I had never done such a retreat before (in fact, never even taken psilocybin) and wasn't sure what to expect. To make it short, my expectations were more than met, and I'd recommend the Essence Institute to anyone who is interested in a powerful healing ceremony involving psilocybin mushrooms.
The application process was very smooth and professional. Any questions were promptly answered competently. When we met in person the facilitators were very friendly, open and welcoming. We did some team stuff to get to know each other on the first day. This really helped to break the ice and there was a friendly and including atmosphere even on the first evening, where participants could share their emotions and intentions about the experience. For some this was a very emotional event. It is not easy to expose one's fears, traumas or vulnerabilities to a group of strangers but the facilitators really managed to invoke an atmosphere where this was possible without any embarrassment.
The next day we started with some yoga, breakfast and intention setting. Everybody again tried to express their hopes and wishes for the healing ceremony. After a light lunch and a short break where we prepared the medicine for ingestion we drank the truffles tea, laid down on our mattresses and listened to some ambient music while our facilitators quietly watches over us.
And then the magic happened.
I can of course only describe my personal experience. I slowly dissolved in an ocean of healing consciousness energy that permeated my body and mind with waves of absolute bliss. It was pure enjoyment to bathe in this powerful, intelligent energy. I could imagine that people might call this experience mystic, "cosmic" or "divine", but to me it felt very organic. It was like getting in touch with the originating life-force of nature, a kind of energy that generates everything in our bodies and our consciousnesses. It was very relaxing to sink back into the mighty waves of this consciousness ocean, and I found it inconceivable that there was a stigma of "drug-taking" attached to what was in essence a powerful healing ceremony.
When I opened my eyes from time to time I could see our facilitators sitting there, watching and smiling, and I could really feel the love between them extending to us participants, and I felt very grateful to them for enabling us to have such a beautiful experience.
Others had it a bit more difficult; one guy had to vomit and some had trouble letting go, but our facilitators really knew how to handle this professionally and quickly resolved any issues. Some guys couldn't stop laughing but the facilitators calmed them down when it got excessive. Figuratively speaking, they watched over us like a team of guardian angels, and they did this beautifully. I really felt like we were in good hands.
After a few hours the effects had subsided and I felt a bit shaky but still peaceful and mellow. The feeling of well-being lasted well into the next day where we shared our experiences and finally said goodbye. It was surprising how a group of strangers could build such a positive connection within only two days. The team provided us with instructions on how to work on the integration of the experience, and we're still in contact via WhatsApp.
For me it was an absolutely fantastic experience and I'd like to eventually repeat it. I can only recommend the team of Essence Institute for their loving kindness and their work of bringing this wonderful medicine to our present-day culture. And yes, one more thing - the cook was fantastic, too ;-)
Number of Participants in ceremony: 12
Follow up integration