Sharon G. Mijares SAC Board Member Bio


Sharon G. Mijares, Ph.D., is a graduate of the Union Institute. Her research “Fragmented Self, Archetypal Forces and the Embodied Mind“, focused on trauma and somatic consciousness and is now published under the same name. Sharon is Associate Faculty at National University currently helping to develop the new Integrative Psychology degree program, Core Faculty at the California Institute for Human Science and Adjunct Faculty at Brandman University and has been a visiting professor at the UN University for Peace.  She is the author/editor of six books focused on psychological and spiritual development. Her last book (edited) A Force Such As the World Has Never Known brought women together from around the planet to share their concerns and efforts to better their communities and the world. The second edition of her first edited book, Modern Psychology and Ancient Wisdom: Psychological Healing Practices from the World’s Religious Traditions brings experts representing various religious and spiritual traditions together to demonstrate deep transformative practices inherent within spiritual practices. Her own chapters discussed the Nature-based traditions, Goddess and Shamanism. She has earned Shodan rank in Aikido, and has also led workshops to empower women in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Mexico, Scotland, Uganda, United States and Venezuela. She is also a member of the SAC Board. On a personal level she is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and currently lives in Nevada City, CA.

For more info see 

Sharon can be contacted by email:



Honoring the Feminine through the Use of Sacred Medicine

Honoring the Feminine Through the Use of Sacred Medicines.
By Alyssa B. Gursky (Psychology major at Naropa University)

As you begin to read this passage, I ask you to, for a moment, check in with your own body. To step outside of your head and drop into the beautiful, unique space that is your body and send every inch of it love.

Are there parts that you feel more tension in than others?
Give those parts of yourself extra love.

The same love you would give to a child. Unconditional, pure, love.
Every scar, every stretch mark, every curve, every bone,

On your next breath, I’d like to invite you to honor every day that your body has not failed you.

It’s difficult. Re-building a relationship between the body and mind.  We compare and contrast and break ourselves down to meet this picture perfect image that some underpaid, overworked human behind a desk spent hours photo shopping.

We are not photo shopped. We are real, we are perfect, and we are unique.

How can we not see? The goddesses that we are. The past does not matter. The inner goddess is always waiting to be seen. She does not hold on. Just patiently waits for us to join her in our true power.

Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

My journey of healing and reclaiming my goddess within could not have taken place if it was not for this message. I needed to see my patterns and problems from an objective point of view before truly realizing how much they did not serve me.

My story is one of chemicals, medicines, entheogens.
For those who are unfamiliar, Entheogen translates to “generating God, the Divine, from within.”
It was time for me to stop looking out and start looking in.
My inner goddess was waiting for me.

I had been incredibly empowered by the work of an organization that is known as MAPS, or the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. They had been doing research on using psychedelic substances to heal mental illnesses. I wanted to join them in this fight. This fight is to provide such a clear path of healing for souls that truly needed it. Souls much like mine, who were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. Souls who were unaware know that their bodies could even be felt.

I wanted this healing.
I wanted the feeling of feeling my body and loving every inch of it. I just didn’t know how to access it myself.

So I asked the universe for medicine, in whatever avenue possible.
And it came.


One eighth of an ounce of mushrooms came to me. Psilocybe Cubensis. That day, I consumed them. I thought they’d be an escape. Quite the opposite, it turned out, a true awakening.
Late at night at my parents home (sorry mom and dad), I laid in my bed, sobbing. I cried until I couldn’t feel my face anymore. Rubbing my arms and legs, begging for forgiveness for not being with my body any sooner. I have been overweight for a majority of my life and thought I had been experiencing rejection from the world because of this.

It wasn’t until my consciousness was altered that I realized that this whole time, it has been me. I locked myself in a prison and projected judgment of myself onto others for my whole eighteen years of life. I tried being someone else. I tried being someone else before I knew who I even was. I had diagnoses and labels put on me. I was peeling all of these off having no idea what I’d find underneath.

