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There is a common perception out there that if a person uses a drug, or goes on a retreat, it is out of a desire to escape from reality. And often, that is true. But there are some substances and practices, in some settings, that offer a way of doing exactly the opposite; offer a chance to change our consciousness in order to help us engage with reality more thoroughly. Those of us pursuing the latter aren’t trying to tune out; we’re trying to radically improve our ability to pay attention to the world around us.
When someone does expand their consciousness, and feels that they have been given important new insights, what are they supposed to do with that gift? How do they hold onto it, and not let the richness of it wither in the light of day? How do they bring that learning into daily life, and use it wisely?
The answer is a process called integration. Unlike the rush of a peak experience, it’s slow going. And unlike a peak experience, which requires mainly just that you surrender to it, integration requires you to take active responsibility, and do your homework. And it’s a funny kind of homework, that encompasses all of existence. No one else can do it for you. But it does help to connect with fellow students who can talk through problems, share notes, and keep up morale. You know, like, study buddies, but… cosmic.
Who’s running this joint?
My name is Solana Joy. I look like this:
Mushrooms are my mind-expanding mode of choice, though I’m interested in meditation, breathwork, and dream exploration as well. My framework for engaging with the world is an unruly and still evolving mix of taoism, paganism, pop songs, and psilocybin. I grew up in Alaska, but have wandered widely since, and currently reside in Berlin. Here I have the happy responsibility of looking after one young son and one old cat. I write books and articles, and have another Substack that was also inspired by mushrooms, but is about being a mammalian mother, called Mama Dentata.
During one recent mushroom ceremony in the Netherlands, I had the experience of holding all of time and space in my hands, and observing it from what you might call a god’s-eye perspective. It was awesome in every imaginable sense of the word. The next day, I realised I had, briefly, achieved a state that I can only call enlightenment. Which is an astonishing thought. But which left me wondering; how the f*** am I supposed to integrate that into everyday life as a regular old human?
So I am in the process of trying to learn about all things integration. I have found a lot of serious organisations, and expensive conventions, and loads of books and masterclasses and workshops. And I will be exploring those to whatever extent my time and wallet will allow. But the thing I’m most in need of is a means of connecting with others in the same boat as me; who love mushrooms, or other mystical methods of reexamining what life might be. People who ‘get it’, or want to, and are keen to know more. Who make no claim to be experts, but rather, are fully aware how much more there always is to figure out. Who know that this stuff is all very serious, but also profoundly funny. Who do, in fact, want to get at the truth of existence to the extent that it is humanly possible, given the limits of our minds and bodies and time on Earth. And who want to be of use to each other if they can.
And that isn’t everyone you meet. But I do believe there are a lot of you out there.
I want this Substack to be a place to talk about the integration process. Not in the abstract, but in specific, gritty instances we are personally faced with. I think what I’m imagining is like a more jubilant, through-the-looking-glass inversion of AA. A place to discuss how we are getting on with the work. To try to keep abreast of the so-called ‘renaissance’ in psychedelics, and sort through the barrage of news and new offerings rising up around it. To share notes, and share recommendations of what resources we have found actually helpful.
The offerings will evolve as we go. But here is my intention:
Posts about how to make sense of experiences with altered states, and integrate what is gained. I’m coming from a mushroomy place, but am interested in other modes (psychedelic or otherwise), and the evidence supporting them (scientific or otherwise).
Rundowns on books, films, lectures, workshops, and other materials and events relevant to integration work.
A compiling of resources and tools you and I have actually found helpful.
Spotify playlists. Because good tunes and good vibes are crucial to all endeavours.
Interviews with folks who have any experience in these fields that they’d like to share.
Weekly integration checkins via Substack Chat.
Group Zoom sessions.
In person meet-ups, should the opportunity arise in time.
Everything that is mine to share will be free and public to anyone who wants to see it. However, I believe that in order to encourage others to share with ease, it is necessary to reserve the group settings for those with a paying subscription. (Don’t worry, they’re not pricey.)
If this sounds at all intriguing, then please do Subscribe and come along. And if you have any friends you think would like to join, please invite them, too. I’ll do all I can to be a good cosmic study buddy, and make this a space worth hanging out, but one person can’t be a whole gathering. So I need and appreciate your help here.