February 10th, 2021
OF THE PSYCHEDELIC LEADERSHIP PODCAST
Psychedelics & Anti-Racism with Co-Founders of the Sabina Project Charlotte James and Undrea Wright
In this candid conversation, Laura Dawn speaks with cofounders of the Sabina Project about harm reduction for the BIPOC communities
A lot of the time, when we see folks talking about connecting with our ancestors, it's from a very BIPOC specific perspective... but white folks also have pre-colonial, pre-Christian, and shamanic traditions to lean on and tap into and ancestors to venerate.
About This Episode:
Laura Dawn speaks with co-founders of the Sabina Project Charlotte James and Undrea Wright are intentionally exploring sacred earth medicines and the power of ceremony as a profound catalyst for the liberation of oppressed people, helping to dismantle systems of oppression that become internalized. They are doing this by educating about harm reduction and creating safe spaces for people in the BIPOC (BIPOC = Black Indigenous and People of Color) community to come together to integrate and openly share their plant medicines experiences.
In this candid conversation about race, we talk about cancel culture, spiritual bypassing, how we can become more aware of our inherent biases. They share their perspective on “recreational” medicine use, the importance of connecting to the shamanic practices from our own ancestral lineages.
Explored in this episode:
Episode #10: Charlotte James & Undrea Wright Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.
Laura Dawn: All right, welcome Charlotte and Dre. It’s so nice to have you guys on the show today. Thanks for taking the time, how you guys doing?
Charlotte: I’m good.
Dre: I’m a little tired. I had this weird thing I didn’t eat. So, I was falling asleep. In the middle of the day, what’s going on? I haven’t eaten. So, but I’m doing well. I’m happy to be here.
Laura Dawn: Thanks. Well, I’d love to invite you both to give a little background around, what is the mission of the Sabina project that you co-launch together? I’d love to focus on that. And then maybe we could dive into the backstory of how you guys aligned to co-create and co-launch this together?
Charlotte: So, this would be a project is a platform to return reverence to ancestral practice and psychedelic medicine, which we call Sacred Earth Medicine. And we do this through online education, legal ceremony, and preparation and integration work. And we’re focused on how we can look to ancestral practice as a form of harm reduction in what folks are calling this psychedelic Renaissance.
Laura Dawn: And how did this align? What’s the backstory here? How did you guys meet? And how long have you known each other?
Dre: The first time we met was at a brothel. I just make that up. No, I’m just joking. She called me on the telephone. I remember I was walking down the street. And it’s very interesting, Millennials calling in the phone and saying what I thought I heard was that they wanted to do ceremonies exclusively for the BIPOC community. And so, I let her gone for 15 minutes, and I was like, Okay, I got to school, this young. And I did my whole transcendence is about not excluding, it’s not appropriate in the spiritual world. We all Malaysians. And then what I appreciated was she didn’t like to argue with me.
She just said, Okay, thank you for sharing. And there’s a conference, people of a color psychedelic conference in DC. I have two tickets; would you like to come? I said, okay, clearly, this is a Jedi warrior here, it knows how to quiet down the old person, right. And so, we went to this conference, and I was blown away by the clear need to have integration periods, with people of color for sure. And just the need to have more people of color, in a healing practice, like sharing these maximum leaves for me, because the consistent story from a lot of folks was harm that had been caused in these all-white spaces. After ceremony. So, we got together.
Charlotte: I had just started to look into this intersection of psychedelics and race that tinker with medicine had been in my life for many years. And I was starting to wonder, why these things sort of weren’t melding. And then I saw someone in my co-working space with combo marks and made some sly remark that they probably went to a white shaman. And I said no, it’s this black guy in Baltimore. And so, that’s how we had our first conversation. And that was not even two years ago.
Dre: No. And then it comes that the pandemic, it. And so, a lot of the things we were going to do a person having to go online to do. This is how the spirit that moves to all things works, right? It’s kind of like how the ceremony works. It’s not about what you want. In ceremony. It’s about what you need, right? So, our mission was to get the word out there. And then the spirit that moves to all things kind of just has been guiding us this whole time. But thankful.
Laura Dawn: Beautiful. And when you say, people of color expressed that there was the harm that they experienced in white spaces, can you give me an example of what that looks like? Just to bring more awareness for people listening?
Charlotte: So, there’s a really helpful term that sort of encapsulates a lot of where some of this harm can come from, which is the term spiritual bypassing, where folks will talk about how you just need to transcend and it doesn’t help to talk about negative things. And by talking about negative things like race, it just perpetuates them. And these are constructs that are made up and we need to surpass them and etcetera. And when you’re in a very emotionally, spiritually, and even physically vulnerable space, and folks are saying these types of things. It can be damaging, and it can cause harm because, after the ceremony, we have to come back into a world that has created systems and structures to keep us quiet and oppressed in some ways. And so that’s where this conversation around having these BIPOC spaces for integration became so important for being able to talk about these experiences and see that we weren’t alone in having them.
Dre: Just didn’t look like this way. Imagine a person going to a therapist, or a minister, or priest of some sort, and is very vulnerable, about whatever the trauma that they’re enduring. And let’s say that person is there because they’ve been assaulted by someone sexually. And then, at some point, the counselor therapist’s priest says, that’s not a thing. And you just get over that. So, not only you already have the trauma that you’re experiencing, right, and dealing with, but now you’re, it’s impacted, and more, and it’s intensified, like 1000-fold, because of this person who you have a tremendous amount of respect for to put yourself in a vulnerable position, and trust. And they have shown you that either two conclusions, one you made an error in judgment to put yourself in a position of safety with this person wasn’t safe, or you start to question your reality. Or maybe I should just get over the structural racism that I’m experiencing daily that’s constantly oppressing me. Right. So, it is extraordinarily harmful when you’re in these spaces, and they do the bypassing.
