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

Your plant medicine journey can be a source of healing as way as a challenging learning experience. Preparing fully 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 deeply transformational and healing or it can exceed your worst nightmare. The number one fear of most people around psychedelics is having a ‘bad trip’, meaning having a scary experience that will potentially do more harm than good. Is this possible?

Yes, it is.

And while no matter what you do, you won’t be able to control the whole experience (and this is the whole point) there are certainly many things you can do to ensure having the most healing and empowering experience. The following questions and examples will assist you to prepare for your healing journey in an appropriate way.

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Set and Setting

There are two main factors that 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 make sure that you have the best set and setting for your journey follow these 5 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 is always relative but for simplicity’s sake let me give you an idea of what some good/bad answers would be.

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 to heal my relationships.

There is a lot to say about how to set an intention 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 to prepare for your journey and set clear and powerful intentions.

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

Your intentions are powerful tools that will shape your experience in a profound way. Having clear intentions also will aid you in your integration process and will 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 to make 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 particular plant.

In other cases, when people are not sure what plant they want to work with but they are sure that they want to work with psychedelic plants, intention setting can be first and that can assist 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 to ask is: what is in the medicine exactly?

Is the medicine raw, in its original form, or has been prepared in a certain way? If it was prepared, how it was prepared, where it was 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 important questions to ask, and the answers can have a significant influence on your psychedelic journey. For example, if the medicine is sold only for profit and was acquired through exploitation and greed, that energy will certainly affect the medicine.

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

A good answer would be: 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 important to do your research and make sure that the plant medicine is coming from, and was prepared in, an authentic, sacred, responsible way.

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

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

Are you traveling to the source, where the medicine is coming 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, in 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 have a huge impact on your plant medicine journey. Therefore, it is wise to choose the best environment that will support and not limit your journey. Take good care when you are choosing a location and make sure that the place of the ceremony is a sacred place that was intentionally created to hold space for plant medicine ceremonies, if possible.

woman in plant medicine ritual

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

Another extremely important question to ask is, who is leading the ceremony and serving the medicine?

The person, or people, who are 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.

It is vital to choose the right person, healer, or shaman 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 who has many years of training and experience, who was trained by authentic wisdom keepers, and who received permission from them to serve the medicine.

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

When you are working with powerful plant allies, you are opening portals and venturing into other worlds or realities unknown to you. 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

And last but not least, you have to ask the practical questions about how all this is going to 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 are traveling to another country, how much before and after time you will 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 likeminded community to rely on and share with?

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

How much will all this cost, and how are you going to 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 that you can do for yourself. Participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony is like undergoing a major operation, so you will need recovery time. Many people find it extremely hard initially to go back to work and to 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 a lot of things to consider when you step onto your plant medicine healing path. And as we said at the beginning, there are things that you can’t control but also there are things that you can wisely choose at the same time.

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!

Published by:
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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