In this episode, David interviews Victor Alfonso Cabral, LSW: Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Fluence Training and Licensed Social Worker and practicing psychotherapist in Pennsylvania.
Cabral is currently involved with the film, “We are the Medicine,” which aims to explore the reemergence of plant medicines from the perspective of people of color from all backgrounds and walks of life, with the added factor of a strong hip hop influence. Filmmakers Eric Blackerby and Esteban Serrano want the film to normalize the concept of psychedelics and healing for people of color, but also the notion of men being truly authentic with each other and building each other up with love and support – something that challenges society’s expectations on how men (and more specifically, Black and Brown men) should be in relationships with one another. Head to pictureacolorfulworld.com to donate and sign up for the mailing list for more info on future fundraisers and screenings.
He begins the episode by reading a powerful poem he read at Horizons NYC, then tells his story: his childhood and his mother’s sacrifices; how trauma caught up to him in college and led to the low point of his life; his subsequent 120-pound weight loss journey and embracing of therapy, how his first psychedelic experience resulted in an awakening of possibility; how he became a social worker and why he felt instantly aligned with the work; how he ended up working for PA Governor Tom Wolf; and how he came to be interviewed by Sway Calloway (who is also an Executive Producer of the film). His story and all of the organizations and efforts he’s been involved with prove that being authentic, following your heart, and building relationships with the right people can lead to growth and positive change in whatever path you choose in this space.
In this episode, Joe interviews Greg Lake, Esq.: Co-Founder of the Church of Psilomethoxin, author, and attorney specializing in working with entheogen-based religious practitioners in establishing their right to consume their sacraments under existing religious freedom laws.
Psilomethoxin (4-Hydroxy-5-methoxydimethyltryptamine or 4-Hydroxy-5-MeO-DMT) was first synthesized in 2021 by mixing 5-MeO-DMT with psilocybin substrate, and after initial tests and months of user reports, it was deemed safe to use.* Lake co-founded the Church of Psilomethoxin in 2022 with the goal of shifting the paradigm of religion to primary direct experiences and individual beliefs rather than a dogma everyone must follow, with a big focus on community and discussing the ultimate questions of life together – with Psilomethoxin as the sacrament of choice. While he prefers member-to-member referrals, there is an application on the site, and he hopes to grow the church through linking people up regionally, (eventually) training people to facilitate, and partnering with a data collection company to gather real-world data on both Psilomethoxin and on why people are seeking out psychedelic churches in the first place.
He discusses several cases that brought us here and inspired his work; why he believes Psilomethoxin won't be a target of the Federal Analogue Act; the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the need for states to establish similar state legislation; the importance of new churches establishing evidence in the public record; how much courts take sincerity into consideration; and the concept that, while we're quick to think of the law as the enemy, courts often don’t want to go after churches – religion is a sacred and intimate thing, so who is the victim if a court brings a church to court that hasn't harmed anyone?
*Update, April 17, 2023: Results from analytical testing released on April 12, 2023, reveal that there is no evidence to suggest the compound psilomethoxin is present in the samples of sacrament material the Church of Psilomethoxin is offering to their members online. The report, prepared by Samuel Williamson and Alexander Sherwood of the Usona Institute, states, “Psilocybin, baeocystin, and psilocin, were, however, unambiguously identified in the sample, suggesting that the claims regarding the biosynthesis of psilomethoxin may be misguided. The implications of these findings should be critically considered within the context of public health and safety.”
We are following this story at Psychedelics Today and are working to update our community with commentary from the researchers. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more on this topic.
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, Kyle interviews Carla Kieffer: psychedelic educator, Certified Psychedelic Facilitator, Community Liaison at Maya Health, and Founder of Kairos Integration, a company offering psychedelic training, preparation, facilitation, integration, and microdosing support.
This episode was recorded in-person, in between the first and second psilocybin retreats at Atman Retreat in Jamaica, where Kyle, Johanna, and a large group of Vital students just worked with Carla last month. Many participants that attend retreats are new to psychedelics, and often don’t know each other, so it was powerful to have a group of classmates follow the breathwork model of having sitters and journeyers take turns (which is the same model she uses for her Psychedelic Guide Training and Certificate Program), and demonstrates how much one can learn when taking the role of the sitter and how the journey becomes the teacher. They talk about how big the therapy part of psychedelic-assisted therapy is, in how rare it is to have someone attending to your every need for hours on end, and wonder: How can we take that aspect of holding space for each other and apply it to everyday life?
She discusses the importance of data collection and how her Internal Family Systems training has helped her balance her love for the mystical with her more science and data-based mind; the importance in facilitators meeting some sort of baseline harm reduction and safety training (and the need to establish an agreed-upon set of standards); the need for increased accessibility; how important it is to further educate about and normalize conversations about psychedelics; and how integration isn’t just a box you check off as part of the experience, but a continuous process and part of our lives, where checking in on ourselves should be a regular practice.
In this episode, Joe interviews Dr. Devon Christie: Senior Lead of Psychedelic Programs at Numinus, educator at CIIS and Vital, and MAPS-certified MDMA therapist; and Dr. Pamela Kryskow, MD: founding board member of the Psychedelic Association of Canada and Medical Lead of the nonprofit, Roots To Thrive.
