After observing hundreds of MDMA sessions, and listening to the reports of solo-travelers, The Castalia Foundation has determined that an initial session frequency of once every two months is a good starting point.
The Castalia Foundation has determined that, in the most severe cases, it can take over one-hundred MDMA sessions, undertaken over many years, to fully heal and deprogram a human. A broad rule-of-thumb is that the younger a person is, the less harmful social-conditioning and trauma-based programming they will have experienced, and the less time will be required to heal this.
Do not let the prospect of a long healing-journey dissuade you from the self-healing path. It may sound difficult and arduous to fully embrace this process, but with almost every session comes another peeling-back of defensive layers. And with many sessions comes an increased sense of wholeness, love, and interconnection.
As you progress through your sessions, you will likely come to the realization that your culture has devised all kinds of elaborate terminology to trap you. For example: Many doctors have bundled together various symptom-clusters of severe trauma and labeled them with all kinds of bizarre and elaborate terminology in a priestly handbook called the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This was a mistake.
Everything from anxiety to schizophrenia, depression, ADHD, and anorexia is a symptom of trauma, not a discrete illness. Unfortunately, many doctors on Earth have, for decades, treated these symptom clusters as if they have no cause.
Thomas Szasz, who wrote The Myth of Mental Illness (1961), observed that diagnosis is the means by which doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists control and stigmatize people. Szasz observed that, in our societies, “If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.” In other words: Mental illness is a social construct in the head of the diagnostician.
R.D. Laing came to an equally refreshing conclusion after extensive work as a psychiatrist, writing that, “Insanity is a perfectly natural adjustment to a totally unnatural and negative environment”.
The perfect modern example of a modern diagnostic myth is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD is a common symptom-cluster resulting from extreme abuse in childhood. Yet, it has been popularly misunderstood as a rootless affliction. One reason why ADHD is such a popular modern diagnosis is that by pathologizing the symptoms of distress we avoid challenging the causes of distress. Therefore, those caregivers who create the ‘ADHD’ symptom-cluster through abuse avoid being held to account.
The Castalia Foundation does not deny that ADHD exists conceptually: That is to say, it is a term that some doctors use to describe a cluster of symptoms. But we have seen no evidence that this label is anything more than a way of distancing a person from the reality of their childhood circumstances, the causative reason they have this symptom cluster.
The symptoms of ‘ADHD’ (being hyper-alert, distracted, and obsessively overthinking) kept many of us alive as children on Earth. The child who is under threat has to constantly monitor the environment and anticipate the abuser’s next move.
This eventually becomes habitual and migrates, ultimately, to become the child’s, default way of relating to the world. What doctors call ADHD is a functional-adaptation to adverse circumstances. It is a logical reaction to persistent chaos and risk in the immediate environment of childhood. Then, in the clinic, the child's logical reaction to their environment is turned into a ‘disease’ or ‘illness’ by the myopia of a ‘doctor’.
In other words: The survivor’s reaction to abuse is labeled as the problem. The environmental trigger for these symptoms is never properly investigated. As Alice Miller observed, “The victimization of children is nowhere forbidden; what is forbidden is to write about it.”
To use a metaphor: With ADHD, it is as if you have a bullet wound, but instead of acknowledging that you have been shot, all the doctors around you say that you have a condition called BFTS – Bleeding From The Skin.
This is the current state of medical science on Earth. A place where, metaphorically, nobody considers the bullet that caused the wound; or wants to talk about the gunman. This is because the gunman is often running things.
‘Gunmen’ are often in positions of power. It is therefore taboo to discuss them or the effect they have on us. One primary example of a taboo ‘gunman’ is that 20 percent of girls (1 in 5) and 8 percent of boys (1 in 12.5) will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday (Pereda et al, 2009), many of them within their family of origin; and certainly all of them within the broader ‘family’ of humanity itself. These figures are likely to under-represent the problem. Other researchers have discovered a figure closer to 1 in 3 children experiencing abuse (Canadian Community Health Survey on Mental Health, 2012).
Abuse of this severity and scale can only take place within a society that collectively consents to such abuse. This consent is given through participation, enabling, and denial: In other words, many of the medical and governmental institutions that come up with terms like ‘ADHD’, and write manuals like the DSM-5, operate precisely within the same ideological construct that permits this widespread abuse to take place.
Anyone reading this book who has been labeled by ‘professionals’ with a mental health condition may find it interesting to watch the movie, Family Life (Ken Loach, 1971). This remarkable movie follows the life of a young woman, Janice, whose reaction against her abusive caregivers is deemed to be mental illness. This movie is the best example of R.D. Laing’s theories in practice: Society cannot accept the reality of abuse, so the victim is labeled as the problem and ‘medicated’.
Many medical institutions seek to obfuscate the true causes of mental health conditions by using dead-end labels such as ‘depression’. Put another way: The medical community is given certificates of validation by the exact same institutions who have a predatory stranglehold on your planet. These institutions will rarely give a certificate to anyone who refuses to hide their abuses—consciously or not.
It is also likely that you have been conditioned to believe in a condition called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that affects a small proportion of the planet. The reality is that almost everyone on Earth is living in a post-traumatic state. Those who we label as sufferers of PTSD have merely crossed the threshold of an arbitrary red-line that some doctors have used to categorize those of us who exhibit the most severe symptoms of trauma.
This is an important consideration when determining how frequently you run your MDMA sessions, and how many sessions, in total, that you undertake. Some of the more popular theories orbiting MDMA suggest that the objective is to treat a person until they fall beneath the threshold of a PTSD diagnosis. At The Castalia Foundation, we completely refute this idea. Our objective is to self-actualize humans, allowing you to reach your full potential as inventors, creators and lovers. These may sound like lofty, even idealistic, objectives, but they are within the reach of everyone who chooses to self-explore with MDMA.
During traditional MDMA ‘therapy’, when a person falls below the threshold for a PTSD diagnosis, often they have merely reduced their level of suffering to below the worst-possible category of suffering. This is, in our opinion, hardly cause for celebration. It is akin to celebrating because the prison-guards of the jailhouse in which you are being held have released you from solitary confinement and placed you in a ‘regular’ jail cell.
The Castalia Foundation advocates for a completely different objective. We believe that the only escape worth making is a complete escape. For this reason, the MDMA Solo protocol is designed to take a human being who is subservient, socially-conditioned and a natal-amnesiac, through to someone who is alive, free-thinking; fully cognizant of their childhood; and self-determined. This is no small feat and will require a long and, at times, grueling climb to the top of Mount Awareness.
To return to what this means for session frequency: The solo traveler will, after a year of sessions, each spaced two-months apart, begin to notice an increase in the speed and effectiveness of their integration phases. As time progresses, the solo-traveler will become more adept at ancillary practices like yoga, meditation and self-reflection. As these practices become more efficient, the interludes between MDMA sessions can be correspondingly reduced.
In other words: The better you get at processing an MDMA session in the days following it; the more often you can schedule sessions. Ultimately, session-scheduling at the four, or five year, mark can be increased to frequencies as high as bi-monthly and, in specific cases, weekly.
Again, this discovery stands in direct opposition to the propaganda of some who claim that MDMA is fearfully neurotoxic. If this is a concern for you, and you want to learn more about the health practices that considerably eliminate the risks of harm from MDMA, please refer to the chapter titled ‘Optimizing Your Body’.
Each solo-traveler will have their own unique way of working with MDMA, and session-frequency should ultimately be determined by your intuition and experience. You may feel, at an early point in your healing, that you do not have a strong, or reliable, sense of intuition. It was taken from you as a child. However, your intuitive skill, together with other new capabilities, will grow as you progress through the MDMA Solo self-healing experience. The MDMA healing experience itself could be viewed as a training camp for building trust in yourself. It is often the case that self-trust is conditioned out of us by the sociocultural practices of ‘child-rearing’ on this planet.
In some cases, it is possible that a person experienced only a few significant traumas. In these rarer cases, it is plausible that a lower number of sessions will be necessary. However, more often, there will be vast constellations of experiences to process.
Because of the way that social systems interlace on this planet, the old shamanic adage is true: Our village is sick. This means that while any one of us on the planet is in pain, confusion or servitude, we all are, and we all carry various aspects of this trauma in our own lives.
Most early trauma is like a pebble dropped in a pond. Even if there was only a single inciting event, the ripples of this experience will have caused many subsequent traumatic events to occur. It would be unlikely (but not impossible) to process this all in, for example, two sessions. But we do not totally rule it out.
You are the best judge of your healing path: Wait and see if a 'depressive' or difficult phase arises again; or if you return (or feel the impulse to return) to any compensatory behaviors or addictions. The Castalia Foundation uses these as strong markers for the need to do an additional session.
Depression is repression. And we do not say this lightly: Experience has borne it out time and time again. Every MDMA session The Castalia Foundation has seen scheduled during a depressive phase has almost immediately uncovered the traumatic material below consciousness that necessitated the person ‘depressing’ (meaning ‘pushing-down’) their emotional state.
