A Virtual Psychedelic Summit on the Globalization of Plant Medicines and Indigenous Reciprocity
April 23rd-25th, 2021
This global virtual summit will bring together Indigenous leaders from throughout North, Central and South America as well as researchers, practitioners, community builders and other experts from around the world. We will discuss the potential benefits and harms of the globalization of psychedelic plant medicines and explore how we can offer reciprocity to honor the Indigenous cultures and traditions that these medicines come from. It is vital that members of the psychedelic community help support Indigenous groups and the traditional spiritual and ecological knowledge they preserve and practice. This gathering is a follow-up to our conference, Plantas Sagradas en las Américas, held in Mexico in 2018. Like our previous conferences, this event reflects the mission of Chacruna by applying a multidisciplinary approach for creating intercultural dialogues and building bridges between Indigenous traditions and mainstream psychedelic science and policy. Indigenous voices have often been marginalized in the contemporary psychedelic conversation, and this event seeks to spotlight these voices and the invaluable wisdom they carry. We will explore how psychoactive plants have been used throughout history and in different geographical areas, as well as their use and active compounds in multiple contexts; including scientific research, empirical experience, cultural manifestations and the ways in which the state has administered these practices. Presentations will address the traditional and modern uses of various psychoactive plants and include a diverse range of perspectives and fields of knowledge. In doing so, this conference invites us to rethink dichotomies such as sacred vs. profane, modern vs. traditional, legal vs. illegal, and natural vs. artificial, thus bringing much-needed complexity and nuance to the mainstream conversation.
In parallel with this event, Chacruna will launch its new Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas, a comprehensive online resource that will allow people to connect with and donate to grassroots Indigenous nonprofits and community initiatives at the local level.
About IRI’s Launch – April 23, 2021
As part of the launch for the Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas (IRI), Chacruna is organizing a private, invite-only event on Friday, April 23rd for businesses, investors and donors that are wanting to give back to Indigenous peoples and Indigenous-led grassroots organizations. We believe this is a very important and timely conversation, and we hope to set a standard that will help shape the uncertain future of our field in ways that honors its roots. If you represent an organization or are an individual donor or investor that is looking to support this work, we invite you to reach out to [email protected] for more information.
Become a Chacruna Member to receive discounted or free tickets and other special perks!
Bioneers, Botanical Dimensions, Nierika, North Star, Psychedelic Seminars, Psychedelics Today, Sage Institute, San Francisco Psychedelic Society, Source Research Foundation, Synergetic Press, Wixárika Research Center, Fluence, Heroic Hearts Project, Horizons, OPEN Foundation, Plataforma Brasileira de Politica de Drogas, Plant Medicine Coalition, Psychedelic Support, Maloca Internacionale, Psychedelic Society UK and Reconsider.
Sponsorship Opportunities Available:
Sponsorship helps Chacruna to make this conference affordable and accessible to the public and ensures a diversity of speakers and voices are heard. Sponsors receive recognition for their support of Sacred Plants in the Americas II at the event, on our social media channels, on our conference website, and in the video recordings of the event. All sponsorship donations are tax-deductible.
Disclaimer: Chacruna is not endorsing sponsors regarding their mission or activities. Sponsorship does not include any decision-making influence on the content of any Chacruna event or publication, or any decision-making authority regarding Chacruna policies or actions. Every individual can and should make their own determination on the credibility or value of each sponsor and we solicit your respectful feedback regarding any concerns. The inclusion of links to other sites does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them. Although legal issues will be discussed at the conference neither Chacruna nor any of the speakers are providing legal advice to participants. All conference presentations and materials are educational in nature. Chacruna does not advocate any entity violate state, federal, or local laws.
Please email Josh at: [email protected] with inquiries regarding sponsorships.
CE Credits Available (4 per day)
- CE credits for psychologists are provided by the Spiritual Competency Resource Center (SCRC) which is co-sponsoring this program. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
- The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT license renewal for programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.
- LCSWs, MFTs, and other mental health professionals from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board as to whether or not they accept programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.
- SCRC is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP16887) for licensed nurses in California.
- For questions about receiving your Certificate of Attendance, contact us at [email protected]. For questions about CE, visit www.spiritualcompetency.com or contact David Lukoff, PhD at [email protected].
Cash Ahenakew, PhD, is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples’ Well-Being and an Associate Professor in the Department of Education at the University of British Columbia. He is Cree and a member of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation with the ceremonial name pii tai poo taa (flying eagle). His research is based in a commitment to the development of Indigenous theories and mixed methodologies, and addresses the complexities at the interface between Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledges, education, pedagogy, methodology and ceremony. He is also the author of the book “Towards scarring our collective soul wound”. Using the teachings of the Sun Dance ceremony, Towards scarring discusses different sensibilities and understandings of pain and explores Indigenous forms of healing that engage an understanding of our separation from the wider metabolism of which we are part of. https://musagetes.ca/document/towards-scarring/
Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti holds a Canada Research Chair in Race, Inequalities and Global Change, at the Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Drawing on different critiques of colonialism and human exceptionalism, her research examines the interface between historical, systemic and on-going forms of violence, and the material and existential dimensions of unsustainability within modernity. She is one of the founding members of the Gesturing Decolonial Futures Collective and of the network Teia de 5 curas.
Adam Aronovich is a doctoral candidate at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain, focusing on Medical Anthropology and Cultural Psychiatry. He is an active member of the Medical Anthropology Research Center (MARC) and part of the Ayahuasca Community Committee at the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. In the last four years he has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon, where he has been doing qualitative research in collaboration with ICEERS, the Beckley Foundation, and, more recently, the Centre for Psychedelic Studies at Imperial College. Beyond his work conducting and coordinating research, Adam regularly facilitates workshops at the Temple of the Way of Light, a prestigious healing center in the Iquitos area. He is also a process facilitator and preparation and integration support coach in private practice.
Camila Behrens is a Brazilian Biologist, graduated from the University of Brasília and a Postgraduate Student in Phytotherapy. Behrens is the winner of the Latin American Young Forest Entrepreneur Contest in the Independent category and is the founder of Academia das Plantas, a company that works with natural products produced in the Amazon and in the Brazilian Cerrado, and that has a content channel specially focused on Plants, Herbalism and Self-knowledge. In the last five years, she was part of the group of researchers dedicated to the biological study of the plants that make up Ayahuasca tea, especially the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. She traveled through different states of Brazil collecting and analyzing Banisteriopsis samples, as well as gathering knowledge from traditional Ayahuasca communities regarding the cultivation, management, identification and ritualization of the species. The plant samples collected by Behrens are available in the Herbário UB collection and the information referring to traditional knowledge is registered in SisGen (National System for the Management of Genetic Heritage and Associated Traditional Knowledge). These samples and collected knowledge have contributed to research in different fields of science, such as taxonomy, anatomy, chemistry and molecular structure.
Alexander Beiner is co-founder of Rebel Wisdom and one of the directors of Breaking Convention, Europe’s largest conference on psychedelic medicine and culture. He has been involved in psychedelic activism for the last fifteen years and is particularly interested in bringing a critical lens to the way psychedelics are entering mainstream culture and medicine. He recently produced a short documentary called ‘The Rise of Psychedelic Capitalism’ to explore this topic, featuring interviews with leading voices in the field. As a Holistic Counsellor and facilitator, he’s also interested in how psychedelics can intersect with other practices to create safer, more integral approaches for personal growth and healing.
Camis Benedito has a Master’s (2013) and PhD (2019) in Sociology from the Brazilian Universidade Federal de São Carlos with thesis “‘Maria que me ensina a ser mulher’: Gênero e Religião no Santo Daime” (“Mary who teaches me how to be a woman”: Gender and religion within Santo Daime”), which was based on fieldwork among a Santo Daime community in Brazil, and traces the impact of popular Catholicism, environmentalism, New Age practices and the development of the Sacred Feminine within the community and its views towards the concept of feminine and femininity. Currently, Camis is part of the project Healing Encounters (CERMES3) team, and is conductins research on Brazil’s psychedelic science, is a member of NEIP (Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos), and a collaborator for ICARO (the Interdisciplinary Cooperation for Ayahuasca Research and Outreach from Universidade de Campinas).
Lisbeth Bonilla’s name in the Wixárika language is Kupuri, which means Sacred Water. She comes from the community of Tateikié in San Andrés Cohamiata, Jalisco. She left her place of origin at the age of seventeen to get a degree in Administration at ITESO, the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, to gain expertise in the area of income-generating projects in order to build the local economy. Even from afar, she has maintained a close bond with her people, both in her professional life and as a Wixárika community member. In the city, she has been in constant contact with other Wixáritari who have settled in the Guadalajara metropolitan region. There, Wixárika women have further strengthened their community bonds through organized sports. On her mother’s side, she descends from a traditional family line, allowing her to participate in cultural activities at Tateikié, the ceremonial center of Tunuwame. She has had the privilege of accompanying pilgrims or jicareros from this center on two pilgrimages to Wirikuta, the sacred peyote desert. As a young Wixárika, she has observed the growing pace of globalization and influence of capitalism among her people, for better or worse. In this context, she plans to practice her career while continuing on the path of family traditions. She believes that the experience of being immersed in two different cultures makes education a vital tool for being Wixárika in the 21st century.
Biracir Brasil is one of the Amazon’s leading indigenous leaders. While living in Rio Branco, the capital of the state of Acre, Brazil in the early 1990s, he was called on by Yawanawa elders to take over the leadership of his people. Returning to his village, Bira initiated a revolution of cultural revival in the Yawanawa community. He expelled aggressive New Tribes evangelical missionaries, instituted the teaching of the native language and encouraged the study of ancient myths and stories as a way of reconnecting younger generations with the knowledge and memories of the ancestors. He also relocated the main village to a hill on the banks of the Gregório river, with a good view of river traffic, in order to better control access to the reserve which was demarcated in 1987. Twenty fiver years later, the Yawanawás are now a major cultural force and international example of how indigenous nations can assert control of their lands and achieve valorization of their cosmopolitics and traditional culture.
David Bronner was born in Los Angeles, California in 1973 and earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University. He is Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling brand of natural soaps in North America and producer of a range of organic body care and food products. He is a grandson of company founder, Emanuel Bronner, and a fifth-generation soapmaker. Under David and his brother Michael’s leadership, the brand has grown from $5 million in 1998 to over $130 million in annual revenue in 2019. David and Michael established Dr. Bronner’s as a sustainable leader in the natural products industry by becoming one of the first body care brands to formulate with hemp seed oil in 1999 and to certify its soaps, lotions, balms, and other personal care products under the USDA National Organic Program in 2003. Both actions resulted in high-profile litigation with government agencies, DEA and USDA respectively, that Dr. Bronner’s ultimately won, cementing Dr. Bronner’s activist orientation in the natural products marketplace. Over the years, David and Dr. Bronner’s have been key leaders in fights for high-bar regenerative organic, animal welfare and fair trade standards, cannabis and psychedelic reform, and a fair minimum wage. His primary passion is the responsible integration of cannabis and psychedelic medicine into American and global culture and he is a board member of the Multi-Disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. Dr. Bronner’s financially supports several organizations and efforts in this space, including both scientific research around the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics, and psychedelic law reform. David’s activism embodies the company’s mission — which encompasses a commitment to making socially and environmentally responsible products of the highest quality, and to dedicating profits to help make a better world.
Daniel Carcillo is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and played 9 seasons in the National Hockey League. He has experienced emotional, sexual and physical trauma within hockey’s culture and battled mental health and addiction issues during and post career. When he retired in 2015, after sustaining 7 concussions and due to Post-Concussion Syndrome, he founded Chapter 5 Foundation, a charitable organization that helps athletes’ transition into life after the game. Daniel struggled with PCS symptoms and traditional treatments did not work. He turned to traditional entheogenic plant and fungi ceremonies and credits their healing powers to saving his life. He brought forth the Decriminalize Nature resolution to the city of Chicago. His mission is to get awareness and equitable access to psychedelics to the veteran, first responder, neurodegenerative and mental illness communities. He has as recently founded Wesana Health, a life sciences company that is researching loading and maintenance doses of psilocybin to treat traumatic brain injury, Post-Concussion Syndrome, migraines and TBI related anxiety, depression and PTSD. Daniel and Wesana Health will be working towards validating the first novel care option for TBI survivors through Health Canada (IMPD) and FDA (IND) clinical trials, with Pre-IMPD & Pre-IND meetings set to establish a pathway forward to fast track status for traumatic brain injury.
Marca Cassity has over twenty years of experience in the healing arts, working with renowned therapists, spiritual teachers, artists, academics, and medicine people from around the world. After completing a BSN at the University of Oklahoma and working as an emergency room nurse for several years, their journey as a therapist began overcoming their own trauma and cultivating resilience as a two spirit, queer, mixed-race Native American who grew up on the Osage reservation of Oklahoma. In addition to a depth of personal work, and study of trauma-focused therapies, Marca has found healing in Peyote ceremony of the Native American Church, and for the last eighteen years has been deeply involved with ayahuasca healing and integration work. Their clinical training was at the Native American Health Center of San Francisco, with additional training at the Indian Country Child Trauma Center at the University of Oklahoma studying under Dr. Dolores Bigfoot. A critically acclaimed songwriter Marca delivers inspired folk rock spirit songs with Native nuances, that speak to overcoming hardship through resilience, in connection to nature, humor, love, compassion, spirituality, and heritage. Marca works as a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon. They sit on the advisory board on diversity for the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and are completing training in MDMA assisted therapy.
Clancy Cavnar has a doctorate in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She currently works in private practice in San Francisco, and is Co-Founder and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She is also a research associate of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP). She combines an eclectic array of interests and activities as clinical psychologist, artist, and researcher. She has a master of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, a master’s in counseling from San Francisco State University, and she completed the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is author and co-author of articles in several peer-reviewed journals and co-editor, with Beatriz Caiuby Labate, of eight books. For more information see: http://neip.info/pesquisadore/clancy-cavnar
Grace Cepe is part of the Chacruna Chronicles editorial team and serves as the Communications Associate for MAPS. She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). At UCSC, Grace was a research assistant for the social psychology department’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory, instructor’s assistant for the Introduction to Psychology course, and residential counselor intern for at-risk youth. Before joining MAPS and the Chacruna Chronicles editorial team, Grace was a volunteer with Chacruna, MAPS, and the San Francisco Psychedelic Society, and has been an activist with Decriminalize Santa Cruz.Since attending MAPS’ Psychedelic Science Conference in 2017, Grace’s interests in psychedelics evolved from a primary focus on the clinical applications of psychedelics and into Indigenous ways of life and ceremonial uses, human rights, social justice, and increasing inclusivity and diversity in the field of psychedelics. Outside of her psychedelic work, Grace loves getting involved with her community, spending time in nature, hip-hop and salsa dancing, and getting lost in a good book.
Patricia Chulver Benítez is a social communicator, columnist, cultural manager, and artist certified by the Ministry of Culture. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Fundación Acción Semilla, a young Bolivian institution that promotes the participation of civil society in legislative reform processes and the design of new state policies based on research, communication, art, and education on issues related to drugs, gender, youth, and public health. She has studied social communication sciences at the Bolivian Catholic University and did several specializations on drugs, human rights, gender, and public health in Mexico, the US, Holland, and Hungary, among other places. Some of her work coordinating research includes: Regulatory systems for listed plants in Uruguay and Bolivia; Comparative experiences of micro-trafficking Bolivia – Ecuador; Coca leaf exportation, among others.