Laura Dawn: So, for people listening, you know, I just, I think it’s just such an amazing conversation to be having and bringing more awareness for facilitators, holding space for a wide diverse range of people. What advice you have for people and leaders stepping into the psychedelic space when it comes to holding space for mixed raced circles?
Charlotte: I see a lot of folks talking about trauma-informed practice. And there’s a lot of focus on trauma-informed practice, predominantly as it pertains to, like sexually-based trauma. And I think that we have to remember that racial trauma is a very real thing. And so, the same space that you would hold for someone, and lean on those trauma-informed practices are some of the same approaches that can be used when working with people from the BIPOC community.
Dre: With one very important difference. When a person is coming to us for most traumas that they’re coming to us. These are not current experiences. This is something that’s happened in the past, your dad said he didn’t love you when you were six, right? But you’re still reliving that trauma, those words over and over again, right? When it comes to structural racism and oppression, this is my daily experience, no matter how positive I am in the world. The reality is, if I get pulled by a police officer, my life could end. The reality is that when I go to get a job, that it’s not enough for me to be the most qualified person that I simply because of the color of my skin, I may not get that job or maybe not be allowed to live in that community or maybe called name.
We know now white supremacy is clearly on the rise in this country know that. It just imagines the experience of a person of color that knowing that a significant portion of the police department and when I mean significant, even if one police officer is always by supremacy, so this person was pulling me over and has a gun and authority to take my life, control my body could be someone who hates me, simply because of the color of my skin. Just think about that realistic trauma. And then in our world, every decision I make, I have to consider how that decision reflects on my entire culture. It’s a huge responsibility too.
I would say that as a practitioner myself, no matter who I’m sitting across, a big part of what I am doing is clearing my mirror, cleaning myself, so that I am not projecting my own story onto the human being that is expressing their needs, right, those unmet needs that they’re needing to get. So, even if I don’t understand it, but that’s okay because there’s a lot of trauma that I’m not going to put myself into just to understand it, but we all know, for example, sexual trauma that we certainly don’t diminish the victim. We don’t blame the victim, there certainly was a time 50 years ago, where you said, Well, what was that person wearing? Right? We know better to do that now. Right? Well, we should.
Charlotte: In an ideal world. I would do the same thing. actual trauma
Dre: Step forward to be a human presence, and then be quiet. And listen and be nurturing with all, this doesn’t seem to be that complicated. For some reason, when it comes to people of color, it seems to be this extra level of we need to explain ourselves, a thousand time break it down to people.
Charlotte: I think it is important and necessary that we have a conversation about how you can better serve people of color black folks in these spaces. At the same time, it shouldn’t take additional training for you to not re-traumatizing a person when they’re talking about their experience and their trauma. But as Dre was saying, there is this question of, but is it that bad? Right?
Dre: We had a black president?
Charlotte: So, it’s not acute trauma, it’s chronic, right. And until we fix the structures, and the systems that replicate the trauma, the least we can do is, liberate ourselves from it.
Dre: I think another part of that it also is for folks who are not of color is, to be honest about their biased. They may not be aware of their bias, but they have a bias, right? Because if they didn’t have a bias, you wouldn’t have to explain the reason why we have to, when people of color are constantly having to explain to people non-color, about the trauma that we were experiencing in America, is because there’s a clear bias. And so that’s what we have to play, right? Which is unusual. There’s no other example of the victim needing to explain themselves about the trauma, we don’t ask people to do that. It’s tough for people to color.
Charlotte: That’s true. We have two questions that we like to ask non-BIPOC, folks. One is, why is racism bad for you? If you sit down, try to answer it, it’s challenging, and two what are you specifically willing to sacrifice in the fight of dismantling white supremacy? A lot of people will be Oh, my God, I’m ready to sacrifice anything. I’ll sacrifice everything. No, is it your job title? Is it a board member seat? Is it a grant that you want to get? Because you want to be the one doing the work instead of grassroots organizations that already exist within the community? What is it specifically that you will sacrifice?
Dre: Or some of that family wealth that you inherited? Right, because of the oppression that your forefathers enjoy? Right, you know, that as well.
Laura Dawn: Right. Well, I also wonder about the sentiment around white guilt right now, and I know there’s a lot of people who feel some resentment for being treated like, I’m a white supremacist, because I’m white. And that’s interesting. It’s like generalizations that get made when people are showing up. I genuinely care about people. I’m not a white supremacist. It’s so interesting. And I’m so curious, your general sentiment about the state of the conversation right now and where we go from here.
Charlotte: So, I think there are a few things one white guilt and shame. Just like shame and self-judgment don’t serve any of us in our journeys, white guilt and shame don’t really and white fragility does not serve the collective liberation movement. Right. So, like, there is a need to move past that. I think also This idea of understanding just what Dre is saying like we all hold internalized biases. And when we talk about white supremacy, we’re talking about the general idea that anything that is non-white is outside of the norm, and holds less value. And so, we all have internalized systems of oppression.
And that’s why it’s such a great self-replicating system. Because the shame, the judgment, the hatred that we hold for ourselves, all stems from being colonized, being oppressed and this is for white folks as well. This is not like a BIPOC only, sort of deal. And then the other thing that I would encourage is for white folks to sit in that discomfort of being generalized, because just like Dre just said, when we do or say something, we have to calculate how that’s going to be somehow representative of the entire black community, even though we are two individual people.
And so white folks they are very concerned when people are saying this happens a lot in different groups, people would say men are trash than men want to say not all men right now. True, not all men, but that’s not the point of the sentiment, and in the same way like white folks need to fix this. This is racism is a white problem, that is true. And it’s not a call out of you had slaves, we understand that’s not true. But it’s how do you benefit from the privileges established by those systems of oppression.
Dre: Everything from redlining, where they had specific neighborhoods that people of color could move into, which was the older neighborhoods where the prices for homes that were sometimes 20 30 years older, were more expensive, but the only black people would live in and then the newer homes in the suburbs, with the newer construction, which cheaper and white folks could purchase those homes. So, there’s a huge wealth gap there, right? Another thing to think of is reparations, this is something that I always encourage people to review this idea of reparations. And I want to just also support what you said is that if you are privileged, you have to get over your discomfort in these conversations.
