It is known that space for spiritual divinity in psychedelics is both vast and welcoming—two words that may not immediately come to mind when thinking about the LDS Church, more famously known as the Mormon Church. Former members of the organized religion have found a new sacrament, deriving from an ethereal figure we know as magic mushrooms…
Believed to be protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is the Divine Assembly, a community of former church members who seek spiritual guidance through divine experiences. With methods such as meditation, ceremony, and psilocybin, the belief system of the Divine Assembly isn’t far off from the medicinal retreats we have heard of time and time again, evoking curiosity.
Though it is no prerequisite to have a religious (or ex-religious) background in order to partake in the practice of this church, the presence of ex-Mormon and Republican state senator Steve Urquhart as the Divine Assembly’s founder, is turning heads as the radical switch-up from devout Mormon to psilocybin explorer makes multiple headlines. With more worshippers separating from their long-term practice as a result of psychedelic enlightenment, we must wonder—could those with prior religious engagements be more susceptible to life-changing psychedelic experiences?
As per the Divine Assembly’s website, the Divine must be experienced to be comprehended. This is coming from the mouth of Steve Urquhart, a man who once dedicated his life to Mormonism where the use of substances like shrooms or even cannabis were strictly prohibited. We can figure that psilocybin is no stranger to the fundamentals of religion when we are reminded of its many ceremonial contexts, but Steve Urquhart has clearly put in the work to separate the practice of organized religion from the personal endeavors of plant medicine when discussing the mission of the Divine Assembly.
Upon using psychedelics as a way to heal from his loss of faith in the LDS church, Steve Urquhart has also become involved in campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights as well as the legalization of medical marijuana. This is not a man who took a liking to hefty trips in a rebellious act towards a church that no longer served him. This is a human whose perspective towards life as a whole was changed, unprecedentedly through the power of plant medicine.
Steve and his wife Sara, were on a trip in Amsterdam when they tried ayahuasca for the first time. This experience would lead the couple to eventually try mushrooms, which both resulted in profound life-changing experiences. These erudite encounters with plant medicine would tell Urquhart that his past reservations were creating barriers in his personal life, barriers he had not realized were preventing him from loving his wife and children to the extent he could be. These mushroom trips taught Urquhart more than he had ever learned sitting in a church, taking away life lessons that would serve him forevermore on an authentic enlightenment basis through psychedelic experiences.
All of this would be the catalyst for the Divine Assembly’s existence, as Steve Urquhart would figure that each individual is capable of their own connection with the great Divine. The Divine Assembly recognizes that in most religions, the founder is allotted most freedom while “adherents are expected to stay within the boundaries prescribed by the founder’s vision” making a key point in their value system as they separate themselves from the norms of other sacraments and religious organizations.
With a story like Steve Urquhart’s, we also know that the Divine Assembly is home to many other ex-members of the Church. Although there is no way to prove that people familiarized with god-like figures are more susceptible to life-changing psychedelic experiences, it is likely no shot in the dark either. We might speculate that a subconscious that has fixated on higher-power for numerous years may be most inclined to find solace in psychedelic use, due to the spiritual encounters it is infamously inclined to offer. On the other hand, a story like Steve Uquhart’s shows a different type of change, highlighting the medicine’s ability to make such a powerful impact that it cracks down on everything you’ve ever known to tell you an intensified truth. Either way, what we can take away from both ends is that psilocybin is powerful enough to completely alter the mind in ways that these ex-LDS members would once call impossible, or even ludicrous.
The LDS Church places an abundance of significance on the term “personal revelation” as a value point, something that doesn’t seem to be a lively term in the use of plant medicine, but could very well make sense to be. Personal revelation is how we uncover the most important truths of our existence. Under religious contexts, personal revelation is communication by means of the Holy Ghost, and may be achieved through studying the scriptures. The idea is that revelation is communicated from God, through to the human spirit.
The Divine Assembly on the other hand, believes each individual is capable of their own communion with the Divine, through the use of psilocybin. When we think of spiritual enlightenment through means of plant medicine, we know this to be a revelation in itself. Some would consider this a mystical revelation, which carries many similarities to what a ‘personal revelation’ claims to be. A mystical revelation has noetic qualities relating to a heightened sense of purpose, which seems prevalent in stories such as Steve Urquhart’s.
Despite public judgment and questionable legality issues, the Divine Assembly’s member list continues to grow and presumably flourish. Steve Urquhart can be found telling his fascinating story on different articles and podcasts, inspiring others to open their mind to new ideas that may seem off-putting at the start.
Ultimately, this is what it’s all about when it comes to sacred medicine in modern society. Understanding the mystical elements of life are still very much alive and can be embraced through plant medicine, regardless of your religious background, is a major step in breaking the stigma on psychedelics.
You can read more about the Divine Assembly on their official website.