We all go through life having grown out of our ways and discover some things that show us what we have really been missing. Gerard Powell knows this journey all too well. From having a troubled childhood and being a high school dropout to building multimillion-dollar businesses, selling them and ending up miserable and suicidal, Gerard has gone through a very interesting journey and came out of it healed and better than ever. Owing it to plant-medicine, his discovery led him to having an amazing and balanced life. Now, he is the author of Sh*t the Moon Said the director and creator of Rythmia, a plant medicine-centric retreat center. Gerard tells us of his journey and gives his thoughts on the divine feminine, shamans, and more.
179: Sex, Consciousness And Plant-Medicine with Gerard Powell
I’ve got a great show for you. I have Gerard Powell, the author of Sh*t the Moon Said and Director and Creator of Rythmia, a plant medicine-centric retreat center in Costa Rica that’s number one in TripAdvisor. We just jived. It was brother to brother. We have different viewpoints. We played. He had such an interesting journey of having a troubled childhood, a high school dropout, building multimillion-dollar businesses, selling them for $90 million in his pocket and then being miserable and suicidal. He used the process of plants to find out his core wounding. He discovered on the medicine a forgotten memory of his grandfather sexually molesting him. From there, doing the work to have such an amazing balanced life. He talked about 10% of the alcohol he drinks. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes anymore. He has a rich intimate relationship with his sons. Please enjoy the show and for more shows, please visit RobertKandell.com. If you enjoy the show, please give us a little rating on your favorite podcast app, Stitcher, iTunes, Spotify. I would be so appreciative.
I’m thrilled to invite a very special guest on the show. His name is Gerard Powell and he is the Creator of Rythmia. He is the author of the book Sh*t the Moon Said. He’s a fascinating man. We’re going all over the place. Some of you know about my love with the plants. I love the growth that it’s had on me, the experience they provided me and Morgan. Welcome to the show, Gerard.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m super appreciative.
You are one interesting man. Do you want to give your life bio like an elevator pitch? Do you want to give them the highlights so people can get a feel for you?
I was a high school dropout turned business guy. I was successful in my own rights financially, but I was a mess as a human. I was a very bad human. I was super depressed. I tried to kill myself a couple of times. The last time I had about $60 million in cash and it didn’t make sense that I was trying to kill myself and I was an asshole. I was a mean guy. I was the worst kind of guy. I was a drug addict, misogynist, alcoholic and greedy. You can throw it all in a pot and I was in a disagreeable boat. I was a really rough guy. It got so bad that I was ready to give up again and ready to quit and then I came across plant medicine. It sounds hard to believe, but everything was shifted in a night and I thought, “Look what I found.”
I’ve listened to a few of your podcast and watched your story. You described the shaman and it wasn’t ayahuasca. What was your first experience? They took you to the moon and you could ask ten questions per journey. The first question you asked was, “Why am I an asshole?”
Yes, “Show me why I am such an asshole.”
I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve interfaced with hundreds if not thousands of teachers and leaders and people in positions of power. The thing I appreciated with you, Gerard, was the way you described yourself honestly, vulnerably and truly. You did not hold anything back with your dark side and your skeletons. I saw a video about you throwing one of those electronic pencil sharpeners at people. You talked about your infidelity, you talked about being caught by your wife, you talked about your lover’s ex-husband killing himself. All these things are true. To show that side, it’s all about living unHidden. It’s all about the book. To my viewpoint, this is about not being sad about your darker side but bringing it out to empower yourself to be the teacher you are. I want to commend you for that true courage in doing that.
Thank you. After you do enough medicine, it’s the only way you can live. You can’t live behind things anymore. It’s the medicine’s law.
Let’s talk about some topics that seem to light us up in our little pre-talk. In my viewpoint, there’s been an epic rise of the feminine for the last several years in terms of so much that it’s disrupting the ebb and flow of society in terms of masculine-feminine disruption. #MeToo is a rise of the feminine. Trump being President is the last hold of the masculine and the patriarchy holding on with their dear hands and then the rise of the plants. Maybe you can give your concepts of what you see in terms of that connected to where society is now.
