Encountering Blissful Eternity with EntheoMedicine

By Steven Libowitz   |   April 19, 2018

Back in 2016, EntheoMedicine founder Jacqueline Lopez not only had no interest or experience with psychedelic substances for medicine or any other uses, she was actively opposed. “I thought people who did this stuff were kind of crazy, probably living on the street because they were hooked on it,” she recalled. “Coming from Brazil, where the U.S. has a strong presence in trying to eliminate those kinds of crops, I thought, ‘I would never do such things, ever!’”

Then her life partner received a diagnosis that he had two types of cancer, and at least one would be terminal. His health declined and made living their normal life next to impossible, as end-of-life fears produced intolerable anxiety. Desperate for help, they decided to investigate entheogens – psychedelic medicines that have been proven in clinical settings to create mystical-type experiences that can lead to a spiritual awakening and vast improvements in mental health. Along the way, they discovered that they had friends who experimented with Psilocybin and other substances who weren’t addicts.

“They were just normal people, with regular jobs, very nice and friendly. They didn’t fit the profile I had in my head at all,” Lopez said. “So, I started questioning. And I realized I needed to investigate, and read about it, not just believe what I’d heard all my life.”

By summer 2017, they were ready to dive in and traveled to an Indian reservation in northern California, where they could partake of sacrament as part of a sacred ceremony. The result was immediate, Lopez said.

“I started seeing things that showed me all of my BS, pointed out the negative stories I’ve been carrying with me since childhood – things like my mom not loving me, because I once heard her say I wasn’t doing well in school. The ego loves to feel a victim and then wants to protect you and run the story over and over again. What happens is not something you can easily explain, but you just know – you realize the story is just an imagining. And the real you is a beautiful human being for whom nothing (is intrinsically) wrong. It’s like a big veil is lifted and you see things the way they actually are. And you know in your bones that this is truth.”

Her partner underwent a similar experience that has helped him cope with his cancer, Lopez said. “The disease is still there. But (going through this) is like a near-death experience – you see the white tunnel, the light. The ego literally dies, your body isn’t there, and you become part of the big consciousness. After a few minutes, you come back, but all you can say is, ‘Oh, my God, oh, my God,’ because you realize you are one with everything. It’s like a death rehearsal, and for us, it eliminated the fear of death. It’s frightening for the ego, but when it’s over it gives you courage to live. I feel like my life is divided into two parts, before and after.”

Back in Santa Barbara, Lopez and her partner wanted to share their discovery with others but ran into roadblocks. Or rather, no road at all.

“As a human being, when we experience something profound, we want to share with others because we’re social animals,” she explained. “I felt so compelled to share this wonderful life-opening experience with other people who could benefit – cancer victims, alcoholics, those addicted to substances. These medicines can help people. And there’s lots of research going on right now at universities [that] shows people at end of life can get some peace of mind knowing that death is only a transition. But I wasn’t aware of anyone else in town doing these things. I felt completely isolated.”

Lopez checked out the local MeetUp to no avail, and found no other official organizations where the subject was talked about – despite the fact that Santa Barbara had once been on the forefront of psychedelic research during the heart of the Reagan “Just Say No” era, even hosting the Psychedelics and Spirituality Conference (a.k.a. Psychedelic Conference II) at UCSB 35 years ago, where Albert Hofmann, Terence McKenna, Andrew Weil, and other pioneers in the field spoke, and Timothy Leary was in attendance.

After getting guidance from out-of-town organizations, she decided to form one in Santa Barbara herself. Thus was born EntheoMedicine Santa Barbara. Using her experience as an event organizer when she lived in San Luis Obispo, Lopez did a lot of research and created a bi-monthly series of events where speakers would be invited to discuss relevant topics. The organization made its debut back in March with a talk from Martin W. Ball (who was interviewed in this column), and will continue next Friday, April 27, with Robert Forte, a renowned and experienced entheogenic pioneer who worked with Leary and Stan Grof and is a former board member of the Albert Hofmann Foundation. Forte’s talk will explore entheogenic capacity for healing body and mind, take a trip through the vibrant history of psychedelics, and delve into the evidence-based therapeutic, creative, and spiritual potential of entheogens.

