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Mazatec Perspectives on the Globalization of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Mazatec Perspectives on the Globalization of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Maria Sabina’s birthday, commemorated on July 22nd, presents an opportunity to center decolonial perspectives when honoring her life and the Mazatec community. This article, excerpted from Psychedelic Justice: Towards a Diverse and Equitable Psychedelic Culture, sheds light on the profound significance of Mazatec perspectives on the globalization of psilocybin mushrooms, while also acknowledging the historical wrongs committed against their community. It emphasizes the vital need to rectify the injustices that occurred as a result of Western exploitation and appropriation of sacred Mazatec knowledge. By recognizing and addressing these wrongs, we can foster a more inclusive and respectful celebration of Maria Sabina’s legacy—one that amplifies the Mazatec community’s voices, reclaims their cultural heritage, and seeks to restore dignity and agency to those who have been historically marginalized.

This article is the result of conversations not only between its authors but also with Mazatec friends in the region who have at different times expressed their concern about the “little ones who sprout from the Earth,” especially in the face of an emergent psychedelic capitalism. To them, we give our respects.

In the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, health problems are treated by mushroom healers, suction doctors, body cleansers, and snake-oil shamans who remove illness from people using various medicinal preparations such as mushrooms, morning glory seeds, shepherdess sage, cow’s tongue, rabbit yam, deaf man’s yam, hangover mint, and so on. In this study, we will focus on the so-called “magic mushrooms,” known as Ndí Xijtho or “little things that sprout from the ground” in the Mazatec language. In order to appreciate these people’s connection with the sacred mushroom over the past cen- tries, one must understand the relationship that various Mazatec families maintain with Ndi Xijtho as a means of healing and divination.

The Ndi Xijtho help the Mazatec communicate with the Creator-being who gave life to humanity; the same being who cures them from evil and pain. Ndi Xijtho are sacred to the Mazatec because they represent the strongest expression of the Mazatec spirit. The mushrooms are always used in pairs in Mazatec ceremonies, representing the duality and fluidity between the masculine and the feminine, between father and mother. In turn, Ndi Xijtho is the body of God and allows the deity to take possession of the body of those who ingest it: God’s blood flows in their veins, God’s saliva makes them speak aloud during the ceremony; the sacred mushroom are the means by which they speak with God and other beings of the sacred world, Són’nde. It is the Ndi Xijtho who show them the right path and who give them good luck. They are not consumed for pleasure or fancy, but because there is a need to heal. The mushrooms are medicine for the Mazatecs, and this ritual is so sacred that it can only be carried out on certain days of the week.

Regarding the ritual use of the sacred mushroom, the ceremonies follow the agricultural, religious, and festival calendar of the Mazatecs. In the twenty-day month of Chan-Majti (“Angry Month”), it begins to rain and thunder, hastening the birth of mushrooms. The Mazatec say that thunder makes diamonds fall from the sky (Chosinle-Ngami). Thunder is caused when Chikon-Tokoxo, the supreme supernatural being the Mazatecs (from Huautla), pay tribute to, slashes lightning bolts with his axe. That is why it is said (Jacha Lechaon) that during this twenty-day period, you cannot take offerings or prayers to the sacred hill of Chikon. During this time, people begin preparing medicinal tobacco (Jna-Jno), referred to regionally in the Sierra Mazateca as piciete. Tobacco leaf is ground and mixed with garlic and lime and carried in small packages for the protection of the owner, especially during ceremonies. In the twenty-day month that follows, Chan- Sinda (“Month of Toil”), the spring of the sacred mushrooms (Ndí-Sijtho) begins. Mazatec elders say that mushrooms are born miraculously, that they are a gift from the gods, sent from the heavenly domain by thunder (Naí-Chaon).

When the Mazatecs perform healing rituals, a “man or woman of knowledge” (Chjota Chjine or Chjon Chjine) gathers the sacred mushrooms where they sprout in places that only they know by means of a special ritual seek- ing permission from the mushrooms’ owner (Chikon). The mushrooms can only be picked from the ground by children, whose purity and virginity does not corrupt this sacred harvest, ensuring truly beneficial rituals and cures. The mushrooms were traditionally collected at dawn on a full moon and carried with great care, trying to avoid any inauspicious omens along the way (encountering a dead animal, passing by a house where a wake is being held, seeing an injured or sick person, meeting a pregnant woman). These precautions ensured that the sacred mushrooms were not contaminated or spoiled before being delivered to the Altar of Knowledge, which is referred to as a “clean” or “transparent” ritual table (Yaa mixatse).

