Finding a Psychedelic Community

Sam Woolfe
9 min readJan 25, 2024

There are many reasons why psychonauts may want to seek out a psychedelic community. Some people may not have friends who are interested in psychedelics, and they would prefer to trip with others, or at least have that as an option (see my post on the upsides and downsides of tripping alone). In addition, some psychedelic explorers may have recently had an experience that they are hoping to discuss with others, to help them better make sense of it (there are groups specifically designed to aid psychedelic integration, but some people may prefer to have a network of people they can rely on for help and support).

Besides the desire for group experiences and integration support, a psychedelic community can offer people a way to connect to like-minded individuals, who share their interests, values, and goals. Psychedelics are gradually being destigmatised: more people are open to discussing their personal experiences with these compounds and more non-users have a curious and non-judgemental attitude towards these experiences. However, a certain level of stigma still exists in society, and even if non-users try to be open-minded about these psychedelics, this doesn’t mean they can relate to what psychonauts talking about.

For these reasons, people interested in using psychedelics — or those who have already had experiences — may want to find others who they perceive as being both open-minded and relatable. In this article, I would like to offer some tips on how to find a psychedelic community.

The Ideal Features of a Psychedelic Community

To become a part of a psychedelic community that benefits you, you first need to establish what you are hoping to gain from it. There can be certain types of psychedelic communities that don’t align with your values or goals. For example, psychedelic churches or cults are technically communities centred around the use of psychedelics, but their religious component is not going to appeal to many psychonauts (and it goes without saying that cults should be avoided).

Psychonauts may feel that they are unable to relate to a lot of people they meet, owing to their psychedelic use and the changes in their personality and outlook that follow from this. As the psychedelic guru Timothy Leary said:

Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…

‘Find the others’ is an attitude that many psychonauts have. It is an attitude of wanting to find others who are interested in authentic and deeper levels of human existence, in contrast to what they see as a more ‘normal’ life, which may appear inauthentic, automatic, and superficial.

However, finding the others — joining a psychedelic community — will vary between individuals, because of the different preferences that people have. Firstly, people use psychedelics for different reasons, such as fun, healing, or spiritual and religious purposes (there can also be a cross-over between these kinds of psychedelic use). Secondly, psychonauts can have a diverse set of metaphysical, spiritual, or religious views (which may or may not be influenced by personal psychedelic experiences).

Since psychedelic communities are few and far between, it can be difficult to find other psychonauts you feel closely aligned with. Nevertheless, there should still be certain features of these groups and communities that make them cohesive and supportive, regardless of how members of a particular community differ in their views. The ideal features of a psychedelic community should include:

  • A culture of non-judgement towards others’ psychedelic experiences, with an emphasis on empathic listening
  • A supportive and helpful environment
  • A focus on psychedelic experiences and connected themes (e.g. harm reduction, self-development, spirituality, philosophy, etc.)
  • A space for sharing, rather than the feeling that the community is only for self-promotion or sourcing psychedelics
  • Reliability: any effective community should include regular communication or in-person meetings, otherwise a sense of community and connectedness can be lost
  • A culture of enabling safe, wise, and beneficial psychedelic use

Finding a Psychedelic Community That Works for You

Psychedelic communities can be in-person, online, or a mixture of the two. Let’s look at some of the environments in which one can find a group of like-minded psychedelic users.

Raves and Festivals

If you’re interested in recreational psychedelic use, going to raves and festivals can be a way to find others who use psychedelics for the same reasons: enhancing music, dancing, and bonding with others. However, recreational use of this sort can cross over into other kinds of psychedelic use, such as personal exploration and spirituality. After all, even if you intend to use psychedelics for recreational reasons, you can still end up experiencing many insights. Moreover, taking psychedelics at a rave or festival can induce feelings like interconnectedness and unity.

Some people in psychedelic circles may look down on the recreational use of psychedelics, based on the assumption that they should be used in a spiritual way (I’m reminded of this meme). However, while taking psychedelics at a rave or festival may feel too chaotic, overwhelming, or risky for some, this doesn’t mean such use is necessarily irresponsible or inferior to other ways of using these substances. Disapproving of recreational use often amounts to elitism and gatekeeping. Furthermore, the lines between ‘recreation’, ‘healing’, and ‘spirituality’ are often blurred. Yet regardless of this blurring of lines, pleasure, fun, and enjoyment are all valid reasons to use psychedelics.

Psychedelic use is common at psytrance raves and festivals, which are held all over the world, ranging from small gatherings to large ones. If you don’t like psytrance, these events often host bands and electronic musicians playing other types of music, such as traditional, psybient, chillout, downtempo, psydub, and techno. Even if the music at psychedelic raves and festivals is not quite what you’re into, it may end up growing on you when you’re at the event. But for those who really don’t want to be restricted to psychedelic or electronic music, there can be other ways to connect with psychedelic users.

