Fall in Love with your Shaman?
The number of individuals who have asked me for a consultation about their experience of “falling in love” with their shaman/therapist/facilitator is A LOT. And I’ve seen it in either direction of gender: male or female shaman/therapist to any gender-identifying client/student.
Most of them tell me the SAME underlying belief:
That this is a consensual relationship.
That this is different from other people’s experiences.
That this connection is divine.
That they’ve met this person in a past lifetime.
That this relationship is going to heal them.
That they are soulmates.
That the spirit of Ayahuasca/Psilocybin/(enter whatever substance) told them that they were supposed to be together.
I’m not here to tell you that you can’t do whatever you want.
You have the agency to.
What I am here to tell you is that these relationships by the nature of your roles are NOT consensual.
There is a power differential that exists between the facilitator/shaman/therapist + the individual who is receiving work.
One is in the role of power as healer/facilitator/guide.
The other is the role of one seeking healing/help/guidance.
The latter role is by this very nature in a more vulnerable position—> seeking help.
As a result, any relationship or experience of being “in love” is not a clean, clear delineation.
Let me explain:
Many individuals who have trauma in their background have a more difficult time in discerning boundaries or power roles clearly. Whether it’s because they have an internal desire for safety + seeking that in another OR they have an internal skew of self-worth that causes them to feel special + “chosen” when a shaman/facilitator picks them out from a group or tells them that they feel a deep connection they want to explore with them.
Further, if someone has abuse or sexual violations in their background, there can be an internal program around using their sexuality to establish worth + being wanted by another.
This can be elicited by the client/student OR the therapist/shaman/facilitator.
It is the responsibility of the facilitator to hold a strong boundary of “no” for their students so that the student can experience the reference point of a safe container + loving “no”.
If the facilitator wavers + flirts back, puts their own sexual energy into the space, touches, or entertains the students' advances in return—they are contributing to the students' internal programs + strategies for love —through sexuality.
Even if it is said it is “love”.
It’s not clean or consensual.
If every one of those facilitators from the stories I have heard broke the boundary of being a safe, clean, container for the work of the individual to be with the client/student/participant—then how could anyone find safety in sitting in a ceremony or working with a healer/shaman/therapist in order to do the deep trauma work that they are seeking.
It is not love when a shaman/facilitator breaks the boundary to have a relationship with a student/participant.
As a therapist, we are not allowed to have relations with a client until 2 years after we complete our work with them.
Now, I’m not saying that love cannot happen between the client + facilitator, but it is out of integrity to move into that without proper time + spaciousness to be out of the power roles, away from mind-altering substances, + integration of the SYMBOLISM of what you experienced.
Journeys work symbolically.
You are entering a world where language is different. Mythopoetic language isn’t literal. We see something in our mind's eye and that doesn’t mean that it really happened, nor does it mean that it will happen.
A mind on Ayahuasca/Psilocybin/or any other substance/plant medicine has a language of poetry. Which is why the process of integration is critical.
Meaning-making + decoding takes time.
Allow the dust to settle + the hormones of sexual attraction or love to settle so you can make better discernment for yourself.
If this speaks to you, you’re not alone.
This is a common experience in the culture of plant medicine ceremonies.
As a facilitator + therapist working in this field of trauma + psychedelics, it pains me to hear when facilitators break their integrity for their own personal needs.
Ceremony/therapy is NOT the place for them to get their needs met, be that power or love, or sex. It is where they show up in humble service for the sacred care of those they serve.
The incredible individuals at Charuna Institute have made community guides + articles about the abuse of power in ayahuasca ceremony cultures + sexual misconduct. You can access that here: chacruna.net/category/sex-power/
Further, I made a free guide for helping you vet your practitioners in sex + psychedelics. You can access that here.
We need to take our time to vet who we work with AND sometimes we can vet but still find ourselves in these positions of being taken advantage of.
It is my deepest hope that this article inspires you to be able to find your “no” + remember that no human is infallible. Not even your shaman. And that if they propose a romantic relationship or sex, that is NOT a part of the healing process + is more about the internal programming you or they or both have around love + sex.
I want you all to be safe to do your work in healing.
If you feel called, I am launching my online program Sex Love Psychedelics: Ritual where you will get so many resources to support you.