Doorway to the Inner Divine
Integration Journeywork is a process that allows people to explore their psyches, face and resolve traumas, and access their spirituality in an unconditionally supportive setting. Originating in Canada in 2019, it uses cannabis sativa in a therapeutic modality which includes eyeshades, headphones, and evocative music. The high-quality music creates a dynamic carrying wave that enables people to surrender and flow with their emerging emotional material. Both the headphones and eyeshades also create a safe buffer between the inner and outer worlds, helping to keep the process internalized by reducing outer-world distractions and diversions. The use of eyeshades and headphones with music is the same basic protocol developed by Stanislav Grof in his pioneering research.
Journeyers will have the option of smoking or vaporizing cannabis with a high THC content (19%) and can choose how much they want to do in any given session. Each person will select a partner for the duration of the workshop. One of them will do a session on the first day with the other “sitting,” and on the following day they will switch places. There will also be a high ratio of trained facilitators providing support to everyone in the group.
Participants have full permission to experience any material that emerges from their psyches. This approach combines the maximum benefits and minimized risks of using eyeshades and headphones, with the community-building, bonding and inspiring elements of a group workshop. The format will allow time for optimal integration, with opportunities to walk in nature, swim, soak, sit around a fire, eat delicious meals together, and share experiences in a group circle.
We will follow careful medical and psychological screening procedures for all participants. We also recommend that people refrain from ingesting cannabis or other psychedelics for at least a week prior to the workshop.
Integration Journeywork is an ideal training modality for professionals who are hoping to work with stronger medicines in the near future. Cannabis is currently the most powerful, legal catalyst to self-exploration in the Western world (legal now in Canada). We invite therapists who want the most broad and hands-on possible training for their upcoming work in the field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
The Course of Workshops
Participants can arrive at the workshop sanctuary from 4 pm on. We will have dinner at 6:30 pm and then meet as a group at 7:30. There will be a check-in, where people introduce themselves and talk about what they are hoping to get out of the workshop. We will then review Stanislav Grof’s research in non-ordinary states of consciousness and the range of experiences that people can access. We will also discuss the logistics of the workshop and the protocols of sessions. Following that, everyone will choose a partner and decide which person will do his or her journey the following day.
Once the session room is prepared, journeyers will smoke or vaporize the cannabis. They then lie down on their special mat, put on their eyeshades and headphones, and the music will begin through an ipod. Music sets last for five hours, although sessions usually range from three to five hours.
This will be a safe place for people to go deeply into their unconscious material and experience any intensity of emotion or energetic release. We ask that people stay lying down on their backs with their headphones and eyeshades on - except while walking to the bathroom - and just surrender to whatever is emerging inside them. Many journeyers also have spiritual openings as they connect with Jungian archetypes, the Great Mother Goddess, God, the Universal Mind, or the cosmic creative principle.
After their session is complete, journeyers can draw or paint a mandala. They are free to enjoy the beautiful land and nature, including relaxing, going for a walk, swimming, or soaking. Their sitter will stay close by to provide companionship and ensure that they are in a peaceful and resolved state.
The Range of Possible Experiences
The range of experiences that can emerge in people is very wide. Seven individuals on the same day might have seven different experiences. Conversely, a person who does a series of sessions can have different experiences each time. THC is a non-specific amplifier of mental and emotional processes, activating journeyers’ own unconscious contents. We create a safe and supportive environment for people’s self-healing intelligence to come forth and choose the most relevant material for that session. Sitters support whatever is trying to happen without trying to direct or intervene in the process.
In all psychedelic work, participants can access unresolved traumas in their lives from infancy to the present day. These might include wounds around physical or sexual abuse, severe toilet training, sibling rivalry, or a hostile family atmosphere. Journeyers can also work through leftover traces from serious illnesses, operations, or accidents. Finally, people can heal problems from unmet needs for warm human contact in childhood. Participants will talk about their emotional issues before each session, and ask the sitters for the specific support they need.
