In October 2022, the Scottish Psychedelic Research Group (SPRG) met in the heart of the country to sketch out a vision for our organisation. With diverse members representing scientific, shamanic, artistic, therapeutic, and philosophical points of view we wanted to provide a space for these groups to speak and define what SPRG can and should be. Among the hills and hotels of Scotland’s ancient capitol we gathered to discuss our guiding principles, an ethical framework for working in altered states, and the events we had coming up in Feb.

It was a joyful way to bring a community of people together and it balanced the professional, the scientific, and the sacred. We started with group members holding space for us all to set intentions with a cacao ceremony and guided meditation. This set the scene for a discussion of our ethical principles as outlined by board member John in his document:

The main outcome of the event was that we decided on three main focuses for SPRG: community building, education and research, and policy development. Underpinning and encompassing this focus are the ethical principles guiding us including respect for individual autonomy, equity and justice, and peer support.  

Importantly, this event allowed the members of SPRG to meet each other in person. The bonds that we built during our vision day will be the cement that keeps this movement growing in the years to come. By fully immersing ourselves in both professional structures and sacred spaces we are developing a new way of working that reflects our desire to include both. 

Visions for our Future

It was important to us that our vision for the SPRG was informed by all our members with all of their wonderfully diverse knowledge, ideas and opinions. We held two workshops over the course of the day where we first asked our community to brainstorm their vision of our future, and then asked them to outline their vision of our ethical contribution to the psychedelic community in Scotland.

As you can see from these pictures, our members were very focused on the healing power of psychedelics and their ability to work with trauma and integrate difficult life circumstances. With comments like ‘beyond the medical’ and ‘widen access’, it became clear to us that we needed to keep the SPRG as both a grassroots organisatio that connected with our amazing community of indigenous practitioners. There were many post its with comments that held words such as ‘community’, ‘setting intentions’, ‘compassion’ and ‘inclusive’. We understood from these contributions that we needed to ensure that we hold a space for our indigenous plants and their local users as well as pushing for legalised therapy, changes to legalisation and recategorising.

Our second part of the day involved getting people to think about ethics and how we would move forward as an ethical organisation. It was clear from the start that everyone wanted a community of practice that they could rely on and call on when needed. With words and phrases such as ‘building trust’, ‘transparency’ and ‘equality’ we knew we had a strong foundation for building a code for ethical practitioners. Our members are proud of the work they do with psychedelics and want this work to held up to world class standards of ethical care.

The phrase ‘open science, open hearts’, was written on a note and this summed up our day and our ethos moving forward. The SPRG will be a community of open science and open hearts in Scotland, as a grassroots organisation that supports both indigenous practitioners and therapeutic research.

We consider our vision day to be an unparalled success. Apart from the wonder of meeting all of our members in person, we formed a strong ethical plan for the forward movement of SPRG. From the work done here, our ethics document was written and our community grew the vision of how we are going to move forward as an organisation.