In the spring of 2018, I received an email from a friend which included an ad that popped up for him on Facebook. It was for a study regarding clergy and spiritual leaders with the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelics and Consciousness. The lab wanted to study the effects of psilocybin (an entheogen/hallucinogen that is the active part of ‘magic mushrooms’) on people who are already primed for mystical and spiritual experiences. All the participants (a total of 24, in conjunction with New York University) had to be ‘psychedelic virgins’.
I applied immediately.
After several months of trying to generate some equilibrium in my blood pressure, I was finally approved for the study. I met with guides several times before two journeys a month apart. Each journey was facilitated by large doses of psilocybin. My guides sat with me through both journeys. There were follow-up sessions and hundreds of questions from numerous quantitative questionnaires and at least two qualitative interviews. The goal of the study, at its most basic, was to see what happens in the lives and careers of spiritual leaders when they have high dose experiences with psychedelics.
The experiential part of the study happened for me in December 2018 and January 2019. At the time, I was pastor of a church in MidCoast Maine, where I served until just a couple months ago (it is now February 2023). The Johns Hopkins experience influenced my desire to get a Doctor of Ministry, which I completed in May of 2022. My focus for my project was on Extraordinary Spiritual Experiences (ESEs, for short). In that project, I discerned and explored a way of mapping ESEs that allows for integration for the experiencer and understanding for those who encounter such experiences, either in their own lives or when they hear of them from others.
My work now, for the time being anyway, is to develop my D. Min. project into a book about ESEs to help spiritual leaders map those experiences in such a way that they are no longer a threat or incomprehensible to the ears and minds of faith. While I am a committed Christian, I do not imagine my work to be exclusive to the Christian way. My hope is that this work will be applicable across religious and spiritual boundaries, and will provide insight for any and all who encounter the mystical, strange, weird, uncanny, and bizarre.
I hope you enjoy this blog and whatever my meanderings lead you to in your explorations here.
Peace and grace,
Rev. Dr. Seth Jones
January 26, 2023