The 2015 Women’s Visionary Congress is fast approaching and we the organizers have had the great pleasure of inviting an especially wonderful collection of speakers this year. The best part of getting ready for our annual gathering is corresponding with healers, activists, artists and researchers whose work inspires us. Tickets for this year’s event are almost gone, so please get one soon if you wish to join us – click here to register. If you won’t be able to attend the gathering this year, or if you will be there and want a preview of the fine discussions to come, allow me to introduce you to the speakers as they will appear on the schedule.
The 2015 WVC will begin Friday, June 19th with a presentation by Valerie Corral, the co-founder and director of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), the longest running medical marijuana collective in the U.S. Founded in 1993 in Santa Cruz, California, WAMM serves seriously ill and dying people with organic cannabis grown in a collective on a donation basis. Valerie is also acting director of WAMM’s sister non-profit, the Raha Kudo, Design for Dying Project, a hospice organization that addresses the concerns of dying WAMM members and their families. Valerie’s talk will be followed by a presentation by Meriana Dinkova, MFT, a San Francisco-based psychotherapist, speaker and workshop facilitator. Meriana will talk about the development of her psychological and neo-shamanistic inner-space navigation tools designed for exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness. The final speaker of the evening will be Eleonora Molnar, a health professional and independent researcher, who will hold a workshop on kinesthetic knowing. Participants will examine the ontology of consciousness and explore an “Oh Wow” experience developed by master clown Richard Pochinko to help his students encounter a feeling beyond rational explanation and discover trust through impulse.
The first full day of the WVC, Saturday, June 20th, will begin with a yoga class taught by Yoga Ma, also known as Barbara Powell. A long-time yoga practitioner with a deep personal practice in the meditative arts, Yoga Ma leads retreats and offers Wild Yoga wilderness hikes in the forest near Santa Fe, New Mexico and other locations. After yoga and breakfast, the first presenter of the day will be Sitaramaya Sita, a PlantWisdom Practitioner trained in the Shipibo tradition. Sita has founded several organizations including PlantTeachers, Conscious Path Creation, and Quantum Path Creation as well as the Convergence conferences. Her commitment to deep ecology has led to the development of “Fundo Sitaramaya” a preservation project of privately held Amazonian land to steward and protect old growth trees, waterways and rainforest flora and fauna. Sita will report on the use of dietas and other traditional Shipibo practices in urban North America including discovering and dieting Master Plants native or local to California.
The second presentation on Saturday will be offered by Kathleen Harrison, M.A., an independent scholar and teacher of ethnobotany. An esteemed researcher in the WVC community, Kat has initiated and participated in recurrent fieldwork, mostly among indigenous people in Latin America, since the 1970s. She is the president and co-founder of Botanical Dimensions , a non-profit organization that has worked for 28 years to collect medicinal and shamanic species and the lore that helps us understand how to regard them. Kat will be introduced by anthropologist Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Ph.D. who studies psychoactive substances, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion. Bia is a Visiting Professor at the Center for Research and Post Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), in Guadalajara, Mexico. She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twelve books, one special-edition journal, and several peer-reviewed articles.
The midmorning discussion will be led by Jennifer Dumpert founder of the Oneironauticum, an international dream group that meets in physical and dream space. Jennifer will discuss ways in which this group explores the use of oneirogens — herbs, medicines, scents, auditory experiences, and practices that promote vivid dreaming. Participants will choose from a variety of oneirogens that will be supplied as part of the session, journey together in the dreamscape overnight, and gather again on Sunday to share stories about their dreams. The final presentation of the morning will be offered by Jane Straight, a true pioneer in the realms of collecting, preserving, and disseminating rare medicinals. Jane has played a central role in the important cultural shift back to plant-based medicines, and speaks eloquently about the relevance of intentional connection to the botanical world around us. She will bring us a beautiful living altar of plants to admire and will share heart based stories.
After lunch, we will hear a talk given by Veronica Hernandez, a Peruvian clinical psychologist and shamanic practitioner. Veronica is completing her doctoral degree at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco where she is carrying out research on the healing and transformative benefits of entheogens, especially ayahuasca. Her talk will undertake a comparative analysis of entheogenic shamanism and Jungian Psychology and look at ways in which entheogens have been, and are being used, in shamanic practice as catalysts for exploring inner psychic realities.
In the mid-afternoon, we will have the great pleasure of hearing from pioneering climber and guide Doug Robinson, founder of the American Mountain Guides Association. Doug considers climbing a physical meditation that hones the attention and nudges us into visionary experience. He first explored these thoughts in an essay entitled, The Climber as Visionary. Between guiding trips, Doug studied biochemistry. He investigated the delicate transformations deep in the brain that lie behind our bright, visionary eyes, and crystallized these observations into a remarkable book entitled, The Alchemy of Action.
