Psilocybin Retreats in the Netherlands
Searching for a trip to remember? You’re in the right place! The Netherlands is famous for its liberal drug culture and policies, which have paved the way for the establishment of numerous plant medicine retreat centers. In particular, psilocybin retreats in the Netherlands are exploding in popularity.
In 2019, I had the chance to participate in a psilocybin retreat myself. We ate mushrooms two nights in a row under the guidance of two different shamans. Although the ceremonies did lead me to meaningful insights about my personality and internal obstacles, the retreat itself left much to be desired. (Sometimes “tripping” literally means stumbling around in the dark, because you can’t find a quiet place to take an introspective moment alone.) I came away feeling that I could have gotten a lot more out of the whole experience had I been more deliberate in selecting the right retreat.
After guiding many thousands of people at the Earth Awareness centre through a psychedelic experience I have seen with my own eyes that for most people it has great value to step out of your comfort zone and change your perspective. Many people report it as a life-changing experience or at least as a useful next step on their personal pathMaya Van Oosterhout, founder of Earth Awareness
You can avoid making the same mistake by choosing your retreat carefully and understanding some basic background that will help you do just that. Below I’ll take you through the history of magic mushrooms, why people attend psilocybin retreats, how to select the right retreat for your circumstances, legality, and cost. I’ll also share a few top-rated psilocybin retreats in the Netherlands.
Table of Contents
Pre-Historic Use of Psychedelic Mushrooms
The use of psychedelic mushrooms is nothing new for humanity. Stone age rock art found throughout Europe, Africa, and Central/South America depicts mushroom consumption, often in a religious or ceremonial context. Pre-Olmec stone carvings of hallucinogenic mushrooms all over Mesoamerica date as far back as 3,000 BC. The ancient Aztec civilization referred to psychedelic mushrooms as teonanácatl, which translates to ‘flesh of the gods‘. The ‘stoned ape’ theory even posits that the consumption of psilocybin-containing mushrooms played a major role in accelerating the evolution of our brains.
Humans have been consuming psilocybin-containing mushrooms for millennia, but we have only recently begun to scientifically track and document their effects.
Psilocybin Science: Health Benefits and Why People Attend Retreats
A number of recent studies have shed light on the benefits and applications of psilocybin. Firstly, it shows promise as a highly effective treatment and in some cases even a cure for a range of pain-related conditions. These include cluster headaches, phantom limb pain, and possibly even migraine headaches. Psilocybin is also a potent anti-inflammatory, which means that it may help sufferers of inflammatory diseases such as lupus, Behcet’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Perhaps even more intriguing are psilocybin’s mental health applications. Multiple clinical trials have shown that psilocybin can be helpful in treating depression, even in difficult cases of treatment-resistant depression. Although research is still ongoing, it also shows promise as a treatment for conditions such as anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse disorders, and eating disorders.
Some research even suggests that psilocybin has the potential to induce mystical experiences, enhance creativity, augment mental flexibility, and increase one’s sense of connection to nature.
People attend psilocybin retreats because it allows them to potentially reap more benefits and feel safer than they would just taking mushrooms on their own. A good retreat provides a container designed to optimize growth and help you make meaningful, lasting changes in behavior and mindset.
Legality of Psilocybin in the Netherlands
Although it’s not currently legal in the Netherlands to possess the actual fruiting bodies of magic mushrooms, it is legal to possess and consume the less strong but still psychoactive ‘magic truffles‘. This is the part of the mushroom that grows underground, and it still has a potent effect.
As they say, when life gives you mushrooms, make magic truffles. Just be sure to double-check the legal status of your retreat center before taking a bite. Avoid any retreat that offers the actual mushroom and/or extraction of psilocybin and stick to retreats that offer only truffles.
How to Select the Right Retreat
Psilocybin has the power to improve your life a lot, but context matters. If you really want to maximize the benefits, be very deliberate about selecting the right retreat center. Here are three of the most important factors to consider.
Vibe of the Center and Facilitator
Even if a particular retreat has great reviews on Google and your best friend’s cousin loved it, you might not necessarily feel the same way. It’s important to find a location you find pleasant and a guide that you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. Do as much research as possible before you commit to a retreat. If possible, scope out videos of the person who will lead the ceremony and of the place itself. Videos will give you a better feel for what to expect than whatever well-written copy the center provides online.
Mental Health Professionals
Although psilocybin may alleviate the symptoms of a range of conditions, it could be a double-edged sword for those who struggle with mental health issues. There’s always the potential that any psychedelic could actually exacerbate the problem or even trigger a new condition in someone who did not previously struggle with mental health. For this reason in particular, it’s extremely important to select a retreat center that has trained mental health professionals on staff.
Look for Bad Reviews
While it can help helpful and reassuring to read glowing reviews of what people took away from their psilocybin retreats, it’s equally important to search specifically for bad reviews. Google the names of any retreat centers you’re considering. First, scan the first two to three pages for blog entries or articles about bad experiences. Next, filter Google reviews by ‘lowest’. While you should take anything you read there with a grain of salt, keep your eyes peeled for multiple reports of bad experiences or more than one bad review that mentions the same complaint.
How Much is This Going to Cost?
The price can vary widely depending on a range of factors. The length of the retreat, the sophistication of the accommodation, the reputation and experience of the facilitator(s), and the inclusion of any additional services will all influence the cost. For example, one 3-day retreat that does not employ staff trained to assist with mental health conditions might cost €1,500. Longer retreats which are able to accommodate participants with serious conditions will likely be several thousand euros more expensive. While it’s important to find something within your budget, you should also make sure your chosen retreat is suitable for your needs.
