Tricia Eastman

Tricia Eastman: Harm Reduction

Tricia Eastman harnesses the “Mount Everest of Psychedelics” to break addictive cycles and promote collective healing.  In the last episode of Season 1, we’re joined by initiated medicine woman Tricia Eastman, whose nonprofit Ancestral Heart works towards the reciprocity and preservation of ancestral and indigenous  traditions. Tricia vividly recounts her early experiences with psychedelics, where she experienced both the transformative power and potential pitfalls of substances like MDMA and psilocybin. She shares how her experiences with these medicines facilitated deep insights into her own traumas and ancestral wounds, allowing her to release deeply held shame around her body and sexuality, and ultimately leading her to reevaluate and rechart her life’s path. Finally, she discusses her 10 year-long journey working with iboga, often hailed as the “Mount Everest of psychedelics”, and how she’s seen it help thousands detox from opiates and other addictive substances. Throughout the conversation, Tricia emphasizes the importance of holistic integration and responsible engagement with plant medicine, while also addressing the complexities of psychedelic legalization and the imperative of cultural respect and reciprocity.

Tricia Eastman is an initiated medicine woman and founder of the nonprofit Ancestral Heart focused on the reciprocity and preservation of ancestral wisdom traditions and biocultural heritage. Drawing on her mestiza ancestral roots and her initiations, with nearly decade of experience with the Bwiti tradition of equatorial Africa, she has ushered many through profound journeys of self-discovery— including celebrities, political leaders, and Special Forces veterans. Eastman’s forthcoming book, Seeding Consciousness: Plant Medicine, Ancestral Wisdom, and the Path to Transcendence published by Inner Traditions will be available in 2024. As her next creative project, Hu Azores wellness retreat center prepares to launch in 2025, Eastman continues her work to promote stewardship in the global psychedelic movement.

Episode Transcript

Tricia Eastman

And I remember being in the shower and the smoke billowing in the shower, and all of a sudden having this vision, literally, I was surrounded by light. I was surrounded by angels. And they said to me, You’re not living your true life.  And at the time I was married, I had a wellness business with 13 locations in Seattle. And I really sat with what I received, and I ended up leaving my husband, taking off to Europe, you know selling all my personal possessions, taking this kind of sabbatical where I feel like I really got oriented into my ancestral lineage. 

Jon Reiss

Welcome to Plantscendence – the podcast where we talk to people about their most significant psychedelic experiences and how those experiences profoundly changed their lives.  I’m Jon Reiss.

This is the last episode of our first season, and I couldn’t be more excited than to have Tricia Eastman as our guest. 

Tricia Eastman is an initiated medicine woman and founder of the non-profit Ancestral Heart, which is focused on the reciprocity and preservation of ancestral wisdom traditions and biocultural heritage. Drawing on her mestiza ancestral roots, with nearly a decade of experience with the Bwiti tradition of equatorial Africa, she has ushered many through profound journeys of self-discovery. Eastman’s forthcoming book is Seeding Consciousness: Plant Medicine, Ancestral Wisdom, and the Path to Transcendence. As her next creative project, Hu Azores wellness retreat center prepares to launch in 2025, Eastman continues to promote stewardship in the global psychedelic movement.

Jon Reiss

I always jump into what your early experiences were and I’m kind of curious. What was your first experience?

Tricia Eastman

You know, I just want to say first off, that I’m so honored to be here, so honored that we’re connected and that you’re doing this work and sharing these these beautiful stories. I can’t wait to hear all of the other episodes that you have in the pipeline. And it’s hard to really say a beginning. So, I will share a story, but I want to say that I grew up around psychedelics.

My dad grew cannabis. And it’s funny because I didn’t have great experiences with cannabis. Like, it actually activated like paranoia in me. And, I don’t know, maybe it’s because some of the past cannabis that I had was too strong because there are certain types of cannabis now that I find work really well. But also, I worked at a counterculture bookstore called Raver Books when I was in college.

I went to raves. I did a lot of MDMA. I took a lot of mushrooms and I had really beautiful, profound experiences. But, you know, later down the line, my father ended up, you know, he had the genetics for schizophrenia, and he ended up having kind of a psychosis where he attempted suicide. And at the time, you know, he was he was growing cannabis and he actually sold cannabis to a lot of my friends when I was when I was younger.

But it made me a little afraid. It kind of shut me down. And interestingly, when I was in my late twenties, I was about twenty-eight years old. I had a traumatic brain injury. I hit my head on a bar. I didn’t realize I had a traumatic brain injury. And the thing about traumatic brain injury is it changes the way you behave.

