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Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash.

A psychedelic startup. Literally.

Like many in my generation, as a teenager I read The Teachings of Don Juan, the Carlos Castaneda book that ended up being a NY Times best-seller, with over 10 million copies sold. An entire generation was fascinated by his stories of how he took mystical excursions into the desert, ate magic mushrooms, and discovered “springboards into new horizons of cognition”.

Back then pretty much all recreational drugs were illegal, but the illicit nature of the topic just made Castaneda’s writings seem all the more seductive.

Since then there’s been a slow (sometimes glacially-slow) but significant trend in the US toward decriminalizing recreational drugs. Today 1 in 3 Americans live in a state where marijuana is legal, and it now seems likely that it will be legalized at the Federal level in the not-too-distant future.

Two weeks ago the state of Oregon took things a step further, as Oregon citizens voted to legalize the sale of psychedelic mushrooms for the first time. That was unimaginable a few years ago, but it’s now likely to spread to other states as well, as it’s considered an important part of criminal justice reform.

With this, there will be new people trying psychedelics, wanting to experience the mystical world that Carlos Castaneda wrote about. But like everything else, this will go better if people approach it safely.

A new startup, Ceremia, is addressing this. They are building a new digital platform for connecting psychedelic users with sitters, shamans, and guides. Responsible people who can help. Experienced professionals. People who can make sure you get the most out of the experience in the safest possible way.

This new startup is in the early stages, but the idea is that it will act both as a matchmaking service (connecting you with the right person who will help you find the experience you are looking for) as well as an information resource (providing ongoing support before, during, and after your experience).

The founder of Ceremia, Travis Jungroth, is an experienced software engineer with deep experience developing and launching digital products. He knows that the path for a startup of this kind is uncertain. But as Carlos Castaneda wrote “Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use”.

Stanford • 4thly • Miller Center

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