Top-Rated Psilocybin Retreats in the Netherlands
Here are some of the highly-rated retreat centers in the Netherlands.
Awaken the Medicine Within
My personal path has always been that of exploration, purpose and meaning-making through spiritual practices. The work and impact that these (plant, fungi and compounds) teachers have on our human growth and learning are tremendous, however when approached through a multidisciplinary lens, the impact can reach not only an individual life but also contribute to a change in systems.Natasja Pelgrom, founder, Awaken The Medicine Within
Founder Natasja Pelgrom started our facilitating one-day psychedelic experiences. She began Awaken the Medicine Within after recognizing the need for more comprehensive and extended programs because “true behavioral change happens over time”. Today, the center offers 5-day experiences that are underscored by a trauma-informed approach and a deep understanding of the transpersonal process.
Awaken the Medicine Within also includes leadership training as a unique cornerstone of each retreat. In addition to two psilocybin truffle ceremonies and leadership workshops, the experience also includes breathwork, a cacao ceremony, Qigong, meditation, sharing circles, and a comprehensive program of integration activities.
The contact that you can experience with your core being and the whole universe while on psychedelics is so real, it makes you overcome everyday struggles because you are connected to the bigger picture. It’s like tapping into creation itself. It’s energizing and brings so much clarity and inspiration.Maya Van Oosterhout, founder of Earth Awareness
Founded by two experienced psychonauts, Earth Awareness offers deeply transformative experiences in a natural setting. One of the most unique aspects of the Earth Awareness experience is their ceremony and accommodation space, ‘The Nature Temple’, which truly lives up to the center’s earth-centric name. It is completely off-grid, immersed in the forest, and offers surround sound in the form of birdsong. You won’t easily find this kind of nature in the densely-populated Netherlands, setting Earth Awareness apart from most other centers. Their retreats are particularly well-suited to those who love being outside and want to feel connected to Mother Earth.
Based in Lage Vuursche, Katharsis Journeys was born from the four co-founders’ shared passion for redefining mental health practices. Their approach to well-being highlights the need for communal connections and transformational experiences. Their inspiration came from their beliefs and feedback from people attending retreats that lacked adequate support and preparation for their psychedelic journeys.
I consider psychedelics as potent instruments for transformational experiences, deeply ingrained in human culture and mental health since the dawn of history. The traditions of working with them have been partially lost over time, but their potential to help people undergo profound psychological transformations still holds great promise.Alexander Lebedev, MD PhD,
Chief Executive Officer
Lebedev says that while it’s hard to pick just one transformative retreat experience story from Katharsis Journeys, stories about profound shifts in family relationships stand out. Particularly, significant growth is observed when fathers and sons attend the retreats together. Similarly, individuals struggling with interpersonal connections find the communal experiences at the retreats to be beneficial to their mental health.
Acsauhaya’s Center of Consciousness boasts highly skilled staff with 20+ years of plant medicine experience working with indigenous peoples from cultures that utilize psychedelic and medicinal mushrooms.
Like many people, I was mainly focusing on my career, money and materialism. I had a superficial lifestyle and was trapped in my own created rat race. After a while a question popped up in my head: “How will my life look if I continue like that? I will probably get very depressed before I am 60 years old. Or I’ll get ill and die before that.” I always believed in God, not the old man with a white beard, but a powerful source or creator. Sometimes I looked to the stars, to the moon or to the sun and couldn’t understand what this life is about. After a while I got inspired by a very good friend to join a psychedelic retreat, which changed my perspective on life, to myself and to people around me in a very positive and loving way.Johannes Binder, TEAM MEMBER AT Acsauhaya
They have brought their expertise to the Netherlands, where they host small group retreats designed to offer personalized experiences tailored to the individual.
Although many retreats are not equipped to handle mental disorders, Acsauhaya actually specializes in treating problems such as anxiety, bulimia, depression, trauma, and others. When asked to describe some of the transformations he has seen in participants, founder Johannes Binder explained that “illnesses have been healed, so that physical pain, headaches, depression, burn-out or ADHD [weren’t] part of [people’s lives] anymore”.
This center also places a strong emphasis on post-ceremony integration, initially in the form of group sharing and one on one talks with staff. Integration then continues after participants leave the center. Each person receives an integration toolkit in the mail, and Acsauhaya even offers free post-retreat video chats with their staff.
A psilocybin retreat isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Choosing the right one is somewhat like shopping for the perfect pair of jeans: it will take some time and effort, but when you find the right fit, you’ll feel like a million bucks (or like you’re on a million micrograms). Be deliberate and thoughtful in choosing the right retreat center and facilitator for your unique set of circumstances. Your future self will thank you.
Learn more about Psilocybin on Frshminds:
- Considering a retreat? Check out Frshminds’ Ultimate Psilocybin Retreat Center Guide.
- What Kind of a Drug is Psilocybin? What Will It Do To Me?
- How Long Does Psilocybin Stay in Your System?
- Don’t Miss the Best Psilocybin Retreats in Amsterdam
- How To Properly Store Magic Mushrooms
- Why Are There Psilocybin Retreats In Mexico?
- Want To Go To A Magic Mushroom Retreat in Jamaica?
- 3 Top-Rated Psilocybin Retreats in Costa Rica
- The Best Psilocybin Retreats: What To Look For
- Psilocybin Retreats in the Netherlands