It changes your moods, your attitude, and then all of a sudden, you’re like, What’s wrong with me? For me, what happened was I had this bonk on the head. I had a really important presentation. I was doing this like spa consulting. I was meeting with the Ritz Carlton Hotel Group, and I literally could not put a sentence together.

It’s almost like that bad dream where you’re, like, speaking in public and you can’t talk. But, like, I’ve done this a million times. Why is it not going the way that it’s always gone every time? And so, what it did was it triggered this huge anxiety like, oh my god, I can’t trust myself. I had no idea this was because of a traumatic brain injury.

I thought it had something to do with myself. I went and saw all these doctors. I went and saw different psychotherapists, and essentially one of them said to me, Oh you’re just like a Chihuahua. You know how Chihuahuas have a propensity to be more anxious? You know, it’s just your demeanor. And it gave me this feeling of hopelessness where I was like, you mean I have to be like this the rest of my life?

I’m only twenty- twenty-eight and a half years old when I, you know, got this news. And so interestingly, I decided to start taking MDMA again just to get a break from this traumatic brain injury that I was going through and the trauma that it was causing in my life. And I remember smoke billowing in the shower and all of a sudden having this vision, literally, I was surrounded by light.

I was surrounded by angels. And they said to me, You’re not living your true life. It’s time to go find your true self. And at the time I was married, I had a wellness business with 13 locations in Seattle. You know, I had a pretty established life that it wasn’t like I could just, like, run off. And I really sat with what I received, and I ended up leaving my husband, who’s actually a really great husband.

It was very confusing for my family and for my ex-husband. Bless bless him. Taking off to Europe, you know, selling all my personal possessions, taking this kind of sabbatical where I feel like I really got oriented into my ancestral lineage, which is from Mexico on my mother’s side of the family, and really kind of connecting back into my shamanic roots.

And I had been studying wellness and healing since I was in my early twenties, but it was really, truly kind of like the call to action. So, I would say like of all the experiences I had so many to share, I think that one is kind of like the beginning of the journey. And how cool is that that it was with MDMA being that that’s now going to be available to so many people. And, you know, I think going to initiate a lot for those that are suffering in terms of, you know, working through PTSD and other forms of trauma.

Jon Reiss

So, you didn’t respond well to cannabis, but then you were doing MDMA, going to raves, but then stopped it. Did you stop it around the time of the trouble that your father had?

Tricia Eastman

Yeah, that was around in my early twenties. And he essentially, my father is, you know, really the person like like I was the person in the family that got to transmute a lot of the ancestral trauma, which is a heavy you know, cross to bear for anyone. I think a lot of us in this generation are those people.

But my father was the one that received the deepest amount of all of the trauma. I mean, just we’re talking like, you know, his sister being murdered, his brother drowning in the river, his real birth father, he was adopted, was was murdered as well. I mean, just like really horrific stuff.

Jon Reiss

Got it. Got it. Wow. Okay. So, then he had his episode. Is he okay now?

Tricia Eastman

So, when my father had this this situation that happened, he was put on a lot of medication, went through, you know, was was in a mental health institution. And then he got put into government housing, essentially. And when he was there, he got very addicted to cocaine because a lot of people were using cocaine in this community. It was in Bellevue, Washington.

And he was so addicted. And he came to me, and this was like later in my my twenties, he was like, you know, I really need your help. And I’m like, what do you want to do? And he said, I want to move to an island. And I said, Where do you want to go? And he said, Hawaii.

So, I bought him a one-way ticket to Hawaii. He got set up there, got an apartment through the disability, and he spent about eight years, maybe a little bit longer than eight years in Hawaii. And interestingly, when I started doing work with plant medicine, he started shifting too. So, I really believe there is evidence that when you heal yourself, it goes back through your lineage.

He’s by far nowhere near perfect, but before he was completely just like doped out on his medicine. And interestingly, when I really got into working with iboga, which started in about 2014, he went off of his medication, he moved back to Washington State. He built a hydrogen powered car. I don’t know how. He’s really brilliant. He’s he’s actually a very, very creative, brilliant person.

And I remember talking to him and saying, You’re a healer. And I see that in you. And he calls me up and he’s so funny. He’s like, You’re right. I started healing people.

And he literally would go around with his van and give people like medicines and do healing. And that’s what brings his joy, you know, that’s his his purpose. And his his incarnation. You know, this this was his his path. And I, I try to be supportive. And at the same time, I have to have boundaries with him because, you know, there’s he gets himself into trouble a lot. And I don’t want to be the rescuer all the time. So anyways, sorry. It’s a-

Jon Reiss

No, no, no. Let’s go back to your journey. So, you’re traveling, left your husband, sold all your possessions, went on a trip to Europe, and I think that’s where we’re at.

