Demystifying the Entheogenic Church

Is it a Cult?

Demystifying the Entheogenic Church

February 13th, 2024

By: Katie Gray, member and contributor of The Church of Sacred Synthesis

For most Americans living day-to-day lives that revolve around their family, work, and hobbies, the concept of a psychedelic or “entheogenic” church might sound pretty crazy. Words like “cult” or “drugs” may come to mind. While I, and by extension, the church, do not speak for all such organizations, we’d like to share who and what we are with those who are curious. Whether you find yourself called to dive deeper, or simply gain a base understanding to reduce misjudgments or preconceptions, thank you for taking the time to read with an open mind.

Throughout history, entheogens have played a significant role in various cultures worldwide, often employed ceremonially for healing purposes. Ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and Mayans utilized substances like psilocybin mushrooms and peyote in religious rituals, believing them to facilitate communication with the divine and aid in spiritual healing. Similarly, indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest have long revered ayahuasca as a potent tool for introspection, enlightenment, and physical and psychological healing. In more recent times, the resurgence of interest in psychedelics for therapeutic purposes has led to the exploration of substances like LSD and MDMA in controlled settings for treating mental health disorders such as PTSD and depression. These cultural traditions and contemporary research underscore the enduring significance of psychedelics in ceremonial contexts for promoting healing and spiritual growth across diverse societies and time periods.

Before the war on drugs movement swayed public opinion by calling these substances “drugs,” there is an evident and substantial history of psychedelics being a potent and helpful tool for spiritual growth and healing emotional wounds by expanding the mind, allowing people to change the way they view, and subsequently how they feel about the world around them. Now that we’ve covered the history and productive use of psychedelics, let’s get to the real question this article is addressing. What the heck is an entheogenic church?

The idea of a church or temple is fairly well understood as a place where people gather with a shared belief in God, Gods, or the teachings of a holy leader. The congregation goes to worship, learn, and gain a sense of community. One of the biggest questions anyone can ask when there is a church that revolves around a psychedelic sacrament instead of a deity is, “What do you believe?” It’s not the flying spaghetti monster, although any FSM devotees are welcome and accepted equally as much as followers of any other faith. The aim of a sacrament-based church is to be a space where participants can connect to their own divinity. Although flower crowns and tie-dyed shirts may or may not be present, the concept of many modern entheogenic churches is based on much more grounded ideas than hippy festivals resembling Woodstock. The foundation is a marriage of the traditional ceremonial use like the ancestors of cultures across the world to gain spiritual understanding, scientific knowledge of how the sacrament can physically affect the body and how to administer it safely, and integration services to psychologically support participants as they experience changes in their life and the emotions that arise with it. The idea is a holistic approach to guide individuals to live their best life possible, to feel more loving and accepting of themselves, and of circumstances, and gratitude for the gift that is the human experience. Like many types of churches, they provide community, open-minded inclusion, empathy, and support. Although there can be the occasional bad apple in any orchard, they are overwhelmingly made up of members who care and want to help make the world a better place. 

As a member and supporter of The Church of Sacred Synthesis, I believe we offer all of these attributes to the best of our ability. If you’d like more information on our sacrament and services we offer such as sacrament gatherings, yoga, education, integration, and bi-weekly Sunday service, please visit us at our website here: https://thesacredsynthesis.com/ . I’m also very fond of the saying, “There’s no wrong way to eat a Resee’s.” There are countless paths available to growth, healing, community, and happiness. The only correct path is the one that is right for you, whether or not that includes psychedelics, churches, or deities. We welcome all! If you are seeking a sacrament-based church, I highly recommend vetting any organization to ensure it is safe and legitimate. Here are some tips when looking:

  1. Research: Start by researching the organization online. Look for their website, social media presence, and any news articles or reviews about them. Pay attention to their mission statement, values, and leadership structure.

  2. Compliance: Ensure that the organization has registered themselves as a church, that they’ve declared their sacrament is used for spiritual practices, and have policies and procedures in place for the protection of their participants.

  3. Community Reputation: Reach out to individuals who have experience with the organization. This could be through online forums, social media groups, or personal connections. Ask about their experiences, any concerns they may have, and whether they felt safe and respected during ceremonies.

  4. Leadership Transparency: Investigate the background and qualifications of the church’s leaders and facilitators. Transparency about their training, experience, and intentions is essential for ensuring safety and ethical conduct.

  5. Safety Protocols: Inquire about the organization’s safety protocols during ceremonies. Ask about their approach to screening participants, providing support during sessions, and handling medical emergencies.

  6. Ethical Practices: Assess the organization’s ethical standards regarding consent, confidentiality, and participant well-being. Ensure they prioritize informed consent, respect individual boundaries, and maintain confidentiality regarding personal experiences.

  7. Community Values: Consider whether the organization’s values align with your own. Evaluate their commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and harm reduction principles.

  8. Personal Intuition: Trust your instincts. If something feels off or if you encounter red flags during your interactions with the organization, it’s essential to take those concerns seriously and reconsider your involvement. It doesn’t have to mean anything more than it’s simply not a good match. Your feelings are all the justification you need. 

Thank you, dear reader. Wherever your journey takes you, I wish you joy and success, but most of all, the ability to feel thankful in this moment, right here and now. Your existence is a gift and a light. Your importance in this world is your birthright and not something you ever need to earn. I hope you feel that deeply and truly and that it stays with you always. You are blessed and a blessing.

8 thoughts on “Demystifying the Entheogenic Church”

  1. Beautifully written, thanks Katie! I’ve been interested in joining for a while now and this helps me understand how to explain it to other people in my life who may be curious too! Love ya!!!

  2. Stephanie Davenport

    I have a difficult relationship with traditional churches. My relationship and communication with the people surrounding this church have been nothing but healing and positive. I look forward to diving deeper and sharing sacrament with you one day.

    1. You’re on such a beautiful journey! We’d love to enjoy your company with or without sacrament 🥰

    1. Thank you Carla! I feel so honored for the opportunity. I’m so grateful for the church and for you and this beautiful growing community 🥰🥰🥰

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