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Please check back in the coming weeks for a recap of Visionary Convergence.
Keynote Address: Evolving Traditions: Ancient Psychedelic Species Meet Modern Cultures — Plus the Changing Global Landscape for Psilocybin Mushrooms
Psychedelics in the Anthropocene: The Sixties was just a Dress Rehearsal
What tools or strategies offer an evolution of consciousness, with the rapidity required by our degenerating ecosystem? There is new and growing enthusiasm for experience with shamanic and psychedelic tools for transformation particularly when guided by an ancient system of ethics like Buddhism. Psychedelic exploration and Buddhist practice share a common concern: the liberation of the mind.
Popularized by Nobel Laureate chemist, Paul Crutzen, the Anthropocene describes the new geologic epoch that the Earth has moved into as a result of burning of fossil-fuels for energy. According to Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University, “the Anthropocene will likely represent one of the six biggest extinctions in our planet’s history.”
Typically, as people age and draw closer to the end of their lives, they reach back to the spiritual tradition within which they were raised seeking solace, and diminishment of existential fear. In a similar way, as humanity faces the diminishing life-support systems of the planet, there is underway a massive search for meaning, spiritual fulfillment, and ultimately the empathy and inspiration to be of service to life itself. Could psychedelics come to be regarded as a cultural and ecological imperative for our survival?
The Potential of Sacred Plants for Psychotherapy and Personal Development
In appropriate ceremonial contexts, sacred plants can be potent catalysts for psychotherapeutic change and personal growth by inducing powerful non-ordinary states of consciousness. This presentation will review case stories of patients that overcame psychological challenges such as difficult grief, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance dependencies by participating in rituals with sacred plants.
Therapeutic mechanisms that facilitate such change processes will be explored. These include catalyzation of body oriented processes, anti-craving effects, psycho-emotional processes, insights, spiritual processes, overcoming of denial mechanisms and facilitation of positive psychological resources and social support. The quality of preparation for the experience, the experience itself, as well as the capacity of the patient for integration, and the therapeutic support provided for integration are factors that can significantly influence treatment outcomes.
Eleusis Reimagined: Embracing European Shamanic Traditions in Modern Community Rituals
The widespread destruction of shamanic plant knowledge in Europe presents challenges for those who wish to carry on these traditions in contemporary life. What can we learn from researchers whose work illuminates the sacred role of psychoactive plans in European cultures? How can this knowledge inform the creation of new rites of passage and community rituals? This talk will examine insights from two powerful works of scholarship; The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries, by Carl Ruck, R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann and Blaise Daniel Staples; and Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess: Secrets of Eleusis, by Carl Ruck.
Both books argue that the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were practiced for two millennia in Greece, were group rituals that included the ingestion of ergot fungi. Participants in these gatherings learned to live in harmony with the natural cycles of life and death and the forces of transformation and renewal. Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, who first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) from ergot alkaloids in 1938, believed that, “Only a new Eleusis could help mankind to survive the threatening catastrophe in Nature and human society and bring a new period of happiness.” Have we begun to reimagine a new Eleusis, and if so, what would these ceremonies look like?
Film Screening: Ayahuasca: Operación Ignorancia (Operation Ignorance) working title
In 2009 the Chilean Police Department violently raided an Ayahuasca Ritual in the center Manto Wasi in Santiago de Chile. The public prosecutor was on on personal mission to eradicate everything related to this mind-altering concoction – a long legal battle started… Rumi and Danae, accused for endangering public health and drug trafficking, decided to fight for justice, demonstrating that ayahuasca is a valid therapeutic tool. Their struggle to overcome the heavy accusations by the media and justice system and the social stigma around ayahuasca is visualized in this heart-stirring documentary…
Iboga: Bwiti vs. the West
Iboga is used since millennia in Central West Africa by the Pygmies and Bwiti religions in rites of passage and for healing. In 1962 an American heroin dependent man, Howard Lotsof, discovered that after ingesting a pure extract made from the rootbark of the Tabernanthe Iboga plant, his opiate withdrawal and craving vanished. An underground and Western medical model for ibogaine use emerged, very distinct from the traditional ceremonial context. Today, Ibogaine is a prescription medication in New Zealand. It is illegal in about eight countries, the United States being one of them. This presentation explains, supported by audiovisual footage, the context of use of iboga in the Bwiti and compares it with the Western treatment model, emphasizing aspects such as safety, social support and community participation, preparation, etc.
