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Curiosity Lab Podcast Features Nicholas Levich

Nicholas Levich, co-founder of Psychedelic Passage, joins Atom Bram on the Curiosity Lab podcast. They discuss the importance of creating accessible alternative healing services for people who suffer from debilitating conditions such as PTSD, depression, and terminal illnesses.

Nicholas discusses the impetus behind starting Psychedelic Passage, highlighting the vital need for reputable and qualified guides in the psychedelic realm. He emphasizes the importance of safe and structured experiences, especially in a landscape where the vast majority of providers operate underground.

The episode delves into the powerful outcomes and breakthroughs that individuals experience through psychedelic-assisted therapy. From unearthing core wounds and traumas to experiencing moments of divinity, listeners gain a deeper understanding of the potential for profound self-discovery and transformation.

The conversation also discusses the broader context of humanity’s consciousness evolution, drawing inspiration from the stoned ape theory and Terence McKenna’s ideas. Nick and Atom explore the multidimensional aspects of awakening and unity, examining the profound connection that individuals seek through these transformative experiences.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to join in on their conversation about the deeper meanings of life and our unique human connection with fungi.

The Curiosity Lab – Psilocybin Treatment with Nick Levich

Shanti: Welcome. You are listening to Curiosity Lab, a radio show dedicated to questions and wonder. I am your host, Shanti O’Connor.

Atom: And cohost, Atom Bram. 

Atom: Hello, Central Oregon. This is Atom Bram. I am in the studios today. I have been out for three weeks, and Shanti has been so gracious to cover all the shows and has had absolutely wonderful guests this last three weeks. So, today, I’m just in the studio by myself and I have a very special guest, and this is going to be a really fun show. 

I’ve been really looking forward to this topic, and I know that recently, we’ve decided to start going towards a podcast style for the other half of our show. So, be sure to go to our website, kpov.org, and check out the streaming podcast. There is a podcast button right on the menu bar, and you can listen to all past shows and listen to the other half or continuous streaming of these shows. Today, I have Nick Levich. Thank you so much for coming in the studio today. 

Nick: Yeah, thanks for having me, Atom. Much appreciated. 

Atom: Yeah. So, we met probably a couple times at this sauna, [Nick laughs] which is, I hope you’re part of the Sauna Guru crew, which is, we always get into some really fun, interesting things there. Obviously, it all started off– Well, you probably either overheard at me or we were talking about psychedelics or consciousness, aliens– [crosstalk] 

Nick: You were talking about how the studio is haunted, and is like smudging and basically that whole side of things. 

Atom: Yes, that’s right. Oh, yes. We could talk about that all day. 

Nick: Yeah, right.

Atom: It’s a fun ghost here, and I do have to deal with him sometimes, which I might have to get a specialist in to take it a little bit further. I don’t know, but it’s a fascinating story with the building here, for sure. So, yeah, when we first met, we got into a deep discussion about psychedelics, and I’m hoping maybe we can get into down further into the 5-MeOs. 

But I think one of the most fascinating aspects of our current times is that we do have this big movement happening. There’s a lot more lifting, if you will, of the perceptions of the negativity or what has been unfortunately planted in society that there’s a lot of bad things to psychedelics when there’s actually a lot of great things, obviously. And so, please tell me a little bit about what you’re doing, how you got into it, maybe, and about your website and what your services, and what you’re up to. 

Creation of Psychedelic Passage

Nick: Yeah. So, I started a company called Psychedelic Passage back in 2019. And the original impetus to starting that was recognizing that the average person had a really hard time finding a reputable psychedelic guide near them. 

And so, Michael Pollan’s book had just come out, he really stressed the importance of having a facilitator, a trained guide, but there was no discussion as to how to find one. And so, the big thing for me was, okay, how do we help the average human find a reputable guide knowing that the vast majority of these people exist underground and have for the last decade?

And yes, we’ve got state sanctioned programs coming online here in Oregon, which I can happily talk about. But in general, most people had no idea how to find a qualified support provider. And so, that was what started the whole thing. 

What was really interesting was, after we took several hundred consultations, we actually realized that wasn’t enough, because people didn’t even know what they needed. They didn’t know what they wanted. They didn’t know what options were available. 

And so, what’s funny is that there’s this big concept of psychedelic assisted therapy, but the how, nobody really understands, at least not most journeyers or most clients, those who are actually seeking services. 

And so, that creates this power imbalance where if you say, “Hey, my name is Atom. I’m a facilitator,” and I just take your word for it, I’ve done no vetting, no checking. I’m just taking your word for it, and that opens up an environment where you’re essentially ripe to be taken advantage of. 

So, the big thing for me is how do we create enough education and boundaries around this that the folks who are seeking treatment, we increase the likelihood of them having good outcomes. 

Atom: Yeah, that’s an amazing insight and realization. Now what were some of the other things that you discovered after creating this that is going to empower people and really help shape and develop this, because it’s a big responsibility in some regards? 

Nick: Yeah. So, essentially, what we’ve done to solve the problem that I’m describing is that we basically function as a centralized concierge service. We curate a network of facilitators, and all those facilitators are required to go through a series of essentially vetting standards, everything from background checks, applications, reference checks. 

For someone to even gain admittance into the network, they’ve got to basically pass what we deem to be someone that we would send a friend or family member, a loved one to. And then because we are essentially unaffiliated third party, we moderate the network. 

So, let’s say, a client comes back and says, “Hey, I had a really poor experience with this person.” We can go figure out what happened to the best of our ability and then decide, do we need to keep this person in the network or is it time for them to go?” 

