October 21st, 2022
Johnny Burke: Welcome to Closer to Venus. I’m Johnny Burke, and today’s guest is Jonathan de Potter the founder of Behold Retreats, which facilitates life-changing plant medicine journeys to explore your inner world, discover your truth, and live to your full potential. Jonathan, welcome to the show.
Jonathan de Potter: Hi, Johnny. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Johnny Burke: So tell us what exactly, is plant medicine and how does it help in reconnecting to the self and reaching one’s true potential?
Jonathan de Potter: Yeah, so usually when we use the word plant medicine actually refers to a broader set of psychedelic medicines. we personally work with psilocybin, also known as the magic mushroom with Ayahuasca which is the psychoactive molecule is DMT and we also work with 5-MeO-DMT, which is also referred to as the God molecule.
In essence, the way I like to describe how these medicines can help us reconnect with ourselves is that they amplify our sensitivity. There’s a lot that’s happening in our inner world that many of us are disconnected from at various levels and to varying degrees. And so I think the the simplest way to understand that is by amplifying our sensitivity in our neurology as well as in our physiology, we can come to understand what’s happening in our mind, body, heart, and spirit, more in-depth.
Johnny Burke: Excellent. Alright, I like that. Before you were involved in this, your background was in consulting. You attended your first Ayahuasca plant medicine retreat, speaking of which, I believe was in Peru, and the retreat experience was transformational.
Jonathan de Potter: Yeah, so I had what was a life-changing experience, but equally, a couple of the most challenging evenings of my life. I went into that experience probably not knowing enough about what I was getting myself into. I would say that I wasn’t well guided in my preparation process. In the experience itself, I had a transformational yet challenging time. Personally, after five years in Hong Kong of working really hard, drinking a little bit too much, I had a lot to get out of my physical body and a lot to heal in my mind. There was childhood trauma that I was trying to reconnect to during the experience that I actually wasn’t able to reconnect to, during that particular retreat.
That attempt to reconnect to that trauma is part of what gave rise to me having what I would describe is quite a challenging experience. So it’s not for the faint of heart I’ll very transparent in terms of my experience. I threw up about 150 times. I passed out multiple times. And yet what came from the experience was, so deep and so meaningful in terms of the shifts that came to me in relation to how I was living my life and opportunities to improve the way in which I was living my life, that I can easily point at it and say it was a true turning point in my life. Now that being said, as I shared in terms of my lack of preparation going into the retreat, the same thing happened to me going out of the retreat. I didn’t have any guidance, any support in terms of this transformation that I went through from being a pretty devout atheist into blowing the door off the hinges into the spiritual world. And so I found it quite difficult to integrate the experience and to make sense of it as I returned back to what we might describe as normal life. That experience and many more over the years that follow ultimately inspired me to be motivated to help people find a softer path along the plant medicine road.
Johnny Burke: So preparation is key it seems like.
Jonathan de Potter: It is. Yes.
Johnny Burke: With that in mind, how does one find the right guide, the practitioner to approach when it comes to starting the plant medicine journey?
Jonathan de Potter: That’s the million-dollar question; it’s a bit of a minefield, out there. I think most people in this space are trying to do the best they can with what they have. It’s a rapidly emerging and evolving ecosystem. A lot of the knowledge in this space has come graciously from plant medicine traditions that were deep in the Amazon or high in the Andes, and now enough foreigners have gone down and trained. The few things that I typically say to people is, to look for organizations or look for practitioners that prioritized safety and legality that are operating in the open, and have a certain quality of reputation behind them. I would also say, look for smaller groups, particularly for your first time, given the intensity of the experiences that can be had.
There’s lots of people doing 20, 50, even a hundred people in a single ceremony, and that can be pretty chaotic. Then I also encourage people to look for what I would describe as energetic alignment, right? We’re all looking for different things and to find someone who you believe is going to be able to guide you into the energetic understanding that you’re looking for.
Last thing that I like to say is to look for the eyes. If people have a bright sparkle and a sense of joy and love and peace, and it’s sort of childlike innocence about them. That’s probably a good thing. If you look at them and it looks like they’ve just kind of carrying a lot of super-heavy energy, then that might not be exactly what you’re looking for. At a fundamental level, this work is all about the transmutation of energy. If so, if someone’s carrying a lot of heavy energy themselves, it’s probably the case they’re not going to be able to help you transmute in the way that you’re looking for.
