Sorry not to have had the chance to connect with you on the other side of
our experience. Speaking with Brendan & Feliz last night on the video call,
supported the unfolding of the story, of the meaning making of the personal
and collective parts of the experience in very helpful ways.
Feliz spoke a little about how much he values these opportunities for
collective healing. It left me thinking about what it makes possible that
individual processes don’t.
In the interest of weaving further threads of connection through the process
and into our integration, I’d like to share some of how I’ve conceptualized the
shared experience, and invite you to reflect or contribute additional threads,
if you feel motivated to do so.
Here’s a little context around the invitation. I’m a Narrative Therapist, with a
background in Transpersonal Art Therapy, and substance assisted therapy.
Narrative Therapy as you might imagine is very interested in stories; how
they are made, how we carry them, what they can do. Many stories were
playing out simultaneously on Saturday. I’m wondering if you’d like to help
have a go a storying a grand narrative, for what it might have meant for this
group of people to come together in the ways that we did? It also has me
wondering about the idea of integration in psychedelic practice, which seems
largely understood as an individual process. I’m inspired by ecology of late,
and can’t help but think of us all that evening as an organism. A collection of
cells configuring and re-configuring in a state of flux, digesting,
metabolizing, purging what no longer served.
I’d like to share what I wrote over the weekend. I have Brendan’s (my partner)
permission to share with you some of what was present for him, which of
course I had no clue of at the time, but felt somewhat implicated in as it was
I’m taking a little time with cannabis post ceremony today, to allow me to
return to a mythopoetic space that has opened up my storying (meaning
making). It began with me considering myself sandwiched between two
stories playing out on either side of me in the circle. With an awareness that
each of us came with our own set of intentions, hopes and ideas of what
would transpire. If I hadn’t of spoken with Brendan last night, I see I could be
writing about the track I laid for myself in my mind, and doing my best to
keep it clear of Brendan and Mark’s stuff. I’m zooming out a little wider
instead. From out here, we look more like three (perhaps lost) souls adrift in
the seas of the unconscious.
I’ve drawn a map of the room. With Feliz & Fay sitting in the north, anchored
on the land in the conscious realm. AN (name changed) & another Brendan
in the East quadrant in the land of the sun. AM & JU in the west in the realm
of the moon, with Brendan (my partner), myself and Mark sharing a body of
water. What I didn’t know was, how this body of water connected Brendan
Mark mentioned early in the proceedings that this was his first sit with Aya,
and that he’d recently lost his Mum. His grief travelling with him into the
experience. I felt Brendan’s heart reach out to his immediately.
When Brendan was a young fella, his brother drowned as they were both
swimming in a river on a family outing. His name was Mark. He couldn’t save
him, couldn’t reach him in time. When our Mark began to struggle and call for
help, Brendan felt compelled to respond, and quietly and not quietly
supported him at different points through out our time together.
I’m aware something is going on, something between them. I’m wondering if
Mark is a distraction from Brendan staying with his internal experience,
wondering if they are going to start talking across me. If the messages
Brendan was sending would turn into a conversation between them and pull
me out my own stuff. Wondering if we should swap positions and such? If
they shoddy take it outside? La Medicina sorted this out soon enough, as it
moved differently through each of us requiring our full undivided attention.
In these waters I am a good swimmer. I find myself deep diving and
periodically coming up for air to see what’s going on back in the room, and to
let myself rest and my system resonate deeply with the beautiful sounds
Feliz is making to tune the space.
I soon learn that Mark is also a therapist. This is his first altered state
experience. I find myself also entangled in his experience now in an
unexpected way. I am connected to his struggle as he cycles through some
options that include speaking to his partner, and perhaps leaving. I’m
thinking “don’t go!” “You got this!”. I am largely silent, but present. He is
being offered lime to come down. He has options, a safe container, attentive
care, and a bunch of resources and skills to draw on. I let go of my ideas of
helping, and trust he will find his way through. As he asks for further help
and help arrives, I wish very hard that he might be able to sense the visible
and invisible supports all around him, and that he might also connect
internally to the loving healing intelligence of Aya.
I generally trip and integrate very privately, relying on journalling and nature
and such. It was really helpful and different for me to do that with someone
this time (Brendan), right after the event, sharing parts of my story and
weaving them through Brendan’s. It occurs to me we may have re-storied a
terrible tragedy collectively that night.
In this telling: There is a Brendan grounded on the land, and a Brendan in the
water with his brother, and a seal. As Mark asks “Am I Ok?… ”, Brendan is able
to reassure him meaningfully. When a wave of panic has Mark struggling
harder, he cries out for help, alerting his ‘parents’ who come to his aid. They
soothe, reassure him and guide him away from flailing to floating. The create
space for him to discover, to recognize the buoyancy of the waters he’s in,
before making his way safely back to shore.
I’m thinking of this as a bit of an experiment in collective integration. If you
would like to add something, a reflection, some thought’s on how I’ve
positioned you relationally in the room to the body of water, or anything at all.
It would be gratefully received. We are all learning how to navigate these very
old and new ways of healing. There’s no one way, and your guess is as good
as anyone’s in this context, as to what connection and healing can look like.
Thank you everyone for being there/here.
Warmly and with gratitude,