It is such a crazy thing. I’ll take it back to me. I was the scourge of the femininity thing. I was the worst thing to happen to women. How interesting the plant medicine, especially ayahuasca infusing into me and all of a sudden, women trust me. I’m thinking, “How did that happen?” It’s this change in medicine. If you see this in the society where it gets confusing, this is the dawn of the rise of the feminine. We’re in the near beginning where this is all going because it has to balance. The problem is, early on in this piece, there will be so many misgivings and misunderstandings. I believe that medicine is one of the primary drivers of this resurgence of the divine feminine. It’s a key and primary driver. What’s going on in the medicine is going on in the subconscious phase of everyone. These are connected. This is happening and it’s terribly misunderstood. The feminine can rise without a big rise in the masculine. It’s looked at this one-sided myopic approach. The, “I am a woman, hear me roar,” isn’t going to work. There’s so much more going on. Do you agree with that thought?When you're merged back with your soul, the very nature of who you were changes. Click To Tweet
To come down from feminine to a woman interface, that’s a deliberate communication. There’s a difference between women and feminine. To come down to the womenfolk, they’re like, “Please, Rob. Write this book so guys can step up because we want good men. We want good men to play. We need good men to step up at this time. It is the most exciting party ever. It’s not going to be as much fun unless there are guys here to join us.” The women representing the feminine side is saying, “Yes, let’s rise the masculine. Let’s rise the feminine. Let’s rise humanity so we can play in the theater of this day.”
Early in change, there’s misconception and overcorrection in certain things. What is the medicine, which is a female plant, what is it meant to do? To become more manly and what does that mean? It’s the rise of integrity. To fully be a man, you have to be in integrity. Here’s where the whole thing got off and shifted up. Men have to be in the light and in integrity. That’s a whole new animal. I see so many women who are switched on. We’re 68% female. I see thousands of women come through here and the vast majority want to be in a relationship and find an equal to do it with. They can’t find somebody who wants to come on the journey with them. A lot of that has to do with the failure of both parties. It always comes down to the same thing.
There is a lot of anger in men. I don’t know if you knew about the Gillette ad that came out. This is so intriguing to me. The Gillette ad was released around January 13th, 2019 and it immediately had a major negative impact from both men and women saying, “It was trying to tell men that men are bad. It was anti-men. It was sexist and it was misandry.” I watch that thing and I was like, “This is just some roadmap of how to have men to improve who they are. What is the big deal that is bugging people so much?” There’s a big pushback. When you said, “Men being more manly,” I was like, “There’s a viewpoint that the feminism or feminine doesn’t want men to be more manly.” I think it’s the opposite.
They do. It’s what does manly mean? What does it mean to be responsible and show up and not run? There’s a lot to being a man that’s super cool. It’s to be soft, loving, nurturing and supportive. The whole problem is 60% of the children in the world are gone fatherless. There are bigger issues. There’s this hit and run thing. No wonder we got bombs. There are problems all over, but it is possible to be masculine, loving, truthful, in the light, supportive, real, present and not lie. This is what we’re looking for. I know how I want my man. I want my man to be that. I want to be able to take him to the world and count on him. To do that, that’s the start of it. If you want to see women flourish, put them around five men like that. It sounds simplistic and it is. You and I both know that when we’re done, the medicine will take this cluster and put it to four straight lines and go, “That was easy.” It takes this whole thing because all of this confusing roadmap is simple when you’re on the medicine. It just clears up like, “All I’ve got to do is be honest, tell the truth, say who I am and show up.”
I’ve historically done a slightly different version than Ayahuasca. I did something called Mushroom Ayahuasca. It’s just different. I can tell you the supercharged power of it has been amazing out of a couple of years. It improved my relationship with Morgan, my wife and the journeys that we’ve had. It brought different parts of myself out. More specifically, it healed my relationship with my dad, which was an outstanding thing for a long time. I said to my grandmother, “Is there more to my dad?” She was like, “You’ve done your work.” I was scared of being in front of the curtain. I was very good at being behind the curtain. The grandmother showed me the way to be in front of the curtain.
It’s interesting when you talk about plant medicine and how easy it is to bring the medicine and the teachings of medicine into our lives. Going to counseling or going to a workshop, it always is super hard for me to integrate that stuff. With the medicine, it’s so simple because it’s based on unbiased truth. The real truth is all that the medicine wants for us in our lives. The real truth is all the women who come here want it in men. That’s the real thing. They want to be told the truth. They want it so hard. From a child, they started messing with you. They are like, “There’s Santa Claus and Easter Bunny.” It’s a lifetime of being lied to. By the time you’re dating, you’re saying, “I want someone to tell me the truth,” then they lie to you.