Tricia Eastman

So, I left my husband. I’m single again. I get this really clear message to go to Los Angeles. So I go to Los Angeles, and that’s where I fell apart. And I was not expecting that. I think it was a combination of doing a lot of spiritual work too fast, which I think is a warning in this space.

You have to be really careful if you’re doing like Kundalini breathwork and activating the energies inside and doing psychedelics and, you know, doing all these things and not doing enough of the integrative practices. So literally what happens is it awakened all of this inside of me and at the same time I struggled my whole life with eating disorders.

And when I decided finally that I was going to face that once and for all, it was like my body fell apart, my life fell apart. So, I ended up like staying with friends, sleeping on couches, which is is crazy to think. You know, like here I was owning like four houses and then I’m like, homeless. And that was a really big reset for me in terms of at first, I had to choose. I’m going to let all this stuff go and it’s like, no big deal.

But then when it when, when the final when everything gets ripped away from you, that’s a whole other feeling of surrender. And like in hindsight, even though, you know, it definitely was destabilizing for me, it was absolutely necessary for me to step into this next cycle. So then at this very same time, I meet ayahuasca. And when I met ayahuasca, it was the first time that I had seen a beautiful ceremonial container with so much sacred respect, so much beauty of the ritual of the medicine that it completely recontextualized all of my past experiences with psychedelics where I was like, wow, this is a sacred tradition, a sacred lineage.

And it opened up a whole new world for me. I just realized where I had been living in separation, and I feel like a lot of my guards went down. You know, like, for example, you know, I had a history of sexual trauma. And in working with the mother, I released a lot of sexual shame. And in that it created the freedom for me to have experiences connecting intimately with others, which was at the time, the right path for me.

It’s not necessarily everybody’s pathway. It was part of my healing of that trauma, of releasing the shame, of releasing past Christian programming around, you know, what, what is okay sexually and what’s not okay sexually. And so, I feel like that was a big journey for me in really kind of reclaiming my my sexual power back.

And in going through that process, it was almost like a staging cycle where, you know, in 2015 well, actually in 2014, when I first met the spirit of iboga and when I met Martine Polanco, who founded Crossroads in Mexico, I was still struggling with the eating disorders, which is a long process, something that you’ve struggled with for a big chunk of your lifetime.

For me, it started in my teens. You know, it takes time to create those new patterns and to ground that truth. And iboga, for me, when I first worked with with ibogaine, I came to the medicine very clearly with, you know, I really, really want to see like I felt like there was something underneath there that I just couldn’t get to.

And and I was like, iboga, help me get to that place. And it did it, it, it really allowed me to see from an embodied place, you know as well, I feel like ayahuasca takes you out of your body. Iboga really brings you deep into your body.

And, in that deep, deep anchoring of the body, it removed the levels of separation that existed within my own physical form, which was that I was making myself a prisoner of my own body by seeing my body as the way that I saw it. If I can love the entire cosmos, the beauty of the cosmos, the beauty of nature, the beauty of love and life and all these things.

And I can’t love my own body? How can I not love my own body actually is the truth. And I literally probably bawled for like two hours. And I to be honest, like what I experienced, and what I’m saying, as with most psychedelic experiences, is a just over over-simplification of what truly happened and how I felt it at such a visceral level.

Jon Reiss

Right. So then would you say that that’s so that seems like the most profound of the experiences that you’ve had.

Tricia Eastman

I feel like I went through an entire mystery school and received all the secrets of the cosmos, and I got brought through all my childhood, all the way back through the womb, all the way into my teens. And I really saw the patterning and my own, you know, archetypes and the behaviors of those archetypes that play out and how to you know, really come into union with all of the separation within myself.

Jon Reiss

And that was through iboga that you that you did that.

Tricia Eastman

Yeah. And not everybody has that experience. You know, some people have deep, you know, discomfort. I felt like my experience with my first experience with iboga was incredibly graceful. It’s a very he, many call him, is a very harsh teacher.

Jon Reiss

That’s what I’ve heard.

Tricia Eastman

It’s been referred to as the Mount Everest of psychedelics, but I would say even more so. It’s really truly the like putting your face in the deepest, darkest places that I think even some of the other medicines you can still escape from. But it really just puts you in where you can’t escape until you really, like, embrace and surrender.

Jon Reiss

Yeah, sounds extraordinarily intense. And so is that. So, you were working at Crossroads and so then you became a facili- So you went there and had an experience to to experience iboga, I take it, and then you kind of stayed and became a facilitator, or how did that happen?

