Cosmovisiones Ancestrales supports diverse local, regional, and global communities, institutions, organizations, health departments, social movements, and government agencies in developing evidence-based strategies rooted in public health, human rights, historical memory, and transitional justice frameworks.
We specialize in designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating violence, injury, and disaster prevention strategies, programs, and policies by bridging pan-Indigenous, pluri-cultural knowledge systems, and cosmogonies with public health and people-first, community-based participatory research.
We design and present curriculum to educate diverse audiences on Indigenous rights, consent, racial, migrant, environmental, gender justice, public health, historical memory, genocide prevention, demilitarization, peace-building and ecological repair through the healing arts, travel-delegations and strategic communications.
Cosmovisiones Ancestrales was founded in the spring of 2018 to build bridges between Indigenous communities, psychedelic researchers, mental health professionals, drug policymakers, people who use drugs (PWUD's), and populations that have been affected by historic and structural violence through the legacies of colonialism, enslavement, war, and forced migration.
We mediate cultural and ecological harm reduction and offer a counter-narrative of the war on drugs by educating the public about pre-Columbian, Indigenous and community-based, pluri-cultural uses of plant medicine for healing, justice, spiritual and cultural transformation that advances peace, or freedom from violence.
We address the environmental impact of the globalization of ancestral plant medicine and offer sustainable, alternative models. We offer trainings on principles of consent and anti-oppression to heal racial and gender-based violence that is entangled with environmental plunder.
Paula Graciela Kahn Co-founder
Paula Graciela Kahn (she/they) is a first-generation Guatemalan-Ashkenazi Jewish community-based health worker, researcher, policy advocate, movement strategist, consultant, facilitator, herbalist, edu-tainer, artist and event-producer. Paula has coordinated and provided grassroots, first-response health services to asylum-seekers during humanitarian crises; accompaniment, human rights monitoring; and advocacy in support of individuals and families subjected to the U.S. detention and deportation system. In previous roles, Paula has served as Decarceration Strategist and Community Care and Policy Coordinator at Freedom for Immigrants and as researcher and consultant for health and human rights at Reframe Health and Justice. From 2013-2015 Paula developed cutting edge consent and anti-oppression curriculums and implemented corresponding workshops for student hosing units within the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC) non-profit. Consent and anti-oppression education have become mandatory for all BSC residents since.
Paula co-founded the Cosmovisiones Ancestrales and Psychedelic Rematriation collectives to promote historical memory, ethical, cooperative conduct and solidarity with Indigenous communities, historically oppressed populations, and populations impacted by state violence through educational initiatives, strategic networking and collaborations around culturally-responsive approaches to psychedelic-assisted therapies. Paula holds an MPH from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health with a customized concentration on violence, injury, and disaster prevention within the Health Policy and Management Department and a B.A. from UC Berkeley in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus on peace, conflict, migration, and social movement studies.
Paula has been recognized for her work at the intersections of human rights, feminism, peace-building, drug policy, and psychedelic research and has been a featured speaker in over twenty conferences and festivals since 2017. Paula has been recognized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy as one of their '40 under 40' outstanding BIPOC leaders in Drug Policy.
Paula's capstone thesis, Psychometrics and Biological Markers of Interest for Psychedelic Research on Conflict Transformation and Violence Prevention, contributes to the foundation for bio-neuropsychopharmacological and pluri-cultural therapeutic uses of psychedelics for trans- and intergenerational, historical trauma; sexual trauma; post-traumatic stress disorder; processes of conflict transformation and transitional justice; and prevention of ideologically, racially, bias, and/or hate motivated violence.
In Print & Other Mediums
Drug Policy for Breaking Intergenerational Curses: An Eco-Futurist Prayer, Analysis, and Reflection on Psychoactive Substances and their Intentional Use
Paula Kahn and Ismail Ali in Towards Bodily Autonomy: A Healing Justice Anthology Decolonizing Sex Work and Drug Use edited by Justice Rivera (available in print here)
From erotic labor, to the rights of people who use psychoactive substances, to reproductive health, and carcerality - we are living through a political moment when debates about bodily autonomy are at a fever pitch. Towards Bodily Autonomy: A Healing Justice Anthology Decolonizing Sex Work and Drug Use is a bold and timely collection that confronts these charged issues at the intersection of social justice and public health. It reveals the histories behind the United State’s ideological wars and illustrates their costs to all of us. It is a primer on healing-centered harm reduction which presents a visionary framework and set of practical strategies to advance unity and care while working to transform conditions for communities that bear the brunt of interpersonal and systemic violence, overdose deaths, and health inequities.
In the words of leading advocates, service providers, and scholars whose lives and communities have been harmed by American neo-colonial policies, Towards Bodily Autonomy offers promising, healing-centered interventions that represent a critical culture shift. This collection features trusted voices on health and social policy reform including Kate D’Adamo, Justice Rivera, Ismail Ali, Paula Kahn, and Sasanka Jinadasa, as well as respected healers like Richael Faithful, Amira Barakat Al-Baladi, and Mona Knotte. The articles, interviews, worksheets, and poems within are an offering to expand our collective understanding of survival, healing, and embodied freedom.
Towards Bodily Autonomy is a must read for anyone with a compassionate worldview, people seeking to know more about underground economies, and those who know that punishment doesn’t lead to security. It is a liberatory design and a prayer for what’s possible.