Since 2014 in your opening, 4,340 people have come through, another 1,130 scheduled. It’s 68% women. 98.5% would refer it to someone else, which is every business owner’s dream. Our dream is to have 98.5%. You said 92.5% miracle. Maybe you could talk about that. What is that metric that you use?
The 4,300 is between February of 2016 and now. That miracle rate is when everybody checks out, they’re given an electronic survey. One of the last questions on the survey is, “Did you receive this particular miracle?” The miracle that we talk about is a reemerging of your soul. About 925 out of 1,000 said yes. In the last couple of months, it’s even been higher. It’s been about 970 out of 1,000. We have this super success rate. That success rate has led us to be TripAdvisor’s number one resort hotel in the world. That one in Dubai, our little place is crushing that. The Waldorf Astoria and the Four Seasons. We’re 30% better than the Four Seasons because these people have this experience of being merged back with their soul. That’s a mimicking of the experience I had. Medicine showed me three things. It wanted me to admit who I’ve become, merge me back with my soul and to heal my heart. That’s exactly the same program that we run here. The hardest part is saying who you become.
I had so many skeletons in my closet. Imagine being a man 41 years old with all of this money and all of these secrets and all these lovers, wife and kids. To go from that to showing your cards and saying who you are and being that, that itself is a breath of fresh air to no longer hide. Then when you’re merged back with your soul, the very nature of who you are changes. When this thing happens and you’re there, everything else changes. I woke up myself and I go, “Who was that? What could I have been thinking?” I am looking at it in a bad way. I look at it like, “That guy is messed up,” in almost a joking way because it’s so far removed from what I think is what I’m about at the moment. We’re all a work in progress.
One of the things I read about with you is your relationship with your sons. You have two sons and they were a big motivator for you to “clean up your life” and get onto this. How was your relationship with your sons changed over time as you’ve been working with the medicines?
I’m closer with my sons than anybody around me that I know. When I first started this, my one son wouldn’t even speak to me and my other son was super frustrated with me. We went from that to being so close. As a matter of fact, my one son was smoking weed a day. He saw what happened to me and he said, “I’ll come down to Costa Rica and do it with you.” He did the medicine one time and hasn’t smoked weed since. Medicine is a miracle. I don’t mean that it’s anti-weed, it’s anti anything that you’re addicted to.
The first time I heard of Ayahuasca was in 2007 in New York City. I was coworking in this crazy place in New York City and the woman just brought it up and mentioned it. I had done acid and mushrooms when I was younger. I love the tripping and I love the fun of it not ever thinking of it as an educational plant. This is 2007 and here we are several years later. It’s like when yoga came. Yoga was this weird hippie thing in California and then all of a sudden, there are yoga blocks and mats everywhere in Walgreens. There’s a sense of Ayahuasca being the same way. It exploded onto the marketplace. To me, it’s scary because the shaman I’ve gone to has 25 years’ experience. I just relaxed in her presence, but there are a lot of shamans out there without extensive experience. They are serving the medicine without the experience and without going through the life forming transformations themselves. Our mutual friend, Tina, talks about her tutelage under the medicine and how she was so in depth. There are a lot of people showing up trying to ride the wave of success. What’s your viewpoint about what you see in terms of inexperienced medicine carriers?Whatever you can do to prepare yourself to surrender, you're going to be great. Click To Tweet
Medicine that was properly made is the best thing for anyone, even if their shaman wasn’t perfect, but setting an intention is super important. I could take someone’s experience and at least make it 300% better in the right set and setting. We’ve done so much work on this. There are 4,304 journeys and 17,000 individual ceremony experiences. Each 17,000 has about eleven points of data. I have so much data on what makes a good ceremony and what makes a good journey. There’s so much to learn. I believe we’ve worked the data than anyone has ever collected to date on this particular thing. Within a few years, we’ll have so much data that it’s going to be irrefutable. I think it’s statistically significant now. What we’re finding is the level of a shaman has importance, the ratio of helper and shaman to the guest has a big importance. More importantly, it’s the pre and the aftercare. Immediately before and immediately after are what this great influence has. 15% influence on this miracle rate.
I know that a big part of Rythmia is other than medicine, you do colonics. What do you recommend for pre-care? What do you see in terms of people to enhance their experience?