Tricia Eastman

I asked the medicine, how can I be of service to you? Because it had given me such a great gift. And the first thing it told me was, write about your experience. So, I did. And then shortly as I was writing about this experience, the owner of Crossroads, Martine Polanco, asked me less than three weeks after the experience if I would facilitate the psycho-spiritual program at Crossroads.

And interestingly, I paused, and I thought, no, I’m not a facilitator, you know, even though I had been studying the healing arts for 15 years. And the medicine said to me, like very strong, which was interesting because I wasn’t taking any medicine when I when this happened. You, you said you want to be of service, so, it’s your choice. You choose. 

Don’t get in your head too much about it. And I said yes. And truly, it opened up the greatest miracles I could have ever imagined. Because just to witness people going through these experiences and at the time most of these medicines were not as available as they are now. And so just to be able to make this available and I started a retreat company called Psychedelic Journeys, and we started doing the retreats in Costa Rica and other jurisdictions where psychedelics are not regulated like they are in the United States, so that people could feel safe to go somewhere and not feel like, you know, they could get arrested or get in trouble.

And so, it’s been a blessing to witness in the last nine years. I’ve probably worked with over somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 people.

Jon Reiss

And when you were, can you explain what you mean by being a psycho-spiritual facilitator? So, was that part of the integration or was it part of during the ceremony as well?

Tricia Eastman

So, the program is a psycho-spiritual program and people were coming to the clinic for Opiate Detox and the program itself was run by the doctors and you know, everyone’s being monitored. So, in the program they would arrive on a Friday. We would do a beautiful orientation and I would sit down with everybody, and we would do breathwork and meditation.

And we had a beautiful facility where people could, you know, hang out in the hot tub or, you know, go in the yoga studio and do different practices. Then, you know, the night of the medicine, I would be up with them most of the night and I would be there. You know, I sometimes play sound bowls, or I would open up in a ceremonial way and just be there to kind of support people.

Jon Reiss

So then how did that lead to you starting psychedelic journeys and doing your own retreats? And did you work with iboga, or did you work with several different medicines?

Tricia Eastman 

So, I worked with iboga and bufo alvarius specifically at Crossroads. Now, there are some sustainability issues around bufo, so I’m always very careful about talking to that because there’s a lot of synthetic 5-MeO-DMT now. And then when I started Psychedelic Journeys, really the reason I did that was I didn’t really feel like a hospital in Tijuana was the best place for a profound experience like Ibogaine or, you know, the beach house in Rosarito, which is nice.

I felt like for a more medical type detox, I love the idea of going to a place like Crossroads, although Crossroads is no longer open and now the owner has been primarily doing work with with veterans, working a lot with ibogaine, with traumatic brain injury. And so, when when I got initiated in the Bwiti tradition, I started working with one of my teachers and collaborated with him.

When he moved to Costa Rica. And my motivation was at the same time, I met my now husband, Dr. Joseph Peter Barsuglia, who is a psychologist, and he too synchronistically, we we had met through a friend, and synchronistically, we we both started working at Crossroads at the same time. And he was like deathly deathly sick with Lyme disease.

And literally I told him, I said, you know, you need to take some time for yourself and heal. And I really think this medicine will help heal you. So, we got rid of his apartment, put his stuff in storage. He moved back in with his parents, which is not you know, no one wants to have to move back in with, even though he loves he loves his family so much.

But, you know, he needed that time. It was about a year to really like like heal his body or I don’t I don’t think he would even be here today. And during that time, I started organizing these retreats so that I could get him doing as much iboga as possible because each time he was working with it, with a chronic illness, sometimes you have to work with it multiple times to really kind of get a cumulative effect with the medicine.

And what it was doing for him was it was getting rid of the pain in his joints. It was healing a lot of the neurological things that he was experiencing as a side effect of having Lyme disease for fifteen years and essentially it got him to the point where we were able to both get a house together. I continued doing the retreats.

He started actually co-facilitating the retreats with me, and he ended up also taking a job at Maps, being a psychologist for the study for phase 1, I’m sorry, phase 2 and phase 3 for MDMA, for PTSD. And at the same time, we were you know, doing retreats together in Costa Rica and Mexico in like Tulum, in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

And you know, we both really came together like our whole relationship was our own inner healing and really being on this path and and supporting each other.

Jon Reiss

Right, right. So, and then are you still doing psychedelic journeys or is that you’ve moved on from that? Because I know you’re opening the place in the Azores, so I’m just kind of curious, where is that kind of bring us up to the present in a sense?

