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Robin Divine

Robin Divine Black People Trip
Cosmic Sister
Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance
 

“There was also a sense of being held by the medicine. It offered me the gentle and validating presence of a parent that I had always longed for.” – Robin Divine

Congratulations, Robin Divine, founder of Black People Trip (@BlackPeopleTrip)! She received a Cosmic Sister Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance grant for a studio shoot with portrait photographer Tracey Eller (@TraceyEller).

Robin Divine is a digital nomad currently living in Upstate New York. A writer and psychedelic advocate, she created Black People Trip, a community with a mission to raise awareness, promote education, teach harm reduction, build community and create safe spaces for Black women interested in working with psychedelics.

Robin turned to psychedelics in 2020 to treat medication-resistant depression that she had lived with her entire adult life. As she became more involved in the psychedelic community, she noticed a definite lack of diversity.

“Healing shouldn’t be a privilege,” Robin says. Black People Trip is a safe space dedicated to finding ways to make these life-altering medicines more financially accessible and available to anyone in need of the benefits they offer.

Robin believes psychedelics can help Black people “unpack some of that trauma that’s been locked in our bodies and that we carry around every day.”

“Activists create space and bring about change. Advocates stand up for our right to continue to take up that space,” she says. “I see myself as opening a door for Black people in the psychedelic world and then holding that door open for others.”

Robin is writing a book about her experiences navigating the mental health system and the psychedelic world as a Black Queer woman.

What first called you to explore psychedelics? Was there a catalytic experience?

I've struggled with medication-resistant depression for my entire adult life. I've had multiple therapists and tried numerous treatment modalities. When my depression started to worsen, my current therapist suggested that I try medication, and I was put on a combination of five psychiatric drugs. However, it didn't feel right to me. I wasn't comfortable with the endless list of harmful side effects. I knew there had to be a more gentle and holistic way to treat my mind without destroying my body.

I stumbled across an article on Medium where the author described his therapeutic MDMA session as more effective than the 20 years of talk therapy he had undergone. I didn't even know what MDMA was, but I knew that I wanted to try it.

Can you give us one example of how psychedelics made a big shift for you? Like a visionary experience or a “message” or “ah-hah!” you received while tripping or afterwards?

During my first session with MDMA and psilocybin, I had the awareness that I am a good person. I had never believed that about myself before. It was a life-altering feeling.

I didn’t receive any insight as to the origin because I don’t believe I was ready, and it wasn’t the right setting. I wasn’t with a person that I felt safe enough to “go there” with. That said, I know that information is right underneath the surface just waiting for me when the time is right. I’d love a deeper understanding of why my life is set up the way it is. It’s been such a painful (but I’m sure needed) experience.

There was a deep sadness that came over me as well, when I realized how harshly I had treated myself in the past. There was a sense of being held by the medicine. It offered me the gentle and validating presence of a parent that I had always longed for. In that moment, I knew without a doubt that I was a good person, and that awareness brought me such comfort and peace.

The depth of empathy this medicine can bring up astounds me. I’m starting to believe in my own goodness a little more each day.

What psychedelics have you worked with—and in what sort of “set and setting”?

I’ve experienced ayahuasca (over 15 years ago) in a group setting at a retreat space in Virginia. In the past year, I’ve worked with MDMA and psilocybin—my two trips with a guide at her apartment in Brooklyn. I was not in a good mind set during the second trip because I didn't feel safe, and as a result, it was an extremely challenging journey. I emotionally and physically “fought” the medicine because I wasn't comfortable enough to surrender to the trip. At one point, I remember walking out on the terrace to feel the sun. I felt very pulled to be outside, but the city wasn’t conducive to that. Going forward, I know I only want to trip in places where I know I can roam free if I want to.

I’ve worked with psilocybin twice alone in my home and LSD once, also alone in my home. The trips at home were challenging in a different way because I felt extremely anxious about being alone.

I’m very interested in experiencing DMT and ketamine and peyote and ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting.

How specifically has being a Black Queer woman been part of your journey?

As a Black Queer woman in the psychedelic space, I've felt very excluded. When I first found psychedelics, I wanted to learn from Black and brown teachers and sit in circles with others that had a shared history. However, I found this to be nearly impossible due to the lack of diversity. As a result, I decided build my own safe space where POC could connect with one another, which is how Black People Trip was created.

Is nature important to you?

Yes! Nature has always been important in my life. When I was a child, I often found myself overwhelmed by the “noise” of the world. When the sensory overload would set in, I'd head to the nearest park or lake behind my home to sit by myself in the quiet. I find peace in nature.

I’d love to learn more about how you found your voice as a writer. Is there a mentor or person who inspired you to write?

I've never had formal writing training; I've primarily learned through years of practice. The author Roxane Gay has definitely inspired the way that I write. I often share about my past trauma. Reading her books (specifically Hunger) helped me learn how to share authentically while still protecting my story and myself emotionally.

I’m not great at expressing myself in conversation. It’s only on paper that I feel really heard and seen. During another tough time in my life (about 10 years ago), I discovered Facebook. I started sharing my mental health journey on there, and I grew a fairly large following. People seemed to deeply resonate with how open and vulnerable my writing was. Having that platform inspired me to write almost every day. Over the years, my voice has developed into what it is now: biting, humorous, loving, and honest.

What is your hope for the future?

My hope for the future is that my book makes an impact with POC and shows them that when it comes to caring for their health (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical), they have options. I don't want people in my community to have to rely on Western medicine because historically, it has failed us.

February 2021