Dawn Musil at Temple of The Way of Light, with Brugmansia. Photo by Tracey

Women’s Empowerment Through Entheogens
Spirit Plant Medicine Conference
with Dawn Musil

“The medicine taught me who I can be, and to know that my voice has as much value as the voices of men in the plant medicine space.”

Dawn Musil has a passion for environmental conservation, women’s rights, and plants. She earned a bachelor’s of science in Biochemistry and Ecology from Ohio State University and is completing a Venture for America fellowship in business development with Sema, a Baltimore-based biotech startup, where she develops sustainable ag-tech solutions through AI software. She is also supporting her mother, who recently left the same oppressive community she was born and raised in, a keystone issue that psychedelics helped her overcome.

Dawn was raised in a Christian cult that arranges marriages, maintains strict control over higher education choices, conditions women to be “subjects to their husbands,” and shuns members when they leave. She escaped the cult after she lost a close friend to suicide and found a way to open her mind through science and travel. She earned a Semester at Sea Presidential Scholarship to do research in 13 countries to help break down the gender gap in STEM fields. Wherever she went in the world, Dawn found medicine women whose spirits touched her life, like the women of Inle Lake who showed her the magic of kun-ya for upset stomach in Myanmar and the Ghanaian grandma who wove wild tales of Iboga ceremonies.

Last March, Dawn received Cosmic Sister’s Plant Spirit Grant, and she traveled with psychedelic feminist leader Zoe Helene, ethnobotanist Chris Kilham, and a diverse (mostly female) group to the Peruvian Amazon, where she participated in traditional sacred plant medicine ceremonies with indigenous Shipibo healers at Temple of The Way of Light. “The medicine taught me who I can be,” says Dawn, “And to know that my voice has as much value as the voices of males in the plant medicine space.”

Dawn’s primary intention in the maloca was to find forgiveness and help others. “Others can learn and relate, and I want them to know that they are not alone,” she says. “More than anything else, I want a chance to forgive the religion and resulting guilt that caused a dear friend to take his own life.” While in the medicine, she also confronted a man who raped her.

“Mama Ayahuasca taught me that my power and strength as a female reflects the feminine power of ayahuasca as a plant spirit, and that through plant spirit, we will find our voice and power as females to lead the fight for the future of human rights, and the rights of the rainforest and all living beings,” Dawn says.

Dawn has been awarded Cosmic Sister’s Women of The Psychedelic Renaissance grant to present “Women’s Empowerment Through Entheogens—A Psychedelic Feminism Liberation Story” about how she found healing, self-liberation, and empowerment through journeying with entheogenic plant medicines, at Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, in Vancouver. She believes society is ready to embrace feminism as a powerful movement that drives positive change through individual and collective action, where women are empowered to take control of their own destiny—and perhaps even society as a whole. She cites Psychedelic Feminism and la medicina as helping her heal.

Dawn is proactively seeking the right mentor and program to pursue a PhD in ethnobotany with a focus on sacred plants, and her Cosmic Sister grants will allow her to meet several plant spirit heroes—Wade Davis, Dennis McKenna, and Paul Stamets—at the Spirit Plant Medicine conference.

“Each step,” she says, “has been a piece of a puzzle tied together by a red thread” that “empowers female spirit,” and “gives voice to women who might otherwise be left out of conversation, and encourages women to support one another and to protect the natural world.”

November 2018