Tricia Eastman

So, it’s interesting that you ask that because at this point, right before COVID, so we did a retreat into Tulum January mid-January of 2020, and after that, the whole planet went into lockdown,  and I didn’t know what to do. I really use that as a time of deep listening and several months before all this happened, back in 2019, I had a retreat planned in Costa Rica, literally during the time that lockdown began, and it was scheduled in March.

And I got a call from the retreat center, and they said, you know, hey, we have been looking into the matter. They hadn’t done a lot of plant medicine retreats, and they were open to, you know, hosting us with this this iboga retreat and they’re like we looked into the medicine and, you know, we’re a little concerned about the medical safety with this.

And they said, you know, hey, we we’re not going to do this retreat. And they sent me my deposit back and I’m like, that’s strange. I’ve never had that happen before. And so I asked the medicine. I went into meditation, I really connected into the spirit of the you know, of my my plant teachers. And I asked I said, what what is this about?

And they’re like, it’s time to build a center. And I was like, okay. So literally I asked where? And they told me the Azores, which I had never heard of. I looked it up on a map and I’m like, you want me to build a retreat center in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? They’re like, yes. And I asked them the name of the center.

They said, Hu. HU. And I was like, interesting. Because I almost didn’t believe it because it’s too simple of a word, you know, like, are you just making up a sound? And I looked up the meaning and it actually comes from the Hermitic word, which is essentially representing the tongue of Thoth. Thoth is one of the, you know, essentially gods of Egypt of wisdom and kind of a little bit of a trickster, some people say, too.

But communication and, you know, the ancient art. And interestingly-

Jon Reiss

It’s interesting. Well, can I just jump in because I have a little bit of an interest in trickster figures. And it’s interesting because Hermes is I don’t know if I’m going to get this right or not. Hermes is a trickster figure.

Tricia Eastman

That’s Thoth

Jon Reiss

Isn’t Hermes associated with medicine?

Tricia Eastman

Yes.

Jon Reiss

Yes. So, it’s interesting. But facilitators and doctors then in the sense be trickster figures. In a sense, in the good sense, because trickster figures are also operate in liminal spaces.

Tricia Eastman

Yeah.

Jon Reiss

That’s interesting, I never thought of that before.

Tricia Eastman

Yeah, it’s, it’s I think it’s I think it’s both. And I think like on one side, the physical manifestations of illness in the body are an accumulation of our thoughts and the quality of our thoughts. There are sometimes societal environmental trauma related. They can be ancestral, but essentially, yeah, I guess in a way there is a kind of trick that happens.

And it’s funny because I think of Alexander Jodorowsky and his film Psychomagic, and he has a book, I think, coming out also on psychomagic, and it’s this understanding of how we essentially trick the subconscious mind. We read pattern the subconscious mind. So, I totally agree with you. And I will also going back to the track of the answer of Hu, Hu is the sound that wisdom makes when it hits the initiate.

So, it was so interesting to receive this transmission. And ever since then I’ve put psychedelic journeys on pause. I found this beautiful place in the Azores with thermal hot springs. I went there during COVID, got permission, special permission to travel during lockdown and and got into the country and looked at the property and somehow managed to get through this process, which is like three and a half years in now.

Jon Reiss

Wow.

Tricia Eastman

Which is like I will say, Portugal’s bureaucratic red tape is no joke. It’s it’s intense. But I do feel like psychedelic journeys will begin again. But I’m just waiting for the signal.

Jon Reiss

Yeah, well, that brings me to something else. Can you talk about Ancestral Heart then your nonprofit?

Tricia Eastman

Yeah, I. This is like, by far the strangest story. In 2019, I received the message that I was to bring three tribes from Africa to Burning Man. And I just asked. I was like, how how do I do this? And what I received was to start this organization and the vision of Ancestral Heart came from this event at Burning Man, and then eventually led to, you know, really primarily focused on reciprocity with the Bwiti in Gabon, really focusing on partnerships with other local organizations.

One organization I work really closely with is called Blessings of the Forest, and they are essentially planting sustainable iboga and essentially creating a network through Nagoya Protocol, which is a U.N. sanctioned reciprocity, essentially protocol for bio cultural heritage. So, they essentially create that channel to allow sustainable iboga that’s done, that’s going back in the direct benefit of the indigenous peoples of Gabon who really hold that bio cultural heritage.

So that has been a big focus of Ancestral Heart. And also at the same time, I’ve spent a very long time working with the Kogi. I met Mamo Louise in 2015 and the Kogi, which are from Colombia, from La Sierra Nevada. They are, in my opinion, one of the most profound indigenous wisdom traditions, go through a nine-year initiation in complete darkness, and after that period there are other divinations and tests to make sure that that initiation worked.