The ceremony traditionally begins at night and ends at dawn. Ceremonies are always presided over by a person of knowledge (Chojta Chjine) who is responsible for purifying the mushrooms with copal incense and using medicinal tobacco to anoint the person who has come to the ceremony to be healed or repair some problem in their life. The Chjine “marries” the mushrooms into pairs (father and mother) in ritual language and gives the patient their dose. The Chjine also eats his or her portion of sacred mushrooms during the ceremony, singing, praying, speaking with the Chikones, and fighting with evil spirits. Ceremonies are carried out in the Mazatec language, with some parts in Spanish. At the proper time, the Chjine inter- cedes with the gods or supernatural forces to cure the patient if they can be cured. The Chjine speaks intensely, but custom has it that it is the mushroom who is actually speaking, leading the ritual participants where they want them to go. At dawn, the mushrooms finish their work. Before and after the ceremony, four days of sexual abstinence and a special diet are kept. The Chjine recognized by Mazatec communities have preserved this collective and ritual knowledge, despite “modernity,” and have resisted misrepresentations by certain tricksters. For this reason, they call on foreigners, as well as their own community members, to show respect for profound wisdom, rather than vandalize customs.

First Encounter between Westerners and Ndi Xijtho

In 1957, New York banker and mycologist Gordon Wasson published a now-famous photo essay in Life magazine, making the Nndi Xitho ritual known to the general public far beyond the handful of mycological specialists who had been aware of the practice previously. He described an evening he spent in 1955 with his wife Valentina Pavlova and Chjon Chjine María Sabina in Huautla de Jiménez. The essay describes a ritual that had previously been thought extinct, but was now revealed to have been jealously guarded, since the mushroom belonged to the sacred realm.

Wasson was later criticized by scholars for his lack of ethics in revealing the “little ones who sprout from the ground” and publicizing the image and songs of María Sabina without her full consent. However, given the increasingly globalized world, sooner or later, with or without Wasson, these sacred rituals would have been discovered. With this international publicity, foreigners with diverse interests—whether for research, curiosity, or spiritual or mystical needs, began coming to the mountains of Oaxaca seeking contact with the little ones. In this regard, Wasson himself noted: “These words make me tremble: I, Gordon Wasson, am responsible for ending the religious practices of Mesoamerica that go back thousands of years…. I never doubted what I should do. The sacred mushrooms and religious sentiments that they embody in the southern highlands of Mexico were revealed to the world, just as they deserve, no matter what personal price I had to pay for this.” Wasson provides a clear example of the paradox facing scientists from various disciplines, and even Indigenous intellectuals: How much of such investigations should be revealed? Are all studies validated in the name of science? Is the agency of these communities and groups taken into account with respect to their cultural practices?

The arrival of foreigners took place in a complex historical context because, alongside the arrival of the counterculture movement in the 1960s, increasing numbers of roads and highways were being built in the Sierra Mazateca at the time. These opened a remote, mountainous region ever- more to capitalist logic and government initiatives, further facilitating the arrival of güeros, as tourists are called. Over the years, a special kind of tourism began to develop, catering to those who sought to have contact with the “little ones” and the Chjon Chjine or Chjota Chjine, inspired by the magazine story about María Sabina. She became a key figure for outsiders, but was ostracized and reproached by her community for revealing the secret of the mushrooms.

This tourism trade resulted in sacred knowledge (the mushrooms and the ceremony) being offered to outsiders, initially, under a logic of reciprocity, since early exchanges were based on barter, but that soon became monetized. This commodification of sacred heritage resulted in the rise of autonomous neoshamans who worked for tourists, and sacred mushrooms gaining a monetary value for foreign tourists as well as locals. Those who offer the ceremonies were viewed ambivalently, either valued or despised by different segments of the Mazatec community. The situation was further complicated when Huautla was included in a government program of “Magical Towns,” as the Mexican state attempted to appropriate local cultures to promote tourism.

