Women, Leadership and Psychedelics - Catalina Eikenberg
Updated: Jun 23, 2022
This article is part of a series of interviews of women and leaders who have had their lives transformed by psychedelics and plant medicine and a collaboration with founder Natasja Pelgrom and Awaken The Medicine Within retreats.
Catalina Eikenberg is a Development Economist, yogini, and artisan investor in psychedelics and crypto/web3. Here, she shares a bit of her story.
WOOP: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Catalina: I´m Colombian and grew up in Bogota. My parents were very loving and nurturing and with a lot of effort managed to send me to an international school so that I could learn English. Beyond our economic struggles as a family that was coming out of poverty, there were also certain traumas in my parents. My mum’s dad had 26 kids with multiple women throughout his life, which has created issues for all the women in the family since then.
I’m the first person in my lineage who speaks a language other than Spanish and that opened the doors of the world for me. I got a scholarship to study in Canada and since then I´ve been living in various countries of the world working on business solutions to poverty. I’m now married to the love of my life, a German-Austrian man and we have 2 kids. I’m also a certified yoga teacher.
WOOP: What motivated you to seek psychedelic healing?
Catalina: As said, I grew up in a nurturing, loving family. I’ve been a high-performance-oriented individual with a successful career. I married the love of my life and formed a beautiful family.
Yet, over the past few years, having ticked a lot of boxes in life, I was struggling psychologically. One could call it a mid-life crisis, but it felt way worse. I was feeling extremely lonely. I found myself drinking too much alcohol and spending too much time in front of screens. I became isolated from my own family and the downward spiral culminated when I asked my husband for a divorce.
All in all, I felt trapped inside my life: with no options, constantly sad and crying when no one was watching. In hindsight, I now know from my psychotherapist that I was suffering from depression. In the midst of that, a friend suggested to me taking LSD with my husband and try to talk things through in that altered state of consciousness. We did that, and I was amazed at how deeply we managed to connect, listen to each other and be vulnerable toward each other in a way that had not happened in many years. That was the beginning of a beautiful discovery journey I´ve been having with psychedelic healing.
After that LSD experience, I did some research that led me to an ayahuasca retreat in Colombia. There, I realized for the first time I was in a depression, and also realized that the issues with my husband were more related to shadows of myself than flaws in him. I had my first awakening then, also to the realization of me being made of pure divinity and my connection to the grander cosmos.
A year later I attended the 5MeO- DMT retreat with Natasja and Lorraine, and 8 months after that I attended their women’s mushroom retreat.
WOOP: Could you share with us a bit about your experience at the retreat?
Catalina: In the 5MeO retreat I experienced for the first time the healing power of women. Even though I had had previous experiences with psychedelics, including with a very wise ayahuasca shaman, only with Natasja and Lorraine I felt that feminine presence which combined with psychedelics was tremendously powerful.
In my own past journeys, I had already felt that part of my issues in my marriage, my difficulties with motherhood and other issues with myself that were at the core of my depression, had to do with having grown up in an environment where my masculine was very much fostered, the warrior in me, which my parents did because they were dealing with very basic survival issues like putting food on the table. Thus, I became an extremely strong woman, very competitive and results-oriented.
This served me very well throughout university, enabled me to graduate with honors, get good jobs in Europe, make money and overall a successful career. But all throughout, my feminine side was kind of stunted. In fact, I have now realized that my scoliosis is due to my imbalance between feminine and masculine, left and right…
So, in any case, in that first 5MeO retreat, I discovered the beauty, the mystical power of the feminine, which I was already seeking, but in the 5meO journeys with them, I actually experienced it, felt it. At that point, I kind of knew I wanted to go deeper with them and that´s why I signed up for the women´s mushroom retreat.
The 5MeO experiences themselves were both absolutely beautiful, where I felt my whole body disintegrate into pure energy, felt how we humans, we are not our thoughts and felt how the Source energy inhabited the body. It was all incredibly mystical, but I think without Natasja and Lorraine somehow I would not have been able to go so deep, because with them I felt so incredibly safe, that I was able to fully let go.
Another part that was amazing was that I attended that retreat together with my husband and Natasja and Lorraine were able to bring each one of us at the end of each other´s second journey in a way that was just magical. It brought us very close together, energetically, and also after that retreat my husband was as zen as I had ever seen him in my life.
Finally, I’d say something I absolutely loved about that retreat was that we were only 6 people (and 3 facilitatiors!) and had an incredible group feeling. In fact, one of the participants there talked to me about crypto over dinner and now I am so interested in that field, that I’m making an entire career move towards that.
At the women’s mushroom retreat I first had one journey that was incredibly holy, felt just sacred, pure connection to the divine, where Lorraine did some beautiful singing with icaros and guided my experience in a way that felt incredibly personalized, even though it was part of a group ceremony. In that session I had clarity about my next steps in life, as a mother and wife, I felt an invitation to come home to my body and to my family, and realized that in having tried to escape from my home and myself, I had ended up very lonely and thus depressed. This first journey might have been one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life.
The second ceremony, where I took a much higher dose, I had an extremely difficult journey. I saw the dark aspects of myself, my ego, who wants to be constantly entertained and stimulated otherwise it feels bored; but often such craving for stimulation ends up leaving one very empty and not being able to appreciate or truly taste any of it.
As when one adds too much salt or has a meal with way too many flavors, one can not in the end taste any of the ingredients that one is actually eating. I also felt a strong dark energy that I interpret now being like the energy of depression and/or the dark energies around feminity in my family because of a deeply wounded feminine in my lineage.
