Navigating psychedelic work
with integrity and purpose
At Gather Well, we understand the importance of approaching this work with the utmost care and intentionality. We believe that psychedelics have the potential to be powerful tools for personal growth and transformation, but we also recognize the risks and potential pitfalls that come with this territory. That’s why we are committed to upholding a clear set of ethical principles, grounded in a strong foundation of practice and guided by our shared vision of a more compassionate and connected world.
We want to express our commitments to this work, to each other and to the world we currently inhabit. This is both a matter of clarity for ourselves and also as an external expression of where we are at for those who enter the organization as well as for those with whom we engage:
We are committed to “safety and ethics”.
We believe the complexity of working with psychedelics deserves special attention, guidelines and processes for ethical practice in which the wellbeing of those receiving care is prioritized. We are committed to tremendous care being undertaken in practices involving psychedelics to prioritize client safety. We commit to fortifying our guides with the tools, resources, and infrastructure to practice with integrity and support the ongoing development of their emotional intelligence as guides. In our ideal world, no one should be harmed during an expanded state experience and while we believe that with well trained guides, harm can be mitigated, we know there are a myriad of complexities at play and that to think perfection can be reached is actually a disservice to being able to navigate and support in instances when harm does occur. Gather Well Psychedelics has engaged the mentorship and guidance of professional ethicists to help support what is becoming a growing body of work that is intended to establish a robust ethics infrastructure for all of our activity and to provide learning opportunities around ethical tensions inherent in practices involving psychedelic healing modalities. We intend to use these findings in our program development and content within our organization, and to make them available to the public.
We are committed to the re-creation of a world that does not use shame or alienation tactics to affect behavior or change.
We hold both a deep commitment to not doing harm as well as to the ideals of transformative justice. We acknowledge that in human systems, harms happen. We attune to the vulnerable and victims of abuse with care and respect while also seeking to call in those who have harmed so that everyone, ultimately, has an opportunity to heal and grow. We do not follow the dictates of cancel-culture, not because we don’t believe in accountability, but because accountability does not happen from a place of shame and/or ostracisation. We commit to asking ourselves: How can we get to the roots of what created these actions or transgressions in the first place rather than seeking to eradicate symptoms of much deeper systemic wounds? When we have the authority to do so we take quick action to mitigate potential new harms while transformational work happenes for the one causing harms, knowing we cannot control whether or not one chooses to step into a transformative process. We support victims no matter whether those causing harm are willing to be accountable or not. We believe real accountability happens in relationship, and for it to be meaningful and lasting, it needs to be slow, taking into account the presence of unconscious material and the human pace at which change occurs.
We are committed to disruption
At Gather Well we are curious about and interested in ways to responsibly subvert the system that we currently operate within. We are committed to disrupting systems or cultural norms that are exclusionary, binary, perfectionistic, reductive, or otherwise built around maintaining the status quo. It is our experience that psychedelics very much aid in disrupting such patterns, when there is intention, awareness and willingness to be honest. Even when it’s uncomfortable, we choose to grow and dismantle that which limits the change required for a new world to emerge.
We are committed to looking at the ways White Supremacy, Colonialism and Patriarchy informs our thinking and behaving.
We acknowledge that we are a part of, and participants in, a white supremacist, colonial and patriarchal worldview/delusion. We strive to be aware of how “whiteness” operates in our socio-cultural systems, and within our own systems of operating and relating, and know that change is a long-game and will take bravery and humility. We do not claim to have evolved beyond these systemic identities or ways of relating, but do our best to maintain awareness of them, remain receptive when made aware of how we may be perpetuating them. Within the organization we have clear policies against discrimination, and ongoingly effort to illuminate our blind spots.
We commit to honoring the lineages of psychedelic healing work.
We do this first by being honest about the ongoing impact colonization, psychologization and extraction of indigenous practices have had on Indigenous communities. With respect to clinical and psychological methodologies, we are committed to the ritualistic, spiritual and transpersonal aspects of psychedelic healing practices. Gather Well Psychedelics honors the traditions and practices that have been utilized for thousands of years, specifically the Mazatec lineage that informs our training programs. As the psychedelic field begins to swell with organizations and companies scaling and systematizing the use of these medicines, so too, the need for reciprocity increases. From that commitment we intend to continue finding meaningful ways of making reparations with Mazetec communities that have been devastatingly harmed by Western influence and exploitation and to continue engaging in meaningful forms of reciprocity with their communities, according to their terms.
A few of Gather Well’s leaders and staff have varying degrees of relationship to an indigenous lineage of practice held by the Mazatec people of Mexico, in particular the Estrada Casimiro family of Huautla de Jimenez. Those relationships have informed the personal work of these Gather Well staff and many of their practices and frameworks for being of service up to this point. Gather Well will not be teaching direct indigenous practices in its programs, as we believe these practices are meant to be passed from an indigenous person to a non-indigenous person at the former’s discretion. We acknowledge, with great gratitude, our having been influenced and having benefited from our exposure to these lines of knowledge, and ways of prayer. We look forward to a continued relationship of respectful exchange and deepened learning on our part.
We are committed to our humanness.
We acknowledge that while we hold lofty ideals and spiritual aspirations, we are also human. We will make mistakes. We will sometimes be messy. We won’t be perfect. We are in a continual and ongoing process of growth and change. We commit to grow with courage in the face of the uncomfortable and with compassion for our own humanness. That said, we strive to “do no harm.” We strive secondly, to embody the kind of humility that allows us to acknowledge when we have harmed. We seek to model this as staff and for anyone who enters the Gather Well ecosystem.
We commit to active, imaginative participation in co-creating the birth of a new world.
While it’s easy to see what needs dismantling, and much does, equal or greater visionary energy is needed to birth a new world into being. The time is upon us to allow our most radical visions for humanity and for the earth to emerge. We imagine a vibrant, thriving future where all life can flourish, where all beings are free to know and express their purpose, where the tears of our grief water the seeds of new possibilities and we wail and sing and dance like our lives depend on it, where the expression of joy, as paradoxical as it might feel in a world that is also dying, is a move toward the creation of something new. We hold these ideals in our engagement with psychedelic healing modalities, respecting their wisdom, the wisdom that emerges in liminal spaces and expanded states of consciousness.
We are committed to each other.
We acknowledge that separateness is an illusion, that we are all interconnected, that we cannot do the work of transformation and healing alone. We know that when any one of us is suffering, we suffer collectively. Just as much of our original wounding is relational, so too, must be the healing. The work of being fully human, is most joyously and effectively done in collaboration and community. We commit to the activism that is healing or “walking each other home.”
We are committed to emergence itself.
The birthing of a new paradigm is already upon us. Just as much is dying, much is being born. We strive to be of service to this birthing, to listen to what is being called for and to remain nimble in the face of change. We commit to our particular offering of participating in a shift in human consciousness through wise and respectful use of psychedelics.