MAGIC MUSHROOMS AS COUPLES THERAPY. SERIOUSLY.

In the latest instalment of Now Age relationship column Yogi Vegan Lez, Alexandra Roxo and her GF experiment with magic mushrooms as a form of couples therapy…

Alexandra and Orion get intimate with the contents of each other’s head…

What do people usually do when they leave yoga class. Drink some water? Go for an egg white omelette? Take a shower? Well, on that Sunday morning my iCal sent me a post-Vinyasa reminder: “Spiritual Awakening. a.k.a. Magic Mushroom Journey!” complete with a mushroom emoji and a smiley face. And so walking home through Williamsburg’s leafy McCarren Park, my girlfriend Orian and I whipped out our ‘shrooms and ate them right there and then. At 10am.

We had both wanted to do something special for our anniversary, and after a friend mentioned a beautiful afternoon she and her hubby had with some mushies, I was inspired! JUST WHAT I NEEDED. If women are scheduling their births these days, why can’t I schedule my DIY spiritual awakening? Plus, magic mushrooms are cheaper than a yoga retreat upstate and can be delivered directly to your house, so there’s really no excuse to not take them, right?

After sharing a vegan club sandwich on GF Rye, we sat and watched the dogs in the park for a moment. Then I was like “Umm, we should walk towards our house. Like Now.” Orian had never been on this kind of ‘journey’ so I also wanted to make sure she didn’t start tripping out while staring in the face of a Frenchie or…um, just crossing the street. Cos that could be dangerous.

I felt sort of like the person guiding the ship, the unofficial road woman or gatekeeper. When she kept saying things like: “When I do drugs I usually need a lot of water…” and “drugs make me feel…” I kept trying to tell her, “THIS IS NOT DRUGS. YOU ARE ON A PLANT MEDICINE ODYSSEY.” She finally succumbed to my benevolent dictatorship, and seemed to accept that a mushroom journey isn’t like a molly trip or a cocaine high.

As for me, this was the first time I’d done mushrooms completely sober of any alcohol and cigarettes. Not the first time I’d attempted an afternoon of mushroom-induced couples therapy though. The last time I tried bonding with my lover this way, we were holed-up in a dreamy Silver Lake cottage where got into a fight, I had a vision of an energetic cut between us where I saw our stars zooming off in opposite directions, realized quite viscerally we were poison for each other, starting having a panic attack, and didn’t sleep for two days.

So gee whiz, why wouldn’t I want to open this door with my new girlfriend of one year, on our anniversary, after an emotional month of me cleansing, quitting smoking, and doing all sorts of energy work?

But we had actually both been sober and clean and totally vegan for over two weeks, and I knew this quiet energetic state was essential to our ‘shrooming success. We continued wandering back towards our house as was the original plan: take a little bit, take a walk, just be together. I soon had to pee though, and we stopped in a cafe to use the loo. The bathroom walls were covered in a magazine collage. Who does that? And then the bathroom started to cave in on me.

I shut my eyes, ran out past the innocent bystanders (i.e. brunch crowd of people not on mushrooms) and what ensued was the most glorious and intense bonding session known to woman.

Magical Mushroom by Kaitlyn Fister via Behance.net

We held crystals (and FYI, holding crystals while on mushrooms is like holding an elephant or the sun or rain). We opened a book and could only look at one painting and then close the book. Then we had this realization that if we each balanced our Yin and Yang energies, we wouldn’t be searching for balance outside of ourselves. For someone who is bisexual and constantly trying to balance out masculine and feminine vibes I realized that seeking Yang outside of myself wasn’t necessary. I can align with someone else who has balanced energies and then we are each neutral!

This was our tripped out realization. Maybe we would all become androgynous beings again one day! Beyond gender! (I think I actually read that in some article about the next evolution of humans from a channeled entity…) Over the course of six hours, we laughed, we cried, we had profound healing conversations about life and death, and took quiet time alone.

The different phases of the trip were not too unlike my journeys with ayuhasca and peyote. There was a time of feeling physically unstable or unwell. Then there was some euphoria, the feeling of oneness. Then some darker challenges that came our way. That’s the ‘work’ part. The medicine comes in and gets shit done.

The result was what felt like a month of traditional couples therapy in one afternoon. There were no distractions. Except I kept wanting to eat dates and nuts because I felt I needed to ground myself, but was also afraid I might choke. But besides that it was cell phones off and in a drawer. Computers closed. It was magical.

