Although the 1960s are typically thought of as the era of the psychedelic revolution, psychedelics are at least as popular today as they were then. However, this psychedelic resurgence we are currently experiencing is distinctly different from the previous century’s countercultural movement.
There are well over 100 psychedelic societies, meetups, and groups around the world. A psychedelic society is a local meetup or group that joins together to discuss the psychedelic experience and offer peer education and other resources in a supportive atmosphere.
In most places today, psychedelics remain illegal—but frank, open discussion of them is not. This allows psychedelic societies to meet the interests of local people in a variety of ways. They may host book clubs, group discussions, documentary viewings, workshops, visiting speakers, and other events as the format of offerings changes significantly based on the desires and needs of the community.
Meetings might be regularly scheduled or only infrequent, on special occasions. They might be relatively small, or include many people including travelers. Generally, psychedelic society events remain topically focused on psychedelics, exploring some aspect of their history, culture, science, or therapeutic value.
Psychedelic societies are essentially community groups that naturally grow to fill large holes in our society, because people need a public place to share reliable information about psychedelics and discuss it freely. To better share wisdom and reduce stigma, many societies incorporate storytelling into their meetings. Events are not forums for the solicitation or distribution of illegal substances, however. However, while some psychedelic societies welcome individuals under the influence of psychedelics many others do not, so be respectful and plan ahead.
Of course, psychedelic societies are public, but if you attend an event, expect to meet with people who at least support interest in psychedelic substances, if not personal experience with their use. Many attendees have experienced psychedelics in the distant past, while others use psychedelics now. No matter when the psychedelic experience took place, there is no question it will leave an indelible impression.
What Can Psychedelic Societies Offer?
Although access to psychedelics remains out of reach for most people, it is growing, and supply is increasing to meet demand. This is in large part because people are hoping to use psychedelic substances in all new ways: to overcome bad habits, cultural programming, and mental health issues; to experience feelings of unbounded bliss and connection to the planet, other people, and the self; and to do all of these things safely.
But psychedelics, despite some naming conventions, aren’t magic pills; they’re part of a practice. Psychedelics are tools that allow us to do the difficult work that personal growth demands. You may have a very clear vision of where you want to end up, but getting there is still a long, complex journey. Using psychedelics doesn’t change that, but it adds some amazing tools to your belt, along with more insight in how to deploy them.
Psychedelic societies fit in by offering support and education along the way. The psychedelic integration process involves reflecting on the insights you receive during a psychedelic experience, and then working them into your everyday experience. Doing this helps the user to spot places for personal growth and nurture them. But it’s not easy, especially alone, and a psychedelic society makes this process much easier, while offering deeper insights along the way.
So many people who are on a psychedelic journey are all alone. They fear legal and social ramifications, and rightly so.
Yet all they are doing is seeking positive outcomes for themselves and everyone around them. They need broader, systemic support during this life-changing process to share victories and pry apart challenges.
Psychedelic societies create that safe space and community of support for better psychedelic outcomes. These invaluable sources of psychedelic community services can now be found around the world.
Scientific Research and Beyond
Today, investigation of psychedelics as therapeutics has become a profitable trend. For-profit pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit organizations, and universities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on research into healing potentials of psychedelic substances.
A number of institutions are conducting research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics:
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies or MAPS lists research opportunities for people who are interested in psychedelics and cannabis.
At ClinicalTrials.gov the National Institutes of Health maintains a database of clinical studies. At the time of this writing, a search for studies with the word “psychedelic” returns 317 entries.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research conducts ongoing research in several areas and accepts volunteers for those studies. Trials include the use of psilocybin in treating depression, smoking cessation, Alzheimer’s disease, and anorexia nervosa.
The Usona Institute is sponsoring trials in seven US cities that will test psilocybin as a treatment for major depressive disorder. This is current at the time of this writing in summer 2021.
Although research studies like these generate excitement, critical information, and more interest in psychedelics, they don’t really create an opportunity for most people to try psychedelics or join a community. And while it may feel comforting to have the idea of psychedelics as medicine borne out by research, if they remain underground and unavailable, that research doesn’t help people that much day to day.
All of these factors have created a population of unsupported people who are very interested in psychedelics for a huge range of reasons, and willing to experiment. In fact, this group is fast outpacing all other subpopulations to dwarf the rest of the psychonauts haunting the space.
Some people make their journey with the help of psychedelic guides or therapists. Meetup groups of psychedelic societies can be a good place to connect with qualified therapists or guides, and MAPS and similar organizations can typically connect you with holotropic breathwork practitioners, for example. Various therapists, such as those listed by MAPS here, can help users integrate or process past psychedelic experiences.
