058-58 300Greetings from the writing dungeon on behalf of the fourth annual Spirit Plant Medicine Conference (SPMC), scheduled for Oct. 24 to 26 at UBC in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

There are several pre-conference events coming up very soon. Rather than list them here again, please refer to the SPMC website second and third blog post for details on radio interviews with three of our presenters and a live evening with Andrew Feldmár. Another evening of discussion coordinated by Sobey Wing is in the planning stages.

A tentative schedule of presentations for the SPMC has now been posted on the website.

Theme for 2014

We’re very proud of the roster of presenters we have for this year. Our theme for this year is “The Next Level: Deepening the Conversation.” The intrusion of entheogenic medicines like those addressed at the conference has reached a new stage in the ‘modern’ cultures. Just in the past few years, knowledge about and use of these spiritual and healing allies has spread incredibly rapidly around the globe.

There are however, extremely important issues to come to terms with as we move forward. In the past three years of the SPMC there have been several presentations and discussions about topics relating to ethics and gender issues. These continue to be “front burner” topics.


During this time, the sustainability of plants like ayahuasca, iboga, and peyote has become another issue of major concern. Discussions about sustainability, responsibility, and reciprocity will be an important aspect of the conference this year.

Set and Setting

Another key issue has to do with set and setting. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “set” refers to everything the participant brings to the meeting with the medicines, his or her short and long term state of mind, preparation, intentions, and etcetera. “Setting” refers to the environment of the actual engagement with the medicines, what is sometimes called the ritual container.

Mark Haden

Several of our presenters will speak to that concern, at least for part of their presentations. Today we want to draw your attention to Mark Haden. Among his many involvements, Mark is an adjunct professor in the School of Public and Population Health at the University of British Columbia and Chair of the Board MAPS Canada (Multidisciplinary Associating for Psychedelic Studies.) Mark has long been a great ambassador for this work and has had a huge impact on the development of effective and safe use of entheogens, providing public education on drugs and drug policy for over thirty years.maps logo

For more biographical detail on Mark please go to the Guides and Visionaries page at the SPMC website.

Mark’s presentation at the conference will be called, “Set, Setting, and Safety: How different communities structure the experience.” The title is pretty much self-explanatory. Mark will direct his deeply experienced gaze at the efficacy and safety of entheogenic work in a variety of environments.

If you’d like to learn more about Mark’s work, his website has links to written and video presentations, publications, and radio interviews.