Kat Conour, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and facilitator, and a MAPS’ MDMA for PTSD trainee and trained ketamine-assisted therapist. With a background in non-profits, philanthropy, organizational consulting, and community organizing, Kat is passionate about supporting individuals and organizations in the psychedelic community transform their values and vision into aligned action. An Emergent Strategy fangirl, Kat recognizes that a movement is only as strong as the relationships and systems upon which they are built. She serves as Executive Director of Auryn Project, Chair of the Board of Sage Institute, and is a cofounder of North Star. Her work focuses on supporting leaders and organizations focused on centering equity, integrity, and accessibility in the scaling of psychedelic medicines. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Alí Cortina is a Master in Social Sciences and Humanities from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Cuajimalpa. He specializes in the line of research that he calls “social dimension of psychedelic knowledge” in which he articulates methodological-theories such as participant observation, history and anthropology, discourse analysis, and the social construction of knowledge. It has been published in Mexico, Spain, the United Sta
tes, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. He has participated in various national and international conferences.
Dr. Katherine A. Costello is a transformational coach specializing in gender, sexuality, and psychedelic integration. She holds a PhD in feminist and queer theory from Duke University and a BA in women’s studies from Smith College. She has published, taught, and presented at numerous conferences on the intersections of feminist, queer, and trans theories and social movements in France and the United States. She is also the author of ““A No-Man’s-Land of Sex: Reading Stephen Gordon and ‘Her’ Critics” (2017, Journal of Lesbian Studies), an essay on embodiment and how the body is read in the 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness. Since leaving the academy, Dr. Costello’s research has been focused on how to live a feminist, queer, and/or trans life. A Buddhist practitioner, she is especially interested in the role of mindfulness and psychedelics in the internal and interpersonal work of living a liberated life for the benefit of all beings.
Dr. Alan Davis is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Ohio State University and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Davis’s clinical experience includes working with people diagnosed with trauma-based psychological problems and includes providing evidenced-based treatments such as motivational interviewing, acceptance and commitment therapy, and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. His research interests focus on helping those suffering with substance use and mental health problems and developing ways to conceptualize substance use and mental health problems through a strengths-based approach. He recently completed a clinical trial of psilocybin therapy for depression and current trials exploring psychedelic treatment for patients with co-occurring alcohol use disorder and depression and patients with anorexia. He examines topics related to naturalistic psychedelic use among several populations including people of color who have experienced racial trauma, Spanish-speaking people, and people who use novel psychedelics such as 5-MeO-DMT.
Regina Célia de Oliveira is a Brazilian biologist with a doctorate in botany from UNICAMP and a postdoc at Kew Gardens. She is a professor at Brasília University (UnB) participating in the postgraduate program in botany. She has more than 40 published articles and is a productivity researcher from CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa, the Brazilian government agency for research promotion). In the last five years, Regina gathered a group of researchers who have been dedicating themselves to the biological study of the plants that comprise the ayahuasca tea; especially, the vine Banisteriopsis caapi. Through her travels in the “ayahusqueiras” regions of Brazil, she has organized a great collection of plant samples associated with the knowledge of traditional communities. These samples are being studied through various lenses, such as taxonomy, anatomy, chemistry, and molecular structure.
Erika Dyck is a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in the History of Health & Social Justice. She is the author of several books, including: Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (Johns Hopkins, 2008; University of Manitoba Press, 2011); Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization and the Politics of Choice (University of Toronto, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s award for Canadian non-fiction; Managing Madness: the Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada (University of Manitoba Press, 2017), which won the Canadian Historical Association Prize for best book in Prairie History; and with Maureen Lux, Challenging Choices: Canada’s Population control in the 1970s (McGill-Queens University Press, 2020). She is also the co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (2018); and A Culture’s Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote (2016). Erika is the co-editor of the Canadian Bulletin for Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la medicine and the co-editor of a new book series on the global history of alcohol and drugs, called Intoxicating Histories. Erika is also part of Chacruna’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group, where is hosts the series “Women in the History of Psychedelic Plant Medicines.”
Anya Ermakova has a motley background and broad research interests combining nature conservation, ethnobotany, neuroscience and psychiatry, interweaving and connecting these diverse paths through psychedelic science. Anya worked at the forefront of psychedelic research as a science officer at the Beckley Foundation, and has provided psychedelic welfare and harm reduction services with PsycareUK and Zendo. Deep love for nature and wildlife has motivated Anya to study biology at the University of Edinburgh, while a quest to understand altered states of consciousness has prompted her to specialise in neuroscience and later continued during her PhD in psychiatry at Cambridge, where she investigated the origins of psychosis. She then worked for the NHS, developing and trialing a new psychosocial intervention for psychosis. After a brief stint as a clinical trial manager, she had decided to pursue her passion for nature, by studying Conservation Science at Imperial College London, where she researched peyote ecology in Texas, USA. Anya is working as a research consultant in London, is a member of the Council for the Protection of the Sacred Plants at Chacruna, and a board member of the Cactus Conservation Institute.
Miguel Evanjuanoy Chindoy is a member of the Inga people from Putumayo, Colombia. He was born in a beautiful hilltop village part of an indigenous territory named Yunguillo, where the local cosmovision and collective work are the pillars of community life. Miguel is a community leader and environmental engineer and has been devote follower of yagé (ayahuasca) medicine since his childhood years. He acts as a spokesperson for the Union of Indigenous Yage Medics of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC). Specifically, his work focuses on the role that indigenous spirituality plays in territorial defence and environmental conservation. He is also interested in how yage medicine practiced by local, indigenous traditional healers contributes to peacebuilding, the improvement of community health, and the reconstruction of the social fabric in war torn rural Colombia. Recently Miguel has been speaking internationally about the impact that development models based on extractive economy and on the depletion of earth’s vital resources are having on the Amazonian biocultural ecosystems. On behalf of his organization and community, he is also taking a stand against cultural appropriation and the indiscriminate commercialization of indigenous practices and sacred plants, with the claim that this “marketed spiritualty” is negatively impacting both indigenous peoples and urban users alike.
Kevin Feeney, PhD, JD, is a cultural anthropologist and lawyer currently working as a Program Director and Instructor in Interdisciplinary Studies – Social Sciences at Central Washington University. His primary research interests include examining legal and regulatory issues surrounding the religious and cultural use of psychoactive substances, with an emphasis on peyote and ayahuasca, and exploring modern and traditional uses of Amanita muscaria, with a specific focus on medicinal use and preparation practices. His research has been published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Human Organization, and Curare, among other books and journals. He is a current board member of Cactus Conservation Institute, which is dedicated to the study and preservation of vulnerable cacti and is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, and recently joined the Board of Advisors for Psyched Wellness, a Canadian health supplements company emphasizing medicinal mushrooms.
Jorge N. Ferrer, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, author, and educator. He was core faculty at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), San Francisco, where he also served as the chair of the East-West Psychology department and founded its Shamanic Studies concentration. He is the author of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality (State University of New York Press, 2002), Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion (State University of New York Press, 2017), and Love and Freedom: Transcending Monogamy and Polyamory (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021), as well as the coeditor of The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies (State University of New York Press, 2008). In 2009, he was selected as an advisor to the organization Religions for Peace at the United Nations. Jorge has studied entheogenic shamanism for more than two decades and is a San Pedrista (wachumero) in the Peruvian lineage of Rubén Orellana, Victoria Hughes, and Leslie Myburgh (“La Gringa”). He was born in Barcelona and currently resides in Ibiza, Spain.
Ibrahim Gabriell is a communicologist and multidisciplinary researcher of the phenomenon of expanded states of consciousness. As a professor in the state of Chiapas (Mexico), he has taught both Communication studies at the Universidad de los Altos de Chiapas and Transpersonal Psychology at the Universidad Jose Vasconcelos. He is part of the Chacruna Latin America team and is co-founder of Vía Synapsis, an academic society that organizes the National Congress on Psychoactive Substances at the National University of Mexico. He also served as an assistant editor for the publishing house Lunaria. Ibrahim is co-host of Mindsurf’s podcasts: MindSurf – Transformations of Consciousness and Psyche & Cosmos.
Osiris García Cerqueda. A historian, is originally from Barrio de la Cruz community in Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca. He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in sociology at the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities “Alfonso Vélez Pliego” of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. His research focuses on the history of the Mazatec people of the Oaxaca highlands, as well as reconfigurations in their practices surrounding the consumption of sacred mushrooms.
Diego García-Devis (1975) is a Colombian political scientist with 15 years’ experience analyzing, mediating a monitoring the Colombian socio-political armed conflict. In 2008, Diego was awarded by the UK Foreign Office with the Chevening Scholarship to undertake postgraduate studies at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. As an expert on peace building and human rights, Diego has worked for the Organization of American States (OAS) and USAID managing and coordinating projects in areas such as Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of combatants, prevention of forced recruitment of children and protection of human rights. He has also conducted extensive research on issues such as the relationship between violence, narco-trafficking and social political conflict. Diego is now a Global Drug Policy Program Officer at OSF, overseeing programs’ portfolio in the Latin America region.
Bruno Ramos Gomes is a psychologist and has a master degree in public health (FSP-USP). He worked with harm reduction and vulnerable populations in downtown São Paulo from 2004 to 2016 . Also worked as a psychologist and therapeutic companion for children and adolescents who use drugs for the Quixote Project. In his master degree he studied the use of ayahuasca on the recovery of homeless people and is now researching the use of ibogaine in the treatment of addiction as his PhD candidate researvh, in FCM-UNICAMP. He works since 2010 with the therapy associated with the use of ibogaine in the treatment of addiction and in the integration of ayahuasca and magic mushrooms in the therapeutic processes of patients.
Osiris Sinuhé González Romero is a PhD candidate at Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology-Heritage of Indigenous Peoples. His dissertation “Tlamatiliztli: the wisdom of the Nahua people. Intercultural philosophy and right to land”, will be published by Leiden University Press. He was awarded the Coimbra Group Scholarship for Young Professors and Researchers from Latin American Universities in 2015. He has been involved in psychedelic research for the last thirteen years, he is founder member of Via Synapsis an academic society focused on the organization of the University Congress of Psychoactive Substances hosted by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Faculty of Philosophy since 2014. Actually he has been working in the book: “New Essays on History and Philosophy of Psychedelics”. González Romero taught undergraduate courses in the Faculty of Philosophy (UNAM). His research interests include: philosophy of psychedelics, history of medicine, indigenous knowledge, decolonial theory, political philosophy, heritage studies, and aesthetics.
Mauricio Genet Guzmán Chávez is full professor of the Anthropological Studies Program at El Colegio de San Luis, A.C. in Mexico. His took his doctorate in Political Sociology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, with a thesis entitled “O mais profundo é a pele: A sociedade biocosmética na era da biodiversidade English” (‘Skin goes deepest: Biocosmetic society in the era of biodiversity’). He is the author of the books La naturaleza que nunca murió: un estudio de ecología política sobre la conservación de la biodiversidad en Brasil y México (2019, ‘Undying nature: A political ecology of biodiversity conservation in Brazil and Mexico’) and Conservación y uso regulado del peyote en México: estudio prospectivo de la problemática jurídica, cultural y ambiental (in press, ‘Conservation and regulated use of peyote in Mexico: prospective study on legal, cultural and environmental issues’). He was also co-editor of La naturaleza en contexto: hacia una ecología política mexicana (‘Nature in context: towards a Mexican political ecology’) and En busca del ecoturismo: casos y experiencias del turismo sustentable en México, Costa Rica, Brasil y Australia (‘In search of ecotourism: case studies of sustainable tourism in Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Australia’). He has published numerous prominent articles in Latin American journals, focusing on socio-environmental conflicts and social participation in protected areas management, mining projects, ecotourism and the ceremonial use of psychoactive substances. He belongs to Mexico’s National Researchers System (SNI), Level II, and to the National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT-Mexico).
Victoria Hale, PhD, is a pharmaceutical scientist/executive and global health social entrepreneur. She was founder & CEO of two successful nonprofit pharmaceutical companies, OneWorld Health (2000; tropical infectious diseases) and Medicines360 (2009; contraception). OneWorld Health was the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the US. She is a MacArthur Fellow, was inducted into the US National Academy of Medicine, has been recognized as an outstanding global social entrepreneur by Skoll, Ashoka and Schwab Foundations. Her drug development experience was obtained at the FDA and Genentech, Inc. She earned her PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from UCSF where she is presently Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering and Experimental Sciences. Dr Hale is a member of the MAPS Board of Directors, and is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Sacred Medicines, PBC.
Kathleen Harrison, M.A., is an ethnobotanist who teaches internationally about global and regional beliefs and practices involving plants and fungi. She specializes in the study of ritual and mythical relationships with nature. Her four decades of recurrent fieldwork include research in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Hawaii. She contributed a chapter to the book Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorer’s Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally (Inner Traditions, 2017). In her investigations with indigenous people, and her personal experience, she often focuses on the persona or perceived active essence of a ceremonial plant or mushroom species. Kat co-founded Botanical Dimensions in 1985, with Terence McKenna. This non-profit organization has sponsored ethnobotany research and documentation projects in various countries. BD is based north of San Francisco, California, where it hosts the unique Botanical Dimensions Ethnobotany Library and offers classes, taught by Kat and others. www.botanicaldimensions.org
Chief Ninawa Huni Kui is the President of the Federation of the Huni Kui People in Acre, Brazil. He is the spokesperson for nearly 15000 Indigenous people in 104 villages across 12 indigenous territories in the state of Acre, in Brazil. Ninawa is one of the founders of the Huni Kui people’s university of sacred medicine called Ministry of Yurá Baká Nay Bey. He is also a medicine student at the Amazonian University of Pando, in Bolivia.
Nicole Howell is an attorney and the co-founder of women-owned Clark Howell LLP, nationally recognized as one of the top five corporate and regulatory firms focused on the cannabis and hemp industries. Founders, executives, private investors, and public companies turn to Nicole for her perspective and proven track record in advising the industry’s most successful operators through California’s challenging and dynamic market. Nicole has been working against prohibitionist drug laws since the beginning of her career and is intensely passionate about the cognitive, therapeutic, and spiritual healing that results from the perspective shift psychedelics provide. Nicole’s sincere hope is to be a part of finding solutions to the question of how to harness “just enough” of the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that exists in our culture and markets to fuel thoughtful access while not letting a free market, free-for-all swallow the movement whole. Nicole has been recognized as one of the top 75 “Most Important Women in Cannabis” by Cannabis Business Executive, of the “30 Most Powerful Cannabis Lawyers” by MG Magazine, annually ranked by Super Lawyers magazine since 2012, and recognized for several years running as an “Attorney to Watch” by Chambers and Partners USA. Nicole regularly speaks, teaches, and writes on the topics of cannabis and hemp law and business, and drug policy reform for plant medicines and other emerging therapeutics. She is a founding board member of the Psychedelic Bar Association.
Martha J. Hartney is an attorney in Colorado, in private practice in the area of estate planning. She holds a J.D. from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. Her Boulder firm, Hartney Law, is a regional favorite, receiving the “Best of the West/Law Firm” award six years in a row. She was named a SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2020 and has published and presented on the art and science of death and dying for the last ten years in her professional capacity. Martha is a certified death doula through the Conscious Dying Institute and the first attorney to be admitted to the California Institute of Integral Studies prestigious Certificate in Psychedelic Therapies and Research program. Martha is also a trained mediator and has served as a guardian ad litem for the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Clinic. Martha came to the plant medicine path later in life—becoming a drug policy reform advocate after witnessing the healing of many people who had encountered our great allies. She champions the religious use of plant medicines; and advocates for excellent standards-of-care, best practices, integration work, and weaving modern trauma science into the powerful indigenous practices being stewarded into the western world. Martha lives with her partner and has two sons who are now grown and in college. She is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Nathan Howard is serving as the Facilitator for the Plant Medicine Healing Alliance. Previously he was an advisor to Oregon’s ballot Measure 109 (Psilocybin Therapy Initiative), helped with ballot Measure 110 (changed drug possession away from criminalization), and was a founding member of the Craft Cannabis Alliance and the campaign to create interstate cannabis commerce by the end of 2021. Along with his brother Aaron, Nathan founded East Fork Cultivars in 2015. He also serves on the Oregon Cannabis Association’s Board of Directors as its Vice Chair and the Co-Chair of its PAC. A leader in Oregon’s political community, Nathan served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, was Mayor Wheeler’s Deputy Campaign manager for Mayor and prior to that he worked as the Interim Executive Director at Next Up (formerly the Bus Project), a youth empowerment and civic engagement nonprofit. He also served as the Oregon Senate Finance Director and was Chief of Staff to Senator Mark Hass. He’s born and raised in East Portland, and attended the University of Oregon where he received his BA in City Planning, Public Policy, and Management.
