5 Steps to Responsibly Prepare for Your Plant Medicine Journey

Preparing for your plant medicine journey can help you to get the most out of the experience. Join Nina Izel as we learn to prepare.
Featured Image: 5 Steps to Responsibly Prepare for Your Plant Medicine Journey
Author: Nina Izel
By Nina Izel
July 26, 2022(Updated: February 12, 2024)

Your plant medicine journey can be a source of healing as well as a challenging learning experience. Preparing thoroughly for your journey can help you to get the most out of the experience. Join Nina Izel as we learn to prepare for this experience.

A psychedelic experience can be profoundly transformational and healing, or it can exceed your worst nightmare. The number one fear of most people around psychedelics is a ‘bad trip,’ meaning having a scary experience that will potentially do more harm than good. Is this possible?

Yes, it is.

While no matter what you do, you won’t be able to control the whole experience (and this is the entire point), there are undoubtedly many things you can do to ensure having the most healing and empowering experience. The following questions and examples will assist you in appropriately preparing for your healing journey.

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Set and Setting

Two main factors will determine your plant medicine journey: the set and the setting.

The set refers to your mindset, in other words, your intention, your state of mind before the journey, and the setting refers to the environment where your journey will take place.

To ensure that you have the best set and setting for your journey, follow these five steps to prepare for your plant medicine journey in a conscious, safe, and responsible way.

hands holding plant medicine

1. Why? – Intention setting

The first question to ask yourself is, why do you want to undertake this journey? What do you want to receive from this experience, exactly?

Good and bad are always relative, but for simplicity’s sake, let me give you some possible good/bad answers.

Some bad answers would be: out of curiosity, because somebody wants me to do it, or because everybody is talking about it, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.

Some good answers would be for healing emotional pain or disease, awakening to my true nature, or healing my relationships.

There is a lot to say about how to set intentions, and most people are not fully clear on what exactly they are looking for and why.

The best thing you can do is to work with a psychedelic preparation/integration therapist who can guide you and assist you in preparing for your journey and setting clear and powerful intentions.

Remember that you get what you ask for, even if it’s not quite in the way you initially imagined it.

Your intentions are powerful tools that will profoundly shape your experience. Clear intentions will also aid you in your integration process and support your understanding of what is happening in your process and why.

2. What? – What is in the Medicine?

Once you have a clear intention, it’s time to decide what plant medicine you will journey with.

Again, most people don’t have sufficient understanding or experience to choose the best plant ally. Working with a psychedelic therapist can assist you in making the best choice for yourself.

Often, people feel ‘called’ to work with a particular medicine. In this case, setting intentions is the second step once the individual already decided to work with a specific plant.

In other cases, when people are not sure what plant they want to work with but they are sure that they like to work with psychedelic plants, intention setting can be first, and that can assist in finding the right medicine. Both ways are valid and appropriate.

Once the plant is chosen or the plant spirit has chosen you, the next question is: what is in the medicine exactly?

Is the medicine raw, in its original form, or has it been prepared a certain way? If it was prepared, how was it prepared, where was it prepared, and who prepared it? Where is the medicine coming from?

Are there any other plants or ingredients in the medicine, and if so, why?

These are essential questions; the answers can significantly influence your psychedelic journey. For example, if the medicine is sold only for profit and was acquired through exploitation and greed, that energy will undoubtedly affect the medicine.

A bad answer here would be: I ordered the medicine online and prepared it in my kitchen based on a YouTube video.

A good answer would be that the medicine is prepared by a shaman or a plant master who was given permission by elders and was trained appropriately to harvest and prepare this medicine. Furthermore, the medicine is transported by the shaman, plant master, or the teacher who prepared it and will be served by the same person or someone in the lineage who was given permission by the elders.

It is essential to do your research and ensure that the plant medicine is coming from and was prepared authentically, sacredly, and responsibly.

3. Where? – Where is the Plant Medicine Journey?

The next logical question is where your ceremony or retreat will take place.

Are you traveling to the source, where the medicine comes from, and where the tradition was born, like Peru or Mexico? Or, will you stay in your area and somebody will bring the medicine to you?

What is the exact location or environment where you will take the medicine? Is it a safe place?

A good answer would be, for example, that I am traveling to Peru to work with a local Ayahuasca shaman who has a reputable center deep in nature, for example, the Amazon jungle.

A bad answer would be that I am going to my friend’s house in the city where we are going to drink Ayahuasca in his basement with his friend who just came back from Peru, where he drank Ayahuasca once.

The physical environment and location also significantly impact your plant medicine journey. Therefore, choosing the best environment to support and not limit your journey is wise. Take good care when selecting a location, and if possible, make sure that the place of the ceremony is a sacred place intentionally created to hold space for plant medicine ceremonies.

woman in plant medicine ritual

4. Who? – Who is ‘Serving’ the medicine?

Another fundamental question is, who is leading the ceremony and serving the medicine?

The person or people leading the ceremony are the gatekeepers of the spiritual, non-physical realm. They are the protectors of the ceremonial space.

To open and hold a high-vibrational, safe, and healing space requires extensive training and experience. When somebody is not strong, anchored, and purified to a high level, they might open a low-vibrational space where more harm than healing can occur.

Choosing the right person, healer, or shaman is vital to assure a safe and liberating passage through your plant medicine journey and, of course, afterward.

A good answer here would be that the ceremony is led by a reputable shaman, curandero, or facilitator with many years of training and experience who was trained by authentic wisdom keepers and received permission from them to serve the medicine.

A bad answer would be that my friend will lead the ceremony because she participated in 15 ceremonies already, so she knows what it is all about.

When working with powerful plant allies, you are opening portals and venturing into other unknown worlds or realities. Your shaman is your guide and guardian in those realms, so you want to choose wisely who you trust with your life.

checklist of plant medicine preparation

5. How? – Practical Considerations for Your Plant Medicine Journey

Last but not least, you must ask practical questions about how all this will happen.

What does the preparation entail, and how long before you have to start preparing?

How much time should you take off to have the best experience?

If you travel to another country, how much time before and after will you need around the retreat/ceremony? Are you going alone, or somebody is going with you?

Do you have a support system when you come back? Do you have a like-minded community to rely on and share with?

Do you have a professional guide or therapist to support your integration process?

How much will all this cost, and how will you pay for it?

Taking care of the practical details will ease your mind and allow you to focus on your medicine journey. Taking time off before, but especially after, the experience is the best thing you can do for yourself. Participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony is like undergoing a major operation, so you will need recovery time. Initially, many people find it extremely hard to return to work and their ‘normal’ life after their experience. So, if you can stretch out this transition process and allow yourself time and space to integrate your experience, you will find more ease and grace in your journey instead of pain and resistance.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you step onto your plant medicine healing path. And as we said at the beginning, there are things you can’t control, but there are also things you can choose wisely simultaneously.

Make sure you dedicate yourself to your journey; after all, you are doing this for yourself!

What do you wish for yourself?

I am sending you love and blessings on your journey.

Stay safe!

The content provided is for educational and informational purposes only and should be a substitute for medical or other professional advice. Articles are based on personal opinions, research, and experiences of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Psychedelic Support.

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Author: Nina Izel
Nina Izel
Nina Izel is a healer, teacher, and author of the book: Heart Medicine, Ayahuasca Assisted Therapy and the Integration Process. Nina combines psychology, holistic healing tools and shamanic healing technologies to assist individuals to take back the power over their health and life. Nina's motto is "You are the healer and love is the medicine!" Learn more at Nina's website or her Psychedelic Support community group.

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