The term “guild” refers to the practice of training by which a guide accepts apprentices. In a study of nearly a hundred people who took a psychedelic, guided as outlined in this manual, seventy-eight percent reported, “It was the greatest experience of my life.” This response was true even for those people who had taken a psychedelic many times before.
This manual describes how to benefit from having an experienced guide, sufficient psychedelic material, and a supportive setting to be in. Many people who hope to have a spiritual or an pathogenic experience using a psychedelic don’t know how to reach and stay open to those levels of consciousness.
And, few people who wish to help others on that voyage have had the benefit of being taught how to serve as effective guides. This manual has been written to offer useful tested suggestions to guides and voyagers.
This manual brings together the insights of a number of psychedelic guides who have been working discretely over the last forty years to facilitate maximally safe and sacred pathogenic experiences. This compilation is being made available to support increased spiritual understanding and to minimize negative experiences.
However, the presence of a knowledgeable guide greatly facilitates the probability of reaching, recalling and integrating expanded levels of consciousness. To establish the best possible environment for spiritual psychedelic sessions, it is critical to keep in mind six primary factors that most affect the nature and value of these experiences.
This manual focuses on LSD-25 (simply called LSD here), generally regarded as the most potent psychedelic that facilitates access to the broadest range of experiences. Estrogen: Any psychedelic used specifically to enhance the probability of spiritual experience.
Guide: Someone with considerable personal experience and knowledge of altered states of consciousness, with and without the use of psychedelics. In this manual, the sitter is the person, often, but not necessarily, a close friend, who cares for the voyager after a session and as well as during the initial re-entry period.
By reviewing the sections each deems important, together they can better align their intentions and increase their rapport. For most people, the predominant feeling during a session is not of discovering something new, alien or foreign, but of recalling and reuniting with an unassailable clarity that had been latent in one’s own mind.
Despite the intensely personal nature of the experience, the importance of a guide cannot be overstated. During the experience of awakening to oneself, it is invaluable to be with someone who supports you and whom you feel you can trust.
Your guides know the terrain, can sense where you are, and will be able to advice or caution you as appropriate. In the words of one guide discussing the role of psychedelics in relation to other practices, “It enhances mind states also accessible from intense practice and focused attention discoverable through yoga, meditation, fasting and other disciplines.” Seemingly universal, this opening is often experienced as reuniting one’s self with an eternal flow of energies and understandings.
The psychedelic gave his mind freer play to see myriad connections, linking formerly mundane items to an ocean of ideas, memories, feelings and attitudes. Huxley also described vibrant visions and ancient archetypal constellations that he felt had been present but unnoticed in his mind.
After reviewing many spiritual breakthroughs, William James came to the following conclusion, especially true of pathogenic experience: “One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. Whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.
It is natural to hope that one’s first full sexual experiences will be loving and pleasurable. A well-structured session makes it far more likely that early psychedelic experience will be meaningful, healthy and life enhancing.
Try to take as much as possible of the day after the session to begin to integrate the experience and to record your discoveries and insights. Prior to the session, it’s wise to clarify your personal preconceptions about psychedelic experiences, sacred plants and pathogens in general.
In addition, consider and reflect on your understanding of mystical experience, cosmic consciousness or whatever else you may have heard described might arise. Discussing the range of possible experiences in advance enables the session itself to go more smoothly.
As a session progresses, it is not uncommon to find yourself encountering entities that some refer as “the presence of spirits.” In most cases, these meetings are positive. In order to maximize the usefulness of realizations that may occur during your psychedelic voyage, it is invaluable to write out beforehand what you hope to learn, experience, understand or resolve.
You are there to ensure that the session is maximally safe and beneficial, to increase the probability of the voyager entering into transpersonal or transcendent states, to minimize difficulties and to honor the trust placed in you. “ However, in addition to those qualities, it is valuable to have basic knowledge in certain areas: the range of possible effects, the basic principles of various spiritual traditions and a sense of how and when to share useful ideas and concepts with the voyager.
