Psychedelic Toad Venom in the Therapy Room?
This article on the psychedelic toad is a guest post by Raymond Dickson from (psychedel.us). Dickson is a writer and student of Transpersonal Counseling at Naropa University, with intention to practice ethical, above-ground psychedelic therapy. His journalism focuses on psychedelic medicine, drug policy, and issues around diversity, and his work has been featured in Chacruna, The Rumpus, and Rooster Magazine.
Aligned with his approach to cannabis and ketamine, Lancelotta envisions administering 5-MeO-DMT in a calm, controlled setting such as a therapy office, with participants wearing eyeshades, and optionally having music playing through speakers. The therapist provides support and guidance, helping clients process what emerges, especially if it’s frightening. And given its potency, vaporized toad venom can scare the bejesus out of people, as happened to Michael Pollan.
“It was horrible,” Pollan told Joe Rogan on a podcast. “It was terrifying. I thought I was dying.”
Stroll through 5 Hive, the 5-MeO-DMT for sale forum Lancelotta created, and you’ll find death sensations common amongst high-dose experiences. But high-dose experiences are not the only option—and in Lancelotta’s mind, they’re not ideal for therapy.
Dark Underbelly of the Psychedelic Toad
Hamilton Morris visited Sandoval for his show, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia. Sandoval looked like a cheery, good-natured cowboy—yet there was something off-putting about the way he spoke of the importance of protecting the toad, and yet clearly maintained what might be called a “toad farm,” raising dozens of Bufo alvarius in a cage and extracting their venom as he desired. It didn’t look so pleasant for the toad. Psychedelic Toad Venom in the Therapy Room?
Rettig has drawn controversy around particular practices he employs with his clients. Predominant amongst them is his pouring water into the mouths and nostrils of individuals who have lost control of their bodies, whose mouths hang open, vulnerable and helpless. Rettig has defended his technique, arguing that high doses of psychedelic toad venom can make people stop breathing, and pouring water incites an autonomic response helping them breathe again. Yet to many who watch this video—which may be disturbing to watch, be warned— it looks more akin to waterboarding.
Prajna and Psychedelic Medicine
Substances of such power require an approach of respect, humility, and courage. I believe they also require prajna. In Buddhism, prajna is a kind of wisdom that cuts through delusion like a sword. If we convince ourselves we have arrived indelibly in some lofty position, we’ve quite likely constructed defenses against beholding and integrating the deep shadow content driving us to seek loftiness above our fellows at all. And if that’s not the case for you, may prajna at least make clear when you’re inventing histories to manipulate people into paying you, and then using your power to harm them.