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  • Writer's pictureMaya Rimer

What is Psychedelic Judaism? An Open Space workshop at MAPS conference

Summer in Denver. Colorado is beautiful, dry, and high.

We remind each other to drink lots of water for altitude sickness, as more and more amazing people, of all walks of life, convene for the biggest Psychedelic gathering ever: the Psychedelic Science 2023.

It is an inspiring, although slightly overwhelming week, because of the diversity of subjects and creations around Psychedelics - and the unique and groundbreaking people they attract.

There is a lot of science and medicine talk (turns out most of my new friends are PhD’s :), beautiful depth around spirit and consciousness, workshops and trainings, activism and a desire to change the world for the better.

In many ways, it felt like a ‘coming out’- of the medicine closet, someone added.

Psychedelics are becoming more and more common, relevant, and effective in different fields. With more legitimacy around them, and Decriminalization efforts growing, it really felt like a coming together of a tribe, or the culmination of a few. MAPS - the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, did an amazing job, and it was only natural for me to bring Participatory Leadership into this space, at the delicious invitation of Natalie Ginsberg, global impact Officer at MAPS. Making professional conferences more engaging, turning rows and a stage into circles is a challenging but always rewarding part of my work.

I had the pleasure of co-hosting a day-long Open Space, a large group event where the content and agenda are participant-generated.

The Jewish Psychedelic Summit (JPS), convened by Natalie, Madison Margolin and Rabbi Zac Kamenetz, all Jewish thought leaders in this field, heard the call to bring us together before the main conference began . That's how I found myself in Denver for the first time in my life, designing and facilitating what has to be the most radical of Participatory Methodologies - and my personal favorite, Open Space Technology.

We decided to start the day with music, not words. Musicians Noam Enbar and Jessica Sirena opened with a few songs, then Rabbi Zac blessed and called in our ancestors, while an Oglala Lakota peyote song

calling in the ancestors of the land rang out from the room next to us.

Already I’m loving this conference.

With a rich group of volunteers that ‘checked-in’ the previous day hosting and really stepping in, and lots of excitement, the day was a great success.

Pinni, Dina, Tamara, the gorgeous Ariels, Sabrina, and many more 🙏🏼

Harrison Owen’s Open Space Technology fit this community perfectly.

With its bottom-up approach, Open Space invites the participants to create the content, workshops and conversation of the day spontaneously.

The question of “What is Psychedelic Judaism?” inspired and connected us, as the marketplace of ideas and offers bubbled with over 30 directions to discuss or practice.

I love how the room self-selects and organizes around Passion and Responsibility. I love how light, humorous and easy I can be in this hosting space, Trusting Myself, the Group and the Process. It never fails.

Being part of such a vibrant conference, and lovingly taking over so many small break out spaces, we finished the day with almost 50% more people than we started. Generally a good sign.

As the day came to a close, a voluntary Harvesting Team sprung to life to put together and send out the feedback from the day's sessions. Fastest Feedback ever!

This day-long workshop solidified and expanded the growing community of the Jewish Psychedelic Summit. It was, as one participant said, a beautiful day, where Judaism showed up at its best.

If I’m being honest, as a secular Israeli Jew, it touched my heart in a soft and inviting way. I kept making the joke: “You guys are going to make me Jewish!”, but could connect and hold my own lineage and even my religion in the same space as my participatory work and journey with medicine.

Being part of this conference and co-hosting this JPS Workshop has been an incredible adventure that I will never forget. I’ve met and connected with a whole new world of people, hearts and intentions, with eyes that sparkle when speaking of changing the world, like me. What made it even better was that my ground, my safe space and home during this week was with my Palestinian and Israeli brothers <3

Endless gratitude and love to the forces that brought me here, whoever or whatever they may be ;)


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