Psychedelic Societies

Many countries and cities have psychedelic societies: organisations that set up talks, events, discussion groups, and gatherings that give members a chance to socialise and connect in real life. You are more likely to find these societies in big cities, so if there aren’t any in the city or town you’re in, you can always keep up with their events to see if any are online. This way you can still be part of regular meetings with the same people. Also, having psychedelic societies on your radar can be useful should you ever find yourself in the city where they are based. If you prefer in-person over online connections, though, you can always set up a psychedelic society and bring psychonauts together in your own city or town.

Meetups

Meetup.com can be a great resource for finding psychedelic-oriented groups. These groups may include casual, informal meetups to discuss psychedelic experiences and related topics. By attending these meetups, you can form genuine, meaningful connections with people who you share common ground with. You can try searching the site using keywords like ‘psychedelics’ or ‘psychonaut’. If you don’t find any relevant groups in your area and you think the demand exists where you live for such a group, you could always try creating or co-creating a psychedelic-oriented Meetup group that aims to foster a sense of community.

Retreats and Ceremonies

Many people who attend psychedelic retreats and ceremonies find that these are ways to ‘find the others’. Even if one’s intention behind attending a psychedelic retreat is personal healing, the group setting of the experience often leads to strong bonding experiences. After all, you’re all in a vulnerable state together, with many in the group having deeply emotional and transformative experiences in the presence of everyone else. Through the psychedelic sessions themselves and the days spent together, people on retreat can form genuine, close connections that they want to maintain when the retreat is over.

Social Media

Social media platforms have several uses in terms of building psychedelic communities. Firstly, on platforms like Facebook, you can find the pages of psychedelic societies and keep up to date with upcoming events. Secondly, these platforms can allow the building of online communities. You can use X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn in a way that focuses on psychedelics and their many aspects (e.g. therapeutic uses, ceremonial uses, business and industry, science, philosophy, spirituality, etc.). By regularly engaging with others on these platforms, you can build a network of like-minded individuals who you can hopefully one day connect with in real life.

Reddit is one social platform where many psychonauts go to connect and communicate with each other. What makes Reddit particularly useful are the specific subreddits that exist. Some of these are very broad and general (e.g. r/Drugs), whereas others are much more specific. A subreddit like r/Psychonaut may be appealing if you are using psychedelics to intentionally explore altered states of consciousness for non-recreational reasons. Psychonauts may explore these mental states for personal, therapeutic, spiritual, or philosophical reasons — or simply out of curiosity, to see what kinds of experiences are possible.

There is also r/RationalPsychonaut, for those who want to discuss altered states of consciousness without the woo. People on this subreddit prefer to approach psychedelic experiences without bringing in supernatural or New Age concepts, such as spirits, auras, vibrations, frequencies, chakras, and astrology. There can also sometimes be a trend of conspiracy thinking in spiritual circles (which has been dubbed conspirituality), so someone may join r/RationalPsychonaut in the hopes of avoiding this too. For those more interested in psychedelic science, the subreddit r/PsychedelicStudies can best serve that interest, while r/PsychedelicTherapy is a great community for those exploring the therapeutic potential of these compounds (as either a practitioner or participant).

Then there are subreddits dedicated to specific psychedelics (I’ll include classical, non-classical, natural, and synthetic compounds here):

We can also classify internet forums as social media. There are long-standing forums that many psychedelic users frequent for help, advice, and discussion related to psychedelic experiences. Popular ones include Shroomery and DMT Nexus.

Many psychonauts, however, are eager to form in-person connections. While social media platforms and psychedelic-oriented forums can be quick and easy ways for psychonauts to connect and support each other, they lack the face-to-face element that leads to a palpable sense of community. But you can use other social media platforms like WhatsApp to either create or join in-person meetups focused on the shared interest of psychedelics. Messaging apps may also open you up to the world of underground psychedelic ceremonies, which can be another place to ‘find the others’.

Following the other tips mentioned in this article may lead you to find or create a psychedelic community. But it’s important to put in the effort: staying up to date with events, joining relevant groups, and consistently engaging with others. This is especially important when it comes to psychedelic use because, unlike other lifestyles or practices that can provide a sense of community, this particular life choice can be illegal or stigmatised. This makes ‘finding the others’ a tad more difficult. Nonetheless, by being open and proactive, you may discover multiple psychedelic groups and communities that resonate with you.

In discussions surrounding psychedelics, the topic of community-building is often left out of the picture. This doesn’t mean that every psychedelic explorer needs or wants others to connect with over the topic of mind exploration, but for those who do feel that calling, building relationships with other psychonauts can be mutually beneficial. It can result in enhanced preparation, experiences, and integration; in other words, the desired outcomes of one’s psychedelic use.

Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on January 25, 2024.

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Sam Woolfe

I'm a freelance writer, journalist, and author with interests in philosophy, ethics, psychology, and mental health. Website: www.samwoolfe.com