The fact that you are acting being uncomfortable, and complaining about it is a distraction to do so if you don’t like being marginalized or being generalized welcome to our world. We live in every day, right? So, it’s okay, you still get to go back to your privileges, you don’t lose any of those privileges from that. But after this conversation that we had that’s been so edifying for you, we still have to live in all reality. So, but I think we’ll talk one way that we can move the needle on this conversation is with money. And reparations have to be a serious conversation. And for 400 years, black folks have black bodies, their bodies were used to enrich this nation at one point, the American slave was more valuable than cotton, it was the most valuable commodity in the world, in fact, and this is why when people say, my family wasn’t part of it.
But people also realize is that many of the abolitionists all over the world as, for example, when England abolished slavery, that made folks in England feel good, but it also made the American slave more valuable. So, as it as it became less tolerable throughout the world, and there is lots of documented evidence to show that abolitionist, even though they were saying slavery was bad, they were benefitting significantly for investing in the American slave trade. So, anybody who has any lineage connected to tobacco, cotton, firearms, alcohol, that family, wealth is complicit in slavery, right? Textiles, we could go on and on. Sugar, rubber, just on and on, and we got to pay that restitution for sure.
Laura Dawn: Well, I appreciate what you said Charlotte about and I agree. I fundamentally believe that we can’t grow collectively or heal through shame and through shaming each other and through fighting against each other. And it poses such interesting questions about where we go from here. And when we see so much division and polarization right now, and this is such a big inquiry that I think a lot of people are in right now, how do we move past this division? And how do we hold space for more kind conversations, and it’s something I appreciate about you both. I feel that from both of you, even in the short conversation we had last week, Charlotte, you’re like holding space with a lot of kindness and a lot of openness to where the conversation wants to go. And I appreciate that about what you guys are doing.
Charlotte: Thank you. we try to communicate with gentleness and respect. And these are challenging topics. But we are grateful for the folks who are willing to come to the table and have open vulnerable conversations about it. And are willing to sit in that discomfort.
Dre: I think it’s important too, I’m grateful for these types of conversations. Because if we don’t have these conversations, first of all, the only way people of color are going to change their experience in this country is two ways, is going to be by bloodshed. Or it’s going to be by cooperation. So, if they’re not part of this conversation, then what other choice do people of color, we’re certainly not going to do another 500 years of this type of experience.
And I’ve told my daughter, who’s 11, that by the time I take my last breath, I fully expect that she, as a woman, before she goes to college, I don’t want to be living in a world where she may get sexually assaulted. When she’s going to college by some dude, I just don’t want to live in that world. I don’t want to live in a world where a person of color might be treated differently just because of the color of a person because what they choose to love is treated differently because of that. These things have to change now, right? Because there’s just too much trauma.
Every generation, every person that has to endure this for another day, it’s the trauma, it’s a price, the price just keeps going up and up for people. And you can see that because we’ve been kind of passive, all of us in addressing this. Now, you see that white supremacy is on the rise like nobody’s business. It’s baked in our institutions now. In our institutions, we have people in high places of government, who believes we have senators right now, who believe these ideologies and perpetuate them, it’s no longer the person who is downtrodden, and poor, that you could say, well, that’s who uneducated. These are very educated people who are expressing these viewpoints and it’s on the rise.
Laura Dawn: And I just think holding space with the kindness and compassion I saw that was part of your mission. And I saw that on your website. And I think a lot of people are afraid to say the wrong thing. And you’re pointing this out, it’s white discomfort. And I think it’s also legitimate, that people are, wow, I’m going to move away from this conversation, because I’m afraid to be publicly taken down and shamed for not being aware of like the current word that we can’t use now, or the canceled culture, and I’m like, Oh, my God, well, if I step out and say, I want to hold space for this conversation, but if I say the wrong thing, I’m either like white supremacy or white fragility, and I fit into two boxes right now, and there’s not a lot of room for anything else. And so, it’s like, Okay, how do we, you know, move past this and the canceled culture? I don’t know.
Dre: It is interesting.
Charlotte: And I think, it’s hard because then this conversation can start to get into like the spiritual bypassing realm of over compassion for people, people who continue to make choices that harm other people, people that continue to ignore calls for being held accountable, and all those sorts of things. But if people are willing to come to the table and have a conversation, and then you see them take the action, they need to change their behaviors, their habits, their language, whatever it is, then you don’t keep canceling that person. I remember years ago; I had a conversation with my mom about a company that had been in the West Bank and then they were boycotted against they pulled their factories from the West Bank.
And years later, I don’t know I bought something from this company and she’s, I can’t believe this, you have to boycott this company. If you keep boycotting a company that takes the action that you were boycotting them for, then your boycott holds no weight. So, if you keep calling people to the table and calling people out for accountability purposes, but then those people change, and you continue to cancel them, then canceled culture holds no weight, there is no method of holding people accountable. Because it’s fine if you’re going to cancel, you cancel me. So, it’s ultimately not super productive.
Dre: I’m not a big fan. I’m a little bit older. So, I kind of cancel culture. I’m not sure where it comes from. But it seems to be coming from a place of insecurity and two minutes of judgment for themselves, which is why they reject all of us, right? Because we do a lot of that pointing fingers. But really, there’s a lot of internal work that all of us need to be doing and it’s always surprising me within this amount of world, we have a lot of that we have just as much of that in the Shamanic world, healing community as we do and, in my opinion, the examples of gentleness and respect.
My favorite book is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements. First, be impeccable with your word, be thoughtful, because it was can you be your power your poison? But this is not a lot of that. And I don’t know where that comes from. And what I see, what’s even worse, is that we part of the reason why canceled culture is effective is that we buy into it, that we react to it by instead of ignoring it, like a petulant child, he just kind of this is interesting.
