart Intensive Care, Code Blue Team, Cardiac Catheterization Lab (adult/pediatric), and Electrophysiology Lab (adult/pediatric). In 2014, she began working with Iboga and researching Ibogaine safety and best practices. She also began volunteering with the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance (GITA) to co-author the Clinical Guidelines for Ibogaine-Assisted Detoxification, which led her to deepen her research into the medical considerations and risks related to Iboga/Ibogaine. In 2015 she completed training to become an American Heart Association BLS and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) instructor and continued working with GITA to develop the first ACLS for Ibogaine, and Heartsaver CPR & AED pre-conference training courses offered at the 2016 Global Ibogaine Conference in Tepoztlan, Mexico. She also presented on the Ibogaine Therapy Ethics & Safety panel discussion at the conference.
CHECK OUT JAMIE'S IBOGA SAFETY WEBINAR
STARTING FEBRUARY 19TH
What inspired you to start IbogaSafe?
IbogaSafe was inspired organically through our many conversations over the last few years involving our various experiences in widely varying settings, and through our work on the Clinical Guidelines project with GITA. The common theme that kept resurfacing in our conversations was the provider community's need for safety advocacy, education and training in order to prevent and respond to potential adverse events during ibogaine treatment. We aim tackle that issue through an inclusive harm reduction approach.
What makes iboga different from other visionary medicines, in terms of safety?
The biggest safety issue surrounding Iboga is it's potential for cardiotoxicity. Iboga is the only visionary medicine that carries the risk of lethal cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest. My clinical background working with similar QT prolonging drugs, arrhythmias, responding to respiratory/cardiac arrests and witnessing hundreds of sudden cardiac deaths in a hospital setting has given me a profound awareness and respect for the heart that most people outside of emergency care settings cannot grasp. Lethal cardiac arrhythmias can cause a person to become unresponsive and completely lose their pulse and blood pressure within 5-10 seconds. A cardiac arrest needs to be recognized and responded to appropriately within 3-6 minutes in order to prevent permanent brain injury/death. Therefore I strongly feel that everyone working directly with this medicine should be CPR certified and have an appropriate AED onsite as a bare minimum standard of care. Heart health exists on a wide continuum that runs from total absence of symptoms to sudden death, in a matter of seconds and often without warning.
Why is qualified medical supervision necessary for iboga/ibogaine treatments?
Detoxing patients off various substances in a medical setting can be extremely complicated and unpredictable even without Ibogaine factored into the equation. The screening, preparation, and intake process for this medicine is not simple and requires keen assessment skills. Recognizing and responding to adverse events appropriately and in a timely manner is even more complicated and requires a certain amount of medical knowledge, experience, skill and training. ACLS certified medical professionals are preferred when dealing with this plant.
Do facilitators need medical training just for psychospiritual journeys (vs. addiction detox)?
There have been documented fatalities involving psychospiritual clients and at lower doses. One prime example of a preventable psychospiritual death in Dr. Alper's 2012 Ibogaine Fatality study was a 44 year old female who became unresponsive 4 hours after ingesting 300 mg of Ibogaine HCL. Toxicology negative, history of hypertension (change to high blood pressure), and her autopsy showed an old heart attack and significant 3 vessel coronary artery disease. An EKG 3 months prior to her death showed inverted T waves, which is an indication of heart damage/heart attack that should’ve been further investigated by a cardiologist who would've ordered more testing. A thorough screening process for Ibogaine could've detected her heart disease BEFORE an acute heart attack when it would've been treatable and survivable. Proper medical supervision during screening could've prevented her inevitable death. I think that ALL potential patients deserve the same screening and supervision regardless of intent. Heart disease accounts for 17 million deaths per year worldwide. It's the # 1 killer of men and women, killing twice as many people as all cancers combined. The odds are never in our favor when dealing with heart disease.
Why is it necessary for experienced traditional providers to take IbogaSafe courses?
