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Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth
Françoise Bourzat with Kristina Hunter
The New Ground Breaking Work
Recent research into the healing potential of psychedelic substances has sparked a resurgence of interest in LSD, mushrooms, and other mind-expanding psychotropic substances. Yet without adequate preparation and counseling during and after the use of psychedelics, much of the transformative potential of these experiences is lost. This book provides clear guidance for people using psychedelics and other transformational processes for healing or for their spiritual development, as well as for the therapists who are guiding them along the journey.
Written equally for counselors and for clients, Consciousness Medicine provides a therapeutic framework that author Françoise Bourzat developed combining psychotherapy with 35 years of fieldwork among the Mazatec people of Mexico, who have a long tradition of taking psychedelics as medicine. The book guides the reader through preparation, setting intentions and goals, and the different types of experience one may have in an expanded state of consciousness, as well as guidance on how a trained counselor can best support someone through these states. The book then explores the art of integration–the application of the wisdom gained from such experiences into daily life–and how a guide or therapist can support the full integration of a journey after it is over. Enhanced by Françoise’s personal stories along with accounts of clients, the book builds a powerful case for a holistic view of non-ordinary reality and concludes with a heartfelt argument that modern psychotherapy include expanded states of consciousness in earnest.
Read an excerpt from Consciousness Medicine.
Testimonials for Consciousness Medicine
Consciousness Medicine is an insightful and inspiring introduction to expanded states of consciousness. Françoise Bourzat combines an intimate personal account with the most comprehensive and practical guide I have seen to transpersonal experience and shamanic work, emphasizing the three cornerstones of preparation, journeying and—of essential importance—integration.
Gabor Maté MD
Author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction
This book is brand-new, but I’m already on my second read. I’ve been waiting a year for it to be published! Françoise is one of the world’s foremost experts in navigating “expanded states of consciousness,” and she has ~30 years of experience combining indigenous training with modern tools. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this work.
Author of The 4-Hour Workweek
Consciousness Medicine is a lovely reading experience, and immensely informative. This book should be on the bookshelf of everyone interested in the subject of consciousness change and spiritual growth.
Co-Author of Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story and Tihkal: A continutation
Françoise Bourzat has written an authoritative book on guided psychedelic therapy with important lessons for anyone thinking of either guiding or being guided.
Michael Pollan via Twitter
Author of How to Change Your Mind and The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Amidst the current plethora of books on shamanic and entheogenic healing practices, Consciousness Medicine is a rare and precious contribution. It is a woman’s book, using the ancient metaphoric language of weaving. It speaks of the author’s multi-year apprenticeship with the Mazatec medicine elder woman Julieta, herself a unique example in a field dominated by men. Julieta calls Francoise “the interpreter”, whose task it is to translate the indigenous way of women healers into the modern world. She weaves together stories of medicine healings in Mexico, with stories of how these teachings can be applied in the contemporary world, using experiential modalities such as dance and movement, sweat-lodge, breathwork, meditation, sensory awareness, meditation, hakomi body therapy and others.
Throughout her book, Francoise emphasizes the need for clear intentions and integration of altered state experiences into everyday life, giving many detailed suggestions for ongoing practices. I especially appreciate the conscious attention she gives to two factors often omitted or neglected in groups that emphasize individual enlightenment experiences – the integration of the new insights into community life and the integration with environmental concerns. The healing stories shared in this book, by both men and women, radiate with the author’s infectious enthusiasm and joie-de-vivre.
Ralph Metzner PhD
Psychotherapist, Professor Emeritus at the California Insitute of Integral Studies.
Author of The Unfolding Self, Allies for Awakening, Sacred Mushroom of Visions: Teonanácatl and Co-author of The Psychedelic Experience
As the daughter of Julieta Casimiro Estrada and as a guide of our Mazatec traditional ceremonies with the sacred mushrooms, I wish to say that Francoise Bourzat has been studying our tradition for many years. Through this study and through her personal experiences, she has acquired an understanding of our ancestral ways and is able to speak about them with respect and the clarity of that responsibility. I support her voice and I trust her approach in combining her psychological angle together with our ancient ways of the ancestral medicines of our Mazatec tradition.
Guide for the sacred ceremonies of the Mazatec area, Oaxaca, Mexico
Françoise is uniquely qualified to write this book. She not only has the multicultural training and a deep and real connection with indigenous traditional healing techniques, but she has for decades applied, tested, and extended these techniques, specifically for the training of Western therapists. Her own Western training was first class, and perhaps because of that, she is not caught up in idolizing or fantasizing the value of either Western psychodynamic therapies and research or these older systems of indigenous healing. Her work blends both in a blend appropriate for this time and this culture. She has no ideological ax to grind, but only to press for effective practice for the healer and for their clients.
James Fadiman, PhD
Author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys
Françoise has been a student and friend of mine for over thirty years.… When I met Francoise, she was soft-spoken, alert, respectful, and very observant. She was at home. Our Native American way of life is not a religion, it is a “Way of Life.” When I met Francoise, she was living this way of life, living in the mountains, living in nature and teaching her students they are one with nature. Francoise was already connected to our Mother Earth and our Way of Life was not a mystery or difficult for her to connect to.
