Peyote cactus not only discourages hunger and thirst and restores one’s spirit but also heals wounds and prevents infection is a drug of choice for the Amercican indian
Posted on April 4, 2015 | By Henry | Leave a response
Peyote, the cactus hallucinogen locals in Mexico deem sacred.
Ceramic snuffing pipe with a deer holding a peyote in its mouth Monte Alban 500 BC
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
5: The Little Deer and the Keys to the Golden Gates
Fray Bernadino de Sahagun estimated from Indian chronology that peyote had been known to the Chichimeca and Toltec at least 1890 years before the arrival of the Europeans. This is confirmed by the find of the peyote deer snuff pipe at Monte Alban (below). Usage for as long as 3000 years is suggested from Tarahumara rock carvings and Peyote specimens found in Texas rock shelters (S&H 132). de Sahagan reports as follows: “There is another herb like [opuntia]. It is called peiotl. It is found in the north country. Those who eat or drink it see visions, either frightful or laughable. This intoxication lasts two or three days and then ceases. It is a common food of the Chichimeca, for it sustains them and gives them courage to fight and not to feel hunger or thirst. And they say it protects them from all danger” (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 132).
As with sacred mushrooms, the Spaniards repressed the use of peyote because it was connected with heathen rituals and superstitions to contact evil spirits through diabolical fantasies. (S&H 134). Francisco Hernandez, physician to King Philip II noted: “Wonderful properties are attributed to this root., if any faith can be given to what is commonly said among them on this point. It cause those devouring it to be able to forsee and predict things …” (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 134).
A little later, we hear of a Cora ritual: “Close to the musician was seated the leader of the singing, whose business it was to mark time. Each had his assistants to take his place should he become fatigued. Nearby was a try filled with peyote, which is ground up and drunk by them so that they will not become weakened by the all night function. One after another they went dancing in the ring … singing the same unmusical tune he set them. They would dance all night without stopping or leaving the circle.”This ancient ritual use of peyote is preserved among the Huichol and has become a founding theme of the Native American Church. (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 134).
The Huichol make a yearly pilgrimage , the peyote hunt over 600km of rugged desert country from their tribal homeland in the Sierra Madre Occidental (Meyerhoff 10, Furst 136). The journey involves many ritual steps and many days of journey involving hardship. The confessing of marital infidelities is done without recrimination. The Huichol are polygamous and traditionally accept such revelations with a light heart. A knot is placed in a string for each occasion and then burned. Although the most substantive work about the pilgrimage is Barbara Meyerhoff’s “Peyote Hunt” most of these quotations come from the shorter earlier article in Furst.
“Might the sacred country be a kind of “Great Mother”? If so we would have at least one explanation for the emphasis on ridding oneself of all adult sexual experience before embarking on the journey, lest the whole enterprise come to naught and the offender go mad in Wirikuta. To ‘enter’ the great mother as an experienced adult would would be tantamount to incest. … I want to emphasize that there is no overt equation of Wirikuta with a “Great Mother” in the Huichol peyote traditions, yet it is implied: one need only recall the emphasis on the embrace of the hummingbird-children by the Mother Goddess Niwetuka(me) as they finally reach the peyote country” (Furst 158). Crossing the ‘dangerous passage’ the gateway of the clouds they are blindfolded. “From there one travels to the place called Vagina .. and from there directly to Tatei Matinieri – Where Our Mother Dwells.” (Furst 162). Later still we reach ‘The Springs of Our Mothers’ (Furst 166). Also notable is the place where the penis hangs.
The participants often paradoxically speak the opposite of what is intended. Finally with rising excitement the mara’akÃ¡me- spiritual leader rushes ahead and fires an arrows to enclose the first peyote on all quarters and exclaims ‘how sacred, how beautiful, the five-pointed deer!’. He then cuts the hikuri leaving some root to regrow new crowns. The return to Wirikuta the sacred mountain is seen as a return to paradise.