40 UNDER 40 OUTSTANDING BIPOC LEADERS IN DRUG POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES
Oriana Mayorga for Students for Sensible Drug Policy
"One effective way to practice allyship and anti-racism in the drug policy movement is to intentionally uplift the voices and talents of people of color, and directly support them by booking them on your conference panels, events and through direct monetary contributions to their work. SSDP’s equity team decided to lift up 40 of the most outstanding drug policy activists of color in the United States under 40 in one handy guide for anyone who is interested in featuring stellar, powerful individuals who are already doing the work and who often go unnoticed.
This cadre of BIPOC talent is made to highlight the full spectrum of expertise available for those who are truly committed to transformational change, as are all 40 of the champions of color you’ll find below. Previous attempts at '100 Most Influential People in Psychedelics' lists were heavily dominated by white men, solely lifting individuals who already have plenty of visibility. That type of journalism fails to tell the full story, and thus will always be lacking in impact. Only by bringing the full spectrum of drug policy power to all our public discourse can we honor the sacrifices made by so many toward liberation, and ensure our community is grounded in collective liberation. The advocates below are collectively ending the war on drugs, and deserve your support.
Hire them. Pay them what they are worth."
Communicating Consent at Summer Music Festivals: What We Learned at Lightning in a Bottle
James Rickman for Playboy
"...I’d like to add also when there is that person that is so lost or disassociated from themselves that they’re not receptive to someone’s body language, to someone’s nonverbal cues, I think we also have to talk about bystander behavior—how it’s collective responsibility for all of us to be well-versed in observing. We need to pay attention to other people’s nonverbal cues and get over the stigma of being socially awkward so that we can make sure that everybody’s having a good time, that everybody feels safe. “Is anybody bothering you right now? Do you need a buddy?” Just having those tools to intervene and being confident that that will never be something that will degrade a person’s experience at festivals; it will enhance people’s experience and make them feel more protected and more safe to be free. And if someone just seems too out of their mind to be respectful, then it’s a community responsibility for us to not impose that burden on the person that is being energetically invaded...
I’m reminded about how we have a lot of work to do. When I experience a transgression on the dance floor, it indicates to me that there is a pattern of extractive behavior that’s coming into the festival space because we carry collective intergenerational trauma from historical events of transgression. So the question doesn’t end at 'How can we make festivals safer?' It also means that we’re ensuring that we uphold the processes of consultation, consent and cooperation in the way we engage with Indigenous territory and in the way we compensate labor. And so something I’d like to see is some of the historically more advantaged and privileged people in festival spaces going back to the default world and committing at a higher level to engage in processes of decolonization and repairing the harms from historical trauma and building historical memory. That way we’re changing culture within festivals and in the default world, so that soon they’ll become one and it becomes mainstream to engage with each other in such a beautiful, collaborative, creative way."
Beyond Pot: Psychoactive Drugs Touted as New Medical Frontier
Martin Macias Jr. for Courthouse News Service
"LOS ANGELES (CN) – Southern California resident Paula Kahn says she began exploring the use of psychoactive drugs as a teenager to help her heal from past trauma, a practice that health researchers – and health-tourism entrepreneurs – have begun studying and promoting in recent years.
Kahn said that as a survivor of sexual violence, psychoactive drugs gave her a sense of empowerment and control over her own body by tapping into practices used by indigenous communities as part of their religious ceremonies and medicine for thousands of years.
She began researching the potential widespread application of medicinal plants in public health, especially for people who experience multiple oppressions in their life. She looked up a psychotherapy training program at the California Institute for Integral Studies but didn't see any people of color or Indigenous educators in the program. Kahn also found that along with being classified as a controlled substance and therefore illegal to possess, many of the medicinal plant treatments – often used in a space described as a ceremony – are unaffordable...
Kahn is starting a nonprofit organization called Cosmovisiones Ancestrales that she said seeks to 'bridge the gap' between users of psychoactive medicine and the Indigenous communities where the medicine is sourced from. 'There is often no talk of ethical consumption in these medicinal plant advocate circles,' Kahn said. 'There’s a disconnect between consuming and the impact on Indigenous communities and their land.'
Kahn wants to work with Indigenous communities to develop sustainable ways of 'curating healing experiences' and promoting Indigenous knowledge, which she said is often seen as less legitimate when compared to studies by university researchers."
"For the new year, I invite the MAPS community to join me in practicing accountability and healing justice. Let’s turn up our presence in listening to the testimonies of those most impacted by the war on drugs, state violence, armed conflict, forced migration, immigrant detention, mass incarceration, the extractive industries, lack of access to healthcare, and poverty. May we listen with empathy and identify the calls to action for us to play a role of support and service to humanity...
At Cosmovisiones Ancestrales, we recognize that our liberation from planetary PTSD must be crafted through reciprocity; extractive and for-profit behaviors that exclude the most marginalized populations will inevitably prove to be unsustainable and harmful to our planet—one needs to look no further for proof than the evidence for climate change itself. We operate by building bridges amongst members of different global communities through processes of trust building, consultation, asking for consent, respecting boundaries, and forming socially responsible relationships. We center the experiences and needs of Indigenous communities defending their land from extractive industries and governments.
In 2019, how will we ensure that psychedelic-assisted or sacred-plant assisted therapy is available to people in ongoing, multi-generational humanitarian and ecological crises?"