This episode of Small Talk Big Ideas takes a diversion from our usual hot topic – ‘property investing’, and into a realm that I find fascinating and personally transformative. Herbalist, healer, and plant medicine advocate, Rachel Gagen, looks to nature and the body to help her clients reach self-acceptance and balance in their lives. I hope you enjoy her knowledge, energy, and honesty in our conversation.

Rachel Gagen

Rachel Gagen

Rachel Gagen ( has studied natural therapies since 2014, now practicing as a ZenThai Shiatsu body worker, Traditional Western Herbal Medicine therapist, teacher, musician and dreamer. Spending her time between the garden, the surf, and the health clinics she works at, she looks to nature for inspiration on living harmoniously in self-acceptance.

“Our sessions focus on the the deep inner workings of the nervous system & the emotional body…  By using the diagnostic tool of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am able to cater the session specifically to your body’s needs; nourishing the adrenals, calming the mind, soothing inflammation & balancing the body.”

Announcer (00:03):

Thanks for joining us for the Small Talk, Big Ideas podcast, a podcast to enrich your soul, where we have conversations with inspiring people about all things property, business, and life, and now the host of Small Talk, Big Ideas, Ian Ugarte.

Ian Ugarte (00:20):

Hey there. Welcome to this episode of Small Talk, Big Ideas, and today we talk to Rachel, someone who’s had a significant impact on my life. Calls herself, the earth pirate, a lot of herbal medicine and plant medicine. It may not be completely property focused, but there is some very interesting property stories in there, so enjoy today’s talk. As always, you can follow us on all our social media channels, or you can go to What’s your Surname? Rachel what?

Rachel Gagen (00:49):


Ian Ugarte (00:50):


Rachel Gagen (00:51):


Ian Ugarte (00:53):

Rachel, where were you born?

Rachel Gagen (00:56):

I was born in Ipswich, just south of Brisbane.

Ian Ugarte (00:57):


Rachel Gagen (00:58):


Ian Ugarte (00:58):

I was watching some comedians talk about that the other day. Lano and Woodley, and they’re saying, “We could have gone to hell, but instead we went to Ipswich.” Which was far worse. You’re born in Ipswich and then you did all your schooling there?

Rachel Gagen (01:19):

Yeah. Finished all my schooling there, and then immediately jet off overseas when I was 17.

Ian Ugarte (01:24):

Where’d you go to?

Rachel Gagen (01:25):

I went to Scotland.

Ian Ugarte (01:26):

Why Scotland?

Rachel Gagen (01:29):

England, whatever, the UK was the only place that you could get a working visa as a 17-year-old, for me, so I had to go to the UK.

Ian Ugarte (01:35):

That’s young, 17. Yeah. You’ve always had a lot of confidence?

Rachel Gagen (01:42):

I think adversity drives you to have whatever skills you need.

Ian Ugarte (01:48):

Why is it that you wanted to get out? Did you want get out, or it’s just you wanted to find something else?

Rachel Gagen (01:52):

No, no. I needed to get out. Just not a good living situation, and being forced to have to pull from older maturity states to cope with my kind of family situation. I was pretty smart and got a job at 13 and saved 10 grand, so that by the time I left school, I left at 17 and went overseas.

Ian Ugarte (02:12):

That’s good going, hey? Maybe you can talk to my daughters. Work is not for them. One of them said to me the other day, “I’m not going to get a job until I know what I want to do, and the job that I love.” Oh, geez.

Rachel Gagen (02:28):

That could be till they’re 40.

Ian Ugarte (02:29):

That could be never.

Rachel Gagen (02:29):

Yeah. That might be never.

Ian Ugarte (02:31):

I mean, a lot of people never work out what their passion and what they really love.

Rachel Gagen (02:37):

You only find yourself in the world, you’re not a bystander finding yourself. You have to be embedded into it.

Ian Ugarte (02:42):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s interesting. Okay. You go to Scotland.

Rachel Gagen (02:47):


Ian Ugarte (02:47):

How long did you spend there?

Rachel Gagen (02:48):

I spent six months kind of moving and living around England, Scotland. I was mostly WWOOFing on farms, and-

Ian Ugarte (02:56):

Tell what… Because people may not know what WWOOFer is.

Rachel Gagen (02:58):

Oh, things like you volunteer on an organic farm and you just find yourself growing organic food and caring for animals, and you get accommodation and food in exchange for it. I just found myself kind of roaming around. I think coming into a sobriety around what my needs actually are, like how cheap can I live? What do I actually need? And what does it actually cost to be a being on the planet.

Ian Ugarte (03:23):

So, what did you get it down to? Did you work it out?

Rachel Gagen (03:27):

Don’t need that much. Yeah, food for sure. Community became a really big thing, because that wasn’t in the places I was going, so it became apparent that I need people who were closer to me.

Ian Ugarte (03:39):


Rachel Gagen (03:39):

Need to feel seen by people and to see people deeply, but other than that, realized pretty quickly that a lot of what we’re exchanging our time and energy for are things that we don’t need in our society.

Ian Ugarte (03:54):


Rachel Gagen (03:54):

So came back really clear, and also, a little bit alienated from society here.