Effects of the Psychedelic Renaissance: Negative Biocultural Appropriation

Western interest in the use of Indigenous peoples’ sacred plants has various motivations, from spiritual and mystical to recreational. In recent years, as restrictions on studying many substances have been relaxed and worldwide psychedelic research has entered a kind of renaissance, interest in psilocybin has increased. Organizations like Compass and Usona have contributed to growing interest around the use of the substance for spiritual, medicinal, and clinical purposes. Yet, it is worth asking: Is this interest only for therapeutic uses? Are we facing a more generalized opening of a psychedelic market? How can Indigenous peoples’ knowledge about psychoac- tive plants be taken into account without falling into negative biocultural appropriation?

Over the last two years, there has been a growing influx of foreigners to the Sierra Mazateca region seeking to learn about the ritual of the Ndi Xitho and gather spores of the mushroom (Psilocybe caurelescens mazatecorum) to take back to their countries of origin. Several claim they want to help other people in the West to cure their ills or, as Wasson once argued, “help the ritual survive.” But hasn’t the ritual survived for more than 500 years, since the beginning of the colonial process through today? Still others argue that mushrooms belong to all humanity. In the case of Psilocybe this is partly true, since there are various species worldwide, although many came to be in different countries through acts of biopiracy. However, in the face of this expansion of the use of mushrooms, how can we exercise a more horizontal learning process without falling into unequal power relations and appropriation? We do not intend to say that non-Mazatecs should be prohibited from experience with the “little ones.” Rather, we want to make it clear that various kinds of experiences can be valid, especially those that are carried out with adequate respect and without the desire to profit from the Psilocybe mushrooms of the region.

The Mazatec people have shared their construction of knowledge around the Ndi Xitho for years. We believe that, ideally, Western researchers who have studied psilocybin for different reasons would commit themselves to creating forums for dialogue, encounter, and discussion with those who have been working for generations developing an entire therapeutic tradition with the Ndi Xitho. These exchanges should move beyond the folkloristic attitude towards the ritual, appreciating the validity of the holistic therapeutic component of the ceremonies, which are intimately related to ways of being and sensing in the world. Finally, these approaches should not focus on only a few specialists in the region, which would reproduce unequal power relations while ignoring the important fact that this sacred legacy is, above all, a collective heritage.

Artwork by Irving de Jesús Segovia (Tuxamee)


From Chemical Synthesis to Consciousness Exploration

From Chemical Synthesis to Consciousness Exploration

Remembering Sasha & Ann Shulgin

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Ann Shulgin, a visionary whose influence continues to shape the world we live in. Alongside her, we also remember Sasha Shulgin, who departed on June 4, 2014. Together, they left an enduring legacy whose impact ripples far beyond their individual lives. Their groundbreaking work has served to deepen our understanding of consciousness and of the human experience.

The Life and Contributions of Sasha and Ann Shulgin

Sasha Shulgin, born on June 17, 1925, in California, was a visionary chemist, and it was through his wife Ann Shulgin that their collaborative work flourished. Ann Shulgin, born Ann Carol Grey, was a pioneer in her own right, providing psychedelic-assisted therapy with MDMA and 2C-B, compounds that Sasha synthesized, before they were illegal, to many in the San Francisco Bay Area using her expertise in Jungian psychoanalysis and contributing significantly to their joint endeavors.

Sasha earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, where his passion for exploring the potential of psychoactive substances began to take shape. It was during this time that Sasha and Ann first crossed paths.

Their meeting marked the beginning of a lifelong partnership that would shape the course of psychopharmacology. Together, Sasha and Ann embarked on a remarkable journey, driven by their relentless curiosity and shared fascination with the effects of psychoactive compounds on the human mind. Through their combined efforts, they synthesized and tested over 200 novel compounds, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and leaving an indelible mark on the field of psychopharmacology.

PIHKAL – Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved

One of the most notable contributions of Sasha and Ann Shulgin was the publication of their groundbreaking book, PIHKAL. Co-authored by Sasha and Ann, PIHKAL stands for “Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved.” This revolutionary work not only detailed the synthesis, effects, and experiences of numerous phenethylamine compounds through a developed system of self-experimentation but also showcased the deep personal connection the Shulgins had with these substances and one another. 