Christie and Kryskow recently co-authored one of the first papers looking at MDMA for chronic pain, “MDMA-assisted therapy is associated with a reduction in chronic pain among people with post-traumatic stress disorder,” which came about after they received access to MAPS’ Phase 2 data from a lead-in PTSD study and noticed significant improvements in pain measurements – something the study was not looking for at all. They’re looking into where chronic pain fits within the frameworks of Western medicine and psychedelic-assisted therapy, and discuss the many reasons why MDMA should be tremendously helpful for chronic pain and other conditions that fall under the large umbrella of central sensitivity syndromes and nociplastic pain. They are currently working on a new study following the MAPS protocol that will research MDMA-assisted psychotherapy specifically for people with fibromyalgia, which some believe might be physicalized PTSD. If you’d like to contribute a tax-deductible donation, visit giving.viu.ca, select “other” from the dropdown, and type in “MDMA for Fibromyalgia.”
They talk about how research trials focus too much on the molecule while ignoring what the patient is saying; how a large percentage of physicians and patients don’t at all like the psychometrics used in measuring data; how physicians regularly use expectancy bias but research trials don’t (and how that affects results); why everyone needs to place higher importance on the biopsychosocial model; the idea of being more humble with science and using “theoretical” more often; the problems with microdosing trials; and the issues with evidence: If there isn’t sufficient evidence, why isn’t there? And what exactly would be sufficient?
In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, Kyle is joined by another new voice from the PT team: one of the main instructors and facilitators from our Vital program, Diego Pinzon.
Originally from Colombia, Diego has been living in Australia since 2008 and has been involved in the Australian psychedelic scene, playing roles in the charity sector, research with Psychae Institute, and is one of the researchers in the St. Vincent’s Melbourne trial, Australia’s first trial using psilocybin for end-of-life depression and anxiety. Diego gives his insight into the recent TGA re-scheduling of psilocybin and MDMA for treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, respectively.
They cover the details, unknowns, and concerns: Is there enough time to train enough people? Do they have the infrastructure for this? What are the substances actually going to be? What percentage of people who apply will be granted access? What will it cost? And while psychiatrists will be able to prescribe, how much will the program really focus on therapy?
And they discuss Vancouver’s Filament Health creating the world’s first ayahuasca pill, which is close to FDA authorization to begin a Phase 1 trial. Of course this news begs some questions as well, mainly: with psychedelic use being such an active experience, how much does something like this change our relationship to ayahuasca? And with a consistent, more predictable experience, does that kill the magic?
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, Johanna takes the helm for the first time, hosting a conversation with Jungian analyst-in-training, writer, researcher, 5Rhythms® teacher, and Vital student: Mackenzie Amara; and clinical psychologist, long time PT collaborator, and Vital instructor: Dr. Ido Cohen.
As this episode features three huge fans of Jung (Johanna wrote her Master’s dissertation on The Red Book and teaches a course through PT), they focus less on education and the future of psychedelic therapy, and instead get pretty deep; shining a light on an integral part of psychedelia (and life) we often avoid: the shadow. What is the shadow and what is true shadow work? What did Jung give us, and why is Jungian psychology so relevant for integrating psychedelic experiences?
They discuss the notion of the unconscious as a place you can develop a relationship with and access by very different means; the idea of the healer as the container; the problematic binary of good vs. evil; the flawed concept of ego death; the differences between authentic and neurotic suffering and personal and collective consciousness; the archetype of the wounded healer and why facilitators should both be wounded and in the process of healing; and how wonderful it is that society is beginning to embrace the weird and what makes us unique.
There are no shortcuts in life and there is no “cure” for the parts of the human condition we aren’t comfortable with, but in the capitalist, efficiency-above-all-else West, we aren’t raised to sit with the unpleasant, and instead learn to seek a quick fix, which has created an environment where we’ve lost the ability to feel in the ways that we need to. Can you be with someone else’s pain if you’re running from your own? Can you have real compassion if you’ve never suffered? Can you be complete without knowing your shadow?
In this episode, Joe interviews artist Rupert Alexander Scriven, who, under his brand, Vintage Disco Biscuit, recently released “The Art of Ecstasy”: a coffee table book of images of ecstasy tablets he collected for 25 years.
In this episode, David is joined by Director of Advocacy at the National Psychedelics Association, Kathryn L. Tucker, JD, who updates us on the 3 AIMS vs. the DEA cases, discussing what their outcome could mean for the future.
In this episode, Vital Psychedelic Conversations switches it up, with Kyle interviewing our Coordinator of Education and Training, Johanna Hilla, about 2022's inaugural edition of Vital. And what can students expect this year?
In this episode, Joe interviews Jessica "Jaz" Cadoch & Sovereign Oshumare: Co-Founders of ALKEMI, a consulting firm for psychedelic ethics and accountability. They discuss the Prop 122 conflict, what true access means, and more.
In this episode, Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience, Manesh Girn joins new podcast voice, Julian Bost, to explain recent research we found confusing, and to discuss schizophrenia, inflammation and depression, and the ways we learn.
In this episode, David interviews Grof-certified Holotropic Breathwork® practitioner, author, developer of InnerEthics®, and Vital instructor: Kylea Taylor: M.S., LMFT; and therapist and Vital student: Shabina Hale.