Author Beth Bell’s Spiritual Experience With Psychedelics
Despite a long and rich journey with spiritual development and growth, author, advisor and entrepreneur Beth Bell had little to no interest in psychedelics as a tool for her spiritual toolkit.
As a midwest kid who grew up during the war on drugs, she had a very “just say no” attitude to drugs of any kind, and she spent a good chunk of her professional career in the pharmaceutical industry where she championed legal drugs.
But as she continued down her path of spiritual exploration, her awareness of and connection to nature deepened and she became more attuned into the wisdom we can derive from simply being present and open to what it might teach us. It was through this lens she started to open up to the idea that many psychedelic “drugs” were, in fact, plant based.
When a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and began working with MDMA, her open mindedness grew as she saw that psychedelics could be a valuable healing and growth modality. But, hesitation lingered. She was worried that psychedelics would undo the decades of personal and spiritual work she had invested in.
“I’ve done twenty plus years of deep diving into my own spiritual work, the last thing I wanted to do was undo anything,” she says. “I was just like no way, I am not going to lose my mind and, you know, become a druggie.”
“You know, the universe always has its sneaky ways of planting little seeds here and there,” she remembers.
While Beth wanted to talk about flowers, which she felt especially connected to, Louie wanted to talk about mushrooms and inevitably the conversation took a turn towards psilocybin and psychedelics, and Schwartzberg encouraged her to explore.
This advice, from someone she respected so deeply, gave her pause. “And I was like, why wouldn’t I? I understand the power of plants. Why am I scared of a plant? Why would I not think that these plants have some wisdom for me?”
Beth Bell’s First Psychedelic Experience
While the possibility of engaging with psychedelics continued to percolate, Beth Bell’s friend had turned to San Pedro, a mescaline-containing cactus, as a therapeutic modality on her breast cancer journey.
Beth accompanied her friend to and from the ceremonies, and had heard first hand about some of the challenges that could come along with a San Pedro journey, like purging, for example. But she had also heard that mescaline offered a softer experience than some other psychedelics, and there was something about San Pedro that spoke to her. After visiting the center and speaking with the servers who conducted the ceremonies, she felt ready to give it a try.
“It was the best entry I think I personally could have had,” she says. “I felt that it didn’t shoot me out there, like an LSD trip or bufo or ayahuasca where you’re just — out there. San Pedro was soft.”
After drinking a liquified cactus drink, she experienced a slow shift in consciousness and soon she felt other beings present with her.
“I did get a lot of kaleidoscope, I got a lot of visualization,” she remembers.
She also experienced uncontrollable shaking, which may have appeared worrisome and even violent to an outside observer, but was not alarming to Beth since she had experienced such shaking with teacher Ratu Bagas, who teaches shaking meditation at his ashram in Bali.
“One of my intentions was to cleanse at a cellular level, and so that’s what was happening — my body was just literally in this very rhythmic shaking and cleansing. But I was so comfortable in it, I knew that my body was just releasing, releasing, releasing.”
Beth Bell went on to explore mescaline twice more after her initial journey, and another aspect she really appreciated from these mescaline experiences was an ease with integration.
“I feel like you can bring a lot more back,” she explains. “Sometimes you get out so far that it’s harder to bring everything back into this dimension, but with San Pedro it was an integration process throughout the entire ceremony. That was really helpful.”
For Beth, San Pedro offered a positive and valuable entrypoint into psychedelic medicines, and, while she would not say that it’s for everyone, she does think it was a great first step for herself.
“If you want to go to plant based medicine, it’s gentle and it’s beautiful.”
Altered States And Your Spiritual Toolbox
Psychedelics aren’t the only way to access altered states of consciousness. Meditation, holotropic breathwork, sensory deprivation, dance and music, and religious experience (among other modalities) are all ways to achieve “peak experiences” or explore different ways of being.
Before engaging with psychedelics as a tool, Beth Bell had experienced altered states of consciousness induced without the use of any substances.