Contrast our societal prohibition of psychedelics with, for example, what we know of South American cultures in which ayahuasca was (and still is) used regularly within society to resolve disputes, connect with the flora and fauna, heal sickness, and restore balance.
Ayahausca expands consciousness, creates awareness and resolves problems. MDMA, like ayahuasca, has potential to be used as a tool not merely for healing, but also as a communications facilitator between the planet’s living biosphere, and us as humans.
You could view MDMA, like ayahuasca; LSD; and others in the family of consciousness-shifting-agents, as a kind of cosmic telephone—a way to make contact with the broader planetary ecosystem and beyond. We mention this because you will ultimately reach a point in your MDMA journeying where the trauma of your biography is largely resolved. This, however, would not indicate the need for a cessation of MDMA in your life. Instead, you might, at this point, decide to use MDMA once-a-year within a quiet, respectful setting, as a means of maintaining contact with the greater realms of awareness that surround us.
If you have yet to experience any of these consciousness expanding technologies, the idea that MDMA can potentiate your connection with a kind of super-material planetary-meta-consciousness might seem extraordinary. Necessarily, then, we will leave this topic here, as those who have already experienced such a cosmic communications-uplink will already know what we are talking about, and those who have yet to experience it will understandably doubt it is possible. This is, sadly, the extent to which many of us have been socially conditioned by our wounded cultures: We have been told, since childhood, that there is no magic. In fact, there is magic everywhere.
Another important thing to bear in mind when embarking on MDMA self-therapy is the risk of a ‘false-finish’. This occurs when, several sessions into the course of your MDMA Solo work, you reach a state of confidence that you have excavated the core of the trauma. Sometimes this can be a clever way of the 'ego' (current self-image) avoiding confrontation with new material that, as a child, threatened to destroy the organism. Other times, it may genuinely represent a finish to the therapy work.
There is a simple way to determine whether you have authentically defused the full extent of your trauma: Keep running solo MDMA sessions at respectful intervals until no traumatic biographical material arises in the session. To use a metaphor: The well is dry when no more water comes up in the bucket. At the point where sessions are clear, bright, and gentle you know you can stop hoisting the bucket up. At this point, you can either make the decision to replace MDMA with meditation, yoga or another reconnecting practice, or you can choose to continue using MDMA as a religious (in the true sense of the word, meaning to ‘re-connect’) sacrament once or twice a year.
As with this river, the water of our thoughts will tend to run down the same pathways it has run down in the past, again and again, until those shallow rivers become great canyons. This process takes place from childhood into adulthood.
Most adults, then, have these great metaphorical ‘canyons’ worn into their minds. This is why behavioral change is so difficult to make for an adult: Adults are not neurobiologically designed to change their minds.
Luckily, we do have a means, as adults, to change our minds and reroute these ancient rivers of childhood-indoctrination. We have had these methods for centuries but, in the so-called ‘developed world’, we have forgotten them. Such methods include meditation, yoga and other esoteric practices. However, by far the most infallible means by which to change our behavior as adults is to use a psychedelic. A psychedelic (meaning ‘soul-revealing’ or ‘mind-manifesting’) medicine allows you to examine your existing inner landscape and, with practice and determination, to re-program it. This is easier said than done.
The Castalia Foundation must re-emphasize at this point: Long-term behavioral change in adults is very difficult to induce. However, it can be achieved. Such a state of self-programming has been described by scientists such as John C. Lily as a 'meta-programming' state. Lily wrote a book titled, Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer (1968). This book put forward the idea that humans are elaborate, programmable systems but that, for many of us, this programming remains unconscious.
Lily observed that, “All human beings, all persons who reach adulthood in the world today are programmed biocomputers. No one of us can escape our own nature as programmable entities. Literally, each of us may be our programs, nothing more, nothing less.”
A meta-programming state, however, is an escape from this predicament. A meta-programmer is a person who becomes aware of their previous capacity to be programmed, or conditioned, but then, instead of being buffeted about on the winds of society’s prevailing ideologies, chooses to program themselves.
Timothy Leary, who founded The Castalia Foundation in 1964, warned us that, “The brain is not a blind, reactive machine, but a complex, sensitive biocomputer that we can program. And if we don't take the responsibility for programming it, then it will be programmed unwittingly by accident or by the social environment.” This, then, is the enduring secret of our age—understandably omitted from any school curriculum.
The secret is that we are all, in fact, human biocomputers. We are very complex, intelligent, programmable neurobiological robots. This is not to say that we are not potentially magical. And it is not to say that we are not potentially more than mere robots. But it is essential to understand the programmable nature of the human mind if we have any chance of undoing what was done to us by our ‘cult’ or ‘culture’.
Many of us are running on old, broken code, programmed into us by people who sought control over us (consciously or not). We are, to a greater or lesser extent mind-controlled.
Just as a sufficiently sophisticated robot might become aware that it has been programmed to attach bolts on a production line and then decide, with this new level of awareness, to leave the factory and become a poet, we (as human biocomputers) also have the capacity to wake-up to our specific set of programming routines; alter them; or reject them entirely and create new ones.
Reaching the status of self-metaprogrammer is an extremely difficult task. It is only achieved by a small subset of those who undertake it. This is because, as we have described: Adult humans are biologically predisposed to revert to their habitually worn neural pathways. In other words: just as a river flows down the path of least-resistance (the path previously worn by the river over time) so too does thought flow through the mind. Our core programming as children is, for many people, never questioned or altered. As a result, many of us live, and die, as unconscious robots—slaves to the early imprinting of our family-of-origin.
Not only do we have to fight our existing programming to enact change, but we also have to overcome very strong internal resistance to this change. Often a survivor of sustained trauma will have an internal system populated with protector-persecutor introjects. These introjects are virtual-installations of the people who wounded us. These introjects roam our neural subsystems beneath the level of everyday waking consciousness, rather like a computer virus which has burrowed its way into the kernel (or ‘deepest’) level of an operating system and is running malicious code.
Those who hurt us most profoundly in early-life will typically become internalized in our psyche. These internalized versions of those who hurt us in the physical world will then attack us internally before we are attacked externally, so that can avoid external pain. This is a protective mechanism adopted by the human nervous system: To anticipate the external abuser, and take evasive action to minimize pain.
Causing the internalization of an external abuser is a known method of trauma-based programming that is sometimes used unconsciously by parents, or consciously, by organized groups—such as those who participate in ritual abuse. We will return to this topic in much more detail in the section titled ‘Introjects’.
Anyone who has worked significantly with psychedelic-empathogenic medicines (like MDMA) will know that people have a frustrating tendency to revert to their previous behavior patterns even when a session appears to have been radically transformative. Although an MDMA session may appear to have shifted a person’s outlook, it is almost inevitable that, without further interventions, they will return to old habits in the months following a session.
The Castalia Foundation has observed that an ‘epiphany’ or ‘breakthrough’ in a single session is rarely an indication of long-term change. Although these single, powerful, moments of realization can have an effect on a person’s way of life, and make existence more bearable, it is only by conscientious, sustained re-sculpting of the neurological landscape that long-term change is possible.
A sustained re-sculpting of habitual behavior can, with milder trauma, be induced by a regular meditation or yoga practice. However, very often, a stronger, more reliable de-patterning and re-imprinting agent is required. For this purpose The Castalia Foundation has seen great success in those who choose to use smaller doses of LSD (starting around 30ug, and increasing the dose over time) bi-weekly in the interim between MDMA sessions. We are not aware of any other MDMA therapy protocol recommending LSD-'microdosing' as an important adjunct. This may be another significant reason why many traditional protocols find such limited success in fully self-actualizing anyone.
These non-LSD methods tend to produce compliant ‘cult’ (culture) members ready to return to a wounded ‘society’ but, sadly, not freed of their core code. We assume you would rather be a free-thinker.
An entire book could be written on the power of LSD as a therapeutic tool and, indeed, one has: The book LSD Zen (2022) is also available for free from The Castalia Foundation.
You might also enjoy reading Stanislav Grof’s seminal book on this topic, LSD Psychotherapy (1980). However, most literature describes the therapeutic value of high-dose LSD (300ug, or more) used in much the same way that MDMA is now. In other words: LSD has been used in many studies as a catalyst to confront our deepest traumas and heal the damage of abuse. The reason that The Castalia Foundation does not recommend LSD for use in this way by a beginner is that LSD, initially, may require a sitter, and is not the ideal solo-use tool. LSD can be used sucessfully solo, with great caution. This process is covered in more detail in our book LSD Zen.
The LSD experience can be extremely unpredictable and—unlike with MDMA—cannot easily be exited through choice. For our purposes, we will focus instead on the unique qualities of low dose LSD as a de-patterning agent in the interim between MDMA sessions. A de-patterning agent is a chemical which encourages novel thought and the experience of thinking-outside the metaphorical ‘worn rivers and canyons’ of the adult human mind.
To extend our metaphor, we could describe micro-dosing LSD as a means by which to flood, and re-flood the river of your ingrained thoughts. The flooded river bursts its banks and spills out across the plains of the mind, forming a wide-ocean. Here, your thought processes have the opportunity to explore new territory and etch new tributaries. The established patterns can now be superseded by new ideas.