Life After AYA2014: Challenges of the Globalization of Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca has spread beyond the frontiers of the Amazon, shaping its place in a globalized world. This process however poses a number of challenges that require a meticulous and collaborative treatment. In this framework, the ICEERS Foundation organized the World Ayahuasca Conference, Ibiza in September of 2014 (AYA2014), aimed to gather the international ayahuasca community as well as key people working in public policy reform and dialogue about these challenges and ways to catalyze a constructive future for ayahuasca in our globalized world. One of the outcomes of the conference was the establishment of the Ibiza Expert Committee for the Regularization of Psychoactive Ethnobotanicals, composed of lawyers, legal strategists, academics and drug policy reform experts. This presentation will provide more insight into the challenges and our strategies and advances in addressing them since AYA2014.
Clinical Development of Plant Medicines and
Plant-Derived Semi-Synthetic Compounds as Regulated by FDA
Many of the medicines and drugs we are familiar with originally come from plants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates botanical drug products intended to affect the structure and function of the body as either dietary supplements or as drugs, depending on claims made by the sponsor developing them for marketing. Drugs claiming to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent a specific disease must go through clinical trials to definitively demonstrate safety and efficacy. As a pharmaceutical sponsor, the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) intends to develop 3,4-methylenedixoymethamphetamine (MDMA) and marijuana, both Schedule 1 Controlled Substances, into prescription medicines to treat chronic psychiatric disorders. Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D., Clinical Research Scientist of MAPS, will present on a comparison of the clinical development of MDMA, a chemically modified compound derived from sassafras, and smoked marijuana, both of which are currently in an international series of Phase 2 clinical trials for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Preliminary data from multiple Phase 2 clinical trials with MDMA will be reviewed.
Reflections on the Entrance of Indigenous Peoples into the
Urban Circuit of Ayahuasca Consumption in Brazil
This presentation makes a critical reflection on the entrance of Brazilian Indians into the contemporary urban circuit of ayahuasca consumption. I describe processes of contact by different indigenous populations such as Kaxinawa, Guarani, Apurinã, Kuntanawa, and Yawanawa with Brazilian ayahuasca religions and neo-ayahuasca practitioners. I note the insistence by some of these groups that their own ancestors were responsible for teaching Raimundo Irineu Serra, the legendary founder of the Santo Daime religion, about ayahuasca. I examine how such discussions have entered into the arena of public debate, and try to understand indigenous peoples’ demands to participate in the legal process of recognizing ayahuasca as immaterial cultural heritage by Brazil’s National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN). I analyze how the entrance of indigenous people into the urban ayahuasca circuit, and the participation of non-Indians in ayahuasca ceremonies in villages in the Amazon, is reconfiguring the religious domain of Brazilian ayahuasca religions.
Ayahuasca, Psychiatric Distress and the Meaning of Life: Results from a Pilot Study in Peru
Rigorous scientific investigation into the healing powers of plant medicines is a necessary step for eventual legalization. Dr. Adams, along with Drs. Charles Grob, Dennis McKenna, collected data from 18 participants who attended a week-long retreat in the Sacred Valley of Peru, which included 3 Ayahuasca ceremonies. Psychiatric symptoms of distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, et al) were assessed, as were measures of existential meaning and purpose in life, before and after the conference, as well as 3 and 6 months later. Eight of the 9 distress dimensions showed increasing improvements at each successive time point. Perhaps the most dramatic result was a 52% drop in depression scores from baseline by the 6-month mark. All existential measures improved, but most of these were not statistically significant, the one notable exception being a modest-but-significant increase in the Death Acceptance dimension, which refers to the absence of fear and anxiety about death and the acceptance of death as a natural aspect of life. Participants were also asked to describe their experiences over the 3 ceremonies and what they felt they gained. These results, as well as possible mechanisms for the results will be discussed, as well as a few individual cases.
A Higher Power: What can ayahuasca communities learn from 12-step fellowships?
What can the ayahuasca-drinking communities learn from the successes and shortcomings of the 12-step fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous? Long before ayahuasca circles populated the spiritual imaginaries of North America, 12-step groups served as safe containers wherein individuals could encounter a Higher Power and find healing in a spiritual community. And while maintaining its independence from modern allopathic medicine, the 12-step movement has made more progress than any other new religious movement in terms of being accepted by mainstream medicine, collaboratively generating research that demonstrates its benefits, and receiving referrals from medical professionals. Drawing on my participant-observation-based research conducted over the last 10 years with different ayahuasca-drinking communities and 12-step recovery groups, I offer some suggestions for how ayahuasqueros might wish to develop their organizational structure and spiritual practices in order to most benefit the communities they serve.
