I’ve noticed myself having been in a terrible mood as of lately, not shocking considering the state of affairs globally. Usually I’m an upbeat person. I don’t have too much to be upset about; considering the depths of depression I’ve been to, I’m doing alright. I am not angry with anybody (grateful for this). I don’t think any one is upset with me (fingers crossed). I’m not injured (more blessings). Though I am in a city of grey smoke and dark skies, old wounds have since turned into scars, all of this I still find encouragement enough to face some glaringly apparent realities. Your pain is still my pain. Your challenges still mine. And until we are all given the same freedoms and treatment, we must continue to stand up for what is right when there is so much wrong out there. We can do better. We must do better to honor our brothers and sisters. And to heal is going to require a whole lot of medicine. There is a reason medicine usually tastes bitter; it’s often a hard pill to seallow. The question is: how badly do we want to be healed? Are you willing to put in the work?
If you believe in evolution and the survival of the fittest notion, then it makes sense to me that before us monkies found the mushrooms, we were quite uncivilized. One species dominated others and the food chain fell accordingly. As some became more aware, others stayed ignorant and knew less about right or wrong. In today’s modern day of information it seems that ignorance is a choice. If you’re paying any attention at all today, you can’t help but see through the bullshit and hope for a better world.
Seeing the dark morale and destructive repercussions of both Mother Nature and Man Kind alike, the future of our planet and species does not look entirely promising. As a past and somewhat “safe” period of existence crumbles and dies, newer forces of power make way. Though it’s easy to tune out and look the other direction, much easier, while to look our current position in the face with conviction requires great strength and patience, as well as I’d say a healthy dose of unselfish empathy.
Unpacking all of this, I recognize that I have been angry, cruel with my thoughts, harsh with my loved ones, and down on my own self worth. Mad at the government. Annoyed at co-workers undeservingly. Introverted and quiet. I haven’t been able to be there for others, and for all of this I am sorry. This is my mission, to call it out, and change the path. I am grateful for those in my life who have been kind with me and still reminded me that I am/we are love(d). Simple phone calls and messages go so far these days. A true friend is a blessing, and often helps the medicine go down sweetly, despite being so bitter.
Speaking of medicine, I learned SO much this week at the Chacruna Women in Psychedelics conference, even though it was a reminder of how far we still have to go in the name of justice, it was inspiring to say the least. We have work to do, kids, and it starts with individuals making commitments.
The conference began with an informative conversation on how the drug war affects women initially, which moved into a specific conversation on sexual abuse predominantly in the ayahuasca community. Ethical touch and consent policies are currently becoming more and more relevant in these doctrines, as the conversation continues in such grey areas of practice.
Women in Psychedelics Conference
Practice; everything is and can be a practice. Whatever you learn and discover can be turned into a practice depending on how often you should do it and how committed you are to the practice. Yoga you could practice daily. Brushing your teeth twice or more. Practice playing an instrument or saying prayers.
Kathleen Harrison broke down the logistics of how the practice of psychedelics began. The origin of women in psychedelics essentially began with the 1840s feminist movement. Mind you, birth control wasn’t legal until the mid 1900s, and LSD was slowly creeping onto the scene. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, that shattered the hearts of many young people in America, and the result of that anger, coupled with the Vietnam war draft, the birth of LSD, and then the resurfacing of birth control, all gave birth to the free love movement we know today.
The summer of love in 1968 brought about a release and a desire to explore. With birth control now readily available, the use of LSD in the music scene became rampant and hormones were raging.
Using LSD as a ‘party drug’, and really any medicinal molecule that is abused, can cause great cracks in the psyche. These splits can either help us or destroy us. “That which can heal you can also kill,” said Michelle Corbin”. We all know someone who has taken one two many hits and never come back. It’s only unfortunate we don’t have the resources as a society in place to deal with overt mental illness that can on set quickly when one is not careful with their sacraments. While many hippies were abusing said substances that were still legal at the time, others were tuning into the healing power and sustenance that the LSD molecule invokes. “We were trying to refigure how society could operate for the good of the collective,” Harrison said. “Right now the world is in a rut and that is leading to even more suffering. This reality is screaming for a deeper, collective, feministic vision” to intervene, Harrison explained.
“Psychedelics tend to bing a very feminine energy. The great grandmother of wisdom, was invited into the atmosphere, and she began speaking, loudly, if you care to listen.
“Psychedelics themselves are feminine; arising from a deep need of earth and life and to know itself. Precious tools we humans can receive. Use it to investigate yourself to find where you’re hurting and what you need to heal. Then emerge as a new person, then turn to caring for the community.” -Kathleen Harrison
LSD allows the seeker to see invisible structure, the bones, that hold everything up what we assume is reality. They bring out the patterns. And once you know the way a system works, you can change it, but only then. Small parts of society can begin to make resonant changes.
Too much power can lead to psychopathy. We must ask ourselves, where am I not using my agency? Where am I giving it away?”
Michelle Corbin gave a powerful talk on healing toxic masculinity in a woke world. She spoke of the personal being political: the feminist possibilities of psychedelic praxis. “What’s if we could reframe rape as a men’s issue instead of a women’s problem,” Corbin said.
Top ten tips to end rape … if you’re a man.