Mike Jay is an author, historian and curator who has written widely about the history and culture of psychoactive plants and drugs. He is the author of High Society: mind-altering drugs in history and culture (2010) which accompanied the major exhibition he curated at Wellcome Collection in London, and most recently of Mescaline: a global history of the first psychedelic (2019), which traces the traditional cultures of the mescaline-containing cacti, their investigation by western science in the nineteenth century and the subsequent use of mescaline in modern art, science, medicine and spirituality. He is an affiliate of the Centre for Health Humanities at University College, London.
Mkomose (Dr. Andrew Judge) is Assistant Professor of Anishinaabe Studies at Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, and has been sessional Lecturer at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, The University of Waterloo, and Coordinator of Indigenous studies at Conestoga College. He specializes in Anishinaabe cultural knowledge, ethno-medicine, and land-based learning. Mkomose has learned from, worked and consulted with, and served Indigenous Elders and community leaders for over a decade. He has founded several community led Indigenous based knowledge programs at elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels and works tirelessly to promote land-based sustainability practices. Mkomose has delivered over 100 invited lectures related to Indigenous knowledge. He is focused on supporting conscious awakening using plant medicines and Anishinaabe cosmovision to respond to the current state of society. He has been initiated into both Midewiwin and Mayan Day Keeping societies and regularly participates in the ancient ceremonial practices of his Anishinaabe ancestors.
Adriana Kertzer is a Brazilian-American attorney, born and raised in São Paulo. Adriana has a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, a B.A. from Brown University in Judaic Studies and International Relations, and an M.A. from Parsons The New School for Design. She began her legal career as a corporate associate on Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Latin American capital markets team. Adriana has since drawn on her love of contracts as an entrepreneur in the fields of contemporary culture, real estate and cannabis, as well as in her role as Senior Advisor to the Senior Deputy Chairman at the National Endowment for the Arts under President Obama. Adriana is the author of the book Favelization: The Imaginary Brazil in Contemporary Film, Fashion and Design originally published by the Cooper Hewitt Museum (Smithsonian Institution) and the series Rebranding Pot. She is passionate about Jewish psychedelic culture, leads the interfaith working group Faith+Delics, and founded JewWhoTokes, an Instagram account that explores relationships with cannabis and psychedelics in the Jewish community.
Sutton King, MPH, Afro-Indigenous of the Menominee and Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. She is an Indigenous Health Advocate, Researcher and Social Entrepreneur dedicated to developing and scaling innovative solutions to improve Indigenous health equity across sectors. Her focuses center decolonial approaches and culturally appropriate methodologies within technology, healthcare and business. She supports research to increase the visibility surrounding Indigenous health outcomes and access to mental health care for Urban Natives through her roles as President and Executive Director of the Urban Indigenous Collective a grassroots organization dedicated the health and wellbeing of Urban Natives and Co-Founder of ShockTalk a telebehavioral application connecting Native users to Native therapists. She is the Chief Impact Officer for Journey Colab, a biotech company decolonizing their approach to drug development. In her role as Chief Impact Officer for Journey Colab she supports the design and implementation of a stakeholder model and ensures social impact through company accountability.
Kim PC Kuypers (PhD) is affiliated as an Associate Professor with Maastricht University, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, where she obtained her Ph.D. in 2003. Her main goal is to understand the neurobiology underlying flexible cognition, empathy, and well-being. To accomplish this, she uses a psychopharmacological model to induce (sub)acute and longer-lasting effects on the behavior mentioned above with psychedelics and investigate the underlying biology. She also conducts survey research to understand the motives underlying psychedelic use and the experienced effects. She develops new paradigms to study cognitive flexibility and empathy in a more ecologically valid way. The survey research gives direction to her experimental research in which she uses the newly developed paradigms. Her research contributes to understanding the biological and psychological underpinnings of cognitive and emotional processes linked to well-being. For more information, see: www.kimkuypers.com; www.psychedelicmedicine.nl
Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines (https://chacruna.net; https://chacruna-la.org). She is Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. She is also Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). She is co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil, and editor of NEIP’s website (http://www.neip.info). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-one books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles (http://bialabate.net).
Didier Lacaze is the executive director of intercultural health programs at the Sacha Warmi Foundation. Didier has dedicated four decades of his life to the revitalization of Indigenous cultural and health systems, accompanying various communities and organizations of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon in the development and implementation of diverse life and well-being projects. Nevertheless, his work supporting the enormous value of indigenous health systems and traditional medicines in the Amazon is still ongoing. He founded the Sacha Warmi Center—an educational resource serving communities on the outskirts of the Amazon Rainforest in the Pastaza region of Ecuador—with his wife Rosa Canelos (Kichwa), not merely to help Indigenous peoples attain better health and a decent life, but also because this ancestral knowledge and medicine constitute an important legacy for all of humanity.
Dr. Adele Lafrance is a clinical psychologist, research scientist, author and co-developer of emotion-focused treatment modalities. Dr. Lafrance is a leader in the research and practice of psychedelic medicine, with a focus on ayahuasca, MDMA, psilocybin and ketamine. Dr. Lafrance has a particular interest in mechanisms and models of healing, including spirituality, emotion processing, and the application of family-based psychedelic medicine. A frequent speaker at professional conferences, She has published extensively in the field of emotion and health, including a clinical manual and expert training video published by the American Psychological Association.
Rafael Lancelotta is a somatic-focused, trauma-informed therapist working in private practice in Golden, Colorado, who has supported clients’ use of cannabis and ketamine to facilitate the therapeutic process. He has authored, co-authored, helped design, carry out, and present numerous published research studies on 5-MeO-DMT use in the general population. He serves as a Founding Board Member and Secretary of the Source Research Foundation, a foundation which aims to connect, inspire, and support students who study all contexts of psychedelic use, and to develop a virtual collaboratory of students, scientists, and community members who are passionate about psychedelic science. He is passionate about conversations about accessibility to psychedelic-assisted therapies to all people that may benefit as well as helping to raise awareness as to the responsible clinical applications of psychedelics/entheogens. He is also the administrator of 5meodmt.org, a forum dedicated to supporting discussions on harm reduction, integration, and safe practices around 5-MeO-DMT.
Esther Jean Langdon (Ph.D. Tulane University 1974) is coordinator of the National Institute of Research: Brazil Plural – IBP (CNPq/INCT). A retired full professor in the Graduate Program in Anthropology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 2014, she continues as advisor and voluntary professor. One of her lifelong research themes has been the ritual use of yajé (Banisteriopsis sp.) among the Siona indigenous peoples and its role in the maintenance of collective well-being. Besides her recently published doctorate (Cosmopolitics among the Siona: Shamanism, Medicine and Family on the Putumayo River 2017) she is author of a multitude of articles related to the politics and poetics of the yajé experience. Retirement has enabled her to return regularly to the Putumayo for collaborative research and participation in contemporary yajé rituals and observe the transformations of Siona shamanism as a response to decades of armed violence and capitalistic exploitation of their territory.
Melissa Lavasani is Founder and Executive Director of Plant Medicine Coalition, a Washington DC based organization advocating for all plant medicines and their synthetic derivatives at the National, State, and local levels. Prior to that, Melissa proposed DC’s Initiative 81, “The Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020,” after entheogenic plants and fungi helped her overcome severe postpartum depression. As Chairwoman, she successfully ran the Decriminalize Nature DC, the campaign supporting the historic passage of Initiative 81. After psilocybin and ayahuasca helped her reclaim her life, Melissa was motivated to change laws in the District of Columbia so that other residents would not face the same fear of investigation, arrest, and prosecution for using psychedelics to heal themselves. Born to Iranian immigrants in Washington DC, Melissa currently lives in Capitol Hill with her husband, Daniel, and two children Lola (6) and Ramsey (3).
Anja Loizaga-Velder is a German-Mexican clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with humanistic orientation. She earned a doctoral degree in Medical Psychology from Heidelberg University and has published several research articles and book chapters that explore the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca and other psychedelics for the treatment of mental health challenges. She is founding member and director of research and clinical services at the Nierika Institute for Intercultural Medicine, in Mexico, a NGO dedicated to the preservation of indigenous traditions with sacred plant medicines and their research around therapeutic applications for mental health. Anja also is adjunct profesor and researcher in Humanities in Health at the Medical School at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she works towards implementing clinical research into evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelics in intercultural therapeutic settings.
Glauber Loures de Assis is a postdoctoral fellow at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he also earned a Ph.D. in sociology. He is also Research Associate at the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) and co-founder of the Center of Sociology Studies Antônio Augusto Pereira Prates (CESAP). He has developed research on Santo Daime groups from Brazil and Europe and has also studied the sociology of religion from a wider perspective. His main interests include the ayahuasca religions, New Religious Movements (NRMs), the internationalization of the Brazilian religions, and drug use in contemporary society. He is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Ewa Maciejczyk is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Sciences at Lodz University of Technology (Poland). She received her Ph.D. (2013) from the University of Opole, Poland, where she conducted research on the isolation and identification of bioactive molecules from hallucinogenic mushrooms. Her research interests are focused on the isolation of natural products, their effect on skin, and on potential applications in cosmetic products.
Dr. Olivia Marcus earned her PhD in medical anthropology through studying mestizo shamanic plant medicine and perceptions of mental health in the Peruvian Amazon. She completed a Master in Public Health at Columbia University with a focus in Sociomedical Sciences, health promotion and disease prevention. Before beginning her doctoral research, she worked at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and at the International Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention (ICAP) on projects concerning the prevention of HIV/AIDS in New York and sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. Since 2015 she has conducted research in the Upper Peruvian Amazon where she investigates local methods of healing, international networks of practitioners and clients, and the increasing syncretic forms of therapeutic practices, namely the combination of local shamanic healing with western psychotherapy and psychiatric practice. She is interested in sensory experiences with healing, ethical issues in intercultural medicine, and decolonial struggles for land sovereignty.
Joseph Mays earned a Master of Science in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent upon researching responses to globalization by indigenous Yanesha of central Peru. After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in biology and anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University, he traveled to the Ecuadorian cloud forest where he completed an ethnobotanical survey of Camarones and published a medicinal plant guide for the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. Joseph studies the relationship between biological and cultural diversity, and the way culturally-conditioned views of reality influence approaches to the environment. He presented a lecture entitled, “Visionary Plants and Thinking Forests in Biocultural Conservation (Exploring ontology in human-environment relationships in the Amazon)” at London’s Breaking Convention in 2019. He is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Sean McAllister is one of nation’s leading drug policy reform lawyers. Sean has pioneered legal and business strategies for entrepreneurs in the cannabis, hemp, recycling, and psychedelics spaces. His work in the psychedelic space has included advising religious organizations on their rights to use psychedelics as sacraments, seeking DEA licensure for a public company manufacturing psilocybin for clinical trials, helping psychedelic assisted therapists understand the risks of these activities, advising on what is legal in decriminalized cities, and understanding new state regulatory laws like Oregon’s Measure 109. Sean’s work on drug policy reform goes back 25 years, starting on the Colorado Prison Moratorium Campaign in the mid-1990s. From 2004-2012, Sean served the chair of the Board of Directors of the organization that ran the Colorado recreational marijuana legalization campaign that voters ultimately approved. Sean has also worked on broader drug policy reform issues as a member of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Sean is an appointed member of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which was the first ballot initiative in the U.S. decriminalize the possession, cultivation and storage of psilocybin. Sean has been a legal advisor to other cities and states considering psychedelic decriminalization efforts, including the Decriminalize California campaign in 2020 and Decriminalize Seattle in 2021. Sean is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants and Chacruna’s co-General Counsel.
Eva Melendez (Xawan Rabi) is an empowered young Shipibo woman currently studying secondary education at the National University of Ucayali (UNU), and artist with the Kené Néte collective. As winner of the Soi Noma contest in 2019, she became a representative of young Indigenous women, and is currently the vice-president of Alianza Arkana. She participated in the production of the Kené Coloring Book and is an avid creator of Kené.
Liz Melendez is an empowered young Shipibo woman who serves as the administrator and treasurer of Alianza Arkana. She is an artist with the Kené Néte collective, currently studies Agroforestry at the National University of Ucayali (UNU), and is passionate about Kené. She participated in the graphic design of the Kené Coloring Book.
Diana Negrin, Ph.D, is a native of both Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a geographer and educator. Currently she is a professor at the University of San Francisco in the Urban and Public Affairs and Migration Studies Masters’ programs, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley in the Geography and Ethnic studies Departments. Her research largely looks at questions of race and ethnicity in Western Mexico, with a particular attention to Wixarika urban activism, as well as a focus on the social movements surrounding the protection of indigenous territory with a focus on Wirikuta and the conservation of peyote. In 2019 she curated and authored the catalogue for the exhibit, Grandes maestros del arte wixárika. Acervo Negrin, the largest exhibit to date on modern wixárika art. She is the author of Racial Alterity, Wixarika Youth Activism, and the Right to the Mexican City (University of Arizona Press, 2019). She sits on the board of the Wixarika Research Center, a nonprofit organization founded by her parents, Juan and Yvonne Negrin, that is expanding its online archive that brings together more than four decades of work with Wixarika communities. She is also part of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants.
Jahlani Niaah is Chairman of the School of the Sacrament and the Rastafari Studies Global Coalition. He holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and lectures in the Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. His research interests include Indigenous Leadership and Knowledge Systems: African Diaspora Praxes; Rastafari Cosmology and pedagogy. Niaah has also been actively engaged with working on the issues of Reparation for African Slavery and the phenomenon of Rastafari repatriation to Ethiopia. Niaah has coedited two books and published book chapters and journal articles in leading publications in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Europe. He has recently completed his much anticipated book Lamb’s Bread: Rastafari and Ganja in Jamaica, to be published by the UWI Press. Jahlani Niaah is an active member of the Rastafari community and coordinates various local and international outreach initiatives within the community targeting marginal and potentially at risk groups.
Dr. Jessica Nielson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Core Faculty in the Institute for Health Informatics at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Dr. Nielson’s lab focuses on multidisciplinary approaches that merge techniques in computational psychiatry, machine learning, and psychedelic neuroscience to understand and treat posttraumatic stress (PTS). Dr. Nielson has been conducting an anonymous online survey of ayahuasca users self-medicating to treat PTS since 2016. The study uses mixed methods approaches to explore both quantitative and qualitative ways to understand how ayahuasca may be an effective treatment for PTS. Dr. Nielson is also currently conducting a new study in healthy participants to investigate the role of psilocybin in understanding visual perception and belief structures that will help inform how best to use psilocybin to treat PTS.
Dr. José Noyola Cherpitel is a psychiatrist who graduated from Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí in 1994. He has a degree in psychoanalysis from the Asociación Regiomontana de Psicoanálisis AC, and became a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association in 2000. He has practiced psychiatry, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis privately since 2001 in San Luis Potosí, and has personal experiential knowledge with peyote since 2011 in San Luis Potosí’s Wirikuta desert. He also has personal experiential knowledge of ayahuasca through the practice of Santo Daime in San Luis Potosí since 2012.