Laura Dawn: I think this is a good segue into Sacred Earth Medicines. And just bringing it back the only way that we can align with collective liberation is by going within ourselves. And doing that work and plant medicines are a gateway into that inner dimension. And so, I’m curious. First, I think I’d love to invite you to just define Afro psychedelia. I saw it on your website, and just for people listening, how you’re using that term?
Charlotte: So, that is the title of a series that we’re putting out to celebrate black features month, which is what a lot of folks are calling black history month this year, which I’m super into. And so that will be a library of videos of interviews with black folks who are working with Sacred Earth Medicine across the Diaspora to accelerate their healing journeys and our collective liberation. So, there are folks who are therapists, mycologists, educators, cultivators, healers, guides, all of those types of folks are included in the conversation. And the inspiration behind that was that we frequently find that we are invited to speak specifically about race and racial trauma, which we, of course, want to further that conversation.
But black folks and BIPOC folks in this space, we all hold our expertise, as well, and our expertise on our healing journeys and what our communities need. And so, we wanted to create a space and a platform to have that conversation where folks could share about their journeys and experiences with the medicine, and then what they’re contributing to this space. So, that folks have more resources. And more examples, like [inaudible 28:58] said, more examples are folks who are out here, positively impacting our community.
Laura Dawn: Wonderful. And this is separate from the psychedelic anti-racism course. Okay, do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Charlotte: So, psychedelic anti-racism course. The first part ran last year in October, November, and it was a four-part series. It was a wonderful opening of that conversation, again, trying to house all of this conversation in one place so that we continue to share it as a resource for people so that we can eventually begin to move past this conversation. When the time is right, but we talked about sitting in your discomfort, recognizing personal bias and personal privilege, and then had a really interesting conversation around reconnecting with sexual race, because a lot of the time when we see folks talking about connecting with our ancestors, it’s from a very BIPOC specific perspective, which I think is because the veneration of ancestors is just culturally more prevalent in BIPOC spaces. But white folks also have pre-colonial pre-Christian, Shamanic traditions to lean on and tap into, and ancestors to venerate. And we see this as a way of sort of helping to avoid the more predatory or colonial style cultural appropriation that can happen within this space. If you have a connection with your ancestors, your traditions that you can begin to practice. It makes it less necessary to take from others or romanticize others as well.
Dre: Hunter-gatherers all over the world. We’ve practiced animism of some sort. And there’s a lot of similarities between the Vikings and the Lakota prey. Or the Shipibo of the Dogon. Right. So, there’s a lot of similarities in terms of what these pre colonized cultures, communicated, I think, what are your thoughts I have about why there seems to be less connected to like Celtic or Druid or Wiccan traditions by people who identify themselves closely as white is because the way colonization work, they started in that area, and they say keep on fire and killed, traditions, right? assimilated those people, into this monochromatic perspective.
And then they moved and spread that poison. Well, so by the time they got to Africa or South America, white folks like, Celtic’s they had been, under the yoke of Abrahamic traditions and colonization for a significant amount of time. So, I think that might have something to do with why it tends to be less connection. And the other thing is, there is a benefit. That’s the other thing. You ever watch Star Trek. Do you remember the board?
Charlotte: I just watched that episode.
Dre: It’s futile, right? And there is a benefit, right? If you can, enjoy the privilege of Borgism, or colonization, to just letting go of my Italian, or my Irish, or my Germanic roots and saying that I am white. Especially in America, which is something we should get into at some point. I don’t know in this conversation.
Charlotte: I was just thinking about this, the myth of whiteness, the creation of blackness in America. That’s a massive tangent.
Dre: Wasn’t even a thing people are I’m white. No, well, actually I’m not, German and probably French or something else. White is not a thing neither is black.
Laura Dawn: Can we get into it? For someone who’s saying that? And you’re thinking of it this way? And what’s the benefit of thinking of it that way?
Dre: So, essentially, 1608 was when this idea this concept. And what was happening is most of us who were in this country, except for native peoples who were wiped and killed and slaughtered, but most of us who migrated to this country willingly or not, were slaves, right. And what happened was, they started to have uprisings of slaves, black and white slaves would apprise and kill their slave masters.
So, the slaveholders came with this ingenious concept. The slaves who were white, they would be given afforded some privileges, they would instead of being indentured servants, for the rest of their lives, they would be able to work off their debt in a couple of years and own some land. The darker slaves are the slaves of non that it didn’t look as much like they did. Those slaves would become chattel slaves, and they couldn’t work off their debt. And so that little divide was enough for the white slaves to be like, Wow, it’s so bad for me anymore. So, I’m not going to join you in that uprising. Right? And so, that’s how this whole consciousness around people gravitating to this idea of whiteness became a real thing.
Charlotte: And then it was replicated again. Post slavery, right, so post 1865. Then we have the Industrial Revolution starts, we have a bunch of Europeans come in, right? Predominantly Irish and Italian. When they first come into the US are seen as, they’re not black, but they’re not white right. So, they’re in this marginalized group or class of immigrants, right. But then you have black slaves immigrating from the great migration from southern states up into the North. And then in the cities, they need to create some system to keep the black folks still controlled.
So, they create black codes, right, which are things like curfews not aligned black folks together in numbers in public places. And those codes were not applied to the immigrants. So, then the immigrants get to bump into the whiteness, right? So, it replicates this myth of racial groups. This is not to say that race and is not real, because this is another favorite spiritual bypassing statement of like, race is a social construct, therefore, it is not real. That is not true.
It is seen in our systems when I’m talking about this whole time, but it is this myth that all white people are a monolith, all black people are a monolith, all Latin ex-people is a monolith. And instead of keeping us more connected, it keeps us more isolated from our traditions, which I think we would both agree keeps us ultimately disconnected. Because then white folks are well, I don’t have a culture. And that’s not true, you just are going to have to go back a little bit further to figure out what that lineage of culture is. And then reconnect with those traditions, much in the same way we have to, it’s just a little closer to the surface, I think.