Yagé as Traditional Medicine among the Kamentsa of Alto Putumayo, Colombia
This presentation aims to enhance our understanding of the diversity of ayahuasca use by exploring less internationally known modalities. It will focus on the therapeutic use of yagé (ayahuasca) from the perspective of the Kamentsa indigenous medical tradition of the Sibundoy Valley, of the Alto Putumayo of Colombia. It will offer an overview about both the ceremonies and the core considerations that inform treatment approaches. Philosophical underpinnings that are different than other lineages will be discussed such as the lack of emphasis on diet, use of purgatives, and the specific style of the limpia (cleansing). It will also argue that including the perspective of traditional healers may offer an important contribution to facilitate understanding of ayahuasca’s mechanism of action and therapeutic potentials. In an effort to bridge worldviews and enhance understanding and access to ayahuasca treatment, a brief overview of the ATOP (Ayahuasca Therapeutic Outcome Project) will be offered. This presentation is based on the presenter’s fifteen years of experience with ayahuasca and seven-year ongoing apprenticeship with Taita Juan Agreda Chindoy, a Kamentsa traditional healer. Taita Juan is perhaps best known internationally for having been detained by U.S. Customs officials and charged with possession with intent to distribute a Schedule 1 drug (ayahuasca) in 2010.
Ayahuasca in the Media
Like a comet illuminating a night sky, ayahuasca is bursting open the minds of millions. Its effects are broad and far-reaching, and its popularity is soaring. Media outlets, from TV programs to magazines and newspapers, are covering this phenomenon, from the sacred to the absurd. Ayahuasca has been featured in National Geographic Adventure, Time Magazine, Newsweek, CNN, Vanity Fair, FOX News, The Washington Post, Discovery Channel, in at least a couple of full-length feature films, numerous documentaries, and in hundreds of other media venues. Click onto YouTube and you will find a wide variety of ayahuasca-related videos. Hundreds of web sites dedicated to ayahuasca have sprung up. In today’s parlance, ayahuasca has gone viral. The spirit of ayahuasca is reaching out in all directions, capturing hearts and minds with its siren song. We’ll explore the phenomenon of ayahuasca in the media, and delve into how and why this is happening now.
Hacking The Cosmic Motherboard
Ayahuasca, that profound plant potion from antiquity, enables one who journeys to hack the cosmic motherboard, to delve into existence beyond thought, ideation, definition or form, that trans-linguistic state prior to all programming, belief, or wired-in notions. With ayahuasca, we get to choose the psycho-neurological programs by which we live. Ayahuasca liberates the drinker from sick, archaic, manipulative, and fear-based programming, and enables them to enter into life as a free, liberated, spirit-imbued being.
Finding Our Way In: Healing with plant wisdom
Ancient plant wisdom has played a role in healing for millenniums, but what does it really mean to heal with plant medicine
When we form relationships with the plants through trust and intention, we can begin to explore our inner realms and personal truth. When we immerse ourselves into the visionary world with intention, when we open to interpretations and when we dance with meaning, the plants begin to teach, sharing their wisdom. They can help to unearth and unravel internal blocks so we can begin to explore their origins and the effect they have on our wholeness and well being. These revelations and our own awareness of the process can powerfully foster empowerment as we begin to play an active role in our healing and transformation. Merging mind, body and spirit through shamanic approaches, intention and relationship to plant spirit, we can begin to see, feel, live and be with more love and more presence. We can step forward into our truest selves, and like the ready bud, we bloom.
Psychiatric Renaissance –
Psychedelics and the Emergence of Soul Centered Medicine
The resurgence of psychedelic research is underway, and it is heralding the formal integration of entheogens into the future practice of psychiatry. These traditional and contemporary medicines are now being proven as effective treatment arms for many of the conditions where mainstream psychiatric treatments fall significantly short. In this talk we will discuss the current trends in research, outline best practices for psychedelic success, and share future potentials of its formal inclusion into the medical mainstream.
Kitchen Chemists & Capitalism: Questioning Psychedelic Dogmas and the Exceptionalism of Ayahuasca
The psychedelic resurgence has crafted and perpetuated a number of memes that have subsequently become embedded in the fabric of public psychedelic discourse. These ideas are frequently treated as truisms with little to no discussion about their validity or legitimacy. Despite a lack of structural analysis, notions of utilizing psychedelics to effect “paradigm shifts” are a dime a dozen, while direct action appears largely absent.
As certain self-styled experts proclaim that ayahuasca should never be drunk without a “shaman,” insist that only whole plant “medicines” are legitimate, and push for new psychedelic markets—all while ignoring the implications of commodifying these plants and experiences within the contexts of capitalism and industrialization–public discourse about what these compounds and experiences have to offer is shrinking. Meanwhile, thousands of people grow and extract their own psychedelics, brew their own ayahuasca, and eschew many of the attitudes fast becoming the “mainstream” ideologies of the so-called “psychedelic community.”