“I think it has a lot to do with your openness, and your willingness to let go of your mind and surrender to Source,” she says.
Her experience with unfamiliar states of being, coupled with years of spiritual and self-development practice, provided her with skills and tools that she believes set her up for success when she was finally called to engage with psychedelic medicines.
“I had such a strong spiritual toolbox,” she explains. “Because I had done so many different modalities, I had built quite a strong bridge. So when I go out there and then I come back, I have a lot to rely on.”
Having a set of skills, or what she refers to as a “spiritual toolbox” is an important part of Beth’s advocacy work, because she feels without it the psychedelic experience can be unnecessarily challenging and even unfruitful.
“People who have never had experiences with the other side, it’s very overwhelming, it can blow circuits,” she says. “It can feel like a very negative experience because they don’t have that bridge or toolbox. That’s why I am such a huge advocate of doing the spiritual work, doing psychedelics when you feel called, doing them in the right set and setting, and most importantly, doing them with the right server.”
From where Beth sits as a spiritually driven explorer who has experienced a variety of different dimensions and the beings who inhabit them, she believes it takes a lot of experience and skill to be able to lead psychedelic-assisted ceremonies.
Despite its trendiness as a modality for healing, spiritual growth or self-development, she believes that a sheer number of journeys does not equate wisdom or the ability to hold appropriate space for these experiences.
“This takes ancestral lineages to really be able to serve and create and hold a safe space,” she says.
Then there’s psychedelic integration, which, Beth Bell says, is “the most important part of a psychedelic journey is the integration work.”
In the context of psychedelics for growth and development, Beth believes that’s where the work happens.
“And that’s the hardest part,” she explains. When one’s journey is over and you’re back to your everyday life, it can be easy to just get on with things and avoid the hard work of integration.
“For some individuals, they don’t do that work. And when they don’t do that work, what do they do? They go on another journey.”
Ultimately, Beth believes the choice to engage with psychedelics is about discernment.
“If you don’t have the bridge, you don’t have the calling and intention and you don’t do the integration work, then stay away because it’s not going to serve you,” she says. “This is medicine as an awakening agent, it’s for your higher self. I feel really called as a psychedelic spokesperson to support the narrative about them as awakening agents, and then it is something you need to use a lot of discernment around. Because there’s a lot that goes on in these trips.”
Unexpected Ego Death
Speaking of trips, moving on from mescaline, Beth Bell next explored 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin, a mixture of psychedelic substances. These typically induce a complete ego death, providing a short, albeit very intense, journey.
While 5-MeO-DMT exists in several different plant species, it is largely popular because of one amphibian source: the Sonoran Desert toad, aka “bufo.”
This species of toad (once named Bufo alvarius but recently renamed to Incilius alvarius) secretes a milky venom rich in both 5-MeO and bufotenin, and a dried crystallized version of this venom can be smoked. It’s important to note that conservation concerns around the Incilius alvarius toad populations abound, and there are synthetic analogues of 5-MeO that can be used in place of the toad venom.
When Beth accompanied a friend who was going to partake in a bufo ceremony, she had no intention of trying it.
“You smoke this pipe and you pass out. Like, what sense does that make?”
But after sitting with the group, witnessing the ceremony, watching the servers and feeling the energy of the space, something just clicked.
“It just so happened we were the last [group] of the day, and [the servers] looked at me and said ‘well, are you interested?’ and you know, part of me was like well ‘no, but yes.’ It just all felt perfect.”
For a journey that Beth describes as both “horrifying” and “blissful” (sentiments expressed by many who partake in 5-MeO-DMT), it was also one of great value and importance.
“That was, still to this day, the most significant journey I would say that I have done.”
Ego death — where one’s sense of self disappears — is logically terrifying. But it has value as well.
