Danielle Schumacher – WVC’s 2017 Visionary Woman of the Year

We are delighted to name Danielle Schumacher WVC’s Visionary Woman of the Year for 2017. Danielle has been a leader in the world of cannabis since 2001, when she co-founded chapters of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) at the University of Illinois Champagne Urbana. While still in college, she was appointed Executive Director of Illinois NORML, and held the Youth Seat on the National NORML Board of Directors. She was named as a Freedom Fighter by High Times Magazine at 22.

Danielle headed the Cannabis Action Network for the Berkeley Patients Group starting in 2005. She worked with Richard Lee to establish America’s first cannabis college as Oaksterdam University’s first Chancellor. She served as office manager for internationally respected authority

on cannabis Chris Conrad and activist author Mikki Norris.

Danielle is currently office manager for Frank Lucido MD and nurse practitioner Maria Mangini PhD FNP. Dr. Frank was one of the first MD’s to recommend cannabis in California after the passage of the Compassionate Use Actin 1996, and has continued to do so for over 20 years.

Danielle’s newest project, THC Staffing Group, is a boutique recruiting firm whose mission is to encourage diversity in the cannabis industry, which has acted as a sponsor of several WVC gatherings. She has spoken at several past WVC gatherings on the political history and social justice in the cannabis movement and has supported us with planning many of our events – click here to view a video of her keynote speech at our 2017 Women & Cannabis Salon. She has been particularly helpful in advising us on how we can improve inclusivity at our own events, for which we are extremely grateful.

Risk Reduction Workshop, Nevada City Sunday, April 15, 2018

Overdose of opioids and other substances is a public health concern throughout the world. Yet information about how to prevent overdose, calculate dosage, and test the content of widely available recreational drugs is difficult to acquire. In the spirit of universal access to all knowledge, and to prevent future deaths, the Women’s Visionary Council (WVC), a nonprofit 501c3 educational organization, will host a Risk Reduction Workshop on Sunday, April 15, 2018 at Akashic Visions Gallery, 513 Searles Ave., Nevada City, CA from 1 to 6 pm.

No controlled substances will be used or permitted in the space during the demonstration.

In the first part of the workshop, Dr. Gantt Galloway, Pharm. D., Research and Executive Director of the New Leaf Treatment Center, will provide training in the use of Naloxone or Narcan which blocks the effects of opioids, especially in cases of overdose. Participants completing the training will receive Naloxone kits to take home. Naloxone kits will be distributed at no cost on a first come, first serve basis.
During the second portion of the workshop Ethan Currens will demonstrate how to accurately measure liquids and powders to help prevent overdose. Using water and benign salts as demonstration tools, Currens will discuss risks associated with super-potent substances and show how low-cost milligram scales and widely available volumetric tools can be used to improve the accuracy of measurement.
Part three of the workshop will show how to use commercially available reagent testing kits to test for the presence of potentially deadly adulterants and reduce risks from misidentified drugs. Amy Raves of Safer Raving will conduct this demonstration and discuss the limitations of field reagent kits.

Workshop Schedule
1:00 pm – 1:10 pm Welcome & Greetings
1:10 pm – 1:30 pm Overview of Risk Reduction – Annie Oak, WVC Board Member
1:30pm – 2:00 pm Dr. Gantt Galloway demonstrates Naloxone
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Participants practice Naloxone injections and receive kits
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Ethan Currens demonstrates weighing and measuring
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Amy Raves demonstrates reagent testing kits
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Questions & Discussion
6:00 pm – Event concludes

The cost of this workshop is presented on a donation basis for maximal accessibility. Tax deductible donations can be made at www.visionarycongress.org or in person at the event.

For more information contact:

annie@visionarycongress.org
info@visionarycongress.org

Beyond Psychedelics, Global Psychedelic Forum June 21- 24 2018 Prague, Czech Republic

Eleonora Molnar, Executive Director of WVC Canada, will speak at Beyond Psychedelics, Global Psychedelic Forum June 21- 24 2018  in Prague, Czech Republic. Her presentation will discuss the ethical dimensions of current psychedelic research and of future treatments, as psychedelics become a legal adjunct to psychotherapy. The Beyond Psychedelics conference will review the risks and address the beneficial potential of psychedelics and alternative consciousness technologies,  and work toward the creation of guidelines for beneficial safe use and harm reduction.
The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for global cooperation among people with a professional interest in psychedelics, and to facilitate the exchange of both scientific knowledge and real practical experience to create new synergies – at a global level and across a variety of disciplines.
The event will encourage innovative discussions on approaches to psychedelics and on the ambiguous position, these substances still hold in the modern age. An in-depth review of current challenges associated with their use will be a key interest. Thes topics have been of interest to the WVC for some time, and WVC has previously developed a list of 21 Safety Tips For Participating In Ceremonies That Use Psychoactive Substances.

For more information please visit:
http://beyondpsychedelics.cz
Beyond Psychedelics, Global Psychedelic Forum

 

 

 

WVC Closes 2017 With A New Mission For the Next Decade

2017 has been a year deep reflection for the Women’s Visionary Council (WVC). After a decade of organizing our annual Women’s Visionary Congress and other gatherings in the U.S. and Canada, we took a step back this year to reexamine our mission. The WVC was created to provide a platform for women who were treated as second class citizens in vital discussions about non-ordinary states of consciousness. When the WVC first began inviting female researchers, healers, activists and artists to speak at our events, there were few women included in public conversations about these topics. While women made up a large proportion of research subjects for investigations into the therapeutic uses of MDMA, psilocybin and other substances, there were few female researchers invited to speak at gatherings where these studies were crafted and examined. Female investigators pursuing qualitative versus quantitative research were often sidelined. As women’s use of alcohol and opiates began to escalate, few people examined women’s use of cannabis and other alternative substances. Women activists, who stepped forward to change cannabis laws, as they did historically to end alcohol prohibition, did not receive the same recognition and support as their male counterparts.