The first people will come back.
The fields will be pure and crystalline.
The world will end and it will all be pure again” (Internet).
Ramon gestures on the hunt, Lophophora williamsii, the Peyote collected (Furst).
And the peyote sees your heart …
And if you have luck, you will hear things
and receive things that are invisible to others,
but that god has given you to pursue your path
(Schultes and Hofmann 138).
A personal peyote quest: El Catorce Real, the old Spanish silver mining town on Wirikuta (CK).
A desert twister in the Yucca and barrel cactus-strewn desert below (CK). Peyote in natual habitat (CK).
‘As the bowl was handed round the others lead by RamÃ³n exhorted them to chew well for that is how you will see your life’. Lupe then took a sizeable whole plant, sliced off at the bottom lifted her magnificently embroidered skirt made specially for the occasion and rubbed the moist end on her legs. Lupe explained that peyote not only discourages hunger and thirst and restores one’s spirit but also heals wounds and prevents infection. Some plants were cleaned and popped straight into the mouth. Lupe sometimes wept when she did this. She was also chewing incessently as was RamÃ³n. The night was spent singing and dancing round the ceremonial fire chewing peyote in astounding quantities and listening to the ancient stories. Veradera had been sitting motionless for hours. Lupe placed candles around her to protect her against attacks from sorcerers while her soul was travelling outside her body’ (Furst 177).
Ramon Medina Silva on the Peyote Hunt (Campbell 1987).
Don Jose Matsuwa in Peyote trance during an evening session by the sacred fire (Schultes and Hofmann).
I am an old, old man and still a nunutsi (baby)
standing before the mystery of the world”
Don Jose Matsuwa (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 138).
Brant Secunda became his apprentice after walking from Ixtlan into the mountains. ‘On the third day of my journey, I became completely lost after walking down a deer trail. I became terrified and lay down to die, from sun exposure and dehydration. I then began to have vivid visions of colourful circles filled with deer and birds, but was suddenly awakened by Indians standing over me sprinkling water over me. They told me the shaman of their village had had a dream about me two days earlier and they had been sent out to rescue me’ (Rainbow Network Aug 90 4).
‘While travelling to a sacred cave in Mexico, we stopped for the night. Don Jose wrapped himself in his blanket and we all went to sleep around the fire. At about 3.30 a.m. don Jose called out to everyone. We sat up and listened as he told us of his dreams. He explained how the cave we were travelling to came into being and about the godess that resides there at that sacred place. He said the goddess of that cave was waiting for us and that we should get going so we could learn there and have our own vision’ (Halifax 238).
“There is a doorway within our minds that usually remains hidden and secret until the time of death. The Huichol word for it is nierÃka. NierÃka is a cosmic portway or interface between so-called ordinary and non-ordinary realities. It s a passageway and at the same time a barrier between the worlds” – Prem Dass (Halifax 242).
“I have pursued my apprenticeship for sixty-four years. During these years, many, many times I have gone into the mountains alone. Yes I have endured much suffering in my life. Yet to learn to see, to learn to hear, you must do this – go into the wilderness alone. For it is not I who can teach you the ways of the gods. Such things are learned only in solitude.” – Don Jose Matsuwa (Halifax) 238).
Tatewari – Sacred Great Grandfather fire.
The path is clear, the danger is gone
KÃ¡uyumari will guide us only he knows the way
Light your candles, the gods have come
Follow the eagle, see where she goes
From there they come, and the path unfolds
So then the example is set, we must follow along.
we are all his children, dance to the song.
As the Ancient Ones knew, the time has come,
The nierÃka is opening, and we pass on to the sun.
Huichol yarn painting depicting themes from the genesis myth:
The Nierika or cosmic portal of Kauyumari or Elder Brother Deer,
linking the underworld with Mother Earth, through which the gods came.
Through it all life came into being. It unifies the spirit of all things and all worlds.