Explaining the reasons behind his self-experimentation with the substances he synthesized, Sasha wrote in PIHKAL, “There is no animal model that has ever been developed or, as far as I can predict, will ever be developed, for the characterization and evaluation of a psychedelic drug. Thus,  all discovery must use the human animal and I was, by default, that animal. Quite simply, as I developed new structures that might show some interesting action in the realms of thought or perception, I used myself as the experimental test subject to determine these actions”

PIHKAL was published by Transform Press, the independent publishing company Ann and Sasha founded in 1991 (now owned and led by Ann’s daughter Wendy Tucker), in order to ensure their research would not be lost or destroyed, remaining accessible and open to everyone.

TIHKAL – Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved

Building upon the success of PIHKAL, Sasha and Ann Shulgin extended their pioneering efforts with the release of their second book, TIHKAL, which stands for “Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved.” TIHKAL delved into the fascinating world of tryptamines, a class of compounds that includes well-known psychedelics like DMT, psilocybin, and LSD. Once again, the collaboration between Sasha and Ann brought together scientific rigor and personal anecdotes, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of tryptamines, how to synthesize them, and their experiential effects.

Although Sasha and Ann were firm believers in psychedelic substances as tools for understanding the human mind, they lamented the reckless recreational use and ensuing prohibition of psychedelics in that it hindered the possibility of their legitimate use in psychotherapy. 

In a 2007 MAPS Bulletin, Ann wrote, “I think that psychedelics are great spiritual tools, but like a lot of spiritual experiences, they can take you to very, very dark places, and you can spend quite a lot of time wondering if you’re going to get through some of these experiences. So, be careful and be very respectful of your mental, emotional, and physical health. Take care of your body, and don’t take a powerful drug or plant if you’re not well.”

The Future of the Shulgin Legacy

Sasha and Ann’s legacy continues through the tireless efforts of organizations such as the Alexander Shulgin Research Institute (ASRI), run by chemist Paul Daley, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit spearheading the legalization of MDMA, a compound that Sasha synthesized, for the treatment of PTSD and The Shulgin Foundation preserving the Shulgin Farm and the legacy by promoting research, education and exploration in the realms of psychedelics, chemistry, and consciousness expansion. These organizations aim to promote research, education, and responsible use of psychoactive substances, carrying forward the spirit of exploration and understanding that defined the Shulgins’ work.

Further, we at Synergetic Press are proud to be co-publishers with Transform Press, having published The Nature of Drugs, Volume 1 in 2021, and more recently, The Nature of Drugs, Volume 2.  

The Nature of Drugs series of books is based on a lecture series that Sasha Shulgin taught at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The full text was transcribed from the original lecture tapes recorded at SFSU in 1987 and will be published in three consecutive volumes. The series lays the groundwork for Sasha’s philosophy on psychopharmacology and society, what defines a drug, the nature of a person’s relationship with a given compound, and provides extensive examinations of dozens of compounds.

Additionally, we will be co-publishing Synthesis, a forthcoming collection of Ann and Sasha Shulgin’s writings and a companion to PIHKAL and TIHKAL.

All the Little Joys of Psychedelic Science 2023

All the Little Joys of Psychedelic Science 2023

Last month we had the joy of attending the largest conference on psychedelics, Psychedelic Science 2023 hosted by our copublishers, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Science (MAPS). As the official bookstore of the event, we’re immensely grateful to everyone who visited our booth, whether to grab a book, nurture connections, or meet incredible authors. It was an absolute delight to not only share our own publications but also showcase books by other remarkable authors in the psychedelic realm. The sense of community we experienced left us profoundly touched. Publishing is a tough industry in today’s day and age, and we extend heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for supporting our vision and our books.

Below Synergetic Press team members reflect on their experiences at Psychedelic Science 2023:

“Still swimming in the contact high of the bookstore at Psychedelic Science 2023.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our little shop, arms loaded with books and big grins on your faces at the prospect of a psychedelic bookstore. After being greeted by thousands with curiosity and compassion—as though we weren’t in a conference center with a ceiling miles about our heads, even as delirium was setting in toward the end of the week—I can report that one stereotype about people who love psychedelics is true: they do a lot more eye gazing. My eyes remember all of you!