Like everything in life, relationships take maintenance. As we change as individuals, we are altered as a couple. And sometimes these changes can cause a rift, a damn, a chasm, an avalanche, tidal wave. So if you’re tired of the traditional approach to processing your differences, here are our tips for a successful, and magical, couples bonding day on mushrooms:

PLAN AHEAD. The last thing you want is for your landlord to show up to fix your toilet or to have to take your dog out. If you’re opting to do the work at home, make sure your roomie isn’t planning to bake cookies to house music. If you can get away, get away. But why not try and tune into your own world instead of fleeing it?

UNPLUG. Turn off TV, computers, and cell phones. It’s unlikely you’ll even remember what Instagram is during your therapy session, but if you do find yourself tempted to check it – don’t. Just don’t. In your vulnerable state, do you really want to see a photo of Angelina Jolie’s chicken pox? You do not.

BE PRESENT. When you feel overwhelmed, listen to yourself. And if something comes up, share it with your partner. This is the whole deal with the ‘couples therapy’ thing. I asked Orian a few times: “What’s wrong?” She replied: “Oh, I don’t want to get sad or cry.” And I was like, “You can’t fight it! The whole point is to feel what you feel!” And so we were honest when things came up like, “Oh I was just thinking about when you die.” Instead of running from these things, remember you’re here to learn from them.

THE AFTERMATH. Plan to do something gentle afterwards. Light some candles. Have some soup. A bath perhaps. And WRITE IT DOWN. These lessons are invaluable, and it’s likely you will have been flooded with knowledge and wisdom so make sure you keep track.

And most of all, have fun and enjoy being together! And make your next Couple’s Bonding Day one that includes pizza in bed and SNL re-runs, cuz it’s all about the balance.

xx @Yogi_Vegan_Lez

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A LESSON IN LOVE: THE PEYOTE DIARIES

“If Ayahuasca is the head medicine, Peyote is to heal the heart.” One woman shares her Peyote journey, and tells how the mystical cactus helped her find her family. Images: Daniel R. Moore (homepage) and Abbey Watkins (post), both via Behance.net  

“I first heard about Peyote about four years ago when a friend told me about his experience in Arizona at the Church of Peyote, where he went to one ceremony after another for three months straight. I was captivated, and let him talk for three hours. His story was magical and he told it with so much love I could feel it. Also having known him for a while, I could see how his experiences had changed him as a person.

He continued to tell me whenever his “Roadman” (what the Church of Peyote call their Shaman) was doing a ceremony, and I always thought about doing it but the time was never right. Until my ex-boyfriend, also a mutual friend, texted me out of the blue three days after his first ceremony saying; “hey, I think I found OUR medicine.”

He and I share a very intimate knowledge of each other’s problems, and having taken Peyote he said he thought it could help me in the same way it helped him.
And so six months later, when I found out that he was organizing a meeting in Europe in two weeks time, it felt like a no-brainer. I had $200 in my pocket, but I was like, ‘fuck it, I have to make it work.’

He’s a pretty social guy and word had got around, so there were about 40 people in attendance. It was taking place in quite a remote place, and I travelled 24 hours to get there and missed the first round of medicine, so I was asking everybody how it was. They told me; “if it’s for you, life will just make sense.”

But I already knew it was for me.

Each tribe has their own way of running their ceremony, but I’ve done four ceremonies with the same guys now and it starts with burning tobacco, which opens up a channel to the spiritual world. The Roadman runs the ceremony, and then there’s a Fire Chief, whose job it is to make sure the fire, the “Grandfather,” stays bright and beautiful all night.

The person arranging the ceremony is in the “sponsored seat,” and they set the intention for the night. The Doorman’s job is to make sure people are sitting in the right spot and to keep things clean when people “get well” (throw up). The Drummer drums for everybody individually, and we all sing. And if the men run the ceremony, one female is also chosen to bring food – corn, meat and fruit – and water in the morning.

After the tobacco the Sponsor sets the intention for the night, then the medicine starts rolling, which comes in completely different forms depending on the Roadman. My first time, it came in four forms – a paste, a fresh form, a tea and a cold juice, and we were invited to take a portion of each. It’s a very acquired taste and all you can smell for two days afterwards is Peyote…I can’t describe it, because there’s nothing else like it and you know it right away; the mescaline.

As for how it makes me feel? The first time it made me really, really tired. So tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. So the challenge was to sit and pay attention for nine hours straight.

