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Psychedelic Culture: A Conference by Chacruna Institute

By Fernanda Baraybar

Cultivating Change Through Elevating Diverse Voices:

A Look Back at Chacruna’s Psychedelic Culture Conference

The psychedelic renaissance is upon us, a wave of renewed scientific and cultural interest in the therapeutic potential of mind-altering substances. But amidst the excitement, a crucial question arises: who gets to participate in and shape this new chapter? This is where the Chacruna Institute’s recent “Psychedelic Culture” conference offers guidance, cultivating a refreshing approach that combines intellectual rigor with community, activism, and a deep respect for tradition.

Chacruna, known for its interdisciplinary conferences, has a long history of bringing diverse voices to the table. This year’s event, themed “Cultivating Roots for Cultural Change,” embodied that spirit perfectly. The conference wasn’t just about the latest research findings, it fostered dialogue between scientists, Indigenous communities, activists, and everyday people who have a deep connection to these medicines. As the panelists mentioned, “it is more important than ever to promote dialogues” – dialogues that bridge the gap between intellectual inquiry and the lived experiences of those who have used these plants for generations.

One of the most powerful sessions, “Shaping our Future: Ensuring Equity and Access in the Psychedelic Renaissance,” tackled the issue of inclusivity head-on capturing the historical injustices that marginalized communities have faced in their relationship with psychedelics. The War on Drugs has disproportionately impacted these groups, creating a system where access to potential healing is hampered by fear and stigma.

Nicole T. Buchanan, associate Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University, Clinical Director and Founder of Alliance Psychological Associates, and member of Chacruna’s Board of Directors shares: 

“We have to create pathways for them to do the good work without being decriminalized, we have to look at how has the War on Drugs in our history of the commercial state of this country, really predetermined who will ever consider accessing care, and when we don’t come from that kind of lens, when we don’t think of how do we create access for those groups that are more marginalized, most surveilled and criminalized, and have the least reason that we have their best interest at heart, we will never be able to reach that population.” 

The panelists emphasized the importance of “creating pathways” for these communities to participate in the psychedelic renaissance. This requires examining how historical bias has shaped access to care and dismantling those barriers. It’s about “looking at the lens” of marginalization and creating a space where everyone feels welcome and represented.

But inclusivity goes beyond just numbers. It’s about fostering a sense of belonging and shared experience. The conference emphasized the importance of “bringing intention” to our work, allowing people to “see themselves in others.” This means acknowledging the unique challenges faced by marginalized communities and creating spaces where these experiences are heard and valued.

Unlearning the divisions that separate us is crucial in building a truly inclusive psychedelic community. Ritual can be a powerful tool for this, creating a “deeper connection” through shared experience. Moving away from the model of listening only to “dominant voices” and instead embracing a “circle” where everyone’s voice is valued, paves the way for a more just and equitable future.

Chacruna’s dedication to this theme extends beyond the conference itself. Their commitment is further reflected in two recent publications available through our website: Women in Psychedelics, Queering Psychedelics, and Psychedelic Justice. These insightful books offer a wealth of perspectives that challenge the status quo and open doors to a more diverse and equitable psychedelic future. The books explore topics like the role of female shamans in traditional psychedelic ceremonies, the experiences of women of color in the psychedelic renaissance, or the potential of psychedelics to help LGBTQIA2S+ individuals heal from trauma and explore their identities.

These books delve into the often-overlooked aspects of the psychedelic experience for these specific groups. Queering Psychedelics explores how LGBTQIA2S+ individuals navigate the psychedelic experience, dismantling stereotypes about these substances and fostering a more inclusive conversation. Topics such as experiencing a heightened sense of self-awareness and connection during a psychedelic experience can be particularly transformative for those questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Women in Psychedelics also addresses the unique challenges and opportunities women face in the psychedelic realm. Discussions explore historical and cultural biases that have excluded women from psychedelic experiences, or the specific needs and considerations of women undergoing psychedelic therapy, such as the role of trauma and menstrual cycles.

The ideas explored at Chacruna’s Psychedelic Culture conference resonate deeply with the mission of Synergetic Press. As highlighted in a recent article on Chacruna’s website titled Psychedelic Culture and the Future of the Psychedelic Movement, Chacruna is dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding of the therapeutic potential of psychedelics by publishing works from a wide range of voices. 

Here at Synergetic Press, we are proud to offer a selection of Chacruna titles on our website. If you’re looking to delve deeper into the insights shared at the conference, we encourage you to explore these thought-provoking books. Whether you’re a seasoned psychonaut or just beginning your exploration, there’s sure to be a book that will spark your curiosity and guide you on your journey. 

Head to our catalog and discover the wealth of knowledge waiting to be explored!

Featured photography by the talented Karina Alvarez 

Fernanda Baraybar

Marketing Consultant

Fernanda is a transpersonal psychologist, marketing specialist, writer, and practicing Shaman. Working with the Qero communities of Peru, she’s helping keep her ancestors’ traditions alive by learning from their ancient practices. Currently, she’s working as a Marketing Freelance Consultant for Synergetic Press, her passion moves her to create for organisations focused on the expansion of consciousness. She is pursuing an MSc in Spirituality, Consciousness, and Transpersonal Psychology at the Alef Trust with the aim of creating further research on parapsychological phenomena.


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