Illustration by Alexandra Najm

Embodying Feminine Rage: A Psychedelic Living Manifesto

In New York, I was exposed to radical manifestos of art and art making. Over the course of reading these ideas of reimagined arts and spaces, rooted in artists’ own identities, I wrote my own manifesto for the kind of art I would hope to create.

Oct 2, 2022

The Thought Process
Defining an art practice is an artistic process in and of itself. In my quest to explore psychedelic theater, as I began to call it at some point, I ended up not just coming up with questions to answer but also narrowing them down enough for them to directly inspire my practice. At first, my process entailed questioning the limitations generational shared knowledge has put on modern human imagination — beauty standards, morality — and proposing a focus on psychedelic performance and living as a means to rethink these standardizations. Everyday aesthetic elements accompany this – harmonies, singing, chanting, immersion and engagement of more than two senses at once. As I strived to discover psychedelic culture and its impact in the Indian subcontinent, it became apparent to me that the only thing missing from the mix I already had so far was the representation of my identity.
The Roots
Throughout my life, I have consumed media that has exposed me to a portrayal of women who express negative emotions, like rage and anger, as inhumanly possessed and frenzied. Be it in fairytales, where jealousy can lead a queen to be heartless enough to kill a young girl, or in ancient Greek mythology, where mothers kill their own offspring to take revenge on their husbands. These vibrantly depicted trances that seem commonplace in women are also found in instances of Hindu goddesses’ possession of women in South Asia as a result of rage. In many of these stories, often folklore but sometimes a reality, this rage is instigated by injustices against women — honor killings, sexual harm or female infanticide. I believe that psychedelic living, a lifestyle meant to create empathy through a shared experience of deep and radical engagement with the world around us, cannot be separated from these instances of frenzied women seeking justice and raging against harm caused to their kind. Psychedelic living is directly tied to, and is almost a manifestation of, feminine rage.
The Practice
These ideas of the angry woman, the angry goddess, rage being destructive to femininity and purity need to be explored, and essentially opposed, as a core part of psychedelic theater and, by extension, psychedelic living. My idea of psychedelic living cannot exist without frenzied movement, music and art performed by or experienced in non male bodies. To experience this specific kind of life is to indulge all senses — immersion in art, sociology, anthropology, fully, so that consciousness follows.
The objective is clear: a lifestyle so defiant of what we know to be real that the collective experience of community building around anger creates shared radical empathy. And here I pause to recognize the idealistic nature of such a way of living but carry on nonetheless, because setting a standard this high entails constantly striving to live a life to reach it, which gives us a constant creation of art, essays, pieces of writing, another key feature of this kind of lifestyle. Embodying and taking into stride unending and unfinished projects and encounters presents an altered version of life as we know it. In this way, this lifestyle is like clay, set in a specific shape for a while but not resistant to change. We should strive to cater to as many senses at the same time as possible — touch, taste, smell, sight and sound — truly be rooted in the present. To accept such a lifestyle is to acknowledge our humanity and that life doesn’t need to be lived in a rush. Being is sufficient.
In this way, not only is our experience of the world fully immersive and trance-like, but it is also rooted in the idea of accessibility. We are not simply observers of the spaces that we occupy, but integral parts of these spaces and the acts that constitute them. We are always navigating spaces that are confusing, complex and unchartered.
Living a psychedelic life is a collective experience rooted in unafraid and honest expressions of rage, projected by situated, frenzied bodies, and in this way, it gives way to empathy and a shared consciousness. A community.
This manifesto is also a means for women and gender expansive people to reclaim their bodies. By living to the beats of our own worlds, we embody and deconstruct the idea of our gendered body as a vessel of meaning. Our instincts are key, and this is what the practice of psychedelic living would be geared towards. It is imperative to wholly acknowledge the rhythms of our world as unpredictable and continuously changing, and trust that our anger is integral to our society’s functioning.
Sameera Singh is Senior Features Editor. Email her at
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