Panel Discussion – Sacred Medicines, Creativity, Evolution & the Paradigm Shift

The regulatory landscape and social attitudes surrounding visionary plants and psychedelic compounds are in rapid and dramatic flux. A great deal of new scientific research has been revealing exciting potential medical uses for these substances, while dynamic, ever growing subcultures explore their use. But with this explosion in new interest come challenges. Will profit-focused investors seek to corner the legal use of psychedelics and monopolize the resulting profits, further marginalizing the Indigenous cultures who discovered these plants millennia ago and developed powerful healing methodologies with them? Will the underground subcultures that explored their use starting in the mid 20th Century also be thrown under the bus by people in suits? Does this marketing and medicalization risk the “de-souling” of the use of sacred substances? Three longtime leading experts on sacred plant use wrestle with these and other questions.

With: Paul Stamets, one of the world’s leading mycologists and the foremost expert on psilocybin mushrooms; Katsi Cook, a groundbreaking figure in the revitalization of Indigenous midwifery and a longtime participant in peyote ceremonies; Françoise Bourzat, a leading expert on psychedelics as healing agents who did 35+ years’ field work with the Mazatec in Mexico. Moderated by J.P. Harpignies, Bioneers Senior Producer.

This discussion took place at the 2020 Bioneers Conference. Watch more panels, keynote addresses, and performances from the conference.


Paul Stamets, speaker, author, award-winning mycologist, medical researcher, groundbreaking mycological entrepreneur, and a visionary thought leader in the study of fungi and their uses in promoting human health, ecological restoration, and detoxification of the environment, is the author of six books, including: Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Paul has discovered and named numerous new species of psilocybin mushrooms and is the founder and owner of Fungi Perfecti, LLC, makers of the Host Defense Mushrooms ( supplement line. And Paul’s work has now entered mainstream popular culture. The new Star Trek: Discovery series features a Lt. Paul Stamets, Science Officer and Astromycologist(!).

Katsi Cook (Mohawk/Haudenosaunee), from Akwesasne along the St. Lawrence River, a groundbreaking, revered figure in the revitalization of Indigenous midwifery and of advocacy for Indigenous women’s health, is Director of The Spirit Aligned Leadership Program, which works with Indigenous elder women to heal, strengthen, and restore Indigenous communities. A founding member of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives and the Konon:kwe (“all women”) Council, Katsi has decades of experience as a researcher and a lecturer on Indigenous environmental reproductive health, and she and her husband of 40 years, Jose Barreiro, have 6 children and 11 grandchildren.

Françoise Bourzat, a San Francisco Bay Area-based somatic counselor, teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, runs online courses, lectures in various institutions, collaborates with physicians on a variety of treatment projects, and trains psychedelic guides internationally. She has guided ceremonies with sacred mushrooms in collaboration with Indigenous healers in Huautla de Jimenez, Mexico, for the last 30 years and is the author of: Consciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth.

J.P. Harpignies, Bioneers Senior Producer, affiliated with Bioneers since 1990, is a Brooklyn, NYC-based consultant, conference producer, copy-editor and writer. A former Program Director at the New York Open Center and a senior review team member for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge from 2010 to 2017, he has authored or edited several books, including Political Ecosystems, Delusions of Normality, Visionary Plant Consciousness, and, most recently, Animal Encounters.

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