Journeyers can also confront and resolve material from what Grof calls the perinatal layer of the psyche. This can include generalized feelings of fear or the underlying fear of death, combined with elements from birth labor. People may have blissful memories from their time in the womb or disturbances of intrauterine life. They may relive feelings of claustrophobia, entrapment, and depression from the early stage of labor in which the cervix is still closed. Journeyers can work through leftover material from the dynamic stage of labor, where the cervix is now open and the fetus is being pressed through the narrow birth canal by powerful uterine contractions. This can include explosive discharges of aggressive energy, sadomasochistic feelings, encounters with scatological materials, shadow energies, or passing through inner fire (pyrocatharsis). People can also have feelings of ecstatic liberation, awakening, rebirth and reunion with Divine Consciousness as they relive the memory of crowning and completed birth.
Finally, journeyers can access what Grof calls transpersonal experiences. The most common are identification with other people or groups of people; ancestral, racial, or collective memories; past life experiences; identification with a specific animal, plant or inorganic material such as the ocean or the earth; mythological figures and deities; or elements of superconsciousness such as the Universal Mind, Absolute Consciousness, or the self-aware Macrocosmic Womb.
All of these experiences are beneficial and most will complete themselves automatically and end in a good place. If sessions do not resolve on their own, facilitators offer a type of bodywork which Grof calls energy-releasing or focused bodywork to help complete the releasing process.
History of THC
The earliest reference to the healing power of cannabis can be found in the writings of the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng from the year 2737 BC. Varieties of cannabis have been ingested for millennia around the world for sacred and religious purposes, most notably in India, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.
In 1964, the Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam identified and isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the powerful psychoactive molecules in cannabis. He also isolated the second most abundant cannabinol, cannabidiol (CBD), a powerful and now widely used analgesic. In 1992, Mechoulam found that the human body naturally produces its own internal cannabinoids that regulate human mood, pain, memory and other functions. For his research, he has received many international awards. As of March 2019, medical marijuana is legal in sixteen countries, as well as thirty-three states in the U.S.A. Cannabis is now fully legal in Canada and Uruguay, with many other countries close behind.
The Importance of Set and Setting
It is widely known that the set and setting of a psychedelic experience have major effects on its outcome. The set, or intention, which underlies sessions of Integration Journeywork is that we create a supportive space in which people’s emotional material can surface without judgment. The sitters and facilitators do not try to direct the session, but allow the participants’ own inner healer to choose the material for that day. Sitters trust the direction of the process and allow whatever is surfacing to emerge, be fully experienced, and reach resolution. People are often surprised by the healing intensity of their experiences when approached in this framework. For many, the experiences are as powerful as those with MDMA.
As well as the burgeoning medical applications of CBD oil, many people use cannabis in a more recreational or habitual way, without the knowledge that it might give them access to their deeper emotional material, or with less interest in that process. There is a phrase in psychiatry: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” If individuals make the space and allow their inner material to surface when they ingest THC, their psyches will become accustomed to deep processing whenever it is ingested. With this approach, cannabis can become a very powerful catalyst to systematic self-exploration.
The ideal setting is a comfortable center in a beautiful, natural locale. One of our favorite places is the Eaglenest Sanctuary an hour north of Victoria. The land is immersed in magical forests, including old growth cedars, as well as being on a vibrant and clear mountain river, which people can swim in during the summer. There is also a large deck and a famous walking and biking trail adjacent to the property. http://eaglenestsanctuary.com/
We also love the inspiring KiaOra Sanctuary, nestled in the Cowichan Hills. https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/5046268?location=Duncan%2C%20BC&adults=1&guests=1&s=ghyHNkLG\
For more info on retreats or training, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.rennbutler.com/july-retreat (our July 28-August 4 retreat)
Renn Butler trained with Stanislav and Christina Grof as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator and has been offering workshops and private sessions in Victoria for almost thirty years. He lived at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California for two and a half years where he also met Richard Tarnas and began many decades of original research in archetypal and holotropic astrology. His books, Pathways to Wholeness and The Archetypal Universe have earned widespread critical acclaim. Grof writes: “I don’t know any other book that combines impeccable scholarship with deep experiential knowledge of the human unconscious.” Renn has also worked in group homes and day programs with physically, mentally, and emotionally challenged adults for more than twenty-five years.