The WVC was created in 2008 to provide a platform to redress the longstanding imbalance of opportunities between women and men to present their research and perspectives in vital discussions about non-ordinary states of consciousness. When the WVC first began inviting female researchers, healers, activists and artists to speak at our events, there were few women included in public conversations about these topics. While women made up a large proportion of research subjects in investigations into the therapeutic uses of MDMA, psilocybin and other substances, and were often the member of the research team working most closely with subjects, there were few female researchers invited to speak at gatherings where these studies were developed and examined.

As quantitative research is generally recognized as a standard for rigorous investigation, the pervasive failure to appreciate the value of qualitative research, which is more frequently pursued by female researchers, undervalued the contributions of these women. Little attention has also been paid to the use of of alcohol and opioids by women and few people have examined women’s use of cannabis and other alternative substances. As it was with the repeal of alcohol prohibition, pioneering women activists, who stepped forward to change cannabis laws did not receive the same recognition and support as their male counterparts.

The WVC has stepped forward to push for the inclusion of women’s perspectives in these discussions – and we have succeeded and prevailed. Today at academic and professional conferences where these topics are discussed, women make up at least half the speakers – and many got their start presenting at our events. A growing number of female researchers are entering this field and there is more respect for the rigor of qualitative inquiries. Women are now recognized as leaders in changing laws that support a racist drug war. There is still much to be done in equalizing the role of women in these efforts, but the past decade has seen substantial progress in the inclusion and recognition of female voices.

Other topics that the WVC championed have now also been embraced by mainstream culture. Years before the revolution sparked by the #MeToo movement, WVC spoke out about the sexual abuse and harassment of women participating in ceremonies that use psychedelic substances. In 2014, the WVC membership began collectively developing a series of Safety Tips that were translated and republished by organizations around the world. As increasing number of women participate in these ceremonies, the WVC continues to receive messages from people of all genders seeking safety advice and support after abusive encounters.

The WVC has also been on the forefront of education about the safe and effective use of cannabis, which will become legal for recreational use in our home state of California on January 1. In March of this year, we held our first annual Women & Cannabis Salon creating a platform for respected women leaders in this industry to share their experiences and wisdom. We heard from nine women pioneers in the fields of cannabis medicine, business, cultivation, activism and research in Oakland, CA. The following day we gathered for a cannabis oriented recipe exchange and cooking class. Click here to view videos of the presentations made at the event.

The WVC has also led educational efforts to help address the opioid crisis and the impact of adulterated substances. In July 2017, WVC launched its second annual workshop series on risk reduction and drug safety skills. Participants received training in the use of Naloxone/Narcan, which blocks the effects of opioids and helps prevents overdose deaths. WVC trainers also provided instruction in accurately measuring liquids and powders to help prevent overdose and the use of reagent testing kits to check for the presence of potentially deadly adulterants. As the only organization to provide training in all three of these skills, we are seeking support to continue to offer these workshops and Naloxone kits at no cost to participants.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to WVC to help fund our upcoming programs. When you donate $75 or more, you will become a member of the organization and will have access to our membership newsletter and the ability to nominate speakers, scholarship recipients, and grant recipients to the board.

A Focus On Inclusiveness

In the coming year, the WVC will continue to focus on health and safety initiatives. We plan to extend our risk reduction workshops and discussions around sexual assault in psychedelic ceremonies. The WVC is also planning our second weekend-long Salon in New York this year. Our last gathering in 2016 was extremely successful and we look forward to reconnecting with our east coast community once again. The WVC is also planning to organize another women and cannabis event in the near future to create an opportunity for women – especially women of color – to thrive in the rapidly changing cannabis industry. We’ll be working to ensure that these conversations include non-English speaking communities and will begin to translate the WVC website into Spanish.

While the WVC privileges the voices of women, all our activities will continue to welcome people of all genders interested in the expansion of consciousness through many means including the dream state, art, spiritual, and physical disciplines. Our new focus on sustainable food systems and traditional cooking skills that support our internal psychobiome will continue in 2018 with another presentation of our annual home canning class and community dinner. Twenty-six participants joined us at Cybele Farm in Grass Valley, CA in November of this year, where chef Emma Sanchez taught us how to make applesauce, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables as our grandmothers did.

The Women’s Visionary Congress will again return in the fall of 2018 with a focus on these topics – and also more up to date information about the therapeutic and spiritual uses of expanded states of consciousness. We’ll examine both qualitative and quantitative research as well as indigenous and experiential ways of knowing. The WVC is emphasizing its commitment to work for the inclusion of people from many cultures whose insights into the use of sacred plant medicines are essential for social and scientific understanding of these substances. The WVC is currently determining a location and date for the 2018 Women’s Congress and we’ll be in touch to let you know more information.

Donations and Grants 

None of the projects that the WVC has created and shared with our members over the last decade would have been possible without support from our donors. We would like to thank the River Styx Foundation, Pilar Starr Woodman, and the Sarlo Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund for their generous donations to the WVC in 2017. We would also like to thank our WVC members for their support and all those who have attended WVC events. A portion of the ticket sales to these events goes toward WVC programs. We would also like to thank the many volunteers who have donated their time to help organize, manage and webcast WVC events. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to WVC and becoming a member of the organization to support our work in the new year.

