How one man is using psychedelics and Hunting to Help Create Lasting Change

These days psychedelics and psilocybin mushroom ceremonies seem to be popping up in everyone’s news feed. They’re trendy and even if not legal everywhere, have shown great promise in changing lives for the better. I investigated this a couple years ago at a mushroom retreat in Jamaica for the first time. Often these types of psychedelics are mixed with yoga, meditation, reiki and/or sound bathing. It almost seems like a natural mix- it all made sense to me in the experience.

Last year, someone introduced me to a new way of mixing in psychedelics via ancestral ceremonies and the indigenous practice of hunting. At first, it made no sense as the last thing I would ever want to do when under the influence of a psychedelic is approach hunting – or at least I thought. I soon found out how they go together and I find this mix fascinating.

At this stage if it doesn’t make much sense to you, and you want to hear it first from Mansal, the “spiritual hunter” man himself, then I encourage you to just start with the interview I recorded here:

Let me summarize it all here

Why mix Hunting into Healing?

The best I can gather is that we are humans, a species that evolved as hunter gatherers. In other words, hunting is as much a part of being human as walking. Yet, today we live in a world completely disconnected from that part of our nature. We don’t have to hunt. We don’t ever have to think about the death that comes with the food we eat. For many people, most people would be repulsed by the idea of having to kill an animal just to eat. That makes you wonder, what are we missing by taking out this step? And, what if we mixed this step back into our lives. That is what Mansal is doing.

In fact, Mansal outlined for me a few reasons why hunting might benefit us.

Hunting For Ethical Reasons

First and foremost, hunting may be the most ethical way to get our meat. Factory farming wins if you’re looking for efficiency. Yet, it’d be hard to argue that animals that live in factory farms have better lives than free-roaming game. By hunting wild game you can choose to take older individuals that have spent their life free out in a wild environment. That’s a win for the animal.

Hunting for Healing

The hunt I joined for the video below was specifically for combat veterans. Most had never hunted, even though they carried a gun and killed during times of war. Because of their past, many of them had severe PTSD that was tied to the violence they witnessed. They didn’t have a healthy view of how they could “kill” because of how war manipulated it for them. Hunting, in the way Mansal does it, allowed them to process killing very differently. It allowed them to see it as a practice that could provide for their family. If you’re in any doubt of how hunting can heal by changing how someone frames death, watch the video below with a group of veterans that used hunting (and psychedelics) to heal their PTSD.

Hunting with Psychedelics – WHY?

This still begs the question, why mix in psychedelics into the hunting experience? That was exactly what I wanted to find out and hence why I took this journey in the first place.

(NOTE: the psychedelic dose was fairly low and the hunting actually starts 4-6 hours after you take the mushrooms.)

What I found was that the psychedelic amplified the feelings I had for the animal. It made me feel everything, and not just intellectualize the experience. I knew it was good for the animal. I knew I wanted to feel what it meant to actually kill an animal that I then ate. I didn’t know if I’d be sad for the animal or how I would react. Truth was, the moment I killed the animal, it tapped into a deep and primal feeling inside of me.

It all started with days of stalking and looking for the animals. On the third day I finally found one. I took time to spot it and found it in my scope. I took a shot. It was sudden. It was loud.

I didn’t know exactly what happened until walked over to the animal and knelt with it as it took it’s last breaths. I looked her in her eyes and watched her life-force fall from her eyes. It was emotional. Tears welled up inside as she stopped breathing. I kneeled with her, in what felt like several minutes, just taking it in.

Once the moment washed over us, I sat there with Mansal and knew it was time to prepare the animal for transport home. Gutted, I threw it on my shoulders, blood dripping down my shirt and soaking my body. I walked it a half mile back to the car and shed my clothes. As Mansal went to get the others, I was left on the top of the valley, shirtless and covered in blood. The sun had just set and thunderclouds on the horizon provided the most primal backdrop for me to sit in my emotions. That’s when I started running – I don’t even know why. I hadn’t been able to run in years, but I did it then. I ran for 15 minutes as fast as I could go. It felt amazing. It felt like I had connected with a part of my human self that I needed to connect with – that primal side. The side that in any other time in history would have been void of technology and would have been doing this – often.

Without the psychedelics, I couldn’t have experienced the hunt in the same way. It forced the emotions right through me.

Weeks later, I had meet on the table from that very animal. I cooked it up ever so carefully and shared it with the family. They really enjoyed it and spent a second explaining to them the circumstances involved. I’m not sure what it meant to them, but I know it changed my relationship with food. It made it all have more meaning. For that, I’m grateful.

How do I learn more?

I will definitely point you to what Mansal is doing. I believe in his mission. He runs as a way to give people these experiences. If you’re wondering if using psychedelics in this way is legal… I can say it is here. It’s all legal through the framework that he has set up and how he uses the mushrooms. I encourage you also to go check out his book Sacred Hunting. It gives the theology behind why he mixes both hunting and ancient spiritual practices into his outings.

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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