Gather 'round, flower children — psychedelic feminism is about to become your new obsession.
Students of psychedelic feminism believe that use of natural psychedelics (e.g. ayahuasca, peyote, and cannabis) can empower women to unlearn sexist beliefs that are pervasive in our culture.
"If you were to just combine the benefits of psychedelic journeying in a safe, legal situation...with feminism, with the issues that we are dealing with as females in a male dominated culture, it's phenomenal," Zoe Helene, psychedelic feminist and founder of Cosmic Sister, told Revelist.
"There's so much there, because so much of the things we are dealing with inside ourselves that hold us back, that makes us angry, that we need to find ways of looking at differently."
The DEA banned most psychedelics with the Controlled Substance Act, but in recent years, researchers have discovered the drugs have several health benefits. Ayahuasca, one of plants involved in psychedelic feminism, can allegedly treat psychological stresses and help patients dealing with depression, addiction, and even cancer.
Revelist spoke to Zoe Helene all about this far-out-feminism — and how folks can get safely and legally involved.
"Sacred plants" — not synthetics — are key.
(Ayahuasca with Machete)
For centuries, indigenous cultures around the world have used sacred plants — including peyote, ayahuasca, and "magic mushrooms" — for spiritual healing. In psychedelic feminism, people ingest these substances to "journey."
"The first time I tried ayahuasca...I had a vision," Helene told Revelist. "It [was of] a quintessential female love warrior goddess entity who challenged me to step up to the plate."
Traditionally, ayahuasca has been used by shamans in South America to heal sick people. Some ayahuasca users have reported feeling "refreshed" or "reborn" afterward.
While sacred plants are powerful, it's important to use — and harvest them — responsibly. Helene said mindful cultivation or careful wild-harvesting is crucial.
"One of most important things to keep in mind is that plants can be at risk of being over-harvested to extinction just like animals can be," Helene said. "If a plant becomes popular, people can go crazy trying to harvest as much as they can without consideration to the nature of the plant kingdom — it is abundant but not infinite."
Ayahuasca is feminist AF.
(Ayahuasca Shaman Estella Pangosa Sinacay)
Peru's government regards ayahuasca so highly that it's considered a cultural patrimony. However, many who ingest it have distinctly "feminine experiences."
"Peru considers [ayahuasca] a 'cultural patrimony,' which means it’s more important than just being legal — they treasure it," Helene said. "The irony of calling it a 'cultural patrimony' is that most people experience ayahuasca as a female entity in their visions. Not everybody and not all the time, but by far the majority—but hey, at least they’ve legalized it."
Cannabis is a good option, if you can't swing a trip to the Amazon.
(Freshly harvested cannabis flowers)
Cosmic Sister's Plant Spirit Grant helps women travel to Peru to take part in traditional ayahuasca ceremonies. But if you want to "journey" closer to home, marijuana — which is legal recreationally in four states and the District of Columbia — is a fine option.
"I really feel the plant spirit of cannabis," Helene told Revelist, "For me, it's a full-on psychedelic. I know that sounds really 'woo-woo' and I'm not 'woo-woo,' I'm a scientist’s daughter. But there is a spirit to it."
Psychedelic feminists can — and should — support communities where sacred plants are grown.
(San Pedro Cactus Flowering)
One of Cosmic Sister's missions is to support women and sacred plants in the Amazon — and encourage others to do the same.
"We support indigenous ayahuasca shamans (especially women) who mostly live in areas...extractive industry has done real damage to the environment and to the natural resources native people — and the world — depend on to survive," Helene told Revelist.
"Cosmic Sister does not own or even part own an ayahuasca retreat. I'm not a 'shaman' and I don’t charge money — I give money. Helping [shamans] to earn an honest living so they can continue to do this work and so they can pass it down to the next generation is a wonderful thing to be a part of."
Psychedelic feminism isn't scary.
While some might be afraid to ingest psychedelics, Helene said sacred psychedelic plants are perfectly safe in the right "set (mindset) and setting (environment)."
"It sounds wild to somebody who hasn't had this experience, but let's just take ayahuasca," Helene told Revelist. "You [should] drink your ayahuasca in the right setting…not just some place in Brooklyn. We take the time to travel to where it is safe, legal, and treasured. Not just safe and legal, but treasured."