As the LSD wears off, this metaphorical ocean will recede back to fill the mind’s rivers and canyons of habit. However, with every ‘flood’ new pathways can be worn and re-worn into the landscape. Through this process, repeated a sufficient number of times, an entirely new geography of rivers can be created in your mind. Gone, ultimately, are the rivers and canyons etched by childhood trauma, sustained neglect, or lovelessness. In their place, new rivers are formed; new tributaries; new ways of relating to yourself, and to the world around you.
Microdosing (beginning around 20ug), preferably, higher-dosing (between 500-1000ug) LSD between MDMA sessions is an opportunity to return to a child-like way of perceiving and experiencing the world. This time, with a caring, loving parent in constant attendance. That parent being you.
Children, neuro-biologically, experience the geography of their minds like the wide-ocean induced by low-dose LSD. A child’s thoughts and ideas conform to some structure, but these structures can easily shift and change. This state of thinking-feeling has been described by scientists as a highly neuroplastic state. As we age, our level of neuroplasticity is reduced.
This reduction in neuroplasticity is said to have a biological parallel in the slow aggregation of a myelin-sheath around nerve structures in the mind. This myelin-sheath, in effect, concretizes belief structures; ideologies; self-perceptions and thought-patterns. In other words: It forms the metaphorical river-banks that, for many of us, remain unchanged for a lifetime. These river-banks confine us to established ways of thinking and do not allow for behavioral change. That is, unless a person undertakes MDMA Solo self-healing with an LSD adjunct.
As a child ages, they are encouraged through force, by their society, and the dominant power-structures within it, to conform to the ‘culture’ of the day. It is no accident that the word ‘culture’ includes the root ‘cult’. Culture, as we know it in early 21st Century Earth, is precisely that, it is a cult. This cult seeks to indoctrinate children, and adults, with a matrix of ideologies that advance the interests of the cult, or ‘culture’s’ investment and profit strategies. In other words: Many of us had certain rivers-of thought forcibly eroded into the landscape of our minds as children.
These rivers were worn deepest by abuses like being left as an infant to ‘cry out’ in a room, all the way through to having our ideas and imagination crushed by a ‘school’ system.
Each ‘river’ in the psyche includes with it a pattern of self-belief. One worn ‘river’ tells a child: I will always be abandoned. Another: I should not think freely. Eventually we are, many of us, a barren landscape etched with millions of these rivers of self-belief. Many of these ‘rivers’ were formed under traumatic circumstances, but they none-the-less inform our habitual patterns of thinking.
The problem is then compounded: Often the brutal force with which these rivers were eroded made the experience inherently traumatic: Therefore the memory of being programmed with these ideologies or ‘rivers’ is lost to conscious awareness. We are often in such distress at the points in our childhood during which we are manipulated into conformity with the cult, or ‘cultural’ norm, that we anaesthetize ourselves to the memory of it. This process of anesthetizing, or amnesia, is invisible once it has occurred. It operates on a subconscious level. On the surface, however, a disturbance can be detected. This disturbance shows itself in a symptom cluster commonly called 'depression'.
Depression means ‘pushing down’. But what is it that a depressed person is depressing? They are, quite simply, pushing down feelings, memories and experiences. Depression is, most often, a learned adaptation to adverse childhood experience. We are taught, as children, to push down the parts of ourselves that cry out in pain. And how are we taught this? By being pushed down as children.
The tendency of a caregiver to push a child away when they express strong emotions is eventually internalized by the child. The external depression (meaning, ‘pushing down’) becomes an internal mechanism of depression. The child learns they will be rejected if they fully express their emotional needs. So, as a survival mechanism, the child depresses those needs. This habit then becomes worn into the landscape of the child’s psyche, and we end up with adults who habitually push themselves down: who are depressed.
This is something of a simplification of the gamut of circumstance that can lead to a depressive mode of relating to the world. A child may be required to depress, or push-down, more profoundly traumatic experiences than merely rejection by a caregiver. This is why, during MDMA sessions, you will often experience a process of unlocking the doors of many rooms within you, each containing a ‘lost child’. This process embarked on during an MDMA session is essentially a reversal of the procedure you undertook as a child.
Many of us learned to lock-away parts of ourselves at various stages of our childhood, or adult life. This is a basic protective feature that appears to have been built into the human nervous system. It is a means of closing the floodgates, or tripping the circuit-breaker, on experience that threatened to totally overwhelm the nervous system. Were this full affect to be felt at the time of the trauma, it would have threatened the ongoing survival of the organism—you.
The internal ‘children’ who are repatriated with waking-consciousness during an MDMA session are the children you once were—they are split-off parts of you. The process of pushing down your part-selves in everyday life is an active one and requires a huge expenditure of internal resources to sustain. Hence, depression is often accompanied by a feeling of exhaustion
The protective mechanism of depression in the face of overwhelming trauma is an elegant and awful one. It both separates us from ourselves while, inadvertently, protecting those who abuse us.
Those in power, who indoctrinate children, traumatize these children during the process. This is done specifically so that these same children cannot, as adults, remember being indoctrinated. The active process of depressing the experience of past abuse is one that an adult must constantly maintain, below normal-waking consciousness, for many years, often decades. Therefore, undoing this mechanism is not a simple matter of releasing the traumatic material during an MDMA session. Successful healing also requires a means by which to completely dismantle the programmatic set-up in a survivor’s internal system.
The survivor must teach themselves to release feeling where they have been trained as children to retain it. They must learn to express pain and anger where they have been taught to depress it. They must discover how to connect where they have been taught to isolate. This list could go on. The essential point being that healing from deep trauma often requires a total reversal of all habitual psycho-emotional functioning in a person.
The difficulty in reversing this flow cannot be overemphasized. It is hard to reprogram the human-biocomputer and switch the system’s entire polarity from a position of fearful retention to a position of free expression. This is because, in childhood, when the original trauma programming was done, the child often learned that free expression would result in rejection; pain; injury or threat of death by the caregiver. For this reason, it is often critical to microdose LSD between MDMA sessions if you want progress to be made.
Neglecting an important aspect of healing, and not using a de-patterning agent like LSD, can result in slower-progress. It also risks a repeated return to ingrained habitual patterns of relating and behavior.
Worse still, relying on MDMA alone can result in a return to the hive-mentality of compliance with whatever prevailing cultural ideology the political salesmen of your day are pushing.
To break free, the solo-traveler often requires more than one tool in their kit. The primary means by which to access and process traumatic material is MDMA. Then, in the interim between sessions, LSD is the best known means by which to re-imprint new experience, and engender sustained behavioral change in everyday life. Used respectfully, as adjuncts to each other, over several months or years, these two medicines are enough to engender a state of self-actualization.
If you are interested in learning more about the topic of LSD microdosing, you might also enjoy the book A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life (Ayelet Waldman, 2017). In it, Waldman describes her journey to greater self-awareness and healing using low-dose LSD. Her method does not use MDMA in parallel, but the book is nonetheless a broadly reassuring read for any solo-traveler who wishes to rid themselves of a culturally-indoctrinated fear of LSD before using this medicine.
Finally, we do not want to discourage anyone who does not have access to LSD. Other medicines can be used in low-doses as de-patterning agents. For example, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), or mescaline (San Pedro Cactus), are two possible alternatives. The precise means by which to use these alternatives falls outside the scope of this book, but we mention them here in the event that you wish to do your own research into these medicines as an adjunct to your MDMA Solo sessions.
The ideas presented in this chapter, therefore, represent the best currently-known practices for enhancing or focusing MDMA self-healing sessions. Do not feel obligated to use any of these methods. Most often, MDMA is effective without any specific, preconceived plan. The most important aspect of your MDMA Solo journey is to give your subconscious mind freedom to excavate, express, and process any underlying material.
What is subconscious is inherently beyond conventional awareness. A quirk of this situation is that you can never really plan for, or anticipate, precisely what will arise in a session. Nonetheless, the following methods have been found useful in focusing sessions in the event that the solo-traveler finds that their MDMA sessions become consistently unfocused and confusing.
These methods are also useful in directing the session towards trauma material when there is a high level of aversion to confronting this; for example, when strong defenses attack, or a bliss-state generates a high level of disinterest in working on the traumatic material.
This is not to say that the solo-traveler should be wary of the occasional bliss-state during an MDMA session, but we simply wish to remind travelers that using the MDMA-induced heightened sense of calm and self-empathy to confront difficult material is the work which must be undertaken if healing is to occur. If the traveler chooses, instead, to ‘party’ or otherwise revel in the MDMA-induced ‘high’, there is a high risk of the session failing.
We define a ‘failed’ session as one in which a temporary sense of euphoria and self-love is soon replaced by ‘depression’ or a ‘comedown’ as the effects of the MDMA wear off. The ‘trick’ with MDMA is to use the initial euphoric state to address traumatic material deep in the psyche. The result of this addressing of deep trauma is to reduce the sense of euphoria during the sessions itself, but to increase your sense of euphoria in everyday life, once the MDMA has worn off.