Johnny Burke: Interesting. So when you mention energy, I couldn’t help but think of energy healers. And when I think of energy healers, I always think of shamans. When you’re talking to Ayahuasca I couldn’t help but get an image of a medicine man or something like that. is there a connection? Is it all related or not necessarily?
Jonathan de Potter: The way that I make some distinctions in relation to your question is there are some people who would identify as medicine men or medicine women as facilitators. Those are people who serve medicine, but they’re not necessarily doing energetic work, in the field. Then you have shamans who typically come from indigenous traditions. Sometimes you get. foreigners, westerners that also identify as shamans themselves and have apprenticed under shamans from indigenous traditions. And then you also have people who would identify as energy healers or light workers or some description thereof. So, I would say there’s a broad spectrum of people who have stepped into their own individual energetic understanding and capabilities, and then chosen their own titles to a large degree. So within Behold Retreats, we have people who are medicine facilitators. We have people who I would describe as shamans. We have people who I would describe as energy healers or light workers. And it’s not the case that, one thing is better than the other thing. It’s just that it’s just energetically different and it also relates a bit to the medicine that we’re working with.
People who work with Ayahuasca would probably be more likely to identify themselves as shamans. Whereas if we’re talking about magic mushrooms, people might be more around holding space. And medicine facilitators. With 5-MeO-DMT, you get a bit of a mixture of people who are holding space, and also those people who have gone quite far in terms of developing their own energetic capacities and might identify more as healers or as light workers.
Johnny Burke: The light workers bit gave you away because I think it tells most of us that follow this type of thing, that this is definitely going to be an area of interest. Before you began this journey, you described yourself as an atheist. Right?
Jonathan de Potter: Indeed.
Johnny Burke: Okay. speaking of spiritual orientation, and that’s a sticky word because I think the word spiritual can sometimes get a little bit watered down. But if someone really has a grasp and an acceptance of the metaphysical world and spirits, channeling and being an empath, an intuitive, the experience of the plant medicine journey-would that be a little bit easier for this type of person or not necessarily?
Jonathan de Potter: That’s a good question. It’s a question I’ve not been asked before, so I’m thinking, as I speak here . My immediate impression would be there’s actually less of an overlap between those who have developed their own energetic capacities in the metaphysical realm and those who actually work with plant medicine. And it’s actually a challenge that we have as a business is that those people who are energetically sensitive already feel like they have what they need to be able to access these fields. Whereas those who are perhaps drawn more towards plant medicine, towards psychedelics are often the people who are lacking those capacities and those capabilities, and they want to be able to connect to that. So they’re looking at plant medicine as a tool to be able to do so. I think the most effective people are obviously the overlap of those two; those who embrace plant medicine and those who have inherent, energetic capacities. But actually, a lot of the people who have the inherent skills are not drawn into plant medicine necessarily because they feel like they have what they need. They don’t feel like they need to amplify it.
Johnny Burke: I’m glad that you brought that up, because often when I talk to intuitives, especially that group that has mediumistic type skills, which many of them really don’t necessarily welcome. I talked to lots of these people that would tell me, “I shut it off when I was like seven or 10 “or whatever. Also with near-death experience survivors, sometimes after that experience those intuitive abilities are amplified and they don’t necessarily want them, so if they fall into that category, they might look at this and say,” amplification is probably the last thing I need “know what I mean? Like a concertgoer at a Guns and Roses concert probably is already on the verge of tinnitus anyway. “Why do I need to amp it up anymore? If anything, I need earplugs!”
Jonathan de Potter: It does. Absolutely. We’ve had a number of healers come to us excited about their first plant medicine journey. People who have these inherent capacities- I’m going to use some kind of metaphysical terms, might have a hole in their aura. So they’ve actually got this access to the metaphysical by virtue of, let’s say, some trauma that’s perhaps happened in their childhood or perhaps even they were born with. And so if they embark upon a healing journey, they may actually find their sensitivity is diminished.