Thanks to the generosity of our community, the WVC continued this year to award grants to exceptional women and organizations who advance our mission. In November, we awarded a grant to Dr. Julie Holland to host a Women in Psychedelic Research networking event at the Drug Policy Alliance conference in Atlanta, GA. The event was attended by approximately 40 women and men including many young and transgender people. Dr. Holland is a psychiatrist, psychophamacologist, and former Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. She is the author of several books and serves as a medical monitor for multiple therapeutic studies investigating the utility of MDMA and cannabis in treating symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The WVC also made a grant in 2017 to the Upcycle Clothing project in New Mexico founded by visionary artist and WVC presenter Jean Nichols The WVC has a long history of supporting and promoting the work of women artists who serve their communities. Upcycle Clothing creates opportunities for women in Mora County, New Mexico to earn money by creating fashionable garments from used clothing. This project helps women learn new skills, work at home, and provide for their families in a small county with few jobs. The WVC grant will help the organization rent space where the ladies can work together a few days a week and mentor young women who are launching themselves the larger world.

Hello and Goodbye to WVC Staff

As the WVC continues to reach out to new communities of friends and allies, our own team here in the San Francisco Bay Area is undergoing changes. After significantly expanding our programing and digital communications, Anne Tara Szostek will be moving on to a new job in the health care sector in the new year. She will continue to use her sound judgment and digital acumen as WVC’s Secretary and webmistress. Kati Silva, a graduate student and community leader has now stepped into the role of WVC’s new Program Coordinator. Kati’s insights into the vital role of ceremony in healing traditions were shared in her presentation at the 2016 Women’s Congress entitled The Importance of Ceremony on the Spiritual Path. She will be using her extensive organizational skills for WVC program administration and digital promotion, and will be sending updates about upcoming events and projects in the new year.

Kristel Peterson, who has served as our events registrar, is also leaving the WVC. Kristel brought her solid ideas and fine management skills to our events. We will miss her deft hand and tremendous positive energy. The WVC also saw the resignation of Denis Berry from our board of directors in 2017. Denis offered wisdom, gravitas and nonprofit expertise that greatly benefitted the WVC. She will continue as an emerita board member together with a group of extraordinary women including former board member Diana Slattery, and our first board president Carolyn Garcia.

Together with our group of senior women advisors and our allies, the WVC is setting a clear course for the next decade. Thank you for your continued support for our community, our projects and our gatherings. We wish you all joyful holidays, peace in your hearts, and a visionary New Year.

With love and gratitude,

The Women of the WVC

Board Members
Annie Oak, President
Mariavittoria Mangini, Treasurer
Anne Tara Szostek, Secretary

Staff
Kati Silva, Program Coordinator
Eleonora Molnar, Director WVC Canada

Emerita Board Members
Carolyn Garcia
Diana Slattery
Denis Berry

Emerita Financial Wizard
Patricia Tierney

A Year of Transition – WVC Gatherings in 2017

Thank you for all your support during our year end fundraising drive. Thanks to many generous donations from our members, we raised $12,850 towards our goal of $5,000, which will help make possible a new series of workshops and events that serve visionary women and their allies in 2017.

This year, 2017, will present many challenges for our communities and our nation. Thus, we have decided to refocus our efforts to make our voices heard by holding a series of events that reflect gatherings requested by you, our members. These events will be opportunities for you to speak out on issues you care about, connect with community, receive feedback on your projects, and further evolve the world of ideas that we have set in motion since our first gatherings over a decade ago.

WVC stands for both the Women’s Visionary Congress, the gathering we have hosted annually for the last decade, and for the Women’s Visionary Council, a non-profit we started to gather ideas and organize these events.

When we started holding our annual Women’s Visionary Congress eleven years ago, very few women were represented in public discussions about psychedelics and consciousness and we felt that creating a space where women’s voices on these topics were privileged was essential. Now we are seeing many women represented at gatherings focusing on these topics. WVC played a pivotal role in this shift – many of the women speaking at these gatherings spoke for the first time at our Congress or gained valuable support for their projects that allow them to succeed. Our 10 years of Women’s Congresses gathered a strong community and a wellspring of women’s wisdom.

This year we feel that it is time for our focus to shift and so we have chosen not to host a Women’s Visionary Congress. Rather, we will be focusing on a series of smaller events in Northern California with a focus on building and strengthening our local community.

WVC stands for both the Women’s Visionary Congress, the event we’ve been holding for the last decade, and for the Women’s Visionary Council, a non-profit we started to gather ideas and organize these events. We are all part of this Council and we look forward to hearing your ideas and gathering with you this year. Feel free to share your ideas for events and projects with us at info@visionarycongress.org.

Our year of events will begin on March 4th and 5th with our two-day Women and Cannabis Salon in Oakland and San Francisco.

On April 24, we will hold a workshop on Psychedelic Culture and Community at the Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland.

We welcome you to join us during these gatherings and send us suggestions for events that reflect your interests. Stay tuned for announcements of additional events that will be held in the fall and winter of 2017.

WVC Mourns the Oakland Fire  

The Women’s Visionary Congress is based in the San Francisco Bay area and our members our among the community of artists who make our culture so vibrant. We mourn the loss of those who died in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California on December 2nd and those who are impacted by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the many Bay Area artists who are impacted by the chronic lack of affordable housing, studio and event space in the most expensive housing market in the U.S. We support efforts to increase the safety of these spaces and prevent artists from being evicted from their homes. If you wish to make a donation to the families of those who were lost and the Ghost Ship artists who are now homeless, the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has set up a crowdfunding page – click here to learn more. We encourage you to support the artists in your community this holiday season and help make sure they have safe, affordable places to live and work.

