N.S.’s Story

In July 2018 I participated in an Ayahuasca retreat that was held in an absolute unprofessional manner, organized by people who neither had proper training nor the necessary skills to conduct a ceremony and to create a safe space. The organizers were a bunch of friends with little experience and no education in how to pour the medicine and from the very beginning made it very clear that they are not taking responsibility for anything that’s going to happen during the retreat. The whole night was a complete mess with people screaming, singing, running around and dancing without anyone really taking care of them. In fact, the organizers themselves were super high, totally absorbed in their own experiences, constantly shooting rapé up there noses as if it was a party drug.

For me the whole situation was super confusing and I had to leave the room where the ceremony was held since I could not endure it any longer. So I spent the whole night outdoors without anyone ever checking on me. I had a very distressing experience whilst at the same time I absolutely did not feel safe in the environment I was in nor with the people who were supposed to facilitate the proceedings, which they never did. I regretted very much that I had stayed to drink the medicine although already before the ceremony I had massive doubts about the whole situation.

Miguel Martinez aka Miguel Delgado, the main organizer of the retreat, was already getting angry at me during the night when I refused to drink more medicine, probably realizing that I was not very fond of the whole situation. The next day in the sharing circle he then attacked me verbally very violently when I disagreed with him on something he said, screaming at me and insulting me in a very bad manner. The other facilitators didn’t stop him and never addressed his aggressive behavior. I was shocked and felt extremely threatened, I really got scared of him, worrying he could also hurt me physically, so I ran away.

Still in shock I made a post about my experience on Facebook, warning about Miguel and his crew. The feedback I got was mind-blowing: a lot of people were writing to me about their own distressing experiences with Miguel or things they had witnessed in his retreats. The stories I heard included taking advantage of women while they were under the influence of substances, giving Ayahuasca to minors (and apparently even having sex with them), inappropriately touching and harassing female participants during ceremony, yelling and threatening people who were having a hard time and attacking, intimidating and ridiculing participants in front of the whole group. Things that people shared in a confidential way were later used against them. There are people who ended up with a psychosis or being hospitalized, many were severely traumatized, struggling for months and even years with the experiences they had in their retreats. It was painful to listen to all these people and what they had to endure. It blew my mind how one person was able to harm so many people for such a long time without ever being held accountable for it. (You will find the testimonies in which these allegations are made in the section below about Miguel).

I was wondering what I could do about it and spoke with several people from the psychedelic scene here in Germany, but nobody really wanted to get involved. In fact, several people tried to convince me to just let it be since they thought that my efforts to warn about a harmful practitioner would only harm the psychedelic movement as a whole. I also contacted Joe Schraube, whose real name is Achim Pochert. He was inviting Miguel to one of his events at the Psychedelic Salon Berlin where he was doing a lecture about 5-Meo-DMT and of course promoting his retreats. I asked him to take action and to warn about Miguel since he turned out to be reckless and dangerous. Joe was very resistant to that and didn’t want to take responsibility for inviting Miguel to his event although I had sent him many screenshots of messages I got from several people who clearly showed that Miguel’s behavior towards participants was highly unprofessional and abusive. I also gave him the contacts of several people who were willing to talk with him about their experience with Miguel but he never contacted them. Eventually, at some point Joe made a half-hearted statement that he shortly after deleted again.

I assumed that he didn’t want to take action because there had been two incidents between him and I before my encounter with Miguel happened. First, when I got to know Joe I still was struggling with the Ayahuasca experiences I had in Peru. He introduced himself as a very experienced tripsitter, doing retreats with substances for many years. He offered me a session and I agreed. But when we finally met, he took the substance I was supposed to take for himself, apparently so he could be on the same plane as I was. Under the influence he then tried to talk me into getting physical with him since he claimed to be regressing, being the little child that never got enough love from his mother. So I was supposed to take him into my arms and cuddle with him but I refused, being very confused about what was going on since we had agreed that he was supposed to take care of me and not the other way around. On another occasion he offered to take me to the Beyond Psychedelics conference with his car. He also offered me to sleep with him in his car, but due to what had happened before, I preferred to sleep somewhere else. At the end of the conference he then left without me, leaving me alone in Prague, not knowing how I was supposed to get back to Berlin. Later he admitted that he was angry that I was not sleeping with him in his car.

Joe also always wanted to convince me to work for him in his newly founded Psychedelic Society Germany. When I refused because I just got offered a paid job in another organization and both activities would exclude each other, he went to my bosses and told them lies about me, trying to discredit me in the worst possible manner. I do believe that it was his intention to convince them to not give me the job, so I would be free to work for him in the end. This I only found out after all the things mentioned above had happened and I already had distanced myself from Joe, but after knowing about his efforts to get me fired from my new job I finally really didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.