Your suggestions at the right moments may help the voyager make a pivotal discovery or retain an important insight. At times, you may need to reassure the voyager that a certain experience, even if troubling, is normal, and it will pass.
Therefore, as part of the preparation for any journey, it is essential to dispel untrue ideas about the effects of psychedelics. With or without having a given spiritual orientation, it is not unusual to encounter beings or experience states of consciousness described in traditions other than their own.
You can reduce any anxiety about such encounters should they occur by preparing to be supportive and respectful of any tradition that emerges. Your support of the voyager’s initial intention about spiritual or religious experience is the best possible way to begin.
Working with fear: If a voyager has limited experience with altered states, he or she may be frightened as familiar dimensions of identity begin to dissolve. When a voyager looks directly at a complex tangle of memories, desires, insecurities and other unresolved inner threads, a natural reaction may be to become frightened Be reassuring; clarify that a feeling of fear is normal and will pass.
During fearful moments, you can use a gentle touch and suggest deep breathing. “If you are in an ethnocentric stage of development, and you have a unity-state experience of being one with everything, you might interpret that as an experience of oneness with Jesus and conclude that nobody can be saved unless they accept Jesus as their personal savior.
If you are at an…integral stage… you are likely to conclude that you and all sentient beings without exception are one in the spirit...” Ken Wilbur The more you know about yourself and whomever you are guiding, the more likely you are to be able to stay centered and tranquil throughout the session.
When you yourself are more comfortable, it will be easier for the voyager to transition from one state of awareness to another. After reviewing hundreds of sessions in different settings, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Days), concluded, in most situations, that a voyager became distressed when the guide had become unsettled, uncertain or upset.
However, when these individuals try to integrate these experiences into their lives, an insufficient vocabulary makes retaining the core events and insights more difficult. It may be helpful during the session, for the guide to validate what someone is seeing and feeling by rephrasing or summarizing their experience in simple language.
Would you like to know more?” When a voyager feels secure, the capacity to reach greater heights, and also to remember and integrate the experience, is most likely. In an pathogenic setting, any acting out will narrow the voyager’s experience and can be confusing.
Your approval or disapproval of any relationship can easily disrupt the voyager’s own process of discovery. Point of view: You may hope the person you’re guiding will agree with you about certain issues, especially spiritual ones.
Discuss this beforehand if you feel your own point of view might be an issue that could interfere with your objectivity. Transpersonal: During pathogenic sessions, voyagers will usually experience realms beyond their personal egos.
As a general practice, encourage the voyager to collect experiences and save discussion about them for later review and reflection, and not even try to figure them out as they occur. When to cancel or postpone: For whatever reason, if you have an intuition that the timing is wrong, that the person is not well-prepared, hasn’t done what you feel has been the necessary preparation, or that you’re not the right guide for a certain person, don’t hesitate to delay or cancel the session.
Specifically, in preparing for a session, if someone expresses that his or her intention is to delve deeply into suffering, darkness or the nature of evil, be cautious. Unless you have psychotherapeutic training related to altered states, you should seriously consider not guiding that person.
People who begin with these intentions often become stuck in hellish parts of their own psyches and can damage themselves. Indoors: All that is necessary for a safe journey with infinite possibilities is an uncluttered comfortable room with a couch or bed on which the voyager can rest, a comfortable chair for the guide and easy access to a bathroom.
Having a variety of soft pillows and blankets on hand is usually a good idea. It is better if the room can be insulated from outside sights and sounds, including people’s voices, pets and phones.
Music: Most cultures that use plants for healing, divination or spiritual revivification use music to facilitate the transition from one level of awareness to another and to enhance the feeling of safety by providing non-verbal support. During a session, music becomes a richly layered tapestry of sound and often evokes strong emotions.
