words by Magenta Ceiba, photography by Alan Rockefeller and Magenta
This Friday I had the honor of representing Bloom Network to support the launch of the Decriminalize Nature initiative in Oakland, California.
The purpose of this ballot initiative is to decriminalize entheogenic plants, restore our root connection to nature, and improve human health and well-being. Decriminalize Nature refers to entheogenic plants, fungi, and natural sources (as defined herein), such as mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and /or extracted combinations of plants similar to Ayahuasca; and limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines.
The event featured speakers, letter writing, button-making, screen-printing, delicious food and more. The vibe at the start of the event was nothing short of holy. The experiences people have had with these natural psychedelic substances have been profound and life-changing, and we all care about, in the words of Dr. Mellody Hayes, “increasing the access and availability of healing to all people.” It was a gathering of grassroots community coming together to have these relationships with nature.
Subsequent events in the coming months will continue the momentum so be sure to check them out if you’re in the area. This is one of several related initiatives happening in the U.S. at this time. Denver, Colorado and Oregon both have ballot initiatives up to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.
When I arrived, I learned that two of the authors of this initiative met at HiveMind, an event produced by Bloom Bay Area between 2012-2014. (You can attend the new version of this event, Pollination, in August in SF!) It was a beautiful reminder of how deep of relationships and impacts have formed over the years of our local chapter events. Once the connections form, look what flowers!
Speaker highlights included: talented artist Chor Boogie talking about his emergence from his first Iboga ceremony after plunging into a heroine relapse, and loving his life again; and Ryan Miller of Educating Veterans About Cannabis urging folks to prioritize vulnerable communities in access to medicine ceremonies, perhaps by people paying more for their seat so that someone who can’t afford it can receive one.
I had the pleasure of speaking with David Karabelnikoff, an Alaskan Aleut living in the Bay Area, who is co-producing a forthcoming podcast about indigenous regenerative economy, as well as the second annual NDGNS Hackathon of artists. He told me something about tobacco that I’d like to pass along. Native peoples are taught to work with tobacco for prayer, in connection with the Earth. He described that the way Americans use it is that they think about their worries and things they’re stressed out about it when they’re smoking, thereby sending those prayers to spirit – literally the opposite of traditional teachings.
Larry Norris, co-founder of ERIE – Entheogenic, Research, Integration and Education, and myself silk-screened shirts together advertising the initiative. We did about 30 shirts. It was the first time either of us had done silk-screening, so we learned how and had a blast in the process. Larry was part of our local Bloom (then Evolver) organizing crew around 2012, so it was a pleasure to be together making art for a great cause.
Lastly, do you know about 920, Global Magic Mushroom Day???!!!!!?!?!?! Check it out, 920 Coalition. I have met the most wonderful people at events around it.
It was a gift to support the launch of the Decriminalize Nature initiative. I hope you’ll also support it or pick up the torch on related initiatives in your cities and states/provinces as they inevitably join the current.