Your Digital Privacy Is Important To WVC – Here’s What We’re Doing About It

When the Women’s Visionary Congress was founded 10 years ago things were very different for people who use psychedelics for healing and consciousness exploration. The War on Drugs was in full force, and so relatively few people felt comfortable speaking publicly about their use of psychedelic substances designated Schedule I by the U.S. Government. As a result, WVC’s first website, which many of you will remember, was remarkably secure. It was a static HTML website hosted on a private server that could only be updated by a select few people. While this did make it a little more difficult to share information about our organization and events online, this was a small price to pay for the extremely high level of privacy that it afforded our visitors. No information about visitors was ever tracked or stored, so it would have been impossible for any person or organization to gather a list of individuals who had visited our website. We started out with this level of website security in order to protect the women in our community. WVC has always recognized that women are more vulnerable to legal action when they speak publicly about psychedelics because they usually have less money to defend themselves than men and because they could be pressured by authorities who threaten to take their children.

As public knowledge about the safety and efficacy of psychedelic medicines has grown, people have become comfortable speaking publicly about their psychedelic explorations, WVC staff and board members included. The board of WVC felt that it was time to expand their online outreach, and so, in 2013 we began actively spreading the word about our work through a popular and (apparently) free mail service called MailChimp and through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Reddit) in an effort to reach a broader audience. In late 2014 we launched a new website on WordPress, an open source content management system (CMS) which allowed us to become much more flexible and open with our digital communications, providing rapid updates about events, speakers, and projects to a rapidly growing network of psychonauts around the world.

However, a WVC member named John Gilmore, who is a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had concerns about the privacy of our website. He pointed out to us that our ‘Forever Free Pricing’ plan with Mailchimp, which promised us free email blasts to up to 2000 subscribers, actually came with a cost. Each free e-mail we sent out of Mailchimp included a 1×1 tracking pixel, which tracked information about the e-mail addresses and IP addresses (a number assigned to every device that connects to the internet) of people who opened and clicked on links in our emails. For the average internet user an IP address will provide information about the location of the device used.

And we discovered that Mailchimp wasn’t the only provider offering ‘free’ services with a hidden tracking cost. We learned that Paypal includes 1×1 tracking pixels in their payment buttons.

Paypal Donate Button

See this button on a website? You’re being tracked!

Common social sharing buttons such as Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, also track information about which websites their users visit.

Social sharing

See something like this? Includes tracking, even if you never click!

Many websites track users through Google’s ‘Free’ Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and even Google Fonts! In other words, when you visit any website with that little Facebook ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ button displayed, Facebook immediately receives information that you have visited the site, even if you never click ‘Like’. Similarly, when you visit any website with a Paypal button on it, Paypal knows that you’ve visited it – regardless of whether you click the button. Don’t see either of those things? If the site is using any of the thousands of ‘Free’ Google Fonts, Google has a record of your visit.

You can get a sense of whether you are being tracked online by viewing the page source of any website – in most browsers you can do this by right clicking or control clicking and selecting ‘View Page Source.’ Then click Command-F or Control-F to search for the word ‘Pixel‘. If you see a .gif file with a Width and Height of 1, you’re being tracked! Here’s an example of what this looks like in a Paypal button:

tracking pixel code
When you see one of these pixels you can feel confident that your browsing history and IP address are being tracked.

Curious to see how this works during an online browsing session? Those of us with the Firefox browser can get a good idea of who is tracking us online and what this looks like using Firefox’s Lightbeam app, which displays a handy graph of websites you’ve visited and third party sites that receive data about you. At this time, my Lightbeam shows me that though I’ve only visited 75 websites between May 24th and May 27th, 2016, my information has been shared with 259 third party websites – meaning that 259 entities may now be storing data about my location, search history, and web browsing activity.

What benefit could be so large that companies would offer us services for free, anyways? Google, Facebook, Mailchimp, etc. primarily use the data they gather to tailor ads to you – which is why you’ll probably notice ads for outdoor gear arriving on your Facebook feed immediately after you purchase that pair of trekking poles online. While many find this invasive and creepy, many others wonder why they should care at all.

Even if you’re not creeped out by personalized ads, keep in mind that information about your browsing history is stored indefinitely by the companies in question – so all of the information that Facebook gathers about your personal browsing history is stored by Facebook, and they have no legal responsibility to protect or erase it. As multiple high profile cases have shown us, the US Government is not shy about strong arming tech companies into giving up their data – often without a warrant.

WVC values our ability to communicate with a widening audience of psychonauts, and we also value privacy of our community very highly. While this type of tracking technology is currently primarily used for advertising, we recognize that we cannot predict the actions of those who may hold this data in future. And we want to ensure that the data of those people who visit our website does not fall into the hands of the wrong people in the case of a power shift. We recommend reading IBM and the Holocaust if you want to understand more about how this can happen.

So, in December of 2015 we began to take action:

  • Our first step was to turn off Mailchimp tracking so that those people who open emails from us do so without any record kept. To do this, we had to start PAYING Mailchimp a monthly fee – that’s right, to get Mailchimp to stop tracking our users we had to pay them. In other words, that Free account isn’t free – they were getting quantifiable value out of our use of their service.
  • We removed all of the Paypal buttons on our website and replaced them with custom made buttons that link to Paypal – so we can still use our Paypal account to take donations. Click here to easily make your own buttons.
  • Our website was built using Google Fonts, so a volunteer web developer created a plugin which loads the fonts directly from our server, rather than from Google – so they can’t track visitors using our fonts.
  • We removed all social sharing buttons from our website.
  • We have never, and are committed to never using Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster, or similar to gather data about users who visit our website. If we decide that user tracking is important for our organization we will implement a tool like Piwik which gives us 100% ownership over the data gathered.

