Charlotte James and Undrea Wright are the founders of The Ancestor Project (formerly known as The Sabina Project), a black-led platform for psychedelic education, legal ceremonies, and integration. Their mission is to return reverence to sacred earth medicine ways, to look to and learn from ancestral practices and to support radical self-transformation in the name of collective liberation. When Charlotte and Dre appeared on a recent episode of Voices of Esalen in conversation with Esalen’s Sam Stern, they discussed how they transitioned from lives filled with stress and psychic noise to new ways of being.
Ten years ago, Charlotte was in college and learning to let her “true inner self out”, but something was lacking. “I was a very high-functioning anxious person, like super type-A,” she explains. “Externally, I was very successful, quote unquote — successful in the sense that I was a really good student and always had good jobs. And so for others it seemed strange that I didn't feel that way in my mind.”
Even after a move to Bolivia where she spent time exploring sacred medicines with an intentional community, upon her return to the United States Charlotte drifted back into what she calls “the lack of intentionality that we frequently find ourselves in the Western world.” She started therapy and, soon after, met Dre. “I had my first Kambo ceremony and that just really moved the door open for me to stepping into my power and reclaiming who I truly am,” Charlotte explains.
For Dre, the journey toward plant medicine began about 12 years ago when he found himself 40, overweight, working 80-hour work weeks, and, as he puts it, “miserable.” Seeking a radical change, he joined the military only to have an epiphany after trying his first cannabis edible shortly thereafter. “ I had this amazing experience.
And then I was like, frustrated and angry. I realized, everything I've been told about drugs was a complete lie.” Next came a transformative experience with psilocybin, and by the end of the week, an ayahuasca ceremony. “I had a rebirth,” he recalls. “Three weeks later, I was in Peru doing my first dieta, and I never looked back from that. And then I learned to do Kambo treatments and that took my health and wellness to the next level. From that point, I was like this is my path…and so I began my journey learning to support myself and then hold space and help support other people in the healing process.”
Intrigued by what you’re reading? Head over to Voices of Esalen to hear our full conversation with Charlotte and Dre, and subscribe to the podcast to hear more conversations like these! If you’d like to dig even deeper into psychedelic medicine and learn more first-hand, check out Entheowheel: The Ceremony and Science of Psilocybin – An Educational Workshop and Experiential Event.