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
hidden high in the remote Sierra Madre mountains of northwestern Mexico,
are dying. The forests are shrinking, water is becoming scarce,
and the animals are disappearing.
Caretakers for all that dwells upon it;
To be of one heart with all things.
To feel in his heart the pain of the wounded animal, each crushed blade of grass;
Mother Earth is our flesh; the rocks, our bones;
The rivers are the blood of our veins.”
Huichol Proverb: “The teachings are for all, not just for Indians. …The white people never wanted to learn before. They thought we were savages. Now they have a different understanding, and they do want to learn. We are all children of God. The tradition is open to anyone who wants to learn. But who really wants to learn?” – Don Jose Matsuwa, Huichol, 1989
The Huichol shamans say we are perdido, lost. They say we are bringing doom and destruction to Yurianaka, Mother Earth, and that Taupa, Father Sun, is coming closer to the earth to purify it. They are concerned for the future and for the life of their children. They are holding great ceremonies calling in shamans from many areas to try and “hold up the sun.” But they know they cannot do it themselves, for they are not the ones soiling the collective nest. We are. We are the ones who have to wake up, who have to find our lives.
For the Huichols, this is the purpose of their sacred pilgrimage to the holy land of Wiricuta–to find their lives. This is what all their ceremonies involving the ritual use of the peyote help them to accomplish. Their technology of the sacred enables them to change channels and access “state specific information” available only on the wavelengths of specific channels. For shamanic peoples such as the Huichols, the purpose in changing channels is not for escapism, to get lost in imaginary hallucinations that have no basis in reality. Their purpose is to get a more accurate reading of the nature of reality. They seek entrance through the nierica into the numinous universe underlying the limited, material world of the sensory–the “mysterious, ubiquitous, concentrated form of non-material energy . . . loose about the world and contained in a more or less condensed degree by all objects” (Bob Calahan in his introduction to Jaimie de Angulo’s Coyote Man and Old Doctor Loon).
Why? To obtain information, healing, and power, which they can use here on this plane of existence to better their lives and the lives of their people. Entering into the depths of the mystery is not something to take lightly, for the mystery is all about power and power can manifest itself in many ways. Out of respect, the Wisdom Elders observe, listen, and commune with this power in all its manifestations. From this base of phenomenological data of mind in nature, nature in mind, they came to learn the order and structure of life’s connectedness and that all things are dependent upon each other and thus related. Recognizing this, the norm of reciprocity in all interactions is raised to the status of sacred. Balanced reciprocity with all of creation is observed at all costs, for without this practice, the fragile web of life is irreversibly damaged, a fate that faces us today
“If you have the desire to learn the path of the shaman, the Fire will teach you, the Fire, our Grandfather. You must listen to the Fire, for the Fire speaks and the Fire teaches. And during the day the sun… there are many ways to gain vision, many, many ways. Yet for me the best is hikuri, peyote. When I eat hikuri the world becomes radiant with glowing colour. KÃ¡uyumari the little deer comes, lke a mirror and shows me how it all is, what you must do. When you hear me chanting the sacred songs, it is not I who sing, but it is KÃ¡uyumari who is singing into my ear” (Halifax 137)
“TayyaupÃ¡ burns your land … The last time I was in your land, we did a ceremony. And after the ceremony a powerful rain came. I chanted with my heart. Yes we had purified ourselves at the ocean in the morning, after celebrating throught the night; then the clouds began to gather, and within several hours it was pouring rain … When you do ceremonies, sending out your love in the five directions – the north, south east, west and the center – brings life force into you. That love brings in the rain … We will have to gather together and with the ceremonies, begin to tune ourselves with the environment, bringing it back into balance again. The ocean is telling me that if it doesn’t soon come into balance, terrible destruction will come in the form of fire … so I ask you to go to the sea and make offerings. Take a candle, chocolate and money. Offer these things to Tatei Haramara, Our Mother of the Sea” (Halifax 252).