“I’m only interested in bringing the best speakers on the topics,” Lopez said. “It’s not enough that they’ve published a book. I checked out their videos to make sure they know how to communicate what they know and can be engaging as a speaker. Most people don’t have time to fool around with mediocre speakers.”

Forte had no trouble passing the test, Lopez said. “He’s like a renegade, a rogue who has a true passion for this work. I really like his style.”

The event, which takes place from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, April 27, at Unity of Santa Barbara, will also feature a Q&A session and time for meeting Forte, and networking with organizers and other attendees. Admission is $30 in advance, or $40 at the door. Next up is Dr. Richard Miller, the author of Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca, who will speak on June 16. Call 669-7226 or visit www.entheomedicine.com.

Tribe Takes on Touch and Consent

The #MeToo movement has brought up issues of consent and creating safe space even among the highly evolved ecstatic dance community, where intuitive movement often with concurrent touching is a frequent practice but has also led to occasional issues of discomfort. Accordingly, Santa Barbara Dance Tribe, which hosts weekly ecstatic dances every Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm at the Towbes Center at 2285 Las Positas Road, has developed a new series of workshops with Brooke Smiley, the UCSB dance faculty member who is also an “earth artist” who created “Permission to Heal” currently on display on lower State Street as part of the 2018 State of the Art Gallery Exhibition. (See an interview in my entertainment column.)

“Active Consent: How to Not Assume” is a three-workshop series that will place at 10 am just prior to Dance Tribe each Sunday over the next three weeks (April 22 & 29 and May 6) to establish a safe space for all to practice dance and restoring permission and safety in movement and touch. The series is meant to be an opportunity for individuals to deepen their awareness of “self” and how to relate with “other,” a learning of “how to meet oneself and individuals as unique in the present moment through movement and touch.” Participants will undergo guided somatic and embodied movement explorations to create space to observe one’s underlying movement patterns and preferences when relating, and facilitate space for choice and authenticity. The idea is that asking permission is a practice that allows space for choice and consensual movement, and touch is a foundation for embodied learning, safety, and fun.

The initial workshop on Sunday, April 22, is titled “Sensing Self: Authentic Yes and No”, asking the question of self “What do I need?” exploring the origins and embodied anatomy of the expressions. “Meeting Other: A New Golden Rule”, on April 29, explores “How do I meet other?”, examining coming into relationships via honoring each individual as unique (rather than a mirror of ourselves) and exploring a somatic and cultural re-organization of the golden rule: Treat others how they wish to be treated. “In Relationship: Meeting vs. Merging” on May 6 explores variations in connection as participants discover play, choice, and boundaries to support greater growth in themselves and others. This final class asks, “How in meeting others do I learn more about myself?”

The workshops cost $15 each, or $40 for the full series ($25/$70 with admission to Dance Tribe). Attendance at the full series is encouraged but not required. Call 705-3683, email info@sbdancetribe.com, or visit the Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/226108084606034.

DiviniTree’s Diverse Weekend

The downtown yoga studio/community center offers a Men’s Deep Inner Work Intensive: Advancing into presence, confidence, purpose and intimacy this Friday and Saturday, April 20-21. The workshop is for men who want to challenge themselves, to contribute in creating a more heart-centered world in which men are practiced at being authentic and thoughtful, and who know that true strength comes from the willingness to be vulnerable. The goal is for participants to access more authentic confidence, clarity, and purpose by a series of transformations, including letting go of the need for external validation and instead sourcing strength and power from within; replacing viewing sex as a way of releasing tension with seeing the practice as a means of healing and deeper connection; becoming more skillful with their own emotions and expanding the capacity to be with partners’ emotions, and consciously embodying dark aspects of oneself as a personal power tool. Friday’s 7 to 10 pm session costs $45, Saturday’s 1 to 6:30 pm is $125; admission to both in both in advance costs $125, or $145 on Friday.

On Saturday night, DiviniTree hosts Crown of Eternity: A Sound Healing Concert with Mike & Gallina, who use the harmonic resonance of more than 90 overtone-rich instruments including gongs, bells, tuned metal instruments, and hammered dulcimer to transport people “into a timeless space of sonic bliss.” More info at www.CrownofEternity.com. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

DiviniTree is located at 25 East De La Guerra Street. Call 897-3354 or visit http://sb.divinitree.com.


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