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  • Writer's picturemadredivina

Are training programs for entheogens a good idea?

Something has been on my heart and my mind for a while now, and after being awakened in the middle of the night with a visceral response, it is time to speak my truth on this.

As sacred medicines become more accessible to the mainstream, more and more people are taking it upon themselves to serve medicine, most with vastly inadequate training and experience. Now, we are seeing training programs popping up, “certifying” people to serve sacred medicine.

I am not referring here to the psychedelic -assisted therapy programs which are evidence-based programs for the clinical setting. I’m talking about programs that certify or initiate someone, regardless of their experience and background, regardless of their personal relationship with the spirit of the medicine, to serve entheogens.

Let’s be clear, anyone can certify anyone in almost anything these days without having done their due diligence. It’s a business. Westerners love to see “certified” practitioners. And just to be clear, being “certified” in no way means that someone should be serving medicine.

This is the way of the West. A person takes a corporate model or a teacher training model and thinks they can now apply it to the sacred medicines.

These training programs range anywhere from one week to six or nine months, and the ones I see are run by people who have very little experience themselves, sometimes as little as three or four years. Others are run by people who are clearly spiritually and mentally unwell and may even be addicts.

I have to ask, what in the world would self-entitle someone with so little experience, or with a host of unhealed wounds, to train others? And what in the world would self-entitle them to “certify” or “initiate” someone else into the medicine path?

To me, it’s either the spiritual ego or greed, or maybe just delusion. The all-clever spiritual ego may convince a well-intended person that this is their “calling,” or that the medicine “told” them to do it. Greed might also drive someone – “just look at how much money we can make!” Yes, I have heard that said.

Some indigenous communities now are also offering these training programs, sometimes for as little as one or two weeks. Often this comes from a place of desperation, as some of these communities are living in poverty and will even beg students to buy lots of medicine to sell to others for their personal use.

In keeping the sacred medicines sacred, I do not see how these training programs remain in integrity. None of my teachers would ever think to do something like this. And while a good program can certainly offer someone a lot of knowledge and perhaps some limited experience, I do not see how this alone could fully prepare anyone for the immense responsibility of taking another’s life – their mental, physical, and spiritual health - into their hands.

I do not see how it could give them anywhere what is truly needed to uphold these sacred traditions in the way they truly deserve to be honored.

As those of you who know, know, it takes many, many years to step into this role, to do it well, and to help the participant receive the highest possible outcome. It also takes a natural affinity, deep intuition, and the ability to converse with the spirit of the medicines, to become a clear vessel for them.

At best, a certified practitioner may be safe and help someone to a certain extent. At worst, it will open the door for more damage to be done.

The length of time it takes for someone to be ready to serve medicine entirely depends on their previous experience as well as how grounded, centered, and healed they are. So, how does a one week or even a six-month training program fit each unique person? It doesn’t.

Folks, we are talking about working with some of the most powerful entheogens we have available to us. To me, this is playing with fire.

My teachers have often said, “just because you want to, doesn’t mean you should.” They also say “a true shaman is a reluctant one.”

There’s a lot of people out there who are unsatisfied with their current situation and glorify the life a medicine person and think about all the “easy money” they will make. Others “feel the call,” often after they have tried medicine a handful of times.

The truth is, very few people are actually meant to serve these sacred medicines.

Now, anyone can just decide they want to do a training, someone out there will be willing to take their money. This is watering down the entire system that has been carefully guarded for thousands of years.

Someone with limited experience, or someone who is out of integrity, passes on information to someone else, who then decides to pass it on to someone else, and so on, and what are we left with? A bunch of people with watered-down information now serving medicine to the masses.

I’m not even going to get into the ethical and sustainability issues here, that would be a whole other discussion.

Ok, on some level, I agree with what some of you will say. At least more people will get to experience these medicines, and maybe it will help someone. And maybe it will. But at what cost? How many people get harmed? As someone who does integration work, I can tell you, it’s a lot.

Why not leave it to the masters? To the experts? To those who have truly done their due diligence. Would that not be best?

Would this not give the participant the greatest chance for the highest outcome?

Is it not a disservice to give someone a watered-down experience?

Is it not a disservice to the medicine themselves?

To those who are venturing into these waters, looking for healing, use caution and discernment. Ask many questions. I have a question list prepared for people to ask of their potential practitioners, as well as red flags to watch out for. You can find this in a previous blog.

Let’s keep it sacred.

Jai Maa.


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