Hamilton Souther – The Incredible Journey into Shamanism and a Life of Service

Hamilton Souther

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In this episode, hosts Joe and Kyle interview Hamilton Souther, Shaman of Blue Morpho. In this episode, they cover Hamilton’s incredible journey from Western life into becoming a Shaman and the spirit teachings that he experienced along the way.

3 Key Points:

  1. Hamilton Souther, a Shaman of Blue Morpho, shares his experience from living a normal Western life to his journey of his calling, learning and training to become a Shaman. He shares amazing examples of connectedness and spirit while living amongst the natives.
  2. A common concept that comes out of an Ayahuasca ceremony is that the plants care for you. The teachings that come from the plants are peace oriented and resolution oriented and opening of creativity and problem solving.
  3. Shamanic training is a long and extremely difficult journey. Training comes to the people that feel the deepest calling, because you have to commit your whole life to it.

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Show Notes

About Hamilton

  • He grew up in Silicon Valley
  • He went to CU Boulder for Anthropology
    • He was interested in humanity
    • He wanted to travel and had opportunities to
  • He had some near death experiences and accidents when he was younger
  • The year after he graduated from college he would go into spontaneous awakenings and altered states of consciousness while totally sober
    • He would have really intense visionary experiences in those states
    • Those experiences were so powerful which led him into training and into his Ayahuasca experiences
  • He felt without purpose and gave himself up to something greater
  • He turned to shamanism to try to explain the nature of those experiences

Spontaneous Awakening

  • Kyle mentions that this can happen, that substances are not always required for an ‘awakening’
  • Hamilton says he wanted to connect to something other than himself
    • The path took him to Peru, and there was a possibility of meeting people with Ayahuasca
    • He was being called to it and knew they were real and it led to his ‘apprenticeship’ as a Shaman
    • It wasn’t by accident that he was there, he had visions that he was supposed to stay there and to learn

Discernment

  • Coming from a scientific background, he demanded (from the spirit guide) that the process be practical and grounded in reason and logic
    • He used doubt in a way that he was able to use a lot of proof and truth toward his belief system rather than just being naive and believing these messages too early
  • He couldn’t envision how to evolve from the vomiting, defecating human on the ground to the composed shaman in the room
  • Even though he spoke the language, he couldn’t understand what the people were saying when they shared their stories
    • It seemed like a different world to him
  • The first few years were learning how to survive in the jungle and learn how to live off of the food
    • He says it was like reliving his childhood, he had no idea how to walk through the forest like he knew how to walk down a street growing up
    • The first house he lived in out of college was one he built himself with locals
  • These experiences were so far from what he grew up in
  • Toward the end of his apprenticeship, ceremony started to look less impossible and more of something he would dedicate his life to

Spirit

  • In the indigenous communities, everybody sees spirits, especially at night
  • And not just in the Ayahuasca culture, its everybody. They thought the jungle was literally alive with spirits
  • They would say things like “call me if you need me” and they meant it telepathically
  • Hamilton says “sure enough, they do answer when you call”.
    • He was in Southern Peru at a pizzeria, and they were in ceremony, and they started to call to him
    • He had to excuse himself from the table and go outside and sit with himself and went into an Ayahuasca vision and the two men in ceremony said to him in the vision “we just wanted to call to say hi”
    • So Hamilton, using his doubt, wrote down the place and the time of when this happened, and when he returned from his travels and got back to the community, the two men gave him the coordinates and time where Hamilton was when they called him. It matched perfectly
    • He realized then and there that they had a very different understanding of the forest and of space time and they were tapped into another kind of knowledge and wisdom
    • That’s what he was looking for when he came down to the Amazon in the first place
    • “The mysteries of consciousness are really unexplored and are not studied by science at all” – Hamilton
    • For Westerners, reality and how it is experienced is just a tiny slice of total consciousness
  • “When you’re in the amazon, and you’re living in the forest and you’re participating in these visionary experiences, you see the interconnectedness of life.” – Hamilton
  • “Globally we’ve all agreed that education, literacy and participating in the economy is worth it. I think it’s worth it to really address on a massive scale what were facing collectively. It’s a part of our natural evolution.” – Hamilton
  • The plants have a very specific role to play, and that they care
    • That’s a common concept that comes out of an Ayahuasca ceremony, that the plants care for you
    • The teachings that come from the plants are peace oriented and resolution oriented and opening of creativity and problem solving
    • Especially with the environmental crisis, people who turn to Ayahuasca start to care for the environment
  • Psychedelic plants have a huge role to play in global life, individual growth and collective change

