What Is a Psychonaut? [Fully Explained]

The following is for informational purposes only. WayofLeaf does NOT advocate the illegal sale, use, or possession of any psychedelics. Be sure to research, understand, and follow all laws and regulations relating to the use and possession of psychedelics in the state or region you live.

One of the most common questions regarding the world of psychedelics is, “what is a psychonaut?” Fortunately, we have the answer right here.

In this article, we look at this emerging subculture and why it is becoming increasingly popular.

We’ll discuss the meaning of the word ‘psychonaut’ and how it has been evolving in recent years.We’ll also share some of a psychonaut’s top tips on how to have a good trip. Read on for the complete guide.

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 How to Define ‘Psychonaut’

The word ‘psychonaut’ has two components, both of which come from ancient Greek. The prefix psyche means spirit, soul, or mind, while the suffix naut pertains to sailing. Therefore, the most common definition of a psychonaut is a “sailor of the soul.”

 how to define 'psychonaut'

These people deliberately enter altered states of consciousness to explore the hidden depths of the human psyche. Although the word usually describes people who use psychedelic drugs, psychonauts may use other exploration methods. They include:

  • Dreaming
  • Hypnosis
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Sensory deprivation

German writer Ernst Jünger introduced the term ‘psychonaut’ in 1970. He was describing Arthur Heffter, the pharmacologist who first isolated mescaline from the peyote cactus. Heffter conducted a series of experiments on himself and subsequently recorded the results.

Many other famous psychonauts have repeated this practice, including Albert Hoffman, the chemist who discovered the psychedelic properties of LSD. It has since become standard for psychonauts to document their experiences, either to share their knowledge or as a self-reflection method.

Modern-day psychonauts often post about their expeditions in online forums. Interestingly, a survey known as the Psychonaut Web Mapping Project used these posts to identify trends in novel psychoactive substances (NPS).

NPSs include research chemicals and legal highs, and the survey used the psychonauts’ reports to assess possible public health issues. Therefore, psychonauts could potentially play an essential role in modern-day drug education and harm reduction.

 What Do Psychonauts Think About Hallucinogens?

For the seasoned psychonaut, hallucination is considered one of the most effective ways to probe the mind’s deepest depths. And one of the most effective ways to induce hallucinations is by using psychedelics.

Also known as entheogens, some of the most popular hallucinogenic drugs include:

  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Psilocybin or magic mushrooms
  • Mescaline or peyote
  • N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

However, there is a wide variety of drugs with mind-altering properties, and psychonauts may choose to use any of them. The major difference between psychonauts and casual, recreational users is having a clear intention to learn something from their experience.

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How to Have a Good Psychedelic Trip

Experienced psychonauts know that the key to having a positive psychedelic experience is adequate preparation. There are several steps that individuals can take to get the most out of their trip. They are sometimes referred to as The Six S’s.

The Six S’s originate from a book called The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by psychologist and psychedelics expert, Dr. James Fadiman. However, it appears that other psychonauts have adapted them over time.

Following these steps is among the best ways to prepare for a trip and minimize the risk of unpleasant effects. The Six S’s are as follows:

  • Set
  • Setting
  • Substance
  • Sitter
  • Setting
  • Situation

Let’s look at each one in more detail.


Set is short for mindset. It is among the most significant factors determining whether a trip will be a good learning experience.

Psychedelics tend to amplify one’s mood, and so it is essential to take them when in a positive frame of mind. Therefore, most psychonauts recommend spending the day before taking a psychedelic fostering a calm and confident mindset.

Many also advocate setting an intention for the trip. Individuals could ask themselves questions like what they hope to learn about themselves or the world around them. Alternatively, they could choose an area of personal growth on which to focus.


The setting is the environment in which the trip takes place. It should be safe, familiar, calming, and comfortable.

Many people enjoy the enhancement of music and visual distortion that psychedelic drugs induce. However, some psychonauts prefer to limit sensory input to journey deeper, at least for part of the experience.


It is critical to become familiar with any psychedelic drug before taking it for the first time.

Knowing what to expect, what dosage to take, and how to prepare are all critical factors.

how to have a good psychedelic trip substance

Psychonaut forums are often a great place to start. It is possible to read first-hand accounts of psychedelic use, so that novice explorers are less likely to have an unpleasant surprise.


A sitter is someone who can provide support to the person ingesting the psychedelic substance during a trip.

A trained facilitator is the best option because they are trained to address most situations that may arise in a psychedelic journey. A close and trusted friend is the second-best option, as it is essential to feel safe and free from judgment. Ideally, they should have their own psychedelic experience and remain sober throughout the trip.


The session refers to how long the trip lasts and the stages it follows from onset to resolution.

Each session is unique and will vary from person to person. However, psychonaut forums and educational sites like WayofLeaf can provide general guidance on what to expect from individual substances.


It can take a few weeks to integrate the discoveries of a psychedelic trip into everyday life. Take time to process the experience and think about any life-changing decisions carefully before putting them into action.

To learn more, see our complete guide: Preparing for a First Psychedelic Trip.

What Is a Psychonaut? Final Thoughts

Although the term ‘psychonaut’ is relatively new, it is by no means a modern practice. Humans have used psychedelics for thousands of years for recreational, religious, and spiritual purposes.

Even now, scientists have a limited understanding of the human mind and its capabilities. Therefore, it seems likely that the quest to unravel these mysteries will continue for many years to come.

We hope this article has been interesting and informative. We also would like to remind any aspiring psychonauts that psychedelic drugs are illegal in the majority of places. It is the readers’ responsibility to research the specific rules and regulations in their local area.

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