Ian Ugarte (04:00):

What does that mean? What was the difference between there and here?

Rachel Gagen (04:04):

Oh, no. Well, because I was just traveling, and living on the land a lot, and volunteering in various youth group things. I was just living really cheaply and squatting, and just kind of like getting on free public transport and just finding my way without… Testing a lot of bounds in my mind about belief systems of authority. Not really getting into too much trouble, but then when I came back here and moved to Melbourne and got amongst city life, it just never really made sense again after being a bit wild.

Ian Ugarte (04:37):

Because you mentioned the term squatting and we’ve had a very short discussion over it. In Melbourne, you were squatting in a warehouse?

Rachel Gagen (04:47):

Yeah. It’s kind of a bit of a culture down in Melbourne that people have. There are businesses that own warehouses that are totally not being used, but they’ve still got power, some of them, and even water connected, and we used to break into them and deck them out into living spaces, and have parties in there and get street artists in and…

Ian Ugarte (05:07):

Street artists, yeah. Right.

Rachel Gagen (05:09):

Yeah. Graph up the place and turn it into a living situation, and live for free.

Ian Ugarte (05:14):

This is bizarre. From a property owner who values the property that they have, and I’d be okay with it if it was sitting there and someone said, “Oh, can we move in?” But you get in there, you squat, you then start putting graffiti on it to make it look how you want it, and then live there. The basis of that’s really interesting, because did you say that you changed the key locks on the place too?

Rachel Gagen (05:42):

Well, yeah. We put our own locks on. Look, I didn’t have a lot of respect for authority, and it was just sort of looking around at homelessness and looking around at how society works. I was going through a phase where I really wanted to test what it is to sustain yourself and I was challenging a lot of the rules, and I felt kind of entitled to. It’s an empty warehouse. That’s just running power.

Ian Ugarte (06:12):

And doing nothing.

Rachel Gagen (06:13):

And doing nothing.

Ian Ugarte (06:13):

Empty space.

Rachel Gagen (06:14):

And so we just were utilizing things and-

Ian Ugarte (06:16):

We’re talking warehouse, like cold warehouse, concrete floors? Or…

Rachel Gagen (06:19):

Yeah. Yeah, but we would get pallets and deck it out. They became really cool. We’d make them into those circus tent places, and there were kitchens and…

Ian Ugarte (06:28):


Rachel Gagen (06:29):

Yeah. Drag in furniture. Sometimes it would continue on for a while. You could stay there for six months until-

Ian Ugarte (06:35):

So six months is probably the longest?

Rachel Gagen (06:37):

There was one that went for four years. I wasn’t there for the whole time, but it sort of depends who’s squatting. It got a bit too loud and once people start having parties and it gets loud, it draws attention.

Ian Ugarte (06:46):

Yeah. With that attention draw, was it police, or the landlord, or the agent?

Rachel Gagen (06:51):

I think it was police generally. I’ve never got involved in any of that and was just moving around, living on a bike and squatting in warehouses, and seeing-

Ian Ugarte (07:00):

I just think that’s amazing. How long did you do that for?

Rachel Gagen (07:02):

Over a period of a year.

Ian Ugarte (07:03):

Yeah, right. You mentioned two things there. Firstly authority, that you didn’t have respect for authority. Does that mean you do have respect for authority now?

Rachel Gagen (07:12):

I think there are structures in place that serve the greater humanity, and also, though I work for myself, I’ve put myself in a situation where I don’t have to answer to too many people.

Ian Ugarte (07:22):


Rachel Gagen (07:23):

So in ways I have respect for all beings, but I also don’t obey all of the rules.

Ian Ugarte (07:30):


Rachel Gagen (07:30):

Because I don’t think they’re all made with the highest intentions.

Ian Ugarte (07:34):

Yeah. Agree, that some are controlling sometimes.

Rachel Gagen (07:37):


Ian Ugarte (07:38):

Yeah. I mean that’s how a lot of people would see it. The other word you mentioned was entitlement, and I talked about my daughters.

Rachel Gagen (07:45):

Oh yeah.

Ian Ugarte (07:46):

So tell me about that.

Rachel Gagen (07:48):

I guess I’ve been of the mindset that we were born on the earth and that it sort of feels like we have to spend our whole life just trying to… Like moving through indebtment, and struggling, and slaving our way just to kind of get back a piece of land that I actually feel was our entitlement to begin with. I sort of live with this slight sense of entitlement as to this land that we live on, it can’t really be privately owned. Well, maybe it can in our society structures, but on another level, L-O-R-E lore, it’s not anybody’s.

Ian Ugarte (08:20):


Rachel Gagen (08:23):


Ian Ugarte (08:23):

L-O-R-E is the indigenous lore?

Rachel Gagen (08:24):


Ian Ugarte (08:25):


Rachel Gagen (08:25):

So, in that sense, at the time, being 19 or so when I was in Melbourne doing that, I didn’t really care for people’s ownership over land, because I felt that the whole thing was a fallacy. That me occupying space was my entitlement, and me having safety and a house to live in and food was just kind of like a right of being on earth. I was just playing with that a lot at the time, which had me disrespect other people’s private property.

