Aaron Rodgers has issues. The Green Bay Packers QB has won a Super Bowl (XLV), the Super Bowl MVP and four MVP Awards. When his career is over, he'll be noted as one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time.
But still he has issues (he's unvaccinated for Covid-19) that led him to Soltara Healing Center in Playa Blanca, Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean for a five-night retreat consisting of three ceremonies at a cost of between $3,125 and $6,000. Of course, Rodgers can afford it (he earned $42 million playing football in 2022). He went with Aubrey Marcus after the 2022 season ended (the Packers lost in the playoffs),
A mushroom trip pointed Rodgers in the direction of Marcus, who's his psychedelics guru or coach. Rodgers poured it all out on a recent episode of the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, "From Ayahuasca to MVP."
Aaron Rodgers on Ayahuasca: "I really feel that that experience paved the way for me to have the best season of my career."
After the mushroom experience, Rodgers went to Peru in 2020 with his then girlfriend, race-car driver Danica Patrick, to sample ayahuasca. It was the year before he won back-to-back MVP awards, about which he now says: "I don't think it was a coincidence, I really don't. I really feel that that experience paved the way for me to have the best season of my career [in 2020]."
Rodgers tossed a career-high 48 touchdown passses that season and had 70% complettion efficiency on his passes. He's played his entire 18-year career in Green Bay, who drafted him in the first round out of UC Berkeley in 2005. Rodgers is now 38. In addition to Patrick, he's had lenghty relationships with Shailene Woodley and Olivia Munn.
Ayahuasca expert Peter Gorman says about the jungle hallucinogen: "It's a traditional tool for divination used throughout much of the Amazon jungle, particularly in the Northwest regions. It's a brew made by combining ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) with chacruna (Psychotria viridis, a plant in the coffee family) or huambisa (Diplopterys cabrerena) infused with the smoke of regional black tobacco, in river water. It's known by a host of names - yajé and natem among them - depending on which indigenous group is talking about it."
I came back and knew I'd never be the same.
"I'd heard of ayahuasca. The fear around it is you're going to shit yourself, it's a big throw-up fest. A dear friend of mine, Jordan, in 2019 went down to Peru and did an experience and came back and told me the whole story. I was moved, deeply moved and I felt like now it's time for me to do it. Danica and I planned a trip to Peru with some friends to go do it. [They also climbed Machu Picchu.] I went from that into an ayahusaca ceremony. It was a magical first night of just surrendering to any of the lessons that needed to come through the grandmother's spirit of the vine.
"It was March 8, 2020, just before the pandemic hit. It was a very deep and meaningful couple of nights. I came back and knew I'd never be the same. I didn't do that and think, Oh I'm never playing football again. No, it gave me a deep and meaningful appeciation for life. My intention the first night going in was I wanted to feel what pure love feels like. And I did, I really did. I had a magical experience with the sensation of feeling a hundred different hands on my body imparting the blessing of love and forgiveness for myself and gratitude for this life from what seemed to be my ancestors. And I came back and the pandemic hit."
"I really feel that set me on my course to be able to go back in to my job and have a different perspective on things and to be way more free at work as a leader, as a teammate, as a friend, as a lover. I really feel that experience paved the way for me to have the best season of my career."
Costa Rica - Day One
It's all about a major ego death.
"Night one had a mind of its own. It's all about a major ego death. It was going to the depths of my soul and hearing and feeling all that self-criticism. All that doubt. All that judgment that I'd placed on myself. And sitting with it for hours. With zero psychoactive experiences, nothing happening but me and the voice in my head, on my shoulder, in my body saying, 'You're not enough. You're not worth it. You're a shitty person. You're all these things.' And sitting with the depth of that reality, It was really, really tough. It broke me to the core. I wrestled with it for hours.
"I asked for another cup. I wanted some other experience than the one I was dealing with. And ayahuasca said, 'Oh, no, no. This is the work we're doing right now.' You can't do anything in this life until you truly unconditionally love yourself. So that's what I had to do. I had to surrender fully to the idea that everything I was telling myself was true. That's when it finally broke. I laid there on that mat and I made peace with the possibility that all of these lies I was telling myself could possibly be true. In that reality of the worst self-talk you could possibly remember, feeling like the lowest human on the planet and not worthy ever in this life of unconditional love [pauses, tears up].