We take these actions out of a deep respect and love for the courageous members of our community. In addition, we felt it was important to share the surprising information we learned about online privacy through this process. We hope that doing this will provide other organizations with the tools to be aware when they are allowing outside groups to track their site visitor’s information. They should consider only allowing this to happen intentionally, ideally with a clearly worded privacy policy public on the website so that visitors understand the privacies they are giving up on visiting.

Want to enhance your online privacy? Here’s some great information from the Electronic Freedom Foundation to get you started:

EFF’S Survelliance Self Defense – Comprehensive guides for protecting your privacy online

Privacy Badger – a browser plugin from the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) that blocks spying ads and invisible trackers

We Remember and Honor Kai Wingo: Mushroom Farmer, Activist and Friend

Kai Wingo

Urban Mushroom Farmer & Visionary Kai Wingo

By AT Szostek and Annie Oak

The Women’s Visionary Congress acknowledges with great sadness the passing of Kai Wingo, urban mushroom farmer, activist, and ambassador of the mushroom medicine. Kai started her Buckeye Mushroom Farm and her Kultured Mushrom community project in the Buckeye neighborhood of Cleveland in the fall of 2013 and sold her mushrooms at farmers markets around the city. She hosted workshops in mushroom cultivation and was an enthusiastic advocate for the power of mushrooms to help us create a healthier, more sustainable culture. We first met Kai when she received a scholarship to attend the 2015 Women’s Visionary Congress in Petaluma. We were impressed by her clear, deep wisdom of mushroom medicine of all kinds, her devotion to working with entheogens (no small thing in Ohio) and her gift for connecting people and communities.

According to Kai’s family, she was completing day 37 of a 40-day fast when an inbalance of electrolytes and potassium caused her to lose consciousness. She was rushed to the hospital and after some time on life support, Kai passed away. Today, February 27th, Kai’s community in Cleveland will hold a memorial service for her from 3-8 PM in the main classroom auditorium of the Black Studies Department of Cleveland State University at East 22nd Street and Chester Avenue. We are in alliance with Kai’s friends and family in grieving her passing today. Members of our community are observing a day of mourning, taking time to reflect on all that Kai accomplished. She was a true ambassador between worlds – bridging the realms of mushrooms and humans, and creating bridges between communities. If you are in or near Cleveland, go pay your respects to a brilliant woman.

Kai is survived by three children, her parents, and three sisters. Her son, Gyasi, plans to continue Kai’s work with Kultured Mushroom Farm and sell her mushrooms at local markets. For those who wish to support Kai’s family in this challenging time, please click here to visit this GoFundMe campaign where you can make a donation.

This fall Kai held the first Women & Entheogens conference in Cleveland in September of 2015. She reciprocated our invitation to attend our gathering by inviting WVC board member Annie Oak to present at her conference, along with a group of remarkable women and men from around the country. The event was the first of its kind to engage the feminine dimension of plant medicine work at a gathering in the midwestern US. This event led to the creation of new connections between many communities of psychonauts. We are deeply grateful to Kai for connecting the WVC community of consciousness explorers from the West Coast with her communies in  Cleveland and Detroit.

Kai was the very first person we approached to speak at our upcoming 2016 Women’s Visionary Congress in Petaluma, CA. We are deeply saddened that Kai will not be there to share her wisdom with us. While her presence cannot be replaced, we want all that she inspired to continue. WVC has created an annual scholarship in Kai’s name which will support travel costs for a women from her community to attend and speak at our annual Woman’s Congress. We will announce the name of the 2016 scholarship recipient in the coming weeks. Kai’s legacy lives on.

Women’s Visionary Congress Hosts Weekend of Events in New York City

The theme of the 2015 Womens’ Visionary Congress was “Rising from the Underground.” Next month, the WVC will travel east and ascend further by gathering in New York City for a weekend of events from March 11-13. Our conversations in NYC will focus on how we integrate insights from our explorations in expanded consciousness and share them with the world. As with all WVC events, people of all genders are welcome to join us.

The WVC gatherings in New York City will begin in Manhattan with a party on Friday, March 11th from 6-10 pm at the K2 Lounge inside the Rubin Museum at 150 W 17th Street. The party and museum admission is free, as is a guided tour of the museum galleries. On Saturday, March 12th, from 11 am to 5 pm, the WVC will host a Salon at The Alchemist’s Kitchen, on 21 East 1st Street. The Salon will feature talks by three of our favorite local visionaries, Katherine MacLean PhD, Allyson Grey, and Julie Holland MD. Tickets to the Salon are $50 and benefit the WVC which is a 501C3 nonprofit organization.

Always on the frontier of investigations into consciousness, Dr. MacLean received a fellowship from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of intensive meditation training on well-being and brain function. As a postdoctoral research fellow and faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she worked with researchers who examine the impact of psilocybin on personality change and how this class of medicines could enhance mental health and creativity. Her current focus is the role of psychedelics and meditation in preparing individuals for death and healing trauma related to grief. Dr. MacLean is now the director of the Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care program at the Center for Optimal Living in New York City. As a complement to the WVC Salon, the Center has chosen the topic of “Psychedelics and Gender” for their monthly public psychedelic group meeting which will take place at The New School at 7 pm, Thursday, March 10.

Allyson Grey, a painter and social sculptor will present the second talk at the WVC Salon. Grey holds an MFA from Tufts University and is a long-time art educator, arts organizer and muse to artists worldwide. Since 1975, Allyson has collaborated with the visionary artist Alex Grey. Together they founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM), a spiritual retreat center for artists outside of New York City. For the first few years of the WVC, Allyson flew to California to speak at our gatherings and offer her wisdom and support. We can now reciprocate by bringing the WVC community to her hometown. Allyson and Alex paint on stage for thousands of people at gatherings around the world and act as ambassadors for the visionary realm. As she has done in the past at our request, Allyson will talk about how she applies her psychedelic family values in the business world to sustain transcendent art.