Nidia A. Olvera Hernández earned a bachelor ́s degree in Ethnohistory from the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) and a master’s in Social Anthropology from the Center for Research and Post Graduate Studies of Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in México. Her main area of interest is the modern history of psychoactive substances and drug policies. She is a professor at ENAH, at the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM) and the author of peer-reviewed articles and mainstream publications. She is currently a PhD Candidate in History at the Mora Institute México City and is researching drug control in the middle of the 20th century in México.
Anny Ortiz is a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology. Prior to commencing her graduate studies, Anny worked in a variety of therapeutic programs including a treatment center that used ibogaine to aid in the treatment of substance use disorders. Recognizing a need to enhance the center’s outcomes, Anny introduced the use of toad-derived 5-MeO-DMT as a complement to ibogaine. Doing this work was deeply meaningful, but also deeply troubling to Anny given how an explosion of interest in this work has led, at least in part, to the current global exploitation of the 5-MeO-DMT-producing desert toads. Seeing first-hand the therapeutic effects of the 5-MeO-DMT experience however motivated her to pursue graduate school to research this therapeutic potential in a more rigorous way, and to connect with a multidisciplinary team to explore avenues for toad conservation and protection in its natural habitat, the Sonoran desert.
Daniela Peluso is a cultural anthropologist who has worked over the last two decades in Lowland South America, mostly with communities in Peru and Bolivia. She has been actively involved in various local efforts on issues relating to health, gender, indigenous urbanization and land-rights and works in close collaboration with indigenous and local organizations. Her publications focus mostly on indigenous ontologies, urbanization, violence and relatedness. She received her PhD in 2003 from Columbia University and is a honorary researcher in social anthropology at the University of Kent. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Sarai Piña Alcántara holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ethnology from the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), where her thesis committee recognized her work with an honorable mention and a recommendation for publication. She is currently a master’s student at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in Mexico City. She has worked in the Sierra Mazateca for sixteen years on topics including traditional shamanism, tourism and neo-shamanism, medical anthropology and cultural consumption. She has also carried out applied research in the region with local collectives. She has given lectures nationally and internationally on the phenomenon of neo-shamanic tourism. She is currently carrying out research on the transnationalization and legalization of psilocybin in Mexico and the United States.
Sara Reed is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and CEO of Mind’s iHealth Solutions, a digital health company that provides evidence based and culturally responsible mental health services for underserved groups. As a mental health futurist and clinical researcher, Sara examines the ways culture informs the way we diagnose and treat mental illness. Sara’s prior research work includes participation as a study therapist in psychedelic therapy research at Yale University and the University of Connecticut’s Health Center. Sara was the first Black therapist to provide MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in a clinical trial and continues to engage in ongoing advocacy work around health equity in psychedelic medicine.
Ivonne Roquet, M.D., is a physician with a specialty in acupuncture and in the DST system of Dr. Ley (Integral Medicine Acupuncture). Ivonne is also a thanatologist and psychotherapist at Roquet Psychosynthesis. She is the daughter of Salvador Roquet, a Mexican pioneer in psychedelic psychotherapy.
Leor Roseman is a postdoc at the Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London, where he also received his PhD and MRes; under the supervision of Dr Robin Carhart-Harris and Prof David Nutt. His research interests are diverse and cover neuroscientific, phenomenological, therapeutic, and psychosocial aspects of psychedelic use. Currently, Leor is investigating relational processes and group dynamics in psychedelic rituals. His main line of research is examining the potential of psychedelics for peacebuilding (peacebuilding defined here not just as achieving a state of harmony, but of structural equality and political liberation as well). While his research is currently focused on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he and his collaborators are hoping to develop an approach which is applicable in other contexts as well.
Giorgio Samorini was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1957. He is an independent researcher, specializing in the ethnobotany and ethnomycology of psychoactive plants and mushrooms, and on the archeology of the cultural origins of psychoactive plant use. He has conducted field research among native groups of Africa, Asia, and the Americas, studying their use of visionary plants. He has carried out studies on the Bwiti cult of tropical Africa, where the plant iboga is used as visionary source, and discovered the oldest archaeological documentation testifying to the human use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the Sahara Desert. He has authored many scientific papers and books, which have been published in multiple languages.
Emilia Sanabria is a French-Colombian anthropologist who received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in the UK and is now based at the CNRS in Paris. She has been conducting fieldwork in Latin America since 2001, examining the fraught relationship between Western (bio)sciences and indigenous and traditional knowledges through a range of ethnographic projects on sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and food justice and the demarcations between drugs and medicines. Her first book, Plastic Bodies was published in 2016 by Duke University Press. Since 2017 she has been Principal Investigator of an ERC project titled « Healing Encounters : Reinventing an indigenous medicine in the clinic and beyond » that examines practices of healing that make use of ayahuasca in three interrelated sites: Healing in the City, Healing in the Forest and Healing in the Lab.
Dr. Stacy B. Schaefer has been carrying out ethnographic field research for decades with the Huichol (Wixárika) Indians of Mexico. Her research has focused on a holistic study of the traditional beliefs and practices that revolve around the use of the sacred peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). She is co-editor and contributor to the book People of the Peyote, Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival. Dr. Schaefer also published Huichol Women, Weavers and Shamans. From 1991 to 1999 she was a professor at University of Texas Pan American along the Texas/Tamaulipas, Mexico border during which time she conducted extensive fieldwork research among federally licensed Mexican-American peyote dealers and members of the Native American Church (NAC). This work continued through 2015, culminating in Amada’s Blessings From the Peyote Gardens of South Texas which has received numerous awards.
Glenn H. Shepard Jr. is an ethnobotanist, medical anthropologist and filmmaker who has worked with diverse indigenous peoples of Latin America, especially in Amazonia. He earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and completed his doctorate in Medical Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1999. His research interests include ethnobotany, medical anthropology, shamanism, sustainable resource management, visual anthropology and the territorial rights of isolated peoples. Publications include research articles, commentary and reviews in Nature (1998, 2009), Science (2003), Science Advances (2016), American Anthropologist (2004, 2012), Economic Botany (2008, 2011), Conservation Biology (2007), PLoS One (2015, 2015) and the New York Review of Books (2014, 2015, 2019). His work in the Amazon has been featured in news stories in National Geographic (2016) The New Yorker (2016, 2019) and the Financial Times (2019). He has participated in the production of several films, including the Emmy-Award-winning documentary, Spirits of the Rainforest, as well as Zapatista Memories, which debuted in 2016 at the Margaret Mead Film Festival. He is a tenured staff researcher in the Human Sciences Division at the Goeldi Museum in Belém, Brazil, where he curated the ethnographic collections from 2009-2013 and co-chaired the Division from 2014-2016, and currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. He blogs at Notes from the Ethnoground (http://ethnoground.blogspot.com/).
Sitaramaya Sita has traveled, worked and studied extensively in the Amazon for the past 20 years. She is a spiritual herbalist, pusangera and plant wisdom practitioner formally trained in the Shipibo ayahuasca tradition. She is the Founder of PlantTeachers, dedicated to cultivating entheogenic awareness, and producer of the Visionary Convergence conference. Sita stewards a 70 acre land conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon – Fundo Sitaramaya which is directed by the One Acre Project. She lectures, teaches, and works with individuals and groups in ceremonies and guides plant dietas. Sita currently trains, teaches and practices to heal personal, institutional and cultural trauma. Sita firmly believes that our wounds can become wisdom. She is a Somatic Experiencing practitioner, has trained with the HeartMath Institute and blends her training in multiple modalities in the services and teaching she offers. She is an art curator and organizer of Ayahuasca & Visionary Art: A Coming Together of Cultures, showing over 300 pieces of visionary art at AYA2019 – The World Ayahuasca Conference in Girona, Spain.
Darron T. Smith teaches is a NCCPA-certified physician assistant and faculty member in the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis. His areas of research and scholarship examine US-based systems of racial oppression and systemic inequality found in all domains across society including healthcare, the family (transracial adoption), healthcare disparities, religion, sport, culture and politics. Dr. Smith’s current research and practice intertwine the study of neurosociology, race-based trauma and mental illness by looking at the impact of neurofeedback versus MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on brainwave activity in individuals with racial trauma (PTSD) using EEG technology. He is featured in the CBS Sports Documentary, “The Black 14: Wyoming Football 1969,” as well as the Loki Mulholland film on transracial adoption, “Black, White & Us: Love is Not Enough.” He is the author of When Race, Religion & Sports Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond. Dr. Smith is a member of Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee.
Zara Snapp has a masters in public policy from Harvard University and a political science degree from the University of Colorado. She is the co-founder of Instituto RIA, a Mexican organization which undertakes drug policy advocacy and research. Zara has actively participated in the legislative process of regulating cannabis in Mexico and is the international advisor for Acción Técnica Social in Colombia. From 2014-2017, she formed part of the Secretariat of the Global Commission on Drugs. Zara presents and writes extensively on innovations in drug policy, particularly on the legal regulation of all psychoactive substances with a social justice framework and from a “producing” country perspective. Zara is the author of the Diccionario de Drogas, published in 2015.
Dra. Júlia Sonsin Oliveira is a forest engineer with doctorate in forest science from UNESP. She is a professor at Brasilia University and participates in the postgraduate program in botany there. She mainly works with wood identification, ecological and comparative wood anatomy, axial variation, and taxonomy. Since 2015, she has worked with the wood anatomy of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine as well as other species used in ayahuasca analogues.
Leanna Standish ND, PhD, MSAOM, FABNO is a neuroscientist and physician living in Seattle WA U.S. She is co-founder of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS) Institute, a research clinic which provides integrative oncology and psychiatry care, including intravenous phytotherapies and Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. For more than two decades Dr. Standish has been studying Ayahuasca chemistry, pharmacology, ethnobotany and cultural anthropology with the goal of conducting legal Ayahuasca clinical research in the United States. In 2020 she and Dr. Victoria Hale co-founded Sacred Medicines PBC in order to obtain FDA approval for Ayahuasca tea. Dr. Standish also owns and operates an ethnobotanical preserve on the island of Hawaii where she protects and studies sacred Amazonian rainforest plants. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers in the areas of psychopharmacology, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, myco-oncology and functional magnetic brain imaging.
Rene Suša, PhD, is a researcher working with the Indigenous communities that are part of the “Teia das 5 Curas” network. His research addresses problematic patterns of engagement with Indigenous communities, especially in relation to colonial hierarchies of knowledge production. He is interested in braiding Indigenous and Western modalities of science and education for ethical and relevant knowledge sharing about entheogenic practices.
Joe Tafur, M.D., is a Colombian-American family physician originally from Phoenix, Arizona. After completing his family medicine training at UCLA, Dr. Tafur spent two years in academic research at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry in a lab focused on mind-body medicine. After his research fellowship, over a period of six years, he lived and worked in the Peruvian Amazon at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual. There he worked closely with master Shipibo shaman Ricardo Amaringo and trained in ayahuasca shamanism. In his new book “The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine,” through a series of stories, Dr. Tafur shares his unique experience and integrative medical theories. The book strives to illuminate the intersection between biology, emotion and spirituality. He is Co-founder of Modern Spirit, a nonprofit dedicated to demonstrating the value of spiritual healing in modern healthcare.
Luís Fernando Tófoli, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. He heads the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Studies on Psychoactive Substances and is a member of the State Council on Drug Policies of São Paulo. He is responsible for the Interdisciplinary Cooperation for Ayahuasca Research and Outreach (ICARO) at UNICAMP and has recently published on the field of drug policies and the therapeutic use of psychedelics, especially ayahuasca. He is a member of Chacruna’s Ayahuasca Community Committee.
Daiara Tukano – Duhigô is a member of of the Yé’pá Mahsã Tukano indigenous people of the Alto Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon. She was born in São Paulo, Brazil. She is an artist, activist, educator, and communicator. She holds a master’s in human rights from the University of Brasília – UnB, and is a researcher on the right to the memory and truth of indigenous peoples. She is Coordinator of Radio Yandê, the first indigenous web-radio in Brazil: www.radioyande.com. She studies the culture, history, and traditional spirituality of indigenous people and their environment. She currently resides in Brasilia, DF.
Marcos Urquia Maynas is the current President of Alianza Arkana. He is a Shipibo professional with more than 20 years of experience in forest management and agroforestry in indigenous communities. He combines western practices with the ancestral wisdom he received since childhood. These include the planting and use of medicinal plants. He is the current leader of the Rao Banabo Project (Traditional Medicine Gardens).
Pedro van Tol is the producer of Codes of Nature, a musical and cinematic documentary series, that integrates ancestral knowledge and modern science of plant medicines, through audiovisual art for their bio-cultural conservation, sustainability and decriminalization. The experience he gathered producing and facilitating transformational experiences through Arts and Spirituality by producing Festivals and other events for 20 years, gave him a unique and valuable perspective on how to connect and work collectively, familiarizing himself with the subtleties of communication and dynamics in different cultures. With creativity and a broad curiosity, he sees the use of culture as a universal form of social transformation. Throughout the years, Pedro had the opportunity to connect with different traditions that work with medicine plants in Brazil, from indigenous in the Amazon to various churches, which allowed him to observe and learn a little of such a wide and rich universe.
Diego Villegas Kau studied Forestry in the National Agrarian University La Molina (UNALM). In the last 20 years he has worked in the Ucayali region in Peru, focusing on sustainable development with indigenous communities and strengthening of indigenous organizations. He currently collaborates with Alianza Arkana as the Agroforestry Area Coordinator and is a member of the Development Team.
Riccardo Vitale is an Italian anthropologist, with more than 15 years of continuous fieldwork experience in Latin America. He earned a PhD from Cambridge University with a thesis about the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico. His expertise covers human rights, anthropology in armed conflict, social movements, indigenous politics, gender relations within social movements, sustainable development, resilience, climate change adaptations and indigenous practices of yagé medicine, spirituality and resistance. Riccardo is a former adviser of a plethora of international humanitarian and development bodies such as: Oxfam America, the UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, ICG and GIZ, amongst others. Since 2016 Riccardo works as a fulltime adviser for the Union of Indigenous Yagé Medics of the Colombian Amazon (UMIYAC). His tasks within UMIYAC range from fundraising to advocacy, to capacity strengthening, and non-extractive (“the-other-way-around”) anthropological research, aimed at “reinforcing indigenous communities, rather taking from them”. His current areas of work include: the use of indigenous spiritual practices and yagé (ayahuasca) as peacebuilding tools; the indigenous, local use of yagé to heal war traumas; the role of yagé medicine in territorial defence; and the effects of the cultural appropriation and commercialization of traditional knowledge and practices.
Miriam Volat is interim Executive Director of the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative and Co-director of the Riverstyx Foundation. She is a researcher, educator, organizer, facilitator and ecologist who focuses on biocultural conservation and justice. Miriam has never stopped exploring nutrient cycles and soil ecology, the emphasis of her M.S. work in the UC Davis Vegetable Crops Dept. She also has degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Her work is committed to increasing health in community design and ecological, mental, physical, cultural and spiritual well-being. She is dedicated to supporting indigenous-led initiatives and medicine conservation. Miriam, also a mother, feels it is her responsibility to be actively engaged in looking to the future. She is fortunate her daughter, Cora, also supports her work and participates passionately on her many adventures.
Chaikuni has been a student of Shipibo Plant Medicine for the past decade. He leads healing journeys and Men’s Work. He lives in Brooklyn. Before coming to the medicine Chaikuni worked as a filmmaker in the US and Jamaica.
