An exploration of the connections between feminine consciousness and altered states from ancient times to present day
• Explores the feminine qualities of the psychedelic self, ancient female roots of shamanism, and how altered states naturally tap into the female archetype
• Discusses feminist psychedelic activism, female ecstatics, goddess consciousness, the dark feminine, and embodied paths to ecstasy
• Includes contributions by Martina Hoffmann, Amanda Sage, Carl Ruck, and others
Women have been shamans since time immemorial, not only because women have innate intuitive gifts, but also because the female body is wired to more easily experience altered states, such as during the process of birth. Whether female or male, the altered states produced by psychedelics and ecstatic trance expand our minds to tap into and enhance our feminine states of consciousness as well as reconnect us to the web of life.
In this book, we discover the transformative powers of feminine consciousness and altered states as revealed by contributors both female and male, including revered scholars, visionary artists, anthropologists, modern shamans, witches, psychotherapists, and policy makers. The book begins with a deep look at the archetypal dimensions of the feminine principle and how entheogens give us open access to these ancient archetypes, including goddess consciousness and the dark feminine. The contributors examine the female roots of shamanism, including the role of women in the ancient rites of Dionysus, the Eleusinian Sacrament, and Norse witchcraft. They explore psychedelic and embodied paths to ecstasy, such as trance dance, holotropic breathwork, and the similarities of giving birth and taking mind-altering drugs. Looking at the healing potential of the feminine and altered states, they discuss the power of plant medicines, including ayahuasca, and the recasting of the medicine-woman archetype for the modern world. They explore the feminine in the creative process and discuss feminist psychedelic activism, sounding the call for more female voices in the psychedelic research community.
Sharing the power of “femtheogenic” wisdom to help us move beyond a patriarchal society, this book reveals how feminine consciousness, when intermingled with psychedelic knowledge, carries and imparts the essence of inclusivity, interconnectedness, and balance our world needs to heal and consciously evolve.
Femtheogens is a compound word made up of “feminine” and “entheogens.” Entheogens is yet another compound word made up from “entheo” and “genesis” that refers to the mystical and sacred properties of the psychedelic experience. Femtheogens, through its roots in “entheogens,” refers to the feminized sacredness of the experiences such substances can induce. Femtheogens is as much a word, as it is a concept. It refers to the capacity of the entheogenic experience to revive the broken sacred feminine and filter its essence through to us. This capacity is enhanced by the strong connections between the archetypal feminine and the entheogenic experience. The two share qualities that can heal, transform, and support the expansion of our consciousness. These qualities are also major points of suppression for both, as they run counter to our western mindset and emergent social paradigms.
The Links between the Archetypal Feminine and Altered States of Consciousness
Femtheogenic consciousness operates in the spheres of oneness. This oneness is a spiritual connection that reveals the reflections we emit to each other. We are all mirrors of our shared humanity, and we all hold each other within ourselves. This oneness is not only a metaphysical idea. It is the oneness that chaos theorists have called the butterfly effect, where a butterfly flaps its wings on one continent and causes a hurricane, weeks later, on another continent. This is the oneness that reveals itself in the intricate dance of cause and effect. It is the oneness of quantum physics and the oneness described by Rupert Sheldrake’s idea of morphic resonance. The feminine consciousness is by nature aware that everything is connected. This is a knowledge the feminine has always carried in her body’s centers of creation, where all life emerges and regenerates from. Similarly, in the infinite realms of entheogenic channels, we can witness the threads of our interconnectedness and interdependence. Here we encounter the pulsating presence of Indra’s net and meet the potential of reawakening our links with each other, nature, the divine, and ultimately ourselves. The invisible space of singularity that femtheogenic consciousness reveals us to contains Eros at its core. To recognize its presence is to awaken to the most powerful force in the universe.
The next femtheogenic consciousness link is boundary-dissolving experiences. Our societies are based on divisive boundaries that maintain the illusion of our separateness, and the ultimate and most dreaded boundary to cross is the dissolution of the ego. The ego has been a big part of our evolution, and as a concept in itself it can have many useful functions. What is dysfunctional is our need to hold on to it. The ego needs to undergo many deaths if we are to transform into a more authentic version of ourselves. We need to peel through the layers to reach through to the core of who we really are. The essence of feminine consciousness is based on the elementary feminine experience of boundary dissolution, motherhood, where the ‘Other’ is contained within oneself. That symbiotic bond between mother and offspring is not merely a physical one, as it extends way beyond the physical birthing process. Entheogenic experiences are also, by their very nature, based on the dissolution of boundaries on various levels. In these realms, the divisive lines between us and Other, conscious and unconscious, masculine and feminine, past, present, and future, dissolve, and that is the most threatening aspect of entheogenic consciousness for both individuals and the general status quo. Both the Great Goddess and entheogenic journeys deliver us to a point where in order to evolve, we need to transcend our boundaries, and release ourselves from the ego-driven mirage of our delicate reality.
