162: Gerry Powell – How Plant Medicine Can Change Your Life


“I’m not a thought leader, I’m not woke, I’m a guy that’s a cheerleader for a plant.”
Gerard Powell

Hello, my friends! Welcome to another episode of OnkenRadio (previously NION Radio), where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey! 

Episode 161 last week was about my experience with plant medicine down in Costa Rica at a fantastic wellness resort called Rythmia. The resort provides a full-on body, mind, and soul cleanse using plant medicine as the instrument for change, and I believe it’s an excellent place for personal development. To learn more about plant medicine from a scientific perspective, check out the book, How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan — it shifted my whole outlook on plant medicines.

In today’s episode, I chat with the founder of Rythmia, a great place to do ayahuasca for the first time. Gerard Powell is a fantastic guy who’s been through tremendous change in his life. Gerard went from selling his company for $94 million (and not being the most decent human being) to having a life-changing experience and creating the haven of Rythmia for others to enjoy life-changing experiences too. Gerard (Gerry) has brought over 8,000 people through Rythmia and seen an extraordinary amount of miracles and remarkable healings, which I’m excited to share with you!

Here’s a quick taste of some of Gerry’s wisdom you’ll hear:

“You still have to do the work. Anybody who tells you that [you] come to Rythmia and have a good time [is] lying. It’s hard work. It’s relentless here; you can’t escape it. In other words, you’re at lunch or at breakfast with people talking about the same thing and [being] pointed [to look] back at yourself, and then you go to a metaphysical class and [again] the answer is you. Next, in the ceremony, the medicine’s pointing back to you [too]. You can’t get away from it.”
Gerard Powell

In this episode, we talk about Gerry’s story, the spiritual side of plant medicine, and how you can connect to the world around you. I really enjoyed my time at Rythmia and especially enjoyed the opportunity to chat with Gerry and go deeper into what makes Rythmia so unique.

Who Is Gerard Powell?

Gerry’s beautiful and hilarious take on his story is best experienced in his book, Sh*t The Moon Said: A Story Of Sex, Drugs, And Ayahuasca, which I’ll summarize here for context. 

Gerry became a business mogul and constantly chased money, thinking it would make him happy. It didn’t. 

“I got to the point where I had amassed enough [money] to last [a] couple lifetimes, [but] my life was a wreck. I was [miserable], a drug addict, a sex addict, an alcoholic, a misogynist, chauvinist, a wife-beater — just a terrible guy and greedy on top of the whole thing. I hated people. I hated my own life. I [even] tried to commit suicide a couple of times. Finally, I got pushed into rehab and discovered metaphysical stuff through Agape. My life started to get turned, but I was in such bad shape that [the changes] weren’t nearly enough.”
Gerard Powell

Through a series of circumstances, Gerry ended up doing plant medicine in Costa Rica, starting with iboga. After one night with iboga, everything changed for Gerry, but his ayahuasca experience told him to open a center called “Rythmia.”

“The medicine told us, ‘This is what you’re gonna do.’ It told me not to [open up a strip club] and that I would have to [open Rythmia]. She said it would be the hardest but most enjoyable thing I ever did. She told me what to buy, even where to buy it, and what to pay for it — to the penny. My offer was about 40% of the asking price, and it was accepted, which is crazy!”
Gerard Powell

In Gerard’s entire life, he had never listened to anyone, and he’d made a life out of telling everyone off — and now he was listening to the medicine on everything. Every single thing, without exception, worked out for Gerry. The plant medicine told him when to sell his houses, his fleet of collectible cars, and even his airplanes, and now he jokes about the fact that he lives in a hotel room. 

It’s incredible to hear about everything the plant medicine told Gerry and how everything panned out perfectly for him. Let’s hear more about how plant medicine talks to you.

Plant Medicine’s Voice

My experience the last couple of nights with plant medicine has been bananas — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Once the medicine hit, a clear voice spoke to me. 

“Let’s jump into that. What if it’s all you? What if you are the divine? What if you’ve always known everything? What if we’re conceived and born, that Infinite Intelligence is with us, and then life dumbs us down? [Even though] this intelligence gets dumbed down by food, school, religion, alcohol, when we take a walk in the woods, swim at the beach, or a hike in the mountains, something [happens inside that makes us go,] ‘What is this?’ and all of a sudden it’s knocking, and when you answer, it says, ‘I’ve been here all along, [because] I am you.’”
Gerard Powell

It’s interesting because there are different tools and modalities, including plant medicine, to discover infinite intelligence. Gerry believes it’s not just plant medicine that helps us discover infinite intelligence but everything we do that aligns with our heart’s desire. We’re all on a path to death, so it’s about doing what you want to do, living where you want to live, acting how you want to act, and being in accord with nature. When you’re doing what you want to do in life, usually that will involve helping people — which is your highest calling in life. 

“You can walk down the street in Venice and see a lot of people dressed like they’re trying [to be] spiritual, [but] half of them are pretending to be spiritual. But when you come [to Rythmia], you meet people willing to face themself at all costs, and that’s a great group of people. People who talk about it are one thing, but people who actually do it? Holy cow! What a beautiful thing that is to me, someone that says, ‘You know what, I’m gonna put finding myself over everything in the world,’ and does it.”
Gerard Powell

He’s so right! There are far more people who talk than actually do in the world. It’s why I love Rythmia so much; it’s where serious people come to explore, learn, heal, and connect to their highest selves. 

But people don’t just have life-changing experiences at Rythmia and fall back into old ways — the impact is long-lasting.

