Now that cannabis has been legalized in dozens of states, therapists and academics are turning their attention to naturally derived psychedelics as new frontiers in medicine. In April alone, San Francisco will host not one but two conferences that bring together spiritual practitioners and enthusiasts for discussions on the status of the so-called psychedelic renaissance.
The city, long associated with alternative medicine, finds itself a leader once again. In 2022, in support of their therapeutic potential and in a nod to their centuries of religious use by Indigenous people, San Francisco decriminalized the possession of “entheogens." That term, which refers to any chemical that produces an altered state of consciousness for spiritual purposes, includes psilocybin (i.e. “magic mushrooms"), peyote, ayahuasca and other substances.
On Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9, Dogpatch indoor-outdoor venue The Midway hosts Spirituality and Beyond 3, which brings together prominent Northern California experts in psychedelics, like Buddhist Lama Mike Crowley, anthropologist Acacea Lewis and Dave Hodges of Oakland’s Zide Door, the church that regards psilocybin as sacramental, which recently announced an expansion into San Francisco.
Panels and lectures range from topics like death and witchcraft to more medical discussions about what exactly constitutes a “high” dose of mushrooms. But no exploration into the nature of consciousness in 2023 would be complete without the topic of artificial intelligence, which happens to be the theme of Hodges’ Sunday sermon, capping off the weekend.
Two weeks later, on Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23, Brava Theater Center hosts Queering Psychedelics II, which anchors the renewed popularity of psychedelics in the LGBTQ+ community.
“As the so-called psychedelic renaissance reaches a pivotal moment of mainstream interest and regulatory legitimacy, it is vital that traditionally underrepresented communities share a seat at the table,” the organizers noted, “to ensure access to all the benefits that psychedelics and plant medicine offer.”
In light of the effects of 20th century Western psychology’s repression of same-sex desire, and a renewed push across the U.S. to marginalize queer people and queer expression, Queering Psychedelics II promises to explore the healing power of entheogens through discussions that touch on on astrology, LGBTQ+ people and the wilderness, and “the cosmos of gender expansiveness.”
Spirituality and Beyond 3
🗓️ April 8-9
📍 The Midway | 900 Marin St., SF
Queering Psychedelics II
🗓️ April 22-23
📍 Brava Theater Center | 2781 24th St., SF
Astrid Kane can be reached at [email protected]