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Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson

Women's Circle Facilitator

“Waves of grief and understanding moved through me. It was impossible and too much and yet I stayed. That’s the gift of the medicines, the gift of capacitation.”

The Tale of Two Journeys, or, “Don’t Forget to be Human”

How many angels can fit on the head of a pin? I never understood this question, until recently, when I glimpsed the answer.

Let me back up for a moment. I was blessedly gifted with what I know now to be called a mystical psychedelic experience in November of last year.

According to the Mystical Experience Questionnaire, or MEQ30, the following are elements of a so-called “mystical” experience:

  • the experience of profound unity with all that exists
  • a felt sense of sacredness
  • a sense of the experience of truth and reality at a fundamental level
  • deeply felt positive mood
  • transcendence of time and space
  • difficulty explaining the experience in words, or ineffability.

The Journey

Note: The “she” in the piece is mushroom which I had paired with MDMA


’Don’t forget to be Human’, she said. This after filling me with a thousand threads of swimming and intertwining arms, snakes, roots of clear red.

‘Oh, honey,’ she said, ‘let me show you what it is to be loved.’ And she took me. She just took me. Filled me. Showed me. Then she dissolved me and showed me the whole of it, the LOVE, the whole universe of dark and stars and aching beauty, but it didn’t ache. It WONDERED! It was WONDER. It was the whole of everything and it was, what? God? Love? She just kept showing me: this is love, it’s all love, you are love, you can’t help it, you just are. Nothing for it, just love. We all are, we come from it and return to it and in the meantime we are placed into human bodies to… what?

You see, I have made a lifetime out of not being, crafting and perfecting my project of becoming smaller and paler and lighter, of disappearing, like that could quell the astonishingly loud experience of this being human. It all just FELT like too much. It scared me, all this feeling.

‘Don’t forget to be human,’ she said as she delivered me back to earth. I heard, ‘land hard right here in this gift you’ve been given. Even your pain is exquisite and you’ve had the gift of that!’ All of the words I’d heard and read and steeped in and tried so very hard to understand, I now understood in an instant. In that experience, in that place she showed me, it all became so simple and clear. Since then it’s gotten cloudy again but I’m working hard to remember.

‘Oh, honey, let me show you what it is to be loved.’

I so wish she would have also shown me what it is to be human, you see, because that is the much harder thing. To be love, that is easy, remember? That’s just who we are, can’t help it. To be human and to be love, well for me that is a whole other thing. Don’t forget to be human – to ride the waves, to feel, to let it all in, all in, let it all land, not turn away, all of that and to be ok. I’m only just now learning to be human.”

After The Journey

After that journey and after writing that piece, I really struggled with uniting what felt like “out there” and my human experience “in here”. I felt like I had been prepared for human death, but I was really having trouble with human life. About six weeks later I had a home ketamine journey that pulled it all together for me. Talk about grace.

The Ketamine Journey

Yesterday in my journey I sat at the exact exquisite pinpoint of all that is possible to experience in this human life. I sat at the juncture of pain and love, and I sat there for the longest time. Waves of grief and understanding moved through me. It was impossible and too much and yet I stayed. That’s the gift of the medicines, the gift of capacitation.

I’ve been longing to marry the love that is unbounded, the love that is all around us and in us with this inexplicable human-ness we bear. I’ve longed to understand how it can be both. And yesterday I sat at that place of both. I wept and I felt and I stayed in willingness and desire, I stayed in that exact exquisite place of union of un-manifest and manifest, love and humanity. Mark Nepo has written, ‘I am so sad and everything is beautiful.’ It was that times a thousand, times a million. I saw how this life is all of that if we open to it, if we choose awareness, awake-ness, if we choose love and life.

Some are just more able to live at that juncture, somehow are born with that grace, or they learned it somehow. Me, I had no good guide. I’ve come to it through sheer necessity. I have had teachers and angels, yes, absolutely, and means, of course. And probably cosmic convergence. I’m not saying I’m proud of myself. I’m saying I’m grateful. For all that has conspired to bring me to this place. To this medicine. To this healing. To this circle, this one right here, to all the other circles and spaces, and people and circumstances that have brought me to this exact moment in time, time that I now see is not linear. Me, in this soup of time and love and human-ness, me with my eyes and heart and whole being open. Open and aware and awake. And so deeply grateful.