“It was horrifying only in the sense that I really thought I was dead. I was like, it is over. Oh my God, my parents are gonna be so disappointed,” Beth Bell remembers of her first bufo journey. “And then it just felt like someone took a bucket of acid and just dissolved my complete physical body and my complete mind. I mean, everything was gone. I was absolutely nonexistent. And I was in complete, utter, blissful oneness.”
That feeling of complete and utter oneness was particularly potent for Beth.
“This is the North Star, this is the point to hit. This is why we’re here, to know this [feeling] because this is who I really am. I am one with everything.”
Shooting for that North Star is now a daily practice for Beth, and while her bufo trip was a poignant experience that impacted her in a profoundly positive way, it’s not an experience or a medicine that she takes lightly.
“It is not something that I feel is appropriate for people to do with regularity, I do think that you can fry yourself out,” she says. “It’s peace that passes beyond understanding when you come out of [the journey] because your mind and the programs of your mind have been reset. But I also recognize the power and I really had to honor the power of that medicine. There is a lot to be said for preservation of brain chemistry.”
Beth Bell’s Ayahuasca Dream
Beth Bell had been apprehensive about ayahuasca. “I was a little scared of ayahuasca to be honest,” she confesses. In addition to the stories she had heard about intense and ongoing purging, she was wary of stepping into a realm she wasn’t ready for.
But then she had a strange dream, a dream where she was back in her old corporate life and co-presenting on stage at a conference.
Her co-presenter was a mysterious man, and, after finishing the presentation, they walked backstage together. Beth remembers saying to him “I think we need to work together,” at which point he stared her straight in the eyes and replied “Ayahuasca is the way.”
When she woke from the dream, she knew it was time. Again, after doing her due diligence around set, setting and server, she found a ceremony that felt right.
“I had the most incredible journey on Ayahuasca,” she remembers. “I just went back to oneness.”
Beth recalls a clear message: That her purpose in this ayahuasca journey was to bring information back for integration, which came via a visit by her Starseed family.
“It was fun,” she remembers. “It was like I was in a super cellular soul scrub car wash. They were all flipping me around, all my alien friends, my Starseed family, and they’re like, ‘Okay, let’s give her the upgrades.'”
Perhaps the most impactful part of the journey, however, was gaining access to the “soul contracts” of loved ones.
“They shared with me when they were going to die, they shared some very difficult things with me,” she recalls. “I didn’t even know that I could access someone else’s soul.”
After the journey, she felt skeptical about the intimate knowledge she had gained about the life trajectories of her loved ones.
“I wanted to question a lot of it. You know, I wanted to say, is it true?”
While the experience was profound, and now armed her with knowledge she didn’t know what to do with, a major takeaway from the journey was the appreciation that everyone has free will.
“I’m here to help, I’m here to participate. But I can’t change the trajectory of someone else’s soul plan. I can support, I can shine the light, I can show the way. But I can’t change it.”
From ‘Just Say No’ To Psychedelics Spokesperson
Considering that Beth Bell came from a place of total dismissal when it came to psychedelics, her views have shifted drastically. “Kind of shocking, but I’m so glad I did. It changed my life in ways that I would have never expected,” she said.
As a modality for spiritual growth and personal development, psychedelics have offered Beth affirmations of and a deep connection to what she believes is the reason we are here in the first place.
“You’re here for nothing else other than to know who you really are. Keeping the embodiment of that knowledge, that wisdom, that oneness — that is the journey.”
Now, Beth Bell wishes to help those with interest in using these medicines do so with reverence and responsibility.
“I want to shift the narrative around psychedelics,” says Beth Bell. “I want to continue as a psychedelic spokesperson because I think I bring the background, the credibility, I’ve done the work, I understand integration and I want other people to understand it, too. You’re the creator of your life, and you can transform your journey at any point in time. “
To learn more about Beth’s spiritual and psychedelics journey, check out her book ‘Angels, Herpes and Psychedelics: Unraveling the Mind to Unveil Illusions‘