The forgotten story of women in the history of psychedelics

By Gabriel García November 24, 2023

Women have played an important role in the history of psychedelics, whether as researchers, therapists, artists or activists. However, their contributions have often been ignored or downplayed by a patriarchal culture that has dominated the field of psychedelia. In this article, we will review some of the most relevant female figures who have explored the potential of these substances for mental health, self-knowledge and social transformation.

One of the pioneers was Maria Sabina, a Mazatec healer living in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. She was the first to share the secrets of sacred mushrooms, or “holy children”, with the Western world. In 1955, she was visited by banker and ethnomycologist Robert Gordon Wasson, who was fascinated by the experience and published an article in Life magazine that made hallucinogenic mushrooms internationally known. Maria Sabina was not looking for fame or money, but wanted to help people heal their physical and spiritual ailments. Despite criticism and persecution from her community and the Mexican government, she continued to practice her ancestral medicine until her death in 1985.

Another woman who played a key role in psychedelic research was Ann Shulgin, wife of chemist and author Alexander Shulgin. Together, they synthesised and tested more than 200 psychoactive substances, many of them previously unknown. Ann Shulgin was the first to experiment with MDMA, a drug that later became popular as ecstasy and is now studied as a therapeutic tool for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Ann Shulgin was also a psychotherapist who used psychedelics as catalysts to access her patients’ repressed emotions and memories. She and her husband wrote two seminal books, PIHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved) and TIHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved), which recount their personal and professional experiences with psychedelics.icity, deactivation of the default mode of brain functioning, and induction of mystical or transcendent experiences.

In the artistic field, one of the most influential women was Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March. She is a painter and sculptor who has dedicated her life to promoting scientific research into the effects of psychedelics on the brain and consciousness. In 1998, she founded the Beckley Foundation, a non-profit organisation that collaborates with universities and institutions around the world to conduct studies on LSD, psilocybin, DMT, cannabis and other drugs. Amanda Feilding has also participated in several experiments as a volunteer subject, such as the famous “hole in the head”, where she drilled a drill into her skull to see if she could increase her creativity and well-being.

These are just some of the many women who have contributed to the advancement of knowledge about psychedelics and their potential therapeutic effects. If you want to know more about this subject, we recommend you read the Psychonaut’s Guides by Argonauta, where you will find practical and scientific information on how to use these substances in a safe, responsible and conscious way.

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting world, we invite you to consult the Psychonaut’s Guides by Argonowta. These books will give you a broad and balanced view of psychedelics and their potential therapeutic effects. Remember, however, that these substances are not a panacea or a magic solution to all your problems. Their use requires professional guidance, an appropriate context and a responsible attitude. Psychedelics can be a powerful tool for personal change, but they can also be dangerous if used inappropriately or irresponsibly.

The Psychonaut’s Guides from Argonowta Publishing is a collection of books that explain in a rigorous and accessible way the scientific, historical, cultural and experiential aspects of psychedelic substances. These guides offer updated and contrasted information on the therapeutic and neuroscientific applications of psilocybin, LSD, DMT and MDMA, as well as practical advice on how to prepare, carry out and take advantage of psychedelic experiences. The Psychonaut’s Guides are a must-have reference for anyone interested in learning about the psychedelic renaissance that is transforming mental health and changing lives.

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