Issue 15


What’s it like participating in a trip retreat in the Netherlands? A self-experience at The Matter.

Words by Silke Bender

If Steve Jobs experienced his first visions of Apple under the influence of LSD in the apple orchard of an Oregon farm, this simply has to be the perfect setting. 20 minutes outside Utrecht, an avenue of apple trees leads down the dike to The Matter. Eric and Marieke started holding their trip retreats here almost a year ago. Previously a fruit orchard run by Eric’s parents, it is now a place where guests drop hallucinogenic mushrooms as they embark on a journey into the great unknown: their own interior world, their deepest subconscious. With the help of trip concierge Anne Philippi from The New Health Club, I’ve booked a four-day group retreat including two truffle trips, with a single room and full vegan board. 


I quickly realise that the purpose of the trip is not all fun and hedonism, but serious therapeutic self-work. This enlightenment comes from an advance Zoom call and a confidential questionnaire requiring details of my expectations from the retreat, my use of other drugs, moments of stress and anxiety and current mindset. A good opportunity to practise some self-honesty. I write, I want to face and overcome my fears and take life in a lighter way. See the glass half full and not always half empty.


Around two hours after my arrival, my heart is already pounding as I climbvoluntarilyinto a tank full of ice water. I start to gasp as my head whirls with dizziness. Eric and Marieke guide me through it, stopwatch in hand. The trick, they advise, is to immerse myself immediately and then find a point on the horizon to focus on (in my case, a line of pear trees) as I strive to breathe evenly and deeply. It works. I endure a whole two-and-a-half minutes in the water at a bone-chilling three degrees Celsius. Eric describes this exercise as finding comfort in the uncomfortable, learning to trust your breath and your body. 

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