"We had a group of 22 people and incredible facilitators. I laid there and said, 'Is there anyone in this room who could still love me?' What came through next was the voice in my head, which really wasn't my voice anymore. It said: 'Even at your lowest of lows these people can still love you and you should be able to love yourself.'
"For those who have judgment around it or misunderstanding or questions around it, the knowing comes from doing. It's not for everybody. It's not something that I'm recommending. But for me and my mental health - Marshawn Lynch calls it 'taking care of your mentals' - one of the core tenets of your mental health is self-love. That's what ayahuasca did for me. It helped me see how I can unconditionally love myself. It's only in that unconditional self-love that I'm able to unconditionally love others. What better way to work on my mental health than to have an experience like that? The greatest gift I can give my teammates is to be able show up and be someone who can model unconditional love to them. Obviously, it's important that I play well, show up and lead and all that stuff. They won't care about what you say until you show how much you care.
"We need more men willing to be vulnerable and hopefully that's what I can continually take to my teammates and our sport, to open up deep and meaningful conversations to connect, to be vulnerable. On the outside you look like the macho-est of macho dudes, but on the inside you're a deeply, highly sensitive, vulnerable human who loves with a humongous heart. That's the modeling that we need. The redefining of the masculine qualities, calling in the divine feminine to balance our lives out, to raise up the women in your life and give them a platform to speak and to lead, to set the trajectory for the next generation."
Costa Rica - Day Two
I had thre most beautiful journey I could possibly imagine.
"Night two when I got down to the maloca, I was in a way different headspace. I'd gone through the ego death, I sat with all those feelings and emotions of unworthiness and felt a deep, meaningful unconditional love. It was nice to have a day off in between to integrate those deep lessons. I had completely surrendered and had zero agenda. I didn't come in with any intentions and I had the most beautiful journey I could possibly imagine. I had made up my mind I was going to do the Soltara house brew, not Orlando's dragon brew There were a couple of options. I didn't journey the first night really. I'm going to take the house brew tonight, blast off, it's going to be great. But [Marcus] said Orlando's brew was thick tonight and I said, 'I'm going in.' And I went on a journey. Ayahuasca is usually described as a grandmnother's spirit. I [slight pause} met her and walked with her through past, present and future lives. I literally was able to ask her question after question about things that were on my mind... Night two was enjoying the highest bliss possible. I'm deeply grateful for that."
Costa Rica - Day Three
It felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time.
"Night three was not quite the same journey. I went from ego death night one to incredible bliss night two. For night three I came with an open heart and needed to come through. As it being the last night, when the ceremony ended there was a lot of joy and hugs. When all this was going on, I was going through it. At the end of the ego death, there's a rebirth. In my rebirth process I was overwhelmed by the incredible grief of my life as I knew it and a rebirth into a new perspective, a new timeline, a new trajectory. I just sat with that. It was very difficult; the overwhelming sense of sadness and grief of what I was leaving behind. I just sat with that for hours, probably two hours.
"I was begging grandmother to let me purge whatever was inside of me and let it come out, and she said, 'Not yet, my son. There's more.' So I sat with that and didn't fight it and just surrendered to the feeling of the depth of those beautiful emotions - incredible experiences from the past, heartbreak, failures, frustrations, deep deep sadness. And then I purged at about 4:30 in the morning finally and laid there afterwards on my mat and opened my eyes. It felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time. As the bat animal card instructs, the death of the ego is followed by the rebirth and the integration of that is the sunrise. The sun rose at 5:15. I sat there on my mat breathing in what felt like new oxygen in my lungs and enjoyed the beauty and the mystery of this life. The howler monkeys and their noises in the jungle and the sounds of life waking up. That's what I felt like happenned to me on the third day. I felt like I was walking on air when I went back up to the room."
More Celebs Who've Tried Ayahuasca
• Miley Cyrus: "I saw the snakes right away, and the snakes come and grab you and take you to the Mama Aya, and she walks you through your whole trip, and it was pretty crazy. I loved it, though."
• Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly: "It's your own psychological hell. That's the point of the medicine" (Fox); "I died in the jungle last week. I feel what it is to be reborn" (Kelly).
• Chelsea Handler: "I wanted to have the experience I was reading about and I did."
• Lindsay Lohan: "It changed my life."
• Susan Sarandon: "It reminds you of your place in the universe and reframes things for you. You can have some very profound experiences."