And that creates this recourse, this feedback loop, so that the facilitators, the service providers are incentivized to act in accordance with this code of conduct with these best practices and uphold the moral ethical standards that I believe need to be a part of any psychedelic intentional use. 

Atom: Absolutely. And there’s not a lot of clarity. I would assume that there’s a lot of openness, at least for leadership. There’s a need, right?

Nick: Yeah.

Atom: It’s really admirable that you really took that as an important and humane and logical thing to do, right? 

Nick: Yeah, and it’s hard. It’s hard to do this, because before we got started, there were no standards on what made someone qualified to do this work. Everyone’s got a differing opinion on what makes someone qualified. 

This is one of the things that I’m really passionate about because in my opinion, a mental health license is not enough. State licensure with the state of Oregon, you become a licensed facilitator, it’s not enough. And so, that’s one of the things that I feel called to talk about because we are in Central Oregon here is that what the state has done with facilitator licensing requirements is extremely low bar. 

So, a facilitator to be licensed with the state only needs 200 hours of education. 160 of those hours are online, which only leaves 40 of them for in person experience. There’s no requirement that you’ve journeyed yourself. There’s no psychological eval. There’s essentially nothing other than a background check and a high school diploma. And so, to be clear, you need more training to be a barber in the state of Oregon than you do to be a psychedelic guy. 

Atom: Yeah, that’s ridiculous and it’s unfortunate. We could probably get know the reasons why and maybe the legislative and challenging aspect of the state. But I think before we get into anything else, it’s really important that the folks listening understand what these providers do, and what is the process, and exactly what to expect, if you needed to go get treatment, or if you wanted to seek out help at this level. 

Nick: Yeah. So, it’s going to vary based on where you go, whether it’s an international retreat, or a state sanctioned service center, or an underground provider. But there’s a couple of these core tenants that are going to hold true regardless assuming your facilitator knows what they’re doing. 

If you’re like, “Hey, I’m interested in doing this. I’ve got anxiety, depression, PTSD,” whatever it is that you’re going for. The first thing that anyone’s going to do is assess fit. So, on a human level, is this someone I would want to work with? Do I feel good in their presence? Do I feel judged? Do I feel safe? How do I feel when I’m with them? 

If both parties, the journeyer and the facilitator decide that they want to move forward, the first thing any adept facilitator is going to do is take you through a health screening process. That’s going to help ensure your safety as a participant and theirs as a facilitator. 

They’re going to look at things like physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Assuming you get cleared and everything looks good there, the second thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to put a date on the calendar for, what we call, a ceremony or a guided session. That’s the actual dosing session where you’re consuming the psychedelic medicine. 

Typically, that’s going to be a minimum of two weeks out from that health questionnaire process. And the reason is because we have to do preparation. And so, there’s a lot of people that think, and this is one of the things that we’re battling in the western world is, “Hey, if I just take a pill, I’ll feel better.” That’s how we’ve been indoctrinated. And so, people think, “Oh, if I just go sit with psilocybin, I’ll feel better.” 

But that’s not the whole picture. And so, what a real true facilitator will do is once that ceremony is on the calendar, they’re going to back into your preparation process. They’re going to say, “Okay, Atom, we’ve got this journey coming up in four weeks. We need to get you ready.” 

And so, what’s that going to look like? Well, it could be a series of daily practices, it could be orienting around what to expect, fears, anxieties, setting intentions. And so, the idea is that we’re arming you with a map to navigate altered states of consciousness if you’ve never been there before.

Atom: And have some expectations. 

Nick: Exactly. 

Atom: Yeah, that’s really important because for most people it’s probably a very big leap faith-

Nick: Huge.

Atom: -in itself. And so, you really do want to be as methodical and well thought out with every step that you take. That’s really neat. But there is no guidance from any state level. Is this something a lot of that you’ve developed on this protocol and process? 

Nick: Yeah. So, we’ve developed this all basically in real time since 2019. I got into this work after apprenticing with an Ayahuascaro[?] for five years. And so, that’s where I got a lot of my space holding and basically frameworks to use when engaging with these medicines in addition to a lot of my own self exploration. 

I’ve had a lot of what I’ll call just consciousness exploration-oriented journeys, especially before I really knew what I was doing early on in college and whatnot. 

And so, it’s a combination of firsthand experience navigating these states along with mentorship, apprenticeship, and then best practices that have come out of a whole community of facilitators. So, it started as just me facilitating for Psychedelic Passage, but now we’ve got 25 facilitators all across the country doing this. 

Atom: Wow.

Nick: So, there’s a co-learning and a feedback loop that happens. 

Atom: So, it’s not just local network that you’re really working towards. It’s more of a national. 

Process and Preparation

Nick: Exactly. 

Atom: And then you can probably break down into regional as it develops and whatnot. 

Nick: Exactly. 

Atom: Yeah, that’s really, really fascinating. Yeah, maybe help the listeners understand a little bit of what are some of the most common challenges that people, when they come to you that they’re really looking to get help with? 

Because I know it’s probably, every day, if not all the time, there’s new things that people are– This comes back to the other aspect I probably want touch on too at some point is the natural research that you want the drive to enhance this, because this is still so new. But I’m just so curious on all the levels, and some of the things that people tend to come in with that are the most challenging. 

Nick: Yeah. So, the common thread that I think links almost everyone that’s exploring this form of treatment or exploration, whatever you want to call it, is they feel stuck in some way. There’s this feeling of stuckness, like, I can’t get to what I want or I know something’s there, but I don’t have access to it. 