So for those people who are super sensitive stepping into this work, they can actually have their capacities reduced because we’re healing that hole that may exist in their aura. And so, coming back directly to your question, I don’t think it’s one size fits all. Good healers, when they’re working with people, they are able to sense the mind, body, heart, and spirit of the individual, and intuitively feel what it is that they would need. For some people that would mean that they’ve got the energetic understanding and the capacity to go to very high places very quickly, and to really elevate their consciousness and experience all sorts of magical, amazing, wonderful things. For others, it means that they really need to go down there and clear some really deep stuff in order to be able to get what they’re looking for. So I think it’s not a one size fits all for those who are energetically sensitive in the same way. For anyone who’s stepping into their healing journey.
Johnny Burke: You had just alluded to an expanded state of consciousness. So that is possible through the plant medicine journey? You can actually visit those realms or experience those type of things?
Jonathan de Potter: Yeah, I think for the way that I look at these medicines now, is that a basic level, that’s what these medicines are for. You see a very strong narrative in the media at the moment, which is, I would say twisting the use of psychedelics into the use of something for addressing and curing the lower levels of consciousness, right? So shame, guilt, fear, depression, anxiety, addiction, traumas, all of these sorts of things that of course, many of us carry from childhood or from traumas that have evolved into other coping mechanisms as adults. So we all want to heal from those things, but that’s just kind of table stakes as far as I’m concerned.
What we’re able to experience with these medicines once we’ve kind of cleared some of that lower-level stuff, is the interconnectivity of all things, universal love, oneness with the universe and, and to go much, much higher even beyond that. The opportunity here is not to use these medicines as an escape, but as an accelerator to reach these peak states of consciousness such that we can come back here into the 3d, appreciate that renewed understanding, and then begin to do our own mental and emotional meditation and yoga and peace, love, and joy each morning, noon, and night so that we can move towards these expanded states of consciousness on a more permanent basis rather than something that happens on a plant medicine retreat.
Johnny Burke: You just mentioned 3D , and maybe you’re reading my mind because I was just about to ask you, is this movement part of what we hear referred to as Ascension, which is also associated with moving from 3D to 5 D. Is there a connection there?
Jonathan de Potter: Absolutely a hundred percent. I think when we talk about the Ascension process and completing that process of releasing all of our karma to be able to move on to more exciting places than this beautiful planet. This is a tool that can accelerate that process. When trying to reach higher and higher states of consciousness, everything exists in polarity. And so we need to also go visit lower realms of consciousness to be able to clear the remaining karma that exists within our being at those lower levels.
For our clients, those who demonstrate what I would describe as a determined interest in the spiritual path and reaching very high places and, and ultimately ascending. We often refer them to some external providers that give quality Ascension readings, so that people can kind of see and assess where they are on their own path. And people really enjoy that, appreciate that because it’s coming from a third party and we’re just here to facilitate their evolution of consciousness, their expansion, and ultimately their Ascension.
Johnny Burke: All these things seem to be connected in some way. Three to Five D, moving away from the masculine energy towards the feminine or restoring a balance between the divine masculine and the feminine. They all seem to kind of bubble up to the surface when we discuss these things, which is pretty interesting to say the least. What are the most common misconceptions about plant medicine?
Jonathan de Potter: I think there’s still a pretty strong hangover from the success of 1960s, and 1970s propaganda, right? There’s this sort of wild energy that’s associated with psychedelics, while that is earned to some degree because there are a lot of people out there who have used a lot of psychedelics and are not necessarily in such a great state of being, right? Their relationships are a mess. The house is a disaster. They haven’t found a calling that inspires them and brings them abundance and joy and peace. I think looking at this objectively, they’re able to point to a lot of wild energy, around psychedelics and I think that will shift in the period ahead. I’m going to say the decade ahead. So I think what matters in relation to plant medicine is intentionality. If your intentionality is to heal yourself and reach higher states of being and to realize yourself, then this is a very powerful tool for that. If this is a tool for just wildness, then then it can be that as well. So I think that’s a misconception that I think still today a lot of people hold. It’s all about intentionality.