Proper diet is super important and being comfortable. For Westerners having something that’s medically supervised. That in the background, there’s fallback medical care which is important. It puts people at ease, especially Americans knowing that if something crazy were to happen, there’s an EMT here, there’s a doctor here or there’s a nurse here. That thing makes people calm down. What our particular formula is this. We have this wonderful farm-to-table for getting food. We have massage and colonics. We have a transformational breath work, yoga, metaphysical classes and then plant medicine classes.
In your average week, you get about twenty hours’ worth of programming. Then you have aftercare after each ceremony. You will have integration on top of that thing. When you’re here, you’re working and relaxing all the time. We’re a five-minute bicycle ride from the beach. Two out of 30 people get to the beach by an all-encompassing program that walks them through every step of the way, four plant journeys and two breathe work journeys and there’s just this system. If somebody said to me, “It’s my first time. I’m going to be in LA. I’m going to do it.” I would say, “Make sure that you eat properly before. Be in a place where at least you know someone because it’s this level of comfort that allows the conscious mind and the ego to sit down a little bit so that the soul can take over.” That can usually be done through commonality. I know someone. I trust someone. I feel good about this. If you’re not feeling good about it, don’t do it because your guard will be too high to allow the breakthrough that wants to occur.
In my language, I would call it the vigilance center and how the vigilance center needs to be handled. We talked about that a lot. At OneTaste, we talk a lot about sexuality, especially a woman’s vigilance center, which is connected to the amygdala. It has to be handled for there to be freedom and all genders. To create a space where people don’t have to worry about a heart attack or what happens and in that, they can surrender. To me, it’s all about surrender. It’s like, “I had such a rich life that if I’m going to die, I’m going to die. If I’m going to be in the experience, I’m going to surrender because I’m not afraid of death.” People walk in with that fear and don’t surrender. The medicine is kicking their ass by not surrendering compared to someone who just surrenders.
Whatever you can do to prepare yourself to surrender, you’re going to be great. Do you ever see someone fight the medicine? The medicine always wins. We can do this the hard way or the easy way. That’s the deal. We can do this the hard way. We can do it the easy way. It’s at the same result eventually. The greatest statistic that we have here is that 97.55% of the people that get that miracle six months later say that this was the week that changed their lives. The medicine is still working in their life and that the miracle is still guiding their life. From workshops, it’s unheard of.
Workshop leaders like to create workshop pops so people will sign up for the next workshop pop. In other words, it’s a sugar high or a one-night cocaine experience. It’s like, “This is the best thing ever.” Then you can’t integrate it into your life. I’m deeply respectful of the care and the wisdom of taking the experience. I love a fun night. I love the experience of that. Who I am now, a large part has to do with the medicine. A large part has to do also with somatic therapy. It has a lot to do with my health. It has a lot to do with Morgan changing everything in my life in terms of health. I love that you create the motivation or maybe if it’s even just the belief system that this can sustain. A lot of people do not believe that they can have these epic changes in their life and the ego ensures that they don’t.
There’s so much that goes into the effect of knowing that the possibility exists because so many of us don’t believe that it exists. When the medicine comes in handy, the medicine slaps it into, “It’s available.” All of a sudden, you get that real a-ha moment like, “This is possible. There is love and there’s only love. I’m okay. This thing is back together and now I’m on the right path. What a great wind going through life.” If you ever have a minute and you want to read some funny things, go to TripAdvisor and see what these people say. It’s crazy what they say about us because the experience is real. In my opinion, what you see on the medicine is real. The filters come on in the day and I can’t see that this wall is made up of little tiny particles that are all moving, but it is. That’s how I know that.
People say this regular spirituality metaphysical to say, “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.” I think that’s bullshit. In regular life, you have a peak experience in life and it’s easily forgotten. The day the refrigerator breaks, that thing is out the door. On medicine, when you see it, you can’t forget it. I cannot forget it. I’m looking at you very human, but I know that you’re God and that’s because of this medicine. You are an emanation of it, whatever it is. I can’t take that from you and therefore I have to treat you in that manner that makes life gets easier and not harder.
I know that you had quite a few journeys in a very short period of time and yet, some people can’t physically handle that and can’t physically afford that. In terms of people’s journeys, do you have a prescription in terms of how often and what level of intensity when you talk to people? Rythmia is not for people without funds. You’re in an older demographic. You’re 39 and professional is the meaning of your demographic. How would you recommend people who want to go on this journey but don’t have the financial resources to do it?