What’s funny is that’s often directly correlated to the wall that people hit in therapy because with your thinking mind, you can only get so far. For a lot of us, what’s holding us back is what’s just beneath the surface. What that often presents as is anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, OCD, eating disorders, you name it. And so, those tend to be the diagnoses, if you will, that people come forward with. 

But one of the fascinating things about this work is that there’s often something underlying diagnoses. In other words, those are the symptoms, the core wound or the core issue is deeper than that. It manifests, it results in these symptoms. 

Personal Breakthroughs and Outcomes

Atom: Yeah, especially, undiscovered or unchecked or worked on for years and years. A lot of times, it can start with trauma. I truly believe that most alcohol or drug abuse stems from trauma in things that you just are avoiding, you’re just trying to push back down,-

Nick: Totally.

Atom: -and you’re really afraid to get into that. And to understand your feelings and touch those emotions, which are very fearful and can be very painful. And so, I think that’s where the next area I think it’s important to go into is like, what are some of the greatest outcomes and breakthroughs that can happen? 

Everyone’s different. That’s an important thing. Everybody’s journey is different. That’s what’s so challenging in some ways is that, if this is very personal and that you can’t just necessarily say and wipe a broad brush like, this is what you’ll get. I’ve had my own, and I’ve had breakthroughs, and I really thank you for highlighting. 

It’s a consciousness journey is understanding the self, understanding a deeper meaning of life of the self and our connection, why we’re here, what we’re doing. But there’s so much deeper and things that are uncovered, especially with psilocybin that I find so fascinating. Maybe touch on some of those that you’ve discovered and that you really feel that people are getting that we can all kind of think about, that is a fascinating aspect. 

Nick: Yeah. So, you hit the nail on the head, it’s going to be different for everyone. What I always tell folks is like, “You get what you need, not what you want.” And so, you’ve experienced this if you’ve journeyed with natural psychedelics, there’s an element of intelligence there. It sounds so cheesy. 

But when you take the medicine, it goes into your body, it scans you, and it says, “Okay, this is where we’re going today.” It’s going to be totally unique to you and your own life circumstances. 

And so, I would say that there are these themes that emerge. So, you never know what you’re going to get, but there are certain themes. So, some of those include like, experiences of divinity, experiences of oneness, the ability to actually harbor and feel love for yourself, the ability to forgive. 

Atom: Let go. 

Nick: Let go. A sense of discovery of what has been repressed or suppressed. I always tell folks, “If you’re not prepared to look under the hood, this probably isn’t a good modality for you.”

Atom: [laughs] You have to be willing, and any intent has to be there. 

Nick: Exactly. 

Atom: But it’s okay, and that’s some part of the journey is that you got to take a leap of faith. You’ve got to just say, there’s something out there that I need to know. I think we all probably don’t realize it in the subconscious, but yeah, we’re all journeying and seeking something at those levels and to understand things at a deeper level. I have some really good insight and ideas to that. 

[music]

Atom: What was one of the biggest things I thought is so important to bring up for people in all this is the importance of understanding. I think we touched on it in the break is understanding how important it is for us to get a peace of mind, to open our mind, to have this realization of this consciousness paradigm shift, this awakening. It’s a natural process that’s going to happen. Our prefrontal cortex is ready to evolve. 

I think this is the segue I want to get into. What’s so fascinating about Terence McKenna and his brother, and the stoned ape theory. For people who don’t know, it’s theory that the pre-Homo habilis in Neanderthal– not Neanderthal, but this is well before them were following the herds of cattle, and they were eating the mushrooms off of the patties, and they were having a spiritual experience in a way, very powerful– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Then the idea is that basically, potentially, that’s how language started. It was like a series of mumbles and finding a way to communicate with that newfound senses. 

Atom: Yeah, we took a leap, essentially, because we were able to dive into it. I think that’s where it’s so fascinating that we are naturally evolutionary whatever, if you believe in God, God built us to have receptors for this. There’s a reason why we’re supposed to experience this. 

I think that takes us into some fascinating areas that I know we’re going touch on in the second half of this for the podcast, and to get into this multidimensional aspect. While we’re here, I think it’s really important that maybe you could touch on and highlight a little bit more of like what we just talked about, is this personal experience about how it is this oneness and unification aspect of how we’re awakening. 

This is so important, not just the psychedelic and the psilocybin and how that ties into society and what we need right now. As we were talking, things are going to get stranger, things are going to get harder. 

Nick: Yeah. So, I think one of the central things that connects folks who are feeling depressed or stuck in life is that there’s a lack of connection, they don’t feel connected to themselves, they don’t feel connected to others, they don’t feel connected to the world, the universe, whatever you want to call it, and that creates this feeling of being isolated. We are social creatures. 

We’re designed, deep down, we all crave connection. If we don’t have that, our body shows that in the form of depression, anxiety, whatever it is. And so, it’s amazing because we’ve had all sorts of clients come through and work with facilitators in our network. So, quantum physicists, who their entire idea of quantum physics was rooted in a lab, no direct experience. And then they go and have the direct experience of there being more than meets the eye.

Atom: Now it’s real quantum physics. 

Nick: And then they’re like, “Oh, shit, [Atom laughs] I got to go back to the lab and revise some of this.” Then same thing goes with atheist judges who have spent their whole life wearing a robe and have no concept of God, religion, spirituality, any of it. They go through a journey and they’re like, “Oh. Huh. I might need to adapt my worldview a little bit.” 