Several psychedelic retreats, are held legally in different parts of the world annually. These include the Psychedelic Experience Retreats put on by The Psychedelic Society UK, the New Moon Psychedelic Retreats, and the Synthesis Retreat, all in the Netherlands, and Jamaica’s Atman Retreat.
This brings us full circle to what is perhaps the most important role of psychedelic societies around the world. As interest in psychedelics grows, these communities ensure that access to support and education also increases in tandem. As people experience new things, process new events and old traumas, and simply open their minds to new possibilities, it is critical to access support and connect with other seekers.
Integration Circles and Support Groups
Thanks to the criminalization of psychedelics, most experienced users recall a time when their use was totally secret. It was difficult if not impossible to connect with well educated others who were into psychedelics and experienced explorers.
This created many interesting subcultures, but today awareness about the potential of psychedelics is going mainstream. It’s time to allow more people to get the full benefit from psychedelics by allowing for better support and integration.
We achieve this by answering questions at events and in group discussions where attendees can ask questions of approachable, experienced community members in a safe space. There, facilitators caution against poor or unsolicited advice, maintain space for sharing feedback and personal experiences, and shape the tone of the conversation.
Courses and Education at Psychedelic Societies
Reliable information is at the heart of the value that psychedelic societies provide to the larger community, whether it’s in the form of experts presenting their research, people gathering to share their personal experiences, or leaders of indigenous groups sharing traditional knowledge. Expect to see a range of these kinds of offerings at psychedelic society chapters, intended to balance education and cultural/social cohesion.
The Psychedelic Society
The first chapter of the Psychedelic Society was founded in 2012 in San Francisco. In just over two years, that chapter gained over 5,000 members.
Since that time, other chapters have sprung up in different places, as well as other psychedelic meetups. The organic nature of psychedelic societies is intentional, and there is not a formal structure to understand. Instead, you can investigate local groups, or seek out a psychedelic society that appears to have a focus or events that are very relevant to you.
The founding mission of the Psychedelic Society of San Francisco (SFPS) was twofold: to unite the psychedelic community in dialogue, and to spread unbiased information and education about psychedelics throughout the world.
Today, there are five pillars that form the foundation of the SF chapter of the Psychedelic Society: education; integration and support; community; advocacy and decriminalization; and equitable access. Events and offerings tend to be shaped by one or more of these pillars.
Ultimately, the SFPS aims to help shape a society for the future in which psychedelic experiences are a normalized piece of human life. By creating safe spaces and a multi-faceted culture for psychedelic support and integration, the society generates more opportunities for friends and families to meet and discuss their psychedelic journeys.
Founded in 2014, the UK chapter of the Psychedelic Society began as a liberty-seeking campaign focused on the single issue of legality and evolved into a multifaceted co-operative. Today, the group consists of artists, facilitators, experts, documentarians, videographers, and others hoping to change society and the world.
The Psychedelic Society UK works to connect people with each other, themselves, and the natural world to create life-affirming experiences and nurture understanding of and access to psychedelics among the public in the UK and elsewhere. The aim is to take on three crises the group sees as interconnected: the climate crisis, and crises in mental health and inequality that plague us all, around the globe.
The Psychedelic Society UK believes that these three crises really signal one deeper crisis of connection that itself has four potential healing resolutions: inquiry or connection to the self; community or connection to others; ecology or connection to life; and mystery or connection to the mystical. The society (and any good psychedelic society) helps fill these deficits and solve the deeper crisis, causing change at both a personal and societal level.
Psychedelic Society Chapters
How many places have Psychedelic Society chapters? Many, but for starters:
Baltimore Psychedelic Society is dedicated to promoting research into psychedelics and harm reduction, and using education and community involvement to cover Baltimore-centric issues in particular. Members of the BPS members believe that people should have the basic freedom to use psychedelic substances responsibly for fun, growth, healing, and collective, personal, and spiritual exploration. Based on those beliefs, the group supports decriminalization and promotes education and dialogue on all kinds of psychedelic substances.
Sponsored by MAPS, the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society aims simply to make access to psychedelia and psychedelic healing a public good. They work to achieve this through advocacy, community-building, the democratic ownership process, and providing education.
The Dallas Psychedelic Society is part of the Texas Psychedelic Collective, which also has a presence in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. The overall goals of the collective are to offer safe, productive discussion space for people to parse out the psychedelic experience and how it has contributed to their lives. Events focus a range of topics touching on psychedelia, including: documentary screenings; book discussions; talks with researchers, policymakers, and other experts; informal discussions on things like psychedelics and social change, microdosing, and what a post-prohibition world looks like; and meet-ups where attendees share personal psychedelic experiences.