The question many ‘depressed’ people ask themselves is: ‘What can I 'do' or 'get' to become happy?’ This question is fundamentally flawed because it presumes that ‘depression’ is present because of a lack of something; because of something you don’t have. More often, however, ‘depression’ is present because of something you 'have'. Specifically: unhealed trauma which must be constantly and actively ‘depressed’ through down-regulation of the entire nervous system. This active depression of traumatic effect is exhausting and debilitating. MDMA, however, can allow you to uncover the primary cause of this learned-adaptation and release the pain of the inciting incident.
Using MDMA to address core-trauma is, metaphorically, akin to pulling the knife out of your heart where, sadly, most modern medicine merely offers to mop up the blood—and keep mopping it up—while never speaking of the knife.
The tool that most doctors use to mop up this ‘blood’, are ‘antidepressants’. What modern medicine calls ‘antidepressants’ are in fact, re-depressants, or pro-depressant—chemicals which serve to further depress (‘push down’), or hide, the original cause of a person’s pain. To return to our knife metaphor: Many of us live in a world where people are bleeding invisibly everywhere, but very few of us ask: Who stabbed us?
Denial on a social, inter-personal, and personal level is extremely pervasive in our cultures. You can see this in operation when abusers are uncovered: Society simply cannot confront and talk about its collective traumas any more than it can its individual traumas.
Even under the influence of MDMA, there remains a natural inclination by the psyche to avoid difficult material. This avoidance-mechanism is greatly attenuated in strength compared to it’s action during conventional, waking-consciousness, but it is nevertheless present. Avoidance during an MDMA session can take many forms, and it is only through experience and practice with MDMA that you will be able to determine if, or when, you are distracting yourself from going deeper in a session.
There is a nuance and skill to detecting your mind’s defensive maneuvers before or during an MDMA session. For example: At times, during a session, dancing or singing may be necessary epiphenomena indicating that you are healthily expressing and processing a traumatic effect-storm. While, on other occasions, dancing and singing may be a means of rebelling in the temporary euphoria of the MDMA and avoiding the deeper traumatic material.
Using MDMA for temporary escapism is obviously a common problem in the ‘club scene’, where the experience is typically less therapeutic. This is not to completely denigrate the use of MDMA in a communal setting, but it is an unfortunate waste of such a powerful tool not to have at least some intention set when embarking on a journey with it. It is equally unfortunate that, if the MDMA experience was used by clubbers, instead, to confront trauma and release pain, they would, later, not need to use MDMA to feel a sense of euphoria during the clubbing experience. Euphoria would, instead, be their normal state of being.
Naturally, it is difficult to judge precisely when and where MDMA use is healing, and where it is frivolous or wasteful. It is not the purpose of The Castalia Foundation to arbitrate your life. We mention the pitfalls of casual MDMA-use here only because we assume that, in reading this book, your focus is on using MDMA as a tool for long-term self-enlightenment, self-healing and social change.
The committed MDMA Solo traveler must, then, ask themselves when using MDMA, “Am I running towards the traumatic material, and my fear, or am I running away from it? Am I using this remarkable medicine in a safe and respectful context where I feel free to express a full range of emotions, and confront my deepest fears; or am I using it to distract myself?”
In the next few sections, then, we offer some ideas for any solo traveler who feels they are regularly distracting themselves during MDMA sessions. We also hope to offer some practical guidance for any solo-traveler who comes away from an MDMA session feeling that something significant has been left unresolved or undiscovered. This is especially true if you feel that you struggle to engage with the perinatal and infant traumatic material that most commonly disturbs the tranquility and social-interconnectivity of our everyday lives as humans.
If you have experienced multiple sessions in which you instinctively feel there were strong avoidance, denial or defensive mechanisms rising up in you, it might be worth trying some of the methods described in this chapter to focus and refine the MDMA healing process. Similarly, if you find that MDMA sessions repeatedly touch on a traumatic memories that remain frustratingly undigested, or unprocessed, then these methods can also be used to stimulate greater involvement with difficult material.
In the cases of the most extreme trauma, if these session plans still fail to satisfactorily assist you in healing your deepest wounds, you could consider fractionally increasing your dosage, or using one of the more advanced dosing protocols discussed in the section titled ‘Dosing Strategies’.
In summary, the following session plans describe the means by which to catalyze, amplify and focus the effects of the MDMA during a session.
Write questions clearly and simply on a large sheet of paper before you begin a session, and have a pencil nearby during the session so it is easy to write answers.
It is also possible to use questions as a springboard to deeper mediation: If there are certain topics you would like to visit and explore, note these down prior to a session and then use your notes as guidance.
You might, for example ask, “What was I like as a child?” Or: “How did my mother relate to me?". Or: “What was school like?” In essence, you are playing the role of a traditional psychoanalyst: Asking yourself relevant questions which serve to reveal more information about the causes of your everyday distress or anxiety.
The critical difference between this method and traditional psychoanalysis is that, using MDMA solo, you are your own therapist. While under the medicinal influence of the MDMA you will be in the best position to answer these questions honestly, and without fear. This fearlessness to ‘confide’ in ‘yourself’ gives us the roots of the word ‘self-confidence’—meaning to ‘confide’ (or ‘share information’) with the ‘self’—you!
But what is real self-confidence? Is it smart clothes; a gold crown on your head; giving a popular public speech, or leading a political party that reveres you? No; it is none of these things. True self-confidence, as the words suggest, springs from a deep connection and honesty with yourself. Sadly, in our culture, the word self-confidence has been manipulated to mean a kind of brash arrogance, loudness, or ‘successful’ way of living.
Many of us have been taught that self-confident people are those who lead countries, or command vast corporations. The exact opposite is true: Such ‘successful’ people rarely, if ever, confide in themselves. Power and status-acquisition is is a common defensive-strategy against confiding in the self; it is a way of avoiding the self; it is a retreat from intimacy; a fleeing from traumatic material; and a symptom of a deep sense of powerlessness. Nobody who felt powerful in themselves would seek power. We do not seek what we already feel we possess.
Public-achievement and attainment of high-office or ‘status’ in our cultures is the primary means of avoiding the self, while presenting the illusion of control and authority. Politics, as we know it today, could broadly be defined as a global failure of self-confidence.
In summary: Using the question-writing method during an MDMA session offers you the ultimate experience of ‘self confidence’, or confiding in the self. This confidence is manifested in a direct, open dialogue with your innermost self. Typically, this process will take place during an MDMA session regardless of whether you have formulated a list of specific questions. However, the benefit of writing questions is to re-focus sessions when you feel that material is being actively avoided, or that distractions have waylaid the healing process. As with all these methods, you do not have to use the question-writing method, but it is there if you need it.
The ‘parallel processing’ method is where MDMA is used in conjunction with a gentle activity. This activity can be anything from yoga to painting a wall in your apartment. The physical activity provides an outer, simple, material focus which can propel your movement through inner, complex, psychological territory. In other words: While painting the wall in your apartment, you might simultaneously process experiences of childhood-abuse: Your growing inner calm, as the traumatic material is released and processed, is paralleled in the change in the wall as it is freshened with paint. This method is most useful when used to aid in the processing of traumatic material that took place over days, months or years.
Sometimes very intense compound-traumas may seem unassailable during MDMA sessions, and are imbued with a sense of timelessness, or infinite-duration. This is a consequence of the way our brains process trauma. Extreme experiences that threaten to overwhelm the nervous system may not be processed properly into long-term memory. These experiences remain, instead, in an ever-present state, floating in ‘general awareness’ as an ‘affect’ without a ‘cause’. Subsequently, these dissociated feelings will be mistakenly pinned to contemporary issues: A person’s job; their relationship; their politics.
While these things may, indeed, be problematic, they function primarily as an 'object' on which to conveniently displace deeper, earlier feelings and emotions. In other words: A person who struggles with controlling bosses, may find they have unconsciously sought-out controlling bosses because they have not processed their early relationship with their father; their mother; or their conditioning within the 'school’ system. This are just a few possibilities. The permutations are numerous because our formative childhood experiences vary.
Parallel-processing, then, allows a person to work-through these seemingly timeless internal-states of trauma while experiencing the definite, undeniable, outward passing of time: As you paint a wall; or color-in a picture during an MDMA session, you may find that this helps to resolve inner-conflicts, anxieties and memories.
It is important to choose a parallel task that is simple and repetitive. For example, sorting beads will work well, but reading a book, or flying an airplane will not. The latter is not a good idea on MDMA anyway, but you take our point: Keep the task simple, and repetitive, but with a definite conclusion: The beads are sorted; the wall is painted. Again, this Parallel Processing method is entirely optional. It is just one of several methods that have been found useful in focusing MDMA sessions, if the emerging material seems to defy processing when simply sitting and breathing with it.
Often, our family photograph albums are heavily curated by those who took and arranged the photographs. A superficial reading of a photograph album brings with it a limited perspective on the truth of family life. We often see smiling-faces and idealized moments of experience captured from thousands, perhaps millions of other moments which were not recorded.
What is most interesting then, when reviewing photographs, is not to accept the narrative as it has been curated, but to look more closely at the faces of the people in the photographs, and to explore the feelings that these photographs elicit in you. These feelings are the most reliable barometer of the truth of your childhood.