Examining this growing rift necessitates questioning claims to power, modalities of engagement, and processes of commodification. If one of the most empowering aspects of psychedelic experiences is their ability to shift perspectives, then why does so much of the prevalent psychedelic discourse reflect the dominant cultures from which it originates?
Consumption or Contribution?
The commodification of psychedelics as colonialization of plant medicines
The commodification of psychedelics, and the desire to quantify their role, stands in direct contrast to most psychedelic experiences. The natural tendency for scientific consumer-driven culture toward reductionism encounters dissonance when interacting with the value and promise of plant medicines. If we are to move toward a more holistic, integrated approach to medicines, we must examine how these medicines are now situated in our society. We must ask ourselves if we want plant medicines to be controlled and regulated within the confines of status quo professionalized healthcare, under the auspices of the hospital or the profit-generating clinic. Placing these medicines in the context of professionalized medicine, in a consumer capitalist materialist society, jeopardizes their integrity and threatens that they will be colonialized, perpetuating historic patterns that disenfranchise and disempower. In this scenario, we may be risking the subjugation of the plants in much the same way we have historically subjugated racial populations and entire cultures.
Giving up one’s own and our collective power and agency – whether to the medical establishment or to the shaman – is a betrayal of plant medicines. The pathogen movement – viewing addiction as a disease, akin to physiologic illnesses such as cancer – is increasingly nihilistic, inward looking but rarely reflective, and is dissociated from concepts of, and struggles for, social justice, equality and human rights. Despite our intention to heal, to seek expanded experiences, and for social transformation, however authentic it may be, if enacted within a corrupt model, it will yield corrupt results.
Plant medicines open mind and spirit, and offer new possibilities and horizons. They invite us to reimagine ourselves in the world around us, but societal structures work toward the consolidation of social power, and the commodification of tools, substances, and rituals. These two pathways operate at odds with one another. How can we re-imagine the use of psychedelics away from the external culture that is destroying the planet and our own humanity?
Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World: Finding and Using Local Medicinal Plants
Long before the days of modern medicine and the invention of synthetic chemicals, people used plants to prevent and cure diseases. Ancient civilizations understood how to use plant medicines strategically in order to treat illnesses ranging from the common cold to life-threatening diseases such as cancer. This wisdom was passed down orally from one generation to the next, but as indigenous cultural values have been replaced with western ideologies, many of these practices have been lost, or at least forgotten. In this presentation, I will discuss traditional uses of plant medicines that can be found right here in Southern California, common plants that are found all throughout the western U.S. Some of the plants I will review were used for physical healing and others for ceremonial purposes, including spiritual healing and manifestation. As we work towards greater ecological harmony and healing, it is essential that we reintegrate traditional wisdom into our lives. Plants have the power to facilitate this process.
A Dialogue About Ayahuasca
In service to the community of people participating in Visionary Convergence, Jeremy will join us via a live Skype feed, and will answer questions and offer his views in an interactive dialogue on the current ayahuasca landscape, including risks, opportunities and contradictions. Twenty years after the initial publication of “The Cosmic Serpent”, and ten years after “Intelligence in Nature”, Jeremy is a wealth of knowledge about the Amazonian plant experience and about the situation of indigenous Amazonian people. As an anthropologist, he has traveled extensively in the Peruvian Amazon, in his work as projects coordinator for Swiss NGO “Nouvelle Planète”, backing indigenous initiatives to bring land titling, bilingual education, health services, legal training and sustainable activities such as fish farming and forestry to indigenous communities. Empowering the indigenous people of the Amazon in their struggle to preserve their territories and cultures includes taking their plant knowledge seriously.
Epigenetics and the House of Spirits
Drawing upon his experience with ayahuasca shamanism at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual in Peru, and upon modern medical research, Dr. Tafur will present his ideas regarding the part epigenetics might play in spiritual and emotional healing. Epigenetic imprinting plays a significant role in emotional attachment and neglect and also demonstrates a significant role in a number of mental health problems. A valuable access point could be to view the genetic code itself as the seat of the soul and epigenetics, the soul’s living room. Expanding this metaphor, the living room may extend into a kind of House of Spirits. We know that the epigenetics are altered by emotional experiences and by altered states of consciousness. Perhaps the epigenetics represent, at some level, a material target for shamanic practices.
The Role of Spiritual Healing in Modern Healthcare
Drawing upon his experience with ayahuasca shamanism at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual in Peru, Dr. Tafur will describe his vision for the role of spiritual healing in modern healthcare. Ayahuasca tourism is itself a response to the growing healthcare crisis of Western culture. Aspects of this crisis are rooted in an overly materialistic and ego-driven world view. This crisis exists at a cultural level and can be transformed at the individual level. The individual must be guided to remember how disconnected thoughts and feelings contribute to medical illness. Dr. Tafur will describe his theory on the spiritual risks of our current materialistic culture as they relate to the increasing prevalence of stress-related disease, mental health problems and psychosomatic illness. He will also discuss how these problems can be addressed through spiritual healing techniques, as in ayahuasca ceremony. Spiritual healing reminds us that expanded consciousness, an open mind and an open heart are all crucial to our vitality.
Intention and Integration–The Alchemical Gold of Plant Medicine Wisdom
What I have learned after treating and following up with literally hundreds of patient/journeyers over the past ten years is that conscious and sustained attention to Continuing Care or Integration is the SINGLE best predictor for a successful or positive outcome for those using the psychedelic plant medicine Ibogaine in the treatment of addiction, as well as for psycho-spiritual transformation.
I will give a brief history of Ibogaine and touch on Ibogaine’s current status as a rising star in addiction treatment. We will explore the importance of Intention ( set and setting) and Integration ) as key ( and often overlooked) elements of a comprehensive treatment protocol. So often, well-meaning providers give only lip-service to follow-up care and therapeutic services and reduce real Continuing Care to ‘after-care,’ which can imply that it is an after-thought or in some cases an ‘after-party’! If we agree that our patients long-term well-being is our primary intention, then we must commit ourselves to a long-term relationship with them that does not end with their departure from our centers or clinics.
We will discuss what constitutes Continuing Care: What are the essential elements of a successful Continuing Care program? How can we best serve those who seek our medicine, support, and counsel? For so many the ibogaine journey is a life changing, occasionally overwhelming experience that after years of addiction can not only be beautiful and transforming but also frightening and dramatic. A focused program of Continuing Care will include an acknowledgement of this profound and transformational experience as well as offering a panoply of tools to process, to understand, and to integrate the lessons learned with this sacred medicine. We will address the interface between the powerful ibogaine journey (i.e. finding one’s own language to retain and integrate the experience), and what I call addiction treatment 101 (i.e nurturing and developing a support system, identifying triggers, development of coping skills to overcome said triggers, and making powerful and often difficult lifestyle changes).
We will talk about the unique ibogaine ‘window of well-being’ the typically 8-12 week period following treatment, which opens remarkable access both to our inner angels and demons, along with a new-found facility to fearlessly meet and learn from them.
Entheogenic First Aid: How we minimize risk and optimize outcomes
Julie D. Megler is a family and psychiatric nurse practitioner who will review safe practices to support the physical and emotional body when working with medicinal and visionary plants. Julie will engage the audience in a discussion about important health considerations, as well as suggest self-care techniques for before, during, and after a plant journey. From the moment we consider entering into communication with these ethnobotanical realms, we have engaged in a ceremony: it begins with our preparation and continues into a lifetime of integration. Anecdotal reports suggest that much of Western culture has an unconscious disregard of the body. A magical aspect of plant work is that it offers the opportunity to relearn how to listen to the body, as well as how to engage it in a conversation. The purpose of this talk is to familiarize individuals with mindful self care practices to enhance emotional and physical well-being when engaging in visionary plant work.
Who is Cannabis? Her Persona & Role in Personal & Cultural Experience
Human cultures tend to perceive powerful species as beings, and this being—Marijuana, Cannabis, Bhang—is one who has been in close relationship with many cultures of the world for at least several thousand years. Psychoactive Cannabis is widely felt as feminine. We might ask, “What is she doing here? Friend, comforter, She-who-softens, She-who-brings-joy, or She-who-obscures?” In these terms, Kat will examine who Cannabis spirit is and what she offers our culture in these times.
The Science of Ayahuasca: Philosophical & Political Challenges
This presentation is based on an article authored by Kenneth Tupper and Beatriz Labate, “Ayahuasca, Psychedelic Studies and Health Sciences: The Politics of Knowledge and Inquiry into an Amazonian Plant Brew” (Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 2014). It applies ideas from the field of science and technology studies (STS) to consider how ayahuasca is understood and represented as an object of modern scientific inquiry. It explores how the indigenous and mestizo concept of “plant teacher,” or the more instrumental notion of psychedelics as “cognitive tools,” may impact our understandings of knowledge. This leads to questions about whether scientists engaged in ayahuasca research should be expected to have personal experiences with the brew, and how personal experience may be perceived to help or hinder the objectivity of their research. It concludes with some brief reflections on the politics of ayahuasca research and impediments to academic knowledge production in the field of psychedelic studies.
Ayahuasca clinical research in the U.S.: Can we meet FDA and DEA regulations?