I met one mamo that had been in a cave for twenty-three years and they have the most deep, profound consciousness. They are living in the dream. There is no separation, and through the instructions of the mamos, we are receiving information in terms of retrieval of land that belongs to them. Sacred sites. There are nine sacred sites that they need to receive in order to make their offerings, which are called pagamentos, which essentially maintain the balance between man and nature.

And we are now working on the third of these land trusts to retrieve these ancestral lands so that they can essentially utilize them. And in this way, I don’t want to cheapen the cosmovision of the Kogi because the depth of it is so profound. Many would say that they are essentially in charge of the entire water cycle of the planet.

They have a divination method where they read the bubbles in water and they actually use gold almost like like they’re almost like an acupuncturist where if the channels are off in certain areas that there’s energy blockages, they can go in and they can do the proper offerings and put the proper energies in to get that moving. And so that essentially allows the, you know, snow to come into the mountain, to go down into the streams, into the rivers, to the ocean, to come up and become, you know, clouds again and again go through that that cycle and that process.

Jon Reiss

You’ve spoken about having a concern for the rise of psychedelics in the West, and its potential colonial aspects, and in a sense, trying to correct that seems like the broader mission of Ancestral Heart. Would you say is that true or is it more specific than that?

Tricia Eastman

I feel that how you do one thing is how you do everything. And even in this pushing and scaling of psychedelics, you might have a temporary relief from your PTSD. But the ultimate root of the problem is our society. This society needs to change on a very deep level, on a very, very I mean, this is why we have opiate addiction.

And to say that ibogaine is going to resolve the opiate problem is not true, because underneath that, what do you have? You have communities that are poor, that have a lot of trauma, that you’re going to send them into the medicine and then put them back into that community. So, what we’re talking about here is that we need a very, very nuanced and complex framework of what are the things that are necessary in society to be in place for that to be truly impactful.

Jon Reiss

Right.

Tricia Eastman

We are very close to planetary extinction. Could be as early as 5 to 7 years and maybe even sooner where we see massive species die off. And, you know, when we look at the FDA process on psychedelics and knowing that, you know, things like ibogaine probably won’t even be available for 5 to 7 years, we need to look at it holistically because if we’re not looking at the problem holistically, we’re going to get there in 5 to 7 years.

We’re going to be like, guess what? Everyone has no PTSD, but then the planet’s dead, you know, and so we really, like these medicines came to us to remind us that we are nature, that we are deeply connected with nature, and that within nature there is a very specific balance. And how we work with that creative lifeforce energy that exists within nature.

This is what all these ancestral traditions teach about. And if we’re not actually applying that template to the movement itself, then to me it’s a big failure.

Jon Reiss

Yeah, so I have a few questions here. So, one is because there’s legalization of, I think analogs of iboga on the horizon, it feels like. So, then you go to a doctor, and you get a pill and that’s supposed to cure your addiction. But it doesn’t seem like there is like integration that potentially is going to happen after that.

It just it feels like in the sense in the western medical way of disassociating the plant from the purpose in a sense. And I’m kind of curious what your thoughts are about that.

Tricia Eastman

Yeah, I feel that the way that, you know, again, it’s like moving too quickly, you know, in, in the Bwiti tradition, it’s at least ten years of training before you receive the blessing to give initiations. Ibogaine is the most complex plant in the entire plant kingdom that works on every neurotransmitter system in the body except for, I think, the the endocannabinoid system.

Other than that, it works on everything. And so, when we think about this gift from nature that is so profound, that is a sacred initiatory right, in Gabon, that really takes that much time for us to just bring that through. Is, number one, I think very disrespectful. 

But number two, when we think about what creates addiction and you know, when I talked before about my eating disorders and everything that I suffered from, you know, in my early life that brought me to the medicine, it was all separation.  

You think extracting one molecule out of a plant, doing it in a clinic separate from a community, and to do it in a medical facility with someone who doesn’t have any context because it’s such a big experience of really what’s happening in that journey, which takes many years of training to get to the level where you can really hold that space. It’s very potentially damaging. The Bwiti tradition is always about that bridge of reciprocity. It’s always about that continual ongoing connection. It’s like you are, you know, we we have taken plant together, we have we have been initiated in Bwiti together.

We are family for life. We take care of each other. We nurture each other. We we we talk. We give each other the news. That’s what Bwiti is. And so, if you take it out of that context, it kind of destroys the purpose of what it is. And it’s the same as, you know, even tobacco, which is a medicine that I smoked when I was a teenager. And it’s so different to pray with the Chanupa, and to really connect to the spirit of grandfather tobacco versus smoking a cigarette. 

The other thing that really breaks my heart will say there’s a really great series, Dope Pill and it’s on Netflix. And they talk about the whole story of how these opiate companies targeted poor communities, communities where people were working in the coal mines and places where, you know, there was a lot more blue-collar workers and things because they knew that these were the places that they were going to have the most drug sales.

And so they essentially knew that they were hooking people on these substances. And I think about the process of drug legalization. The FDA system, and I think what does it do to a sacred medicine to put it through that system, the system for which all of these, you know, things that were supposed to be for our good have actually done harm.

Not all of them have done harm. There’s some things that have done good, but I’ve seen in my experience, more harm done than, you know, good.

Jon Reiss

Right? Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s certainly very complicated. And it’s going to get more complicated. It is interesting that, you know, in California, we had a bill that was going to decriminalize psilocybin and the governor vetoed it, you know, thinking that, it’s too fast, too soon in the sense.

Tricia Eastman

Yeah.

Jon Reiss

Which I don’t know, I guess I have mixed feelings about. But I kind of hear you in a sense of, you know, potentially needing to slow down. But by the same token, by it being illegal, it does create barriers to entry for many people who could benefit from this. And, you know, it’s maybe certain people with means who are able to participate it and more than other people who could potentially, you know, greatly benefit from this. So, I think it’s a very fraught subject, I would say.

Tricia Eastman

Yeah, And I, I agree with you 100%. And I will say that from the sense of, you know, growing up in a mixed family and, you know, coming into this space and primarily having a very kind of similar demographic of people, you know, that I was working with for many years and recently seeing that start to shift where you know, it’s a lot more diverse.

And I would say that there are many different avenues for which we can go with this that I think can make it more accessible. You know, right now ketamine therapy is legal. Ketamine therapy, although I wouldn’t say that it’s my medicine of choice, you know, it has its own field and its own shadow, as with everything. But it’s been quite a potent medicine for breaking suicidal ideation.

So, you know, I think that the mental health crisis that we’re dealing with needs to also be treated very carefully, because if you crack open people who have, you know, insane trauma and then you crack them open and there isn’t something to hold them in care and there aren’t enough, you know, people trained in psychedelic integration to support that or even psychedelic informed psychologists and therapists and somatic body workers to help integrate these experiences.

It could just be like a big, you know, kind of dark night of the soul for humanity. It’s like, yeah, we’re all having to we’re all a bunch of crazy people in a psychosis and you know we’re all getting cracked open and and we don’t know what to do about it, you know, because there’s just not enough support.

And so, I would say, you know, I think there needs to be a strategic way of looking at it of like, if we are going to map this out, like, let’s say California would be a great example, like what is the infrastructure we need? Well, guess what? In California, they’re still teaching D.A.R.E. in high school. So, the first thing I would work on is teen use, responsible teen use, because we know the teens are going to get a hold of it.

So, we want to educate them in a good way. You know, maybe that’s like encouraging them to microdosing rather than doing heroic doses while they’re going through this vulnerable hormonal shifting initiation. You know, you don’t want to be in two initiations necessarily at the same time, not for everybody. But I think, you know, there needs to be a lot more training programs, a lot more psychedelic therapy, training programs for therapists who want to work with psychedelics.

And then I think the big piece is you can’t work with anybody with psychedelics unless you know exactly what you’re getting people into. You need to have experience. So, we need to allow that catch up of people having, at least I would say a minimum of three years. And that’s like on the low end of their own experiences as they’re training to be able to really be in service as a therapist or as a integration specialist or even as a psychedelic, you know, like a therapist doing doing let’s say MDMA assisted therapy.

So, I think the beauty is that Maps did an incredible job getting MDMA through the FDA. We’re almost there. And I feel like of all the medicines that can go out there and, you know, be the most gentle and and cause at least damage and can kind of initiate people into those that are new to medicine, that are getting experience, can essentially be part of those experiences and learn.

This is a good training wheel for us. And so I’m really happy that that’s kind of the first major one out of the gate.

Jon Reiss

Interesting. So, I guess just in kind of the recommendation, you know, a number of people I’ve spoken to have spoken about the importance of integration. And I think a lot of people aren’t even aware that, you know, that that’s an important component. It’s not just about the experience, but also, you know, how do you integrate that experience into your daily life afterwards?

And do you have any recommendations for people? Because not every facilitator knows or does integration.

Tricia Eastman

You know, what I found is that there is a lack of emphasis on psychedelic integration. And even, you know, people that work with ayahuasca, you know, they might say, hey, if you are having a problem, reach out to me and I’ll do an integration. But they’re not saying no, should all schedule a call with me. The problem with that is, you know, there’s a lot of difficult things that you can experience.

