Zendo Project Update: Metamorphoses

Sara Gael, M.A.

MAPS Bulletin Summer 2019: Vol. 29, No. 2 Research Edition

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Sara Gael, M.A.
Sara Gael, M.A.



As I write this piece, members of the Zendo Project team just landed on playa, home to Burning Man—the birthplace of MAPS’ psychedelic peer support initiative. Over the next couple of weeks we will build and hold a container for a city of over 70,000. Every year Burning Man generates a theme. This theme sets the intention for the year and is an anchorpoint and inspiration for the gifts, art, and projects of the participants of Black Rock City. This year’s theme is “Metamorphoses.” If you look back through the archives of this Bulletin, you will see stories of MAPS’ journey of psychedelic peer support since the early 2000s. Told by many voices, they hold the memory of a compassionate care community, as imaginal cells within a cocoon hold the exact blueprint for the butterfly.

In the spirit of continual change and regeneration, our base camp—which is home to around 130 staff and volunteers—has taken a new name: EntheoGeneration. This name pays homage to Entheon Village, the camp MAPS staff, volunteers and allies called home in the days of Burns past. In the spirit of this years theme, we wanted a name that would honor our roots and our branches—where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. EntheoGeneration: a re-generation through past, present, and future generations, coming together in the All-Now, All-One to reveal and heal the collective mind and heart, with the support and guidance of our psychedelic allies.

EntheoGeneration will be offering, in collaboration with our home village, Fomogenesis (aka Psychedelic Foam Home), a speaker series featuring the voices of some of the most knowledgeable and respected psychedelic figures including Rick Doblin, Alex and Allyson Grey, Paul Stamets, Android Jones, Annie Oak, and many more. The three main themes of the speaker series are: Major Projects and Psychedelic Research; Mysticism, Spirit, and Visionary Art; Plant Medicines, Indigenous and Marginalized Perspectives. With this speaker series, MAPS and the Zendo Project offer a contribution in alignment with our mission to create a platform for honest and responsible conversations around psychedelics.

Trying to describe the magnitude of the Zendo Project experience, as both a sitter and a guest, can be akin to attempting to describe and integrate a psychedelic journey. As such, it is something that must be experienced to truly understand. The stories that come back from Burning Man through articles such as this one make this attempt to describe the ineffable. One way we can attempt to do this is through metaphor. In 2012, the year the Zendo Project as it is currently known was planted, the theme was Fertility 2.0. Since then, the community has grown from a seed planted in the soil of wisdom and experience of previous generations, to a tree with many branches, flowers, and fruits—an ecosystem housing thousands of volunteers, supporters, and guests. It is our intention that this ecosystem extends far beyond Burning Man and the Zendo Project, assisting in the pollination of communities that at their core hold the imprint of compassion, kindness, acceptance, and universal love. These common archetypal themes of the psychedelic experience are seeds of hope and healing for the collective evolution of consciousness, imperative at this time for the fractal metamorphoses that must occur in our world on the personal, societal, and ecological levels.


Providing Safety & Support for Transformational Festivals

The Zendo Project has been a presence at domestic and international festivals and events since 2012, successfully assisting thousands of guests undergoing difficult experiences, substance related or otherwise. We integrate and collaborate with medical staff and festival security, supporting the health and safety of the festival community.

In 2019, the Zendo Project provided services at Envision Festival (February 28–March 3, 2019, Uvita, Costa Rica); Lightning in a Bottle (May 8–13, 2019, Central California); and Burning Man (August 25–September 2, 2019, Black Rock City, Nevada).

Transforming Challenging Psychedelic Experiences

The Zendo Project is a non-profit psychedelic peer support program that provides emotional support services in a comfortable setting for individuals coping with the difficult mental and emotional effects that can arise from the use of psychedelic substances at festivals and events. We provide resources and support for guests free of charge.

Generally referred to as “bad trips,” difficult psychedelic experiences are common, especially in recreational settings. Psychedelics can give rise to a wide spectrum of experiences, and many people find themselves unprepared for coping with the difficult or unfamiliar effects that may occur.

The Zendo Project demonstrates an effective method for working with difficult psychedelic experiences. We specialize in a compassionate, humane approach and understand the mental and emotional effects of psychoactive substances like LSD, MDMA, ketamine, cannabis, and psilocybin mushrooms.

Safe and Compassionate Spaces

We provide a safe space and specialized care to de-escalate challenging situations, which prevents unnecessary psychiatric hospitalization, arrest, and trauma.

We empower communities by providing hands-on educational workshops, training, and outreach focused on how to address difficult psychedelic experiences.