“What would it mean to have a medicine that can cure toxic masculinity?,” Corbin said. Let them dig up their own rage and anger that keep these social and political construct machines going. Privilege can be blinding, and step one is admitting you have a problem, before the medicine can be used properly. This also begs the concept touched on at the beginning of this article; how to keep medicinal practices ethical and safe.
How can we, safely, use these visionary states to look at engrained structures and figure out how they can change? What habits and structures are within each of us that we haven’t yet looked at? How can we look at these dominating systems with different lenses? This is how you disassemble cultural programing. Why would anybody want to do that? Disassemble cultural programming…
So often the worth of the female voice is misinterpreted. If you’re too quiet you’re week. If you speak up too much its competition. Women must be careful what story you tell, especially concerning the mainstream. The opposite of mainstream is the underground, which one can also argue is feminine in nature: it’s horizontal like mycelium, it connects everyone and holds everything together. Nothing can take it down. The underground is a rich nourishing long term project that won’t disappear easily. It holds a different kind of information of not just goods but actual experience and information. It often transmits by oral tradition because it is illegal sometimes and not always published. For years, the understand has held and continues to hold these sorts of conversations about psychedelics and medicine, and it was suggested at this talk to continue with this sort of community intention.
Presenter Sara Reed was in the middle of her moving telling of how MDMA changed her life and the life of almost 2/3 of participants in a clinical study with MDMA and PTSD. Participants took MDMA in three controlled settings, with three meetings before and in between each session to progress with a licensed professional. At the end of the study 68% of participants no longer had PTSD.
Sara Reed also went through the study herself, so that she could better understand as a psychologist how to use this tool. She said that of the many lessons learned, what stuck out most was how powerful of a tool this could be for anybody who has gone through trauma. “It’s not about fixing yourself, instead learning to love the complexities within you. Home is where the performance stops and play begins with endless possibilities,” Reed said.
The BIG QUESTION that many researchers and presenters kept coming back to in all of their work was: “What are we learning here? That is what this project is about. “What is the awareness we can bring to this challenging future?”
So what have we learned here? First you must look at what your toxic assumptions are. Know what is out there to be gathered, gather it carefully. Get your roots tapped into where good information comes to you. Look at these gifts in this way, dive deep and be careful when you ascend: when the ordinary becomes non ordinary. Value community and your resources collectively within. The best way to become a master? Master yourself. And when you’re triggered, breath through it. Be relational, not reaction.
Thinking about what there is to learn from each other, and ourselves, let alone these molecules got me fired about up about the idea of learning about these sacraments more in depth WITH my community, local and beyond.
What does that look like? The last speaker of the night really bated my breath when she told us that it’s time to “stop sucking on the tit of our lies”. Jodie Evans explained that it’s time to stop supporting this “war economy” that is so convenient and easy for the white man, and instead to start promoting a peace economy. Which means investing in quality, resources, community conversations, connection, pleasure, interdependence, sharing and abundance. Kathleen encouraged us saying: one of the quickest ways to make these moves is to commit to a group practice with your community: Moral Mondays. She challenged us to for nine months get together with your people to discuss one topic or another, and let the vacuum of creation take hold. Make it your practice, and see what unfolds.
This gave me my idea. Every month, let’s pick a molecule, a sacrament, a compound, and let’s go in, together. Let us study and learn from each ogher. If say one said molecule of the week isn’t your thing, then you can just observe, that’s fine, too. Pick your participation and do what you can. For example, let’s say one week we pick tobacco. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start by all means. But you may want to carry some around with you, burn it like sage, feel it’s power and see if it does anything for you. One women on the panel shared how tobacco is one of the more sacred plants in history, often used with prayers and songs while “reading” people, blowing the smoke over their heads while receiving insights.
Let us talk to the plants, and let’s let them talk to us. Once we have worked our way collectively (either in person, or online, via chat video group, etc) we will then begin attaching molecules to issues. For example, maybe one evening we will pair a micro-dose with the issue of the political system construct, or perhaps whisky and ethics. We will decide together what next week’s practice will be, and we will learn as much as we can with the comfort of our chosen community. If you wish to do this in your town, with your people, please do. We’ll call it Going A-WAWL: “And What Are We Learning”
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” -Lilla, Aboriginal Elder and Activist to set out a challenge for people working towards social justice. At the end of the discuss evening talk on psychedelics, a ball of string was passed around, each participant instructed to take the string, wrap it around their wrist and then pass it on to the next person, over and over again until the room became a web. This string activity was to remind us that we are all held in the arms of the grandmother. Our actions affect everybody around us. Jodie Evans said “when we remember that we are all connected we act in a very different way. Each day waking up is a practice, wake up daily.”
Sitting with my own frustration and negativity, I was reminded that once we finally have the patience to sit with the darkness, what needs to happen will come. I woke up, again that day. And a little more everyday sinfe.
It rained today in California, bringing a sense of temporary relief and quiet. The air was cleaner. I felt a bit better. Deep breaths and open hearts blossomed on this season of gratitude. As we move into this dark season of what many consider to be “holy days”, I ask that we all be more mindful that while some people are celebrating, others are in mourning. There is space for both, to comfort and rejoice. Enjoy the moments of stillness while we can. Take a healthy dose of your own medicine. Don’t forget to spread some love where you would least expect it, please.
PS please forgive me and correct me if any information is mistaken or misquoted.