The final WVC salon talk will be presented by Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist with a private practice in New York City. Dr. Holland is a former Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and serves as the medical monitor for multiple therapeutic studies investigating the utility of MDMA or cannabis in ameliorating symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. From 1996 to 2005, Dr. Holland ran the psychiatric emergency room of Bellevue Hospital on Saturday and Sunday nights which is chronicled in her excellent book, “Weekends at Bellevue.” Dr. Holland is editor of the book, “Ecstasy: The Complete Guide. A Comprehensive Look at the Risks and Benefits of MDMA,” and also edited “The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to the Risks and Benefits of Cannabis.” Her new book, “Moody Bitches: The truth about the drugs you’re taking, the sleep you’re missing, the sex you’re not having, and what’s really making you crazy,” was published in 2015. If you’ve never read, Dr. Holland’s books, especially “Moody Bitches,” I strongly suggest you do so before hearing her talk. The presentations will include time for Q and A and I will be lined up with everyone else to ask questions prompted by her groundbreaking work.

The WVC Salon will be followed on the evening of Saturday, March 12th by a visionary storytelling gathering co-hosted by WVC and Psymposia which will take place from 8 pm to midnight at the Hell Phone Speakeasy at 247 Varet St. in Brooklyn. There is no charge for admission. We’re delighted to be setting sail with Psymposia’s “Psychedelic Stories” series which they describe as “The Moth Radio Hour… On Acid.” The event will be emceed by drug writer Lex Pelger and will give participants an opportunity to share compelling experiences, scientific academic research and underground explorations with psychedelics and other psychoactives. We’re getting our own stories ready to contribute.

And finally, on Sunday, March 13th, the WVC will host a tea party and theatrical experience from 10 am to 2 pm at the statue of Alice in Wonderland and her friends located in Central Park north of the Conservatory Water at East 74th Street in New York City. Entitled “Alice Has Options,” the event will offer a San Francisco-style immersive art narrative intended to disrupt cultural conditioning. Participants are invited to bring a teacup and an open mind.

Help us Reclaim Women’s Wisdom and Balance the Conversation on Consciousness

We are in the midst of a profound cultural transformation in which the medicines and spiritual practices which were familiar to our ancestors, but which have historically been suppressed, denigrated, and demonized, are gaining acceptance world wide. While the mainstream scientific community is recognizing the benefits of this inheritance, clinical data alone cannot shift cultural perceptions.

As we take our next steps, we invite you all to help us strengthen and integrate our community for decades to come. We have a modest fundraising goal of $7000 which will allow us to expand our programs and help fund our upcoming events in 2016.

Of funds raised:

•    40% will help secure event spaces and spread the word about our gatherings
•    20% will support our scholarship fund, ensuring that people of slender means can attend our gatherings
•    20% will fund speaker travel expenses
•    10% will go towards operational expenses

Since 2006 – for nearly a decade – the Women’s Visionary Congress (WVC) has been providing much needed balance in the expanding conversation about psychedelics and consciousness. WVC supports the cultivation and preservation of both contemporary and ancestral wise woman traditions across global cultures, and hosts community conversations about the safe and respectful exploration of non-ordinary states of awareness. In gatherings across the US and Canada, we create opportunities for connection and mentorship between generations of women with the expertise and desire to learn more about these realms.

Our Evolving Mission

Recognizing that women are at greater risk of harm from the injustices of drug prohibition, WVC was initially very discreet about the information shared at our events. This allowed us to quietly gather a community of powerful wise women and create a wellspring of women’s wisdom about altered states of consciousness during the darkest years of the War on Drugs.

Now, with the explosion of worldwide interest in psychedelic medicines and consciousness exploration, we are rising from the underground, preparing to pass the wisdom and traditions of our community to the next generation of women and people of all genders allied with our vision.

We thank you for the time, energy, and resources you have contributed to WVC over the years. By attending our gatherings, donating to our projects, and spreading the word about our mission, you have helped us build a vibrant and thriving community in which our wise woman lineage can be preserved and shared. We are particularly grateful to the elders in our community who have explored the edges of consciousness for many decades, and who are dedicated to passing on their wisdom despite all obstacles.

Visionary Plant Altar

Jane Straight’s Visionary Plant Altar at the 2015 Women’s Visionary Congress

Become a Member

When you donate $75 or more, you become a member of the Women’s Visionary Council, the nonprofit group that produces the WVC gatherings. Benefits of membership include discounted registration at all WVC events, the opportunity to nominate speakers for our events, a WVC poster featuring artwork by the great visionary artist and WVC presenter Martina Hoffmann, and more.

Learn More and Become a Member

You can also offer important support without a financial donation, such as:

1. In Kind Donations – If you would like to make an in-kind donation of goods or services, please e-mail us at info@visionarycongress.org

While time spent providing volunteer services is not tax deductible, you can deduct expenses associated with volunteer work for WVC such as travel, food, and supplies. You can deduct the fair market value of goods donated to WVC.

2. Tell Your Story – Let us know how WVC has impacted your life! Leave us a review or a story about your WVC experience on Great NonProfits or send us your story in an e-mail.

3. Share this letter and our website with people in your community that you know have benefited from WVC in the past or that you feel would resonate with our mission using the social media share buttons on the right side of the screen.