For most people, the music seems to come from inside one’s own body and is felt, not just as sound, but also may be perceived as color, shape, texture, odor or taste. Stereo speakers near a person’s head are good and allow freer movement.
If any selection does not feel right during the session, the voyager should be able to signal or say, “Please change the music.” Stay with whatever is playing for a few more minutes to be sure that the request is appropriate, and not just a way for the voyager to voice a reaction or simply try to stay in control. However, even then, music serves a protective purpose like the net of a trapeze artist.
Have at least eight hours of music on hand to be able to choose or change selections as needed. Music proves to be invaluable in helping people travel beyond their usual thought patterns.
Many guides have their own collection of music from prior sessions that may be used from that point on. Classical music tends to feel appropriate to most people, even if they have not chosen it.
Hovhaness’s Mysterious Mountain, Fare’s Requiem, Gregorian chants, solo piano, piano with one or two other instruments, unaccompanied flute, ragas and indigenous drum recordings can all be used effectively. Music that could be considered emotionally leading or manipulative is potentially problematic.
Near the end of the session, if requested, play any music the voyager wishes, including pieces with words. An eye shade, eye-pillow, a folded washcloth or a scarf makes it easier for the music to be experienced internally.
When questioned about taking a psychedelic, Albert Hoffman, the chemist who created LSD and discovered its pathogenic potential, said, “Always take it in nature.” If you do decide on an outdoor setting, the experience may be extroverted. An ideal balance might be to allow the more intense segments to take place indoors, then to go outside later in the session.
There are valuable facets of consciousness to enter with open or with closed eyes, but many guides recommend that a voyager spend most of their time, especially during the period of intensely heightened awareness, with closed eyes. As one guide said, “It’s amazing how much one can ‘see’ with eyes closed.” With a sufficient pathogenic dose, indoors or out, the voyager tend to want to spend much of the time, day or night, lying down.
It seems to act as a catalyst, creating an environment in which other reactions can then occur. The resulting experiences range from a subtle shift in perception to breathtaking plunges into other realities.
While this manual focuses on LSD, a full range of similar experiences can occur with mescaline or psilocybin. If psilocybin is used, 30 milligrams has been called “a safe high dose.” Body weight or metabolism does not appear to be, in and of themselves, deciding variables in selecting the right dose for an individual.
A reliable resource for information about dosages for a range of psychedelics can be found here. The following descriptions represent stages which are reported following many voyages; however, a spectrum of variations cans and do occur.
The approximate amount of time given for each stage is typical for LSD, mescaline or peyote. In LSD inebriation the accustomed world view undergoes a deep-seated transformation and its integration.
Early on the day of a session, a light easily digestible breakfast, of fruit or toast, if desired, is fine. If the voyager wishes to say a prayer, express gratitude or invoke any spiritual tradition, you might set up an altar or just sit in silence together.
Some guides offer the material in a formal way: serving the tablets, capsules or plant materials in a small attractive dish or bowl, offering water in a crystal wine glass or even a metal goblet. Initial onset (20-50 minutes): After ingesting the psychedelic, some people may want to move around the room and converse normally.
However, you need to be responsive, and allow the person to do whatever comes naturally, especially if there is some anxiety. As the substance takes effect, the voyager should be invited to lie down, and begin to listen to his or her own or the guide’s choice of music.
If, after the initial onset, a person continues to sit up and talk or move around, he or she may need a booster dose. Needing to continue to move around or relate to someone else is usually a sign of resistance to going inward and should be respected.
Observe what is going on inside your mind and body, but do not try to control the flow of images and sensations. Allow your mind to take its natural course; relax and observe as your thoughts unfold without any effort.
Continue to lie down, eyes closed using the eye shade and focus on your breath. You may even wish to stand up and notice how you feel, and look at your guide before lying back down and relaxing.
Your body will naturally prefer and find a restful position as your mind’s capacity expands. This sensation, of heightened intensity, frequently comes when you are about to change levels, preparing to shift into a higher gear.