Find a shaman in your area and be sure that they’re good and then do the work before the experience and do the work after the experience. If you’re going to do one-off experiences, do one at a time and give it months to integrate because without the proper support, it’s hard. Now we’re doing quantitative stuff like, “What is the right support?” That’s a whole other fish pond. If you don’t have it or you feel that you don’t have it, the medicine will still be a great benefit. Do the medicine and take three months off. Do the medicine and take six months off. If you can’t be doing medicine work, do metaphysical work and then do the medicine. If you’re in the counseling, get a counselor that has done medicine. Get someone to talk to. It’s super important. It’s important stuff.
You’re exposing the bias that I think myself and other people might have. I’ve seen in other people’s practitioners that medicine is going to do the work for me. It’s like, “I go to show up, drink this tea and everything is going to be fine.” What I’m truly hearing as a reminder and as a real exclamation point, is like, “You’ve got to do the work before, during and after.” I had a friend who did a lot of medicine very quick and we just saw the lack of integration. We saw that the impact of him not taking time in between to fully integrate it. It is the pre, during and after. It’s a complete experience. Don’t be a lazy American and think that this tea is going to do it.The medicine always wins. Click To Tweet
When people read that Facebook stuff in the TripAdvisor, when they call in, we tell them, “This is going to be the hardest week of your life. You’re going to grow through about 40 years’ worth of shit in about six and a half to seven days. Don’t come here thinking it’s a spiritual club. This is a boot camp. If you’re prepared for it, we’re the right place. If you’re not ready to see yourself, we’re not the right place.” There are all kinds of different stuff you can go to. Instead of doing that, you can go circles in all places, but if you want to see who you are and you want to make all this change occurred, do it. The work doesn’t stop here. The work continues for the rest of your life after a week, after a month, for the rest of your life.
Your book is Sh*t the Moon Said: A Story of Sex, Drugs and Ayahuasca. What was your motivation for writing the book and what has been the response you’ve seen?
The motivation was I think it’s a story that needs to be told by comparison. The great thing about that book is people read that and they come here and they go, “I’m not half as fucked up like this guy.” We try to walk the talk here. What happened to me as a result of all this stuff, I drink 90% less alcohol. I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for as long as forever and I smoke a cigarette or two a month. I eat about 80% less on meat than I’ve ever eaten. I still eat some fish here and there, but my wife has cleaned up. I have intimate personal relationships and I have a relationship with her. This was from where I started the complete opposite place. It can happen quickly.
The purpose of the book was to show people the contrast, but you have to be ready. You can’t say, “I’m going to just take this pill. I’m going to eat this brownie. I’m going to drink this tea and then my God will take care of it.” It’s not this stuff. That’s fairytale shit that happens. This is, “I’m going to change my life from this day forward.” That’s this stuff. That’s the book. The book is like, “This is how fucked up it can get when you’re not doing right.” It was like, “More money, more women, more cocaine, more fucked up shit, more drugs.” That’s the American dream on steroids. Go from that to being in service. I went from a life of making people serve me to a life of being in service.
That is the quote, “I lived a life of people serving me and I turned a life of service.” Service is pleasurable. I spend all day serving and I think serving is selfish. It is a selfish beautiful thing. Thank you so much for coming on the show. This is one of the most fun ones I’ve done it in a while. I’m deeply appreciative of your energy and the work you’re doing. I look forward to more adventures. Rythmia is on Morgan and mine’s wish list. We’ll get about down there.
I pray that you and Morgan come down as my guest. I would love to have you. Thanks so much for talking with me.
We’re here every week on some assorted topic. It is just different practices out there so you can have the fullest life you want possible and I think it’s possible. That’s the truth. You’ve got to do the work. It’s not coming to you. Get off your ass, stop watching Netflix, stop watching porn and stop blaming other people. Do your work. Talk to the moon and everything can be amazing.
Thank you so much for joining. I don’t know about you, but that was a wild ride. It’s a great time. I feel blessed to have Gerard on the show. I hope that you join Rythmia. I brought up this concept of if you can afford, Rythmia is not cheap. To be honest, I think it’s worth it. If you don’t have the means of it, find the medicine of your liking. That doesn’t necessarily have to be plant medicine. That could be something that really heals you and takes you to do the work. For more shows, visit RobertKandell.com. The book is available. The audiobook is available. I’m here to serve. I love you. Take care.
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