Ian Ugarte (08:53):

I do remember the first date with my soon to be ex-wife, amicable ex-wife, 25 years ago. I explained to her that I own property and whatever, and she goes, “But how can you own the land? You don’t own the land.” It was a bizarre thought for me at the time, because I’d been indoctrinated to the fact, but then I developed an understanding and empathy, not being in that situation, for the Indigenous culture, and I just think, “Wow.” If it wasn’t the English, it would’ve been the Dutch, and if it wasn’t them, it would’ve been someone else. The same as South America, which was a really impactful… I did the Machu Picchu marathon and it was really impactful for me coming from a… I’m Australian born from Spanish migrants and what the Spaniards did to South America is disgraceful. Yeah. My two worlds collided.

Rachel Gagen (09:55):

Yeah. Wow.

Ian Ugarte (09:57):

I did the Machu Picchu marathon, came back to Australia about three days later, I was standing on a stage in front of 600 people, and I walked up and I’m one of the very few speakers in the wealth creation industry that actually does a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country. I started explaining that the boundaries of Sydney, so the Gadigal people, and I knew the boundaries and I explained the boundaries, and I just broke down. I was on stage for about 20 seconds, and then here I am sobbing inconsolably, and the whole crowd was going, “Wow, what’s going on here?” It was because I realized that my affinity to Indigenous in Australia is based on the cultural damage that the Spaniards did in South America.

Ian Ugarte (10:44):

I’ve got a photo with all the guys that helped us carry bags, so we’re running with a backpack, they’re carrying 25 kilos to get to the next station for us, through Machu Picchu. These guys are hard workers, and I’ve got a photo amongst them all, amongst all the porters, and I just blend in. It’s like spot Ian out of it, like it’s Where’s Wally? Where’s Ian? But anyway, I just thought that was an interesting story.

Ian Ugarte (11:14):

Okay, so you do squatting, you do Melbourne, you’re not working at all? How do you pay for food?

Rachel Gagen (11:20):

At that time? No. I had a gym membership so that I could shower and that was kind of my only thing that I paid for. At the time, some friends had keys to different… I don’t know what you call them. It’s like Coles bins or something.

Ian Ugarte (11:35):

Oh yeah.

Rachel Gagen (11:36):

We’d go and get food.

Ian Ugarte (11:38):

Food out of the chuck out bins? Yeah.

Rachel Gagen (11:41):

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was definitely a phase of my life that I don’t really… I’m not replicating that now, but I learnt a lot about what our needs actually are, and how little you can live off, and still… And have so much time on your hands to be creative.

Ian Ugarte (11:56):

Yeah. Living basic to give yourself more time.

Rachel Gagen (12:00):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Ian Ugarte (12:02):

I mean, you’ve walked in today and you can see the complexity of my life every day, and I think that… Sometimes I think maybe this is not for me and…

Rachel Gagen (12:18):

You’re in pretty deep, Ian.

Ian Ugarte (12:19):

That’s the problem isn’t it? When you smother yourself with tar and you’ve only got water to wash it off, it becomes difficult. Okay. Then, what’s the next phase after squatting?

Rachel Gagen (12:32):

Oh, I started working at organic food shops. I was always really interested in alternative ways of farming, and so I was working at some organic food shops, and then I went out to Central Australia and I was living at Yulara. It’s the Ayers Rock Resort, and I was doing tour guiding out there. Taking people out on the land and introducing them to plants and telling them what the indigenous use was. I think that really sparked my interest into herbal medicine, so then eventually… I kept traveling overseas, back and forth, and going to different indigenous cultures in India, and Nepal, and South America, and Mexico, and eventually landed on the Sunshine Coast. Finally, my bug for traveling just dissipated, and I just felt at home when I got here, which was really nice and surprised me that it was so close to where I grew up, because we’d come up here on holidays when I was a kid, and it was really small up here. Then I started studying herbal medicine.

Ian Ugarte (13:26):

Yep. The herbal medicine, as in the naturopaths herbal medicine?

Rachel Gagen (13:33):

Yeah. Naturopathy’s really similar to herbal medicine, but you could liken it to that.

Ian Ugarte (13:38):

That. Is it a long course?

Rachel Gagen (13:39):

No, it was three years.

Ian Ugarte (13:40):

Three years. That’s long.

Rachel Gagen (13:41):


Ian Ugarte (13:41):

I couldn’t imagine studying again for three years. I did it once. It was enough. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did my degree in three years. I’ve done other study that took longer, but… The herbal medicine component, you’re now qualified and you’ve been practicing for a while now?

Rachel Gagen (14:03):

Yeah. Yep.

Ian Ugarte (14:05):

What’s the power of the herb?

Rachel Gagen (14:09):

Oh, there’s so many different aspects to herbal medicine. When I did the course, I wasn’t doing it for any kind of career based agenda. It was just like, “Oh, this sounds really interesting,” and I’d always just followed what I was interested in. I didn’t really have too many plans. I was just really actively trying to shake up a lot of my programming, and just try to be open minded and present, so I would just follow what my heart was being led by. I was taking an interest in herbal medicine, so I studied it with no incentive of actually practicing, and it wasn’t until the last six months that I realized, “Oh, I could actually be a herbalist,” and then this kind of title and this egoic thing came in, as to like, “I’m a herbalist. Now I practice as a herbalist and I have a title.”