Shout out to Ayize Jama-Everett and Kufikiri Imara for making a magnificent film, A Table of Our Own, that got a standing ovation. Shout out to Laura Mae Northrup, Monica Cadena, Leticia Brown, and Britta Love for their mind-opening conversation on sex, psychedelics, and carrying consent with us everywhere we go as an alive practice rather than a stagnant permission. Shout out to Jerónimo Mazarrasa of ICEERS for advocating for the wisdom of the lifelong ceremonialists, who simply cannot be replaced, and his reminder that adopting the form of a ritual is not the ritual itself (that copying an aesthetic or manner of being does not mean you have a hold on its depth and power).

Connecting with those who are committed to the origins, stewards, and biocultural contexts of entheogenic plants; those who are more interested in access, cultural competency, and deep relationships than profit or hype; those who move at the speed of trust (thanks for that, Ayize) and greet a slow pace with recognition and necessity; and the keepers of complexity who walk with humor and grace was a balm that awakened belief in new places.

Til the next, and in the words of Donna Haraway, stay with the trouble til then.” —Noelle Armstrong, Managing Editor 

“After six years since the last MAPS conference, it was remarkable to see the greater psychedelic community come together in Denver for PS23. Beyond the exponential growth in the number of participants and size of the show itself, the gathering represented the next step in the maturation of the industry with more specialized exhibitors and expansive discussions on multiple tracks. A new survey presented by the UC Center for the Science of Psychedelics highlighted that while the public supports expanded science on psychedelic therapies, there is little support for expanding access and legalization. The study highlights the need for ongoing educational efforts and quality science to create foundational support for these therapies and to establish a broader understanding of the immense possibilities of these substances.” —Doug Reil, Co-publisher & CEO

“The thing I keep coming back to about PS23 was how much it was unlike a typical conference. Not just in terms of the focus on psychedelics, of course, but in terms of how truly community-oriented it felt. No one was jockeying for position or trying to one-up anybody else. No one was just there for the sake of placating a boss or was merely going through the motions with an eye toward a juicy year-end bonus. Everyone there seemed genuinely focused on the love and healing potential inherent to these medicines. There was reverence for the old guard (how miraculous was Stan Grof’s mere presence!) and a radical openness to the way that younger superstars like Dr. Carl Hart are moving the conversation forward. The view from the bookstore was the most joyous (and well dressed!) parade of students, therapists, and seekers, all looking for additional stories and information to keep the momentum going after that incredible week in Denver.” —Allison Felus, Production Editor

“The field has simply exploded with whole new branches of research and inquiry emerging. The tributes to those whose shoulders on which we all stand like Stan and Brigitte Grof, Stanley Krippner, Dennis McKenna, Alex and Alyson Grey, the Indigenous communities from whom this works stems as well as hundreds of others being recognized and thanked for their decades of service to humanity were profoundly moving to witness. And the new thought leaders like Julie Holland, Marcina Hale from, new writers like Rachel Nuwer, the team at Lucid News, and the Women’s Visionary Congress, all shining lights on the breakthroughs in research and evolving community support and understanding about the flood of these therapies as they become more and more available.

The demand for knowledge about work in this field has never been higher.

Synergetic Press was proud to be at the show representing the work of these pioneers and cutting-edge voices.” —Deborah Parrish Snyder, Publisher

Synergetic Press Authors on Pride

Synergetic Press Authors on Pride

Happy Pride Month to our community of readers! In celebration of Pride Month, we want to highlight some incredible contributors to our book Queering Psychedelics: From Oppression to Liberation in Psychedelic Medicine, including Diana Quinn, Taylor Dahlia Bolinger, Terence H. W. Ching, Kile Ortigo and Amy Bartlett. Together, these authors bring unique perspectives and expertise, inviting us to explore the intersection of queerness and psychedelic medicine. As we honor and embrace queer joy this month, let us also express gratitude to the ancestors and pioneers who paved the way for our liberation.