Leopardo Yawa Bane is the son of a traditional chief of the Huni Kuin (an indigenous group also known as the Cashinahua). Leopard Yawa Bane is an international and national advocate of the preserving the ecological heritage of the native lands of his people. Born in the Cashinahua Reserve of the Jordan River in the State of Acre, Brazil, Bane and his brother Fabiano were sent from the villages to Brazilian cities at a young age by their father and chief, in order to learn new knowledge of the world outside the forest and to represent their people in tradition, heritage, and politics. Since then, Bane has completed his university studies, learning to speak Portuguese fluently, and has begun to represent his people nationally and internationally as an ambassador and healer. Bane and his people see the mystical and natural duality of the plants and how the spiritual world can be accessed through the plants found in their native areas. As is common with indigenous tribes around the world, and particularly in the Amazon, the Huni Kuin have a unique worldview, from creation to the beyond, derived from the wisdom of plants and their shared history. Bane grew up using and being trained in the use of medicinal plants by his grandfather. Fifteen years ago, he started using different medicinal plants with non-indigenous people. Bane brings the knowledge of his ancestors, of his people, and of the forest.
Panel with Miguel Evanjuanoy and Riccardo Vitale – Indigenous bicultural defense: reclaiming culture, reclaiming fundraising (Translated by Diana Negrín)
This panel is about perspectives of cultural appropriation and the impact this has on communities in resistance. We will discuss how globalization, medicalization and commercialization of ayahuasca practices interfere with transitional justice and hinder biocultural resistance and survival in indigenous Colombia. Furthermore, we will discuss how neo-colonial, re-victimizing, sensationalist fundraising appropriates and exploits the indigenous image. Lastly, we will make a case for new practices of decolonized indigenous fundraising.
Panel with Diego Villegas Kau, Marcos Urquia Maynas, Eva Melendez (Xawan Rabi), and Liz Melendez – Promoting Shipibo-Konibo Knowledge through Cultivating Art and Medicine
Kené refers to the intricate Shipibo-Konibo patterns usually illustrated in tapestries or ceramic pieces made by artisans. To address the loss of income for Shipibo artists during the pandemic, Alianza Arkana recently published Kené Sikati Kirika (Kené Coloring Book), featuring hand-drawn kené patterns and connecting the general public with the unique legacy of ancestral Shipibo-Konibo geometric designs. This panel brings together Shipibo men and women to discuss the importance of Shipibo art, as well as the planting and use of traditional medicine gardens (Rao Banabo Project), in promoting Shipibo knowledge and keeping it dynamic and alive.
Panel with Cash Ahenkew, Ninawa Huni Kui, Vanessa Andreotti and Rene Susa – Towards plant assisted neuro-decolonization and reciprocity in engagements with Indigenous communities
Plant medicine practices in the West have mostly been used for personal healing, empowerment or self-actualization. However, in Indigenous settings, these practices have been ancestrally used for mobilizing forms of responsibility and accountability towards the wider planetary metabolism. Such practices can be described as a form neuro-decolonization that can enable the bio-intelligence of the Earth to rewire our neurophysiology away from unconscious investments in the continuity of capitalism and colonialism. However, for these practices to recalibrate our vital compass towards maturity, sobriety, humility, discernment and accountability, they need to be accompanied by hard teachings that visibilize our complicity in systemic harm and that interrupt colonial desires for purity, innocence and individual self-actualization, which are characteristic of spiritual bypassing. This panel will introduce the work of The “Teia das 5 Curas” (web of five modes of healing), a network of Indigenous communities from Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Canada. The network emphasizes the importance of 5 modes of decolonial healing and transformative justice, which include healing the ways we think (cognitive justice), healing the ways we feel (affective justice), healing the ways we relate (relational justice), healing the ways we exchange (economic justice), and healing the ways we see ourselves as part of the planet’s metabolism (ecological justice). Our collaborations amplify the visibility of Indigenous practices of neuro-decolonization, while drawing attention to common harmful patterns of commodification, extraction and consumption that often characterize engagements with Indigenous communities and their practices. When unacknowledged, these patterns work against developing reciprocal engagements with Indigenous communities.
Panel with Miguel Evanjuanoy, Daiara Tukano, Joe Tafur, Leanna Standish and Victoria Hale – The Medicalization of Ayahuasca: Promises, Challenges, and Reciprocity
In the last couple of decades, the popularization of ayahuasca and other psychedelic plant medicines has exponentially expanded their reach and their significance, well beyond the localized — yet multivocal— popular uses of Indigenous and traditional people, and into leading research and medical institutes in the Global North. As these plant medicines make their way out of the jungle and into worldwide cities, their uses, meanings, and articulations change to conform and adapt to the epistemic, cultural, medical, and political realities of late-capitalist Western societies. This panel focuses on this ongoing medicalization process, through which plants with medical, cosmological, and spiritual significance are being streamlined through the regulatory machinery as potential tools to alleviate the epidemics of loneliness, alienation, anxiety, and depression that plague Western civilization. This is a panel composed of both Western experts at the forefront of, on the one hand, bringing ayahuasca into FDA clinical trials (a quantifiable and homogenized treatment conforming to the demands of Western medical epistemics) and, on the other hand, Indigenous leaders, holders of distinct ways of knowing and being in the world, with perspectives rooted in enchanted cosmologies and the lived experience of centuries of colonial oppression and violence. We will discuss the potential benefits and the contradictions inherent in these globalizing and medicalizing processes, what that means for Western patients and for Indigenous groups. Special attention will be given to the importance of open access and reciprocity as core values in order to avoid the asymmetric power relations that have marked these fragile intercultural dynamics.
Panel with Kat Conour, David Bronner, Miriam Volat and Sutton King – Psychedelics, Philanthropy and Power in the Emerging Psychedelic Industry
With the arrival of “heroic doses” of capital into what can now veritably be called a “psychedelic industry”, the pivotal role of philanthropic funding is necessarily shifting. Given this isn’t the first time that philanthropic giving has paved the way for businesses to profit, and in the face of broadening decriminalization, legalization, and medicalization successes, how are the strategies and priorities of philanthropic funders changing? What are the opportunities and challenges when major foundations new to the field add psychedelics as a funding priority? How can for profits be motivated to share profits? Taking it a step further, in what ways should or could philanthropic and corporate giving embody indigenous principles like Sacred Reciprocity? This panel will explore these and other questions with key philanthropic leaders in the field, as well as officially launch Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative.
Panel with Camis Benedito, Bruno Gomes and Luis Fernando Tofoli – A science lit by the heat of the sun: The Brazilian Psychedelic Science
The title of this session is a wordplay on a verse from Os Mutantes’ song, “Panis et Circensis,” part of the late 60s Tropicalia. This movement relied on the amalgamation of the then-pulsing and foreign psychedelic movement with Brazilian popular culture and its local ways of creating art. Nowadays, a new hype on psychedelics revolves around what has become known as “psychedelic science.” This type of science also flourishes in Brazil in specific, original, and potent ways, creating new perspectives based on the science-making of the Global South and, therefore, with epistemological and methodological fissures, especially on the standardization of what psychedelic science is and how to produce it. In this session, the presenters will describe the current scenario of Brazilian psychedelic science. They will discuss the research that has been done in the country; the grey area regarding legal and illegal therapeutic practice with ibogaine, ayahuasca, and other psychedelics, and its impact on the Brazilian therapeutic market; and the political and social implications of psychedelic science. The presenters will also discuss the fact that psychedelic research is done mostly within Brazilian public hospitals and universities, institutions that do not represent the populations in the Global North, and have been suffering from budget cuts the last few years. Finally, they will present antiprohibitionist Brazilian psychedelic social movements that have been publicizing the country’s psychedelic science and a myriad of uses of psychoactive plants and chemical compounds.
Panel with Kevin Feeney, Giorgio Samorini & Ewa Maciejczyk – Fly Agaric: The misunderstood magic mushroom
The Fly Agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) is best known for its striking bespeckled crimson cap and its frequent depiction in fairytales. In psychedelic circles it is recognized for its hallucinatory effect, but for a variety of reasons it has come to be viewed as a 2nd-tier substance, a mere curiosity among more esteemed plant and fungal medicines and has similarly been overlooked by psychedelic researchers – however, the Fly Agaric is an important source of compounds with significant medical, chemical, and pharmacological potential. Unlike its Psilocybe cousins the Fly Agaric’s active compound, muscimol, acts on the brain’s GABAergic system, and studies have shown a potential role for this compound in treating pain, inflammation, anxiety, cognitive decline, and cancer. Other constituents of the mushroom similarly demonstrate antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory potential, and the Fly Agaric is also considered a promising source of provitamin D and vitamin D.
Evidence for the Fly Agaric’s historical use in sacred and religious rituals is also greater than for other similar psychoactive plants and fungi. The most valid of these ethnomycological hypotheses are those in which a stylistic detail or ethnographic correspondence is observed that removes any interpretive doubt. The distinctive Fly Agaric lends itself well to this type of study and clear representations of this mushroom can be seen at archaeological sites from around the world. In this panel, the pharmacological properties and therapeutic potential of this mushroom will be explored, as well as archaeological evidence of its ritual use in the Americas and elsewhere.
Panel with Adam Aronovich, Alex Beiner & Olivia Marcus – Psychedelic Rabbit Holes: On “conspirituality” and other sense-making traps in the post-truth era
Psychedelics and plant medicines do not exist in a cultural and ideological vacuum; the unfolding of experiences and their outcomes are thoroughly shaped by individual and cultural expectations and the underlying narratives —the stories that we tell about them, what they are and what they are for. Plant medicines such as ayahuasca or peyote, used by traditional and indigenous peo-ple, have been historically enveloped by the eco-social narratives of their mythologies, ontologies and epistemologies, which structure and support the healthy integration of those experiences within a tightly-woven communal and relational setting. Most Western psychedelic users, howev-er, often lack shared, coherent and structured means of sense-making, while also often lacking a meaningful sense of community, which is indispensable for integration, and a crucial protective factor against predatory ideological memes and personality cults. The epistemic and ontological background of many Western psychedelic users is often an ad-hoc collage made of cherry-picked aspects of indigenous ontologies, New Age spiritual tropes and cliches, selectively com-modified and re-packaged bits of eastern spirituality, esotericism or quantum theory and a strong emphasis on conspiracy fantasy, such as the often recycled anti-semitic tropes of global-ist domination, all pieced together by the markets of spiritual consumerism and subservient to the hyper-individualistic ethos of modern neoliberal spiritual subjectivities and their glorification of the self. In this panel, we will discuss and unravel some of the risks inherent in this potent and potentially dangerous concoction of “Conspirituality”, opening a door for better collective sense-making efforts, the adoption and promotion of better critical thinking skills within psychedelic spaces and better education in relation to the systems of knowledge and values of relevant in-digenous groups.
Panel with Lisbeth Bonilla and Diana Negrin – Wikárika Perspectives on Peyote Politics
Wixárika Perspectives on Peyote Politics
Peyote has become one of the most debated plants within the world of sacred and psychedelic medicines. Transnational efforts to finance clinical trials, conservation projects, research and legislative changes have reinforced the need to center the perspectives, concerns and visions of Indigenous peoples who live in the endemic territories. This panel explores the question of peyote use and its conservation from the perspective of Wixárika (Huichol) scholars and representatives in order to help the public better understand the political, ecological and cultural implications of peyote consumption, as well as the imperative behind its conservation.
Additional details on each presenter’s contribution to the panel:
Perspectivas wixáritari sobre las políticas del peyote – Diana Negrin
El peyote se ha convertido en una de las plantas más debatidas dentro del mundo de las medicinas sagradas y psicodélicas. Esfuerzos transnacionales para financiar estudios clínicos, proyectos de conservación, investigación y cambios legislativos ha reforzado la necesidad de centrar las perspectivas, preocupaciones y visiones de los pueblos originarios quienes habitan los territorios endémicos de dichas plantas. Este panel explora la cuestión del uso y de la conservación del peyote desde la perspectiva de investigadores y representantes wixáritari (huicholes) para que el público entienda más claramente las implicaciones políticas, ecológicas y culturales del consumo del peyote, así como la urgencia que es su conservación.
Let’s talk about Hikuri – Lisbeth Bonilla
For the Wixarika (Huichol) people of Mexico, hikuri, known more commonly as peyote or Lophophora wiliamssi is a flower that is religiously sacred because we consider it a teacher that has guided us since time immemorial. I will share how the Wixáritaari (Huicholes) care for, consume and connect with hikuri. I will also discuss my perspective as a young Wixárika woman, the problems and threats this plant is facing, and why they exist; finally, I will share the initiatives that Wixáritaari and non-Indigenous people are bringing about to avoid hikuri’s disappearance. I would like to speak about my organization, Hablemos del Hikuri, its objectives, vision and the work dynamic that we have with the community and that has allowed for us to work on this issue.
Lost in Translation? A Critical Analysis of Transnational Peyote Politics – Diana Negrin
The latest boom in psychedelic enthusiasm reflects, now more than ever, the significant ontological differences surrounding sacred and medicinal plants that are rooted in Indigenous territories and ancestral practices. This boom and the tensions it is creating is notable because of the increasing numbers of new circles, churches, organizations and companies that are developing, but also because of the remarkable flow of money that currently is being directed not just toward clinical trials but also toward projects that are geared at creating collaborative, intercultural conservation efforts for the lands that these plants are endemic to. This talk will examine the case of peyote as one that is emblematic of the divergent ontological and epistemological relationships that distinct communities have with the sacred plant. Specifically, I consider the political consequences of the ways in which Wixarika culture is deployed across borders to lend legitimacy to various non-Wixarika led initiatives.
Panel with, Adele Lafrance, Jessica Nielson, Kim Kuypers and Clancy Cavnar – Ayahuasca Healing and Science
This panel will explore different dimensions of ayahuasca’s profound effect on human consciousness as it relates to therapeutic healing. Panelists will discuss cognitive and emotional processes, such as flexible thinking, empathy and love, to provide some explanations for ayahuasca’s potential beneficial effects on depression, anxiety, PTSD and substance use disorders. Each speaker will also present their own unique perspective on ayahuasca’s transformative healing potential informed by different research methods.
Book Launch: Ayahuasca Healing and Science, co-edited by Beatriz Labate and Clancy Cavnar (in press). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
This book offers a series of perspectives on the therapeutic potential of the ritual and clinical use of the Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca in the treatment and management of various disorders. This book presents biomedical and anthropological data on the use of ayahuasca and provides critiques on how it is used for treating depression, PTSD, anxiety, substance dependence, and eating disorders. The volume also explores ayahuasca’s role in the psychological well-being and quality of life of humans, and discusses possibilities of it enhancing cognition and coping with grief. The book examines ayahuasca’s association with psychotherapy and also highlights the challenges of integrating plant medicines into psychiatry. Further, the book expands on some preliminary research with animals, suggesting that ayahuasca acts at multiple levels of neural complexity. The study on the neurogenic effects of ayahuasca alkaloids opens a new avenue of research with potential applications ranging from psychiatric disorders to brain damage and dementia. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals will find this book relevant to their work regarding substance abuse and alternative medicine.
Additional details on each presenter’s contribution to the panel:
Ayahuasca and the Study of Love – Adele La France
The concept of love in North America is in need of rehabilitation. At this time in our culture, it has been entangled with ideas of romantic love and sexual attraction and many have been hurt in the name of “love”. Carl Rogers cleverly disguised the concept of love as “unconditional positive regard” in order for it to be more acceptable in the psychotherapeutic setting. Love is a theme commonly experienced in the context of ayahuasca ceremonies. Under the effects of the plant medicine, participants often report experiences of 1. self-love; 2. love felt towards others (humans, animals or God for example); 3. love felt from others (humans, animals or God for example) or 4. being love. These experiences tend to be described as powerful and healing. Although there seems to be significant overlap between experiences of love and spiritual or mystical experiences, there is evidence to suggest they are separate constructs, in that individuals who do not have mystical experiences can still experience life-changing visions or somatic experiences of love. Given Ayahuasca is considered a sacred plant teacher, what can it teach us about love and healing? This talk will review research related to love, and experiences of love in the context of ceremonial ayahuasca drinking. In light of the findings, the presenter will also discuss the need for the broader psychotherapy community (non-medicine) to integrate love in the therapy space in a more direct and systematic way, including the importance of the verbal expression of love from therapist to client.