Blue Morpho

  • Its a center that Hamilton and the shamans that he works with created
  • They did a ceremony to talk with the plants to make sure that this was okay to use as an offering to everyone
  • It started in 2003 and evolved over the years to practice traditional ceremony and now San Pedro
  • People come from all over the world to visit them
  • The majority of the people are really coming for the right reasons, with clear intentions for transformation, growth, exploration and personal healing
  • Over 17 years they have focused on bettering services and professionalism and they believe they have truly succeeded
  • Ayahuasca is just one aspect of Amazonian plant medicine
    • There are hundred of plants with medicinal healing properties
    • The Dieta is a period of time where you go into deep individual isolation and connection to a specific medicinal plant where you create a relationship with a plant
    • Then you go into the Ayahuasca ceremony and Icaros are sung and you drink the Ayahuasca
    • Then the Dieta is a time where there are restrictions such as abstinence, no alcohol, strict food diet, no medications, etc. and you go into a meditative state for healing for a time of a few days, to weeks to even months

Shaman Training

  • Training comes to the people that feel the deepest calling, because you have to commit your whole life to it
  • Then, you find a lineage of shamans that are willing to accept you (if you aren’t born into a lineage of shamans)
  • It’s a journey, and you have to find a group of people open for training
    • It’s different from any kind of training from the western world, it’s a tremendous journey, and it could take years to decades
    • Its meant to be a test, and incredibly difficult
    • When Hamilton trained, he was told that 1 out of 100 make it to be actual shamans
  • It’s really a job of service, not an exalted one
    • The reason the training is so incredibly difficult, is so that you can sit with people, who are going through extremely difficult, and transformational experiences and you can be there for them and love and support them unconditionally with the strength gained through the training process
    • “Its a role of service, you have to be able to deal with any form of suffering that people come to you with.” – Hamilton

Final Thoughts

  • Stay open minded
  • He warns about a dystopian world
  • We need to be the change makers, and there is a lot we can do
    • We are incredibly powerful, especially when we are united in common goals
    • Whether they are about human rights or the climate
  • There is something mysterious about life itself

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About Hamilton Souther

Hamilton Souther

Hamilton focuses his work on Universal Spiritual Philosophy. He is bilingual in English and Spanish, has a Bachelors degree in Anthropology, and has studied shamanism in California, Cusco, and the Amazon. Hamilton was given the title of Master Shaman by Alberto Torres Davila and Julio Llerena Pinedo after completing an apprenticeship under Alberto and Julio. He guides ceremonies and leads shamanic workshops, in which he shares Universal Spiritual Philosophy.

Sean McAllister – The Successful Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative in Denver

sean mcallister

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In this episode, Joe records with Sean McAllister, an attorney who helped advise Decriminalize Denver. During this special, extra episode, Sean helps us understand the language in the recent bill for Mushroom Decriminalization in Denver, CO.

3 Key Points:

  1. Recently, Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization passed on the ballot in Denver, CO.
  2. Psilocybin mushrooms have not been made legal, they have simply been decriminalized. This means that Denver has the lowest law enforcement priority around psilocybin and that no money can be used to criminalize this behavior.
  3. Decriminalization of Psilocybin in Denver is a big step toward changing the stigma around psychedelics. But we need to be careful, decriminalization is just a tiny step in the right direction and we need to be respectful and responsible with this initiative.

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Show Notes

On May 8th, the city of Denver, Colorado voted yes on I-301, which decriminalizes the possession and use of Psilocybin-containing mushrooms. The official results will be certified on May 16th. As of May 9th – the unofficial results are – yes (50.6%) and no (49.4%). 

I-301 decriminalizes adult (21 years or older) possession and use of Psilocybin mushrooms – making these offenses the lowest priority for law enforcement. This initiative also prohibits law enforcement to spend money and resources enforcing arresting adults with possession of mushrooms. 

Sean’s Role in the Mushroom Decriminalization in Denver, CO

  • Sean is an Attorney with McAllister Garfield Law Firm in Denver
  • He has done a lot with cannabis law since 2005
  • He heard about the Mushroom Decriminalization campaign and began working with them
  • His role started in January to help the team understand what it would look like if the bill passed and his role definitely continues going forward now that it has passed

What the Vote Means

  • “Decriminalize” means just that
    • Psilocybin mushrooms have not been made legal, they have simply been decriminalized
    • “You should never be arrested for putting something in your body that grows naturally in nature.” – Sean
  • This means that Denver has the lowest law enforcement priority around Psilocybin
    • It’s not legal, it’s not regulated
  • This bill means that a person cannot be imprisoned for possession and cultivation for personal possession amounts
  • The city is not supposed to spend any money to criminalize this behavior
  • You can grow them to eat them yourself, but you can’t grow them to sell them
    • This also doesn’t mean that groups can host events and ‘give out’ mushrooms as a gift in return for a donation, this is not good behavior for this initiative
  • This initiative is simply a first step at looking at mushrooms in a better light and reducing the stigma
  • For the benefit of this bill passing, we have to be careful about amounts, the smaller the amount of mushrooms the better
    • There isn’t an amount listed in the bill to distinguish between personal use and intent to sell
  • The city has to establish a review commission
    • What this commission is supposed to do is track the public safety impact, use, criminal justice impact, etc
    • We hope and guess that psilocybin will not impact any of these, just like how marijuana did not impact anything for the worse when it was decriminalized
    • Once the city sees the results, they won’t have so much stigma about it, and Denver will lead the way for the state and the rest of the nation for sensible drug policy

Political Pushback

  • The typical response was “we already legalized marijuana, let’s not jump to something else”
  • Sean thinks this gives Denver an amazing reputation, that it understands therapeutic ability and research and no tolerance for the drug war
  • “We need a system that addresses public safety concerns but maintains as much personal liberty as possible on these topics” – Sean

Other Initiatives

  • Sean is a part of Chacruna, based in San Francisco
  • Oakland is attempting to Decriminalize Nature, which by nature means all naturally occurring substances
    • They aren’t on a ballot, they are looking to convince city council to agree with it and accept it
  • California attempted to raise signatures to be on the ballot in the 2018 election but it failed to get on the ballot
  • Oregon is now collecting signatures to get on the ballot at the state level in 2020
    • Oregon’s model is for medicalization, Sean expresses concern for a purely medical model
    • Between big pharma and quiet equity firms, they want to monetize on psychedelics like they did with marijuana, and that’s what we risk with medicalization
  • Psychedelic Liberty Summit in 2020 in the Bay Area will be to talk about the rights and wrongs around psychedelic initiatives

Final Thoughts

  • Sean mentions a possible system that revolves around a licensing structure
    • Similar to how we get a drivers license; we practice, we take tests, etc.
    • For psychedelics, we would need to learn the effects, harm reduction techniques, take tests to verify our knowledge, etc and receive a license that allows us to use psychedelics freely
    • If we abuse psychedelics and use them improperly, then we would get our license taken away, suspended, etc.
  • Overall, after this initiative passing, we have to be careful we don’t ruin this victory with poor behavior
  • Let’s just do what we’re doing respectfully, responsibly, and to ourselves

Links


About Sean McAllister

Sean T. McAllister is one of the nation’s leading cannabis business attorneys, licensed to practice law in both Colorado and California. Sean’s legal work focuses on the complex interplay between corporate law and state cannabis regulatory structures and federal law. Sean is a recognized leader in the cannabis industry. In 2004, he founded Sensible Colorado, which worked on all of the ballot initiatives in Colorado that culminated in recreational cannabis legalization in 2012.

A statement regarding the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the study of 5-MeO-DMT

A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing
5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms


The recent publication summarizing the effects of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) on mental health-related variables authored by myself and my colleagues has received great attention both from the scientific community and the public, see full text here; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-019-05236-w

Although my colleagues and I are very pleased that the publication has been so well received, it appears that the study findings are being misinterpreted and misrepresented on (social)media primarily in the general public as an advocacy for use of toad secretion.

Not only is this very disappointing, as the publication is in fact communicating the very opposite, but it is also of great concern to me as the misrepresentation of the study findings may contribute to further unnecessary consumption toad secretion from Bufo Alvarius.

I, therefore, feel it is not only necessary, but also of high importance to clarify that the recent publication is in no way an advocacy or toad secretion use, but rather the opposite.

In fact, the article is summarizing the effects of 5-MeO-DMT, which is the main compound in the toad secretion – as demonstrated by a lab-analysis. This finding makes a clear and strong argument that toad secretion is in no way superior to synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, putting a scientific nail in the coffin for the discontinuation of toad secretion use as a means of obtaining and consuming 5-MeO-DMT.

Furthermore, the article also points to the ethical and ecological implications that comes with toad secretion use. Basically, the increasing demand for the vapor produced by toad secretion will disturb the ecological equilibrium of the toads through the invasion of habitat, excessive milking, amphibian trafficking, and black-market dynamics. Harassment of the Bufo Alvarius toad, however, can be easily prevented by using synthetic 5-MeO-DMT instead of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT. You can read a summary of this issue to greater length here: https://psychedelicstoday.com/2018/10/03/ethics-ecology-bufotoxins/ ).

Additionally, even though many people have benefitted from sessions whereby 5-MeO-DMT from toad secretion has been consumed, others have instead, based on anecdotal reports, had a rather unpleasant encounter with the facilitator and so too experience with 5-MeO-DMT from toad secretion. The reasons for the unpleasant encounter vary per person, but as our recent publication highlight it is clear that some of the recent allegations of malpractice against two facilitators in particular, namely Octavio Rettig and Gerry Sandoval addressed in an open letter (read full text here; https://5-meo-dmt-malpractice.org/), extends beyond these individuals. In our recent publication it was demonstrated that the set and setting vary quite a bit from location to location of these sessions, dose(s) are not standardized but determined by eye-measuring, and span between 30-120 mg of toad secretion (those who received 30 mg dose may have had 7.5-9 mg of 5-MeO-DMT, whereas those who received 120 mg dose may have inhaled up to 30-36 mg of 5-MeO-DMT). Additionally, none of the facilitators have the necessary expertise (clinical background) to properly hold a safe space where altered states of consciousness can be entered, nor to screen for contraindications in participants that are included in a session. This is not only concerning, but also dangerous as it puts people in an unnecessary risk for having an unpleasant, and even traumatic experience which can impact them as well as those around them negatively.

Finally, although the study suggests that inhalation of vapor from toad secretion containing mainly 5-MeO-DMT (with very low traces of bufotenine and DMT) is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms, these findings are in no way conclusive. This molecule still needs further extensive research to assess safety, and to control for various other variables that may account and/or add to the outcome effects such for example set and setting, social desirability bias, therapeutic relationship, and placebo response.


Malin Vedøy Uthaug, MSc


Malin Vedøy Uthaug, MSc, originally from Bergen, moved to Prague, The Czech Republic, after graduating from high school in her hometown in 2012. After obtaining her dual bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of New York in Prague (UNYP) and Empire State College (ESC) in New York in June 2016, Malin continued with her studies at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. Here, she acquired her master’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in Health and Social Psychology in the fall of 2017. During her research internship, Malin conducted fieldwork investigating the sub-acute and long-term effects of Ayahuasca on affect and cognitive thinking style. This field study was under supervision of Dr. Johannes Ramaekers and Dr. Jordi Riba, and was the starting point of her career as a psychedelic researcher.

After finishing her master’s, Malin continued working as a PhD candidate at the department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology (FPN) from fall 2017. Her current doctoral research centers around the continuous investigation of the effects of Ayahuasca in naturalistic settings, and pioneer work on the effects of 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in humans.

Outside of her thesis work, besides being a co-founder of the Norwegian Association for Psychedelic Studies, and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Psychedelic Studies, Malin is also investigating the effects of Mescaline and Holotropic Breathwork. Finally, she is interested in trauma(resolution) and works hard to aid in changing the current treatment modalities available in the west by demonstrating the superiority of Non-ordinary state Psychotherapy (NOSP) through extensive research, (academic) writing and public speaking.