Dr. Diana Quinn is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a focus on integrative mental health, psychoneuroimmunology, and healing justice. As a queer Chicana, her work has centered care of marginalized communities, including people of color and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, for over 20 years. Dr. Quinn is the Assistant Director of Community Care at the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies. In the emerging field of psychedelic medicine, she works to ensure ethical, safe, and inclusive care, as well as anti-oppressive approaches in training facilitators in both the medical and adult-use models. She serves on multiple advisory boards and working groups dedicated to building ethical integrity, equity, accessibility, reciprocity, and cultural humility in psychedelic medicine.


How are you cultivating queer joy this Pride month?

DQ: My wife and I will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary in July, we got married right after the Supreme Court decision in 2015. We’ll be cultivating queer joy for Pride Month and our anniversary by advancing the gay agenda, which for us these days means raising four teens/young adults, playing with our grandbaby, puttering in the garden, and enjoying a date night once a week.

What’s on your queer bookshelf?

DQ: I’m currently reading This is How You Lose The Time War, a queer sci-fi love story, and also !Hola Papí!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot by JP Brammer, queer Latino advice columnist. Because I like to have at least three books going simultaneously, I’m also slowly making my way through the brilliant Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care, and Safety written by Cara Page and Erica Woodland, Black queer authors and architects of the healing justice framework. 

What do you love about being in queer community?

DQ: I love everything about queer community, which saves my life over and over again. There is just so much beauty and brilliance, deep love and care to be found here, it’s like no where else. It’s home. And the queer psychedelic community is absolutely lit.

Tell us about a queer ancestor you’re thanking this month.

DQ: I’m always in gratitude to Gloria Anzaldúa, Chicana lesbian and feminist writer of my heart and ancestral lineage. It wouldn’t be Pride Month without paying homage to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, radical trans activists who resisted at Stonewall and founded an org to support and house queer and trans youth.

Taylor Dahlia Bolinger began sitting for her friends as a teen while they processed the trauma from growing up queer in Texas. The acceptance she eventually found at regional Texas Burns led her to embrace her identity as a transgender woman. Taylor cofounded Decriminalize Nature Dallas, is studying to become a social worker, and works with homeless LGBT young people. Her goal is to become a professional integrative therapist, work with minorities, and advocate for access to plant medicine.

How are you cultivating queer joy this Pride month?

TDB: I am just bursting with queer joy this Pride month. I had facial feminization surgery in February, and it is having a life-changing positive effect on my emotional and social well-being. I am growing happier and more present in my life every day now. My partner and I will also be starting IVF to have our second baby during Pride Month, which will also be an enormous blessing. My academic work on transgender mental health was also recently accepted by the Council of Social Work Education for presentation at their conference later this year, so I am flourishing in almost every way. 

What’s on your queer bookshelf?

TDB: I’ve been reading a few queer and trans theory books lately as I prepared for a talk I gave at the Queering Psychedelics 2 conference. These were primarily The Cultural Politics of Emotion by Sarah Ahmed, Shame and It’s Sisters by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam Frank, and Transgender Marxism by Jules Joanne Gleeson and Elle O’Rourke. I also recently read the novel Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane, a transgender retelling of the Iliad and a finalist in this year’s Lambda Literary transgender fiction category. 

What do you love about being in queer community?

TDB: My favorite thing about my queer community here in Texas is our love for one another. I feel profoundly grateful for how we show up to support one another’s events, hold each other up when we are going through difficulties, and practice restorative justice when we mess up and harm one another. That sort of kinship is hard to find and I feel lucky to be a part of this community. 

Tell us about a queer ancestor you’re thanking this month.

TDB: I’d like to honor a transgender pioneer, Reed Erikson, who should perhaps be better known in the psychedelic community. Erikson was a trans man who was a businessman and philanthropist. He financed Harry Benjamin’s clinical work and the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, as well as supporting professional networks for researchers and doctors treating trans people in the 60s and 70s. Erikson also explored psychedelics and transcendental meditation and funded research into New Age mystical, magical, and supernatural practices and knowledge, including John Lily’s dolphin research.

Terence H. W. Ching, PhD, is a postdoctoral associate at the Yale OCD  Research Clinic. He has professional interests at the intersections of anxiety- and trauma-related disorders, diversity and equity, and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Terence is also dedicated to improving access to psychedelic research and clinical programs for historically excluded groups.

How are you cultivating queer joy this Pride month?

