Before you plan your summer trip/retreat...
I took an unplanned absence from my Tarot work online and I want to tell you why and offer you some hard-earned insight from my experiences.
I needed to care for myself first and without interruption.
I will explain:
I partook in a medicinal ceremony in which I learned--and healed--so much about myself beyond what I could ever verbalize or write. (I will give a more detailed account of that experience in the future; for now, I will say it is very deep work and not necessarily for everyone and I recommend preparation and research before engaging in any kind of life-changing, ceremonial medicine. I observe the utter profundity of the medicine still working on and through me and I feel deeply grateful.)
I was not expecting this experience to be so quickly and intensely transformative. My life before this experience seems like a distant memory and in a way, I had to put myself back together. What Jung calls integration.
Integration is becoming whole
or perhaps more accurately, becoming whole again
When we do deep shadow work, the process is like any transformation:
a letting go,
a surrender of the ego must occur before renewal or insight alights us.
Ego death--or even just a shift in perspective--can put a person in a wildly receptive state. That state of heightened receptivity is where the wisdom of surrender gets in, and it can also leave one feeling raw and tender and too open to handle the pace and volume of the outside world.
In the past, I’ve made the dire mistake of embarking on life-changing work without proper psycho-emotional-spiritual support in place before I left.
And when I returned, I struggled to integrate.
Hell, I struggled to operate.
The weeks after a life-changing experience were often my lowest, most despairing points of depression and *please note* I am not only talking about heroic doses of psychedelics.
Low points can (and did) occur after my yoga-teacher training,
after a breathwork workshop,
because I did not know what I know now:
Integration takes time, space, strength and patience to go
on the wide-ranging psychic ride that it will inevitably take you;
after the highest-heights catharsis, the pendulum will swing the opposite way
as we return to our normative life.
So maybe, like me, you’ve embarked upon a journey of a transcendent experience and then you get home and everything is more difficult than expected.
Surprise! There is a second leg of this journey!
I hope you brought your water bottle because this is the hardest, longest slog of the whole trip, and the most important slog because it is the part in which we learn how to integrate our newfound wisdom into ourselves as we exist in our everyday life.
We bring the lessons of the healing into the everyday, careful not to compartmentalize our new insight; compartmentalization can lead to even more difficult disintegration.
The second part of this journey can happen with less suffering if the seeker preemptively prepares for the pendulum swing. Simply put, plan on needing:
more time alone, more quiet, more sleep,
reliable tools/practices for processing (like journaling, movement, creativity, meditation, soothing music, or a good listener/therapist, whatever you vibe on),
more attention and gentleness to the body (water, sleep, vibrant, supportive foods),
more unscheduled time, more walks outside.
Did I say sleep? Sleep.
Of course, we cannot always prepare for a transcendental experience. Sometimes the unexpected teacher visits in rapturous awe or blindsiding pain or a mix of both.
This is why prioritizing daily practices, even small simple ones, is mega-important.
The little ritual tools give us a foundation to return to when the mind spirals out due to overwhelm or despair.
As you make your summer plans, I hope you also plan (mentally, emotionally and practically) for the care of your newly transformed self. I hope your summer trips (psychedelic or not) are full of spiritual breakthroughs. I hope you dance under the moon, and swim in water you just met, and laugh until the tears come and you encounter the crushingly warm gratitude that comes with unapologetically feeding your soul, with all the nuance and discomfort and joy that such trips can bring.
I hope you peer into your darkest darks and lightest lights
and when you come home,
remember how to gently hold both.