Rachel Gagen (14:53):

I did start doing the title thing and practiced for… I’ve been practicing for a few years, but there’s so many sides to it, and I really wonder which aspect I’m really drawn to. I think there’s anything you can get involved in, you can get involved in it from so many different angles, and I’ve always been growing plants. The whole idea around herbal medicine actually started with, I would grow plants. I was really poor. I never had any money and I would have to be really resourceful, and I think I’ve honed some really cool skills through that. I would grow plants, which essentially cost nothing. It’s like seeds, they’re basically free. Then I would sell them on eBay and I’d make 20 bucks and I’d be like, “Wow, I made 20 bucks,” and then I just kept doing it, and it was like, “I made 50 bucks, I made a hundred bucks,” and then I just was turning money out of nothing, because plants were free, as far as costs go.

Rachel Gagen (15:41):

Then that was like, “I think I could do this. This feels awesome. I’m sustaining myself from so little,” so that I can have lots of time on my hands to explore my consciousness and explore society. That’s kind of what led me there, so when I was graduating and thought, “Oh, I could actually be a herbalist.” I don’t know. I still play with is that even what I am? I just practice herbal medicine, I’m into it, but I love growing plants. At the end of the day, it’s probably more where I would say I love foraging and creating recipes of how to use herbal medicine, but I actually do consult with clients, and I’m just kind of… I don’t know, I’m turning 30 and I’m at this little phase now that’s like, I feel like I need to hone something rather than have my finger in so many different areas.

Ian Ugarte (16:23):

Oh, I don’t know.

Rachel Gagen (16:26):

I don’t know. I’m just playing with ideas and I’m not sure exactly where I land. The power of herbal medicine, it’s a holistic model at heart and it connects all aspects of your being, because there’s a whole plant’s living organism. It’s not segregated out into individuated components, so what effect that has on a person is, like sees like, like attracts like. Start interacting with your whole being as one unit, rather than, I have a headache. You start being able to look at yourself from many layers all at once. That’s what I love about herbal medicine. It’s not even the herbs. It’s the mindset that the practice of using herbal medicine’s been created out of. It’s really integrated, from a holistic model.

Ian Ugarte (17:09):

That’s more of an inner soul, inner… Is that what you mean?

Rachel Gagen (17:14):

Yeah. There’s a vitalistic aspect to it, which is like there’s an essence that runs through all living things, and it’s the vital force itself that’s healing. That we have that, so it doesn’t really matter so much about which herb, it’s more about using the life force itself to enhance your life force so that you activate your own inner healing capacity.

Ian Ugarte (17:33):

Because it’s got its own life too. I mean, do you get a kick out of planting a seed and watching it grow?

Rachel Gagen (17:37):

Oh, it’s amazing. I’m blown away by it. It is so simple.

Ian Ugarte (17:44):

Just to have little kids plant stuff and watch it, that gives them that buzz, but we seem to fall away from that, and sometimes life is so simple, and we fall away from that. You’ve also done massage?

Rachel Gagen (18:03):

Yeah. I studied Zenthai Shiatsu two years ago, and so I’ve been practicing some body work. It’s like as soon as I graduated from herbalism school, I just had this dream, and it said… I had a little ego trip for a few weeks there, that was like, “I’m a herbalist now. I am qualified.” Then I had this dream that was like, “You know nothing. You’ll need to do a body work therapy now,” and so I signed up for a massage course that was created here on the Sunshine Coast and it’s really amazing therapy. I find myself doing a lot more massage than consulting with clients.

Ian Ugarte (18:35):


Rachel Gagen (18:35):

I think, because it takes me out of my own mind. When I’m consulting I’m in my mind, and there’s a lot there, but on a personal level, I like being in my body more than my mind, and massage brings me into my body.

Ian Ugarte (18:50):

Right. How I met you was I went and watched the premier of a movie called Dosed, which is about plant medicine and drug addiction, and a lady that they documented coming off that drug addiction. Then you and two others spoke at the end as a Q&A. What I noted about you was that there was a level of humility and centeredness that was different to a lot of people that I’ve met. It was a nice energy to see.

Ian Ugarte (19:33):

I’d already gone down the path of plant medicine with someone else, and I didn’t even ask any questions. I didn’t see you afterwards or anything like that, because it wasn’t even in my frame of mind, and so after doing a little bit of plant medicine with someone else, I sort of thought, “Oh, I’ll just look it up.” I didn’t remember your name or anything, so I just went back and found the announcement for the premiere and the Q&A and I found Rachel, and then I found your business, which is Wyld Medicine, right? W-Y-L-D, and lo and behold, you’re 20 minutes up the road. How awesome is this? Plant medicine; what’s the best way to describe that? I mean, it’s an extension of herbs, really. At least herbs.

Rachel Gagen (20:19):

It’s essentially herbal medicine, but entheogenic herbal medicine. It’s like specifically plant medicine gets used for herbs that are simulating or bringing on an experience. It’s like a godlike experience, and that you’re finding a divinity within yourself or within the plant itself. Like God inducing plants.

Ian Ugarte (20:40):

What does the body take on and convert to create… If anyone says, “psychedelics,” that’s essentially a term for plant medicine?

Rachel Gagen (20:51):

Generally, yeah.

Ian Ugarte (20:52):

Generally. Scientifically, what is it that happens within the body that creates that.

Rachel Gagen (21:01):

It changes per plant, because they’re made up of different constituents, but they’re all locking into receptors within our body. Usually serotonin receptors. Most of the psychedelics utilize the serotonin system, and it seems to be that when these tryptamines that are in most of the… There’s two different main classes of psychedelics and tryptamines is a big one of them. They’re locked into the serotonin receptors, and when that happens it seems to have the effect of breaking down our own boundaries of what we classify as ourself. That could also be called ego dissolving, but it could also be like ego merging, because we seem to merge into like the self at large, a capital self, which is what the serotonergic compounds do in nature.

Rachel Gagen (21:49):

It’s not like these plants were necessarily created for our consumption. They have a role in the ecosystem. Psychedelics have a role in the ecosystem, and that is to break down the individuated being of a plant, to merge into a more collective sense of the forest and to share information from that state. A lot of information is shared through the mycorrhizal network, through-

Ian Ugarte (22:10):

We’re talking Avatar.

Rachel Gagen (22:12):

Kind of.

Ian Ugarte (22:13):

Yeah, yeah.

Rachel Gagen (22:14):

Yeah. Maybe that’s a nice analogy.

Ian Ugarte (22:15):

Well, they’re all communicating in some way and it makes that whole vein system come together. Now psychedelics are illegal in Australia, so what we’re talking about here is, in some countries overseas, it’s not that they’re illegal, it’s just that they’re neither. That’s the basis of the conversation we’re having. With that said, why is it illegal? Was it used in the past? Where are we at now?

Rachel Gagen (22:43):

Definitely these plants have been used in the past. Peyote is maybe the oldest documented psychedelic for thousands of years in Central America and North America. For sure. We have a long history of use of psychedelics. It’s really only recent history, the last 100 to 150 years that laws in Western countries especially, and then other countries following their legal structure, has come down so hard on psychedelics.

Rachel Gagen (23:11):

From some of the research I’ve done it could be really connected to racial discrimination, because of different cultures using certain substances, and then by prohibiting that substance, it being a way to come down hard, legally on certain races.

Ian Ugarte (23:32):

If that was to be true, and we’re not saying it is. Can you give us an example?

Rachel Gagen (23:33):

Example would be making opium illegal in the states to target Chinese people.

Ian Ugarte (23:37):


Rachel Gagen (23:39):

It seems like the war on drugs is rooted in racism at the start, but where it’s grown to and how it’s been perpetuated feels like a war on consciousness at this point, and I’m sure at points along the way, there would’ve just been a lot of misunderstanding and fear mongering, but I think at certain levels that was very calculated.

Ian Ugarte (23:59):

Well, I mean, LSD has been well documented around Vietnam war, where it was sort of knocked out, because, and correct me if I’m wrong, the soldiers were taking LSD and viewing the world in a different way and went, “Oh, our truth is very different to what the actual… What we’re doing,” and they were breaking away from the U.S. Army.

Rachel Gagen (24:19):

Yeah. LSD does not enhance warfare. Or it does so much so that you can’t engage in it.

Ian Ugarte (24:26):

Yeah. Yeah. Then they just flatly made it illegal, and there was research happening at the time as well and they’ve shut them down as well. Well, they shut them down at the time.

Rachel Gagen (24:34):


Ian Ugarte (24:36):

But we do have some openings happening around the world now, with research universities and governments.

Rachel Gagen (24:41):

Yeah. It seems like there’s a new consensus coming through of psychedelics as therapeutic medicine. We could kind of go in two directions. One could be that there’s this resurgence of psychedelic use in a more defined container, that is used really specifically for certain types of therapy, and I’m sure the awareness and education that that will bring to people is going to be really positive, but it could also go in the direction of big pharma where it’s patenting versions of molecules from nature to market them.

Ian Ugarte (25:12):

But the problem with big pharma with this one is that you can get it naturally, and if they do put a plant in and you do it naturally, well, good on you if you want to come after me, I’m worth nothing. That’s what most people would be saying, but more importantly, most of the plant medicines, and you talked about the receptors, the reason some of the plant medicine based constituents are good, is because they bind those receptors, so that the drugs can then… The actual cocaine, heroin, whatever are then blocked out. That’s why it’s a good treatment to do that. That would be their main problem, wouldn’t it, from pharmaceuticals? That it’s actually curing something rather than creating more problems.

Rachel Gagen (25:55):

I’m sure that that’s part of the picture.

Ian Ugarte (25:57):

Right. Is there any notable research that you know of that’s being done right now or governments?

Rachel Gagen (26:05):

Well, I know that, down in Melbourne, there are some trials happening with psilocybin, which is kind of new for Australia. We haven’t had too many psychedelic studies.

Ian Ugarte (26:14):

Is that what’s known as magic mushroom?