And so, we see this. It’s not guaranteed. Everyone’s entitled to their own belief system. I’m not here to impress anything on anyone. But I think it’s interesting that with something like psilocybin, there are these themes that emerge like, “Oh, I’m going to show you this. I’m going to show you this.” What you do with that is totally up to you. 

Atom: I believe that fungus is one of the first living organisms and quite possibly one of the last, at least in our neighborhood, in this galaxy, but it has a level of consciousness that we don’t quite understand. Obviously, the microbiome under the soil and the network, the Avatar kind of world– [crosstalk] 

Nick: We know that it helps trees communicate, share resources. I think about fungi as like the nature’s internet. 

Atom: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s a network that’s in the physical, but that it can also tap into the zero-point energy field, which I believe is probably where consciousness and the dark matter, dark energy resides. So, it’s a network that can tap into these other networks, which is super fascinating, and that’s where you can really get into some-

[laughter] 

Atom: -interesting topics, because this is the kind of stuff to me– After I had a kundalini awakening and it wasn’t with any psychedelics although I have experimented with lots in the past. It was actually my realization that, “Yeah, consciousness is all right and that there is something more to this mind and this reality and this awareness of awareness.” 

So, I’m guessing you’ve probably had some pretty deep insight with some of the research and experience that you’ve had as far as the psychedelic substance allowing for a deeper sense of self and deeper sense of purpose or of understanding. Can you talk a little bit more about how you feel that that opens up to possibly even more inner dialogue to help heal or to have realization? 

Assessing Your Intentions

Nick: Yeah, I think a lack of direction as a human is a very challenging place to be, like, what is your mission? What’s your sense of purpose in the world? What are you here to contribute to give back? We all have a unique gift. We’re all one of one, snowflake style. And the question is, what are you here for? 

I think when we don’t have a clear answer to that question, we lack a sense of belonging, we lack a sense of purpose, we lack a sense of why. And so, those are the things that I think are really hard for people to navigate, and that’s another one of those sources that can lead to these symptoms of addiction, depression, anxiety, whatever it is. 

So, the cool thing to me about psychedelics in that capacity is they turn off or turn down our defense mechanisms. So, our ego, our sense of protection, our sense of what if this fails, if all that is out the window, even just temporarily, what is it that your heart wants? Deep down, what does your soul crave? 

If you can get access to that– Obviously, you have to do something with it when you come back to reality, so to speak. But getting access to that is so powerful because it is the truth. It’s your own truth. You’re getting it from within. 

And I think that’s the cool part about working with psychedelics is nobody’s jamming the answer down your throat. You’re discovering from within. It’s your own inner healer that takes over. 

Atom: Yeah. That is a revolutionary process and we’ve been probably needing that for many, many generations. There’s an absolute reason why it has been considered a Schedule 1, because I think the powers that be, whatever you want to say, governments or the big brothers in charge– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Even just institutions. They’re not– [crosstalk] 

Atom: They afraid of people. I would say not to get too conspiracy theory about it, but I think the biggest liability to the government is awakened people, because then we would question the authority.

Nick: Everything. [laughs] 

Atom: Or, everything. But it is refreshing to think that fortunately– Is it Oregon was the first to–?

Nick: Yeah, Oregon was the first to decriminalize all– well, the vast majority of drugs, but side by side along that, they essentially provided for state sanctioned psilocybin assisted therapy through licensed service centers. And so, we are the absolute first state that’s going to have state sanctioned access to treatment when it comes to psilocybin. 

Atom: Yeah. And so, we’re going to start with that in the second half, and I hope everybody can go and listen. I think we’ll have it uploaded tomorrow about the same time. We’ll have this first half and we’ll have a second half of the podcast on kpov.org under the podcast section. 

Also, before we go, for all the listeners who can only tap in on air, Nick has the Psychedelic Passage website. Is there other ways people can get a hold of you or would you like to drive them to the website? How would you like to leave some of the listeners with how they can find you and get help? 

Nick: Yeah. So, you can go to wordpress-382153-3455862.cloudwaysapps.com. You can email, you can also book a consultation from there. We’re on all social media channels. And then you can also find me, @nicholaslevich on social media channels and reach out to me directly if you wish. 

Atom: Which social media?

Nick: That would be LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Atom: Perfect. Yeah, awesome. 

Nick: Yeah. 

Resources to Facilitate Your Psychedelic Exploration

Atom: Yeah, I would assume when you have people go to the Psychedelic Passage to fill out the form, contact if you want to find out more information, is there resources on the website? 

Nick: So many resources. So, we have a podcast that we put out weekly. You can find that on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. And then we also put out a new blog article every other day. And this is all unbiased scientific research and anecdotal based blog content. So, all that’s available for free on our site. 

Atom: Yeah, that’s fantastic. It’s really admirable and honorable that you did this and you’re doing this and that you’re helping, because there are a lot of people that are really interested in it. I have a close friend who is in the gray market kind of thing, and it’s so fascinating, certain generations of how they’re just blown away and they’re finally feeling like they have some clarity and they have some support and they’re re-lifting that stigma. 

Okay, and we’re back. This is Curiosity Lab, and I have Nick Levich with me with psychedelicpassage.com. We touched on some really, really fascinating aspects of psychedelic treatment, to some of the history of it. 

It’s going to be really important that we dive into a little bit more understanding of, I suppose a real, true, deep understanding of our purpose and how this is a journey that is part of the human condition and human process. It is really, really a powerful thing. Off the top of your head, what were maybe a few things that weren’t able touch on live on air that you’d like touch on as we jump into the podcast half here?

Nick: Yeah. So, I think we did a good job of talking about what happens before the actual dosing or treatment session, but we didn’t really talk a lot about what happens afterwards. That’s a process that we call integration. And so, to me, integration is defined as what do we do with the insights, realizations, downloads, messages, whatever we got during the journey. 

What do we do with that when we show up back to work on Monday? Because at the end of the day, if none of this makes your day-to-day experience of life better, what’s the point? I think that’s where so many people fall short with what I’ll call unstructured or recreational psychedelic use is it’s nothing more than a peak experience, and nothing actually changes in their day-to-day experience of life after. And that’s the part of the treatment, the therapy, the lasting change, the intentional use that I think is so important to honor as an essential part of this process. 

Atom: That’s really the goal is to give people and facilitate the ability for them to work towards that. It might not get it on the first time, it might not get on the last time, and some people might be really wanting more or something, but the fact is that you just are there to facilitate, to give that the opportunity. 

Nick: Yeah. And so, that’s where it helps to have a framework and some professional support when you’re integrating, because let’s say you have the experience of– I’m just going to shoot out of a cannon here, but let’s say you have the experience of communing with your mother who passed 10 years ago. 

How do you explain that to somebody? These are experiences that transcend the mind. They transcend human language. They transcend what we generally accept to be human. And so, what do you do with this? It’s like, for most people, it’s one of the most profound experiences of their life, second to marriage and childbirth. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, very few people understand what you actually just went through. 

Atom: Do you have similar experiences with near death that psilocybin can tap into? Because I want to get into the 5-MeOs. This is a great segue. There are commonalities.

Similarities Between Psychedelic and Near-Death Experiences

Nick: For sure. So, I actually was on a retreat with a military veteran who had a near death experience due to a mine overseas. 

What was so fascinating to me was what he described in that in between place, in between life and death is very analogous to experiences that I’ve had on psychedelics, whether it’s psilocybin, ayahuasca, DMT, whatever, but it’s no longer a coincidence or surprising to me that what we’re really doing when we go into these larger dose, intentional psychedelic experiences is very much a death and rebirth process. 

And it mimics what happens when we have a near death experience. And to me, when you think about the outcomes of someone who gets in a near fatal car accident and turns their whole life around, it’s the same mechanism that you experience when you go have a chance to die before you die with a psychedelic experience. 

And then you have this opportunity to turn your life around. Why? Because of this newfound perspective, this newfound awareness. You really start to reframe how you relate to the world around you, and I think that’s what starts to change behavior. 

Atom: Yeah, absolutely. I guess, my mind wants to go towards understanding this in between, but it actually really is so important that we really delve into this experience of this near death where it’s this rebirth that is already baked in. 

Naturally in our bodies that we have this capability that some of the breakthroughs, I would assume for some is realizing that death, once you’ve broken through, that you’re not really going to die. There’s something even greater and bigger going on. 

Nick: That’s why you see these psychedelic medicines being used for palliative care. And essentially, those who have terminal diagnoses, whether it’s cancer or something else, because death anxiety is a real thing. If you can come to terms with what death is and how that impacts you, it allows you to depart this Earth so much more gracefully. 

Atom: Yeah. I can’t even think of something bigger as a gift that you can do to somebody who’s been suffering and to give them a peace of mind, to give them a glimpse of something bigger than themselves, to help them connect, because really in the end, that’s what they might be most fearful of is that they won’t have connection. What are some of the fears–? The biggest fear is when people are dying. Isn’t it like losing their money or their family or losing their ego? [laughs] 

Nick: Yeah, I think chances are anyone that’s truly contemplated death has asked themselves the question of like, “Well, where do we go from here, if anywhere? Does it fade to black? What happens?” I think anyone that’s had a deeper journey like this on psychedelics can generally say that, “No, you leave your body, but your essence continues on somewhere.” 

How to describe that and put it into words, I think it’s incredibly challenging. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t think it’s surprising that that many people with all different substances, all different backgrounds, all different ages, demographics, whatever have all had this experience of dissolving into what is often only described as oneness. And so, that’s the soul level dynamic that I think exists when we discard our garment, our body. 

Atom: Yeah. It’s like lifting the veil. Yeah, the Buddhists have talked about this in between, the bardo in these stages. I tend to lean a little bit more on what they believe. There’s a fascinating documentary movie about watching these llamas pass away where they’ve actually had blood come out of their crown, where the soul is leaving the body. 

And that is that white light that’s coming in that comes and takes you, that’s taking you through the bardo. They’ve proven physically that it’s actually coming through that area. That’s just so mind blowing. 

But there is this The In-Between. I’ve read this really interesting book too. It’s called The In-Between, and it’s a gentleman who crashed his Cessna plane. He’s trapped out there and he felt like he was in between for months, and he was only for, whatever, a few days and then went into the hospital, a coma, whatever. 

But he felt like he was in there for months. It was just like this altered dimensional world of place, which is kind of this is bardo, I suppose, where you’re going to witness probably what you’re supposed to witness. It was dark in places, and it was a journey for him to understand and recognize that there’s something more going on. The psilocybin can get you to a certain point. 

When I did ayahuasca, I worked with shamans. It was really fascinating, and this is Iquitos in Peru and deep in the Amazon jungle. These are very authentic. This is like the core of where they’re all originated. It’s very, very potent, very powerful spiritual people and culture. They do the San Pedro experience as well, usually at the end of a lot of these multi-week or multi-ayahuasca treatments. 

Yeah, this cactus is more like the mescaline, and it has its own very unique spiritual journey. But they talk about how the psilocybin is so powerful for especially the people who are just wanting to dip their toes in there, because the 5-MeOs, you start to get into that or the heavy mescaline, which, boy, I took, it’s like taking 20 hits of that for 14 hours. It was way, way crazy. That’s not for the faint of heart. 

Nick: No.

Atom: This is quite the journey. But the great thing for psilocybin is dipping your toes in it. Where does the psychedelic experience of getting to a certain point? This is where I’m just curious on your insight on it, to where the 5-MeOs can pick up and take you on? Maybe you can explain a little bit more about your understanding of 5-MeOs and how that’s activated in our DMT cellular energy. 

Nick: Yeah. So, my personal perspective on this is that there gets to be a point where psychedelics and spirituality are inextricably linked. In other words, I don’t know another framework aside from spirituality that allows you to hold it all.

Atom: The bucket of psychedelics. 

Nick: Right. And so, the nice thing is, with psilocybin, to a totally uninitiated novice first time journeyer, they don’t have to have any relationship with spirituality to hold it. We can give you a framework, a tool, a vocabulary set to hold it. But the further we get towards ayahuasca, 5-MeO DMT, which tend to be more immersive experiences, it is challenging to hold those without some, what I’ll call, lens of nonduality. 

Atom: Yeah, you’ve had to have some breakthrough and some awakening or some, I guess-

Nick: Openness to it. 

Atom: -openness. Yeah. Because I think that’s where our conversation was when we first met. We were out of the sauna. We quickly got into that and I was talking about the 5-MeOs. 

That is probably the next stages. I’m hoping that eventually, for the deeper journeyers, the people who are open, who are not afraid of death or have made some of these initial breakthroughs and spiritual cleansing, all these various forms are willing to go there. 

Do you see that as something that we might have as a treatment? Will we have recreational, not recreational, but we would have a treatment for ayahuasca?

Exploring the Potential of Psychedelic Treatments

Nick: Yeah. So, here’s what’s interesting is Colorado was the second state after Oregon to pass a state sanctioned treatment program model. Their language in that legislation is actually written as the Natural Medicine Health Act. 

And so, the state sanctioned program is going to start with psilocybin, but they basically left in an opportunity to include mescaline, ayahuasca, natural DMT. And so, anything that is considered a natural psychedelic, in other words, it doesn’t require lab synthesis or manufacturing to make, has the potential to be offered through the state sanctioned program alongside psilocybin.

Atom: Would like LSD and some 5-MeO DMT synthesization, that’s considered outside of that because that’s clinical and obviously, we’re producing it. It’s experimental, but it’s way in deep black op programs and whatnot.

Nick: The irony to that for me is that harvesting from the toad isn’t sustainable either. And so, we have to strike a balance here. Basically, the legislators are trying to strike a balance between, “Okay, we want to focus on the naturally occurring, the stuff that grows out of the Earth naturally, but also there needs to be an honoring of sustainable harvesting practices, so we don’t overdo it.”

Atom: Yeah, it would be tough to farm and to harvest in an inhumane way, a toad farm and stuff. It gets challenging. But I think we’ll probably get to points where we will have a figured-out balance to where we have a little bit of both. We’re still scratching the surface obviously on most of this. Barely scratching the surface on this. 

Let alone the CBD and the THC and all these other things. But I’d like to take a quick pivot, because this has been on my mind and I figure know we might as well dive into it. What is your take on the connection with the gray extraterrestrials in psilocybin? Have you heard anything about that? 

Esoteric Dimensions: Psychedelics, Extraterrestrials, and Consciousness

Nick: I’m not familiar with that. 

Atom: Yeah. So, when I was in Peru– it gets into some really, really esoteric fascinating stuff. 

Nick: Let’s do it. 

Atom: They were talking about sirens in the waters, taking people’s souls to the paranormal and extraterrestrials to even different spirits, and angels, and different things that people have experienced. Obviously, these shamans have seen it all. It’s been passed down. It’s just in their mind. There’s something physical that’s connecting to this other realm. And it’s not the in between. 

There’s something else. It’s the spiritual world like the Pachamama, which is the essence of Gaia that’s living through the culture. And the womb, if you will, is the Amazon jungle and where these shamans were tapping into, which was really fascinating to learn about how there were some– 

It really gets into some fascinating areas where there’s these ayahuasca shamans that there’s the dark ones that are kind of the yin yang of things. There’s the light ones. Some of the dark ones claim they’re light, and some of them– [chuckles] 

It’s really interesting. But they got into some stuff that I thought was super fascinating where– We touched on how fungus is this living a conscious entity in a way. It’s not like a plant, it’s not quite like a human in the Paul Stamets movie, they talk about how this fungus is a unique element that’s maybe four. It might have been one of the first things that was– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Yeah, potentially off a meteorite or something. 

Atom: Absolutely. Yeah. That might have been planted here by extraterrestrials. I wouldn’t doubt. It’s probably more along those lines that were seeded and this is all part of a process. But that gets into the things about the gray extraterrestrials, which are the most common that people are experiencing in it. 

I don’t know, if you’ve heard, just yesterday, there’s a news report that came out by the National News Corp, which is a pretty non-biased, middle of the road news organization. A high-ranking military official came out and is basically whistleblowing saying that we have recovered crafts, and we have recovered bodies, and we have reverse engineered and there exotic spacecrafts that the US government is harboring. 

The fascinating thing is with these shamans, when doing the ayahuasca, they talked about how psilocybin has great breakthroughs and can get you to a certain point, but it will feed on your consciousness in a unique way where sometimes, and this is what I’ve learned from them, they said, “If you really want to have these deeper journeys that these DMT 5-MeO level experiences where you’re much more deep into visions, they call them. 

I call them visuals, but they’re visions. They’re a visual journey of stories of your life and of what you’re supposed to be told. You’re not always asking. You might have some intent, but you’re going to get something completely different. 

The fascinating aspect and the connection is how psilocybin naturally wants to open up certain things, where if you want to take that to the next level– It’s fascinating. 

They said that the psilocybin specifically, or most mushrooms that have a level of psilocybin will feed on you, not in a bad way, but that it has this consciousness that it’s tapping in, like we talked about into this dark matter, dark energy. It’s tapping in and it’s feeding information through that, which I found super, super fascinating. 

Nick: Well, if you think about it, what do mushrooms do in nature? They decompose. And so, when I think about the way a mushroom works in our body, it starts to decompose all the gunk in there, shock, shame, trauma, weird beliefs, weird programming. 

Atom: It’s the data in the network that it’s processing, right? 

Nick: Exactly. And so, I’ve had journeyers describe this as like, “Oh, it’s wiping the slate clean.” “Oh, it’s going through my file cabinets and throwing out all the stuff I don’t need anymore.” 

And so, there’s this very common method of action that people perceive all in their own ways. But the idea is, it’s reorganizing. It’s like cleaning house. It’s throwing out all the stuff that no longer serves you, reconnecting stuff that wasn’t talking to each other, and it works in this very specific way. 

Atom: That’s what I find so fascinating with why people are connecting and these shamans talked about the grays is that they understand that this network that the psilocybin is tapping into and controlling, it is closer and tapping into the fifth dimension. This fifth dimension is where they live. 

And of course, there’s multiple species of grays, apparently at least a few, and they actually happen to be probably more– well, they’re silicon based, but they’re probably it could be even us in the future. But they’re like android hybrid, organic being, no emotion, maybe. But that’s what’s drawing them. It’s so fascinating to them is because when people are doing this, they’re tapping in– They’ve had experiences with people doing them in ceremonies where they’re having either visions or they’ve had some– 

Nick: Yeah.

Atom: This is that network and they live in those realms. So, I find it super fascinating that we potentially, when we start getting into the DMTs, you’re bypassing that fifth, and you’re going into even deeper stuff, which is where the celestial beings are. I’ve had some guests on a couple of months ago, and she talked about all this, which is, I have close relatives and people that are close to me that focus on all this. 

This is really super fascinating stuff. But I think it’s okay to realize that it is part of the journey. I see things one way, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true and everybody’s going to experience something different. But we’re on a course of opening up to realizing that there’s so much more.

Nick: For sure. What’s interesting is, I would say the average demographic of folks who are coming to Psychedelic Passage seeking some form of treatment, 40-year-olds to 70-year-olds who are now either retired, empty nesters kids have gone off and they’re like, “Oh, my God, what am I doing with my life?” 

What’s crazy is, this was the generation that was totally indoctrinated with the War on Drugs, “these things will make you crazy,” “crack your spine after an LSD trip, and you’ll be like all that” stuff. 

Atom: All that. [laughs] 

Nick: What’s crazy is, they’re coming around to the fact now of like, “Oh, maybe I don’t have it all figured out. Maybe I’m not as happy as I thought. Maybe I don’t have a lot of direction in my life.” I’m actually willing to engage with something that would have never been an option before. 

And so, I think we are all– I hate the word waking up, but I think we are all understanding that there may be more than meets the eye, and there may be other ways to heal alternative forms of growth, development, evolution, healing. What’s interesting to me is, the more people that share their experiences, the more normal this whole thing becomes. 

Embracing Purpose and Surrender

Atom: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. That is probably one of the more fascinating things is because that is a reflection of our natural evolution. It’s like things change. That’s the one constant. But that we are shifting into this new era and this new time of understanding more of the why, because I find one commonality when you read entrepreneurial startup books to philosophy, all these things, there’s still this center area of this question of why.

I’ve had some very, very deep questions, and I keep going to being like, “Well, if you’re going to ask a question, you have to have the ultimate question.” Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy does a funny rendition of it, but it is very true. It’s like, how do you really know until you ask the ultimate question and the why? That’s why we tend to, want to– when we are lost or when we’re stuck and we have these breakthroughs, it’s like, we were really seeking the why. Like, why are we here? 

Nick: Yeah. Why? 

Atom: Why are we human? Why am I aware? Whatever. 

Nick: Yeah, because I think the other thing that I see a lot of is people want happiness. People want to be happy. I’m thinking, wait a second here. If you’re happy all the time, we’ve got a term for that. It’s called manic. And so, that’s not the goal, in my opinion. My whole thing is like, can we arrive at a place of inner peace? 

Atom: Yeah. Because happiness is not the end result. 

Nick: You can’t be happy all the time. I think about us as humans as, we have this full human range of emotion. If all we do is focus one end, whether it’s all depression or all happiness or something in between, you’re missing out on this full range. You’ve got this rainbow of emotion. 

We’re here to experience all of it. Most of us spend our whole lives trying to just chase one flavor. I think for me, what makes a lot more sense is like, “Well, if we were all just at peace inside, this wouldn’t be such a big deal.” And so, to me, it’s like, “How do we cultivate a bit of self-love, a bit of self-compassion, a bit of grace, a bit of peace, so that we’re totally okay just being with ourselves?” I think, to me, that’s the lens that I look at all this through. 

Atom: Got you. Yeah. No, I think that’s a very insightful and very powerful perspective. I know that a lot of it is with this journey that you’ve taking, taking the leadership, the research, the personal experiences, you’re bringing it in. I just find it super fascinating and super, I guess, inspiring that you have chosen this path. Was there a magical moment where you’re like, “This is my purpose. This is what I want to do”? 

Nick: No. So, for those who are listening, you probably wouldn’t believe this, but I had a whole prior career in commercial real estate, and was all in the corporate cogs of America. I just reached my breaking point. I was one of those people that had it all on paper, but inside, I was miserable. Just hollow inside. 

And so, it took me a lot of years of basically unlearning everything I thought I was rediscovering who I actually am when I’m not ridden with people pleasing, and conditioning, and what my parents expect of me, and what society expects of me. 

And eventually, I had a choice to make, which is like, I can either be really honest with myself and do what I want to do knowing that it pushes every fear response I have and is full of uncertainty, or I can go the safe route and just get a job. 

For me, I realized that there was a tradeoff between comfort and fulfillment, and I chose to go down the fulfillment path, but I would be lying if I said it was easy. I have days where I’m ready to give up and throw in the towel, but I always somehow, someway, find the resolve to just keep going. 

Atom: Yeah, I know. And that’s part of too, I believe, where everybody is challenged with currently is figuring out their purpose. I think it’s super cool and interesting that you’ve had this clarity and you had this. I’ve had some of mine, and I’ve come back, and I’ve now back on it. I need to be doing my purpose, like, what is it? 

Nick: Totally.

Atom: It’s not just following your passion, but it’s like fulfilling that purpose, because that’s probably what most people are battling with when they’re not really in the right safe space. 

Nick: I think the purpose question is hard, because we put a lot of pressure on it. What is my purpose? What if I told you had four purposes? You have a purpose of loving, you have a purpose of being a father, you’ve got a purpose of serving others in your own special way. 

I truly believe we’re multidimensional beings. And to boil it all down to my purpose is one thing. I don’t know if I totally resonate with that, because we all have these different roles that we play in society. 

Atom: Yeah, there’s definitely not going to be one. I think that even if you had a few, and you’d be okay with it, and you were able to do one, I think you’re here doing the right thing, at least.

Nick: Totally. 

Atom: We all ultimately just want to be loved, heard, and acknowledged, and to leave the place a little bit better than when we came. 

Nick: Totally. 

Atom: So, I think that’s one of the most powerful things with a spiritual journey, or journeying with discovery with psilocybin is that those are few things that you can get and they take away from it. They might seem really intense to some. 

They might seem light to the other. That’s the beauty, I suppose, of life is to take this journey. And sometimes, you do need to take a leap of faith and just let things go and be able to be open to discovery and know that there’s always something more, but that you don’t have to necessarily discover that, there’s not a rulebook to say-

Nick: Totally.

Atom: -that I have to have more, or that the discovery. I think that was tough for me when I was in my 20s, yet I had experimented, but I was like, “There was something more.” I have this strong desire to learn more and know more. Into my 30s, I was like, “I had to know more about extraterrestrials. 

I had to know more about these spiritual journeys, we’ll come to find out.” It was when I let go of it all and I had to hit the reset and just say, “I thought I knew, I’m just going to let go, and whatever comes comes.” And that’s when I actually find all of these stuff– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Yeah, the irony of surrender. [laughs] 

Atom: Oh, it’s beautiful. [unintelligible [00:53:36]

Nick: There’s this quote that says something along the lines of like, “A man can only recognize his true power when he recognizes that he’s powerless.” There’s just such a humbling experience around recognizing how small you are and how little control we actually have, despite feeling like we have it all. 

Atom: Yeah. No, we really don’t have control over much. The only and the important ones really is our thoughts, our actions, and behaviors. 

Nick: Internal state.

Atom: Everything else is God’s will, the universe, whatever you want to say. That is the control. We just need to let that process happen. 

Nick: Totally. 

Atom: Yeah, I’m sure we could probably get into all kinds of stuff and some more of the meaning of life. Luckily, we solved a lot of the [crosstalk] problems of society and [laughs] got to know each other. This is really, really exciting. 

Nick: Yeah, this thanks for having me. 

Atom: This is definitely one of my best shows ever and I’m just super excited and thankful that you were able to come on, and I’m going to have you back if you’re down.

Nick: For sure. Of course, I’d love to. 

Atom: Yeah, it’d be great. I’m going to come in and chat with you. I have definitely some people that I know would be great clients. And so, thank you so much, Nick, for coming in.

Nick: Yean, my pleasure. 

Atom: For all the listeners, just go check out if you have the chance and if you’re interested, wordpress-382153-3455862.cloudwaysapps.com, and there are lots of research, references, and resources on that. 

Nick: Yeah, blog posts, podcasts, all kinds of free stuff. Everything’s rooted in research, anecdotal evidence, and as unbiased as we possibly can be. 

Atom: Yeah. And that is about as professional and as good as it gets. So, thank you for your work and everything that you do for society and for the journeyers. 

Nick: Yeah, thanks for having me. I appreciate it, Atom. 

Atom: Yeah. Thanks, Nick.

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