TC: Spending quality time with my husband and our pug, like we do year-round! Whenever we feel like it, we contribute to his bookstagram (@mattgetsliterary), him giving a concise review of mostly queer and BIPOC fiction, paired with a paint pour that I’ve created.

What’s on your queer bookshelf?

TC: Lots! Recent fiction faves are Camp by LC Rosen (if you want a fun read about queer teens coming into their own at a summer sleepaway camp), 100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell (if you want equal parts pure, unadulterated filth and brazen honesty), Flamer by Mike Curato (if you want an intersectional gay bildungsroman, but CW suicidality!), and In the Dream House & Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (if you want powerful honest writing, an unconventional memoir detailing surviving CW queer domestic violence, and prose that invigorates one to take down the patriarchy!).

What do you love about being in queer community?

TC: What’s not to love? We are everything and more, we embody possibilities, we live, breathe, and thrive in spite of.

Tell us about a queer ancestor you’re thanking this month.

TC: Not one but all who have come before me, all who spanned the outness spectra, we exist(ed) because we dare(d) to.

Kile Ortigo, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and certified psychedelic psychotherapist at the Center for Existential Exploration in Palo Alto, where he offers depth-oriented psychotherapy and integration services. Dr. Ortigo serves on advisory boards of Psychedelic Support and Project New Day and recently has published his second book, Beyond the Narrow Life: A Guide for Psychedelic Integration and Existential Exploration, with a foreword by psychedelic luminary Dr. Bill Richards. 

How are you cultivating queer joy this Pride month?

KO:  I celebrate all of my queer friends, family, colleagues, and clients, in their many diverse and multilayered life experiences, hopes, dreams, talents, and expressions of meaning. I especially appreciate the many queer artists who share their gifts and authentic (and sometimes campy!) acts of self-expression with others.

What’s on your queer bookshelf?

KO: Queering Psychedelics, of course! In all seriousness, my bookshelf is pretty eclectic. Any queer-informed or centered books are interspersed with all my others. One clear staple of many of my queer client’s bookshelves is Dr. Alan Down’s The Velvet Rage, which explores the role of shame in some gay men’s life experiences and challenges as well as how to heal from shame and live more authentically. Others include philosophical works by Michel Foucault, Eve Sedgewick, etc.

Tell us about a queer ancestor you’re thanking this month.

KO: I’d like to honor Dr. Henry Stack Sullivan (1892-1949) who was an early developer of interpersonal theory and psychotherapy. Among many other things, he was a big influence on Timothy Leary as well. Unfortunately, during his lifespan, it wasn’t an option to be out as a professional, probably especially as a psychotherapist. His efforts to reconcile his personal life with his professional one were not always successful. Nevertheless, I deeply appreciate the challenges he faced and how he tried to navigate a hostile world while still finding ways to make a larger impact, influencing professionals like myself decades later.

Amy Bartlett, LLB, LLM, is a curiosity enthusiast, legal professional, and NGO geek working on her PhD at the University of Ottawa. Her research explores the role that mystical experiences play in psychedelic healing, and her interests include community building, diversity and inclusion, and psychedelic integration. She helps coordinate the Ottawa Psychedelic Education Network (OPEN) amongst other projects. Before returning to school, she worked for over 15 years as a social justice advocate both in Canada and abroad.

How are you cultivating queer joy this Pride month?

AB: By taking up as much space as possible, and showering that space with love. Queerness comes in all shapes, forms and expressions, and pride month can get quickly co-opted by financial interests rather than genuine expressions of liberation, especially in this current political climate. My goal is to be joyfully authentic, not generally acceptable. 

What’s on your queer bookshelf?

AB: Given the alarming erosion of queer rights this year, as a small diversion/ complement to the political advocacy and awareness raising we are all doing this month, I am back to leafing through Thomas Prower’s Queer Magic: LGBT+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World. At a time when our minds and bodies are under attack, it can be helpful to remind ourselves of the power and strength of the queer human spirit which is never up for grabs.

What do you love about being in queer community?

AB: Feeling safe, seeing others and being seen lovingly.

Tell us about a queer ancestor you’re thanking this month.

AB: It is cliche in the psychedelic space I know, and he is not without his issues, but lately I admit that I have been re-appreciating Ram Dass and feeling grateful for all of his complex, joyful and vulnerable humanness.