Laura Dawn: Right? I know, it’s like just even hearing you guys talk about it I have the most bizarre thoughts around like, we’re talking about skin pigmentation. Imagine, you’re talking about, this is based on the color of our eyes, or how tall we are. It’s like, you made the height. You’re in this class, you do like the height. This, it’s so fucking bizarre when we think about it. And not to say that it’s not real at the same time that this is what’s going on.
Charlotte: It is crazy. When you start to think about it. You’re like, this makes no sense.
Dre: You just have to go to places like Ethiopia and Eritrea. And you see how the same people, basically the same tribes or you go to Palestine and Israel? And the same. And sometimes you can’t tell one from another. But if you consider yourself Palestinian, I don’t like you, you’re Jewish. And it’s just crazy how we allow a few groups of powerful people to draw up lines in the sand and say, this is this, and this is this and that and allow it and then encourage us to fight each other. So, we’re not focused on oppression.
Charlotte: And I think this is where this conversation of internalized oppression comes into play, right? Because we replicate the systems for the system, they don’t need to do it on their own anymore, because we are replicating those systems within our bodies, and then projecting that out to others.
Laura Dawn: Right. And what have you noticed with the work that you’ve done with plant medicines, with people in terms of their own transformational healing their processes, moving through these systems of oppression within themselves? Are you noticing the changes taking root and happening with the work that you’re doing?
Dre: Great question. I appreciate you asking. So, it depends. So, if a person comes to this work from the standpoint of an ancestral tradition, right, they come to this world with two perspectives. There’s the work that I am doing to heal myself. But the reason that I’m working to heal myself is not so that I could get myself off my drug addiction, or be a more prodigious accumulator of wealth or work longer hours and be more efficient, right? It’s because I want to be a greater participant in my society, right? And when I get to this place of transcendence and love is not loved for people of my culture, but love for all humans, right? May all humans know loving kindness?
However, in the West, we have a lot of people doing these medicines because of their ADHD or because of their drug addiction, or the lack of love that they receive from a parent. And that’s the focus. And so, they address that issue and be damned, the rest of us right, or they wanted to have an experience. So, you can see it clearly in Silicon Valley, where micro-dosing is like a big thing, right? Micro dosing, but the reason why they’re micro-dosing is so they can be more efficient at their jobs, right to turn off the hamster wheel even more efficiently, right? This is why for us we focus on ancestral traditions to a hunter-gatherer approach their relationship with the sacred medicines, even if you’re using a new medicine, like LSD and MDMA, if you approach it from this place of consciousness, what happens is, you heal yourself, and then you about the process of healing the world, that first agreement to be impeccable with your word, right?
That becomes a real practice for you. Right? To love deeply and thoughtfully, every being on this planet, and not participate in the abuse in any way. That means if you work for a company that supports the abusive structure, you don’t work there anymore, or you change that environment. But you don’t just wring your hands and say, I don’t know if I could do anything that only typically happens when people are going to these medicines because it’s all about them. Let me go here to fix myself. Right. And the other part of that is, is because when they go to these medicines, I can always tell the difference. When someone’s talking about these medicines, they’re talking about it like it’s a commodity, right?
I do a dose of this and this, and it makes me feel this way, versus the other folks who come from an ancestral practice. You build a relationship with these medicines; you’re asking for consent. You’re asking about these medicines how can I support you in my walk? You’ve given me so much, thank you so much, with lots of great gratefulness and gratitude. And then what do you need me to do? What do I need to pay forward to the greater community? And I think that’s so super important, as psychedelics become more mainstream, right? Even the words we use, I hear people using words like tripping, versus a journey, or ceremony, words have power, right? Think about it like that. it diminishes the power that these ancient beings have in teaching you and guiding us as humans.
Charlotte: And also, as you’re saying this out loud, I’m thinking about the word trip, does not have a positive connotation. It’s to stumble. Like mistake through something. And so, that’s even this Western lens that gets put on things that we replicate this shit without even thinking about it. Because it’s that comes from the propaganda that convinced everyone that psychedelics lead to psychosis, I need it to be illegal and not studying all these things. And then we carry that same language through the experience. And then people are talking about having bad trips. It’s like you had a challenging journey, right? We don’t believe in bad trips.
And then also, just to circle back to your question, I feel like, what I hear a lot of folks, would do a bi-monthly integration circle for BIPOC, folks, and what I hear a lot is people recognizing that they have the time and space to pause, which I think people across the psychedelic conversations they start to notice this ability to pause to be in the role of observer, but I think that’s especially powerful when you don’t typically have that time and that space, and don’t have the time and space to like pause and realize that as horrible as it is to live within these racist structures, we don’t have to take all of it personally.
And that’s freeing as well, is to just attach. I think the current climate and the wild ass people running around the Capitol made people remember just how crazy some people are, and that it’s not personal. But when you have that interaction, when you repeatedly sort of abuse in a work scenario, or in a relationship or whatever it is, and in public interaction, you can step away from taking the interaction personally and being like, this person is just so colonized and programmed that they feel the need to project that hatred.
Dre: Yes definitely.
Charlotte: So, I think it helps to diminish the ongoing effects of racial trauma.
Laura Dawn: I appreciate what both of you shared and I’m curious what you’ve learned about your ancestry and the medicines that they used and are you applying those teachings in the work that you do? And What medicines are you working with? and holding space for?
Charlotte: So, for me, a lot of my exploration has been through my connection to my ancestry, I think has always been through music. And as I think about it more, and so mine has been through, sound research, and then also beginning to learn more about African spiritual traditions, my father’s side of the families from Jamaica, so seeing how some of those traditions survived enslavement and replicated in the Caribbean. And my mom’s side is more Germanic. So, that’s been more of like a musical exploration, I would say. And the medicine, I have like herbs and things that I use that I know for my family because, in Jamaica, they do a lot of what they would call bush medicine. When you live in a place where there are not easily accessible medical institutions, you use what comes from the land. So, I know a little bit about that stuff. And then through the Sabina project, we work with the combo and happy. Rhonda might say, cedar, Mineco Paul, sweet grass.