The next femtheogenic consciousness link relates to chaos. We have battled for generations to tame chaos because we have perceived it to be one of our greatest survival threats. It hasn’t always been like that, the early Gnostics and Alchemists recognized chaos as a vital element of the creative process of transformation. Today we relate to chaos as a state of disintegration, rather than a stage of transformation. We have failed to acknowledge the inherent order it contains because its nature is creative rather than linear; it is not to be imposed, it is to emerge. In its field reside the rhythms of matter and the deeper wisdom of the creative process. For our ancestors the Goddess was linked with nature. Nature held the archetypes of the great mother on one end, seeming to give continually in a limitless way, and the devouring mother on the other end, turning ruthless and unreserved. As our early ancestors gradually viewed nature as a chaotic force that needed to be controlled, they reflected that onto the feminine, installing our unconscious collective link between the Feminine and chaos. But the archetypal feminine, in its dynamic aspect, has a creative link with chaos, and that is a link with the transformative and regenerative aspects of chaos. Entheogenic journeys embrace chaos and its transformative potential and teach us it is a valued stage in our unfolding process of individuation. During a deep entheogenic journey we are taken apart and then put back together. Chaos gives birth to a new order that is of greater complexity than before, a step further on our evolutionary journey. A big part of what drove our connection with nature, the Goddess, and entheogens underground is our collective difficulty to be with chaos, and femtheogenic consciousness holds the potential of reviving that relationship in a meaningful way.
The next femtheogenic link relates to the vital cycles of life, death, and rebirth. The most potent entheogenic experiences that people report the greatest and most profound changes from are journeys within a supportive set and setting, unfolding into the ultimate spiritual experience of ego-death. Femtheogenic consciousness allows us to flee our ego, if only for a second, and receive the wisdom that necessitates and even welcomes death.
“Words like ‘essential knowledge’ and ‘provocative’ somehow fail to do justice to the content between these covers. These are contemporary, controversial issues in psychedelics that aren’t adequately being addressed elsewhere: abuses of power and the ethical behavior of psychedelic guides and shamans and the role of psychedelics not only in women reclaiming their power but in deconstructing the gender binary. There is mystery and potential in the feminine, the yin shadow. That darkness is an important piece of the power and glory that is woman. I applaud this project and recommend it heartfully. It is crucial information that needs to be integrated into the psychedelic community and the larger tribe of humanity. Also, the artwork is gorgeous and inspiring.”
– Julie Holland, M.D., editor of Ecstasy: The Complete Guide and The Pot Book
“This edited volume presents a wide-ranging history of the roots of the current psychedelic renaissance. From the ancient rites of Dionysus, scholars and practitioners explore how the Sacred Feminine opens a doorway into the Divine via both ecstatic trance and an embodied connection to nature. Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine is a valuable addition to all collections of psychedelic mysticism.”
– Rachel Harris, Ph.D., author of Listening to Ayahuasca
“This impressive volume weaves together an evolving understanding of the psychedelic feminine through essays and art. The call for all people to embrace the Divine Feminine in its many forms is loud and clear in this celebration of the feminine voice and historical perspective. We have the power to transform our culture and our world. This anthology is a wonderful aid in discovering a path toward love, healing, and balance.”
– Rick Doblin, Ph.D., founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychede
“This book is packed with ideas, information, and analysis on the importance of the feminine in psychedelic, ecstatic, and shamanic practice--topics I find utterly fascinating and sorely needed in this time of crisis, with our longing for transition and with our need for inspiration and magic beyond our current paradigm.”
– Gail Bradbrook, Ph.D., cofounder of Extinction Rebellion
“From this groundbreaking collection there emerges a specific feminine approach to mind-altering substances, a phenomenon that has been breaking through and doing its part in driving the psychedelic renaissance. The multicultural contributors speak from their personal experiences with entheogens. The female perspective amplifies the yin component at the heart of the visionary plant experience. There is authenticity and activism here, along with a wide-ranging body of tremendously useful information enhanced with mind-bending shamanic art.”
– Michael Horowitz, coeditor of Sisters of the Extreme: Women Writing on the Drug Experience
“Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine is an essential addition to the world’s psychedelic library. A superbly conceived, edited, and visually stimulating anthology in which a chorus of activists, researchers, visionaries, and fourth-wave feminist voices offer remedies to the challenges of our time.”
– Graham St John, author of Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT