Veterans walk and talk is a community of veterans who advocate for the outdoors, psychedelic therapy and cannabis.
The majesty, the wonder, the exhilaration and the results. I was offered psychedelic experiences of all kinds, and I dove in headfirst. I’ve had some of the most meaningful guided experiences, expertly cultivated with love and compassion. Alone in the woods with Cactus I felt things that completely changed my reality and showed me tangible magic. I’ve also had horribly led mushroom experiences and nearly allowed a breach of the entirety of who I am.
I got caught up.
For a while, I was surrounded and led by people who didn’t respect the medicine, and I myself became someone who didn’t respect the medicine. I have that propensity already…to want attention and love from everyone always…and it nearly killed me. I over consumed cannabis, and it turned on me. I over consumed psychedelics, I gave them out without really knowing what I was doing, and they turned on me, rightly so. I over consumed kratom, and became addicted to it, and it nearly killed me. The strength of Veterans Walk and Talk (VWAT) are the people sharing stories and accomplishments that have helped them to heal. That doesn’t mean that we need to push them on others, but rather give them the opportunity to seek things out for themselves. People are always going to seek out these psychedelic experiences, and our group will always be a safe place to ask questions and explore the possibilities. But VWAT is not a psychedelic facilitation group. It is a hiking group. A hiking group where anyone is welcome, veteran or not, to be their true selves. No judging, no conformity, no expectations outside of showing up, being kind, and respecting nature. It will always be a malleable community and with that come peaks and valleys.
My ego dissolved but my addiction resolved. I reveled in the attention from being the guy who gave out free mushrooms. I am proud of all the work and the risks we have taken to provide access. But it has to be adjusted. Access will always be there. If microdosing helps you, we will strive to make sure you can continue that remedy. But we will do so by encouraging you to share a connection with what you are consuming by growing it yourself. I will always be on the side of conscious freedom. If you want to explore or have fun with substances you should be able to do so safely and without judgements. Altering our state is inherent in our dna. Drinking Ayahuasca or seeing a comedy you love are both mind-expanding beneficial endeavors and we deserve the rights and freedoms to do so when we choose, so long as no one is being hurt. If an addictive substance takes hold and you’re content with that way of life then so be it…as long as you’re not hurting anyone. Stealing, lying, hiding; these are products of an unaccepting societal nature that serves as fire to stoke fear. Shaming people who use psychedelics is harmful. Shaming addicts who need help is also harmful. Let’s bring about the end of psychedelic exceptionalism.
Recognize the difference between a healer and someone who simply has access to the substance you’re seeking. We are not healed, we are healing. Healing towards the inevitable death that awaits us all. So many people in the emerging psychedelic space are wanting to facilitate in order to feed their own egos. You can try every method of psychedelics and take every for profit course available, but if you don’t have the ability to be patient and check yourself, you don’t need to guide people through experiences. It’s ok to just witness and practice without having to be a gateway for others. I say this from experience.
I have tried my hand at facilitation and ignored the signs the medicines were screaming because I was feeding my own ego. I had success and I had failures. But I never went about earning the trust to guide properly.
Some are going to go ahead and serve others regardless of preparation or experience. I wish them all the success and love in the universe. It is true that there are many natural healers who can fall right into the work effortlessly. But even so, it can’t hurt to have an elder to help you seek knowledge until you are ready.
I’ve only recently begun to consciously respect the medicine again. It will take time for me to heal that relationship. The mushroom church I was part of fed my ego and also subdued my own strengths. I didn’t ask the right questions. I wanted to belong and be the mushroom guy so bad that I lost sight of my path. That led my to a crippling kratom addiction and recent suicidal ideation. In the past few months I have come close to death by my own hand. As I write this I am fresh out of the VA psych ward for kratom addiction and the delusion it caused. It was horrible but necessary as I am now clear for the first time in years.
I plan to sit in this clarity for sometime. I will allow Colin to metamorphose in a chrysalis of clarity until one of my cacti tells me it is again time. As it has done before, when I was open, honest, and receiving. Rather than forceful, unreceptive, and self righteous. I have battled back from opiate addiction, combat trauma, and now kratom addiction. I am a fucking warrior and I will battle again. And again. And again. I will triumph. I will triumph because I am allowing the surrender in order to know myself. To pursue knowledge and ride the wave towards my death and rebirth.
A flip does not switch and all is well. The light flickers within me, sometimes as bright as the sun and other times as dark as the bottom of the ocean.
I am sorry to anyone I may have led astray. I hope we can all derive the proper lessons and practices from our missteps. I am sorry I let my ego impede the progress of VWAT and its purity. I have always said the community is the medicine. I lost respect for myself, the community, and in turn for the medicine.
Skipping along from ceremony to ceremony without doing the integration and shadow work is an ego driven response. And it is easy to fall into that. The wonder that surrounds these experiences is unfathomable at times. It’s ok to sit in that wonder and just bask in it. We don’t have to explain it. We don’t have to always make sense of it. We don’t have to push experiences on others in order to justify not listening to the notes of the lessons in symphony. Doing more medicine than someone else does not make you able to serve others. There are people who have been generationally taught to do this work who have only had a handful of experiences. There are some who have never touched psychedelics who can teach more about them than some who have done it all their lives.
If you want to take lsd and go in the woods, do so. Do it safely. If you want to smoke dmt at a concert, do so. Do it safely. If you want to heal with these tools by way of a guide, find someone who can answer all your questions and who has elders they have learned from. Then submit yourself to the healing and put in the work. Just because someone gives you access to sacraments doesn’t mean they are your healer or shaman or guide. It’s ok to explore and experience. It doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. Allow yourself to laugh and enjoy the moment.
I don’t want to be a healer. I want to heal alongside others and intertwine our process until I take my last breath. I want to bring joy and silliness back to VWAT. I want all who attend to feel a sense of belonging no matter how much pain you have endured or even inflicted. As long as you’re willing to accept others and accept yourself you are welcome.
If you feel called to serve psychedelics, start by serving people lunch or warmth or comfort. Then find an elder who will teach you and dive in fully without any timeline or expectations. Accept that you may never be ready to serve others any medicine and that it’s ok.
I will be sharing a lot about my recent struggles with kratom and my disrespect of the medicines. I am doing so because my strength has always been to communicate. To communicate and listen. Listening is underestimated and underused. Truly listening is one of the greatest strengths we have. Use it.
We walk and talk on Sundays all over Southern California. We have many growers, cultivators, and medicine men that provide for the veterans .
San Diego, California, United States