Rethink what you knew about retreats and shrooms.
I’m sitting in a shamanic sweat lodge made of mud, called a temazcal, in Oaxaca. A shaman burns herbs sacred to his people, and chants words indecipherable to my ears. As I sink my feet into wet soil, the warmth of the stone fire is comforting. The air, spiked with burning sage and tobacco, creates an intoxicating effect that’s dizzying, but not unpleasant. Later that evening, a smiling, old woman shows us to the adobe hut where we’ll sleep. She reaches into a bag and pulls out a great big handful of dried shrooms.
After chewing on their pungent, earthy flavor, I wait. The trip kicks in around sunset. I watch the sky swirl with otherworldly shades of neon pink, orange, and purple, as mist gathers over an endless forest of evergreens. Stray mountain dogs join to watch. I realize I’ve never felt happier.
I’d dabbled with psychedelics in my teens with mixed results. It was often fun and occasionally frightening. It wasn’t until I took this healing trip to Mexico that I started to consider the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin. And I’m not the only one.
We seem to be in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance. Magic mushrooms are legalized in Oregon (availability starting in 2023), and Washington looks set to follow. As How to Change Your Mind—Michael Pollan’s bestseller about the science of psychedelics—takes a trip to Netflix, society is reembracing the magic of the shrooms.
“We saw an enormous spike in interest during the pandemic,” explains Lauren Katalinich at The Psychedelic Society. “[COVID] forced us to confront our lives without the usual distractions. It was a really challenging time, and people were looking for answers.”
Mushrooms have, of course, existed in different cultures for thousands of years. After Nixon’s war on drugs, westerners traveled to other countries in search of perception-challenging experiences. One such place is Mexico, which has 111 pueblos mágicos. Though unfortunately there’s not exactly a correlation between magic towns and magic mushrooms, some towns have attracted types of people who think outside the box.
Huautla de Jimenez is one such pueblo mágico transformed into a hippie mecca. It’s part of a thriving (if problematic) tourist trade, where Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger once sought spiritual refuge. While mushrooms are technically illegal in Mexico, law enforcement ignores indigenous cultures’ use of them.
Using mushrooms is ancient knowledge, to be sure. But as the science around psilocybin mushrooms evolves—and places where you can legally use them—so has the opportunity to try them in safe, supervised settings. More retreats around the world are creating a wellness experience that employs medical or psychology experts for the trip.
From bucolic cottages in the Netherlands to five-star luxury resorts in Jamaica, these retreats provide a therapeutic way to experience the benefits of shrooms—and without overtouristing indigenous communities. Here are the best places to make that journey of the mind.
During the ’60s, backpackers flocked to Negrill and Mrs. Brown’s Tea Shop, where she served up steaming hot cups of psychedelic enlightenment. As one of the few countries where shrooms are still legal, Jamaica is now better-known for its psilocybin wellness retreats.
MycoMeditations is the longest-running of its kind. Set in a postcard-worthy location, where lush jungle meets white sands and the brazenly-blue Caribbean Sea, thousands have visited in search of a transformational experience.
The resort prides itself on an evidenced-based approach, adapting best practices for psychedelic therapy from institutions like Jon Hopkins and Imperial College London. They psychologically evaluate all guests, refusing around 20 percent of applications.
You have the choice of three retreat packages, from simple seafront lodgings to concierge poolside villas. Prices range from $6,400 to $9,700 per person for double occupancy. Over the course of a week, guests receive three psilocybin sessions alongside group therapy and massages.
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Published: August 05, 2022