Kilindi Iyi and the Detroit psychedelic community: A model of community-based healing
It was my pleasure to attend the Detroit Psychedelic Conference (August 6th - 8th), a legacy of Ahati Kilindi Iyi, a spiritual leader, martial arts practitioner, and plant/fungi medicine explorer of consciousness. Thank you to Kilindi, the Detroit Psychedelic Community, Mama Ayana, and the amazing community that Kilindi built, for your lessons this past weekend. It was an honor to be invited to the conference and especially to the ceremony honoring Baba Kilindi's earthly life.
As a brown man in America, I am a child of ancestors who had a border drawn on their lands and were told by the US Government that they belonged on the other side of the border, and were only welcome on this side if they worked hard, for low pay, and stayed quiet. Our community is still rebuilding our traditions for healing in America. Our connections to our ancestors have been eroded and replaced by an “American Dream,” which no longer exists as the wealth gap in America widens, and real wages have been stagnant for years; and which requires us to turn our back on the values of our ancestors—family, ritual, reciprocity, compassion, plant/fungi medicines, and connection to nature and the divine. In the process, we are losing our healthy ways of living that are ancient. Like many Americans, we are looking for quick solutions, including putting medicines (including psychedelic and plant/fungi medicines) in capsules and relinquishing our healing practices to others.
Carlos chats with Oakland community members at the Detroit Psychedelic Conference
The traditions, rituals, and practices Kilindi and his community, as well as communities here in Oakland, are building need to be seen, felt, and understood by people in the psychedelic, plant healing, medical, and therapist community if we care about healing trauma in this world. It took me the full three days to understand just the tip of the iceberg of what they’re building in Detroit to enable the black community to find lasting systems and practices of healing. But the broader lesson for all of us is that it is not just for the black community. Kilindi was building systems for all of humanity to learn from, and to heal with. He was building systems that take into account the full human, not just the “sick” human.
For example, he built community-containers to hold the brother or sister emerging from trauma. He emphasized reconnecting with ancient wisdom and tradition; reconnecting and paying homage to the ancestors who fought for us to live healthy lives; recognizing and celebrating the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine as a community. I am grateful for this last one. I needed to learn that I must embrace the divine masculine in myself, not shun it in a world that teaches brown and black men to feel shame for their warrior spirit, unless it is a performance in a sport's theater, rendering us objects, not humans.
I learned about the importance of culturally significant martial arts in guiding the warrior toward discipline, love, and community. I also learned about the interconnectedness between plant/fungi medicine, personal and community wellness, and martial arts in exploring the consciousness for purposes of living well in this life. I saw how heritage and ancestrally-aware martial arts are an important entry-point for so many black and brown men and women in this country toward healthy living. But these are not systems, ceremonies, and models that apply only to black and brown communities. What is being built in Detroit, and elsewhere in black and brown communities across America, including here in Oakland, CA, are models that apply to all of humanity.
In the act of worshipping capital and profit, or looking for the quick fix, or seeking healing in a bottle, we’ve diminished values that are important to healthy communities and put the emergence of humanity into the next phase of our consciousness at risk. The Capitalism Culture that has emerged in America and beyond has left too many people empty, isolated, lonely, depressed, without meaning or purpose, and without community. What we need is a robust and holistic approach to living, and Detroit’s and Oakland’s diverse urban communities are building these models, including the use of plant/fungi medicine as one aspect of the healing journey.
What is at stake in the conversation about plant/fungi medicine healing is, well, everything. This is our last frontier of possible collective human transformation. It is the biosphere reaching out to us and extending its benevolent hand to us with messages of clarity, for living well on her surface. But the problem is, we are still human. We still have a tendency to listen too much to our own voice, biased by our own experiences and borne of a world that worships the false idols of science, technology, and information. A world where the most privileged, who have had the least opportunity to develop the wisdom borne of struggle and informed by spirit, have the loudest voice. Yet this voice too often emerges from the one-dimensional perspective of science, technology, and capitalism. What is missing is the wisdom: the wisdom of the ancestors, of the spirit, of the heart, and of the mysterious forces guiding our journey as self-aware beings on this planet.
What is happening in Detroit as the legacy of Ahati Kilindi Iyi and in Oakland under the Radical Healing model are not only relevant to the future of plant/fungi medicine and psychedelic healing, these movements represent the future of healing for humanity. A future where science is balanced by spirit, where profit is balanced by compassion, where the self is balanced by the community, where the Divine Masculine is balanced by the Divine Feminine, where knowledge is balanced by wisdom. This is not by coincidence. Nor is this a romantic muse. This is a result of necessity. From the caldrons of greatest struggle emerge practices and models borne of great wisdom, perpetuated by the harbingers of love and compassion.
For the psychedelic scientists, doctors, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and capitalists who are seeking out opportunities for putting plant/fungi medicines into a capsule or holding conferences to talk about the latest sciences, technologies, investments, and knowledge: it may be a good idea to expand their own wisdom and step into a realm that may feel unfamiliar and maybe even a little uncomfortable, and seek to learn from our brothers and sisters. Those who have been walking the healing path for centuries, and who have built lasting models of healing humanity, borne of necessity, emerging from trauma, and carried forward with love.
Que Viva Kilindi!
Carlos PlazolaChair Decriminalize Nature