Plant Medicine’s Lasting Impact

Fear is an emotion that everyone is dealing with. For most people, finding a way to completely heal past trauma and move past our current fears seems impossible. Gerard was a successful businessman before opening the center, and his thirst for data remains, so he’s tracked every single person who has entered the center.

“I love data, so we email people electronic surveys six months post-checkout. 97.5% of the people say [their] week changed their life and the thing that they got in ceremony is still working in their life. You can feel when you’re merged, and you can feel if you’re miffed, and you can also decipher between being split and not split. Once [ayahuasca] merges you back, you’re merged [for good].”
Gerard Powell

Gerry defines merged as the process whereby plant medicine reunites the individual with their true essence. Before feeling merged, Gerry says whenever he experienced emotions like joy and love, whether from sex, drinking, buying new things, or earning money — it would always last for a tiny little bit. Now that Gerry feels merged, the emotions feel far more intense but last much shorter. 

“When your heart gets hurt when you lose a loved one, it’s [excruciating.] The beautiful part about that is because you’re in yourself, the pain is more severe, but it doesn’t last as long because you’re able to sit and experience the depth of it. It’s really been hard to experience the pain of a loved one. I got a little bit of that [where] it might take 20 years to process the separation as opposed to three terrible months.”
Gerard Powell

Gerry’s so right here. It sounds counterintuitive to dive into things like the pain of losing someone, but the reality is we save ourselves so much time in the long run by processing grief rather than allowing it to live inside us for years to come.

Gerry believes ayahuasca has an even greater gift for us to incorporate into our daily lives.

Ayahuasca’s Gift

Gerry says the temptation with ayahuasca is constantly to want to learn and even try to dictate what to know. He has a suggestion for anyone thinking about exploring plant medicine.

“The gift is to feel it. When I go into a ceremony wanting to learn, I can get answers without advancement, but when I go into [a] ceremony wanting to feel more, love more — those things advance, and [I] become kinder in the world. I was a very violent guy, so kindness is a good measure for me to see how I’m doing. [Now] there’s not a minute that goes by that I couldn’t have a thought that would make me cry because the medicine’s such a miracle.”
Gerard Powell

Gerry believes that this kind of experience offers us the opportunity to allow our souls to re-emerge (in a spiritual sense) and to hit a vein of unconditional love (in a human sense). People experience breakdowns over sadness, joy, and sometimes even both simultaneously. 

“It’s so beautiful and funny too when you get people that are in their heads and talking about different levels of how it works. They’ve been drinking with their brain [but] their heart never got the experience. On my second journey, [ayahuasca] told me to stop reading books, so I did, I stopped, and I’m even trying to stop trying to learn in the ceremony because there’s so much more than learning going on in there.”
Gerard Powell

It’s so true! What a beautiful articulation of why we should live more from our hearts than in our heads. A part of us knows that every second on earth is sacred. Learning to treasure beautiful moments like holding a flower, petting a dog, touching your partner, and kissing your parents helps us feel gratitude for every day. 

We can incorporate the beauty of what it feels like to love and be loved into each day.

The Formula for Identity Alchemy

As a creative, I’m constantly on a journey to unpack what elements I can include in my creative process and how to tap into the different realms of inspiration. Plant medicine has been a fantastic teacher and opened me up to diving deep into my inner world and discovering myself in a new capacity. Places like Rythmia are phenomenal safe spaces to explore, and I’m eternally grateful to Gerry for his commitment to helping others on their journey of discovery. 

I love how he describes the process with plant medicine about letting go of trying to learn with our head and start feeling more with our heart. I genuinely believe our heart space is where our gifts and our connection to our Creative Alchemy reside.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens through which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their own creative processes, but to anyone who wants to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves. I’ve found that 80% of creating is alchemizing the thoughts, emotions, and other inner blocks that keep you from putting pen to paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes. Gerry is a beautiful example of a Creative Alchemist, and I was honored to have him on the podcast today. 

If you loved this episode, make sure to check out Rythmia on social media. You can find them on YouTube, Instagram, or their website

And by the way, don’t forget to check out my website too. There, you can find a quick ten-question quiz designed and get some of my best free content to help you out on your creative journey.

Thank you so much for joining me today, guys. I hope you enjoyed this episode on plant medicine — if you did, please screenshot it and post it to Instagram and tag Rythmia, @rythmia_, and me, @nickonken. And if you’ve got time, leave me a review on Apple Podcasts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Also, if you haven’t checked out Onken Hats yet, they’re custom hats that I’ve been making for people, which is a new endeavor of mine. It’s been a lot of fun, and people are loving them. 

I’ll catch you guys next time — now go live the creative lives you were meant for.

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!



“Anytime you have a date with divinity, you are changed.”
Gerard Powell

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • How Gerry went from successful but depressed to a fully changed person through plant medicine [5:52]
  • Why Gerry doesn’t consider himself a thought leader [12:19]
  • What inspired the development of Rhythmia [14:55]
  • What our experiences with plant medicine can teach us about our world [17:41]
  • Why Gerry doesn’t feel bad about not leaving Rhythmia for months at a time [21:36]
  • The feeling of being merged and how it changes everything you experience in your life [29:16]
  • Why having a near death experience often changes people in the same way that plant medicine does [36:27]
  • Why some people are okay with doing it once, while others come back again and again [39:07]
  • What Gerry means by everybody getting their “miracle” [44:23]
  • How the data that Gerry is collecting is being used to create a better experience for every Rhythmia event [48:46]
  • How Rhythmia’s team is maintained to keep their ceremony as good as it can be [52:17]

Links Mentioned:

Connect with Gerry Powell on Rhythmia’s website | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram

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