Ayahuasca has been studied in well designed clinical studies conducted in Brazil and Spain. These studies demonstrate that ayahuasca tea is both safe and effective for people with depression and alcohol/drug addictions. Unlike some other countries, ayahuasca is considered a controlled drug in the United States. There is much to learn about ayahuasca’s effects on the brain and the mind. However, in order for physicians and scientists to conduct legal ayahuasca research in the U.S., each study requires Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as well as Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. While daunting, it is possible to meet these regulations.
Dr. Standish’s lecture will describe progress over the last decade in studying the alkaloid content of ayahuasca teas used in South and North American ceremonies, studying the botany and horticulture of the two most commonly used plants for making ayahuasca tea (B. caapi and P. viridis) and developing a standardized ayahuasca medicine suitable for clinical research and obtaining IRB, FDA and DEA approval to conduct human research. In January 2015, Dr. Standish submitted an FDA IND for a dose escalation study of ayahuasca in healthy adults as a first step towards trials of ayahuasca in moderate recurrent depression and studies of the effects of ayahuasca on the brain using functional MR imaging. This lecture will present the DEA’s and FDA’s response and the work that must be done to move forward with ayahuasca human clinical research in the United States.
Ayahuasca and Consciousness Science
The potent effect of Ayahuasca on the inner experience of consciousness poses several questions including:
- What is the nature of reality?
- What is the nature of mind?
- Are the worlds and dimensions that are revealed during the ayahuasca experience ‘real’ or only ‘in the head’?
This presentation will summarize recent scientific evidence from physics and neuroscience that address these questions.
Open Source Reality: Emergence of a Meta-Myth
As complexity continues grow, the evolution of consciousness imparts new relationships to our understanding of reality, revealing the emergence of a new human story. Let’s explore an open source approach to humanity’s collective knowledge, and remix our narratives to create deeply layered allegories that recontextualize reality. How can we imagine an evolving meta-myth that influences systemic change through transmedia storytelling?
Language governs all facets of life, but embodies more than the written and spoken word. It manifests through the conscious and unconscious mind, represented as numbers, played as music, coded as digital software, and much more. So, how do we shed light on some of the inadequacies inherent in our current consciousness model and provide alternates?
Let’s re-code the matrix through active participation and questioning reality. How, what and why is it happening? What is the link between consciousness, nature, visionary plants and language?
How can we encourage shifts in perspective and enhance our collective ability to communicate with the Universe? I suggest that we be curious, ask questions, trust our instincts, and rewrite the rules before we know them. Play with the malleable world. We can then move toward mysticism, wisdom and practicality existing in harmony.
Film Screening: HUACHUMA
Mitch Schultz (director of DMT: The Spirit Molecule & MYTHAPHI founder) and Aubrey Marcus (aubreymarcus.com & Onnit founder) collaborated to bring you this mesmerizing experience. A group of friends visit Peru to learn about the sacred plant medicine Huachuma, also known as San Pedro cactus. The ceremonial use of Huachuma for healing, magical, and divining purposes has been a continuous tradition in Perú for well over 3,000 years and still continues today at Spirit Quest in the Amazon basin. Step into the world of HUACHUMA.
Legal Cannabis Saving Lives
To date, twenty-four states and the District of Columbia allow for the medical use of cannabis. Indeed, recent years have seen a renaissance in physician recommended cannabis treatments and their utility to treat conditions like epilepsy, cancer, PTSD, and neuropathic pain. Both the scientific literature and popular media have highlighted exceptional patient outcomes as a result of cannabis-based treatments. Additionally, though the field of cannabinoid medicine is in its infancy, some of its potential is already subject to patent protection including the federal government’s patent for cannabinoids in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. This talk will highlight real life cases of individuals whose health outcomes have been radically improved by medical cannabis use and frame the issue in its political and legal context. Video presentations of patients and their families will accompany the presentation.
New Regulatory Approaches to Plant Medicine
It has been forty five years since President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs and despite billions of dollars spent, tens of thousands of direct and indirect human casualties, and hundred of thousands of Americans incarcerated for non-violent crimes, the illegal drug business has never been more profitable or more bloody. This uninformed and radical approach to drug policy has, until recently, relegated whole plant medicine to the margins of scientific and social acceptability. Thankfully, new regulatory approaches to plant medicine are beginning to provide opportunities to practitioners, patients, and researchers to reclaim natural medicines that have been in the human pharmacopeia for millennia. This talk will focus upon recent changes in legislation and research protocols that have allowed for regulated access to cannabinoid, psilocybin, and MDMA therapies.