Rachel Gagen (26:15):

Magic mushrooms, but they’re not using magic mushrooms. They’re using psilocybin, which is just probably synthetic. I’m quite sure it’s synthetic, but I could be wrong, but they’re definitely isolating out one of the components, and that’s something that always happens in Western medicine. It’s more predictable. When you’re just working with one constituent, the effects can be documented, you know all the side effects, you know all the possible effects, and it’s predictable, whereas nature is not predictable. When you have a whole plant, that’s grown in a specific ecotone, its constituents are different from the one down the road and the effect it’ll have on you will be unique.

Ian Ugarte (26:48):

It’s sort like growing grapes? I mean, there’s that many different bottles of wine and there’s some extraordinary bottles of wine, and there’s some really basic ones and that’s the soil, the environment, and everything that grows around.

Rachel Gagen (26:59):

Yeah. Everything that’s going on.

Ian Ugarte (27:00):

Right. Before taking any plant medicine myself, which would’ve been when I was 44 maybe, I’d never touched anything. No marijuana, never smoked, was never drunk until the age of 19. Hadn’t had a drink before the age of 19. This was a pretty big enforcement to me to do something, which was what I would’ve considered a drug that I shouldn’t be putting in my body. Only because I didn’t understand it, but it was introduced to me by a mentor and said, “Look, you’ve got a big ego,” and I always knew that. Not always. I knew that and it was the thing that I could see where I could get that out of the way, so that I could get some more consciousness, but I wanted to do that quickly, and I want to continue to do that quickly. I want to have more awareness, and it was the source for me to be able to do that.

Ian Ugarte (28:10):

Now, in saying that though, I don’t know what’s going on and maybe you’ve given me some explanations to it, but do you want to talk about the different doses? Because for me, the small… I have take massive doses to get some effect. To me, it sometimes feels, the plant medicine, that massive doses make me feel more sick than the effects that I get.

Rachel Gagen (28:35):

Yeah, that’s rarer, but it definitely happens with some people. I’ve found that people that are really in their mind, especially if the livelihood and their structures at home mean that they need to be in their mind. That’s their main tool, their main form of income, or whatever it is that they’re channeling their mind to, those people have the hardest time coming into their body. The plant medicine will first bring you into your body, and that often happens with purging or lots of physical sensations. That’s drawing the energy down so that all the channels can be cleared, and then later the visions come, but if someone’s really, really in their mind and somewhat disembodied in that sense, it can take a long time for that to happen. In that sense, maybe it’s just not the right plan for them. For those people, I tend to recommend that they start doing a meditation practice, or qi gong, or some kind of movement based therapy that doesn’t involve thinking.

Ian Ugarte (29:30):

But Rachel, it’s too slow, and I can’t stop thinking when I’m meditating.

Rachel Gagen (29:35):

Yeah, exactly. This is explaining a lot.

Ian Ugarte (29:39):

Okay. Your top three plant medicines starting at three, one being your best.

Rachel Gagen (29:49):

Oh. Oh, that’s so tricky. It’s like trying to pick friends.

Ian Ugarte (29:52):

I could do that easy.

Rachel Gagen (29:56):

Yeah, that’s true. Oh, I live nonhierarchical-

Ian Ugarte (29:58):

Yes, of course. Sorry.

Rachel Gagen (29:59):

… so it’s more of a spectrum of experience.

Ian Ugarte (30:01):

All right. So…

Rachel Gagen (30:03):

Okay. Number three would be the Acacia. I love the Acacias, because they contain DMT. Traditionally, they were used for smoke therapy when you would bring someone into the world, or when someone was dying and you were celebrating them leaving the world, so they were always used in moments of transition of really big rites of passage. When you smoke it or you drink it with an MAOI inhibitor, like with ayahuasca or Syrian rue. The experience you have is profoundly, deeply connecting into the land. Firstly, you have to move through the parts of yourself that probably been quite neglected and reintegrate them into your being, and that’s nauseating and confronting, but what comes after that, once you reassemble yourself is very clear connection with the land, which is really, really grounding.

Ian Ugarte (30:49):

Acacia’s indigenous to Australia, which is, can I say, it’s the equivalent to ayahuasca in South America?

Rachel Gagen (30:56):

It’s equivalent to the DMT aspect in ayahuasca, which is usually called chacruna, but yeah, people will call it ayahuasca.

Ian Ugarte (31:02):

Right. Two?

Rachel Gagen (31:04):

Number two would be peyote, which is a new love of mine. It’s a really old plant medicine that I first-

Ian Ugarte (31:10):

Peyote; it’s the cactus?

Rachel Gagen (31:11):

It’s a little button cactus that has mescaline in it. It has a lot of different components in it that are very conflicting, so there’s aspects of it that are stimulating and aspects of it that are hypnotic. You kind of move through all these different experiences, but the main thing I really love about it is the way that it blends the conscious and the subconscious mind together, so you have this lucid dream experience that you can’t quite tell thought from visions, from memories. It seems like when you go into those highly vulnerable states where the egoic mind and the thinking mind is very quiet. That there’s a whole lot of… Well, it’s communication that happens with our deeper self, but it feels like the parasympathetic nervous system is so strongly stimulated that you don’t even necessarily have to have an aha moment to heal anything, it’s like, that is the healing process itself.