The Diaspora Psychedelic Society is a Jamaican group dedicated to community and individual wellness. The aim of the group is to explore the full potential of psychedelics to promote balanced, peaceful, healthy living and to advance the psychedelic movement.
The Halifax Psychedelic Society is the Psychedelic Society for Atlantic Canada. The group promotes open, safe discussions about the failures of the Drug War, psychedelics as healing tools, and how everyday people can work with educators, policy makers, and researchers to create a culture of responsibility and respect. HPS hosts educational events on new research, harm reduction, possible futures, and creates forums where people can share their psychedelic experiences, bad and good.
The Michigan Psychedelic Society or MPS offers a safe space for discussion of psychedelics, and a place for people to share information about responsible, safe use. The MPS offers education to increase awareness, build community, and provide integration support to people seeking to process their experiences. The group also builds coalitions with other organizations with the aim of decriminalization and/or legalization.
Members of the Oxford Psychedelic Society believe that people should have the basic freedom to use psychedelic substances responsibly for fun, growth, healing, and collective, personal, and spiritual exploration. Based on those beliefs, the group supports decriminalization and promotes education and dialogue on all kinds of psychedelic substances.
The Philadelphia Psychedelic Society is committed to providing community building events to help foster safe and open discussions and offering therapeutic psychedelic healing resources. Through them you can book a sitter from Psychic Facilitators, work to decriminalize psilocybin, or join local enthusiasts for discussions and events.
The Port Townsend Psychedelic Society places health, safety, and freedom of the community as its main reason for existing and actively advocates for the exploration and decriminalization of naturally occurring psychoactive compounds that are currently listed under Schedule I, including mescaline cacti, psilocybin mushrooms, and ayahuasca brew. They promote the therapeutic potential of entheogens in treating many physiological and psychological issues and their importance to connecting with the natural world. The group is working to offer educational workshops, including risk-reduction for youth, psychedelic support spaces, peer integration groups, community building events, and a guide to local entheogenic resources.
A project of the Portland Entheogenic, Exploration, and Research Society (PEERS), the Portland Psychedelic Society (PPS) is now part of a 501c3 nonprofit established specifically to raise awareness about psychedelic science, fund educational events, and offer harm reduction information. The broader research focus for the nonprofit is on rewiring the brain to break patterns and treat addiction, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other issues using plant medicines.
Within this context, PPS is an educational group that offers accurate information on the use of entheogens as well as an advocacy group working to reduce stigma and increase public awareness of this same subject. Portland Psychedelic Society support groups and events are intended to help community members fulfill their potential and reach their goals.
The Psychedelic Society of Minnesota works to build an inclusive psychedelic community several goals. PSMN wants to educate the public about responsible use of psychedelics, psychedelic culture, and spiritual and therapeutic uses. They hope to engage with community members as they nurture their own development and assist with integrating psychedelic experiences by providing therapeutic support.
Finally, the group advocates for and promotes sound scientific research, harm reduction, and responsible drug laws.
Really located on Meetup.com in terms of online presence, this is a very active community group focused on mental health events. The SPS features community building, discussion, education, and entertainment, but definitely is not a place to source or use psychedelics.
The University of Glasgow Psychedelic Society strives to support the local academic community and beyond who are interested in the science of psychedelics. They offer education about the potential role of psychedelic medicine in treating conditions such as addiction, anorexia nervosa, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety related to cancer and end of life, through a series of interdisciplinary lectures and talks by researchers in psychiatry and neuroscience. By inviting specialists in the field to present at events, the society hopes to highlight the work of minority groups such as the LGBTQ+ community within the field of psychedelic science.
This group, though affiliated with the University, is also open to non-students. It aims to offer a safe space for communication; share information on altered states of consciousness and psychedelic compounds; and increase awareness of the psychedelic experience and consciousness research and theory. The group meets regularly, plans workshops on legal alternatives for experiencing altered states of consciousness, and hosts talks with leading researchers in psychedelia.
Other Psychedelic Communities
These communities are not part of THE Psychedelic Society or an offshoot of that original group. However, they mostly function in a very similar way.
Located on Meetup.com, this Ayahuasca-focused group is one of the world’s largest psychedelic communities. This active group hosts many local activities and curates educational content.
The San Diego Psilocybin Society is a community that meets in person and on zoom to safely and supportively share experiences, provide good information, and address questions on current research and changing laws. The group recommends Integration Coaching to help psilocybin users process their experiences, to gain more clarity, and improve mental health. They offer seminars and workshops on how psilocybin and other plant medicines work, and related topics.
For people in North America and Europe in particular, Meetup.com is particularly useful. Find local psychedelic groups.
These aren’t psychedelic communities, exactly, but they’re important resources.
A forum dedicated specifically to 5-MeO-DMT in any form.