After this acknowledgement had been made, I felt ecstasy. These shackles were removed and I was free. The walls around me did sort of start to melt, but that’s also just a facet of the medicine. The tears transformed from pain to joy. I was home. This body, no matter how jiggly it is, was mine to change. My inner goddess and I became one.

I’m in charge. This is my body. This tattoo covered, love filled, body is mine. This is my life. This wasn’t an overnight fix in my psyche, but it really did lay out the groundwork for my self-work and professional calling for my adult life.

A quote by Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry, has been very dear to my heart throughout this transformational journey. “My life seemed to be a series of events and accidents. Yet when I look back I see a pattern.”

Now, nearing the age of twenty-one, I see the beautiful, complex, and colorful patterns that are my path.

While this may be my path, I honor that there are a multitude of paths for every individual.
*I feel compelled to state that I am not condoning or promoting medicine use, as these medicines are currently illegal in the United States of America. If you or someone you know has had powerful and/or life changing experiences with the use of sacred medicines, please head to, look at their resources for integration, and donate whatever amount you possibly can, as they are actively researching methods to give us access to psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. They are about to begin their phase three study with MDMA to treat PTSD, which I have the honor of being a night attendant for. However, there are many ways to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness. For example, ecstatic dance, certain yogic traditions, binaural beats, sensory deprivation, breath work (such as Holotropic Breath work, Tummo meditation, or the Wim Hof method) interaction with nature, or sitting meditation. This is just a short list, but I encourage you to reconnect or even connect deeper with your body in any way possible.

SAC 37th Annual Conference Call for Papers

​Call for Papers

SAC 37th Annual Conference

March 29th – April 1st

Encinitas, CA

Transforming Energy into Action
The concept of “subtle energy” is fundamental to many of the esoteric principals and spiritual beliefs that have been part of our world’s cultures since time immemorial.  Variously called qi (chi), mana, prana, chakra, wakan, keyoi, holy spirit, cosmic ether, life force, etc., these traditions emphasize that all things, including humans, are made up of a network of complex energies and energetic fields.  The theme of the 2017 conference concerns the diverse ways in which these subtle energies can be manipulated or transformed and the significance of these practices to the world today.
We invite papers, panel proposals and workshops on topics such as:
Rituals, spiritual traditions & techniques that transform consciousness

Transformative healing and other energy healing modalities

Phenomenology and subtle energy research

Transformative power of myth and archetypes

Entheogens and psychoactive substances

Dreams and the transpersonal

Liminal states

Mind-body interaction / Interface between spirit and matter

Shamanism as a path of transformation

Anomalous human abilities (clairvoyance, psychokinesis, levitation, etc.) 

Addiction and altered states
We also invite submissions of artistic works and experiential workshops that explore the interrelationships among subtle energy, consciousness and healing.  Suggestions for experiential workshops include, but are not limited to: subtle energy and creative expression, sound therapy, trance-inducing music and dance, qigong, tai chi, kirtan, chakra balancing and guided meditation.
Proposals for individual papers, panels, workshops and special events should be submitted by December 18th, 2016 to  Registration fees should be paid to AAA before submitting abstracts (we will notify you when registration link is active). If your paper is not accepted, you may request a refund of your registration fees. Submissions will not be accepted unless registration is completed by the submission deadline. Acceptance notifications will be sent by January 13th, 2017.
Limit: one paper or presentation per person, unless prior approval has been obtained from the Program Chair. Session organizers may submit individual papers for inclusion in their sessions. Please indicate whether you will require audio-visual equipment for your presentation. A projector, screen and laptop will be made available.
HOTEL REGISTRATION: The 2017 conference will be held at the California Institute for Human Science in Encinitas, CA.  Conference participants can stay at the nearby Encinitas Inn & Suites at Moonlight Beach.