Rachel Gagen (32:03):

It’s kind of like a trance state. When you’re out of the way, the body just gets on with healing. What I love about it is that it can actually be kind of chaotic in really random ways that seem nothing to do with what healing is, and yet, while all of that’s going on behind the scenes, there’s this assimilation of your deeper self with your more conscious self coming into alignment. There’s a whole lot of things can bubble up from that. Lots of inner child medicine happens with peyote. Lots of joy and laughter.

Ian Ugarte (32:34):

Number one?

Rachel Gagen (32:35):

Number one’s iboga, which is from the Dosed film.

Ian Ugarte (32:39):

Oh yes. That’s right. They used iboga.

Rachel Gagen (32:40):


Ian Ugarte (32:45):

That’s the last plant medicine I took, and was it you that said that you only really ever do one iboga ceremony?

Rachel Gagen (32:54):

Some people have more, but at an initiation level, generally just one big one. There’s a rare few who come back to it because they get a lot out of it.

Ian Ugarte (33:03):

I was saying to Josh today that I think it’s like pregnancy, I suppose. You wouldn’t do a second one if you remembered the pain of the first one. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve seen it. It was for me… Well firstly, let’s talk about why iboga?

Rachel Gagen (33:23):

Why iboga is, from all of the plant medicines I work with and have witnessed over the many years of doing this crazy pirate thing. It seems to have the longest holding or sticking. It’s like sometimes you have these big experiences, and then you go back to your life and it just sort of fades away, and it becomes a big memory of like, “Wow, there was that big experience,” but the implications of those lessons don’t necessarily get integrated without you doing a lot of work. With iboga, it offers you so much assistance that it seems that even if you’re kind of lazy with it, a lot of people still get heaps of positive effects that last years into the future.

Rachel Gagen (34:05):

Just held my last retreat six weeks ago and did some phone call check-ins with all of the participants, and there were seven participants in this and six of the seven are cruising through life feeling so optimistic, so supported. Depression is not there anymore. The negative thought patterns, there’s no effort to have to quieten them, they’re just not there. The addictions are just not there. The coping mechanisms are not required. Then one person is really just back to themselves. Statistically that feels like really accurate with how it seems to work.

Ian Ugarte (34:36):

PTSD; can something be done with PTSD?

Rachel Gagen (34:42):

Yeah. I feel like, with iboga, it often puts you into this shaking muscle fatigue like experience where you can be tremoring. There’s so much research into the power of shaking. When animals go through trauma and a stressful situation they often will just go and shake afterwards, and then carry on with their existence. That’s not something that we do anymore. There’s a therapy called TRE therapy that’s been getting around, and you induce muscle fatigue to shake. Iboga does something really similar. I’ve noticed that people that have PTSD or really deep trauma, sexual abuse and really dense trauma will often get put into just shaking, and it’s hours and hours of shaking, and it seems to remove some deep tension from the nervous system that’s, I guess, shaping their whole being.

Ian Ugarte (35:35):

Yeah. My experience there was… In its ceremony, we’re talking four hours of taking the iboga every however long.

Rachel Gagen (35:50):

Yeah. It was probably more than four, but probably felt like four.

Ian Ugarte (35:56):

It was long, regardless. Then that process goes and then it starts to integrate into your body, and I was lying down. From that point onwards, how long? We’ve got about, there’s five, six hours after that as well, is it?

Rachel Gagen (36:12):

Yeah. I’d say eight hours would be the acute experience of when you’re still in it and processing it, and then a good 12 hours of not quite being yourself again, but you’re not on the acute phases of the iboga. It’s really introspective.

Ian Ugarte (36:26):

I think what was amazing for me was… I’ll say up front that there are people around me that have noted a very distinct change in my energy and my being, for the better, over the last 18 months, two years. You’ve been a big involvement in that, and so I want to thank-

Rachel Gagen (36:45):

I noticed the change in your being from the person I met.

Ian Ugarte (36:47):

Yeah, and I want to thank you for that.

Rachel Gagen (36:49):

Oh, you’re so welcome.

Ian Ugarte (36:51):

The experience with iboga, the awareness that woke up for me was the power of the brain and the information we hold within us, because during my time with the iboga, I was in a process where… It’s so difficult to explain, but the main thing about it was it took me back to photos that I’ve got in the office here, when I was a three year old, a four year old standing next to a canoe, and I’ve got to show you this photo. It took me back and sat me in my feet, looking back and around, and it was vivid as.

Ian Ugarte (37:36):

I thought, if that memory is in there, it’s no wonder people with, whether it be depression, or PTSD, or whatever can actually get back to that place or at least get over it, because somewhere in the back of your mind, that’s what’s creating it, and it’s being held in this massive computer that no one on earth will ever compete against what the brain can do. It was just like a bizarre, incredible, what the hell’s that? How is that even possible? Was what I came out of. Sick for two weeks.

Rachel Gagen (38:12):


Ian Ugarte (38:13):

So sick for two weeks, because you… Well, anyone that does it has to have a strong heart, because it’s a pretty big hit on the body.

Rachel Gagen (38:23):

Yeah. It’s a big load on the body. It’s not a plant that’s for everyone.

