While the impact of music on psychedelic sessions is currently an ongoing topic of research, music has been a powerful component of psychedelic journeying for centuries, rooted in indigenous, ceremonial practice with plant medicine.
In the context of psychedelic mushroom journeying outside of a shamanistic practice, musical considerations are personal as well as cultural. Not everyone responds well to the most common types of music played in retreat and clinical settings — for instance, clients grappling with the impact of white supremacy on their psyches may be less likely to resonate with classical music that harkens back to colonization. “World” music selected without proper cultural context can miss the mark and feel exoticizing. We need more research focused on experiences of people of color from a wide range of backgrounds to really understand how music can foster breakthroughs in psychedelic sessions.
At our psilocybin mushroom truffle practice in Amsterdam, we support people from many walks of life through legal, sliding-scale, private psychedelic mushroom experiences. Time and again, we’ve witnessed how the right songs played at the right time can facilitate tremendous breakthroughs in psychedelic sessions. We have an individualized approach to music selection: Rather than follow a set playlist, we live-DJ for our clients, pulling from our extensive catalogue of songs to support moment-to-moment flow. We also ask clients to send us music that holds particular significance for them: Peppering in these personal tracks during key moments creates an opportunity to process through emotions, memories, traumas, and relationships.
Our individualized approach also means that as guides we are exposed to a steady stream of fresh musical tracks from our clients from around the world. I’ve pulled eight pieces of music from our library that we love to play during client sessions — enjoy!
THE COME UP
The hypnotic, loving music of Beautiful Chorus is a staple for our sessions. Faith’s Hymn and the chakra tracks from their Resonance Meditation album create a soothing, womb-like atmosphere. These songs facilitate a warm, other-worldly invitation into the psychedelic journey. We often play these songs on loop in both the come up and the come down of a session. (Shout out to our collaborator Alex Bledsoe who put us on to their stunning music!)
Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood received an Oscar nomination for his original score for the 2017 film Phantom Thread and this particular track from the film is a go-to for when the trip begins to lift off. The rolling crescendos usher in a fresh, enchanting state of being to set the stage for the journey.
We love to play this track during the transition from the come-up into the peak of the experience. It’s almost completely instrumental except for the mantra “let it go” spoken as the beat picks up. This song’s layered, hypnotic vibe combined with a powerful mantra of release supports breakthroughs at a time in a trip when surrendering is key.
We were first introduced to Kamasi Washington by a jazz writer client who sent along some of his music for her session. We loved the tracks so much that we incorporated his work into our library. Integrity is hypnotic and layered, definitely worth repeating.
This is a classic track by the legendary Nigerian Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti. It’s an intense, sweeping selection to experience on a psychedelic trip so we save it for the fervency of the peak. We’ve found this song to be a particularly strong choice for Black and Brown clients doing ancestral and decolonization work during their session.
This beautiful 2016 track is gentle but rhythmic, invoking the feeling of riding a wave or moving through water. It can play on loop and doesn’t overwhelm the senses, guiding you through a psychedelic state with inspiration and ease. It’s also a wonderful track to create art with on a psychedelic journey.
THE COME DOWN
This is one of our favorite songs to loop during the comedown of a psychedelic trip. KOKOROKO is a truly genius Afrobeat collective out of London whose music is at the same time calming and stirring. As clients float back to this plane from their session, the vibes of Abusey Junction are often a welcome homecoming.
As the revelations and breakthroughs of a trip are setting in after a full journey, this song brings a loving and poignant presence. It’s a great choice for when folks are coming more fully back into their bodies and can manage a track with lyrics. Nina Simone’s version of this song is a particularly compelling and beautiful choice, given her legacy as a political and musical force of nature.
We’re always on the lookout for new tracks. Let me know in the comments what music you enjoy during psychedelic sessions ❤