Cannabis is a Superfood: Opportunities and Challenges As Cannabis Becomes Today’s Hottest Medicinal and Culinary Herb
As more and more Americans have legal access to fine gourmet cannabis, it’s emerging as the hottest culinary herb to hit the scene in ages. Chefs and home cooks from coast to coast are playing with its wide range of flavors and experimenting with infusions and tinctures for the best effects. Cannabis is having its day in the sun as people discover its medicinal and nutritional benefits and diverse flavor profiles, but challenges remain. Because the industry is still largely unregulated, consumers may have no idea how their cannabis is grown (all too often with lawn chemicals) and processed (all too often with butane). Edibles, a huge chunk of the Colorado cannabis market, are getting a bad rap for being too strong and improperly dosed. Consumers need to be educated about how cannabis affects them differently when it’s eaten rather than smoked or vaped. And we must advocate for sustainably grown, responsibly processed cannabis—now. Those of us who love the plant must stand up for her evolution as a natural medicine and superfood—without adulteration—just as we fought for organic food standards in the 1990s. We can preserve this sacred plant’s spirit from over-manipulation, but advocacy and education are key.
The Sacred Mushroom: The Making of a Medicine Woman
After 8 years of devoted shamanic study and practice, the mushroom began calling me with urgency. What ensued was a year of dedicated, monthly shamanic immersions into the realms of the mushroom in the dark of night while outside in nature. In this talk I will discuss the cumulative evolution of healing, awakening and shamanic training that is possible under the auspices of the intelligences encountered through the portal of the mushroom. Engaging the mushroom in this way means leaving the rickety scaffolding of one’s personal history and embracing the multidimensional coordinates of a life infused with magic.
Sometimes it is nature that initiates us, calling the seeker to higher knowledge and secret wisdom. Nature beckons the burgeoning medicine man or woman to deepen their practice and open fully to spirit intelligences that assist in wondrous ways. This transformative process is ancient, spanning time with no regard to what the rules of the day may dictate. The mushroom is soul medicine and if one’s soul is called to surrender to the unseen teachers of this ancient sacrament, life will never be the same.
Integration: Rooting the plant teachings in daily life
The afterglow of a positive ayahuasca experience subsides sooner or later, whether changes install themselves organismically in us or we witness in dismay the creeping in of the same old repetitive patterns. But what makes a difference? How can we consciously work towards the embodiment of the plant teachings, the healing, the openings gained?
Informed by my clinical experience on the crossroads of entheogens and therapeutic change, in this presentation I discuss the process of integration, its stages, challenges and pitfalls, and offer concrete steps and alternatives to supporting the “building of bridges” into ordinary reality. Guidelines are offered to identify when the process may require specialized support, and what are some of the available options in these cases.
Considering Integration In Advance of the Psychedelic Experience
Considering healthy integration of psychedelic experiences as something to be addressed before the experience begins, empowering those who choose to work with psychedelics and creating safer paradigms for the daily exercise of cognitive liberty on a personal and social level.
New regulations and laws are taking effect in the United States as marijuana becomes accepted as a legal medicinal and recreational substance. But are public education efforts keeping up with the spirit of legalization? Tax revenues collected have dedicated funds, specifically for public education, how are these funds being applied? What is the educational message being funded by revenues from the sales of marijuana either medicinally or recreationally? and where are the opportunities to have an effect on the messaging, development and institution of curriculums related to this new direction of legalization? Is the current curriculum appropriate and relevant to marijuana as a legal medicinal or recreational plant?
The Evolution of Addiction Recovery: Ayahuasca as Catalyst for the 12 Steps
The preamble to the 12 Steps as they are originally found begins this way: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our Path”.
Undoubtedly, the key word in this sentence is “thoroughly” , and it is also the most elusive. I think that many might agree that the 12 Steps have the power to dramatically and beautifully transform a life when they are fully embraced. But finding a sufficient amount of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to actually take these Steps in their entirety is almost impossibly hard even for those most desperately in need of them.
This Presentation will look at how Ayahuasca can, when carefully guided, act as a powerful catalyst for deep and effective 12 Step Recovery work. The observations, comments, and insights are rooted in my own personal recovery experience from opiates, alcohol, and cocaine that began May 9th, 2009, after more than 2 decades of bona-fide addiction. I have been fully immersed in the ritual use of Ayahuasca, and in 12 Step Process and Fellowship for 6 years now and have discovered them to be perfect, natural allies in the quest for enduring sobriety and serenity.
This presentation is intended to consider how the psychedelic community would approach ‘public education’ through channels now being funded with legalization revenues, meeting public education on a broad level within the spirit of legalization, explaining traditions of culture in relation to the plant sciences, mental explorations in relation to physical effects.