It also really amplifies feelings. If Ayahuasca is the head medicine, then Peyote is the heart medicine. With Aya you take it and you go somewhere else, but with Peyote you’re completely grounded. I could talk to you like I am now, no problem, it’s just everything is amplified. In your head you’re able to connect the dots, like when you’re smoking weed, but in your heart it’s like taking MDMA – when you feel connected to everything, and you’re able to understand what everybody else is feeling.

Some people get trippy visuals but I never have. That first time I did feel raindrops on my shoulder which obviously weren’t there, and which turned into a feeling of joy that spread over my whole body. For me it feels like love is in that tepee, I don’t know how else to explain it. And afterwards, I always feel supercharged.

After my first time, I did two more ceremonies in the space of two weeks. I only took a small amount the first time and didn’t get well, but the second time I decided I wanted to dedicate my experience to different people in my life and wrote down ten names – so I took a spoonful of medicine for each of them…and got super well!

I saw it like there was obviously something that needed healing in each of those relationships, because when I took a spoonful for each of the same ten people the next time, I was flying high – a high that lasted six months. You go to places in your head where you get so emotional, and I often cry all the way through which is an amazing release in itself.

Now I feel like I’d do it once a month to keep me on track, like you might see a therapist. It can become a way of life, but for some people once a year is enough. Personally, I’d like to learn more, to understand the culture more and all the details about how to run a ceremony. They’d never let a woman put the tepee up, but I’m fascinated by the way they tie the knots in a certain way to honour the elements and stuff…and to learn about it, I just need to spend more time with them.

Also, the Roadman I follow is hilarious – he’s covered in tats, like a Mexican gangster, and he’s a funny motherfucker! For me he bridges the gap between my world and the ancient spiritual world, which makes it all so much more relatable to me. I told my friend I think I’m in love with him; he was like, ‘get in line!’

More recently, visiting Phoenix Arizona for a ceremony to celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary of my Roadman and his wife was one of the most beautiful things I’ve every experienced. I felt so blessed to go to the place where they’ve been doing these ceremonies for thousands of years. It was like visiting the holy land. But I’ve also done one with a different tribe in the Bronx in New York City, which was run by my Roadman’s ‘brother.’

People in the Peyote families know each other as relatives, and they believe that if you bring a partner into the circle and sit next to each other, that means you’re partners for life. It comes down to the fact that if you know this medicine works for you, then you feel a connection to other people in the same circles. It’s like there’s something in your makeup that’s the same, or you understand that maybe you experience the same kind of problems in life.

For me, the most beautiful part of my whole experience has been learning what real family connection feels like. Seeing how much the families respect each other, it’s ridiculous – and it’s why I keep going back.

Growing up, I never understood what family values were – my parents were there, but not emotionally. We’re very distant as a family. My friends are the people I would take a bullet for – but through the ceremonies, I’m learning how to forge a connection with my blood relatives too. The most important lesson has been to understand their value in my life, and to respect that. I appreciate them more for who they are now – and understand why maybe I should text my mom just to tell her I love her from time to time.

Elsewhere, it’s brought me so much clarity. Meeting new people, I can tell what kind of relationship we’re going to have, and if I used to have a tendency to give too much, now I’m aware of when that’s happening so I can stop. It’s like I’ve been granted an outside perspective. I’ve also learned to listen more and absorb stuff without feeling like I need to react right away. To just sit, and pay attention. I feel like I approach everything in a more peaceful, patient and positive way. And my close friends have all been able to see it.”

Image: Daniel R Moore via Behance.net

YOGI VEGAN LEZ: ZEN AND THE ART OF CELIBATE DATING

When Alexandra Roxo signed up for a peyote medicine ceremony, she forgot to tell her girlfriend this would mean a week of celibate dating. Uh-oh…Homepage image: Fab Ciracolo 

Stuck between a rock and…a psychedelic cactus?

The night before my last peyote medicine ceremony, I was almost asleep when my girlfriend climbed on top of me and started a slow dry hump. I was jarred awake, shocked, and didn’t know what to do. No, not because she’s hideous or I’m no longer attracted to her or dry humping is gross. Not any of those reasons. But because I wasn’t supposed to be sexual / have sex for three days before my medicine ceremony! This essentially meant a week of celibate dating.

So I was faced with a dilemma. A) We’d been having a rough time and hadn’t had sex all week. B) I didn’t tell her I was supposed to be celibate for three days prior to taking the peyote and three days after. Woops. And C) Well shit, C is that I love her and she’s hot.