Dre: Essentially, thank you for asking that question. So, for me, I see myself first and foremost as a spiritual being having a human experience. And my fundamental nature is the pure creative power and unconditional love. So, Homo sapiens, probably the first entheogens that we use with mushrooms. So, all of us every Homosapien probably owes credit to our first ancestors who were on the plains of Africa, following the herbivores, and after the lion’s finish eating them, we weren’t hunter-gatherers, we were more like hunter scavengers and we would get a little bit of the bone marrow, and then anything that was on the ground that we put in our mouth didn’t kill us, we would consume it.
And magic mushrooms were probably the first medicine that explains why within 2 million years I brought a brain exploded in growth. And we went from very naked and afraid to the apex, fortunately, for us unfortunately for the rest of the world apex predator in the world. So, I start from that perspective of where we’re going, right? I’m very interested in us at some point getting to that I appreciate everyone’s culture. Everyone’s raised in a belief system. Well, what I’ve consistently seen by observing our hunter-gatherers all over the world, is a consistency in the practice, and that was around a deep reverence and respect for the land in the earth, and all the beings around. I think when we begin the plow, and the farm is when we began to kill each other, and we began to have property, and these things will control and the patriarchy became instead of men and women working together with the community, somehow the men became in charge.
And that’s kind of like when the wheels fell off the applecart. Right. At that point, right. So, I am looking to get back to that place. All these medicines belong to all of us, right? When you come to these traditions, however, there are lineages, and you should be respectful of those lineages, and to my elders, who are sharing these practices, I include myself in that framework as an elder, we should also understand that these relationships are constantly evolving, right? They were never intended to be like this, this is the way and this is the only way this is what works for me, right? And if you do it this way, you’re more likely to have a better experience or the experience that you’re looking for, based on the context and the reason why we’re taking these medicines. And I kind of just approach it from that.
My lineage that I initially, I was so thankful to get connected with Shipibo and Stevens, Grandma, Alaska, but I also have a deep affinity and love for watch humor for Bufo for the Boga and the pygmies and the Dogon and their deep knowledge of starring the star systems. And my goal is to experience or connect with all of these Ascended Masters and all the medicines and focus on what is similar in all these traditions. Which is gentleness, respect, reverence, right? And responsibility. I have a responsibility not just to myself, but to the greater collective. And when I make a decision, I make it not just for me, but for the seven generations that preceded me. I want us to get to a point where we see ourselves as one tribe called Homo sapiens. Right. And we are all working for the betterment not just of Homo sapiens, but every other of our brothers and sisters, the rock people, the plant people, the people, the air, the wing, it’s the mycelium people, the bacteria people, and everything in between four legs, two legs, they all my relatives.
Laura Dawn: So, appreciate that perspective. Because when we start talking about ancestry, how far back do we want to go? And if we go back, then we’re all the same people. We’re all indigenous to Homoserines on this planet, we’re all humans indigenous to planet earth. And so, at what point do we start peeling back the layers and trying to dissect it. And this conversation around appropriation is also so nuanced. I listened to another interview that you guys did on another podcast, and I heard you saying uh-oh a couple of times. And I was like, I know a lot of white people right now who are like dropping the uh-oh word, because they’re just, I don’t want to touch that, and it’s so nuanced.
And it’s so, where do we go from here, and I appreciate you bringing in the word responsibility because I think that, that’s the best we can do is, walk with integrity, try to show up with as much responsibility as possible, and do the best that we can. And I’d love to ask you in moving past this time that we’re in that feels so divided, what is the vision you guys are holding for what the next chapter looks like? And the work that you’re doing in an ideal scenario, really influencing a larger mainstream population towards healing the systems of oppression that live within each of us and you know dismantling all of the constructs that are not serving us, what’s the vision, you guys are holding for the healing of humanity? No, small question, no pressure?
Dre: Well, I feel like there’s a couple of things. The first is the approach. Our vision is, first of all, to be an organization and be a source of information for all peoples. And what we’re going to focus on is the, what you do before you sit in ceremony, by preparing is of how we prepare, and how would develop our intentions. We’re going to spend time supporting people in the ceremony, right, and why you choose this particular ceremony versus another. And then the integration like integrating what are the habits, beliefs, ideas, and people that no longer serve you that you’re excited to let go?
And what are the people habits, beliefs, and ideas that you’re no excited to attract in your life, right? And so that’s going to be a primary focus. And we’re going to look at that, from paying attention to what my elders have already done, they’ve already laid it out for hundreds of 1000s of years, our ancestors have shown us how to do these things without causing harm and trauma to the rest of us. Right? I do appreciate it. But also, we want to bring in some of those technologies that the west has to offer like psychotherapy, I think it’s fantastic, right? But also understand it’s a very new technology. And some of us need to continue to develop that logical mind, need to know the exact why. Why does combo treatment work? Or why does it? So, if you need to do that great, right?
But also, when you make asking those questions, consider that most of us when we go get our prescriptions from a doctor from a pharmaceutical drug, we don’t even ask to see a doctor’s credentials, we just assume that this person has our best, is more concerned about our health, optimizing our health, right? But we know that’s not true because now we have a new functional medicine is a relatively new type of medicine where they finally looking at the entire organism versus just prescribing you a drug for this particular, this eases discomfort that causes 12 other complications, right, so, the pharmaceutical companies come in. So, I think we’re evolving as a species. And what I see as a vision for our organization in the world is, we’re going to get to a place where we see ourselves as one breath in one beat.
