top of page

 Walking the Plant Path:

A Facilitator's Guide to Plant Medicine Retreats

I recently published Walking the Plant Path, a comprehensive guide to lawful, psychedelic plant-medicine retreats.  The book covers all the key elements of plant medicine retreats, from both theoretical and practical perspectives, including:

  • How good facilitators prepare themselves to lead retreats

  • Choosing who should (and, importantly, who should not) attend a retreat

  • How participants’ “set” impacts a retreat

  • Creating a “setting” that is physically and emotionally safe and supportive

  • Managing the elements and logistics of a retreat–from the medicine to the music

  • Essential ground rules for a successful retreat 

  • Beginning the essential post-retreat integration of the experiences, from challenging to sublime, without which the experience quickly looses its impact.

Screenshot 2024-02-06 at 11.40.21 AM.png

The guide draws on the work of experienced facilitators and includes  insights from years of teaching courses for plant medicine facilitators.


Mental Health Practitioners​​

This book is also of value to mental health practitioners, even if not interested in facilitating psychedelic retreats themselves. They will find that many clients wish to experience retreats–or already have. The guide provides the information needed to help clients identify appropriate facilitators and well-run retreats, and “integrate” their experiences afterwards.

Walking the Plant Path may be purchased here.

 Using Plant Medicines Wisely:  An On-line Course

I teach a course on the lawful, intentional, and safe use of psychoactive plants.  The course covers what is needed to reduce potential harm to the users of these powerful medicines, and to increase the benefits available from their use.  The course is not a recommendation to use psychedelics where laws prohibit them.


The number of people in the West interested in working with plant medicines is growing rapidly.  For one thing, recent studies by major universities such as NYU, Johns Hopkins, and Imperial College London, as well as the extraordinary success of the MAPS trials, have demonstrated that plant medicines, used skillfully, are safe and effective, correcting the misimpression intentionally created by the United States government in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.  These studies also show that these plant medicines can enable people to heal many mental and emotional afflictions more effectively than currently available psychotherapeutic medicines, as well as showing their potential impact on people’s sense of connection with community, nature, and the divine. 


The course is designed for:

  • Those who wish to explore medicine retreats as participants or facilitators

  • Those interested in knowing the best retreat practices to support people considering attending such a retreat

  • Those who are integrating their experiences following a retreat. 

The course is designed for both therapists and non-therapists.    


It is based on several assumptions and underlying principles.  Among these are the following:


  • Plant medicines, properly prepared and used, are safe and can provide deep healing insights and spiritual awakenings

  • Working with a trained facilitator before, during, and after a plant medicine retreat enhances the positive effects and significantly reduces the possibility of emotional and physical harm

  • The power, effectiveness, and safety of plant medicines is greatly improved by being used in retreats where the setting has been carefully curated to provide a safe and attractive environment

  • Facilitators must prepare themselves by deeply exploring their own inner life before stepping into the role of supporting others

  • Facilitators do not need to be trained as a shaman, curandero, vegitalista, or ayahuascero, nor to be a Western-trained and licensed psychotherapist, to safely and effectively prepare and lead plant medicine retreats  Facilitators do need to prepare themselves personally and follow certain guidelines and safety protocols

  • Each of us has an inner healer that seeks our greater wholeness and wellbeing.  When the inner healer is combined with the wisdom of plant medicines, we can enter a healing consciousness beyond our normal one.


The course is organized sequentially, as each step builds on the steps before.  It looks first at the concept of the “inner healer.”  It then explores how facilitators need to prepare themselves, and the personal work needed to be done by anyone considering becoming a facilitator. 


The course moves on to what is needed to create a beautiful, safe, and supportive setting for retreats.  The setting will color the entire experience of the retreatants, as they will be in an enhanced state of awareness and wide open to the beauty, or lack of it, in their surroundings. The remarkable impact of the setting of a retreat on its outcome has been demonstrated repeatedly.


