Entheogenic Ritual Guidelines and Principles
The following seven actions describe guidelines and principles for participation in AEP-qualified entheogenic rituals. Entheogenic substances are powerful materials and should be treated with respect. These guidelines should be reviewed by the practitioner and participant(s) when deciding whether to have an entheogenic experience. Specific considerations and practices of these guidelines will be under regular review and discussion by the AEP Best Practices working group.
The AEP is grateful to Decriminalize Nature Oakland for creating the draft legislation that provided the basis for this document.
PHASE 1: Preparation
Before participating in an entheogenic experience, a review of information on the substance(s) that the participant will be communing with is essential. Each entheogen has different protocols, unique wisdom, varying durations, and pre/post care practices that should be considered. Participants should also be informed of the background, experience, and training of practitioners they are working with.
Entheogens are not for everyone. Before participating in an entheogenic experience, both practitioner and participant should have a complete review of potential physical, psychological, and social risks that may be present.
Intentional preparation for entheogens helps to bring focus to the experience. It is encouraged for the practitioner and participant(s) to plan preparation practices that are relevant to the participant. Some examples of preparation practices include meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, connecting to nature, eating a healthy diet, and reducing the use of technology. Another example is setting an intention, which can help guide the purpose of the entheogenic experience.
PHASE 2: Experience
Set and Setting:
A safe set and setting are indispensable components of the entheogenic ritual. A safe set means that the individual is prepared for the experience, is informed about what the experience will entail, and is personally ready to have the experience. A safe setting refers to the facilitation and location and aims to provide comfort and security to the participants. It is encouraged that the setting is informed by the needs of the participant as well as the practitioner. For example, setting agreements could include bringing sacred items for an altar, agreeing upon music, preparing the general ambiance, how to engage during the experience, and arrangements for rest and recovery after the experience. Entheogenic experiences are healing, profound, sacred, and deserving of respect, and can provide insights and reflections on deep emotions and past trauma to help heal the individual. These experiences may be difficult and one must be prepared to address any challenging reflections that may emerge.
PHASE 3: Follow-through
While entheogens open up the mind to what is possible, it is the steps taken after the experience that make for lasting transformation. Integration is the process of meaning-making for an individual as they review their entheogenic experience. The meaning-making process can be aided by the practitioner, mental health professionals, and/or a community of peers to encourage discernment, reflections, discourse, and constructive feedback. The integration process provides an opportunity to consider how the insights relate to one’s life before implementation. It is generally recommended to pause and reflect within one’s social support system before finalizing any major life decisions.
Following the integration process is implementation. The implementation process aims to bring integrated insights into one’s daily life. Often these insights encourage a shift in habitual activities that no longer serve the individual and may require external support to thrive, such as eating a healthier diet, exercising more, meditating, healing personal relationships, and finding a supportive and nourishing community. It is advisable to identify a trustworthy social support system in which to immerse oneself before, during, and after the entheogenic experience.
Reciprocity is the act of reinforcing personal transformation through service. The entheogenic experience engenders love for self, others, and the natural environment; to be in service is to put that love into action. Service promotes continued growth for the participant while also sharing the benefits of the entheogenic experience with the world at large.