And that the reason why we do these medicines is from a construct that comes from some ancient wisdom, like paying attention to all biologists around the world they’re there from Tibet or from the Shipibo they are so similar, or the Lakota or the Hopi, very similar, so say I hope, because actually, the Blue Moon prophecy says that Turtle Island, America is a place where all our relatives will come together to create a new vision. So, please say aye, whoa, and I shed, right? Or Amen. Right? All bossy, right? say these things with joy in your heart, and reverence respect. It’s really about how you approach these things. That’s when it becomes complicated like sometimes people come in because they want to appropriate verses to be part of something. Right. And that’s the difference.
Charlotte: I think we’re working to get our community and more of the world to be living life in ceremony. Just like living.
Dre: Explain that.
Charlotte: Dre started to touch on it, our focus is not just about what happens when you come to sit with the medicine because your journey and ceremony begin, the minute that the medicine calls you. And you chose to answer the call. And so, it’s about how you are preparing your body, your mind, and your soul to serve with these medicines, and then how you’re taking the lessons that the medicines bring to you, and turning that into daily action to contribute to our collective liberation. And it’s like, each breath is mindful, you’ll say a sip of water, like drinking water, can be a ceremony, right? Giving thanks for that resource that we so often just take for granted, because we just open the tap, and it’s there for us. So, I think it’s all of that. And there was something else that just popped out of my mind. You touched on this earlier, having consensual relationships.
I think that this is part of it. Right? And we were in a circle recently. And this person yesterday was talking about, what do you do if the medicine tells you to not come back? And like the medicine says, okay, I’ve given you your message. Now go and take that action. And it’s like, you listen to it. [Cross-talking 57: 38] question be respectful. The medicine is saying that it’s time for you to integrate, it’s time to put action to these visions, that you’re receiving these downloads, and turn that into the way that you live your life. And until you’re ready to make that commitment. You don’t need to keep running back to the medicine. So really, just getting to a place where you’re respecting, and building relationships, and being in the right relationship with all of the earthly beings.
Dre: Can I say one more thing about this? Because I don’t want to? I don’t want to give this impression, because there’s this term that I recreational use, right? I don’t believe in that term. Because joy is healing. If you laughing giggling having a good time with friends. That’s very healing dopamine serotonin levels, that we need that right. And so somehow, then when people use recreate, they kind of try to diminish it well, that’s not what we’re saying, [inaudible 58:37] enjoy your connection with these medicines.
Some of these medicines do have recreational that well, they do allow you to come to this medicine at very low doses and have a very joyous experience and you can enjoy that I watched the probably not so much. Or Ebola, right. But there are some medicines or Acacia, right, mushrooms are one of these medicines that it’s a communication network. So, it’s very open to supporting whatever vibration frequencies much like cannabis, it’s a similar scenario. But let me also encourage you, right, when you’re having that fun to be just before you ingest those medicines, to do with prayer, reverence, and respect and ask for permission, and see much more powerful that relationship becomes for you. In that experience.
Laura Dawn: Thank you so much for all of that. There are so many similar threads that run through other conversations that I have. I’m going to be releasing an episode with Francois Borzoi, who’s an elder in the space and she’s been working with leaders.
Dre: I love her. That’s why you listening. I am such as such a crush. We just thought we’d say like, totally fascinated by [inaudible 1:00:08].
Laura Dawn: She’s amazing. And we had such a great conversation. And she said, so much of the same thing, when her teacher from Mexico showed up, and she was like, where do you make your offerings? And Francois was like, that’s from your tradition. And her teacher was like, you should be making offerings. And it’s the same thing similar to what you just said about the words that we use of like, really, and showing up with respect and humility, and that all cultures from all over the world have been building altar spaces. And I interviewed Sandra Ingerman, who said, if you go back, you will hit someone in your ancestry who practice shamanism. It’s the most ancient practice of our humanity, our human history. So, there are so many similar threads here. And I just really just so appreciate the way you guys are holding this conversation.
Charlotte: Thank you. We appreciate you.
Laura Dawn: Is there anything else that we want to cover that you want to share before we wrap up?
Dre: So, a couple of things. We have a mutual ceremony fun. And we’d love for people to support and contribute to that fund. Let me tell you why we have it. So, for people of color, there are a couple of barriers to entry. The first one is the consequences, they can be severe, even for something like cannabis in the state of Maryland, African American male, had a 900% more likely chance of being arrested for simple possession in a state where African American use it at a lower rate than white men, but yet 900% more likely to be arrested. So, because of those consequences, a lot of people of color, and especially elders who like in my age range, a little older, ‘re very conservative around these relationships, right.
So, we need to get the education out, but also it costs a lot of money to go to the ceremony, the ceremonies are expensive, right. And then actually, most people who offer ceremony, with the level of skill that they offer, probably shouldn’t be charging a lot more, right, but to try to make it affordable, they only charge $350 or whatever. But that’s still inaccessible for most people that don’t have the didn’t have to travel there. So, this mutual ceremony fund allows for us for a person is currently only legal ceremonies, that we can support, but if it’s a legal ceremony, we may be able to support them and help them to get to that ceremony or to work with that with the medicine to help heal themselves. So, that’s the mutual ceremony fund, we’d love people to support that as well.
And then we have integration circles every first and third Sunday of the month, where people can come and connect and talk about now, that was for BIPOC only. And that’s just because we need to offer a safe space where people of color can talk about some of the traumas that they’ve experienced going to these circles that are almost predominantly non-people of color. I’ve been doing medicine work for 12 years now, probably the first eight years. I was one of many people in my circle of color. So, and there were many times what I felt if it wasn’t for the benefits I was receiving from these medicines, I wouldn’t go back to the circles, because people unintentionally say things that were extraordinarily harmful to me.
Laura Dawn: And for your anti-racism course, who do you notice shows up for those courses? And your next one? What’s the date of the next one?
Charlotte: We don’t have dates? I think it’ll probably be the second quarter this year. That’s predominantly white folks.
Dre: Pretty much exclusively. Which is nice.
Charlotte: That’s the point. Yeah. But we turn the class into a workbook that is downloadable on our website, so you can get it on our site. And it has a lot of the key definitions to provide a framework for your learning and you’re understanding. And then it gets into ways to connect with ancestry and journal and meditation prompts to begin sort of discovering your role in our collective liberation movements.