Featured artwork by Molly Costello.

Synergetic Press Joins MAPS’ Psychedelic Science 2023

Synergetic Press Joins MAPS’ Psychedelic Science 2023

We are delighted to share that Synergetic Press will be the official bookseller at the highly anticipated Psychedelic Science 2023 Conference, organized by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). This groundbreaking event, dedicated to exploring the profound potential of psychedelics, will be held in the vibrant city of Denver from June 19-23, 2023. As the chosen purveyor of knowledge and inspiration, Synergetic Press is honored to bring you an extraordinary collection of books, not only from our own catalog but also from our esteemed co-publishing partners, Transform Press and MAPS, as well as other leading thinkers and pioneers in the psychedelic space. Prepare to embark on a literary journey that will expand your consciousness and enrich your understanding of this fascinating field.

Author Book Signing Schedule

To further enhance your Psychedelic Science conference experience, we are delighted to announce a schedule of book signings with some of the most influential authors and thinkers in the psychedelic field. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage in discussions, gain deeper insights, and have your books personally signed. All signings will take place in the Registration area outside the entrance and the signing schedule is subject to change.

Here are some notable book signings to mark in your calendars:

Wednesday 6/21

10 – 11 AM –  Jennifer Chesak signing The Psilocybin Handbook for Women: How Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelic Therapy, and Microdosing Can Benefit Your Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health

11 – 12 PM – Bessel Van Der Kolk signing The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

1 – 2 PM – Alex and Allyson Grey signing Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics 

2 – 3 PM – Rachel Nuwer signing I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World

3 – 4 PM  Phil Wolfson signing Ketamine Papers Wed 6/21 3:00 – 4:00 – Phil Wolfson signing Ketamine Papers: Science, Therapy, and Transformation

4 – 5 PM – Bill Richards signing Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences

5 – 6 PM – Bia Labate, Clancy Cavnar, and Alex Belser signing Queering Psychedelics: From Oppression to Liberation in Psychedelic Medicine and Psychedelic Justice: Towards a Diverse and Equitable Psychedelic Future

Thursday 6/22

10-11 AM – Stanislav Grof signing The Way of the Psychonaut and Psyche Unbound: Essays in Honor of Stanislav Grof 

11 – 12 PM – Kile Ortigo signing Beyond the Narrow Life: A Guide for Psychedelic Integration and Existential Exploration

12 – 1 PM- Charles Grob & Jim Grigsby signing Handbook of Medical Hallucinogens, Hallucinogens: A Reader, and Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics

1 – 2 PM – Rachel Harris signing Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety and Swimming in the Sacred: Wisdom from the Psychedelic Underground

2 – 3 PM – Charles Hayes signing Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures

3 – 4 PM – Dennis McKenna signing The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna and Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs 

4 – 5 PM – Julie Holland signing Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics

5 – 6 PM – Michael Pollan signing How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence and This is Your Mind on Plants

Friday 6/23

10-11 AM – Stanislav Grof signing The Way of the Psychonaut and Psyche Unbound: Essays in Honor of Stanislav Grof 

10 – 11 AM – Don Lattin signing Changing Our Minds: Psychedelic Sacraments and The New Psychotherapy, God on Psychedelics, The Harvard Psychedelic Club, and Distilled Spirits

12 – 1 PM – Wendy Tucker (Transform Press) and Paul Daley (Alexander Shulgin Research Institute) signing PIHKAL, TIHKAL, The Nature of Drugs Volume 1, and The Nature of Drugs Volume 2

1 – 2 PM – Carl Hart signing Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear and High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society

2 – 3 PM – Joe Tafur signing The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine

3 – 4 PM – Ben Sessa signing The Psychedelic Renaissance: Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society, Advances in Psychedelic Medicine and Psychedelic Drug Treatments 

4 – 5 PM – Alexander Beiner signing The Bigger Picture: How Psychedelics Can Help Us Make Sense of the World

Join us at Psychedelic Science 2023

Still don’t have your ticket? Psychedelic Science 2023 is the ultimate destination for both professionals and enthusiasts who seek to empower holistic healing and mental well-being through cutting-edge psychedelic research, collaboration, and education.



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