I think the second is around safety. These are powerful experiences. I shared at the beginning of this recording the challenge that I went through when we are prepared mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually for these experiences and when we are well guided and well facilitated through these experiences, they are safe. There’s a lot that goes into that on the level of the individual, to make sure that they are screened into such an experience so that the container, the group of people that are coming together in ceremony and on retreat is being held in such a way that there’s the highest integrity, and the highest energy and vibration kept throughout the duration of such an experience. That’s why this work is so sensitive is that from my own experiences over time, I came to recognize that, wow, there’s a big gap here between the way in which I have experienced this work and the quality that is available, or that is possible when you’ve got very highly experienced practitioners. I would encourage people, if they’re thinking, ‘Oh no, it’s not safe,’ that’s probably another misconception.
I think the third is that plant medicine will solve your problems. That’s just not the case. It can give you insights into higher states of being, but ultimately, we have to do the work here in the 3d. It’s the mental and emotional work and digging into the corners of the self on a daily basis and keeping the smile and the love in the heart that ultimately is going to make difference and improvements to the quality of life. It’s super common that people come on a retreat, they’re hopeful that everything’s going to shift for them. They come out of the retreat feeling like a million bucks, right? their cells are alive in the body. They’ve got the clarity that life’s going to be so different, and then a few weeks later, everything’s back to normal because they’ve just slipped back into the very established neurological patterns and behavioral patterns and daily patterns of life. So the magic has been let go through that process. Plant medicine is a super powerful tool. I’m obviously a big proponent myself, but it’s not ultimately going to give us everything that we’re looking for. We have to put the work in. There’s just no alternative.
Johnny Burke: What would be like a comp, the closest thing to plant medicine, that people are looking for when they’re looking to expand their consciousness and become healthier and live a fuller life? What’s the closest thing to that?
Jonathan de Potter: A lot of my friends are in the business world and pretty successful and they come to me and they’re like,” I’m ready for a retreat. ” For my friends in particular, I have a pretty good sense of whether or not they are. I think another very powerful tool is Vipassana Retreats. These are typically 10-day silent meditation retreats. No eye contact, no verbal contact. And that’s-
Johnny Burke: No eye contact? Seriously? Wow.
Jonathan de Potter: No communication. Yeah, it’s a very powerful experience. I recommend it to everyone. And often they’re set up on a donation basis because it’s such an intensive experience to be silent for 10 days. It’s an invitation to witness the madness that’s going on in your own mind. There’s some stats that I like to share with people that was from research that was done by the National Science Foundation. Your typical human being has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. So tons of thoughts going on. A hundred percent of them are egoic thoughts, generally speaking. So I, me, my. 95% of them are repetitive, and 85% of them are negative. So we’re thinking a lot only about ourselves, the same things and bad things. So when you sit down with yourself for 10 days and begin to see what’s actually happening in your mind, it’s an invitation to get behind the driver’s seat of yourself for the first time in your life, for many people. It’s a very powerful experience.
Johnny Burke: So that sounds like it would be a really good companion course or prep course. Kind of like instead of prepping for the SATs or something, this is prepping for the journey to get you into shape. It’s like going into a mental gym of sorts. That’s what it sounds like.
Jonathan de Potter: Yeah, well said. And for me, I did my first Vipassana retreat after my first Ayahuasca retreat. And I don’t know if I would’ve made the 10 days on the meditation retreat if I hadn’t first opened the door into spirituality. I don’t know if I even would’ve signed up in the first instance if I hadn’t first had an Ayahuasca retreat. What I always say to people is that each of us is a compass unto itself. The truth for Johnny is different than the truth for Jonathan. So what this work is all about is listening to your intuition. So you’ll know whether this is right for you or that is right for you. Just take the time and the energy to really tap into yourself and see what feels right in relation to your own journey, your own expansion of consciousness and the right things will come.
Johnny Burke: Now speaking of the right things, can you think of one thing that your program did for one of your clients that you were not expecting?
Jonathan de Potter: that I was not expecting. Yeah, actually one of our earlier clients -I don’t do our sales calls anymore, so I’m not as close to all of our clients as I used to be, which I do miss actually. But one of our very early clients, came back from her retreat, and she was texting me and she said, “Wow, my vision is so clear, My vision is so clear. “And I said, Oh, great. You know what you want to do with your life and what’s next? What’s coming for you? “And she said, “No, no, no. My vision, my physical vision, I’ve never been able to see so clearly. It’s like I’m experiencing the world all over again for the first time.”
