In a wide-ranging new interview this week, Aaron Rodgers let the world know about his psychedelic-infused spiritual journey over the past couple years that he believes made him a better NFL quarterback, winning back-to-back MVP awards, and a better human being, graced with a newfound sense of humility, gratitude and balance.
For the Green Bay Packers quarterback, this journey took him to the mountains of Peru to consume ayahuasca, a plant-based psychedelic, over a “magical” three-night experience just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he explained in a podcast interview with Aubrey Marcus, a close friend and the founder of Onnit, a brand based on a holistic health philosophy that he calls Total Human Optimization.
Integral to his spiritual journey, both Rodgers and Marcus agreed, is that the football pro had to learn to embrace the “divine feminine,” a concept that Rodger said is antithetical to the “alpha male” culture of the NFL.
This alpha male environment, Rodgers said, “could be the cause of so much of the rage and repressed feelings that show up from time to time, when there is conflict or issues or frustration. A lot of that is that inner child that’s cultivated in you.”
When men embrace their feminine side, they can tap “into that play and that fun,” Rodgers shared with Marcus. “That’s a lot of what the feminine can give us: The enjoyment, the beauty and sensuality, the connections with feelings that allows to have that balance.”
What Rodgers appears to be talking about is a concept that’s regularly mentioned in New Age practices, contemporary witchcraft or even in Goop advice columns and marketing copy. As explained by the website Bustle, the “divine feminine” isn’t just a buzzword — it’s “a sacred spiritual energy that’s believed to exist within all of us.”
It represents the part of our consciousness “that connects us to qualities like intuition, feeling, nurturing, receptivity, and interconnectedness,” Bustle said. Or as Rodgers and Marcus indicated, it means finding strength in “softness” and challenging society’s idea of what it means to empowered.
“I think it’s leaving room to be completed by the divine feminine,” Rodgers told Marcus. “We aren’t whole as fully masculine, as just (expletive) alpha dogs. (The idea) of no pain, (being) warriors. We have to have that poet side come in, and the feelings and vulnerability. That’s what we were probably missing in this world. That’s why masculinity can be toxic. It’s the repression of the other part that keeps us from being whole.”
By allowing the “poet” side of himself to join “the warrior,” Rodgers said he has gained a new perspective on his career and his significant relationships.
With regard to his career, he said his change in mindset came after his trip to Peru, leading to him enjoying the best two seasons of his career.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Rodgers said about winning his third and fourth MVPs in 2020 and 2021. “I really don’t. I don’t really believe in coincidences at this point. It’s the universe bringing things to happen when they’re supposed to happen.”
The use of ayahuasca led to one night of “major ego death” when Rodgers said he had to sit “for hours” with all his self-doubts and self-hatred. Allowing himself to “surrender” made it possible for him to find that he was capable of being loved unconditionally, which opened him up to unconditionally loving others.
Rodgers said his South America vacation “set me on my course to be able to go back in to my job and have a different perspective on things. To be way more free at work, as a leader, as a teammate, as a friend, as a lover. I really feel like that experience paved the way for me to have the best season of my career (in 2020).”
As for the change in mindset in his personal life, the former UC-Berkeley player said he has become open to healing his relationship with his Chico-based parents and his two brothers. He had a messy fallout with his parents from him and two brothers several years ago, with their estrangement famously covered during Jordan Rodgers’ appearance on “The Bachelorette” in 2016.
“I do believe in healing and I believe in the possibility of reconciliation at some point,” Rodgers said. He would n’t elaborate on what led to the estrangement, but he said he was grateful for his upbringing of him and the sacrifices his parents made for him and his brothers of him.
“Many people have issues with families,” Rodgers said. “For me, I’ve tried to deal with it quietly behind closed doors. That hasn’t always been good enough for a lot of people, for people who want to write about it, pick it apart, or from some things my family has done or said over the years.
“The most important thing for me is deep love and gratitude for them, and for the lessons I learned, and for the way I was raised, and hope for the future,” Rodgers added. “But, who knows what that future is gonna look like, when it’s gonna look like, when time is gonna come.”
In his discussion with Marcus, Rodgers didn’t mention his engagement with Shailene Woodley, which ended sometime earlier this year. He and the “Big Little Lies” star began secretly dating during the COVID-19 pandemic — sometime after his life-changing trip to Peru. They went public with their engagement in the winter of 2021 after he won his first MVP award.
While Rodgers was mum on Woodley, he had nice things to say about retired NASCAR star Danica Patrick, whom he had dated for two years before he and Woodley got together.
“I was dating Danica and that relationship was great for me because she is on her own journey and spirituality is important to her,” Rodgers said. “We both were finding our way, learning about different things [and] practicing meditation techniques.”
In fact, Rodgers said, Patrick traveled with him to South America when he underwent his three-day experience with ayahuasca. He said the spiritual awakening took place after they together climbed to the top of a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu, the 15-century Inca citadel. “We took our time, winding up this long way. It was a magical experience, enjoying the nature and majesty of the mountains.”