Ian Ugarte (38:27):

Yeah. Yes. Okay. I was going to ask you something and I’ve lost it. This is a property podcast, by the way. Where do you want to go from here? You’ve been looking at different bits and pieces of where to live, and what to live, and what to buy. Where are you at?

Rachel Gagen (38:51):

Yeah. Well, I’ve kind of gone through so many processes in my life of getting away from society and trying to be a hermit, and being really angry with how things are set up not in the favor of all. Being really driven by fairness and justice, and realizing that that’s just not a reality. Then kind of slowly integrating myself back in, and studying, and working as a health consultant, and moving into the suburbs recently, which has been big for me, having lived out more in the forest for the last 10 years. I’m realizing that our real power is not out of the system. It’s like, we’ve got to be in the system to manipulate it and change it. That involves, not fitting in, but knowing how to move through it and how to language with people, so that what you’re really saying gets through.

Rachel Gagen (39:39):

I’m really loving playing with that now. Being more part of society and trying to change it from within. I really want to get land now and actually be able to… Which is funny, because you can’t own land, you know?

Ian Ugarte (39:51):


Rachel Gagen (39:51):

I’d like to pretend to own some land so that I can utilize it for something useful. I know that I’m only affecting a small amount of people, but it’s powerful for those small amount of people, and I realize that that’s the level of change that I fit into. Aiming too big, you just feel hopeless. You’re nobody, but on the communal level, the people that you can affect within your community in such a positive way is so rewarding. That’s where I’m aiming for now is to like, “How do I keep doing this stuff on the local level?”

Ian Ugarte (40:21):

I think there’s a lot in that with what you just said. The amount of people that push back on authority and see it as a very different thing. The way that you just said was, you worded it perfectly. There’s so much power in playing in the system, to be able to manipulate it for the way that you want it to be for the better. The classic example for me was at school. I went to a Catholic school, and I topped religion for the state.

Rachel Gagen (40:52):


Ian Ugarte (40:53):

Because I told them what they wanted to hear, not what I believe. Right? I’m trying to teach my 16 year old that the power is in knowing that you can make someone believe or do something, not in a bad way. In a good way, because you just want to appease what they are, but the power is in being able to walk away going, “They thought that they got me on that one, and I’m walking away knowing.” That’s essentially a breakdown of ego as well.

Rachel Gagen (41:22):

Yeah. Can you play the game, but still remember who you truly are?

Ian Ugarte (41:26):

Yeah, exactly. Again, these words may sound like you’re manipulative, or that you’re trying to do something illegal. It’s not about that. It’s just being yourself and knowing that if I’m talking to someone and I know they’re not going to change their mind, there’s no use me trying to change their mind. I can just let them think that I’m on their page and just have the… Because some people are just too difficult to appease.

Rachel Gagen (41:50):

But if you really want your view to get across people need to first be seen, and so you kind of, you see people, you don’t have to defend yourself or combat with them. Then from this place, that’s actually when they open their minds. It’s actually a good technique to get your message across, is firstly, don’t fight with people. See them, resonate empathetically with their situation, and then speak your truth.

Ian Ugarte (42:13):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s like you go into a pub, someone puts that fists up and you put your fists up. Well it’s on. If you put your hands up and say, “Look, I’m not into this,” and they’ll back down, or they’ll look stupid for hitting you.

Rachel Gagen (42:25):

Yeah. Yeah.

Ian Ugarte (42:25):

Which is what sometimes happens.

Rachel Gagen (42:27):

Yeah. You pick your battles.

Ian Ugarte (42:28):

You’re looking at purchasing property and obviously going to grow a lot of stuff on there.

Rachel Gagen (42:33):

Obvious need a lot of advice from you. It’s totally outside of my realm of how to acquire land, but I’m on a mission with it now.

Ian Ugarte (42:40):

That’s good. You seem to be doing well in business too.

Rachel Gagen (42:43):

Yeah. Things are going really well.

Ian Ugarte (42:44):

Yeah. Okay. If anyone wanted to contact you, what’s the best way.

Rachel Gagen (42:52):

Yeah. I guess you could visit my website, probably the best way to see some of the projects that I’m a part of, and then you’ll find a contact form. It’s called Entheobotanica, so that’s…

Ian Ugarte (43:02):

Spell it.

Rachel Gagen (43:03):


Ian Ugarte (43:08):

Dot org.

Ian Ugarte (43:12):

I just want to thank you again. I’ve already done it once, but I just want to thank you again for the change you’ve made for me. Also, coming in, talking to everyone. I know you could talk for hours on what you do, and the good that you’re doing in the world is amazing, so thank you.

Rachel Gagen (43:28):

Oh, thank you. I feel the same with you.

Ian Ugarte (43:33):

There you have it. What an interesting story and what a beautiful energy that she holds. She speaks so eloquently, and it’s been awesome to actually run into her by accident. I hope you enjoyed that episode and for the next one, make sure you click follow and subscribe. We’ll see you next time on Small Talk, Big Ideas.

Announcer (43:54):

Thanks for tuning in to the Small Talk, Big Ideas podcast. We hope we’ve succeeded in our goal to inspire and challenge you, and we look forward to catching you on the next episode of Small Talk, Big Ideas with Ian Ugarte.

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