I think of this webinar course as step one to truly understanding Ibogaine's effect on the heart. One needs to understand how the heart works normally to fully understand how Ibogaine can adversely affect even a healthy heart under certain circumstances. Ibogaine's effects work specifically on the electrical system of the heart, which is the( most complicated facet of learning the heart, but this course introduces all those concepts via learning to interpret ECG's. (remove because and separate the run on sentence) ECG's are essentially a live real time reading of the electrical system that drives the heart. My secondary hope for this course is that it encourages providers to start the process of improving their own safety measures as they are able, like getting CPR certified and getting basic equipment starting with an appropriate AED. Some models of AED's have displays and monitoring cables available so they could also be used to do continuous cardiac monitoring. One way to motivate more cardiac monitoring is to simply teach people what the squiggly lines on the monitor mean. It's our most valuable assessment tool, especially for a client who is lying down in a dark room. All of the above steps could drastically improve the survival rate for a potential cardiac arrest during treatment and as a cardiac nurse and ACLS/CPR instructor my goal is naturally to increase survival rates associated w/ ibogaine related cardiac events.
What is wrong with mail ordering medicine for underground treatments?
Due to demand outpacing supply currently, we are seeing a worldwide problem of counterfeit/tainted product available over the internet and there have already been deaths documented in medical journals due to this. One article involved 30 year old woman with a history of drug abuse and methadone treatment was found dead. A bag at the scene labeled "Top quality Tabernanthe Iboga 50 g Gabon, Africa" was analyzed and shown to contain no Iboga, but a similar looking root substance from a more common plant which has an alkaloid that produces "toxicity effects including hypotension, bradycardia, gastric hypersecretion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin flushes, nasal congestion, sedation, and coma. Another case study involved a 40 year old man w/ heroin addiction who ordered Ibogaine online for self-administration. He ingested 4 g of ibogaine and 2 g of an uncharacterized “booster.” He was found 8 hours later, unresponsive, covered in emesis, in an asystole (flatline) rhythm. He had suffered an acute cardiac arrest leading to cerebral edema and brain death, presentation consistent w/ ibogaine induced cardiotoxicity/cardiac arrest.” I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deaths and near misses due to black market Iboga/Ibogaine and the dangerous practice of self administration or treatment with untrained underground providers.
Why would a nurse or a doctor need the IbogaSafe training in order to supervise iboga/ibogaine treatments?
Medical professionals are not on equal ground when it comes to attaining the knowledge and skills to safely screen and monitor Ibogaine clients or respond to emergencies. I personally did not learn ECG interpretation in nursing school and nursing/medical school generally only teaches students how to pass the licensing board testing. Like most medical professionals I learned on the job and via continuing education courses provided to me AFTER I graduated, passed (my boards, and specialized in working with cardiac patients right away. Hospitals spend a lot of time and money on staff education to make sure that they have qualified eyes on high risk patients. Also, while most medical professionals are certified in Basic Life Support, much fewer professionals are certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Prerequisites required to pass an ACLS course are BLS certification and the ability to quickly interpret ECG rhythms on the heart monitor so they can be treated without delays. The minimum standard of care in the USA for professionals working directly with all cardiac monitored patients is that they obtain ACLS certification within the first year and I think that standard of care should also apply to medical professionals working with Ibogaine. Additionally, the medical community at large isn't educated on specific pharmacology and case studies involving Ibogaine ingestion and how ACLS protocols need to be altered when dealing with an Ibogaine emergency, which is why Jonathan Dickinson and I developed the ACLS for Ibogaine course for last year's Global Ibogaine Conference.
VISIT THE IBOGASAFE WEBSITE
New Video - Bast & Chor Boogie Speak at the Aware Project Salon: "Iboga for Healing Addiction & Relationships"
On May 18th, Chor Boogie and I were delighted and honored to speak at a salon produced by the Aware Project, an incredible organization dedicated to nurturing community, education, and integration in relation to psychedelic medicines.
We were inspired to share about our experience with the iboga medicine, not only for healing Chor's addiction relapse over two years prior, but also for healing our relationship.
After publishing my intimate memoir Heart Medicine: A True Love Story - One Couple's Quest for the Sacred Iboga Medicine & the Cure for Addiction, I often get asked by people struggling with loving an addict, "what do I do?" I am humbled by this question, and I offer my response in this live talk at the salon....
*Footage graciously provided by filmmaker and sacred medicine advocate Javier Prato.