Here’s what we’ve accomplished in 2015

An Essential Intergenerational Community Gathering

This June we hosted the 9th Annual Women’s Visionary Congress featuring presentations by 29 researchers, healers, activists, and artists who explore altered states of consciousness. Since our first Women’s Visionary Congress in 2007 we have provided a supportive and respectful forum for more than 350 women researchers, healers, activists, teachers and artists to showcase their work, and have offered talks by visionary men who are always welcome at our events.

In addition to presenting some of the best-known women in our community, we have also invited speakers with no prior experience addressing public audiences. Many of the most powerful female voices in the psychedelic movement today got their start at one of our events. This year we were proud to offer a presentation by our first transgendered speaker, Jae Starfox, highlighting our commitment to create space for the transmission of wisdom that lies outside the gender binary.

Some of the Speakers from the 2015 Women’s Visionary Congress

View More Pictures from the 2015 Congress

Scholarships to WVC Gatherings

Thanks to generous donations from the Betsy Gordon Foundation, the River Styx Foundation, and several long-time funders, we were able to offer 38 scholarships for people of slender means who otherwise would have been unable to attend this years Women’s Congress, and who brought diverse perspectives and wisdom to share with our community.

Our scholarship program and speaker travel fund allow us to bring women from diverse backgrounds to our gatherings, creating opportunities for intergenerational mentoring and inter-cultural exchange that inspire and enliven our community as part of a global network of communities dedicated to consciousness expansion.

Donate to Our Scholarship Fund

2015 Women's Visionary Congress Scholarship Group

2015 Women’s Visionary Congress Scholarship Recipients

Supporting an Increasing Number of Women Speakers at Psychedelic Gatherings

WVC has successfully encouraged conference organizers worldwide to include more women in their list of speakers. Both WVC organizers and presenters are contacted by event producers for suggestions on how to include more women in their lineup. We are delighted to see an increasing number of women researchers, therapists, and scientists present their work at conferences like Breaking Convention and Visionary Convergence in 2015. This is great progress since WVC’s founders attended the psychedelic community’s 2006 International Symposium in Switzerland and noted that there were 69 men and only eight women invited to speak.

The Women’s Visionary Congress provides a vital platform for encouraging women from across generations and around the world to speak out about their knowledge and experiences with psychedelic and visionary plants. My participation with WVC has helped us find more talented women speakers for MAPS educational programs. No other organization does so much to bring women into the growing mainstream conversation about psychedelic science, healing, and spirituality. ~ Brad Burge, Communications and Marketing Director, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)

Making Space for Difficult Conversations

WVC Canada held its fourth annual salon at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada this September. Eleonora Molnar, Director of WVC Canada, led a spirited community discussion about cultural appropriation in North American psychedelic ceremonies and remaining respectful of indigenous tradition holders who work with plant medicines.
Similarly, our Vancouver Salon launched an important community discussion about sexual and physical assault that participants, particularly women, sometimes encounter in psychedelic ceremonies. We have continued this conversation at subsequent gatherings and created a list of 20 safety suggestions for psychedelic ceremonies and other safety resources on our blog. WVC Founder, Annie Oak, recently moderated a panel discussion at the Visionary Convergence in Los Angeles about the abuse of power in plant medicine ceremonies including sexual misconduct. WVC has been a powerful advocate for women who want to speak out about these violations. We have inspired global conversations about other potential dangers that can arise with the misuse of these medicines while examining and celebrating their benefits.

I have attended the last three sessions of the Women’s Visionary Congress, co-hosted an event in Santa Cruz and traveled to Mexico with leaders in the community to explore starting a Mexico WVC Salon. Working with WVC in the last 4 years has inspired me to place more women on panels at conferences and events that I help organize; I have come to see the importance of recognizing women’s voices in the debates on drug use and in the context of psychedelic experience. I have also appreciated the contact with a large community of very fun and interesting women related to the exploration of inner states and how these experiences can translate into activism for justice, arts, intellectual reflection and dreaming of other realities. ~ Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Anthropologist, Author & Editor, co-founder of the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP), Visiting Professor at CIESAS in Guadalajara, Mexico

We’re Growing! New Intern

Our new intern, Kristel Peterson, is a member of the WVC community of healers. A social worker and therapist by training, Kristel is expanding our capacity to connect with new friends and allies.

Help Us Do More

Your tax-deductible donation this year will allow us to continue expanding our programs. In 2016 we will:

• Hold our first Salon in New York City on March 12th & 13th featuring psychiatrist and author Julie Holland MD and researcher Katherine MacClean, PhD, expanding our community on the East Coast of the US.

• Continue to produce events that create balance between wise woman ways of knowing and the mainstream medical model, and that facilitate the transfer of knowledge between generations.

• Launch the WVC Educators Bureau which will make it easy for event organizers, editors, and producers to connect with women who teach about altered states of consciousness.

• Create space for people to share their stories of positive experiences with retreat centers, teachers, ceremonial leaders and guides who prioritize the safety of women.

Make a Gift

Please Support our Mission – Donate Today

This year, our conversations have repeatedly focused on the importance of connecting directly with the land and with sacred plants. For millennia women have shared a special connection with the earth through plant medicines, using them to ease childbirth, heal illness, and prepare the dying for the passage into death. Yet few of us have a chance to directly connect with and steward the visionary plants which are our allies, and the land on which they grow.

We are currently exploring the idea of acquiring land in Northern California to create a WVC Mystery School – a place where we can steward land and medicinal plants, hold workshops and gatherings, and give our elders space to pass on their wisdom. We will continue to update you as this seed begins to grow – and welcome your input if you have any ideas about land that may be suitable.