Created in 1998, the Beckley Foundation advocates for scientific research into psychoactive substances and global drug policy reform, collaborating with leading political and scientific institutions worldwide to develop research and policy initiatives.
This online harm reduction forum provides support for those seeking recovery from addiction and fosters open and factual discussion of drugs.
This group provides public education in the form of writings on the science, medicine, and culture of psychedelic plant medicines and promotes connections between psychedelic science and the ceremonial use of sacred plants.
CIIS provides a training program and information on psychedelic research for psychedelic guides and therapists here.
Compass is a mental health care company working to develop and accelerate regulatory approval and patient access to psychedelic therapy, particularly psilocybin therapy, for treatment-resistant depression in the US and EU.
A hub for underground psychedelic research on botanical sources of tryptamines and other psychedelic compounds.
This organization focuses on harm reduction, offering to test drugs to ensure that they are free of adulterants, and selling drug-checking kits.
A meetup group based in San Francisco that develops integration methods for experiences with entheogens, conducts research on entheogens, and provides a discussion forum.
Erowid Center or Erowid is a non-profit educational organization that provides information about psychoactive agents—anything that can produce altered states of consciousness. Erowid documents substances, both legal and illegal, including intended and adverse effects, in a trove of over 60,000 pages of information on psychoactive plants, drugs, chemicals, and technologies. Information on Erowid may include published literature sourced from the general public or experts in related fields, and includes new information and collections of existing documents and images from diverse sources.
This retreat in Big Sur is a holistic learning center with classes, hot springs, gardening, an art barn, and more.
The Fireside Project provides free 24/7 support from diverse volunteers to people in the midst of psychedelic experiences through the Psychedelic Peer Support Line. These people get help with the process of integrating their experiences by phone and text message—all they have to do is call the hotline.
This old school forums site is a place to learn about ecology, healing, spirituality, and recovery from members of ayahuasca churches, and includes experience reports and discussion.
GITA offers ibogaine providers standard operating procedures and those seeking ibogaine treatment a useful reference on what to expect.
This is like a class or seminar for psychedelic and spiritual guides and facilitators to help other people explore altered states of consciousness.
A nonprofit research organization advancing studies on how psilocybin could treat mental disorders such as addictions, as well as other psychedelic compounds.
A site offering complete information on iboga and ayahuasca, including scientific and legal information and support and integration services.
An ayahuasca information hub with courses on the neuroscience, ethnobotany, and culture of ayahuasca, all created by experts credentialed in their fields.
The Kriya Ketamine Research Institute is dedicated to exploring the psychiatric and psychotherapeutic use of ketamine, and offers services and trainings in therapeutic ketamine and the international KRIYA Conference for ketamine researchers and clinicians.
This discussion site explores mycological topics, including wild, edible, and psychoactive fungi.
As discussed above, MAPS is an educational and research organization that develops legal, medical, and cultural contexts that allow the public to benefit from safe, well-informed use of cannabis and psychedelics. This site is home to an extensive list of therapists trained in integrating psychedelic experiences—the MAPS Psychedelic Integration List.
The Entheogenic University Open Hyperspace Traveler course includes resources about testing for adulterants, harm reduction, and coping with difficult trips.
A well-sourced site with directories of retreat centers, clinics, organizations, and people, and educational resources on psychedelic medicines and experiences.
Looking for work in psychedelics? Check out this job board.
This event series is both online and live and features psychedelic community leaders touching on a range of issues from sex and psychedelics to recovering from past traumas.
This site offers information and resources about therapists who are experienced in helping people integrate their own psychedelic experiences or who have worked with psychedelics in clinical trials.
This is a source of events, research, and news around the study of psychedelics as agents of recovery, healing, and therapy.
A blog, podcast, and resource center on psychedelia.
Yes, it’s the Wikipedia of psychedelics, documenting methods for expanding the consciousness, whether or not they involve drugs.
Discussions, writings, and a podcast concerning current issues in psychedelia and how they intersect with capitalism, culture, policy, and science.
An international group of students and others devoted to enacting sensible, humane drug policies and ending the senseless, cruel war on drugs.
This forum is dedicated to the cultivation of mushrooms containing psilocybin and sharing trip experiences.
This site is a wealth of well-sourced, clear information about psychedelics.
Educational resources on psychedelics backed by research.
This harm reduction resource empowers users to find the right person to help them through their psychedelic experience.
The BCSP blends scientific research, public education, and training to explore the biological, cultural, spiritual, and psychological effects of psychedelic compounds.
This organization supports medical research into psychedelics and FDA approval of psilocybin therapy.
This psychedelic harm reduction project works to educate and support those who are using psychedelics and have difficult experiences at festivals and elsewhere.