While psychedelic traditions emerged from a variety of civilizations—including Bwiti, Amazonian, Aztec, Mazatec, Mayan, and Incan cultures—those cultures are rarely recognized today in psychedelic research and medicine, even though psychedelics are going through somewhat of a renaissance. Oregon voters, for instance, just approved Measure 109, which will allow adults 21 and over to use psilocybe cubensis mushrooms in licensed therapy sessions. However, the original cultures that used those psychedelics have been wiped off the map, for the most part.
The Sabina Project aims to change that.
Beginning on November 11 and running through December, The Sabina Project will hold a four-part series of 90-minute sessions covering social justice, European Shamanic tradition, and confronting personal bias.
The Sabina Project is committed to carving out space for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) of all backgrounds to integrate psychedelic experiences into their everyday lives.
Published March 1 in Journal of Psychedelic Studies, a report suggests that the mainstream narrative of psychedelic medicine is sorely underrepresented by BIPOC. That’s especially ironic considering where a vast proportion of psychedelic substances came from.
Historically, psychedelic traditions from non-Western cultures were targeted. Harry Anslinger, founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics which eventually became the Drug Enforcement Administration demonized cannabis—itself a mild psychedelic—with an unquestionably racist rhetoric decades ago. Racial disparity exists in modern times in the form of arrest rates for cannabis and psychedelics such as psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. Today psychedelic medicine is on the brink of acceptance into mainstream medicine, but the history was lost.
Charlotte James and Undrea Wright, co-founders of The Sabina Project, answered questions collectively to Forbes about their mission and upcoming four-part series, The Psychedelic Anti-Racism Workshop.
Adams: Do you believe psychedelics can help unlock an individual’s own personal biases?
James and Wright: Absolutely. Psychedelics help peel back the layers of self to reveal our true essence. We are all victims of colonization—both BIPOC and white folx. We all existed in a pre-colonial era in which we lived in indigenous communities that were in the right relationship with the land and each other. Psychedelics help to de-program or decolonize the mind of all the ridiculous stereotypes and expectations that are placed on us. By stripping back these layers we are able to come together to collectively work towards liberation.
Adams: Who was The Sabina Project named after?
James and Wright: María Sabina was a Mazatec curandera who used psyilocybe cubensis or, “The Holy Children” as she called them, in powerful healing ceremonies called veladas. These ceremonies were used as a purification ritual to support individuals and families suffering from ailments. All participants would ingest the mushrooms as a sacrament in order to open portals of the mind and access healing.
Sabina is often credited as “introducing” the Western world to magic mushrooms however, the true history, and consequence,