Jacqueline Patterson and Mara Gordon will present together during the next scheduled WVC presentation, giving a talk entitled, “From Disability to Diversity: Can Cannabis Compliment Conventional Condition Based Therapies?” Jacqueline Patterson educates legislators, patients, and the public as a patient ambassador for the medical cannabis patient’s group Patients Out of Time. While cannabis has great medical utility, state cannabis laws are not acknowledged by federal authorities putting patients at risk of prosecution. Jacqueline will focus on how these laws create obstacles to optimal health and create social stigmas for cannabis patients. The founder of Aunt Zelda’s, Mara is a cannabis alchemist and process engineer who helps patients customize their cannabinoid and terpene dosage. The former head of Methodology at a Fortune 50, Mara will look at how patients can be best served with precise cannabis delivery.
The late afternoon tea time presentation will be given by Alicia Danforth, PhD who serves as a co-investigator on a current FDA-approved phase 2 pilot study looking at the effect of MDMA-assisted therapy on social anxiety in autistic adults. Alicia also served as a study coordinator and co-facilitator on a Heffter Research Institute-sponsored clinical trial of psilocybin-assisted therapy for existential anxiety related to advanced cancer. She will provide an overview and progress report of the MDMA-assisted therapy study, which is sponsored by the Multidisiciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and share insights into how being in community with visionary women has supported her in her research career.
Before dinner on Saturday, there will be two concurrent events. The first at 4:40 pm, will feature Dr. Gantt Galloway, who served from 1989-2005 as Chief of Pharmacologic Research for the Drug Detoxification, Rehabilitation & Aftercare Project of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics in San Francisco. Now a Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in its Addiction and Pharmacology Research Laboratory and co-founder of the New Leaf Treatment Center, Gantt studies medications and psychosocial treatments for addiction to methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. He will discuss the nature of addiction and the rationale for using psychedelics as treatments for addiction. Gantt will also present information about opioid overdose prevention and will be available during the weekend to train anyone who has a need for an overdose prevention kit.
The second concurrent event at 4:40 pm will be a Walking Tour Performance entitled “Here Come the Ecosexuals!” Presented by artists Beth Stephens, Annie Sprinkle, and their scouts, the tour will begin at their sparkly blue “Pollination Pod” and will guide participants on a wondrous journey around the IONS grounds. The adventure begins with Ecosex Orientation, followed by the location of our E-spots (ecosexy spots) and an exploration of ways to make love to the Earth through our senses. Ecosex switches the metaphor from “Earth as mother” to “Earth as lover.” Local environmental issues will be brought into the open, drama will ensue, and by the end of the tour, participants will have developed the ‘ecosexual gaze.’ Annie Sprinkle is an internationally known multimedia artist whose performance pieces based on her life as a sex worker, “Post Porn Modernist” and “Annie Sprinkle’s Herstory of Porn,” toured for nine years throughout the US and to 21 countries. In 2001 Sprinkle fell in love with artist Beth Stephens and together they produced the documentary film, “Goodbye Gauley Mountain—An Ecosexual Love Story.” Beth Stephens is an interdisciplinary artist, activist and a professor at UC Santa Cruz. Her visual and performance work has explored themes of the body, queerness, and feminism for over 25 years. She has exhibited and performed in many museums, galleries and theaters across the US and Europe. Sprinkle and Stephens will head up the first ecosexual contingent in the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 28th and invite all Earth lovers to join them.
The Ecosex Walking Tour will continue until 6 pm, but for those who would prefer to remain inside and look at visionary art, Clancy Cavnar will present images of her art work beginning at 5:30 pm. Clancy has a doctorate in clinical psychology and works at a dual diagnosis residential drug treatment center in San Francisco. She is co-editor, with Beatriz Caiuby Labate, of three books The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca (Springer, 2014); Prohibition, Religious Freedom, and Human Rights: Regulating Traditional Drug Use (Springer, 2014) and Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2014). Clancy also has a master of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and will show images from her body of work, many of which appear on the WVC website.
After an excellent dinner prepared by the IONS chefs, the evening portion of the WVC Saturday program will begin with more art presented in the amphitheater by artist Dana Smith. Dana founded a fine arts digital press to create limited edition artwork in a project called Dana Dana Dana. The press focuses on very small edition, hand-made books and digital prints with an emphasis on working collaboratively with other artists. Dana’s longest collaboration has been with Mark McCloud, artist and renowned overseer at the Institute of Illegal Images, a massive collection of LSD related art in San Francisco. Together Dana and Mark created “LSD Barbie” in 1993, and later in 2003, started The Blotter Barn, an ongoing project to document Mark’s extensive collection of blotter papers.
The final presentation of art Saturday evening will be offered by Marc Franklin, a self taught photographer, media artist and psycho-activist. Since 1975 Marc has been immersed in experimental photography, painting and sculpture incorporating advancements in digital image making. In 1984, he designed and co-published the seminal “High Frontiers,”, a wildly experimental underground magazine, and diligently photographed nearly all the key figures of the psychedelic subculture: chemists, clinicians, researchers, artists, poets, writers, musicians, and activists. Marc’s talk, entitled “From Laura Huxley to Ina May Gaskin,” features photographic encounters with twenty prominent women explorers along with the stories behind them. After this presentation, participants who choose to may adjourn to the Full Circle Tea House for tea, stories and conversation with Carol and Michael Randall, visionary activists, artists and historians.
