• Jessika Lagarde

Get to know: Psychedelic Feminism

Updated: Jan 21

DISCLAIMER: This article was based on an academic paper and does not necessarily reflect Zoe Helene's views on Psychedelic Feminism Initially developed by cultural activist Zoe Helene, Psychedelic Feminism describes the ways psychedelic psycho-spiritual practices can help with women empowerment, healing, and self-liberation.


In order to really understand what Psychedelic Feminism is, the first things we need to know is that it is grounded in three strands of feminism: ecofeminism, third-wave feminism, and the French feminist idea of écriture féminine. In this article, we will share brief explanations to help you learn more about them.



The sub-genre of Psychedelic Feminism


Zoe Helene is an artist, environmentalist, and cultural activist who advocates for personal and spiritual growth through psychedelic experiences. She founded Cosmic Sister, an environmental feminist educational advocacy group, and describes Psychedelic Feminism as “a sub-genre of feminism that embraces the transformational and inspirational power of psychedelic healing, transformation, self-liberation, and mind/body/spirit exploration in altered states of consciousness - [and] encourages women to explore the wilderness within, where they can learn more deeply about themselves, in part to face core feminist issues in fresh and exciting ways.


The starting point to define psychedelic feminism is the practice of women harnessing psychedelic experiences to explore, transform, and empower themselves. This may involve the consumption of psychedelic substances or other practices that can induce psychedelic states that invoke the sense of radical interconnectedness often present in psychedelic experiences. This inherent feminist nature of psychedelic experiences is the foundation of what constitutes Psychedelic Feminism.





Understanding Ecofeminism


Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. In 1952, Simone de Beauvoir recognized that the logic of patriarchy is based on the exploitation and degradation of the natural world, and the subordination and oppression of women.


Ecofeminism calls for a “unification of feminist and ecological interest in a vision of a society transformed from values of possession, conquest, and accumulation to [the values of] reciprocity, harmony and mutual interdependency [1]”. It is based on a non-hierarchical, democratic vision, that recognizes that humans have no exceptional place in nature and exist within a moral framework that includes the earth, plants, animals. Humans are not on the top of the system but they are as equally important parts of the ecosystem as the other living beings.


A core principle of ecofeminism is that there is a consistent logic of domination that exploits nature for its resources, and simultaneously oppresses people by associating them with nature based on gender, class, race, sexuality, and physical disability.


Therefore, ecofeminism focuses on caring, trusting, and being reciprocal, while also understanding ourselves in relation to others, whether they are human or nonhuman.



Understanding the Third-wave Feminism


The third-wave feminism emphasizes inclusiveness and diversity and, like ecofeminism, values subjectivity. Third-wave feminists proclaim themselves as the most inclusive wave of feminism and hold the belief that a woman has the agency to create herself as she wishes.


Third-wave feminism rejects ideological rigidity. The movement aims to be accessible to nonacademics and inclusive of all classes, races, and gender-fluid individuals. It also often seeks to highlight individual differences and personal narratives with the goal of embracing diversity.



Understanding Écriture Féminine


Écriture féminine, or "women's writing" is a term coined by French feminist and literary theorist Hélène Cixous in order to establish a genre of literary writing that deviates from traditional masculine styles of writing.


In Western cultures, there is a strong focus on language. Language is the ordered and rational container of experience, and a masculine principle. The realm beyond that space belongs to the feminine, and there we meet all that is beyond words [2].


French Feminism analyses the symbolic structures that undergird thought patterns, cultural values, and social institutions that create reality, and calls attention to “deep structures of feminine repression in the symbolic oppression of women’s subjectivity, body, and desire in the logocentrism of Western knowledge [3]”.





Understanding Psychedelic Feminism


Understanding the ways third-wave feminism and écriture féminine embrace complexity and acknowledge women’s ongoing participation in creating reality can support our understanding of what psychedelic feminism is.


In French Feminism, the symbolic feminine is a concept and not a gender. Additionally, it encompasses everything that has been misrepresented, repressed, or marginalized by the Western narrative of progress. This symbolic feminine includes what has been deemed pointless, dangerous, or overabundant: the irrational, the unconscious, feelings and emotions, the creative mind, and joy without reason or conclusion.


The movement also acknowledges that the female body is also culturally constructed, and its goal is to reconceptualize the body (particularly, female bodies), to resist and fight the patriarchal logic of domination.


“Feminine” is a matter of perspective rather than a set of physiological characteristics. Psychedelic Feminism seeks expansion and infinite inclusiveness, echoing the psychedelic “unitive consciousness”.


Psychedelic experiences offer infinite possibilities for interaction and the feeling of oneness with other humans, nature, spirituality, and the cosmos. Altered states of consciousness show us new views on who we are, our relationships with others and the natural world. Such states also challenge the culturally constructed concepts of the body, individuality, gender, time, and indeed everything else that is structured, and often limited, by linear human thought.


Thus, we can affirm that psychedelic feminism is the foundation of all psychedelic experiences. Psychedelic experiences help us identify subconscious social programming within ourselves, so we can consciously select what is life-affirming and work on what harms us or hold us back. By exploring altered states of consciousness, we offer ourselves the possibility to remake the Self, and propose new ways beyond our current cultural tools.


Many women today still live in cultures that are sexist and abusive towards them. Psychedelic healing can be a significant tool of change and empowerment, providing connecting to others, connecting to nature, connecting to the cosmos, and connecting to an inner voice through the value of subjectivity and the agency to create meaning [4].


Despite the psychedelic renaissance happening now, there is still a long way to go. Women’s contributions have too often been undervalued and forgotten in the field of Psychedelic Science, and the horrific abuse of women in some psychedelic circles and retreats is another serious issue we are facing today. Psychedelic Feminism addresses these issues and uses the potential of psychedelic experiences to empower women as individuals, to help them heal and transform, and to create space for their voices to be heard and respected.


Jessika Lagarde is a storyteller, Earth and climate activist, and Women On Psychedelics Co-founder. Her personal healing work with psychedelics have made her more aware not only of the crisis of our planet but also of the mental crisis humanity is in. All of her work is informed in taking action in a way that serves the Earth and our human collective, in hopes of mobilizing inner healing towards outer action.


References:


[1] Trish Glazebook, “Karen Warren’s Ecofeminism”, Ethics and the Environment 7, No. 2 2002


[2] Papaspyrou, Baldini, Luke & Grey, “Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine: Creativity, Ecstasy, and Healing”, The Genesis of Feminine Consciousness, No. 1 2019


[3],[4] Hewitt, “Psychedelic Feminism: A Radical Interpretation of Psychedelic Consciousness?”,

Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Vol. 13, No. 1 2019


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