This sensation frequently comes when you are about to change levels, like shifting into a higher gear. Continue to lie down, eyes closed using the eye shade and focus on your breath.
You may even wish to stand up and notice how you feel, and look at your guide before lying back down and relaxing. Your body will naturally prefer and find a restful position as your mind’s capacity expands.
You may experience unusual feelings associated with “letting go,” physical (“My arm is melting”) or emotional (“Am I going crazy?”). Listen, watch and be sensitive to the voyager’s shifting mental states.
If you need to calm the voyager’s anxieties, a reminder that he or she chose to have this experience can be helpful. Without taking any substances, a guide may recall vivid memories or have sensations of being tuned back into expanded states of consciousness.
These states are natural, usually enjoyable, and do not need to interfere with your role as the guide. The guide may gradually lower the volume until it is off or alternate with periods of silence or music as requested.
Feel free to sit up, check in with the guide, continue to listen to with the music, or both. You can let go and enjoy the interplay and variety of what has been called the “10,000 worlds” of shifting realities.
He or she may report having experienced a recapitulation of personal creation, going from sperm and egg on through birth. Place your hand gently on their arm and say something like, “You can let it go; you’re doing well.” That comforting touch is often all that is needed.
If there is no outdoor setting that is safe and inviting, you may enjoy observing a flower or plant in the room or even looking through large format nature photography books. If you’ve been asked to help create a bridge between the mystical experiences earlier in the day and the voyager’s personal self, excellent tools to make this connection include a flower, a mirror and family photographs.
If the voyager merely glances at it, smells it and hands it back, offer a second opportunity and suggest a deeper look. Another way to deepen the connections made during the session is to invite the voyager to gaze into a full sized hand-held mirror.
If the voyager wishes to do more personal work, offer photos of people and places that have been brought to the session. After either commenting or sitting in silence, the voyager may put that photo down and ask for another one.
If a voyager arrived with a cold, an allergy or pain of some kind, these symptoms often disappear during the session and may come back about this time. For example, Dr. Andrew Was’s severe and lifelong cat allergy disappeared during an LSD session and never reappeared.
The guided portion of the day of the session should come to an end six to eight hours after taking a shorter-acting substance such as psilocybin or eight to ten hours after taking a longer acting substance such as LSD or mescaline. You will probably want to spend time starting to integrate what you’ve experienced.
During the voyager’s re-entry evening, you should be non-judgmental, gentle, open to listening and comfortable with silence. Long periods of silence indicate that your friend is still moving in and out of the experience and may be having significant insights.
If a person would like to go to sleep, but cannot relax enough to do that, warm milk, chamomile tea or just a single glass of wine may help. Most people prefer not to take anything, allowing the session to end naturally with normal sleep.
The exception would be stop toxic behaviors such as excessive drinking and taking harmful drugs. There is ample evidence that what drives many people to excessive use of alcohol or hard drugs is a vague awareness of their spiritual estrangement and isolation.
When people feel reconnected, as they often do after an pathogenic experience, excessive drug use or drinking may stop without effort or withdrawal symptoms. Prior to the session, make sure you learned about your voyager’s support system: family, friends, people at work, church, mosque or temple as well as therapists or spiritual teachers.
The Guides Guild suggests a minimum of six months between pathogenic journeys as it takes at least that long for the learning and insights to be absorbed and integrated into your life. Research conducted by the International Foundation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park, California over a six-year period found that it took at least a full year for deep-seated personality changes to stabilize.
Many people who had truly profound experiences had no desire, for some years, or even ever again, for any subsequent session. If you feel you absolutely “must” take a psychedelic again as soon as possible, it’s likely that you need to face some issue you’re avoiding.
That feeling is not a command from your highest self to take a psychedelic, no matter how much you want it to be. Keep in mind that your experience was not simply “drug-induced” but was facilitated by a blend of the substance, the guide, your intention and other factors unique to your situation at the time.