Emotional Phenomenology of Ayahuasca Experiences – Jessica Nielson
Prior studies have shown that ayahuasca can be safe and transformative under the appropriate conditions. However, as the popularity of this plant medicine continues to grow among “ayahuasca tourists” from North America, Europe and Australia, so too do reports of controversial and adverse reactions from its use in various settings. Given that recent evidence suggests that ayahuasca may implement its transformative potential through emotion-driven mechanisms, this presentation will focus on emotional phenomenology of ayahuasca experience reports from an anonymous online survey. Overall patterns from emotional coding suggests that while there are a fair number of negative emotions being used to describe the ayahuasca experience, these experiences are mostly positive in nature. The most common theme that emerged was challenging experiences also being the most transformative, suggesting that this combination may be a mechanism by which deep healing from mental problems occurs with ayahuasca. Several respondents expressed feelings of intense depression and suicidal ideation before their experience with ayahuasca, who then described very intense ayahuasca experiences that dissipated their feelings of hopelessness and despair. While more work is needed to fully understand whether ayahuasca can be a safe and effective therapy for mental illness, these preliminary reports suggest that with the appropriate emotionally supportive setting, these experiences can be profoundly transformative.
Ayahuasca as mind-bender and soul-healer: unraveling its mechanism of action – Kim Kuypers
There is increasing evidence of ayahuasca’s potential therapeutic value for depression, PTSD, and anxiety. We try to understand the emotional and cognitive mechanisms underlying these effects by studying empathy, flexible cognitive thinking, and emotion regulation in healthy volunteers who receive ayahuasca in a social setting. Our focus is because the processes mentioned above, which are crucial for everyday interactions and cooperation, are decreased in specific pathological populations. To date, objective evidence is limited due to a scarcity of studies. Nonetheless, previous studies with ayahuasca and similar psychedelics, like psilocybin and LSD, support the notion that ayahuasca can enhance previously mentioned processes. Importantly, evidence is given to suggest that this enhancement outlasts the acute stage, thus potentially persisting over time. Future clinical research into the therapeutic effects of ayahuasca could assess the relationship between the effect on higher-order cognitive and emotional processes, mood, and well-being and test their role in symptom alleviation in pathological populations in the short- and longer-term.
Panel with Regina Célia de Oliveira, Júlia Sonsin-Oliveira and Camila Behrens – The History and Botany of Ayahuasca Vines (Translated by Glenn Shepard)
Ayahuasca is the generic name given to a tea historically consumed by people from various linguistic branches of the eastern Amazon, covering areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama. After the “discovery” of the tea by rubber tappers, religions were founded in Brazil based on the ritualistic use of ayahuasca, which is now widespread in several continents. The recognition of “types,” or “ethnotaxa,” of vines remains latent among traditional religious groups, as has been reported by the original peoples. The tea used by different religions has distinctions, as there are several ways of preparing the tea, and people use different species in its composition. Banisteriopsis caapi is, theoretically, the most important tea component, as it is the species used in almost all compositions, and most people use the combination of B. caapi and Psychotria viridis, but some people even use a tea consisting only of this vine. We interviewed about 50 informants on guided tours through crops that are maintained by churches in different regions of Brazil and in areas of the Amazon Rainforest. The systematic recovery of orally-maintained traditional knowledge was associated with botanical collections consisting of dehydrated branches with leaves, flowers, fruits and/or stems, available in University of Brasilia herbarium (UB) and wood collection (UBw). These samples are the basis of several studies: phytochemical, taxonomic, morphological, anatomical, and molecular. One of the highlights of this research is the detailed study of the stems, since it is the main source of the vine’s psychoactive component and it is the most informative part of the plant for distinguishing the ethnotaxa, according to the informants. The study covers other Malpighiaceae species, including the ones that have a similar active principle as B. caapi but that are not of traditional use in the so-called “ayahuasca analogues,” or reported to be used by the original peoples. We observed that the richness of orally-kept knowledge among members of the religions is broad, complex, and difficult to describe and transmit in academic language, but it is a source that includes stories of the original peoples and should lend support to public policies for the preservation of the vine species.
Panel with Alan K. Davis, Anny Ortiz, Rafael Lancelotta & Alí Cortina – Toad medicine: The science, myths, and new culture of 5-MeO-DMT
Over the past ten years there has been a steady increase in the use of and discussion about 5-MeO-DMT in the form of the ‘toad medicine’. Although some purport a long history of indigenous use of this psychedelic substance, there is a lack of evidence to back up these claims. Nevertheless, the self-proclaimed shamans and session facilitators in the new culture that grew out of these myths have breached psychedelic communities around the globe. Although recent scientific evidence has attempted to document the epidemiology, acute effects, and short and long-term outcomes of the use of toad medicine and the synthetic alternative (i.e., synthetic 5-MeO-DMT), these publications and the recent public portrayal of 5-MeO-DMT have exponentially increased the public desire to seek out these experiences. Indeed, people have clamored to have the opportunity to smoke the toad medicine, but a lack of ethical practices have harmed humans and toads as a result. This panel discussion will weave together these topics in order to provide a foundation of thought and inquiry into the new culture of 5-MeO-DMT.
Ethnographic and Heuristic Introduction to ”Hybrid Psychedelic Medicines” in Mexico – Alí Cortina
This presentation explores the ethnographic emergence of psychoactive compounds in Mexico that utilize information and resources from different parts of the world and that have in common the combination of assorted botanical and animal sources with synthetic or semi-synthetic substances, using alchemical processes and chemical laboratory methodologies. Through a case study, we will analyze how the category “hybrid medicines” refers to multiple forms of combination and administration, which we present here in four non-fixed categories: 1) vaporized tryptamines, 2) non-traditional shamanic snuff, 3) oral alkaline stimulants, and 4) hybrid ergotamines. The study of these new forms of knowledge implementation and psychedelic consumption in this way allows us to understand the continuous reformulation of discourses and narratives from the psychonautical circuits, and the continuous innovation and creativity apparent in the search for and generation of new forms of perception, therapeutics, and empirical knowledge of reality.
The Mexican Pharmacopeia. The Uses of Psychoactive Natural Drugs in the Official Medicine (1846-1930) – Nidia Olvera
Starting in 1846 the Mexican Pharmaceutical Academy created a National Pharmacopeia, which had the objective of determining the appropriate conditions and dosage for prescribing drugs, chemical products and other pharmaceutical preparations. The pharmacopeia manuals also aimed to include endemic plants, and psychoactive species that grew in the national territory and considered their traditional use. The pharmacopeias included thousands of local plants, but here I ́m going to focus on species that have psychoactive properties, such as: peyote, toloache (Datura inoxia), ololiuhqui (Ipomea violacea and Rivea corymbosa), cacao, and tobacco. This presentation aims to analyze the national pharmacopeias and other medical sources, which sought to corroborate the indigenous uses and the properties of these species. I will specifically focus on material written between 1846 and 1930. Even as some of the traditional uses were considered “superstitions” or “uncivilized”, scientists conducted empiric experiments to look for “more rational” applications that could be included in the national pharmacopeia.
Race Relations, Psychedelics and the need for Empathy in a Racist Society – Darron T. Smith
White Americans often struggle with concepts, ideas, and understandings about race relations in US society and their ancestors’ role in creating and sustaining unequal and unjust systems of racial dominion. White Americans are socialized to view their place in society as a matter of hard work or through it through the prism of abstract individualism. Embedded within this worldview is a set of organized racialized assumptions, ideas, stereotypes, emotions, and inclinations about the “other.” White frames are an array of unspoken white rules and received misinformation about African Americans handed down from forebearers. This session will focus on coaching white participants to recognize these centuries-old European and European American racist frames in the larger society inform cognition to expand knowledge toward greater awareness and empathy towards non-whites. More importantly, how might psychedelic substances help white people gain greater insight and critical understanding for oppressed peoples.
Exploring Responses to the Survey on the Awareness of Sexual Abuse in Ayahuasca Settings – What do They Tell us About Sexual Abuse? – Daniela Peluso
Chacruna plans to present the main findings of the recent Survey on the Awareness of Sexual Abuse in Ayahuasca Settings. We will discuss the range of participation and consider what the ayahuasca community has to say, individually and at large, about their awareness and experiences of and opinions on sexual abuse. We will also examine the ways in which the guidelines have resonated with participants and the ways in which they may have had an impact and what this might tell us about moving forward.
Understanding the Conservation Status of Psychedelic Plant Medicines – Anya Ermakova
Connection is a key to mental health and well-being. Psychedelics help us to re-connect to ourselves, to our bodies, to other people and to nature. Recent studies demonstrate that psychedelic use predicts pro-environmental behaviour and increases nature-relatedness in the long-term. Metaphorically speaking, sacred plants and medicines dissolve the boundaries separating head and heart, spirit and body, human and Earth. Psychologically speaking, these profound changes are mediated by the ego-dissolution and the experience of awe. These effects are fascinating, and incredibly important to illuminate, yet it is also important to shed light on another side of the story: the ecological and social vulnerabilities exposed by the current surge of interest in and increased use of these plants (and fungi and toads), as well as the harms that the globalization of the interest in these substances might bring to indigenous people and their territories. This presentation will review the conservation issues around some of the most well-known naturally occurring psychedelics: peyote, ayahuasca, Sonoran Desert toad and iboga. This will be an introduction to new and exciting Chacruna’s Conservation of Sacred Plants Series.
Controversies Around the Commodification of Santo Daime in the World Ayahuasca Diaspora – Bia Labate & Glauber Loures de Assis
This presentation explores the topic of the commodification of Santo Daime. The Santo Daime doctrine was founded by Raimundo Irineu Serra (1890–1971), known as Mestre Irineu, in the Brazilian Amazon in the thirties. According to the myth of origin of Santo Daime, Mestre Irineu received a vision of the Queen of the Forest, who told him he would become a great healer; as a condition, he was asked not to profit from his services. During the eighties, the CEFLURIS line of Santo Daime expanded throughout Brazil and, in the nineties, around the world. Branches multiplied and diversified, and the mother church in Céu do Mapiá lost its ability to be the single provider of the sacramental tea and to be representative of all churches. In this fragmented and non-institutionalized process of expansion, each community ended up adopting different styles and strategies. Combining our fieldwork experience in Brazil, the USA, and Europe, we provide an ethnographic account on the different models of organization of daimista congregations and collectives around the world. We try to categorize and analyze their policies and strategies around their survival, including: means of access to the brew (either importing it from Brazil or elsewhere, or producing its own through the feitio); fees of access for permanent members, outsiders or visitors, and the visiting comitivas (group of Brazilian religious experts that travel periodically abroad); the physical spaces (house of community members, rental of public or private spaces). We argue that there is a big variation, with some branches being more geared towards forming communities that are self-sustaining and others being more workshop-oriented and commercial. We explore the controversies existing between these different approaches, and the contrasts between Daime as commodity and a religious sacrament. We look critically at the orthodox view that pits religion in opposition to money, as well as at the perspective that fails to recognize problematic aspects in the current transformation of Santo Daime and Brazilian religious expertise into consumer products. We take into account both the need of marginalized Amazonian groups to make alternative means of living, and the impacts that commodification processes might have on these communities.
Making Medicine: Peyote in Indigenous and Western Healing – Mike Jay
The peyote cactus first came to the attention of western medicine in the late 19th century. An extract was developed and sold by Parke Davis but it failed to find a niche in the pharmaceutical market. Around the same time, peyote became the sacrament of the Plains tribes ceremony that was formalised for legal protection into the Native American Church. A century later, the NAC peyote meeting has established itself as a powerful therapeutic invention for conditions such as post-traumatic stress and substance abuse. Why did peyote succeed as an indigenous medicine but fail as a western one? What are the lessons of this story for introducing plant psychedelics into modern clinical practice?
Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas: Indigenous Agency, Autonomy, and Self-Determination – Joseph Mays
With an abundance of research linking forest loss to the emergence of disease, an understanding that Indigenous-managed lands harbor greater biodiversity than wildlife preserves, and the unique potential of traditional plant medicines to alleviate suffering, members of the psychedelic community need to support Indigenous groups still navigating a legacy of colonization and exploitation. Far-reaching, non-governmental conservation organizations have high infrastructural costs that often prevent support from reaching the most vulnerable. This necessitates a way to facilitate direct donations to local, grassroots initiatives that lack access to large institutions. With a recognition of the inextricable connection between biological and cultural diversity, Chacruna launched the Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas (IRI). Through a network of relationships with trusted organizers, we have created an Indigenous-centered, community-driven list to represent a range of projects addressing everything from food and environmental health to land-tenure, reforestation, and cultural conservation, including educational, economic, and institutional support. IRI is the product of working in direct contact with Indigenous leaders and small, non-profit coordinators who prioritize the autonomy of local people. Rather than imposing Western ideas of sustainable development, the goal of this initiative is to promote community-led, grassroots projects designed and implemented by local Indigenous people to address their own self-determined needs. Some of the most salient lessons psychedelics teach us stress the significance of our interrelationships and the importance of reciprocity; IRI honors those lessons by offering a channel for giving back directly, in a way that fosters lasting, long-term opportunities for healing and resiliency.
Cannabis Regulation in México: Social justice or extractive industry? – Zara Snapp
Mexico is currently the second largest producer of illegal cannabis and the third largest producer of illegal poppy in the world. It is also the country that has most demonstrated the harms and devastating consequences of applying prohibition at any cost with numerous human rights violations and few results in reducing the illegal market. After achieving Supreme Court jurisprudence in 2019, the country will soon become the third country in the world to regulate cannabis for adult use. However, it could be the first country to do so with a social justice focus, guaranteeing the rights of people who use cannabis and communities that cultivate the plant. This presentation will provide an overview of the judicial activism to reach this point, the role civil society has played and the bill that is mandated to pass before April 30, 2020. The implementation of the bill will certainly pose challenges to a government committed to austerity, but it could also bring great benefits to society, particularly if it regulates the market with the objective of transiting the current illegal market to a legal framework, privileging communities that cultivate, reducing opportunities for corruption and doing so prior to a federal regulation in the United States. While it will not change the structural conditions of the country, it is certainly a step in the right direction towards respecting human rights, economic opportunities for rural communities and peacebuilding. But only if it is done right. Many questions remain in the balance.
The Visionary Powers of San Pedro (Wachuma):
Implications for Scientific Naturalism and Decolonial Research – Jorge Ferrer
After a brief overview of the three main historical waves of San Pedro use (archaic fertility rituals, curanderismo, and spiritual seeking), this presentations summarizes its main forms of preparation and healing effects. Then it introduces the phenomenon of shared visions, in which several San Pedro practitioners report seeing—with their open eyes—the same subtle phenomena in the external world. This phenomenon, it is argued, not only raises a serious challenge to contemporary scientific naturalism, but also suggest the existence of subtle or energetic dimensions of reality coexisting with the physical domain. The possibility of San Pedro’s intersubjective testing of so-called supernatural claims paves the way for participatory decolonial research programs developed by Western researchers in symmetrical collaboration with traditional healers. The presentation concludes outlining the stages of one such research program that embraces an open naturalism, being thus receptive to both the ontological integrity of spiritual referents and the plausibility a multiverse—or multidimensional cosmos—housing a rich variety of subtle worlds.