However, between Natasja and Lorraine I received a completely personalized healing session while I was in that state, where I felt all that negative energy being taken out of me and released. I really can´t put this into words, but can say it was incredibly powerful and since I arrived back home I have felt much better… Like I’m not carrying on my shoulders this big, dark thing.
All in all, I’d say in both retreats, even though I was part of a group setting, I felt taken care of, accompanied in a very personalized way, which is really not the way that I had experienced it with Ayahuasca in Colombia. I think this makes the retreats with Natasja and Lorraine incredibly special, and the level of safety and the feeling of being fully held is just amazing and allows one to go into deeper and deeper layers of the onion of oneself.
Plus every single detail is curated with so much love, each of the meals, the plant essences/perfumes and the plant baths, the altar, the cacao ceremony… each little piece is so beautiful though of to create a space of magic… kind of like gift that we all women have to beautifully curate a home so that a family can feel the power of the nest, can feel self and held, and be able to flourish.
WOOP: How has plant medicine/psychedelics impacted your life since?
Catalina: In this therapeutical context, psychedelics helped me find spirituality even when I´m not religious, they helped me re-balance my daily habits away from self-destructive behaviors and towards healthier ones, and they helped me tremendously in re-building the relationship with my husband and my children. All in all, psychedelics took me out of a sort of mental black hole and a toxic status quo that I had constructed for myself. I was able to realize that I was in a depression and to slowly come out of it.
Not through numbing myself as modern anti-depressants do, but by facilitating a process of coming closer to my shadows and having deep conversations with them, with my fears, my sometimes very selfish ego; by creating a reset in my brain so that I could slowly change my daily habits and routines towards healthier ones, by somehow inviting me to spend more time in nature and by helping me realize that nurturing the relationships with the people I love most is absolutely key for my own well-being, because as humans we are animals that thrive through connection.
All of this seems pretty basic, right? And yet, it was massive. This process of awakening has been so powerful that I felt compelled to do in-depth research to try to understand why???? How???? So I’ve also now been doing lots of research and ended up investing in companies in the psychedelics space, cause I do believe we need to scale the availability of these treatments to people who can not afford expensive retreats. We need plant medicines to be included in the range of treatments that insurance companies cover. Thus I am now trying to also do my bit to support the decriminalization of plant medicines.
Finally, all of this has made me realize that it’s time to move into my next career space, so I’ve quit my job and plan to grow my portfolio of investments in psychedelics and also the crypto space, but in the latter, specifically focused on crypto for poor people, so that the 2 billion people in the world who still don´t have a bank account and thus still don’t have access to capital, can be included begin to have access.
But before that, I’ve also decided that I need some time off, I need a pause in my life, I need the maternity leave that I never took when my kids were born, so in August I’m moving to Ubud in Bali, with my husband and my two kids, and will aim to re-define “work” to be my own boss, I now feel ready to set up my own company, but in a setting where I can also be there for my kids, be close to nature and more in touch with all the lushness of the feminine.
I’ve also decided that I’d like my kids to have a very different type of education from the traditional one, so they will be going to the Green School in Ubud, where they will learn in a wall-less setting, where they will be encouraged to foster their uniqueness, to be in touch with Mother Earth and Father Sky, and where we can be part of a community of people that have a similar outlook on life.
I guess all in all, an incredible amount of transformation has led to a more awakened version of myself, with more consciousness and connection for the world around me, with a renewed appetite for life and a re-discovered amount of awe for the powers of the divine feminine.
WOOP: How do you think these healing tools can help women's empowerment, healing, and self-liberation?
Catalina: I think plant medicines can massively help both men and women to overcome trauma, deal with depression, and anxiety, find connection, etc. However, probably women are less likely to even try these medicines as we tend to be more risk-averse.
Also, for those of us who are mothers and also have a career, normally time is a really big constraint, so it takes quite a lot of effort to finally have the time and space to give it a try… However, once we actually try it, these medicines can be incredibly powerful in helping us women find our true voice, in being much more in touch with our bodies and our spirit, in helping us with transitions such as giving birth (becoming a mother) and dealing with the challenges of motherhood and of marriage in general, which is often not a subject even talked about because both tend to be idealized.
Finally, I think these medicines help us women to be fully empowered with our feminine, because we live in a society where many of us women tend to adopt a masculine way of being to be able to succeed… but that needs to change. The world needs more women who lead through their feminine and who are able to be a complement to men rather than compete with me.
Since 2017, Awaken The Medicine Within supports people with cutting-edge psycho-spiritual approaches in retreats, program & community. The container is set with a virtual preparation and integration program and adding a five-day intimate in-person immersive.
The immersive will unfold with Sound healing, Therapeutic breathwork, Cacao Ceremony, Somatic Practices, Belief work, Personal Coaching, Shamanic Healing, and Sacred Toad 5-MeO-DMT Medicine or Psilocybin ceremonies (see the dates here). In the pristine Dutch, or Portuguese countryside were you will have the ability to heal, align and integrate your new insights in a magical historical boutique setting.
Founder Natasja Pelgrom designed this unique program, that aims to incorporates traditional knowledge, modern research, and therapeutic practices. The team of facilitators have together over 35+ years of experience working with individuals and groups with therapeutic, holistic healing modalities, sacred technology, ancient practices while bridging into modern-day approaches with a sense of playfulness.
Curious to learn more or join? Click here.