So she obviously had some very deep physical healing in her eyes. She said, “I’ve been doing the same drive to work for years and years. This has never been so enjoyable. I’m just seeing everything brand new.” That’s so beautiful when people have unexpected things like that.
The number of stories, unexpected stories that I could tell could go on and on, that one immediately came to mind. Other one that immediately comes to mind is quite recently, we had a client who came on one retreat. He was a very successful hedge fund manager and on one retreat he said,” I’m giving it all up. I’m becoming a philanthropist. I’m giving it all away. ” He came on a private retreat, which is two healers. One week full-on, deep work. And my heart just tripled in size when you see things like that where people who were living in a state of what I would describe as fear, they’re worried about how much they can get. I was part of that game, so I, I totally get all of that energy. And to see a person in one week to get the messages that enable them and the confidence and the love and the strength to move within one week from someone who’s trying to get as much as they can, to someone who’s trying to give as much as they can. That is fundamental to the correction that is underway in this world at the moment. So to play a small part in that is exciting.
Johnny Burke: It certainly is. now you just mentioned the correction that is going on in the world today at the moment. Today’s date, September 26th, 2022, stock market is experiencing a correction. Not anything that’s going to cause panic, but a lot of people in this space talk about Ascension, moving out of the Piscean age and into the Aquarian age. Does that have anything to do with the correction you’re talking about, or is it something different?
Jonathan de Potter: I don’t have a particular view on that description. When I used the word correction, I was relating to our understanding of the purpose of the human experience. I think we’ve been pretty confused about the purpose of the human experience. We’ve been allowing ourselves to be distracted by societal programming and allowing the outer world to set priorities for us. That comes through schooling that kills curiosity. That comes through the absence of access to our hearts. It comes through not being able to connect with our own spiritual lessons. And so allowing a good job, looking good, being successful, all of these things to take priority, getting money, all of those things take priority because we don’t actually know what our soul wants.
So the process of Ascension is recalibrating- it’s an inversion in the understanding of the purpose of the human experience, which I believe to be, first and foremost, spiritual in nature and everything else comes around that. We are collectively abundant. We are loving in our essence, in our being, but we need to let go a lot of the scarcity thinking. The fear, the trauma and the zero-sum sort of mindset that we still, broadly speaking, operate under, so that we can reach a state on a planetary level where we are in harmony with the planet and in sacred relationship to the planet and able to support and love one another. I think at a deep level, we know a version of reality along those lines is coming and it’s possible. It’s just a matter of our ability to wake up each day and to bring heaven on earth here and now into the 3d.
Johnny Burke: From what I’ve been told dozens of times, moving from one age to the other points to the same type of thing. Moving out of the thinking that’s fear-based into an age or a time of unity, and it’s good to hear people talk about, we’re correcting this, we’re moving out of this. Some people, not everyone, but some people are trying to raise their vibration, very good stuff. Some final thoughts on someone that is thinking about getting involved and learning more. What would you tell them?
Jonathan de Potter: I would say take your time and educate yourself. This is such a vast field. there are such a broad variety of options. A lot of people will say, this is right, this is wrong. I wouldn’t necessarily look at things through that lens, but I would encourage you to be careful and follow your intuition. In relation to finding a high-quality experience, the breadth of quality that is out there is highly variable. I will say that there are very few places on this planet that I can comfortably refer my friends to. They’ve done some experiences with us and now they want to also experience other, plant medicine retreats, which I’m totally supportive of. It’s not about capture, it’s all about expanding consciousness and expanding understanding. We’re in this collective process of trying to raise the vibration, and it’s not necessarily that there’s a one-for-one relationship between psychedelics and an elevated vibration. There’s a lot more nuance to it.
Johnny Burke: Excellent. Really good information. Jonathan. Thanks for joining us. How can our listeners find you online?
Jonathan de Potter: Find us on behold-retreats.com or on Instagram, @behold_retreats.