Psychedelic retreats in Europe
International rules restrict the use of psychedelic medicine, although European countries have varied legal approaches to prohibited plants and fungi.
Many European countries permit its use when the Ayahuasca plants are consumed as part of a religious event, albeit this is a gray area. It is completely legal in Italy, Portugal, and Romania, and it can be used in certain situations but not sold to the general public in Spain. The best way to hear about ayahuasca ceremonies is word of mouth, however, some retreats do share information online. If you do want to attend an ayahuasca ceremony in a country where the use of the plant is restricted or prohibited, keep your presence as low-key as possible.
The Netherlands is, without a question, Europe’s most psychedelic-friendly country. Although magic mushrooms are still illegal there, the psychedelic community is taking advantage of a legal gap: psilocybe genius mushroom mycelium has the same psychedelic effects as the mushroom itself. In the Netherlands, one could find a handful of legally-operated psychedelic retreats. The only drawback of choosing the Netherlands is the high prices of the therapy.
What substances are being used in the European psychedelic retreats?
Laws that regulate natural compounds are often softer, therefore Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, Psilocybin or psychedelic cacti (Mescaline) are the most popular entheogens in Europe. LSD also has a good score for clinical application, but the compound has a colorful history and is disguised by the New Age community. Psychedelic mushrooms are backed by science as the safest entheogen. All the so-called classical psychedelic compounds are relatively safe for usage without predisposition to a medical condition like cardiovascular disease or schizophrenia and similar disorders. The choice of medicine should be based on therapeutic goals. Ibogaine is usually used to treat opioid or alcohol addiction. Magic mushrooms and Ayahuasca can shake up the inner model of reality through the mystical experience and those are powerful tools to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Ketamine is a fast-acting agent that treats suicidal ideation.
Working with Psilocybin in a suitable setting with a well-focused intention can result in healing, self-transformation, expanded consciousness, and rapid self-development. Psilocybin allows you to communicate with nature, express yourself creatively, explore your shadow, and reconnect with the hidden self. It is possible for people to have visions as well as long-term positive consequences on despair and anxiety. We frequently advocate psilocybin for individuals interested in working with Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca retreats are being hosted in Europe. The shamanic brew is a mixture of two Amazonian plants unique to the rainforest. The harman alkaloids harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydro harmine are found in Banisteriopsis caapi. Psychotria Viridis, on the other hand, contains dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, which is a very potent hallucinogen, but when it’s taken orally, nothing happens—monoamine oxidase enzymes in the gut deactivate it. But if you brew these two plants together for many hours in this special process, you get this synergy. The harman alkaloids in the Banisteriopsis inhibit the monoamine oxidase enzyme system, so it allows active DMT to enter circulation. It bypasses the blood-brain barrier and activates the central nervous system in such a way that you can get this four-hour-long, very profound visionary experience.
It was rediscovered by the Hollywood community more than a decade ago. The Yage Letters, in which Beat generation authors William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg recorded their experiences with the psychedelic tea in the Amazon through the 1950s, brought ayahuasca to modern culture in 1963. After a failed music project, an early adopter Paul Simon tried ayahuasca, producing the song “Spirit Voices. Sting praised it in his 2005 autobiography as the closest thing he’d ever had to a holy experience. However, in recent years, many people have been secretly turning to plant medicine not only for healing trauma but also for creative inspiration.
Not every psychedelic-assisted retreat is the same. Retreats vary in terms of experience, hallucinogenic compound, and location. Some follow evidence-based therapeutic models, while others focus more on shamanistic rituals built upon centuries-old traditions from healers in countries such as Peru and Costa Rica.
Ayahuasca’s therapeutic approaches point to a combination of gut and mind modulations, as well as physiological and social modulations, that are represented through discourse about healing and the body. We don’t treat the gut in a purely biological way, but rather as both physical and cultural, based on anthropological evidence and new scientific research that links the gut to emotional wellness. The ayahuasca purging is examined for its possible therapeutic effects rather than rejected as a pharmacological side effect or mistaken belief.
During the Ayahuasca ceremony, guests are encouraged to take their buckets with them. The purging can take several forms, including sobbing, peeing, vomiting, evacuating, trembling, and yawning.
From a subjective and physiological standpoint, Ayahuasca consumption in controlled conditions appears to be safe, with few adverse responses observed. In non-controlled conditions, adverse responses are more common. Long-term psychotic episodes are uncommon, and they appear to strike especially vulnerable people.
Magic mushroom retreats
There is a fair number of magic mushroom (psilocybin) retreats in Europe. Psilocybin is an active alkaloid found in mushrooms, particularly Psilocybe cubensis, that has hallucinogenic characteristics. So, in the 1950s, an amateur mycologist called R. Gordon Wasson traveled to the highlands of North-Central Mexico, where he met Maria Sabina, a local traditional healer who taught him how to employ mushrooms in healing rites. He sent mushroom specimens to the world’s top pharmaceutical chemists in Europe and the United States, and Albert Hofmann, a Swiss scientist, was able to isolate the active ingredient, psilocybin. Hofmann was the chemist responsible for the groundbreaking discovery of LSD in the early 1940s.
By definition, any retreat that purports to provide a therapeutic experience with mushrooms should be therapeutic for the clients or guests. You should feel pleased, grounded, and positive about the future, and you should be ready to tackle the integration process and journey. As a visitor, you should be treated with kindness and compassion, as well as the utmost respect. Attendees of the retreat should be in a safe, therapeutic, and ethical setting, especially while under the influence of psychedelics. These crucial set and setting aspects will also increase feelings of psychological protection for people traveling over potentially dangerous psychological terrain.
Scientists aren’t sure how exactly psilocybin works, but one analogy suggested is a vase that hasn’t been baked. “Psilocybin puts your mind in an acute plastic condition, like a ceramic before it goes into the kiln – your brain is pliable in that state,” explains Matthew W. Johnson, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science at Johns Hopkins University. As a result, you may be compelled to reflect and change in a much more direct way than you normally would.
Shamanic and scientific approach to psychedelic retreats
Shamanism is a spiritual practice that has existed in communities all across the world from ancient times. Shamanic methods are, first and foremost, practical and adaptable. Over millennia, these traditions have coexisted with many cultures, political systems, and structured religious practices.
Many established faiths, such as Buddhism and Christianity, have ancient shamanic roots and retain shamanic threads of deep connection to the divine in all things. Shamanism, on the other hand, is not a structured set of beliefs or an ideology. Rather, it refers to a set of activities and experiences that shamans around the world engage in. These behaviors are adaptive and can live with a variety of civilizations, political systems, and structured religious beliefs.
It’s reasonable that many people are drawn to a spiritualistic approach to psychedelics due to the lack of availability of clinical treatment options.