The course then reviews the basic guidelines for working with any psychoactive medicine.  This includes the choice of medicine, and considerations about how intensely to dose retreatants.


Next, the session reviews the screening process, namely, how to decide whom to include, and, more importantly, whom not to include, in a retreat.  The process of screening applicants involves getting to know them to determine if they are physically and emotionally ready for a medicine retreat, and screening out those who, for one reason or another, shouldn’t be in a retreat at this time.  Working with the retreatants at this stage also includes helping them prepare themselves for the retreat. 


The course focuses next on the opening of the retreat.  This includes a review of essential ground rules that retreatants need to agree to for everyone’s safety, and what it means to “hold space” during the ceremony.  It covers how and when to intervene in a retreatant's inner processes, and how to work with the unexpected reactions of some retreatants.


Finally, the course covers the follow-on integration process, and how to support retreatants after the ceremony.  (See the discussion below on Integration.)  Integration is the most under appreciated aspect of most retreats; it is during the weeks and months following a retreat that retreatants can engage in incorporating the insights they gained on the retreat into their daily lives.  This process can be especially powerful for those working with a therapist if their therapist understands plant medicine retreats and the ways the plants open people to their own inner lives.


The course is based on my recently published book,  Walking the Plant Path (see the discussion above about the book).  It meets on Saturday mornings on Zoom from 10:30 AM to Noon Eastern time, generally every other week (the starting date and schedule are TBD).  There are suggested readings for each class.  Classes are recorded for those unable to make a class, and are posted on-line for the next few weeks; they are then deleted for confidentiality.  The fee for the course is $250 paid in advance. Please contact me for more information on when the next class is scheduled to begin, and for any other questions you may have.

Psychedelic Integration

"In conversation with many people about the topic of integration, I have discovered that this is a subject that is often only briefly addressed, although I consider it more important than the non-ordinary experience itself. The question is - how do we bring the non-ordinary into the ordinary?”   Personal email from a psychotherapist.

The importance of integrating  psychedelic experiences.

The experience of non-ordinary states of consciousness can be beautiful, and offer healing and awakening.  It can also be very disturbing as well. These liminal states have been sought since the dawn of humanity, and can be achieved in many ways developed over the centuries. 


Among the more effective of these is the use use of psychedelics, often called plant medicines. Properly used, they are safe and effective.  Misused, they can be emotionally or even physically dangerous.

If you are considering such an experience and are unfamiliar or uncertain how to approach it, I can discuss possible ways of approaching and setting up such an experience.  I do not provide psychoactive substances nor do I recommend their use where they are illegal.  That said,  if you are considering a journey into non-ordinary states of consciousness with the use of plant medicines, I can advise you on how to do this safely. I can also suggest ways to ensure the setting you are considering is safe, and the facilitator(s) who will be overseeing the experience have the needed experience, and the deep level of integrity that is essential for your safety.

The experience itself, however, is only the start, and, in the view of most experts, not even the most significant or important part of working in altered conscious for personal healing and growth.  The greatest value comes from exploring the experience as it unfolds over the following days, weeks, and months, and integrating it into your ordinary, daily consciousness – without this its impact disappears and loses its primal power.

The integration process begins as soon as you return to ordinary consciousness, generally the next morning.    In the best run ceremonies the guide will provide an opportunity to begin exploring your experiences, and help you begin the process of understanding them and their impact on your life. 

When this support is not offered, you are left on your own to comprehend what you have experienced.  This is often unfortunate unless you have the support of a knowing therapist or experienced friend who will work with in the days and weeks following a journey as the medicine continues its mysterious work. 

The strange fact is that very often the  greatest impact of non-ordinary consciousness unfolds over time, and takes weeks, months, and even years to come fully to fruition.  Indeed, shamans from traditional indigenous communities say that once you have ingested a medicine plant, the spirit of the plant continues to live in you from then on, quietly (or not so quietly) guiding you if you are open to its voice.

bottom of page