When a group of west coast female psychonauts launched the Women’s Visionary Congress (WVC) ten years ago, the psychedelic community was a different place. The therapeutic use of psychoactive substances was not as widely documented. Those who cared about drug policies were often mocked in the press. Qualitative research was deemed less valuable than quantitative analysis. And many fewer women presented at conferences where non-ordinary states of consciousness were discussed. Some chose to keep a low profile because they feared reprisal for talking about their work.
Our community saw an opportunity to help shift the status quo. Since women make less money, the first WVC events raised a bail fund and hired lawyers to defend our efforts to gather and share information. WVC organizers invited visionary women researchers, healers, activists and artists to talk about their work. We stood up for the right to self-knowledge, cognitive liberty, and new modes of healing that link us to female wisdom keepers and traditional users of plant medicines. The theme of the 2015 WVC gathering in California 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 http://centerforoptimalliving.com/psychedelic-education-and-continuing-care-program/. 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) http://cosm.org, 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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_Holland. 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 http://psymposia.com 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.