In the meantime, we are growing our plant allies in our own backyards – and encourage you to do so as well. If you have had powerful experiences tending your garden, please consider submitting them to us for inclusion on our blog, Terra Firma.

Thank you for working with us to build the WVC Community. We are excited to grow with you for many years to come to support the transmission of wisdom from women who hold powerful knowledge of plant allies and the expansion of consciousness.

 

Donate Today

Do Not Depend On Others To Keep You Safe: Knowledge is Power in Visionary Ceremonies

For the past several years, presenters and participants at WVC gatherings have been engaged in a very interesting discussion about the ongoing mass-market commercialization of psychoactive substances and efforts to regulate them. As an increasing number of people travel to Latin America to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies, we have also heard from a growing number of women who have been abused by shamans leading these ceremonies – and other rituals involving non-ordinary states of consciousness. These stories are amplified by those who seek to create regulatory structures for these experiences. I expressed my own thoughts on these issues in my presentation at the November 2014 WVC salon in Vancouver Canada.

As the debate over the proposed regulation of these substances and ceremonies has raged on during the last few months, WVC decided that the most useful contribution our community could offer is to directly assist users of psychoactive materials to become more careful and discerning psychonauts. WVC sustains itself with very little funding and does not have the tens of thousands of dollars raised by groups who claim that they will protect the visionary community. What WVC does have is a wealth of knowledge and experience freely offered by the wise women and men of our community. After consulting with our elders and others with deep knowledge of these matters, WVC has posted a list of thoughtful and practical Safety Tips for those participating in ceremonies that use psychoactive substances.

We firmly believe that the best way to secure your safety when entering non-ordinary states of consciousness is to take steps to educate yourself and develop your own plan to address potentially hazardous situations. You should cultivate your own power and knowledge instead of depending on outside groups or individuals who offer promises of safety. The unseen world is full of potential perils, but you have it within your ability to take proactive measures and effectively address potential threats. If you would like to share your knowledge to expand on our suggestions, please contact us. If you would like to help support our gatherings where this information is shared, donate your funds or your energy.

WVC will continue to discuss these important issues at gatherings throughout the year. Our next conversation will take place February 21st in Santa Cruz, California at a book launch for Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon and Beyond, a collection published by the Oxford University press and edited by WVC community members Bia Labate and Clancy Cavnar. I will be joining Bia and Clancy together with long-time WVC presenter Val Corral, co-founder of The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), the first openly operating cannabis collective in the U.S.  Moderated by Janis Phelps of CIIS, the discussion we will examine the parallels between cannabis, ayahuasca and psychedelic cultures and the current models of commodification and regulation of plant medicines. See you there.

This page contains affiliate links. When you purchase a book through an affiliate link, your costs will be the same, and WVC will receive a small commission. This helps us to cover some of the costs for this site. Thank you so much for your support!

WVC Launches New Website

All living things change and grow. The Women’s Visionary Congress created a new website this fall to present the latest information about the WVC community and its gatherings. The project was a collaboration that included a number of talented people, many of whom donated their skills to create our new gathering place on the digital frontier. We would like to first thank Lakshmi Narayan, CEO of Awake Media, who designed the logo, look-and-feel, and user interactions that you see on these pages. Awake Media is a coalition of independent contractors who create online content and campaigns that are unlike any others. We are fortunate to be able to work with this group who bring a uniquely expansive sensibility and awareness to their projects. The Awake Media team has helped us evolve our mission to bring our formerly private discussions to supporters and participants around the world.

We are grateful to our first featured visionary artist, Clancy Cavnar, who granted us permission to use her powerful visionary art on the new WVC site. While we respect her work as an author and editor, and her most recent book, The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca, we have also been admiring Clancy’s images. She made the WVC board and design team very happy by allowing us to showcase her art in our online gallery. As you shop for holiday gifts, consider becoming a patron of the visionary arts and purchasing a piece of Clancy’s work which is offered for sale on this site. A portion of these purchases helps to support WVC.

The person most responsible for coordinating all the pieces of this new site is Anne Tara Szostek, our WVC Communications Manager and Registrar. Wielding her toolkit with persistence and grace, Anne Tara coordinated and fine-tuned all the elements on the new WVC website. She kept the redesign process moving forward and helped us to work in harmony with our collective vision. Anne Tara’s hand is clearly evident on this site and she applies her clarity and wisdom to WVC outreach and social media. She is among the new generation of women who carry forward this work as it unfolds.

Finally, we offer a deep bow of gratitude to those who created our first WVC website all those years ago. Vicki Olds at Studio Reflex understood our mission and undertook the challenging task of helping us develop an online identity for a completely unique organization. She stood with us as we emerged from our Mystery School approach and word-of-mouth outreach to the more public face that WVC now embraces. John Gilmore made sure that the WVC website was updated with the latest information and hosted the site on his servers for many years. Perhaps the most over qualified system administrator we could have possibly wished for, we are grateful for his many years of support for our presence on the Net.

Essential to this journey is the sublime art of Martina Hoffmann, who together with her late partner Robert Venosa, presented her exquisite paintings at our gatherings and gave us permission to use these images on our first website. Martina will be the next WVC featured artist this spring and in the meantime you can view and purchase her work on her website. We have been gifted with Martina’s beautiful images for years and you can do the same for your friends.

This new website will now hold not only all of the new material generated by WVC presenters and participants at upcoming events, but also eight years worth of archived art, film and talks from past events that we are now in the process of transcribing and releasing. We welcome all forms of assistance, especially volunteers to transcribe past talks and financial donations to help support this site and the WVC mission.

We wish you a happy Solstice, a year of peace and abundance, and the return of the Light in all your holiday traditions.