Keep in mind that your experience was not simply “drug-induced” but was facilitated by a blend of the substance, the guide, your intention and other factors unique to your situation at the time. The guide may wish to say: You are consciously taking a substance to open yourself to whatever teachings you may need at this time.
Set and setting have long been ignored in medical research, but the growing literature on placebo effects, for example, is forcing some long overdue attention to the obvious fact that much of our reactions to any stimulus depends on the actual context and the way we perceive it. Forward to The Translucent Revolution, Arjuna Yardage, New World Library, Novato, California, 2005, p. xvii.
A guide recalled a session in which a woman in her late forties, over the course of a day had more than 50 separate orgasms. She would not discuss her experience with her guide, but when evaluated, psychologically, six months later was rated was much improved.
“Yet, there are powerfully positive sessions that entail the courageous movement in and through personal suffering towards transcendence. It is of critical importance that the voyager accept whatever presents itself in his/her field of consciousness as a potential gift, even if it initially appears dark or threatening.” B.R.
Passive, Torsten, Happen, John H. Strichtenoth, Dirk O., Erich, Hinder, M., & Hint zen, Annelid. The Pharmacology of Lyric Acid Dimethylamine: A review, CNS Neurosciences & Therapeutics, 14, 2008, 295-314.
Their conclusion, after reviewing nearly 10,000 scientific papers and citing 199 references, was The pharmacology of LSD is complex and its mechanisms of action are still not completely understood. Griffiths, Roland, R. Richards, William A., McCann, RNA, D. and Jesse, Robert.
Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance, in Psychedelic Medicine: New evidence for hallucinogenic stances as treatments. (2 volumes) Winkle man, Michael, and Roberts, Thomas B., Prayer, Westport, Connecticut, 2007, v. 2, p. 230.
For a longer and more complete discussion, see, Stafford, Peter, Psychedelics Encyclopedia, (Revised edition), Archer Inc. Los Angeles, 1983, pp. The Psychedelic Vision at the Turn of the Millennium: A discussion with Andrew Was, in Hallucinogens, Grow, Charles S (ed.
The checklists are meant to supplement the main Guide, not serve as a substitute for it. It’s best to work through the checklist a few weeks ahead of time, but it may also prove useful just before and even during an ongoing session.
O Have no unusual or intense suicidal, dark, or otherwise troubling thoughts, and don’t intend to delve deeply into suffering or the nature of evil. O Am prepared to have highly unusual experiences, including: experiencing different realities or historical periods; being in a different body of either sex; becoming an animal, plant or microorganism; experiencing my own birth; meeting the divine within in a wide variety of possible forms, including gods and goddesses, divine beings, transcendent light, etc.
O Will remain neutral and nonjudgmental about Voyager’s issues, relationships and personal history. O Verify that Voyager has no suicidal, dark, or otherwise troubling thoughts, and is not intending to delve deeply into suffering or the nature of evil.
O Have art materials, journals, and other creative tools available for Voyager’s use, if desired. O Prepared to be quiet and perhaps lie down as estrogen takes affect over the first 20 minutes to one hour.
O If Voyager is moving around or otherwise seems substantially under-dosed after first hour or so, possibly administer booster dose. O If after two hours, with or without extra booster dose, will continue to press for an pathogenic level session.
O Am prepared to lie down, listen to music, observe my breathing and pay attention to any sensations in my body. O Am prepared to let go of my personal identity and allow physical boundaries to dissolve.
O Am prepared to give Voyager specific necessary assistance and guidance, such as gentle touch and the suggestion to breathe deeply. O Will validate what Voyager sees and experiences by rephrasing or summarizing it in simple language.
O Am prepared to make electronic recordings or take notes at Voyager’s request. O In consultation with Sitter, plan is in place for post-session re-integration period and to assist Voyager back to his or her regular circumstances.