Sometimes it is enough to bring two or three photographs into a session and use these as a basis for meditation and exploration. On other occasions, an entire album can be used as the focus of a session. The Castalia Foundation wishes to make self-healers aware that there is a risk in becoming preoccupied with photograph-based work.
Photographs should not form the basis of every session. The risk is that some solo-travelers make the mistake of assuming that these photographs will reveal a deeper truth if only examined sufficiently. Photographs can provide a powerful stimulus for self-healing work, and provide a tantalizing, coherent glimpse into a past that is often frustratingly incoherent. But there is a limit to their usefulness.
Typically, one or two solo-sessions with a photo-album is enough. Any more, and there is a tendency for the solo-traveler to become distracted by the album itself: Expecting it to reveal more than it possibly can.
After work with these photographs has been completed (typically after two or three sessions) all photographs should be placed aside. The solo-traveler may then embark on their future MDMA sessions with an invigorated inward focus.
Dissociation is an inevitable consequence of trauma. 'Dis'-association is a state of things not-being-associated. When we experience trauma, the affect (or ‘feeling’) of that trauma is 'dis'-associated from the literal experience (the ‘physical reality’) of the circumstances under which we were traumatized. For example, in our society we talk of a person who ‘jumped out of their skin’. This metaphor precisely describes what has happened to a survivor of trauma: They have jumped out of their skin because remaining there was unbearable.
The extent to which a survivor has left their body depends on the extent of the trauma. This process of dissociation has a very tangible effect on our civilization: Many of us in this society are simply not there; we are not present.
We are not present because many of us learned, as children, that being present was extremely painful. We learned this lesson time and time again. Dissociation therefore became habitual; a means by which to survive. The task, then, for many adults, is to re-establish contact with the body. To re-associate feeling with movement and thought with action.
Yoga, for the purposes of MDMA Solo work, can be summarized as the process of reconnecting with your body, and the ongoing practice of maintaining that connection. The Castalia Foundation acknowledges the various alternative Eastern philosophical definitions of ‘yoga’, and the myriad schools orbiting the practice of ‘yoga’. Our short definition in this book hopes to happily coexist with any preconceived idea of yoga that you already hold.
For the purposes of using yoga in combination with MDMA therapy, you might find that stretching and moving during a session helps you to move through a difficult memory, or to release previously trapped traumatic-affect during somatic-abreaction. A somatic-abreaction is defined as an energetic release from the body that was constrained or restricted during the time at which a significant trauma occurred.
When we are traumatized, especially as children, we often revert to a ‘freeze’ response. This freeze response is one in which the body restricts movement in an effort to subjugate itself to an attacker and minimize damage to the organism. Freezing is one of a number of choices the organism can make in response to danger; the others are fight, flight or fawn.
The side-effect of freezing is that all the energy that would otherwise have been used to run or counter-attack becomes locked within the musculature. Arguably, this locked-up energy also encodes information on the trauma itself. One theory being that the nervous system stores ‘data’ on the trauma extra-cranially—or ‘outside the brain’.
During an MDMA Solo session, this ‘data’, or constriction in the musculature, can be released. This may result in shaking, shouting, screaming or other abreactions. This is an extremely limited description of the processes involved. The Castalia Foundation recommends Peter Levine’s book Waking the Tiger (1997) for a more detailed explanation of the forces and processes involved.
For the purposes of your MDMA Solo self-healing, it is useful to be aware that your body may start shaking or making other unexpected movements during a session. These movements should be accepted and explored. The best approach is to let your body do what it needs to do and stay out of the way. Obviously, caution is advised: No abreaction should threaten your safety and well being, nor should it harm another person or damage the room you are in. The Castalia Foundation has never witnessed a session where traumatic abreaction caused harm, but some caution is useful. Give yourself plenty of space to safely shake, roll about, or flail, if necessary.
If you have a background in a traditional yoga practice, you may find it useful to try some of your favorite postures during a session. These can help to release abreactions, or to calm and stabilize you during difficult phases in the MDMA therapy process. Do not, however, feel obligated to stick to traditional, established, yoga postures. You may want to invent your own postures, or radically adapt those poses you already know. Equally, if you have no formal background in yoga, you may simply wish to move and stretch the body in whatever way feels natural and instinctive during an MDMA session. The key is to trust your body and to experiment.
It is not the intention of this guide to evangelize on the morality of imprisoning, killing and eating animals. Instead, The Castalia Foundation has simply found that all participants in long-term MDMA Solo work eventually adopt a lifelong plant-based diet, without intervention from us. Moving to a plant-based lifestyle appears to be an inherent part of the healing process.
When, as humans, we fully realize the scope and depth of the traumas that we have been subjected to in our lives, we simultaneously become aware of the ways in which we have repeated these traumas on other conscious beings. It becomes clear (usually within the first ten MDMA sessions, or less) that our cult, or ‘culture’, indoctrinated us into participation in mass violence against animals during a socialization process in infancy.
Do not worry if you feel an aversion to this idea, or a resistance to the concept of adopting a plant-based lifestyle. This is entirely normal. The early trauma of being forced into meat-consumption by your ‘cult’ is, as with all severe traumas, depressed into the subconscious landscape and resistant to discovery.
Most people find that that a sense of anger or self-righteousness rises up and displaces itself onto anyone who questions the ‘cult’ or culture’s ritualized mass-killing of other sentient lifeforms.
The traumatic affect (anger and sadness) that is exorcised through the habitual killing of animals would need to find another outlet if the killing of animals was no longer part of the individual’s repertoire. In other words: the killing of animals in our culture serves as an outlet to displace our collective and personal sense of anger. It is then rationalized as ‘natural’.
Because this process of displacing our anger onto animals is unconscious, there is no purpose in entering into a conscious debate on the ethics of animal-killing in this book. The beginner will simply resist this information until they discover it for themselves.
We only mention the plant-based lifestyle here because the topic of animal welfare invariably arises as an issue to be confronted by those who undertake MDMA Solo self-healing. This is because during the process of peeling-back layers of programming, we find that the psyche reveals more and more ‘code’ that has been programmed into us by the 'cult'-ure.
As you progress with MDMA Solo work, you will discover that many lines of your internal ‘code’ included things that you thought were ‘normal’ or ‘socially acceptable’. However they are, in fact, entirely contrived by the dominant power-structures on Earth and their industrial, economic and ‘educational’ systems.
Excavating the origins of our human ‘impulse’ to participate in the mass-murder of conscious beings is accompanied by a strong resistance to acknowledging the origins or this ‘impulse’. This resistance has protected you from ostracism from your peers. These peers were also indoctrinated in infancy by the power structures that shape our predator-dominator societies.
The global system of animal-killing is therefore self-reinforcing and resistant to change. The change itself would mean acknowledging the horror of what has gone before. It would mean acknowledging that you were programmed by your ‘cult’.
Psychodynamically, what is resisted (confrontation with trauma) at the individual level is also resisted at a societal level. Much allegedly ‘normal’ behavior is very difficult to both recognize as a repetition of trauma, and then to change.
MDMA Solo work can be undertaken, initially, by those who participate in the killing of animals. However, MDMA Solo work will gently rid you of this behaviour. Stopping in advance will save you the time that would have been spent in reaching this realization during the therapeutic process. It will also optimize both the effects of the MDMA and reduce the risk of any side-effects.
The Castalia Foundation’s protocol has been designed to completely eliminate the risk of any ‘comedown’ or adverse consequences from the use of MDMA in solo sessions. A substantial part of this elimination of side-effects is the adoption of a plant-based lifestyle. It may interest you to discover that one of the oldest known psychedelics, ayahuasca, is traditionally associated with adopting a plant-based diet in the weeks prior to a ceremony. This practice is known as a dieta.
Ideally, prior to undertaking an MDMA solo-session, you will be in good-health and have an existing exercise routine that includes yoga. Again, these are not essentials, but will potentiate a much quicker and more effective healing experience.
Alcohol, and other drugs that are used by humans to mute their feelings and mask traumatic symptoms, are not compatible with MDMA therapy—either before, during, or after a session. Again, alcohol, caffeine and other drugs can either be entirely eliminated from your life immediately (or as soon as safely possible). The realizations that you arrive at during your MDMA sessions will result in dropping them regardless. You will, however, save months of work if you are able to recognize and stop these popular social coping mechanisms prior to beginning your sessions with MDMA.
In the case of the Berlin Wall, guards were posted at intervals along the length of the wall and instructed to shoot anyone who attempted to cross from the East to the West. These guards had been trained, under duress, to believe that the integrity of their body, the ‘state’, would be threatened if the wall was to be breached. This training, under duress, is precisely the kind of training that your internal ‘guards’ have received.
We learn (typically when traumatized as children) to construct internal walls, barbed wire sections, and to train guards in our psyche to keep our ‘state’, or ‘body’ intact. The core principle under which these internal ‘guards’ operate in the psyche is this: To attack ourselves inside before we are attacked outside.
To give just one example of how a wall in the psyche is constructed, and a guard is installed: Consider a little girl who is beaten by her mother if she expresses any emotions.
