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***See below for a complete topic breakdown.***

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What does ethnopharmacology have to teach humanity in our present times?

That is the question that informs the conversation you are going to hear today; another Psychedelic Café here on Adventure Through The Mind.

In this cafe, we feature a number of guests who will be speaking at the upcoming symposium,  Ethnopharmacologic Search For Psychoactive Drugs, aka the ESPD55 — where “33 of the most exciting minds in psychoactives research, present 37 sessions exploring the world of ethnopharmacologic knowledge through various life-centric themes: ethnosphere, phytosphere, mycosphere, sonosphere and beyond.”
[Full speaker list for this conference can be found here.]

But the ESPD55 conference itself is not the topic of this episode, but the question: What does ethnopharmacology have to teach humanity in our present times?

In the exploration of that question, this cafe wonders about ethnopharmacology and the reconciliation of humanity with nature; what traditional and indigenous knowledge systems hold for our capacity to facilitate this reconciliation; the importance and challenge of good reciprocity, fair compensation, and the prioritization and protection of indigenous sovereignty in the process; the importance of all of this in the face of a growing, global ecological crisis; and where psychedelic plants and psychedelic experiences fit within it all.


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Episode Clips



Our Guests For This Psychedelic Cafe

David F. Rodriguez-Mora is Ph.D. in Environmental Anthropology Student at The University of Texas at San Antonio. During his undergraduate studies, David researched the traditional uses of plants by rural and Indigenous communities in Colombia, Panama, and Italy. His doctoral research will expand the scope and geographic range of his master’s research to better understand the Colombian A’i territorial, cultural, and intellectual resources and help his A’i colleagues protect them. He seeks to integrate methodologies and theories from the social (ethnography) and natural (ethnobotany) sciences to provide a nuanced and more complete understanding of the Yajé socio-ecological power relations and their change across generations. He plans to address why and how the Colombian A’i define Yajé knowledge and differentially select and use Yajé varieties, how these knowledge and selection patterns have temporarily and spatially spread, and their implications for the A’i sense of identity and value, subsistence, and Yajé conservation. Check Out David’s Presentation at ESPD55: Intellectual Property Rights: Advancements and Future Prospects in Ayahuasca research Colin Domnauer graduated from UC Berkeley, where he completed his thesis investigating the use of the psychoactive plant Vilca (Anadenanthera spp.) in pre-Columbian Andean cultures. He is now pursuing graduate research in Mycology at the University of Utah. Check Out Colin’s Presentation at ESPD55: Expanding evidence of Anadenanthera in the pre-Columbian Andes: Identifying depictions of Anadenanthera in the iconographic records of Cupisnique, Paracas and Nazca cultures

Jeronimo-Mazarrasa Jerónimo Mazarrasa is an ayahuasca community activist. He works as Social Innovation Coordinator for ICEERS, and is a founding member of the Plantaforma (Platform for the Defense of Ayahuasca in Spain). Over the past 5 years he has devoted most of his energy to engaged research and innovation exploring  how ceremonial plant practices can be integrated outside of their cultures of origin. Ten years ago he wrote and produced four documentaries on various aspects of the encounters between the West and indigenous knowledge, from ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addiction, to the Kogi Mamos, to the Brazilian ayahuasca religions. He has traveled extensively through South America, researching a broad range of ayahuasca practices and has lectured internationally about ayahuasca tourism and the appropriation of indigenous knowledge Check Out Jerónimo’s Presentation at ESPD55: When Your Friends are the Problem: Plant Medicines, Commercialization, and Biocultural conservation Listen to Mazarrasa’s interview on ATTMind: Preparing For The Unintended Consequences of Mainstreaming Psychedelics Or hear him on Psychedelic Café 3: How To Address Corporate Influence and ‘Bad Actors’ In Psychedelic Culture Michael A. Coe, Ph.D. is an Ethnobiologist whose research has focused on understanding the patterns and processes surrounding medicinal plant use by testing several theories and hypotheses in ethnobotany. He is the co-author of The Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca (Springer, 2017), Theories and Major Hypotheses in Ethnobotany (Economic Botany, 2017), and author of Most cultural importance indices do no predict cultural keystone status (Human Ecology, 2020). His current research interests include the ritualistic and therapeutic use of ayahuasca and other teacher plants in ethnomedicinal contexts aimed at improving physiological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

espd55Our guests for this Psychedelic Café are all speakers at the upcoming ESPD55 ethnopharmacology conference, where “33 of the most exciting minds in psychoactives research, present 37 sessions exploring the world of ethnopharmacologic knowledge through various life-centric themes: ethnosphere, phytosphere, mycosphere, sonosphere and beyond.”

This ethnopharmacology conference is hosted by The McKenna Academy (yes, that’s Dennis McKenna) and it will be both in-person and live-streamed May 23-26.

The conference was generous enough to ensure broad access to the event itself by providing access to their live-stream by donation (minimum $10 USD).


Episode Breakdown

  • (0:00) Opening
  • (5:38) Cafe begins | Participant intros
  • (11:02) What does ethnopharmacology have to teach humanity in our present times?
  • (28:52) The reconciliation of the relationship between humanity and nature
  • (33:01) The hubris of thinking we can create all that we need in a lab
  • (39:58) When customs become products
  • (45:51) Reconnecting with the spirit of nature for the good of the future
  • (50:14) The importance of financially compensating indigenous cultures
  • (52:49) Extracts and Standardisation vs whole plant medicine
  • (55:42) The challenge of financially compensating indigenous cultures
  • (59:05) Could the industrialization of psychedelics help fund global ecological/cultural sustainability?
  • (1:06:05) Supporting the sovereignty of indigenous peoples
  • (1:09:53) Given the scale and complexity of the problems, is it even possible to solve them? Does it even matter if solutions are possible?
  • (1:18:15) Taking an honest look at ourselves; being a catalyst of change
  • (1:24:50) Participants concluding thoughts on the conversation
  • (1:26:12) “The lungs of the world?”
  • (1:28:09) There is so much to learn
  • (1:35:21) Closing

What Is The Psychedelic Café?

The Psychedelic Café is a structured conversational space exploring various, deep questions about the nature of mind, life, and reality.

Each cafe features a curated selection of 4-5 people to explore a question according to a specific structure. That structure is called Dharma Talking and is a conversational technology from Jean Robertson, forged in The Liminal Space Agency Meta-Monastery, and based on Conversation Cafés

Why this style?

The cafe structure creates a quality and dynamic of conversation, idea sharing, and mutual learning that is incredibly ripe and valuable for not only the people involved but the listening audience who will be able to listen to it afterward. In the current times of uncertainty, complexity, and change, I believe the psychedelic cafe will offer content not otherwise available in a time where it is deeply needed. If you want to try doing your own cafe, instructions on how to do so can be found here.



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