The city has a strong connection and history with psychedelics. Not to mention a long-standing psychedelic conference, SPMC ( Spirit Plant Medicine Conference).
During the 1960s, Vancouver had a cultural shift; Vancouver's West End quickly became a vibrant hub that embraced rebellion against societal norms. As the Summer of Love captivated the youth of the United States, Vancouver also became an important node in this revolutionary movement, and West 4th Avenue became Canada’s version of Haight Street, San Fransisco.
At the core of this ethos was the search for deeper meaning through altered states of consciousness. This quest found expression through Eastern philosophies, spiritual practices, meditation, yoga, and the use of psychedelic substances like LSD. Communities formed and have continued to meet ever since.
SPMC ( Spirit Plant Medicine Conference ) in Vancouver is dedicated to sharing this psychedelic knowledge and has been doing so for over 12 years. They stand out as a trailblazer in this domain. Opening its doors to the public again on November 3rd, this annual conference welcomes enthusiasts from all walks of life. While numerous conferences across North America have emerged in the past three years, primarily focusing on scientific and economic opportunities, Spirit Plant Medicine remains unique in its longevity. It provides a platform for exploration and connection.
I had the privilege of conversing with the organizers, Marc Caron and Stephen Gary, earlier this week to delve into the origins of their conference and gain insight into what attendees can anticipate.
PS: Can you share the backstory of how Spirit Plant Medicine Conference came into existence and shed light on some of the pivotal factors contributing to its enduring success?
Stephen: “The conference was the brain child of Andrew Rezmer, who was deeply impressed by some ayahuasca journeys he undertook and felt more people should know about the great potential of these healing and sacramental plants and related substances when used with skill and intention in optimal conditions.
Andrew established a not-for profit initiative called Conscious Living Network as the umbrella under which the conference and related work would proceed.
One key factor in that “enduring success” is that we’ve had the great fortune of bringing a lot of remarkable, and in many cases well-known visionaries to Vancouver from many diverse backgrounds. Another component of that success has been our unbreakable commitment to creating a venue for the sharing of accurate, responsible, and “actionable” information and inspiration. “
“This is not an academic conference. We’ve always had the view that we wanted people to leave with a deeper sense of commitment to their own healing and that of others and the planet altogether. Our choice of speakers has often been guided by the principle that ultimately this work must contribute to an urgently needing widespread consciousness transformation.”
PS: The conference's name strongly implies a spiritual reverence for plant medicine, and we'd like to delve deeper into its foundational values.
Stephen: Our mission has always been to share reliable and responsible information and inspiration for the healing and awakening of individuals and the collective. For the past couple of years the subtitle for the conference on our website has been “The Role of Psychedelics for a Planet in Transition.”
You’re correct in your use of the term “spiritual reverence.” People who understand these sacraments from direct experience know that they are not drugs, they are reality medicines. When used skillfully and integrated into daily life, the psychedelics have what you might call an intertwined two-pronged capability. They can open up parts of our brains and minds to look clearly and honestly at the shadows, the buried wounds that limit us. And, they can show us the unconditional divine eternal reality that awaits us behind our self-created veils of obscuration.
PS: Some renowned names like Gabor Maté and Paul Stamets are set to speak at your conference. Can you confirm if this marks their inaugural appearances at SPMC, and what can attendees expect from their contributions this year?
Stephen: Dr. Maté has spoken at the SPMC twice before. In his inimitably direct, cut-straight-to-the-bone fashion, Gabor has titled his talk for this year, “Psychedelics: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” People engaged at any level in the psychedelic renaissance need to hear truth-talking if this work is going to realize its potential to have widespread beneficial impact. Gabor is a truth-talker par excellence.
Paul Stamets is one of our most important and far-seeing visionaries. He delivered a masterful presentation on the value and role of psilocybin mushrooms at the 2018 SPMC. His talk for this year is titled, “Psilocybin Mushrooms, Bridging Cultures across Continents: A Worldwide Re-Awakening”. Note in particular his use of the phrase “a worldwide re-awakening” and its synchronicity with the above-stated mission and guiding principles of the SPMC.
PS: This psychedelic conference is not only taking place in the stunning city of Vancouver, Canada but it's also being live-streamed. Could you provide our readers with an overview of how the live-streaming component will function?
Marc: Over the past few years, we have been inspired by the quality of online interactive events that others have been creating to connect people on a global level. One of the best parts of the SPMC is the community and connection that happens at the event. It's one thing to livestream an event, it's another to raise the experience to another level by actually streaming it into a Zoom environment where the participants can interact with each other, participate in Q & A while being seen and heard by the speakers and in-person participants.
“This makes the SPMC a truly global event where participants can join in from anywhere in the world and actually have the opportunity to connect with each other and feel more like they are there – you don't get that with just a livestream.”
PS: Are there any plans for future events or initiatives that you'd like to share with our readers?
Marc: The future of Spirit Plant Medicine is focused on bringing quality online interactive programs to the world via our unique video/podcast show which will focus on providing information from experts in their fields in regard to medicines, healing, integration, real-life transformational stories, music, entertainment, and transformational experiences where our members will be able to join the conversations, ask questions, and connect with each other. Of course we will continue to host our annual conference in-person here in Vancouver on the first weekend in November where we can gather together in community. We may even consider bringing the conference to a city near you!
PS: Could you share current sponsorship opportunities available and why this psychedelic conference remains open to partnering with companies looking to support and connect with its community of attendees?
Marc: Over the past decade, we have not taken on any forms of sponsorship. However, over the past couple of years, with the times changing, expenses increasing, and so many organizations entering the field, we have decided to align ourselves with consciously aware organizations for sponsorship.
“We are not huge supporters of commercialization of these medicines, yet we do believe in remaining sustainable and sharing the great work done by many wonderful organizations. “
Marc: Along with expanding our educational reach, our goal is to see these transformative medicines widely affordable and accessible. We've adopted a phrase from our friends psychedelic historian Tom Hatsis and Eden Woodruff, i.e. “Non Accessible is Not Acceptable”. Sponsorships will also help us continue throughout the year with our newly-initiated Spirit Plant Medicine show. It's a professionally produced program whose intention is to reach even more seekers with relevant topics and information so they can make informed decisions about their own personal medicine path.
For those looking to attend this unique psychedelic conference in Vancouver, it's not too late to grab your tickets. For those interested in patching in from afar, you can do so easily by following this link. It's evident that Spirit Plant Medicine Conference offers a unique platform for like-minded organizations and brands to align themselves with this transformative event, so if you're feeling the pull to get involved, please reach out to Marc Laron. Since I'm a local Vancouverite, I'll head down to catch the lineup and check out some local vendors! Signing off with one of my favorite sayings from the 1960s: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”-Ralph Emerson.