Coca leaf in Bolivia, Challenges and Perspectives on the International Market in Times of COVID 19 – Patricia Chulver
Bolivia has lived through a series of transformations in its road toward the nationalization of its politics around the coca leaf. These processes are a product of social and peasant organizations that, between the 1970s and the 1990s, constituted themselves as an organized syndicate that was able to confront U.S. policy that demanded that the Bolivian state prohibit coca leaf from a sustainable development standpoint and that led to the militarization of regions of production as a way to substitute these cultivations with agricultural projects theoretically “more profitable” than coca production.Beginning with the first steps to vindicate the coca leaf in 1994 (Government of Jaime Paz Zamora) and continuing with the social uprisings that bring about new leadership in 2006 with the arrival of Evo Morales to the presidency, tools are consolidated such as community social control, which has permitted, using its own norms, the reduction of cultivation of coca in tropical regions like Cochabamba and Yungas de la Paz.The current Strategy for the Integral and Sustainable Development with Coca (ENDISC – 2020/2024) created by the producing regions, proposes a new methodology for implementation that seeks the articulation and solutions to demands of the sector. However, work remains to be done to consolidate an integral system for the control of production, commercialization, basic transformation and industrialization of coca in Bolivia. These are some of the steps Bolivia has taken to advance its policies and today the conjuncture permits conversations on bilateral and multilateral treaties for the exportation of the plant given the affinity of policy and ideology with the Argentinian government, as well as retaking its request forreclassification with the World Health Organisation.
The Therapeutic Potentials of Psilocybin Containing Mushrooms from a Transdisciplinary Perspective – Anja Loizaga-Velder
Even though Mexico has an impressive bounty of flora and fauna of natural psychedelics and a rich cultural heritage of medicinal and other uses for them, due to regulatory challenges, clinical research with psychedelics has not yet resumed in Mexico. However, promising findings generated in other countries have contributed research to the extent that health and public authorities finally seem to have become more open to allowing this field to reemerge. A few research protocols have been recently approved, including a transdisciplinary research project about therapeutic uses of psilocybin-containing fungi. In this talk, the recent developments and challenges in the field of psychedelic science in Mexico will be presented; also, preliminary findings of the above-mentioned research project on psilocybin-containing fungi will be shared. These include preliminary results from an observational study of the therapeutic effects of ritual uses of psilocybin-containing mushrooms for diverse mental health challenges and findings from anthropological fieldwork with Indigenous mushroom specialists. Reflections on how traditional knowledge can complement and enrich the rising field of psilocybin-assisted treatments will be offered. In addition, ethical issues, such as appropriation of Indigenous knowledge, reciprocity, conservation of culture and habitat, and accessibility of psychedelic assisted treatments will be discussed.
Beyond Oneness: A Two-Spirit Approach to Social Construction, Social Justice and Psychedelics – Marca Cassity and Katherine A. Costello
Marca will share their personal journey in the psychedelic community as a two-spirit member of the Osage Nation and as a therapist specializing in queer and Native American-related trauma. They draw attention to the fact that two-spirit people have their own specific kind of trauma, how psychedelics can heal this trauma, and offer practical suggestions about how the psychedelic community can help ensure access to and facilitate such healing. Marca and Katherine then fold this perspective into the larger framework of the conversation currently happening around identity politics and psychedelics. In the United States, efforts to ensure equity and access for marginalized communities have been consistently met with resistance from a portion of the psychedelic community that argues that taking into consideration race, gender, sexuality, and other vectors of difference is antithetical to one of the key insights of psychedelic healing—oneness. We show that this argument conflates oneness with sameness and drawing on our radically different experiences show that even though identity markers are indeed socially constructed, they nonetheless have very real material consequences on people’s lives and that refusing to address these in the name of oneness is a form of spiritual bypassing. We then put forth an understanding of oneness that is not in opposition to difference but in fact inextricably connected to it.
Travels on the Peyote Road: The Huichol (Wixárika) and the Native American Church – Stacy Schaefer
The Peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) is sacred to the Huichol (Wixárika) Indians of Mexico and to members of the Native American Church (NAC). From the 1970’s onward, I have been carrying out fieldwork among the Huichol Indians. Utilizing the anthropological approach of participant/observation, I have gained a deeper understanding of peyote as a powerful plant ally in Huichol traditions. In the 1990’s, while residing in South Texas, I was fortunate to travel often to the nearby “Peyote Gardens” and to the home of Mrs. Amada Cardenas, the first federally licensed peyote dealer in the United States. Native Americans came on pilgrimage to this area and to Amada’s home to acquire peyote and conduct their ceremonies. Learning about peyote on the U.S. side of the border gave me an opportunity to gain greater awareness about peyote from a NAC perspective. This presentation will describe events and discoveries that I, as an ethnographer, have experienced while participating with Huichol families and friends on the pilgrimage to the peyote desert, Wirikuta, and Huichol peyote ceremonies in their aboriginal temples and family shrines in their ranches in the sierra as well as realizations I had about peyote while participating in NAC prayer meetings at the homestead of Mrs. Cardenas. In conclusion, I will discuss ways in which experiencing peyote within the contexts of Huichol and NAC traditions have brought personal insights, informed my ethnographic research, and given me a deeper appreciation for humanity.
Coca in the Andes: Between Eradication and Regulation – Diego García-Devis
In this presentation I will critically analyze discourses on the vindication of coca leaf in its cultural and historical dimensions, identifying limitations and contradictions in arguments aimed at reforming public policies. Without a doubt, it is vital to protect and promote coca leaf in its cultural and cosmological dimensions for Andean and Amazonian indigenous peoples. At the same time, the rights of peasant communities involved in processing the plant for the illicit drug trade must also be recognized. Here, a tension emerges between different discourses that hinders the possibility of defining a common agenda in search of new regulatory frameworks. A comparative analysis of the main constituent elements of coca cultivation, both for traditional use and drug production, problematizes the current counterproductive one-dimensional positions with regard to indigenous and mestizo rural communities.
How Psychedelics Helped me Overcome Emotional, Sexual and Physical Trauma within Hockey’s Culture – Daniel Carcillo
This presentation is based on my personal voyage from professional athlete, through injury, early retirement, social detachment and ultimately a recovery that brought renewal and reconnection. In a highly personalized account of my own healing journey, I recount the story of how psychedelics helped me regain my life, reconnect with my family, and how I want to use my story to help other brain injury survivors. For much of my life my identity was associated with being a hockey player. I was forced into early retirement in 2015 after a 7th diagnosed concussion. Retirement for me meant that I lost community, purpose, routine, and I quickly realized that I was on my own to discover who I was as a person without the identity of athlete, teammate, hockey player. I also learned to advocate for myself as a patient, now dealing with the associated symptoms of repetitive head and emotional trauma. I spent 6 years trying to recover my quality of life. Despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on traditional western medicine, it ultimately became an unsustainable model for me. I turned to psychedelics in an effort to save my life. When I did, I truly gained insight and peace into the suffering I had caused and endured growing up in a culture that harbours an environment of abuse. I am motivated to tell my story in an effort to help traumatic brain injury survivors better understand their symptoms and know exactly where to turn to for treatment options. (edited)
Ayahuasca, Master Plants, the Natural World and You – Sitaramaya Sita
Ayahuasca can be considered a gateway to experiencing an incredible diversity of ornamental, medicinal, and master plants. In this talk and discussion, I will touch on the categories of plants and their qualities, with an emphasis on master (or “teacher”) plants I learned about in my many years of studying and apprenticing in the Shipibo lineage, from the plants themselves, through multiple dietas, and in thousands of ceremonies. This talk is designed to contemplate the limiting perceptions about interspecies communication and invites us to consider ways of seeing, experiencing, and learning that stretch beyond the conventional systems of modern culture. Opening to the mystical and the visionary, and tapping into the collective consciousness of all sentient beings, we can recognize our place in the natural world. This talk will discuss some of the ways traditional ayahuasca shamanism can aid and assist us in this quest.
Women in the History of Psychedelic Plant Medicines: What does Gender Have to do With Psychedelics? – Erika Dyck
In September 2020 we asked for people to contribute posts about the historic contributions of women in psychedelics. The response has been impressive. Writers and observers of psychedelics have shown us the many significant and often subtle ways that gender has shaped our understanding of psychedelics. Reclaiming space for women is more than just acknowledging their presence in a psychedelic past. It also means recognizing why women avoided being associated with psychedelics at times, despite often having deep knowledge of such plant medicines. In other moments patients more readily realized the importance of having both men and women present in a psychedelic trial. Some openly suggested that the symbolic presence of a mother and father figure helped to balance the emotional space, as part of set and setting. Others explained that women in the therapeutic space were more likely to play a caring role, whether reaching out to hold someone’s hand, or adjusting the lighting in anticipation of a changing mood or perception. While it is risky to assume that women are innately better at care giving, the mere presence of a woman in the therapeutic space was reassuring for some participants. These impressions challenge our ideas about gender but also should complicate our understandings of care, or emotional space in the set and setting. Music therapists even theorized this idea further. Women like Helen Bonny and Hermina Browne developed soundscapes for psychedelic experiences that played upon emotional responses, while their male counterparts in the 1960s developed different strategies for using music in a psychedelic setting. In this presentation I examine some of the complicated ways that women have been involved, while also considering how and why authors have handled issues of gender and psychedelics.
The Right to Drink of Ayahuasca in America: Current Status & What’s Next – Martha J. Hartney and Sean McAllister
This presentation reviews the legal state of ayahuasca law under RFRA in the US today, including the most recent developments in law enforcement, the DEA, and Homeland Security/Customs. Sean and Martha will discuss the increase in seizures of sacramental ayahuasca at the borders during the pandemic; the status of two cases brought in Federal district court in 2020; the DEA’s apparent posture toward ayahuasca and intention to engage in rule-making under the Administrative Procedures Act; and the most promising avenues toward securing a clear and workable right to consume ayahuasca in a bona fide religious setting. We’ll also discuss current efforts for and potential barriers to this important religious freedom. Both Martha and Sean serve on the Council for the Protection for Sacred Plants, which is supporting legal action in support of the Church of the Eagle and the Condor in United Sates.
Harmony or Liberation: The Mystical-Union and Prophetic Events in Ayahuasca Rituals of Palestinians and Israelis – Leor Roseman
This presentation will report on an observational study where we inquired into the potential of psychedelics for peacebuilding in ayahuasca groups of Palestinians and Israelis. We have quickly observed what is obvious to many psychedelic enthusiasts: ayahuasca-induced mystical-union and “oneness” can promote intergroup harmony and acceptance. However, aspiring for harmony in asymmetrical intergroup contact can hinder political liberation of the subjugated group, by creating an illusion of equality, and leading to avoidance of conflictual discussions. Can acceptance resist hegemonic structures? While the core experiential tenet of Western psychedelic practices is the mystical-union and “oneness”, psychedelics have more to offer. In a few occasions, we observed revelatory-prophetic political events where individuals had a historical-political revelation which urged them to deliver an emancipatory “truth” to the rest of the group through a song. The revelation was painful, and the emotions which accompanied these events were of conflict, anger, and resistance towards the hegemonic social structure. These revelations were related to Palestinian subjugation, yet the delivery of the emancipatory message was experienced as a universal truth which applies to all people. According to our observation, participants developed loyalty to these events, which provided them with a sense of mission and meaning long after they occurred. This presentation will discuss the antithetical political features of the mystical-union and revelatory-prophetic events, e.g., acceptance, stability, and harmony, compared with resistance, change, and liberation.
‘Excuse me While I Light my Spliff’: Cannabis as Rastafari Prayer Ritual – Jahlani Niaah
This presentation will focus on the usage of the cannabis flower by Rastafari in the context of its link to a long mystic religio-political tradition, re-emergent as a core aspect of this new worldview. It will pursue this conversation through an ethnographic method, linking Rastafari cannabis culture to hybrid African new world redemption praxis.
Potential Therapeutic Use of Peyote Among Non-Natives in Mexico – Mauricio Guzmán and José Noyola Cherpitel
The therapeutic use of peyote occupies an outstanding place in healing rituals throughout Mexico. The ritual, called “meeting” or “tipi ceremony,” of the Native American Church has been adopted in this dynamic cultural field in the last few decades. Clearly, this shows the hybridization, cultural adaptation, and borrowing of practices within an entheogenic field in its expansive process of internationalization; in Mexico, this includes non-native groups of urban origin. Tipi ceremonies have become discursive devices that end up defining and categorizing the therapeutic experience in this process. In this paper, we reflect on crucial life points of several individuals who have re-signified their lives by assuming or understanding critical experiences through peyote use. In the first part, we describe the cultural, legal, and political balance that underlies ritual and therapeutic peyote consumption in Mexico, a crucial step in understanding these practices as an alternative therapeutic resource. In the second part, we show our analysis of the impact and receptivity caused by an extensive anthropological, literary, and self-help bibliographies around peyote. Finally, we will reflect on the testimonials, life histories, and interpretations given by tipi ceremony participants, granting the plant agency and therapeutic capacity.
Half a Century of Research on Shamanism – Esther Jean Langdon
Fifty years ago, I journeyed to the Sibundoy Valley in the Andean mountains of Southern Colombian to conduct interdisciplinary research on illness categories and diagnosis among the Kamsa Indigenous peoples. With a medical anthropology focus on the relation between diagnosis and treatment, I had several encounters with Kamsa shamans, famous specialists in yajé (ayahuasca) rituals. Thus began my life-long interest in and dedication to the topic of shamanism. The Kamsa shamans pointed me in the direction of the Amazonian lowlands where I met and spent two years among the Siona collecting shamanic narratives and dialoging with shamans about their multidimensional universe and their experiences and negotiations with the inhabitants of the invisible realms. In the 1980s I moved to Brazil, where ayahuasca religions were beginning to expand beyond Amazonia, and thus commenced interchanges with the leaders and followers of some of these groups. More recently I have witnessed first-hand a revitalization of shamanism among indigenous groups, both in Brazil and Colombia, and the interchange between indigenous shamans and non-indigenous groups often identified as “neo-shamanic”. Manifestations and expressions of shamanism have multiplied, transformed and expanded into a global phenomenon. So too has our understanding radically changed over this last half-century. We have moved beyond the ethnocentric debates about whether their practices are magic or not, about the definition of true shamans versus charlatans and about whether the magical flights indicate that they are schizophrenic or not. Today shamans and their practices are taken seriously, not only by the participants of their rituals, indigenous or not, but also by scientific fields that study their practices, including anthropology, psychology, biological and environmental sciences, and neurosciences. Based on a half century of personal experience and academic involvement with the theme, I will reflect upon this history of transformations as shamans circulate between their traditional communities and contemporary societies and as we, as non-indigenous participants in this phenomenon, begin to take them seriously.
Decolonizing Ayahuasca Research: Reciprocity after Epistemicide – Emilia Sanabria
Calls to decolonize the University, Disciplines (such as anthropology) or (Western) Theory have boomed in recent years. While this is a positive step – drawing awareness to ongoing colonial violence and its roots in Western institutions and knowledge practices – decolonial thinkers warn that “decolonization is not a metaphor” (Tuck & Yang 2012). Indeed, the metaphorization of decolonization runs the risk of rescuing “settler futurity,” which is to say that there can be no decolonial theory without a decolonial practice (Rivera Cusicanqui 2010). What can reciprocity – beyond tokenization – mean in this context? In this talk I explore some of the challenges of undoing the pernicious coloniality of knowledge (Quijano 1997) from within the academy. Drawing on insights generated in a collaborative multi-sited ethnographic project on the global circulation of ayahuasca healing practices (in the “Forest,” “City” and “Lab”) I reflect on the politics of bridging knowledges. I first examine some incommensurabilities between social science and biomedical practices of evidence, particularly as they are leveraged in public health policy-making and argue that we need to move from being interdisciplinary to being un-disciplined. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, “conspirituality” (Ward & Voas 2011) has reached new heights among (white) alternative healing and ecologically-minded circles, leading us to ask afresh what practices of science – after epistemicide – are needed to foster social justice and regeneration. Thinking and working alongside our Shipibo and Huni Kuin Indigenous collaborators, our team has sought to tackle the colonialism inherent within the administrative and ethical apparatus of the University in order to construct inquiries collaboratively and honour the integrity of Indigenous knowledges. This has led us to foreground the question of imagining otherwise (Dillon 2012, Gumbs 2020, Povinelli 2016) and develop methodologies to hold space for encounters that potentiate transformation.