You know, you’ve kind of shaken up the snow globe in that experience where it’s moved a lot of energy. And so, I would say the most important things are like doing your own self-care,  meditation, getting really good somatic body work to ground you into your body, taking salt baths to kind of help ground, getting a lot of time in nature.

Nature to me is one of the best integrators. Whether that’s going for a hike or walking on the beach. And this is why these Indigenous wisdom traditions have such a deep staging process of beginning to end in these initiatic experiences. 

In many of the ayahuasca traditions, you have a diet that you follow, and that diet is there because as if your body is full of McDonald’s and Doritos and Coca-Cola, it’s going to have to clean all that stuff out of your system before it can actually go into the the spiritual work. 

And so, you know, I definitely feel there is a respect to in the preparation and integration, you know, eating really clean and healthy, refraining from drinking alcohol, even refraining from cannabis. Cannabis, interestingly, can sometimes reactivate the medicine, which can actually put you into potentially a traumatic experience.

Sometimes it can be a very nice experience as well. But but it could go either way. And so, refraining, I would say like the week before, the week after at a minimum. And I really think in both the beginning and the end, you want to give yourself a lot of time and space because the minute you choose to work with the medicine, the medicine works with you.

It’s not when you take the medicine because the spirits of these plants are incredibly powerful, and it will start moving things. Things will start changing in your life. And so, if you take it slow and you don’t have your schedule booked with all these calls or you have all these things planned, you can actually really start to receive from the medicine and get the most from the overall experience.

And that goes afterwards as well. You know, you’re you’re gonna experience reconnection potentially with the medicine in your dream space. You know, these journeys can be very disorienting. They happen very quickly and after coming out of it, you may not even remember anything at all. And then if you give yourself that space afterwards, it’s interesting how little pieces will start to come back in.

But if you’re just going back to whatever your normal pace is, you’re not really allowing that space. So, journaling in that process is incredibly important and there are many different books out there. If you go to Amazon, there’s there’s a whole slew of different books just specifically on psychedelic integration and I highly recommend.  And a big piece of it, too, is there are people that have big experiences that sometimes they can’t actually integrate into their daily life.

And so, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a very it’s an outlier number. It’s not a huge number of people, but there are people that have that experience where, you know, it could be like a year where they’re really kind of struggling because it kind of opens something up inside them that, you know, was maybe a blind spot or maybe just something they weren’t ready for in terms of trauma. So, yeah.

Jon Reiss

Right, Right. So, what do you I guess you’ve kind of talked about it a little. I was going to say, what would be your hopes for the near future, but is there any one last thing that you would like to leave people with?

Tricia Eastman

I really think that we are in the precipice of a very exciting time for humanity, whether or not we make it on this earth, whether or not this planet survives, all the energy always is immortal, it always becomes something else. And so, whenever we are crossing into next, which I don’t know what it is we are being doula’d through this bardo into something that I think is really incredible.

And for me, I love everyone out there so much and I just want to be on the bus with everybody, you know, no soul left behind. And so, yeah, I just I really just deeply care about the way things are being done and, you know, the more that we can step into that peace, the more that it will become clear the gifts that each of us has to give and contribute in this beautiful time that we’re in.

And yeah, I just feel that we have a great, great opportunity right now. And these medicines came to us for that reason. They came to us to support us because of this, this change that we’re going through. And I believe and I trust that we will achieve what it is for we’re here to achieve. And and that is, I think, going into a just a deeper place of overall collective love.

Jon Reiss

Well, hope So the word on the street is that it’s pretty divisive time these days. So, a little bit of extra love would go a long ways.

Tricia Eastman

And that’s again, the trickster or the trickster is here to trick us into thinking it’s going one way, but it’s really going to force us to surrender and let go. And we just can’t like succumb to the fear. We have to just keep focusing on expanding our hearts, expanding our compassion, but doing it in a grounded, embodied way of really facing what we’re feeling, being with what we’re feeling.

And I think the biggest piece of all is we all need to learn how to grieve.

Jon Reiss

Right.

Tricia Eastman

And in truly grieving, there will be just such, I think, a blessing on the other side, if we can all collectively just learn how to fully release our grief.

Jon Reiss

Right. Cool. Well, thank you so much for, you know, all of your generosity and and your spirit and sitting with me today. Really appreciate it.

Tricia Eastman

Jon, Thank you so much. Thank you for who you are and the work that you’re doing. And yeah, honored to be here and to be a conduit in some way, I hope.