Crows in a Boat in Nepal by Mary Averill

Photos from Peru
Cosmic Sister
Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance

“Ayahuasca allows you to look in, reassess, and move on. It really is liberating, and that’s why I’m going back to do the work.” - Mary Averill

Social Worker, Photographer, Traveler
Date of Birth: December 1957 (57 in ceremony / Plant Spirit Grant 2015)
Lives in: Western, MA

Mary Averill, who just turned 60, is senior manager of a growing integrative behavioral health plan, managing a team of licensed clinical social and health outreach workers who provide care for the sickest and most vulnerable people in Massachusetts. “Lots of trauma, drug addiction, chronic illness,” she says. “I feel like we make a small difference in some people’s lives, and it can be frustrating work, but it’s worthy work.”

Mary received a Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant in 2015 and is returning this year on a Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant to photograph the expedition.

As she moves into her 60s, Mary plans to re-prioritize her work with some exploration into next steps with her clinical expertise in trauma and an increased focus on taking her photography to the next level with printmaking. She also plans add to her extensive travel experience in Asia. She joined the board of directors for the Ama Ghar Foundation, a service organization for underprivileged Nepalese children, and is doing microenterprise work with a women’s cooperative in eastern Nepal that supplies nettles for her niece’s company, Seam Siren.

The work abroad and the inspiration from her niece, who is an herbalist, have reignited Mary’s love for plants and herbs, which she used to heal her Lyme disease, and she’s been told the tinctures she makes are phenomenal. “I feel like the work I did with ayahuasca the last time I was in Peru was instrumental in sharpening my intuition about the healing properties of plants,” Mary says.

The combination of ayahuasca and San Pedro journeying has – “remarkably” – moved Mary out of what she calls “victim consciousness.” She says: “As a clinician, I can often see that people get stuck in a narrative that is no longer helpful to them. Traumatic life experiences and patterning ourselves for safety lend themselves to hanging onto old stories. My own experience with the medicine allowed me to view some of my own childhood experiences in a new light. I actually had a fairly stable childhood and a set of loving and reliable parents. I mean, we were poor, but there was a lot of love in my family.”

“When we are children, what we can be exposed to can often be out of line with our emotional intelligence at certain ages, thus presenting as traumatic because we cannot make sense of the events and/or there is no languaging of an event,” Mary continues. “Languaging and sensory experiences are essential partners in reducing what can be experienced as trauma.”

Mary believes she is dealing with deep-seated and unconscious emotions that manifest in her body as chronic immune issues. “I do feel like there’s a psychic component to illness, and that’s the main thing that drew me to medicine in the first place,” she says. “I was not healing from traditional allopathic medicine, and my relentless curiosity kept me looking. Plants and herbals seemed more logical and bioavailable.”

This time in the medicine space, Mary intends to address issues of trust and the role of taking on others’ issues (her natural caretaking tendencies) and thus unnecessary stress. In addition, she hopes to explore how she can turn her clinical work into post-ayahuasca support for others who are on the journey. “Ayahuasca allows you to look in, reassess, and move on,” Mary says. “It really is liberating, and that’s why I’m going back to do the work.”

This year Mary, who has photographed people and places while traveling in Somalia, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, India, Mexico and her beloved Nepal, has been awarded a Cosmic Sister Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant to photograph the Temple of the Way of Light expedition.

Updated 2 / 26 / 2018

Cosmic Sister Plant Spirit Grant 2015
Ayahuasca Retreat: Nihue Rao / DreamGlade
Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant 2018 / Photography

October 2018