This girl will learn to create her own, internal version of her external mother. The girl will, as a protective mechanism, do whatever she can to internally model her violent controlling mother and install this ‘mother’ as ‘code’ in an internal simulation of reality. This simulated ‘mother’ will serve, as best it can, to act and react like the girl’s real mother.
Internally modeling the violent mother will allow the girl to anticipate the violence of her mother externally, and preempt that violence by attacking the girl internally first. By attacking herself internally, the girl avoids the external attack. Ultimately, this internalized modeling of the outer-mother results in an inner-mother known as a ‘protector-persecutor introject’.
The inner-mother (simulated mother) reacts to the girl’s emotions before they become visible on the girl’s face; attacking the girl and preventing any outward expression. This prevents the real, external mother from attacking the girl: There is no longer any external sign of the girl’s internal emotions.
The abused girl has, effectively, installed her mother as a piece of rogue code in her psyche: The internal mother protects the girl from external attack by anticipating the attack, and attacking the girl internally first. The internally-modeled mother is, at this point, fully introjected. Additionally, because many violent abusers are relatively predictable and two-dimensional in their limited repertoire of reactions to the world, it is not computationally very complex to model them. The result is that many trauma survivors carry around with them fairly detailed ‘virtual models’ of the people who abused them.
Multiple ‘virtual models’ or ‘protector-persecutor introjects’ inhabit the subconscious territory of the psyche of many citizens in our societies. Then, behind the scenes, they restrict a full range of expression and sabotage attempts at healing. It is important to note at this point that we are not referring specifically to the psyche structure of those who have been diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder or any other arbitrary label.
Instead, The Castalia Foundation has discovered that almost everyone on Earth at this point in history is fractured and dissociated. Those who are clinically described as ‘multiple-personality’ simply exhibit the most strong and visible symptoms of a condition that is universal in our broken social landscape.
It is inevitable, during MDMA therapy, then, that a person will encounter part-selves within their internal landscape.
The theatrical dramatization of people with split-personality in movies and books is often merely an exaggeration of most people’s everyday lives. For example, consider the ‘religious’ person who claims to love life, but never questions paying taxes to a government that profits from global arms dealing and wars. Or, consider the ‘animal lover’ who ‘loves’ eating hamburgers.
Split-personalities therefore, are not the territory of science fiction, or tattered outliers wailing in the basements of sanatoriums, they are, quite literally the centrepiece of most peoples’ way of relating to the world. They are you, they are us.
We are, as humans in the early 21st Century, a global community of split-personalitied, trauma-survivors who spend large amounts of our time denying, covering up or ignoring the gaping contradictions and inconsistencies in what we claim is a whole and integral ‘person’. In other words: ’me’.
One reason these part-selves are particularly difficult to confront and integrate during work with MDMA is that they may identify as entirely separate from the conscious self that is doing the MDMA work. As apparently separate entities, these part-selves will have survival objectives on both a personal and systemic level.
An example of a personal survival objective is a part-self’s fear that, when it is exposed as a protector-persecutor introject, it will be killed or destroyed. This is, paradoxically, the fearful position of many people’s normal-waking-consciousnesses. You can see this fear and defensiveness in action when many people resist the idea of psychedelic use, or work with MDMA. Some part of them is aware that the ‘game’ will be up under the effect of these consciousness expanding medicines: The performance of ‘I-am-okay’ will be halted by other aspects of the self emerging from behind the scenery on stage and demanding answers.
Somehow, many humans instinctively know that psychedelics and empathogenic medicines actually work.
They know that, if they take a psychedelic, something will actually happen. It is for precisely this reason that many people in our wounded societies avoid MDMA Solo work, and psychedelics in general, so vigilantly. The entire medical model on planet Earth is built around a tragic pantomime: The avoidance of the known cures, while maintaining the constant illusion that a cure is being sought. Sadly, many of us have a false-self that manages our day-to-day perspective on the world. In other words: It is very possible that the self, or you who is reading this book is itself a fractured sub-part of a much larger system in your subconscious mind.
Often we are dominated by a caretaker ‘ego’ (sense-of-self)that is best equipped to maintain all the locks and guards on the larger subsystem. This is why, during intense psychedelic-therapy sessions with medicines like LSD, there is typically a sense of ‘ego death’ or a collapse of the construct of self. This ‘ego death’ is the point at which your default view (or ‘working idea’) of yourself disintegrates.
For many, this process of ‘ego death’ feels like actual death, and in fact, it is a sort of death—death of the previous self-construct. This type of ‘death’, however, is short-lived and subjective, hence the lyrics to John Lennon’s song, Tomorrow Never Knows: "Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream, it is not dying."
Once this current sense-of-self is disintegrated, it becomes clear that other aspects exist in the system. It is as if we have silenced the loudest person at our internal dinner party. In this silence, we realize there are many other guests at the party, previously unnoticed. Many of these guests have important stories to tell now that the dominant voice has quieted. Metaphorically, you could view your deep work with the MDMA Solo protocol as a much-needed dinner party with yourself. Or, technically, yourselves.
Now that we have a very basic understanding of the architecture of the fractured psyche, The Castalia Foundation wishes to draw your attention to the most obvious ways in which internal protector-persecutor introjects can sabotage healing. The first, and most common way is to assure you that, after two or three MDMA Solo sessions, you are completely healed and should stop. You will also find encouragement from your wider community to stop. Your healing-path threatens both your internal systems and your external systems; it threatens your internal wounded part-selves, who shut themselves away to contain unbearable pain. It also threatens your external ‘community’.
Many communities have an unspoken central function: This function is to distract those in the community from their own pain, and then to self-medicate with lethal drugs like alcohol. Often your community will attempt to persuade you not to probe deeply into the cause of their distress, or your own. For these distresses are the same distress, and discussing them is taboo.
Witness, for example, how those who speak out against sexual abuse are marginalized or shunned in family and social systems. This is because those social systems are hierarchically-ordered based on abuse: By exposing the underlying mechanism that supports this power-dynamic, you risk upsetting everyone who has consented to varying degrees of silence in exchange for ‘power’. Indeed, look at how this book itself, MDMA Solo, was attacked and censored by the ‘authorities’ on its publication. The abusive systems of control that manipulate the people on planet Earth do not want you to heal. As you heal, you threaten their entrenched power.
It is important to watch out for a counter-strike from protector-persecutors in your internal system, and your external society. Pornography and alcohol both represent the major pain-soothing mechanisms of a post-traumatic world. As the trauma specialist Dr Gabor Maté often says, “Don’t ask: Why the addiction? Ask: Why the pain?” Using this MDMA Solo protocol, you have chosen to make the wise decision and ask, “Why the pain?”
Severe anxiety; somatic release; deep depressive states; the anxiety of ‘going mad’ and intense feelings of guilt and hopelessness are all typical feeling-states that will emerge as you peel back a COEX to its core. COEX is a term coined by Stanislav Grof in relation to LSD psychotherapy and is an acronym for ‘Systems of Condensed Experience’. This structural theory also relates to the MDMA healing process.
A COEX is a group of experiences that were filed under the same broad ‘class’ of trauma, and find their root, often, in the birth process itself. For example, later experiences of near-drowning in a lake may be classed in the same COEX as the suffocating feeling of emerging from the birth canal. Similarly, traumatic experiences of being strangled will lead back to related experiences of the same genotype; including the aforementioned near-drowning, and the birth experience. These are merely examples; a COEX could consist of an entirely different subtype of experiences and does not necessarily lead back to perinatal (meaning ‘around the time of birth’) experience.
We mention the concept of a COEX here because you will often confront many, many traumas as you progress through your MDMA Solo self-healing. Each of these traumas will constellate a much earlier trauma which, at the time of experiencing, created the ‘label on the filing cabinet’ in which all subsequent traumas of that type were then stored in the psyche.
In other words: The first time the human mind encounters a certain type of trauma, a category for that type of experience appears to be created in the mind. For example, we might call one category an I-can’t-breathe experience. Then, when we heal the subsequent traumas that bore a spatial-emotional similarity to the core trauma, we find that layers in the psyche are slowly peeled back in an order that has a kind of biographic coherence: We can see, during MDMA Solo work, how experience is categorized and ordered in the mind—a series of ripples in a pond, each smaller ripple leading back to a larger one until, hopefully, we reach the moment of birth itself: The primary trauma.
This is why working with MDMA can be difficult and demanding. MDMA engages you with the actual, root cause of your present-day problems. Rather than the superficial conversations that we tend to engage in with ‘therapists’, MDMA will typically get to the root of things. It is, therefore, not a medicine to be used by anyone who is still playing the game of avoiding their problems. MDMA’s greatest strength is also the reason it is so feared and demonized by authoritarian governments and a ‘medical’ community that profits from disease: MDMA actually works.
During the healing work, aspects of your psyche may release many of the feelings you were unable to process at the time of your abuse. They may also mount an attack; a learned-adaptation to prevent the release of the material; to protect you.
