Psychedelic Sisters In Arms is an ongoing series inspired by women who have recently come forward to speak their truths about the sexual violence they’ve experienced in psychedelic communities, and is indebted to the whisper network that continues to ensure the safety of the outspoken survivors to this day.

This series is a collection of personal stories on violence against women and marginalized people, dealing with issues of consent, gender, and sexual violence. It’s been led by women, and each writer is a member of the broader ‘psychedelic community’. If you have any interest in sharing your story, please reach out to oriana@psymposia.com

I Was Recorded During A 5-MeO DMT Ceremony Without My Consent

By Patty Mayo

I met Kirk (named changed for anonymity) at my first ayahuasca ceremony, on his land in July 2015. Since then, I have attended several other events there over the years. In June 2018, I attended a personal toad (Bufo alvarius / 5-MeO) ceremony at Kirk’s, also underground and not protected by law. During this experience, I transported into my profound dream-like process, entirely unconscious of how I arrived to the process, until after. I thought of it as ‘blackout bufo’ – during the experience; I entirely forgot where I was and that I had taken the medicine at all, until after.

A couple days later, a friend said they had scheduled two appointments, and a mutual friend did not feel called to go. I had the opportunity for the experience again, so I went.

After I emerged from my private ceremony this time, I was told by my (male) friend, that it “sounded like you were making hot love to Shiva”. I was told by Kirk that a video of me was recorded, and I could view it after some rest. I was never asked whether or not it was ok that a video of me was taken. I rested, then was permitted to watch the video taken of me during ceremony, without my consent or awareness. The video is over 10 minutes long. I watched, and remembered mostly nothing. The video zoomed in when I pushed my shirt down and exposed a nipple.  

During the experience, I said and processed things that I found profoundly intimate, and personally valuable, so I asked for a copy of the video. I also asked for a copy since I found it odd that a copy was not offered to me. Kirk told me that the video was too large to send by text or email, but that he could DropBox it, as he does for other ‘clients’ of his. The male friend I went with was not recorded during his ceremony.

 

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The following morning, I emailed Kirk and said:

“Good morning

My Dropbox account is under this email,

I value watching and digesting the file more.

Thanks again”

Kirk gave a lengthy reply, and said:

“Hi Patty,

Got it! Not sure when I will get to this as I need some personal time with my home, land and family again. I missed having time with (children) as hosting some gatherings is not very kid friendly and I sacrifice precious time with them. <3

In my private online video sessions, I have the option to record and send a link to the client. There is a concern I have that disallows me to always provide these video sessions for review. I believe that my concern after the release of old subconscious patterning is that it may allow for a reattachment through our ‘adding-on’ by the strategizing mind’s analyzing rather then allowing the release to just be just that- released.

And herein lies my concern for you and others in the review process.

I welcome your response to what I have shared.”

I read this email, confused and upset. In the time that it took him to write the email, he could have easily sent me the video, taken of me, without my consent. Kirk never asked if it was ok to keep a video of my experience, much less record one of me at all. He acted as though he had a right to this video.

In my replies in the days going forward, I felt as though I had to choose my words very carefully, and negotiate. I feared he would lie and tell me he deleted the video by accident, and not give me a copy at all.

During this video, I yelled, I screamed, I moved around on the ground, and I described my subconscious love for a platonic gay friend.

I replied to Kirk’s email, and said, “As this video was made aware to me after, and is very personal, and sacred, it is very important I have it sent to me, sooner rather than later, so I may feel security and sanctity and contact with my own, profound personal process, rather than lack of ownership, and separation.”

“I will ask Dan (name changed for anonymity) to help, so sending it is not so much a burden on your time <3  I am also not technologically apt and don’t like spending time on devices, I understand this. I look forward to receiving this video of me soon.”

Kirk replied and said, “Dan is back on Wednesday and we will figure it out so you have it shortly. Thanks for your offer to be in touch. Opening into toad experiences is an activation of consciousness. Have you been having any re-activations?”

The following night Kirk sent me an email with the subject “File” without an attachment.

I quickly replied, asking if there was supposed to be an attachment because I did not see any.

A couple hours later, Dan, not Kirk, emailed me back with excuses about why they could not send me the video, including that Kirk “couldnt remember his password :/ he was really tired, and wanted to try again tomorrow when I go back over again. He said the dropbox link you sent didnt work.”

Dan emailed me Thursday morning: “Im sure we will get today.” On Friday morning, I still had not received the video, or an explanation.