I found myself between a rock (or rather, a cactus) and a hard place. Also between 300-thread count cotton sheets and a hot bod. So I somehow justified that I’d let her masturbate on me or with me and it wouldn’t count. Not exactly rational but it was the best I could come up with. She finished quickly, I didn’t let her touch me, and somehow I felt no guilt about it all. Until. The next night.

I’d had two peyote ceremonies with the same medicine man before, which were both “deer ceremonies” in the Apache tradition, one in a teepee upstate and one in Mexico. Both times it was incredibly enlightening. I’d worked through deep parental issues that were a part of my Saturn return, and sung in the dark wearing a white muumuu as I released the pain of my youth.

Alexandra and her soul sister Natalia Leite at her first deer medicine ceremony

But this ceremony was different, in that I got a real ass kicking. I felt like I was gonna puke but couldn’t. I felt like I was having the worst period cramps in my life. I couldn’t lay down. And I kept seeing dark visions. Had my soul become a dark vault in the last few months? OR WAS IT THE SEX? (I mean, half sex really, but…)

Worse, after the ceremony the ass kicking continued for a full week. My GF and I’s relationship was pulled apart and rebuilt, like three times. Meaning I was crying in public again. At one point Orian and I were sitting on a bench in the park and I was crying and she put her hands over her head and commented that her shadow looked like a deer.

At that moment I got it. Everything came together. She was in on this ass kicking from the Universe too! She didn’t even know I had done the deer medicine but the plant had obviously used her lovely spirit and they’d been in cahoots all week to school and teach me.

This interconnectedness of my lessons has revealed itself again and again over the years, sometimes in a calm and magical/twinkly way, and other times in a more grotesque and “punch in the face” way. It still amazes me. This time, I’ve come to realize that managing sexual energy in times of spiritual growth can be very, very challenging.

Essentially, when I’m deep in some growth and lessons, the LAST thing on the planet I want is to open my physical body to some “poking.” To put it crudely. ‘Cause when I’m not in the sex zone, that’s kind of what it feels like. Like an intrusive visitor showing up at the very wrong time.

When I want to hold my energy close and exist in my higher chakras, I’m thinking about my angelic spirit guides and the work I’m doing here. And sex? Well, sex feels incredibly mundane. But how is this fair to your partner? And how do we navigate these moments as a couple?

I’ve also started meditating every night before bed recently. You know, releasing my day by doing visualizations and setting my dream time intentions. And lemme tell you…this can be a major buzzkill in the bedroom. The other night my girlfriend and I were kissing on the couch and when we moved into the bedroom I stopped the fun and was like: “Wait, just let me meditate real quick!” When I opened my eyes 15-20 minutes later and looked over, she was passed out and snoring with her mouth open. Dammit.

On the other hand, I find myself trying to turn the work I’m doing into “our” work. The other night, instead of meditating, I asked her participate with me as we shouted what we are grateful for. “Thank you Universe for coffee! Sunshine! An HBO Go password from a friend!” And then I guided us through some vibrational chanting.

I know this is sounding like a Christian teen sleepover or a day at a Waldorf school, but it was great. But we don’t live alone, so there’s that. Instead of that awkward moment in the kitchen, “Shit, did our roommate hear me cumming?” it’s “Did he hear us… doing vibrational chanting work and daily gratitudes??”

“Did our room mate hear us chanting before bed?”

Thankfully, taking the leap into the land of heart-warming cheesiness can be just as bonding as sex. Sometimes we tackle the bigger questions in relationships like cheating, differences in values, or whether or not we want kids.

But the small ones can be the scariest to tackle. Like telling your partner you aren’t really feeling sexual, and them being able to respect that space and not feel threatened/slighted/or like you think they’re ugly now. Being able to say; “Hi. I’m wanting to not have sex for a bit ’cause I’m tryna connect with my guides and my third eye this week.” Or “Hey I can’t have sex cause I’m cleansing/grounding my energy before a ceremony.”

And them being able to accept where you’re at, and not go parading around in Agent Provocateur panties or send you nude selfies of them masturbating or watch porn beside you at high volumes while you’re trying to meditate.

If your partner is down to respect and accept where you’re at, then maybe during this time they can do something useful with their energy too, like work on their kickboxing moves or reorganize the fridge. And then when you’ve ridden out that wave and got what you need, you can come back together roaring and ready to meld energies, have sex all night and transcend together with some candles, wine and Kenny G.

@yoga_vegan_lez