Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth
by Francoise Bourzat with Kristina Hunter
In a market increasingly saturated by books espousing the virtues of psychedelic and alternative therapies, Françoise Bourzat’s “Consciousness Medicine” stands apart in its focused dedication to psychedelic therapy as a method of self-directed healing and growth. While other tomes contain more information about the chemical and neurological effects of psychedelic use, this book focuses on time-tested methods of preparation such as talk therapy and journaling, the psychological experience of journeying, and — one of the most overlooked and important aspects of psychedelic therapy — integration afterwards.
Bourzat weaves her extensive experience as a guide for others’ therapeutic journeys together with traditional indigenous training methods, modern therapeutic methods, and her own personal experience with healing and growth as a journeyer. She deals with the issue of personal belief, religion, and spirituality very carefully, encouraging those who have belief in a meaningful cosmology to explore it and befriend it rather than discard it, and embrace fusion of spiritual beliefs where appropriate. She also treats the topic of indigenous practice with respect, as she received training from a traditional mushroom curandero herself.
One of Bourzat’s most valuable contributions in this book is the “Holistic Model for a Balanced Life,” a therapeutic framework in which anyone can work to resolve problems, heal wounds, and grow, regardless of their personal beliefs or background. While holistic ideas are not new, Bourzat’s interpretation of this idea really explores the ways in which this approach can compliment therapeutic journeying by helping to orient a journeyer to their most important goals — to find connection, love, and creation, and to create a balanced and healthy life of meaning in their own family, communities, and society as a whole. Meanwhile, Bourzat’s psychological narrative explores the use of psychedelics for exploration, healing, and treating trauma, depression, anxiety, and abuse-related interpersonal trauma. While these topics are all much more complicated and nuanced than Bourzat really has the space for, she does a good job of digging deeply into the ways that psychedelics can interact with these experiences and the mental disorders that they can cause.
Although it is not the primary focus of this book, Bourzat spends a good amount of time delving into the journeyer’s relationship to nature, and the place of this relationship in both the journey and the holistic model. Psychedelics, unlike many other substances, seem to have the unique ability to awaken in some an understanding of mankind’s impact on the natural world, and a resultant desire to shift both behavior and attitudes away from consumption, and towards conservation and environmentalism. Bourzat suggests numerous methods for utilizing this desire and using it as a source of motivation, rather than as a source of anxiety. Here, the healing to be done is the earth’s — but must be done by our human hands, because we are the ones who caused the wound.
This is a valuable read for any shaman, therapist, or trip-sitter; it abounds with suggestions for journalling activities, discussion, therapeutic practices, and ritual practices. Bourzat also reproduces the Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides, written by the Council on Spiritual Practices, which presents a clear set of well-considered guidelines for all kinds of spiritual guides. While the topic of consciousness medicine intersects with many other topics — trauma, healing, ecology, biology, colonialism, nature, and spirituality, to name a few — Bourzat does a fantastic job of drawing together these many themes into a concise and structured framework for therapeutic use.
About the Author:
Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com