The whole week after this powerful medicine experience, I had endured so much anxiety, separation and lack of ownership and connection to the depths of my soul. After I worked overnight, on Friday morning, a good friend of mine agreed to drive with me over two hours to Kirk’s, and two hours back. I emailed Kirk and let him know I was on my way over.

When my friend and I arrived, we used AirDrop to instantly transfer a copy of the video taken of me to my device. We spent less than ten minutes there, before leaving.

I considered asking Kirk to delete his copy of the video he took of me, without my consent. I considered taking the opportunity to talk to him about consent, and consent for taking photos and videos, particularly in medicine space.

I felt that asking him to delete his copy of the video was futile, since I could not know how many places he had already saved it to; I no longer trusted him. I was tired. I was scared to talk to him about consent, uninvited in his home. The whole experience and week had been a mindfuck. What I had wanted was some sense of ownership and connection to my powerful medicine experience, rather than separation. I felt I could recoup that, with a copy of the video. I wanted to go home. I wanted to sleep. With a copy of the video, and without confrontation, we quickly left.

About a month later, Kirk had heard that I was not happy with my experiences with him. He emailed and told me, “I’m open to you being heard and I’m seeing where I crossed your boundary in different ways. Now I’m putting some pieces in place and seeing some actions that were not sensitive and gave impressions.”

I replied to Kirk, and said:,

In ‘burner’ (burning man) culture, consent is mandatory –  consent to touch, and consent for photo and video of people.

Sometimes, consent to photo and video cannot, or practically cannot, be obtained prior. In these instances, particularly after filming someone during a personal and sensitive time during which there was much vulnerability and trust, such as my experience, it is necessary to say something along the lines of, “I took a video/photo of you, is that ok?”

The issue was your email the next morning explaining that you would send the video when you had time, and then continued with a longer explanation of what sometimes “disallows” you from sharing the videos for review, and “herein lies my concern for you (me)” – after you had offered to send me the video in DropBox, before I left. It seemed you were reneging.

I had also thought, the time it took to write that first email, would have been enough time to send the video, so the preface of saying it would be sent when you had time seemed disingenuous and inconsiderate of me.

I was grateful for the video, how it was handled caused me much anxiety and was genuinely traumatic – I cried (sad from a sense of loss), I was angry (sense of unfair), and felt disrespected.

This was all unfortunate, as it very much distracted me from integrating my experience and taking care of myself. I did not feel comfortable expressing how I felt then entirely, as I felt my 10+ minute personal video was sort of being held hostage. And my trust was incomplete.

This is beautiful and important medicine work. Going forward, I recommend asking participants if it is/was ok if a photo or video was taken of them, and whether or not they would like a copy, and whether or not you may also keep a copy. And/or whether or not they want the photo or video deleted.

A person that has a photo or video taken of them, especially during such a personal, intimate and vulnerable time, has every right to that photo or video, and how it is used.”

In retrospect, I see how despite me defining Kirk’s disregard of consent, how I had an apologetic tone to him about it – since he provided me something – deeply personal – that I valued. This power dynamic within the context of medicine work, and consent, is unethical, and must be recognized and eliminated. Consent must be mandatory.

Despite explaining consent to Kirk, his reply did not reflect an understanding of the value of consent to me:

“I’m looking to have a signed permission to video with an explanation that explains how it will be handled. If you have awareness of any examples, please let me know.

I heard of one toad practitioner who charges for doing a video. It does add extra work for me.

Thanks for your attention that helps to make things better for all. I’m learning that I can offer too much and then find out it was not all thought through ahead of time.”

Kirk later emailed me back, asking if I was planning to register for the same toad ceremony there again, and added:

“PS See attachment which includes an outline for videos. I would appreciate your feedback and suggestions on stating it clearly.

Video Recording: Some people ask for and give their permission for a video of their session. This may be useful for your integration but only after you have had time to rest and are ready to review what was not part of your memory. A written release is required for this if you choose to ask for this. The video is solely for your review. Use your phone or a copy can be provided via Air Play on an iPhone.”

I replied to Kirk:

“Hi Kirk, The attachment seems clear, I think it is a great step toward outlining mutual expectations and consent. What does the written release that must be signed say? Thanks”

I waited 4 days, no reply.

I emailed again: “Hellow”

Kirk replied, “Hellow”

Then he replied again:

“A form has not yet been generated but folks are clearly asked about the wish to have a video taken.”

This reply was sent while Kirk was hosting toad ceremonies again. Going forward, I hope that no one ever feels violated or disrespected during medicine experience at Kirk’s.

I hope Kirk and others thoroughly understand that consent is important, and mandatory.

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