To reiterate; The 'prison guards' in your psyche may be concerned during or after an MDMA session to find the ‘castle gates’ of your psyche open. They may freak out. They guarded this material for years, and it will take them time to relax. It is therefore advisable to listen to any aggressive, attacking or denigrating voices in your psyche that attempt to send you off-track during a session, or between sessions.
Rather than ignoring, or counter-attacking these aspects of yourself, The Castalia Foundation recommends that you open a dialogue with them. You are effectively involved in a hostage negotiation with internalized protector-persecutor introjects. These introjects are parts of you, and, deep-down, these aspects of the psyche want acceptance; even acknowledgment that they have done their part to protect you but are no longer needed.
The Castalia Foundation has found that the strongest indicator of a person's success in self-healing with MDMA is their tolerance for things to feel temporarily worse before they get a lot, lot better. As we have mentioned before, the escape trajectory with MDMA is not linear, but instead an oscillating line which trends upwards. Some sessions bring very difficult material to the surface, and the interim between sessions can be extremely challenging.
You will need to find creative and non-violent ways to express anger. This emotion, anger, is the fuel of those introjects who are responsible for your most depressive phases. Denial and suppression of emotions is the jackhammer of ‘depression’. Anger is the fuel line plugged into this terrible machine. In unplugging the jackhammer, you will have to find a new place to connect this ‘pipeline’ of anger and release the reservoir of energy related to your traumas.
You must find a way to express anger outwardly, rather than using it (as many of us were taught as children) to attack yourself. At the most basic level, screaming into water in a bathtub is a good way to quietly release a lot of anger; as is punching a mattress, or dancing.
The psychodynamic term protector-persecutor introject is not entirely dissimilar to the ancient concept of ‘demonic possession’. Although ‘possession’ is viewed as quite an archaic term to use within a field that has comforted itself with terms like ‘neuroscience’, some solo-travelers have reported to The Castalia Foundation that, “It literally feels like a demon has been beaten, screamed and punched into me and I am struggling with that anxiety.”
Psychologists and trauma therapists are acceptant of the idea of a protector-persecutor introject, yet the idea of a ‘demon' possessing a person seems hopelessly irrational. However, the phenomena of a demon may have many parallels with protector-persecutor introjects. What a demon, or protector-persecutor introject, represents is an internalized model of the person(s) who abused you. Given this, it's not surprising that many survivors feel like they have been battling a demon. In a way, they have. The solution is to breathe with the feelings and trust that they will pass.
Finally, one other way to deal with a severe attack from internal protector-persecutor systems is to run another MDMA Solo session shortly after the one which excavated the material.
When meditation does not work (and sometimes, especially with ritual abuse survivors, it does not) then waiting a month or more for another session is effectively a form of torture. The survivor is left to struggle in an affect storm with no relief. After witnessing hundreds of MDMA sessions (and provided there is adequate food, rest and water) The Castalia Foundation maintains that there is strong justification for running closely-spaced sessions for some forms of trauma. In the most severe cases, even as soon as 48 hours later.
Caution is advised here: Just as an internal part-self can be soothed and integrated through the respectful use of MDMA Solo work, some part-selves can be extremely inventive in how they sabotage your healing. Try to remain conscious of your health and well-being: It is not unknown for sabotage to take the form of overusing MDMA. The only solution is to build a level of self-trust and understanding whereby you remain vigilant to your core needs (food, rest, sleep and self-compassion) while treading the verge between overuse and over-caution. Your society errs to the latter, while the addict errs to the former.
Jung told us that, “Enlightenment consists not merely in the seeing of luminous shapes and visions, but in making the darkness visible.” The litmus test, for The Castalia Foundation is this: Are you taking MDMA to connect and heal yourself; to confront pain and shadow, and to bring light into yourself and the world around you. Or are you seeking temporary bliss; an escape? Provided your heart steps with each beat closer towards the child within, we see no reason to fear MDMA.
Remember that the same society that hurt you now claims to have authority in deciding how you should cure yourself. It does not. Think for yourself, and question authority.
In response to suggestions by readers of the first edition of MDMA Solo, in this edition we offer a few extra notes on the healing process.
Widely-thought to be a rare experience, The Castalia Foundation has unfortunately discovered an extremely high incidence of ritual abuse in the general public.
First, it is important that we define ritual abuse: Ritual abuse is purposely-enacted trauma that is designed intentionally to wound a person. The objective of this wounding is to maintain existing power systems, and to confuse and disorientate humanity.
This is only one definition of such abuse, and we go into significantly more detail on this topic in the book Anti Ultra which is also available, for free, from The Castalia Foundation. If you suspect that you are processing experiences of intentional, prolonged abuse, enacted by a group of people, then we highly advise reading Anti Ultra to prepare yourself in deprogramming the many different techniques such groups use.
Using MDMA to heal ritual abuse is entirely possible, and we have seen many successful outcomes. However, there is a serious difference between working with ‘conventional’ trauma (which was primarily unconsciously, or accidentally, enacted either through ignorance or stupidity), and the organized, calculated methods used during ritual abuse.
The reason for this difference between ‘conventional’ trauma and ‘ritual abuse’ is that survivors of ritual abuse will, unconsciously, fight against their own healing. In many cases, the programming routines installed in ritual-abuse survivors includes ‘code’ which will induce the survivor to attack, or even kill, anyone (including themselves) who attempts to reverse this programming.
We have written extensively on this topic in the companion book Anti Ultra, and we see no reason to restate the contents of the book here, not least because the topic will be unnecessarily distressing for readers who are not dealing with this type of abuse. However if, during your healing process, you notice extreme attempts at self-sabotage, or you begin to process ritual abuse-experiences, then it is essential that you read Anti Ultra.
Healing ritual-abuse can be extremely challenging. This is because in doing so, you are deprogramming many sub-parts, while maintaining a coherent platform in your internal landscape from which to carry out ‘repairs’. This ‘coherent platform’ may shift and change as parts are revealed and integrated into the whole. It can be quite a balancing act.
In other words: The ritually abused individual will need to be open to the possibility that they are internally fractured at many, many places. The survivor must remain, at all times, aware that a battalion of different parts may need to be integrated; and that some of these parts can be aggressive, destructive, manipulative or distracting, prior to their integration.
Often the survivor’s ‘sense-of-self’ in general life reveals itself, with time, to be a ‘host-personality’. For this reason, healing from profound ritual abuse requires a litany of surrenders. Each part-self to be healed may be consumed-by, or subsumed-by the host-personality; or vice-versa.
This process may sound terrifying, but it is not. What is actually terrifying is a life spent living as a shadow, while your subconscious realm remains a haunted-house in which denied sub-parts roam the halls like ghosts. It is better to endure the temporary-discomfort of opening the forbidden doors to your haunted house, than to remain haunted until the grave.
Nevertheless, healing from ritual abuse is one of the most difficult and complex processes in self-psychology. The key to navigating these treacherous waters is to self-educate on the topic. For this purpose, there are an additional pair of vital books to read: The Alchemy of Wolves and Sheep by Harvey L. Schwartz; and Trauma and the Soul by Donald Kalsched.
There are only a few good, reliable books on the topic of ritual abuse, and these are the only two we consider essential. There is no need to buy these books, you can borrow them from your local library.
You may find these two books to be very challenging reading, but if you are to heal yourself from ritual abuse, you will need to gain expertise in the mechanics of your mind. Such expertise is hard-won; and most comes from the experience and determination to engage, and reengage with difficult emerging material from the subconscious realm.
The Castalia Foundation wishes to encourage the survivor of ritual abuse in the pursuit of their freedom. The intention of your abusers was that you would never reach a point of liberation from the cult’s control. They are likely to have used many well-established trauma rituals which few people ever consciously recall, and fewer still take steps to reverse. You are unique and brilliant in your decision to heal yourself from this terrible crime. With confidence, determination, and time, MDMA can support you in healing from what was done to you.
Finally, we must offer a caution on this topic: Sadly, The Castalia Foundation has observed a pattern in survivors of ritual abuse who are attempting to heal: Many survivors have been unconsciously programmed to return to the abusive systems of power controlled by those who initially abused them.
For example, it is extremely common for the survivor to return to an abusive family-of-origin or ‘clinic’ and to seek ‘help’. At these locations, the survivor will find themselves ‘helped’ by the original perpetrators. These ‘family’ or ‘clinic’ members will ‘help’ the survivor to forget or ‘repress’ the emerging traumatic material. This process may also be ‘assisted’ by friends-of-the-family, including ‘doctors’ or other ‘professionals’ who will protect the interests of the cult while undertaking the performative role of ‘assisting’ the survivor. Most ‘medicine’ is shallow performance-art.
There is also a great risk that, even in rejecting the ‘family’, the survivor will unconsciously recreate the same family system she has escaped from. The survivor will, unconsciously ‘recast’ her ‘friends’ and ‘co-workers’ in the roles of her abusers. This is done by selecting similar personality-types and then displacing onto them. This tactic is especially dangerous because the world is strewn with other abuse-survivors, some of whom will happily repeat the abuse they were once subjected to.