Please contact the reservation desk and mention that you are with SAC to receive a special room rate: (760) 942-7455
Questions? Please contact Program Coordinator Brian Bartelt at

Transforming Energy into Action

SAC 37th Annual Conference
March 29th – April 1st
Encinitas, CA

Transforming Energy into Action

The concept of “subtle energy” is fundamental to many of the esoteric principals and spiritual beliefs that have been part of our world’s cultures since time immemorial.  Variously called qi (chi), mana, prana, chakra, wakan, keyoi, holy spirit, cosmic ether, life force, etc., these traditions emphasize that all things, including humans, are made up of a network of complex energies and energetic fields.  The theme of the 2017 conference concerns the diverse ways in which these subtle energies can be manipulated or transformed and the significance of these practices to the world today.

HOTEL REGISTRATION: The 2017 conference will be held at the California Institute for Human Science in Encinitas, CA.  Conference participants can stay at the nearby Encinitas Inn & Suites at Moonlight Beach.

Please contact the reservation desk and mention that you are with SAC to receive a special room rate: (760) 942-7455

Questions? Please contact Program Coordinator Brian Bartelt at

Interested in presenting a paper, organizing a panel, or offering a workshop? Contact the conference organizers at by December 18th, 2016.

September 2016  SAC Letter from the President

21 Sept 2016
Dear SAC Members,

It is my pleasure to reach out to our members with several big pieces of news about SAC. I would also like to solicit your feedback on where we might go from here as a community. This is the first of what will be biannual letters from the SAC Board and President. We hope that you find this communication useful, and invite any contributions that you wish to share. 

The world around us is changing rapidly. Mail lists and printed letters have been replaced largely by digital media. Websites and social media are the new hub for communities, and SAC has taken several steps to place our organization at the forefront of this new era. We have taken the design and management of our web presence into our own hands, resulting in a more personalized new website and WordPress blog. 

Visit the website at  

The blog can be accessed from the website, or directly at 

While visiting you will notice that the blog has several content categories: Announcements, AOC experientials, Member highlights, Conference papers, and AOC Journal. These categories allow us as an organization to do more than we ever have before. SAC has a long tradition of scholarship, but we also strive to create a space for sharing and discourse around people’s experiences (no matter how strange they may be). Long ago experientials were part of the AOC Journal. We are bringing this back, and adding to this dedicated online spaces that highlight what our members are doing. The Conference paper category is another way of getting your work noticed independent of the AOC Journal. The final category, AOC journal, shared the table of contents and abstracts for the journal with links to articles.  Please take this opportunity to help develop the content in these categories. Submission can be sent to our new Social Media Chair, Sydney Yeager. Currently Sydney is managing content as we develop a Social Media team to manage our online presence. 

In time, members will be able to submit content directly as well as engage each other in dialogue through a new online platform that we are developing for release in 2017. This platform will be an open access platform with the content categories in the blog transferred to a dedicated website. In the meantime, you can go to our Facebook page to engage the community:

The website, blog, and Facebook page are the new face of SAC to the world. Taking advantage of communication technology, our reach is now truly global. At the same time, we will maintain our mailing system (for those not interested in new systems), emailing out occasional letters and keeping all core SAC news available on the main website.

With our new capacities, the question now is “What kind of presence do we want to have?”

For the past two years the board has discussed our stance, and we feel the best way to answer that is to ask you. Is SAC a purely academic organization, or is there more to us that we wish to make a statement about? Consciousness is a big topic, and we are one of the oldest organizations to have examined it. Yet we remain a small voice. Do we want to reach further? Do we want to take an activist stand?

There are two ways you can contribute. First, at the upcoming AAA and 2017 SAC conferences we will host a dialogue about this subject as part of our business meeting. Please speak up. Secondly, you can make your ideas known by contributing to our blog. In the digital media era, identity can be whatever we want it to be. We have core values as an organization, but we are also diverse. The only way to show that to the world is to make yourself known, so please submit materials for SAC to publish online and in our journal. 

Once we have heard from the membership, the SAC board will be rewriting our bylaws to reflect our new stance and the policies that need to be in place for that vision. The new bylaws will be made available online for any members wishing to know more about how we work or the responsibilities of any position they are considering running for in elections. If you want to be more involved, let us know by joining one of the board subcommittees (or start your own). We especially need volunteers to help us with social media, so if you like to post stuff related to consciousness please let Sydney know. 

