Heroic Path to Light
is a robust faith-based community focused on empowering, enlightening, and transforming the lives of its members. Community members will have access to sacred plant medicine ceremonies that will serve as catalysts on their healing journeys. Heroic Path to Light will provide all members professional psycho-spiritual coaching to prepare for the sacrament and later integrate their lessons.
A Founder’s Story
To have a better understand where I am now, it’s important to grasp where I was. I served in the Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005. My second deployment to Iraq in 2004 left me at the bottom of a dark abyss upon my return home, and the Middle East took something from me, that I wouldn’t come to understand for years to come.
I was honorably discharged from active duty in the spring of 2005 and returned to my home state of Texas. However, I couldn’t accept that I was suffering from mTBI, PTSD, anxiety, depression, moral injury, and survivors’ guilt. These issues became my parting gifts after four years of honorable service fighting the War on Terror.
I left for New York City in winter 2005 after spending the previous months an opiate induced haze, trying to numb the agonizing internal pain I lived with. That’s when the real war started. After months of failing to find employment, running out of money, and ending up homeless, I found refuge at a halfway house for veterans in Long Island, where I spent the next six months of my life wanting to die.
From there, I spent the next seven years working for Wall Street firms. This environment provided the fast-paced lifestyle I needed to keep moving. I was afraid to stop moving because I knew if I stopped moving, I’d die. Throughout this time period, I was on an ugly combination of pharmaceuticals—anti-depressants, stimulants, downers, and sleep medication to help with insomnia. Eventually, the side effects became unbearable. I didn’t want to take medication, but also knew I needed to take medication, but was at an impasse.
While PTSD, depression, and anxiety continued control of my life, I became a firefighter with the City of Austin in October 2017. I felt some initial relief because I was once again part of a team, I had found purpose once again, but the relief proved to be temporary.
In 2018, I went through a divorce, and I lived in a small apartment with my children 30 percent of the time due to my firefighter schedule. I was running out of money with attorney fees, bills, and child support. I was left with just over $100 a week to spend on food for the three of us. I wanted to provide for my children but could barely keep the lights on. The foundation of my world was collapsing, and I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing me in this state. I felt alone, trapped, and felt like I had failed everyone that was counting on me. My trauma was thriving in isolation and the darkness became unbearable.
In late 2018, I attempted to end my life but due to an unknown angel walking this earth, was unsuccessful. Shortly after, a close friend referenced a book that transformed his life and suggested I read it—How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. This book sent me down a path of personal exploration in hopes that I could, in fact, change my mind and heal from the past. After all, I had nothing to lose.
Soon, I began researching and receiving the entheogenic sacrament, Psilocybe Cubensis. Over the next two years, I stayed underground, journaling the effects of this sacred medicine on my mind, body, and spirit. It took just one deep experience with this medicine and my perception of life changed. Once lost memories began to resurface. My anger disappeared. I started to love myself again, have empathy for myself and others. My suicidal ideation ceased, and anxiety and depression vanished. I could live in peace with the memories of the traumatic events that initially caused me so much pain. The personal and spiritual transformation took place between fall 2018 and winter of 2020 was nothing short of a miracle. I was truly living. I had a heart again. I could feel again.
During my five years as an Austin Firefighter, I would witness a magnitude of traumatic events where lives were lost; mass shootings, the Austin serial bomber, consistent overdoses, and fatality collisions. While I had come so far since my failed suicide attempt in 2018, I noticed the darkness once more creeping in because of my job environment. In February 2022, I resigned from the Fire Department knowing I’d found a higher purpose and wanted to serve in another way. Thus, Heroic Path to Light was born. My vision was to create a non-profit that served the Veteran, First Responder and Gold/White star communities in hopes that their suffering could end by building community and utilizing sacred entheogenic ceremonies. After fourteen friends were lost to suicide since 2005, I couldn’t bear to lose anyone else, so if this program saved just one life, then it’s all worth it.
As the Founder and President of Heroic Path to Light, I’m still on my journey, but want to meet you where you are, because I know together, we can get through anything.
Founder and President
Director of Finance
Katie LaRoe, LCSW
Lead Integration Specialist
Director of Operations