Magic, Mystery and Our Daily Lives
In this presentation, we will discuss the benefits of expanded consciousness through the use of sacred plant medicines and explore some ways we can extend this awareness into our daily lives. Many times challenging material comes up in our experiences. We may cry, purge or revisit a past trauma. We will explore how doing integration work, outside of ceremony with a therapist can help you to deepen the experience and gain clarity so you can extend the altered state into your daily life.
The actual personal growth work happens in-between the altered states of awareness. How do you take what you receive in the visionary experience and apply that to your relationships and everything you experience in the material world? We will explore the importance of psychotherapy and why it is helpful. It has been said that working with Ayahuasca one time can be like going to therapy for 10 years. But what occurs for some people may need processing to bring it together. The actual sacred ceremony fulfills something therapy cannot and vice versa. We will explore the advantage of the magic and mystery of medicinal plant teachers and therapy working together.
Vicki will also give a brief explanation of her Santo Daime experience over the years and will share how she got to where she is in her personal life, professional life and how she came to pursue and obtain the legalization of her Santo Daime practice in California.
Erotic Vines: Plant teachers + Tantric Initiations = Authentic Relationships
This presentation is founded upon Yalila’s PhD research on the shamanic tradition of vegetalismo and the erotic intelligence of Amazonian plant teachers. When our energy centers are purified and activated by plant teachers, our daily experience of sexuality can be expanded. This multi-dimensional transformation involving physical sensations, verbal teachings, and/or visuals can occur on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level.
Yalila will discuss erotic intelligence and tantric initiations; how plant teachers can heal sexual trauma and enhance sexual vitality; and how entheogens can teach the mind to be in service to the heart. This talk will also encourage us to think about what is possible for our intimate relationships when the brilliance of the mind is aligned with the power of the heart and how we can join in manifesting a vision that highlights embodied wisdom, empowered sexual liberation for all beings and that affirms the erotic nature of reality.
Panel: Ayahuasca and Women’s Health
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD
Ayahuasca offers distinct contributions to the field of women’s health. At the same time, specific factors should be considered to insure that women are well informed of ways that their experiences with ayahuasca may be optimized or hindered. Specific topics such as ayahuasca and menstruation, safety measures, contra-indications, and after-care will be addressed from multiple perspectives. In addition, a brief overview of general topics such as the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for eating disorders, fertility, and other women’s health conditions will be covered. This presentation will offer an interactive dialogue between various practitioners and experts in the field. The goal is to offer a well-rounded overview that includes the perspective of different indigenous traditions as well as the lived experience of non-indigenous women that have an established relationship with the tea.
Panel: Forces Behind the Movement – Presentation of Organizations
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD
A representative from each organization will describe their organization, their mission and provide a status on current activities.
The Aware Project – Ashley Booth
Botanical Dimensions – Kathleen Harrison
ERIE – Larry Norris
GITA – John Harrison
ICEERS – Ben De Loenen
MAPS – Berra Yazar-Klosinski
Nierika – Anja Loizaga-Velder
Women’s Visionary Congress – Annie Oak
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD
Panel: Plant Teachers and Entheogenic Learning
Moderator: Rachel Kann
While much of the interest in the potential benefits of entheogenic plants, fungi and other psychedelic substances has been on their healing or therapeutic properties, this panel will focus on the potential of these substances in learning and education. In indigenous cultures it is commonly believed that one can learn from spirit “teachers” within the plants or mushrooms. With the advent of psychedelic drug use in the modern era, it was claimed that substances such as LSD, psilocybin or mescaline could enhance cognition, stimulate creativity and expand one’s mind. We will explore how there may be educational benefits to the entheogenic or psychedelic experience, and how these kinds of learning might be integrated into modern concepts of knowledge and understanding.
Panel: Shadows, Darts & Spirits: shamanism & the darkness not typically discussed
Moderator: Ayasmina Flores, JD
This panel presentation will speak to dangers that may arise from unsafe use of plant medicines, vulnerabilities that may arise when in the effects of plant medicines, susceptibility to influence and abuse, including sexual misconduct, and practices that utilize plant medicines for harm.
Panel: Shamanism: Icaros & Sound Healing
Moderator: Ayasmina Flores, JD
Icaros, sacred songs of the plants, sound vibrations, and music as mechanisms for facilitating shamanic experience, effecting healing, clearing negative energies, will be discussed by the panelists.
Panel: Visionary Art – I
Moderator: Sitaramaya Sita
Visionary artists will discuss what it means to paint from a visionary perspective, how their visionary experiences influence their work and how medicine emerges through art.
Panel: Visionary Art – II
Moderator: Amanda Sage
Visionary artists will discuss what it means to paint from a visionary perspective, how their visionary experiences influence their work and how medicine emerges through art.