July 19, 2022, Alexandra Jones

The descent into chaos happens quickly. Anyone who’s read about psychedelic ceremonies will have heard the stories (“I puked for twelve hours, then I saw God”) so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise when across the clearing an anguished sob ripples out of the darkness. I am on a retreat run by the psychedelic company Silo Wellness. I briefly recall a conversation I had with one of my retreat mates yesterday, the day we arrived. She — going through a break-up — told me that she is “here to get through the rage as quickly and efficiently as possible.” Some sobbing is to be expected.

Fifteen of us have decamped to the lush hills of Trelawny, in the middle of Jamaica, for five days of group therapy, yoga and psychedelic ‘ceremonies’ guided by four local women who’re experienced in shamanic healing. We are all here for different reasons; on the first night, we sat in a circle and declared our intention for this ‘journey’: getting over break-ups, break-downs, life-changing career decisions, some of us are feeling ‘stuck’, overlooked or overwhelmed. 73-year-old retiree Alice* summed it up: “I just want to feel better about myself and about life. I want to know who I am, finally.” She explained that she had recently lost her husband after a long battle with Dementia. “But it goes deeper than that. I feel like my time to understand myself is running out.” Like many of the women, she was inspired to come after reading the journalist Michael Pollan’s bestseller How to Change Your Mind: the New Science of Psychedelics, which last week was made into a Netflix series.[Read more … ]