The final piece of news for you comes after much commentary on the spring conferences. We all love retreat locations. Inclusive semi private conferences in a place of great natural beauty are a preference, much better than the typical hotel with a ballroom full of uncomfortable chairs (sorry AAA). Yet these retreats are also costly. For three years we held the conference at McMenamin’s in Portland Oregon, and we lost money every time.  After much consideration, we have come up with a plan to rotate conference locations biannually. One year will be a retreat style conference, and the other a partnership with an organization that serves both of our mutual interests. Through these biennial partnership conferences, we can do more to integrate with other organizations, which will help bring in new members and create opportunities to share our collective wisdom.

In 2017 we begin this rotation with an incredible partnership with the California Institute for Human Sciences ( CIHS is widely known for its cutting edge research into the field of energy medicine with a device called AMI, which is an apparatus to measure the function of the meridian points invented by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama. Please visit their website for more information on the institute. The call for papers will be sent shortly. This will be our first subtle energy themed conference. Exciting!

For this year’s American Anthropological Association 115th annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN, from November 16-20, SAC is sponsoring two sessions focusing on evidence and consciousness from two different perspectives.  

The first session, Perceiving the Improbable: The (Hard) Evidence of Consciousness (Weds, Nov. 16, 4-5:45 pm, Room 0475) seeks to bridge subjective and “hard science” frameworks in relation to consciousness. This panel hopes to embrace this “suspension of disbelief” mantra of anthropologists.  We hope this panel will offer brisk dialogue about the intersection of “hard” and “soft” ways of understanding.  

The second session, Propaganda and Evidence (Sat, 4-5:45pm, Room 1060) focuses on how power structures and material culture interact with the consciousness of large groups of people.  Inspired by the circus-like, propaganda filled American presidential election (which will have occurred a week prior to the conference), this panel will explore the various ways people are influenced by “facts” and how those “facts” are manipulated – both in the way they are presented and the way they are interpreted.  

In addition, our keynote speaker for the SAC business meeting is Stanley Krippner (Sat, 7:45pm-9:00pm, Room 1175), renowned scholar of transpersonal states and dreaming. 

To conclude, SAC has been very active in these times of transition. We have an amazing board full or energy and enthusiasm helping to bring a new reality forward. We invite you to join us by speaking up and sending in content for us to publish. We thank you all for being part of the SAC community, and look forward to seeing you at the AAA and SAC Spring meetings. 
Bryan Rill, PhD

SAC President


Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Session

Saturday, November 19

4:00 PM – 5:45 PM

Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 103D

Session Description: Inspired by the circus-like, propaganda filled 2016 American presidential election, this panel aims to richly describe how power structures use evidence to influence the consciousness of large groups. While evidence is often thought of as a set of objective “facts”, evidence can be highly manipulated through media channels to influence thoughts and behaviors. This panel will answer the following questions: What is the relationship between evidence, propaganda, the media and consciousness? How is evidence culturally constructed? How does propaganda influence groups? And how, in turn, can consciousness affect evidence? Finally, this panel will describe what the subjective/objective aspects of evidence and its connection to propaganda means for us as citizens, researchers, and practitioners. This panel is gonna’ be HUUGE!

Organizer: Mark Flanagan Piedmont Hospital Cancer Center

Chair(s): Mark Flanagan Piedmont Hospital Cancer Center  &  Bryan Rill The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Discussant: Bryan Rill The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong


Propaganda and Healthcare

The Influence of Propaganda on Vaccination Decision-Making

What a Great Party! the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong

Propaganda As Evidence; Political Unrest in Brazil

“Za Dom Spremni”: Collective Memories and Contested Pasts Among Croatian War Veterans