Laura Dawn: Wonderful. And is that a free download or that’s a cost to download?
Charlotte: It’s a cost to download.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great. And I’ll include all of these links. And then I’m just curious because of what you said, Dre. Do you have structures built into the Sabina project organization that has reciprocity built into it, accessibility to medicine is a huge issue and our awakening needs to be collectively for all people, and it can’t just be a white movement. So, this is such an important topic I wanted to wrap up, but I just want to touch on this first.
Charlotte: So, we have a merch store, we have a black healer’s matter sweatshirt and tote bags and things like that. And a portion of our proceeds from our store a portion of all of our profits as a company go back into our mutual ceremony fund. And then the mutual ceremony fund, which is essentially a scholarship fund functions both for folks who may want to do work with us, if they want to come to a combo ceremony or high pay ceremony. But then folks who are doing work with other healers can also apply to cover their costs of working with other healers. So, if somebody is listening to this, and they, know someone in their community or a client or someone that is struggling to cover the cost of services, they could reach out to us, and it’s not a huge fund, we’re not rolling in it. So, we can’t respond to every request. But we tried to provide funding for folks when we can.
Laura Dawn: Well, I think that’s great. And just for anyone who’s listening, in the psychedelic space, whether you’re holding space or not, or just participating, especially people who are holding space for predominantly white folks, I think is also a great way to give back, if we stand for equality, let’s act in alignment with what we stand for. So, I encourage people to check out that fund, and I’ll include all of those links. I’m so, grateful for this conversation.
Dre: We appreciate it. We all can do to support all humanity in our practices is that, if you come to these medicines, without approaching these with a degree of seriousness, when you do in a diet or, you’re working to eliminate the problem. Because what I’ve heard from sometimes, I hear people say, I’m going to these ceremonies to get a cleanup, right? And I’m like, well, maybe that’s not what you should come here to do. Maybe you should get the cleanup the first time and support change those new habits. Now, some of us like, I’m I have an addiction or had an addiction to sugar. So, maybe I go back and I struggle with that, right.
But sometimes people come to these medicines in such a disrespectful way, the medicine is there as their crutch. And that there’s an infinite supplier. But if every human being who started using these medicines, pretty quickly, there’ll be no buffo. Right, available. There’ll be no I lost available, there’d be no Ebola, or, we’re even struggling with white sage. Now, because everybody’s using it. So, everybody understands that if you’re enjoying a relationship with these medicines, it is of tremendous privilege that you have. So, take that privilege, seriously, and be responsible. Do your work.
Laura Dawn: That’s so well said. I feel that especially I just had my first Iboga experience. And I was processing that. I was like, wow, this is an endangered plant. I took that 30 days after my experience of I am so dedicating to my integration because it’s like, we can’t just keep going back and this is the work. I had a friend say integration is the new ceremony, similar to what you’re saying, like the ceremony of life? So, many nuggets of wisdom. Oh, my gosh, thank you so much, guys. It’s been such a pleasure. Really. Thank you. All right.
Dre: That was awesome. Thank you so much for your questions and your energy. I appreciate it. Please appreciate you.
Laura Dawn: Thank you.
Charlotte James & Undrea Wright
Charlotte has been a harm reductionist and psychedelic explorer for over 10 years, but her path through this work has certainly not been linear. After leaving harm reduction years ago because of rapid burn out, she is returning to this work with a new energy – thanks to the power of healing with plant medicines. Charlotte is fascinated by communication, has a love of language, and is captivated by the power of human connection. She has been in fearless pursuit of her passions since she can remember, always gifting herself new experiences and opportunities to expand her mind. Charlotte works to create a world in which everyone is able to live in fearless pursuit of their radical transformation. She uses her skills as a marketing strategist and content creator to build and engage a virtual community focused on pursuing equitable liberation.
Undrea has been working to heal himself with sacred medicines for over 11 years. He is a cannabis entrepreneur that was instrumental in the decriminalization and medical bill pass in Maryland. He has a focus on equity and inclusion in all healing work and communities. Dre practices in the Traditional Amazonian ways, informed by the South American Shipibo-Conibo and Quechua-Lamista lineages, having trained with various global indigenous masters. He focuses on ancient teachings as a means to achieve spiritual enlightenment. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.
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Laura Dawn rocks her Psychedelic Leadership Podcast with so much style and grace! Her guests are innovative thought leaders and she asks them the most illuminating questions. She shares a wealth of knowledge and inquiry as well as her passion for the arts and music. I always appreciate how LD conducts herself.
Each time I tune into an episode I get chills all over my body! This podcast is my personal new favourite, I’ve expanded my awareness around these topics so much just tuning into these conversations, from each episode I walk away with a new teaching! Im also deeply appreciative of the way Laura Dawn structures her episodes and interviews.
The psychedelic leadership podcast is blowing my default mode network!!! Episodes include revolutionary science, as well as practical steps we can all take to creatively make change to help heal the planet and ourselves. Laura Dawn is an amazing speaker, and most definitely a thought leader.
I am absolutely hooked on this Podcast. Laura Dawn presents her topics and guests in a stunningly beautiful, heart centered format while weaving in the most relevant topics in psychedelics today.
Laura Dawn’s experience and service to the healing journey is a recipe for humanity, through modern science, plant medicine and ancient wisdom is amazing. She attracts the best of the best leaders in the space of science, psychedelics and spirituality, I love every one of her podcasts. Thank you LD!
Wow what a powerful lineup of speakers and guests sharing profound experiences and wisdom. So relevant to our times and not just with plant medicines and psychedelics but with just being a human being in these changing, evolving times. May we all grow together. Thank you Laura!
I’m obsessed with this podcast and I’ve listened to every episode. This is the kind of podcast that has the potential to change humanity if we all listen to these interviews and Laura’s wisdom.
About Laura Dawn
Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.