Chief Woman among Chiefs and Scared Sweat Lodge Leader, Arikara Nation
It is a pleasure to recommend Francoise Bourzat’s Consciousness Medicine. Ms. Bourzat has an extensive background as a teacher and facilitator of altered states of consciousness, utilizing a variety of techniques including meditation, vision quests, sweat lodges, and entheogens. Regarding entheogens, also known as psychedelics and hallucinogens, Ms. Bourzat has done considerable fieldwork among the indigenous Mazatec people of Mexico, who have a vast history and knowledge of the spiritual and healing properties of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychotropic plants. Having worked closely for many years with these native healers, Ms. Bourzat has acquired considerable insight into these ancient practices that she has transmitted to the many contemporary students and seekers whom she has worked with over the past 35 years. Given the increasing interest in the range of effects and applications of psychedelic plants in the modern era, Ms. Bourzat’s knowledge holds great relevance to today’s world. As such, this book will make a valuable contribution to our growing knowledge base and appreciation of the salutary potential these compounds possess.
Charles S. Grob, MD
Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine
Author of Hallucinogens: A Reader, Co-Author of Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics
A valuable resource for anyone using “altered states” in their practice of psychotherapy.
Françoise is not only experienced in how to integrate material gained while in these states into one’s daily life; but in addition she is an experienced and insightful psychotherapist so is able to diagnose and treat, as appropriate, whatever the client is presenting. And the assessment of whether the work with altered states is appropriate or not for each client
She is also has many years of training psychotherapists in how to deal with difficult situations and the integration of the new material that may be gained while in these states.
Bourzat’s depth of understanding is unmatched in the work with psilocybin. Her many years as an apprentice to a Mazatec healer has given her both a depth of experience and an appreciation for the origins and purpose of this work.
This book is clearly written, with valuable specific examples of client’s work and experiences to illustrate salient points.
Padma Catell, PhD
Author of Through the Gateway of the Heart and Drugs and Clients: What Every Therapist Needs to Know
Francoise Bouzat is courageously and profoundly dedicated to helping others grow and heal to their full potential using the most effective tools of which she is aware. Her commitment to her clients has been forged in the context of the global drug war, which has criminalized psychedelics and has tempered her like steel as she has continued to explore the healing potential of these substances revered in most cultures but demonized in ours. Fortunately for us all, there’s a global renaissance in psychedelic research and the therapeutic and spiritual use of psychedelics. Francoise is a visionary pioneer whose life’s work is making a major contribution to the process of transforming psychedelics into legal tools for healing and spirituality.
Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
In Consciousness Medicine, Françoise Bourzat deftly pulls together a practical guide for all serious travelers of the inner universe, meant for those who are intent on getting the most out of their journeys with the goal of personal and societal transformation. She draws upon her deep knowledge of indigenous wisdom and techniques for expanding consciousness, combines this with her broad knowledge of contemporary psychological and spiritual practices, and thirty years plus of working with people in expanded and extreme mind states, to weave together a multi-hued cloak of compassionate guidance and loving presence for those brave souls who dare to explore the further reaches of consciousness. Throughout this book, in clear, frank, and humble language, Francois’ lived experience of the inner landscapes she explores herself and with her clients shines through.
Gary Bravo, MD
Psychiatrist and co-author, with Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner, of Birth of a Psychedelic Culture
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Poems by Françoise Bourzat, Photographs by Rivka Tabak
Poetry inspired by our inner and outer landscapes
For many years, I have been guiding people in journeys towards their inner selves. Some of these times were spent indoors, some in nature. Some were ecstatic, others were hellish. All were healing. At times, words would come to my mind, almost as if the moments were dreaming themselves, paintings of scenes of the land, and of the souls. This book is an attempt to share these times of grace and suffering, these times of redemption.
I attempt to deceive the moment, a temporal moment, which can be shown from a different and intriguing angle. Without a pre-determined direction in mind, I try to form a new and surprising reality and to present an unusual visualization. I search for a unique viewpoint, seeking to expose a challenging aesthetic in the mundane, the familiar strange and strange known. By doing so, I am trying to bridge the gap between the concealed and the revealed.
You came looking for God
draped in a dark blue shawl
your neatly trimmed beard
a little wooden mala in your hand–
bursts and roars await in your body
may you go where you need to go
your face beaded with sweat
you throw your shawl across the room
the mala disappears
yes, God is here
better yet, it is you
~ Françoise Bourzat
Testimonials for Our Natures
Our Natures is a gorgeous visual and poetic journey into the mysteriously interweaving dance between our spiritual and embodied selves. Spend some time with this incredible work of art and allow yourself to be nurtured, inspired and welcomed into the depths of what it means to be truly human and soulfully alive.
These poems speak of the deep well of experience – the joys, traumas, grief, bliss and journey to becoming human through redemption, healing, and love. The words and images together invite us into a world that is universal and deeply personal at the same time, reminding us to return again and again to ourselves.