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Psychedelic Therapy and the Mystical Experience
Tuesday, August 22, 2023 by Linda Nathan

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

The mystical experience is said to be central to the LSD experience. What is it? Is it as healing as some say? Where does it lead? Our first experience with LSD in 1962 will give you a better feel for it than any amount of discussion.

* * *
It was 1962 in San Francisco, and Richard and I had been together a month or two when he showed me two tiny colorless pills one day.
“What’s that?” I asked, peering into his hand.
“It’s called LSD-25,” he said.
I looked at him. “What’s that?”
He smiled. 
“A ticket to adventure.” 

* * *
Fresh winds blew out of a sunny, cloudless sky as we walked up the wooden stairs to Vickie and Matt's Victorian flat. We’d chosen their place as our launching pad because it was next to Golden Gate Park. Inside, the flat was cool and dark, with a long, narrow, white hallway splitting off into various empty rooms. Left alone in one of these, we settled back, took the little pills, and waited, wondering what to expect. 

When nothing happened after a while, I leaned back against the pillows on the window seat, gazed out at the trees, and began to eat a peach. 

Strange . . .

As I was savoring the succulent, meaty tissue, the peach and I began melting together into a strange embrace until soon I wasn't sure who was whom. 

Next to me, Richard was experiencing the same sensation while eating his own peach. Laughter bubbled up in us, and soon we were rolling on the floor in gales of hysterical laughter, oblivious to our surroundings. 
After what seemed like hours but must only have been about half an hour, we slowly rose, and moving as though through thick gel, half swam down the stairs and poured out into the street. Green evergreens and sunshine met us in what seemed a very personal welcome. 

As we entered the Park Panhandle in anticipation of a long cool amble along the green corridor, I slowly became aware of a deep intensity pressing upon me. It seemed to come from outside myself, but then it joined something within until uncontrollable laughter began spilling out, and we seemed to be rolling along in waves instead of walking through the park. In this new realm, time disappeared. Hours passed like minutes, and minutes like hours. 

When we finally stopped far down the Panhandle, we found ourselves deep in a very different reality. The reality of our earlier lives had peeled away like a skin that once had been the surface of a huge tree. Now the organic roots and hidden nature concealed beneath were laid bare. And at that moment, a disturbing sensation hit me—one far more intense and unsettling than the peach experience—

I am growing into the plants and trees around me. 

I stared at Richard with shock. Psychic “roots” appeared to be spiraling out of us into a complex, interwoven web of life consisting of him, me, the plant life around us, and the whole universe. We were growing together, and it was too late to go back. For better or for worse, we were one. We had crossed into a new dimension and were becoming one with the jungle soul of this planet. 

* * * 
That day was our conversion into paganism and the occult later known as the New Age Movement. We began to believe we were gods. 

Decades later, we discovered the experience we had is called monism. When we became Christians and understood its true nature, we renounced the pagan experiences LSD gave us. We were not gods and never will be; we are lost sinners miraculously saved by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
* * *

Monism. The religious idea that the created universe and God are one being. This is in contrast to the orthodox Christian view that God created the universe, is greater than it, and is outside of it except when He chooses to enter, such as through the birth of Jesus Christ.[1]

* * *
This type of experience isn’t rare though. Not by a long shot. LSD is well known for giving people experiences of being “god” or “gods.” It certainly did Richard and me. 

Today, many psychedelic practitioners believe this type of mystical experience / religious conversion is an essential part of the psychedelic healing experience.

A major review of the “entity encounter” literature by the Journal of Psychedelic Studies states, 
”Research suggests that the clinical and therapeutic effects of psychedelics are related to their ability to induce a mystical-type experience.” [2]

What is this “mystical-type” experience? And what is the “healing” it purports to bring? According to the article, there are two major parts to a mystical experience induced by LSD: the experience itself and an encounter with what the article refers to as “entities.” These entities, which may not appear in the experience at first, are what the Bible calls demons, and we can verify that from our own experiences as well as from the Bible and Christian history. Next month’s article will look at encounters with these entities. For now, we’ll focus on the mystical experience itself. 

Mediated and unmediated mystical experiences. It’s vital to understand that there are two types of mystical experience: mediated and unmediated. Because we’re fallen beings and susceptible to deception, and because there is a fallen spiritual realm full of demons, we need a divine mediator to access true spiritual realms. A true biblical mystical experience can only come through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. Seeking a mystical encounter on one’s own or through other channels such as eastern meditation, drugs, hypnosis, or any other occult avenue leads into the swamp of paganism and insanity. It is ultimately useless and destructive. Following are a few examples of unmediated approaches to mystical experiences.

Bill W, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, believed the LSD experience induced a religious conversion that sometimes helped alcoholics get better. Later researchers though believed those early experiments were poorly designed. [3] Unfortunately, today AA promotes the belief that you just need a “Higher Power” to help you, whatever it might be—mediated or unmediated—doorknob or deity. 