“Therapeutic use of psycho-dysleptics”: The Methodology of Dr. Salvador Roquet – Ivonne Roquet and Ibrahim Gabriell
Self-realization is at the essence of being human. The fightcannot remain static in any area in which it is located, be it science, art or medicine. That is why Dr. Salvador Roquet advanced psychiatric methodology by expanding his approach to mental health to reach beyond the biological model in order to address the individual’s psychic and spiritual needs. This led him to research methods embedded in the rich ethnobotanical wealth of Mexican Indigenous rituality in order to treat diseases of the soul through his work alongside various entheogenic cultures of Mexico.
Mainstreaming Psychedelics? The Shadows, the Spiritual, and the service – Sara Reed
Psychedelic-assisted therapy continues to gain popularity as a promising treatment for some of the most disabling mental health conditions. As these treatments go mainstream, conversations around the importance of accessibility, “diversity,” and “inclusion” are becoming more prominent in clinical care. However, characteristics of white supremacy culture (Jones & Okun, 2001) and other oppressive practices often inform research design and organize the therapeutic process. With the obsession to focus on drug approval, we undermine the relational and spiritual aspects of this spirit-based work. How do we honor the sacred in science? How do we confront the collective shadow in this work? How do we decolonize psychedelic medicine without appropriating other cultures? The presenter will explore these questions from her experience as a Black American therapist and researcher and provide examples of service or business models that are rooted in reciprocity, liberation, and sustainability.
Psychoactive plants and shamanism in South America – Glenn H. Shepard Jr.
Of the roughly 150 psychoactive plants known from around the world, 130 (87%) are found in the Americas, mostly from South America. Though not all South American shamans use psychoactive plants, psychoactive plants are central to shamanism and healing for many peopes. The archeological record includes clear evidence of the use of psychoactive snuffs of the genus Anadenanthera dating back thousands of years, as well as ritual paraphernalia depicting human-animal transformation. The most widespread psychoactive plant used in South America is tobacco, consumed in myriad forms and preparations. Ayahuasca is now probably the best known shamanic plant of South America, and yet despite much speculation to the contrary, there is little to no evidence about ancient uses of ayahuasca, and its widespread use among South American indigenous peoples appears to be fairly recent. Solanaceae, the botanical family of potatoes, is an especially important group of plants in South American shamanism, including powerfully psychoactive preparations such as Brugmansia and Brunfelsia that are used for diverse medicinal and ritual purposes. Though outsiders typically understand shamanism to be a form of spiritual healing, South American shamans perform other social and ecological functions such as negotiating with game animal spirits, revealing the location of enemies or lost objects, bringing new crop cultivars and resolving domestic disputes. While much attention has been paid to plants, a smaller number of potent animal and fungus species are used by indigenous peoples to alter consciousness in specific ways. This talk provides an overview of psychoactive substance use in South America.
The Ongoing Globalization of Ayahuasca: an Indigenous Perspective – Leopardo Yawa Bane (Translated by Pedro van Tol)
I am a representative of the Kaxinawá (Cashinahua) Indians from the state of Acre in Brazil. Traditional Brazilian indigenous communities such as mine have used ayahuasca as a medicinal plant since time immemorial. Today, the use of ayahuasca is spreading to the Western world. Recently, a large number of indigenous people have traveled the world, especially in Europe, where they present their culture, offer shamanic rituals and spread the use of ayahuasca to bring healing to the West. Many shamanic groups and healers have emerged, spreading the use of ayahuasca to urban areas of large cities. I myself have been traveling the world for several years. I feel privileged by the experiences I have had, which until recently would have been impossible for me. As a child, not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine that I would travel the world and teach people about my culture and tribal traditions. While the global spread of ayahuasca and indigenous culture is something that I support, and that has brought me joy and many opportunities, there are some things that concern me. My main worry is that my people and our culture will be forgotten as more and more Westerners are introduced to ayahuasca in foreign contexts. Its original meaning and guardians may be lost. I believe that the problem with ayahuasca is, in essence, a human rights issue: as an indigenous representative from the Amazon forest, I want to speak to you about my views of the ongoing globalization of ayahuasca, and how we might move forward together on this issue.
Sacred Mushrooms as Political Agents in the Face of the Psychedelic Renaissance –
Sarai Piña (Translated by Adam Aronovich)
Among the Mazatecs, the sacred mushroom, or ndi xijtho (‘little one that sprouts’) as it is known in Mazatec communities, is a sentient being that has a personality, intentions, and a voice of its own. During evening ceremonies with these beings, the Mazatecs together with the Chjines (“sages”) enter an altered state of consciousness that also implies an exercise in heteroglossia or polyphony involving mushrooms and other extra-human beings brought together in front of the altar. This presentation will address some examples of the political agency of sacred mushrooms, including relationships between the Mazatec and extra-human beings, as well the way mushrooms act as an embodied territory that has been violated in the name of science for the last 55 years, but that can regain strength with the psychedelic renaissance.
History of Medicine and Ritual Uses of Psychedelic Plants in Aztec Worldview – Osiris Sinuhé González Romero
The aim of this talk to reflect on the ritual uses of psychedelics in ancient Mesoamerica, especially in the Aztec worldview, based on a decolonial approach. This talk is built on the data provided by archaeological evidence and historical sources, such as codices, manuscripts, and chronicles. My goal is to show the ancestral roots of sacred mushrooms and to go beyond the epistemological extractivism to achieve the recognition of Indigenous rights, especially those related to traditional knowledge. First, I will explain the historical sources and the methodology needed to talk about psychedelics in ancient Mesoamerica and Aztec culture, in order to go beyond misconceptions and cultural appropriation. Next, this talk will explain Xochipilli´s iconography. Xochipilli is the deity of song, flowers, and pleasure, who is associated with different psychedelics plants such as: ololiuhqui (morning glory), sacred mushrooms, and sinicuichi (Heimia salicifolia); then, I will explain, briefly, the ritual uses of psychedelics; especially, sacred mushrooms, because there is a wide array of songs that address this topic. Third, I will display and give an explanation of the iconography and psychedelic plants associated with Tlaloc, the “God of Rain,” such as yauhtli (Tagetes lucida) and ololiuhqui. Then, I will describe a ceremony, compiled in the Florentine Codex, that is perhaps the most ancient written source about a complete ritual with sacred mushrooms in Mesoamerica. Lastly, this talk will address the information provided by the historical sources produced during the early colonial period (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) in the Florentine Codex and the Badian Codex related to the medical uses and divinatory rituals of psychedelic plants, such as peyote, toloatzin (Datura innoxia), and sacred mushrooms.
Finding Connection in the Depth of Trauma – Chaikuni Witan
We are living in a moment when the public conversation is making major steps towards acknowledging how destructive institutionalized racism, misogyny and homophobia are. At the same time, there has been an explosion of healing through traditional practices such as ayahuasca and other plant medicines. In the decade I have spent using Amazonian plant medicine to work with an ethnically, sexually and economically diverse clientele my observation has been that as damaging as society is, the most injurious traumas come from closer to home – usually from within one’s own family. Although the external factors influence what happens in the home, the most impactful traumas – such as abandonment and severe forms of abuse – appear to injure people in similar ways no matter their race, what they look like, or how much money they make. My experiences have led me to an interesting quandary: while it is becoming increasingly clear how destructive the marginalization of individual population groups is, is it possible that the human organism’s response to trauma – what it does to us and how we heal from it – is deeper than the categories into which the world has divided us? If so, does that mean that the work we do to heal our individual wounds has the potential to create bonds more profound than the societal barriers that divide us? Can healing oneself be the most powerful antidote to the ever-increasing divineness of our modern world?
Indigenous bicultural defense: reclaiming culture, reclaiming fundraising – Miguel Evanjuanoy and Riccardo Vitale (Translated by Diana Negrín)
This talk is about perspectives of cultural appropriation and the impact this has on communities in resistance. We will discuss how globalization, medicalization and commercialization of ayahuasca practices interfere with transitional justice and hinder biocultural resistance and survival in indigenous Colombia. Furthermore, we will discuss how neo-colonial, re-victimizing, sensationalist fundraising appropriates and exploits the indigenous image. Lastly, we will make a case for new practices of decolonized indigenous fundraising.
Almost Visible: A multi-generational friendship, and a film, grow from fieldwork among the Mazatec – Kathleen Harrison
I have been visiting the same Mazatec family for the past 26 years. Our friendship began in my quest to heal a condition, with the help of plants and their knowledge-holders. I found my way to a remote family in Southern Mexico. This seed grew into an intergenerational, cross-cultural friendship between our two extended families. I will discuss the beauty, honor and challenges of being in a decades-long relationship of learning and reciprocity with the holders of ancient plant and mushroom knowledge, as expressed in one family’s lineage. I will also show and discuss Almost Visible, a short film made by my daughter, artist Klea McKenna, about this relationship and the long process of getting to deeply know people who hold a different worldview. The film is also a window into the actual daily circumstances of one indigenous family – three generations who are descended from an elderly curandero who uses mushrooms and plants to care for his community. His granddaughters collaborated in making this film. The migrations and adaptations of indigenous people whose traditions are disrupted, who leave the land and language of their origins, reflect a worldwide reality. We hope to expand this into a longer film, using both our ample archival material and recent footage. I am writing about this process of being a go-between—gathering and sharing knowledge from nature, humans, and spirit, and how to do it honorably—while my rural and urban Mazatec friends navigate the perils and inequities of the 21st century.
Sacred medicines, music and indigenous spirituality among the Yawanawa people – Biraci Brasil Nixiwaka (Translated by Pedro van Tol)
The Yawanawa indigenous people, who inhabit the Rio Gregório region in the Amazon rainforest, are a major force in the Global South when it comes to Indigenous uses of ayahuasca and sacred plants. Known also for their musicality, their powerful female leaders, their international festivals and sacred use of medicines from the forest, the Yawanawa are a shining example of the cultural strength and artistic wealth of Indigenous nations in South America. This talk will cover the use of sacred medicines such as tobacco snuff, ayahuasca (uni), sananga and muká by the Yawanawa, as well as characteristic elements of their traditional music, which is much appreciated in Brazilian ayahuasca circles. The talk will also reflect on aspects of ancestral spirituality and the alliances established between the Yawanawa and non-indigenous people around the world. In addition, historical aspects of the Yawanawa people’s struggle for autonomy and recuperation of ancestral traditions will also be addressed.
Inclusive Psychedelic Advocacy Will Ensure Equitable Public Policy – Melissa Lavasani
Halfway through the Decriminalize Nature DC campaign in 2020, I, Chairwoman and Proposer of Initiative 81: the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020 in Washington, DC, encountered direct opposition from a member of Congress who was trying to stop the campaign from moving forward. This minor setback initiated a process of engaging with the federal government about the local Washington, DC psychedelic movement as well as the national and international moment psychedelics were having. In navigating these dialogues, I honed effective strategies for educating lawmakers about psychedelics and the movement as a whole, which led to open and honest discussions about mental health, psychedelic research, and cultural reverence of sacred plants as sacraments. Inspired by the overwhelming success of communicating the power of plant medicines to all of DC’s demographics, I founded Plant Medicine Coalition (PMC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for natural and synthetic psychedelics at the federal, state, and local levels. PMC envisions a world where all members of the psychedelic movement have a seat at the table and a voice with their government. Given the wide range of stakeholders, how does PMC and it’s partners plan to advocate for and create a psychedelic ecosystem that is inclusive? With influence of the biotech sector growing, what must be done to ensure the cultural and spiritual considerations of plant medicine remain front and center with policymakers? This presentation will explore these questions and others, while also laying out PMC’s 2021 advocacy goals.
Plants are my teachers: A story of awakening – Mkomose (Dr. Andrew Judge)
I am related to everything. I am the weakest of all my relatives. I have been entrusted with original instruction on how to live a good life. To never take more than I need. To always give back when I take. To prepare for seven future generations. I remember what it means to be a human being. This presentation will share a foundational philosophy learned alongside Indigenous leaders from from The Amazon to The Great Lakes, through encounters with sacred plant wisdom. With the rise in popularity of sacred plant wisdom, especially amongst the colonially educated elite, this talk serves as a reminder of our responsibility as humans to our families, communities, environment, and all our relations.
Supporting the Reevaluation of Indigenous Health Systems in Amazonia – Didier Lacaze (Translated by Glenn Shepard)
How much have the efforts to support the recovery, strengthening and development of Indigenous health and medicine systems helped Indigenous people in Amazonia to achieve this and improve their general life conditions? The belief was (and for some, probably still is) that white researchers coming to Indigenous people and speaking to them about the value of their traditional Indigenous knowledge would help them to reappropriate their devaluated culture. Has this really happened, and in what way? What results has this brought to the vulnerable communities in question? Based on 35 years of concrete experience addressing this issue among Indigenous people, I propose to reflect on this question; I will evoke situations that have occurred with different projects I worked on in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon between 1985 and 2020. I will also ask whether traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge holds solutions to the current crisis the world finds itself in. If so, how? To discuss this, I will refer to the Indigenous concept of “sumak kawsay” (translated as “life in harmony/living well”) adopted by the 2008 Ecuadorian Constitution and posited by some social researchers as a possible alternative to the concept of “sustainable development”.
Capitalism, the state and sacred mushrooms in the Sierra Mazateca – Osiris García Cerqueda (Translated by Diana Negrín)
My presentation is the result of an analysis that begins from my perspective as a member of the Mazatec people. I will describe how my community has experienced transformations in our territories and social dynamics over the past century as a result of the advance of capitalistism and the formation of the post-revolutionary Mexican state. During this process, the notion of “progress” has served as an ideology to articulate diverse interventions including public infrastructure projects and the administration of culture. The market for sacred mushrooms emerged in this context, such that the “discovery” by Gordon Wasson of María Sabina’s shamanic knowledge and use of fungi was seen as a mere catalyst of a process that was already underway. The status of Huautla de Jiménez as the region’s economic, political and cultural capital was only further intensified as it became a center for the commercialization of sacred mushrooms and healing rituals. My presentation seeks to reveal and at the same time analyze the problems that resulted from these processes. Of particular concern is the growing scarcity of sacred mushrooms as a result of the disruption and human exploitation of natural spaces, the demand by different tourist segments, as well as local struggles for the administration of the cultural market. Faced with this situation, it is essential that sacrality and memory resist the intrusions of capitalism.
Plant Medicine Healing Alliance – protect ceremonial use of plant medicines – Nathan Howard
Our mission is to decriminalize plant medicines in general and in particular for religious, sacramental, and ceremonial purposes. Working initially in Portland and in partnership with indigenous stakeholders among others, we aim to do this while also promoting sustainable sourcing. With the historic passage of Measure 109 that legalizes psilocybin-assisted therapy and Measure 110 that decriminalizes all drugs including plant medicine allies for personal use, Oregon is setting the example and blazing the path for the rest of the country. Measure 109 will allow for group-facilitated work in a more shamanic ceremonial approach with mushrooms, alongside the more traditional therapeutic one-on-one approach. And Measure 110’s cutoffs allow for personal use of all other plant medicines. However, Measure 110’s cutoffs are geared towards personal use of the final medicine, not for what it takes to properly grow and prepare them, especially by spiritual groups in amounts for collective ceremonial use. There are also issues of sustainable sourcing of medicine that simply decriminalizing for personal use does not address. The suppression of plant medicines is a well-documented issue of environmental injustice while the policing of people who work with these medicines allows for racial profiling. It is the intent of the Portland Plant Medicine Alliance to decriminalize plant medicines in general and in particular for religious, sacramental, and ceremonial purposes. We aim to do this first in Portland and then at the state level, and to set the right precedent and tone for federal policy.
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