Discussant: Bryan Rill


Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Invited Session

Saturday, November 19

8:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 101H

Session Description: Responding to the theme of the 2016 AAA meetings, this panel explores dreaming in and of the field as ‘evidence, accident, discovery.’ How can we begin to make sense of the enigmatic significance of dreaming as a component of both fieldwork and the subsequent process of interpretation? Are some projects more dream-intensive than others? In what ways may dreams bleed through or haunt our waking hours in the field? If dreams, as Stefania Pandolfo has written, “are never one’s own,” then from what location in the intersubjective space of fieldwork do they speak? And why should dreaming remain somehow a suspect, even slightly scandalous idiom of ethnographic experience? There is a longstanding anthropological tradition of accounting for the meaning of dreams ‘in other cultures.’ We propose a different kind of question: how to make sense of dreams as symptoms –auguries, anxieties, returns – of the ethnographic encounter itself. Papers will prompt reflection on themes such as dream interpretation as an art of government; the productive untimeliness of dreams vis-à-vis ethnographic experience; the fictive status of dreams vis-à-vis the presumed ordinariness of field encounters; ethnographic moments that might just as well have been dreams; the forms of self-confrontation vis-à-vis our ethnographic choices that dreams may prompt; waking attachments to external signs of dreaming in states that hover between life and death; and the need to rethink the conventional critical trope of collective awakening in the face of infrastructures that, as they decay and unravel, disclose unexpected and ambiguous dream worlds.

Organizer & Chair: William Mazzarella University of Chicago

Discussant: Stefania Pandolfo University of California, Berkeley


Out of Context, Everything Is Extraordinary

“the Master Down There,” or the Politics of Dreams

Milk of Amnesia: Coma and the Limits of Living

‘dreams Need Money…after Seven in the Morning’

After-House / Dream-House

Discussant: Stefania Pandolfo


Society for Psychological Anthropology Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Invited Session

Friday, November 18

4:00 PM – 5:45 PM

Hilton, Room: Salon B

Session Description: One of the central observations of psychiatric anthropology is that specific conditions (depression, schizophrenia, panic) present with somewhat different symptom profiles in different social worlds. There have been a number of ways to describe this phenomenon. Hacking called it “looping” (see too Seligman and Kirmayer), Csordas “the sensory mode of attention,” Desjarlais and Throop “modes of existence,” and Kirmayer, most recently, “enacting.” A recent volume by Hinton and Good, Culture and Panic Disorder, edited by Devon Hinton and Byron Good, shows how these looping processes play out for panic disorder. Another edited volume by these same editors, Culture and PTSD explores the complex fit between the DSM-5 understanding of trauma and the way in which PTSD appears in different social settings, and the way that broader socio-emotional concerns like “ontological security” shape the salience and expression of symptoms. All these approaches suggest that phenomenological experience is always the result of the interaction between expectation, cultural invitation, spiritual practice and bodily responsiveness. This panel explores this phenomenon using the “kindling” concept to theorize cultural variation in bodily expression. The “kindling” hypothesis was first articulated by Emil Kraepelin, who observed that to the extent that actually demoralizing events—a job loss, a breakup, a bad relationship—play a role in a first episode of depression, they play a less important role in later ones. If someone has ever been clinically depressed, it takes less in terms of real life knocks to lead them into depression a second time. Becoming depressed becomes a habituated response. Cassaniti and Luhrmann suggested that the kindling phenomenon could arise when the local culture served a similar function in a religious setting in shaping the way people attend–what they sense and feel in search of evidence of the spiritual and lowering the threshold of its identification through the body. More specifically, we suggested that some phenomena are more responsive to kindling than others. We suggested that: First, a phenomenological experience is an interaction between cultural invitation and bodily physiology. By “cultural invitation” we mean the implicit and explicit ways in which a local social world gives significance and meaning to sensation, whether mental or bodily, and the behavioral practices (like meditation) that may affect sensation. Second, when a local social community gives significance to specific sensations, either fearing them or desiring them, sensitivity to having an experience of the supernatural increases, requiring a lower threshold for such experiences, than in a community in which people do not have such supernatural experiences and in which such fears and desires are hypocognized or unelaborated. Third, the more (or less) that the experience of the supernatural is associated with a specific physiology (like sleep paralysis) the more (or less) the frequency of the event will be constrained by an individual’s vulnerability to these experiences. The panels offers a wide variety of different examples to discuss the best way of understanding this phenomenon.