The final day of WVC will begin with another sublime yoga class with Yoga Ma, followed by breakfast and a reading by TEDx Poet Rachel Kann. Rachel is a modern-day mystic: irreverently reverent and exuberantly human. Rachel has performed her poetry with artists such as daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra, Marianne Williamson, Sage Francis, Saul Williams, and Rahzel, at venues such as Disney Concert Hall, Royce Hall, The Broad Stage, The San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, and the Vans Warped Tour, as well as spiritual and sacred spaces like Jewlicious Fest X aboard The Queen Mary, Agape Spiritual Center and Sinai Temple. She is a shamanic apprentice, dancer, teacher and DJ. Rachel will perform poetry entitled, “The Poetry of Transcendence: Get High, Get Off, Get Free!”
Rachel’s poetry will be followed by stories about gender, community, and spirituality presented by Jae Starfox. A queer, trans, psychedelic visionary, Jae is studying to be a radical accountant and is an experienced coordinator of restorative spaces, a lover of tea, yoga teacher, and bicycle delivery person. Jae’s transmasculine gender involves paradox and non-duality, two of the essential characteristics of unitive or mystical experience. Their personal work focuses on deepening awareness through the joyful practice of yoga, meditation, critical theory, and self love.
Each year at WVC, we invited a member of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to present an update on current MAPS research. This year, the update will be presented by MAPS Public Benefit Corporation Clinical Study Assistant Allison Wilens. Allison’s talk will cover preliminary data from MAPS’ Phase 2 clinical trials in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, current timelines for FDA approval, and the rationale for formation of the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC). Allison’s presentation will be followed by a second presentation from Vancouver, Canada-based Eleonora Molnar who organizes an annual WVC salon in Vancouver, BC at Simon Fraser University. Eleonora will look at the impact of international drug tourism in the Amazon basin and the appropriation of traditional indigenous practices in North and Latin America. She will explore possible ways to mitigate problematic behaviors arising from this events in North America.
The last talk on Sunday morning will be offered by Patricia Shaw Savant, aka Khats, who holds a PhD in clinical psychology and behavioral medicine, and works as a clinical psychologist in private practice. Khats leads shamanic ceremonies and sacred medicine journeys and has conducted workshops and individual shamanic healing at the Shamandome at Burning Man for the last 10 years. She will compare and discuss medicines, holotropic breathwork and shamanic techniques for entering and traveling in “inner space” to achieve healing, transformation and expanded awareness of the multiverse at large.
After lunch on Sunday, Jennifer Dumpert will lead a followup discussion of the previous day’s Oneironauticum dreaming practice where we will discuss our adventures in the dreamscape. This conversation will be followed by a presentation by Danielle Schumacher who began her career as an activist when she was appointed Executive Director of Illinois NORML and held the Youth Seat on the National NORML Board of Directors while she was a student at the University of Illinois. As the first Chancellor of Oaksterdam University Danielle worked with Richard Lee to establish America’s first cannabis college and is currently office manager for nationally noted physician Frank Lucido MD and nurse practitioner Maria Mangini PhD FNP. She will talk about the history of the cannabis movement and her newest project, THC Staffing Group, a boutique recruiting firm whose mission is to encourage diversity in the cannabis industry.
The 2015 Women’s Visionary Congress will close, as it traditionally does, with talks by community elders. The first elder will be Carolee Waidelich, founder of the Nayeli Nature Retreat in New Mexico, who lived for several years in her RV in the desert of eastern New Mexico. Carolee now resides in her RV in the woods of Northern California and will talk about how her commitment to the medicine has created a life that is utterly simple and close to the earth, animals and plants, without a lot of stuff and money. She has been working with plant medicines and their allies since 1989 when she became an apprentice and partner to a Native American medicine man and graduated from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 1995 with an M.A. in East/West Psychology. She has used her shamanic training in private practice and to offer elder wisdom to festival participants at “grandma’s cozy corner for resting.”
The final WVC presentation will be given by Rhoney Stanley, who will share stories of the visionary women of the Grateful Dead community and how their expressions of culture and family offered a different view from the complacency and materialism that they grew up with. Rhoney will talk about how these women learned from their LSD experiences to expand their artistic creativity, value the handmade, and expand their spirituality and sense of oneness with each other and with nature – then used these insights to create a community that transformed the counterculture into mainstream culture. She will draw from interviews with women who worked for and influenced the Grateful Dead and the Merry Pranksters as well as stories from her book, Owsley & Me: My LSD Family.
You can read more about each of the 2015 WVC speakers on our biography page. We look forward to seeing you at the Congress and hearing your thoughts on these remarkable presentations.