The early seeds of the Psychedelic Assembly were planted in Peru, where founders Kat Lakey and Suzy Baker first met in 2019. Kat had been living in the Madre de Dios region of the Amazon rainforest, studying traditional plant medicine with the Amarakaeri people, while Suzy was seeking personal healing at Parign Hak - the indigenous-owned ayahuasca center where Kat was working.
In March 2020 the pandemic shuttered Parign Hak’s doors and forced Kat to evacuate the Amazon, but by a strange turn of events, she landed in the concrete jungle at the heart of Midtown Manhattan. There, Kat connected with co-founder Abby Lyall through the local drug-policy activism scene, and the two women became fast friends
A few months later, the idea for the Psychedelic Assembly was born. Inspired by conversations with Aaron Orsini from the Autistic Psychedelic Community, Kat dreamed up an intimate conference on psychedelics, catering to fellow neurodivergent individuals and introverts, with a focus on removing traditional hierarchies and fostering human connection.
However, as the deadline for the event approached, it became clear that Kat needed help. Thankfully, a devoted team of passionate volunteers rallied around her, working tirelessly for months to bring the world's first Psychedelic Assembly to fruition in September 2022.
Their shared experiences at the center, which emphasized respectful cultural exchange and reciprocity for the local communities, had a profound impact on both women's perspectives and highlighted the importance of human connection in the healing process.
Still deeply tied to the Amazon rainforest and indigenous rights, Kat became involved in environmental activism and organized two solidarity demonstrations for the Marco Temporal Nao movement in Brazil. By chance, Suzy visited NYC during the second of such events, and she and Abby stood side-by-side with Kat in front of the United Nations - a foundational moment for their friendship and things to come.
With a wealth of personal contacts in the psychedelic space, and a physical space in NYC generously donated by her dear friend Michael Dupler, Kat devoted months to meticulously laying the foundation for this groundbreaking event. Word of the conference spread, the speaker line-up grew and the community embraced the idea.
The event was a resounding success. However, the overwhelming feedback from attendees was that while the lectures and performances were informative and entertaining, the true highlight was the sense of community and meaningful interpersonal connections that were formed in that special space.
Encouraged by how much these ideas have resonated with the psychedelic community and determined to continue fostering magical moments of connection, the Psychedelic Assembly is now working to create the Athenaeum - a brick-and-mortar location in NYC where the same type of community-building and magical interpersonal encounters can be experienced on a daily basis.