by Anne Tara Szostek
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.