Jungian therapists who follow the teachings of Gnostic psychiatrist Carl Jung believe LSD opens the door to the “unconscious” and enables them to access “archetypal contents.” Our article, “Carl G. Jung: Man of Science or Modern Shaman?” reveals the occult nature of his theories. You can read it here[4][5]

How can a chemical compound or a plant bring us to God? It doesn’t. Rather, it initiates delusions or hallucinations in which we are vulnerable to spiritual deception. Psychedelics have often been called a shortcut for long-term, eastern-style meditation, which can achieve the same results. 

Mystical experiences don’t save. The Bible never talks about being saved by a “mystical experience.” It teaches that humanity is fallen and bound in sin and desperately needs a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation comes through repentance and being born again into Christ, but even then, we never become “gods.” True biblical salvation is totally antithetical to the monistic LSD “mystical experience.” 

But researchers today generally aren’t looking for biblical salvation. The same study in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies quoted above reports an assessment of the effects of psychedelics that measures six components of the psychedelic induced mystical experience. These include “a sense of unity or oneness; transcendence of time and space; deeply felt positive mood; sense of awesomeness, reverence and wonder; meaningfulness of psychological or philosophical insight; and ineffability and paradoxicality.” [6]

Interestingly, this measure is deeply slanted. It doesn’t mention any of the possible negative effects from psychedelics, of which there are plenty, including corrupting and destabilizing effects on one’s mind and soul ranging from hallucinations to insanity. We found from experience that they are depth charges to the soul and can be extremely dangerous. In his thirty years of working in locked psychiatric units, Richard saw this up close many times.

Some researchers claim dying people can find peace facing death through experiencing the same deceptive LSD mystical experience of "oneness” with the universe we experienced. This deception can lead them to trust in the occult, mystical experience instead of receiving real salvation through personal repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. 

A Major Paradigm Shift in the Healing Professions
Today the healing professions are experiencing a major paradigm shift. Enormous interests are steamrolling the politics of the acceptance of psychedelics both as medicines and in counseling practices and pushing them with great speed through nationwide legalization and decriminalization efforts. [7] Psychedelic counselor Alex Belser, Ph.D., is only one of many who believe that “the future of psychiatry will find psychedelic medicine at its heart.” [8]

The Journal of Psychedelic Studies article concludes with a summary of the confusion the healing professions are facing today—

“Given the growing interest in psychedelic-based interventions and the probability that psychedelics (in particular, psilocybin) will soon be utilised as a mainstream mental health treatment, clinicians are likely to be faced with an interesting situation: patients who have mystical experiences—and possibly entity encounters—induced by their psychotherapeutic treatment.” 

The irony is that these disciplines have long been suspicious of anything to do with mystical experiences, religion, spirituality, the occult, and altered states of consciousness, let alone “entity encounters.” In fact, they’re often seen as symptoms of mental illness rather than signs of healing. 
How are doctors, psychiatrists, and counselors dealing with this confusion in their practices? Will it affect you if you go to a counselor or psychiatrist?

* * *
What are the "entities"? A deceptive religious conversion into paganism isn’t the only thing that can happen through LSD though. According to the same journal article, another major “therapeutic effect” includes “meetings with seemingly autonomous entities.” 
Who are these entities? And what is supposedly “healing” about them? We’ve gone down that road too, and we’ll talk about it in next month’s blog post. 
Fasten your seat belt.

Recommended New Book
Our recommended book this month was just released with perfect timing: Putting God Back into Counseling by Dr. Mike Schill, PSYD, aims to restore biblical truth and reality to counseling. Dr. Schill has long experience in this area and is very aware of the weaknesses in today’s churches about dealing with the spiritual world. His case studies alone are worth reading the book. Please pray for it to get where it’s needed. We need biblical truth in great measure to stand against today’s tide of deception.

[1]  From our glossary at
[2] “Entity Encounters and the Therapeutic Effect of the Psychedelic Mystical Experience,” by Anna Lutkajtis, the University of Sydney, Australia. November 11, 2020. Journal of Psychedelic Studies,  (4), 2020, 3, 171-178.
[3] “LSD could help alcoholics stop drinking, AA founder believed.”
[4]  Psychedelic Drugs and Jungian Therapy
March 2020 Journal of Jungian Scholarly Studies 15(1):86-98. DOI:10.29173/jjs127s
License CC BY-NC 4.0. Authors: Greg Mahr, Henry Ford Health System, Jamie Sweigart
[5]  See our article, “Carl G. Jung: Man of Science or Modern Shaman?” here
[6]  Pahnke & Richards, 1966; Roseman, Nutt, & Carhart-Harris, 2018.
[7]  See the book Smokescreen by Kevin A. Sabet. Forefront Books, 2021.
[8] See his article, “Psychedelics Could be the Future of Psychotherapy.” Discover Magazine, June 10, 2021. Here


Linda Nathan

Linda has managed her own business, Logos Word Designs, LLC, offering writing, editing, and publishing consultation for over 30 years. For more information, visit

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