Organizers: Tanya Luhrmann Stanford University & Devon Hinton Harvard Medical School

Chair: Devon Hinton Harvard Medical School

Discussant: Laurence Kirmayer McGill University, Canada


Julia Cassaniti Weighted Idioms: Categories of Lightness and Heaviness in Thai Spiritual Phenomenology 


Cordelia Erickson-Davis Kindling a Sense of Presence: Lessons from Virtual Reality

Pablo Seward Delaporte A Comparative Critical Phenomenology of Drug Addiction Among Mestizos in the Upper Huallaga Valley, Peru

Jeffrey Snodgrass Fostering Emotional “Immunity” to Terror and Trauma: Ritual As a Source of Health Resilience for Indigenous Indian Conservation Refugees

Devon Hinton Supernatural Assaults Among Cambodian Refugees with PTSD: Nightmares, Sleep Paralysis, Hallucinations, and Migraine-like Auras

Discussant: Laurence Kirmayer


Friday, November 18

5:15 PM – 5:30 PM

Hilton, Room: Salon B

Presenting Author: Devon Hinton Harvard Medical School

Cultural frames influence radically the experiencing of such disorders as trauma, panic disorder, and schizophrenia. In this talk, I will show how cultural frames shape the Khmer experiencing of trauma, leading to a great emphasis on supernatural visitation. I will show how the symptoms generated by trauma (nightmares, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and migraine-like auras) are interpreted by Cambodians as spiritual assault and visitation, leading to a trauma ontology in which these are key aspects of distress and meaning. This is the lived phenomenology of trauma. As recently reviewed by Cassaniti and Luhrmann, cultural frames can have a profound effect on the experiencing of distress and may lead to ontologies in which “supernatural experiencings” are more salient; they refer to this process as the “kindling of supernatural experiencing.” In this paper I will try to demonstrate how supernatural experiencing occurs among Cambodian refugees from the interaction of the biology of trauma, cultural frames, and looping processes, what we call a “Bio-Cultural Model of the Interaction Between Supernatural Experiencing and PTSD.” It is model that takes into consideration biology, symptom hypervigilance, symptom meaning, symptom amplification, catastrophic cognitions, cultural frames, and looping. In sum, it tries to explain “kindling” in terms of multiple types of processes that result in supernatural assault and visitation being common among traumatized Cambodian refugees.


Friday, November 18

5:00 PM – 5:15 PM

Hilton, Room: Salon B

Presenting Author: Jeffrey Snodgrass Colorado State University

I assess the attentional mechanisms and psychosomatic processes by which ritual practice produces mental health resilience among Indigenous Sahariya recently displaced from a central Indian wildlife sanctuary. Structured psychiatric scale and salivary analyte data (the stress hormone cortisol) collected during Sahariya celebrations of the Hindu holidays Holi and Navratri point to substantial post-ritual health improvements. Ethnography reveals that these two rituals first invoke evil, terror, and uncertainty—demons and witches, familial and community tensions—in order to subsequently defeat them. Critically, religious frames of meaning—cultural invitations—lead Sahariya to interpret the ritualistically invoked threats, as well as their own psychosomatic stress and arousal, in positive (eustressful) terms as part of a righteous battle against evil. Despite summoning capricious and powerful threats, which echo these conservation refugees’ felt insecurity, the Sahariya end up feeling protected by God and their fellow villagers, in whom they place faith and trust. I suggest that inciting terror in this ritual context diverts these refugees’ attention away from their precarious situation and toward hidden sources of strength and resilience. And this process helps Sahariya learn to better manage the stress in their daily lives. Here, positive psychological “resilience” responses to even negative emotions can also be learned and kindled, provoking something like immune responses, rendering one less (rather than more) susceptible to future compromised mental health. And ritual sources of health resilience are particularly important for subaltern peoples like the Sahariya for whom potentially debilitating distress and seemingly insurmountable uncertainty are part of everyday existence.