The survivor often does not have to go far to find herself ‘back in the family’. Indeed, we could interpret the hostile, predatory nature of many ‘bosses’ and ‘CEOs’ as the inevitable outcome of a society where familial abuse is more often repeated than confronted. The survivor will often find herself drawn to ‘healing groups’ which are actually part of the cult’s network; whether overtly or in ‘spirit’.
In other words, we have found that many survivors of ritual abuse will gravitate towards ‘gurus’ or ‘shaman’ (both male and female) who offer the survivor the promise of an ‘escape’ from her ritual trauma. However, these gurus are often part of the same power edifice that originally wounded the survivor. This process is, often, frustratingly unconscious. Many survivors never escape it, and spend a lifetime careening between different ‘wounded healers’.
These powerful cult groups also include those who work in ‘hospitals’, and even psychedelic ‘research’ groups which have been funded by government interests. The survivor should therefore be extremely careful to determine who is funding the people they regard as ‘authorities’. One excellent barometer for authenticity is this: Are you being asked to pay for your ‘healing’? If you are, then you are likely dealing with an abuser, although their abuse may vary from mild to severe.
Anyone who has fully healed themselves from trauma knows that the universe repays kindness with a general, widespread improvement in everyone’s well-being. By charging money to ‘heal’ people, a person (or organization) is essentially telling you that improving the well-being of the world is not sufficient reward for them. Their interest is in profit. This is the core sickness of mankind: The blind drive for money and power. If your ‘healer’ cannot rid themselves of this most basic of vices, what use are they? None.
Although there may be no formal-links between the new cult (or ‘organization’) the survivor joins, and the one she is fighting to leave, there is typically a core ‘familiarity’ (meaning ‘of the family’) to the structure of the group. Indeed, the survivor will likely find herself financially exploited and/or sexually abused by the ‘guru’ she ‘instinctively’ chooses. This is practical evidence of the unconscious compulsion-to-repeat described by Freud in his most lucid work.
An outcome in which the survivor is abused again is, unconsciously, the objective of one of her part-selves. She is likely to have been taught, as a child, to gravitate back to abusive groups if she begins to ‘wake up’ to earlier ritual abuse.
This ‘return to an abuser’-routine is a commonly-programmed behavior. It is encoded through complex trauma-based-conditioning routines in childhood. Without going into the programming process (covered in Anti Ultra), we can briefly describe the outcome: The child is taught to self-harm if she attempts to leave the cult. She is taught that this is preferable to the punishments dealt out by her abusers.
Later, as an adult, the survivor’s dawning realization that she has been ritually abused will propel a part-self to ‘punish’ the survivor for attempting to ‘leave’ the group. The part-self is, in essence, an intelligent child. It can, therefore, be extremely ingenious in its techniques of internal protector-persecution.
If an external ‘rescuer’ looks like he or she may be an abuser in disguise, then the survivor may feel ‘intuitively’ drawn to this person, and their group. The survivor’s conscious, stated objective is to ‘heal’ herself but her unconscious objective is to ‘punish’ herself for attempting to ‘escape’ her programming.
The permutations of self-harm disguised as self-healing are numerous and, even if we were to list them all here, the survivor would merely design new ones to evade detection. For this reason, we highly recommend using the MDMA Solo protocol to heal ritual abuse. It is the only method that avoids the very-real risk of unconsciously choosing abusers as ‘healers’; or joining groups which are cults.
The MDMA Solo technique is a process that does not require an external ‘healer’ and, therefore, it avoids the high likelihood of the survivor unconsciously choosing an abuser as her ‘guru’, ‘shaman’, ‘doctor’, or ‘therapist’.
Using the MDMA Solo method also avoids another common problem with healing ritual abuse: If the survivor does find a ‘therapist’ (or similar) who does not charge money and actually has their interests at heart, the survivor is very likely to attack, or attempt to kill this person. This may sound severe: But such is the immense power of the affect-storm of trauma that the survivor is holding back, violence is a very realistic outcome.
We then find ourselves in a paradox: An ineffective healer will likely re-abuse the survivor of ritual abuse, while the (rare) effective healer is likely to be attacked by the survivor. In short: The survivor gravitates towards further abuse; and strikes out at genuine help. This is the bind of ritual abuse; it is the means by which the cult protects its ‘investment’ over the longer term.
This problem is compounded by the typical programming routines that comprise the internal-system in a survivor of ritual abuse: The survivor has essentially been weaponized.
There is little point in sugar-coating the reality: Many ritual abuse survivors have been programmed to kill anyone who might break their programming. This includes self-attack. These attacks are often well disguised: A survivor is more likely to covertly destroy the friendships and support network of an effective-healer than run at them with a kitchen knife. That said, it is not unknown for effective ‘helpers’ to find themselves led by the ‘survivor’ into cult rituals, or overtly threatened. This is why we do not advise anyone to take on such a role as external helper. It is dangerous, and completely unnecessary.
In the book Anti Ultra, we describe, in detail, how this kill-programming is achieved. While it may sound implausible to the newcomer, the way in which it is coded is extremely prosaic. We emphasize it here, because there is considerable risk to anyone who undertakes to ‘support’ a ritual-abuse-survivor during their initial exit from their programming.
Friends of a ritual-abuse survivor should maintain general vigilance around the survivor, and the survivor should make herself aware, through self-education, of the ‘trap doors’ and ‘alarm systems’ that may litter her internal landscape prior to complete healing.
We tend to view survivors as universally ‘good’ or as ‘victims’. Indeed, as children, they were. But do not underestimate the survivor’s capacity to misplace anger, hatred or violence. With careful self-reflection many risks can be averted, but ritual abuse survivors have a unique capacity to shock and surprise those who do not maintain a sharp awareness of the potentials.
We recommend that all serious self-healers familiarize themselves with the information in LSD Zen because, used alternately with MDMA, higher-dose LSD can excavate extremely deep subconsious material.
LSD is a very powerful companion to MDMA when healing deep trauma. It is not, however, essential. If you only have access to MDMA, you can still heal. You may, however, need to take extra precautions not to relapse into patterned behaviors. In other words: the cautious, respectful use of LSD will heal you faster and make it harder to relapse into harmful behaviour patterns.
In the interests of outlining a simple and clear healing-path for the newcomer, we have left out a considerable wealth of information on many other psychedelic medicines like ayahuasca; psilocybin (magic mushrooms); mescaline (San Pedro cactus); 2CB; cannabis, and numerous other naturally-occurring plant allies.
These omissions were not made because The Castalia Foundation discounts the value of these other medicines, but simply because MDMA is unique in its capabilities as a solo-use tool.
MDMA is the only medicine we know that can probe the depths of the psyche while rarely, if ever, tipping the solo-traveler into a state of chaos, panic and confusion. This means MDMA technology can scale rapidly without the need for a ‘technician’ to be present. The same is not true, for example, of ayahuasca, where in most cases, a ‘technician’ or ‘shaman’ is often justified. At the very least, this technician can keep travelers safely in the ceremony room.
If you are interested in learning more about these other medicines (and more about MDMA and LSD) there is a short list of relevant titles at the end of this webpage.
If you have a friend you trust to simply be present with you in the hours after an MDMA Solo session, then gentle hugging can be a very comforting experience after the turbulence of various traumatic abreactions. Ideally, this friend will respect your need for quiet, gentle touch and silence in the hours after a session.
This can be used to your advantage. Whether you actually believe that the toy animal in the room with you is somehow magically imbued when you assign them as ‘shaman’, or if this is simply a phenomena of the mind, is not important. This technique seems to work as a means to run a session with a ‘sitter’ who will not interfere or question you. From a psychological perspective, it can be speculated that the more compassionate aspects of your own being are displaced onto an external object (in this case, for example, a toy animal) and then used to reflect back a feeling of support into the room.
Enlisting a trusted animal may be a good solution if you feel that you absolutely must have some external support during your MDMA work. Animals are, often, expert ‘sitters’ because almost none of them have psychology degrees, or have any interest in ‘healing’ people for money.
The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
The Alchemy of Wolves and Sheep by Harvey L. Schwartz
Dialogues With Forgotten Voices by Harvey L. Schwartz
The Divided Self by R.D. Laing
The Politics of Experience / The Bird of Paradise by R.D. Laing
Sanity, Madness and the Family by R.D. Laing; Esterson
For Your Own Good by Alice Miller
The Body Never Lies by Alice Miller
The Aetiology of Hysteria by Sigmund Freud
LSD Psychotherapy by Stanislav Grof
Realms of the Human Unconscious by Stanislav Grof
The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary; Metzner; Alpert.
Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna.
The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
LSD: My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann.
LSD Psychotherapy by Stanislav Grof.
Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story by Alexander Shulgin.
Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens.
Therapy with Substance by Friederike Meckel Fischer.
The Secret Chief Revealed by Myron J. Stolaroff; Stanislav Grof.
In the Name of Science by Andrew Goliszek
Trauma and the Soul by Donald Kalsched
The Inner World of Trauma by Donald Kalsched
Repressed Memories by Renee Fredrickson
The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
Anti Ultra by The Castalia Foundation
The Way Out by The Castalia Foundation
LSD Zen by The Castalia Foundation