Two years later, some friends and I founded the Psychedelic Society Berlin. Joe suddenly contacted me, telling me that he had decided to investigate the whole thing with Miguel again and that he wanted information from me. At the same time, he was contacting my friends and colleagues, telling them that I was a liar, that I had made up the whole story about Miguel, that I had been in love with him and just wanted to have revenge because he refused me. He threatened them by saying they would regret it if they continued working with me and that they instead should start working for him and his organization. It became quite obvious that he had no interest in investigating what had really happened but simply wanted to discredit me because he was angry about the establishment of a new organization in Berlin.

He then created a whole webpage about me that is supposed to prove that I was making the whole thing about Miguel up and that in fact he’s the real victim. This is supported by Miguel’s friends and the people who organize retreats with him, the only people who get a say on that page, all testifying against my version of the story. Other people who have testified against Miguel got slandered and portrayed as sick and mentally ill people who either are jealous of Miguel or in love with him. The narrative is that it’s never the fault of Miguel and his crew when something goes wrong, it’s always the fault of the participants who all are totally sick individuals when they have a bad experience or question Miguel and his methods (that are justified in the most absurd ways like Joe comparing Miguel to Timothy Leary, saying that he has just “unconventional methods”).

This webpage that claims to present a neutral investigation from the beginning was created with the intention to discredit me (again) in the worst possible manner since Joe felt threatened by the foundation of the Psychedelic Society Berlin. In his imagination it is my fault that there are people who do not want to get involved in his organization but instead want to do their own thing. At some point he even claimed that it was my fault that people at Breaking Convention were not talking to him, which is a bit of a strange assumption since I never have spoken publicly about him and only my closest friends knew what had happened between us. In short: Joe is defending a dangerous perpetrator, using victim-blaming and shaming to silence those who have spoken up against him, manipulating people by misapplying information and threatening people who do not take his side. And while he is using my full real name on this website (which legal notice is from a company in Kathmandu), he himself is hiding behind a fake name and a whole fake personality since he’s – like he admitted towards me – lying about his background and career.

During the last few months I got in contact with some people from the Psychedelic Society Germany who told me that they are not standing behind this (while he claims that the page is a product of their common efforts), that they are in fact ashamed of it and several times have asked him to remove it. Someone also told me how he was trying to convince people to make a statement about the whole thing. When they told him that they don’t know what to say about it since they don’t know what really happened, he made suggestions about what they should say. He also called people from another organization claiming that the Psychedelic Society Berlin is plotting against them, trying really hard to discredit our organization.

There were a few people from the Psychedelic Society Germany who got in touch with me, being concerned about Joe’s actions, whilst others have supported Joe’s efforts to discredit me without even speaking to me to hear my side of the story. The Psychedelic Society Berlin and I have at various times offered to talk to them, but we never got any answer so far. I am hereby renewing my offer to all people who count themselves as part of Joe’s organization: please get in touch with us and listen to what we have to say. We do have several testimonies from people who got harmed in Miguel’s retreats but we are also very concerned to share them carelessly with an organization that has dealt with such delicate information in such an insensitive manner.

The past few months now several people who all had their own unsettling experiences with Joe came together and we decided to go public with a communal statement that will soon be released. In both cases, Miguels and Joes, it’s been mind blowing how long they were able to do harm without ever facing any consequences and that they still stand with confidence in the power positions they have built for themselves. I don’t believe in swiping uncomfortable issues under the carpet. If these issues are not addressed the abusive behavior done by certain individuals can continue to go on for several years and even decades before someone is calling it out. After everything I have experienced in the past few months I have to admit that I totally understand why people are afraid to speak up since I have truly paid a high price for it. Nevertheless, I don’t regret it and I am fully standing behind my actions. I believe that the behavior of people like Joe and Miguel should be called out and made visible to the whole community in order for them to be held accountable. I therefore invite you to add a testimony if you have experienced abusive behavior coming from either Joe or Miguel. The more people who are speaking up, the better. This abusive behavior should not be tolerated in our community and individuals who are abusing their power should be held accountable for their actions.

Thank you so much for reading so far, in the end I want to say thanks to all the beautiful people who have supported me during the past few months while I really was in the deepest shit hole at many points, being confronted with all this violence against me. It was an intense process until this point where I am able to speak up publicly. I am grateful that now a lot of people with the same sense of justice have been supporting me getting back on my feet and regaining my voice.