“You must study these things I am saying … You have your own way of learning … But you have seen the flower of my vision on my face, and you must know that it is important to think of these things each day and each night. Then one day the sea will give you heart; the Fire will give you heart; the Sun will give you heart… I will check you by lifting up the nierÃka, like a mirror, and I will see what you have done, how you have gone in the world” (Halifax 252).
Peyote is also enjoyed as a sacrament among more than 40 American Indian tribes in many parts of the US and Canada in the form of the Native American Church. This was an adaption of the Mexican ritual that was adopted by tribes in the north who were facing a crisis of cultural disintegration. Peyote helped to bring a spirit of toleration and understanding in these difficult crcumstances.
(a) The Form of the Plains Ceremony (Anderson) (b) Tellus Goodmorning at 91 (c) Peyote meeting (Scientific American)
I had had to to visit the old roadman of my last meeting, Telles ‘Goodmorning’ for a second time before he decided to confide that there was a big meeting in honour of his son the next week. When I arrived, he said “Why you come?” almost as if he’d never seen me, but he told me that the teepee was up. Every one greeted Tellus as the great old man he was. Very frail at 93 with only one eye and a hip fracture last year that put him in hospital for five months. The roadman, Junior was accompanied by his mother and her husband.
The sunset dragged slowly into senescence by the time everyone gathered in line and walked clockwise round the teepee, entered and shut the door. The practitioners all had little boxes with rattles and feather regalia and cushions and blankets to last out the early morning chill. A fire is lit in a ceremonial vee in the middle of the teepee and around this is a crescent alter of sand. This also has to be circumambulated on entry to the teepee. At this point the roadman makes an initial speech to thank everyone who has contributed to the meeting and to explain how it has been called interspersed with many ritual ‘you knows’. Everyone then rolls a corn husk cigarette and takes a smoke. Prayers are given up and the buts are placed around the crescent altar.
The water drum which is assembled from an iron pot and goat skin sloshed from inside with water is then bought into action with the roadman’s feather kit and rattle. The practitioners sing and drum in pairs. The drum is an intense shamanic beat of 3/sec and the rattler chants a syllabic chant of Hei-hei-hei-wichi-hei-ho-ho-ho-ho which runs on like a river of concentration. The mood is intense. The sacred medicine was passed twice around the circle over an hour period. There are strict rituals. Everyone must move to the right, no one can walk past a person with the sacred medicine in their mouth. Telles took his full part in both the consumption and the chanting. No one was allowed out, except during brief interludes between songs and then only with the permission of the roadman or fireman.
At intervals they would stop chanting and take a smoke as an offering to heal a sick person or calamity. This round went on until around midnight when the roadman blew a whistle and went out to pray to the four winds. There is no possiblity of relaxation for a moment because the roadman is out there praying and needs our help! The Peyote road is described as ‘a hard road’. A session is always accompanied by some degree of nausea and occasional vomiting. I have more than once been on the point of retching, only to be prodded by a severe participant “No lounging about!”.
After midnight everyone got out their own feathers and rattles to sing their own chants. The fire was brightly coloured. As the intensity of the evening drilled relentlessly into the small hours the energy built up to a fever pitch. An Indian lady broke out into a wailing lament about her family’s health which caused the chanting to weave into a frenzy, becoming an unearthly dance of the guardian spirits at the gate of Orpheus’s underworld over the chanting. Homer took a smoke on his grandchildren who had been taken away by their mother, and some other people with disabilities had people take a smoke on them. Several of the participants had physical problems. Gradually the light of dawn drew on with ever yet more songs. Finally the roadman blew his whistle to the winds again. And all the buts were burned in the fire.
There now began the invocation of the mother waters, the mother of all creation. She sat with a pot of water and began a long speech and prayer which started out with and explanation that our concerns should be addressed to people because it was human action which was the source of all folly. She said not to be worried about the environment or the state of the world, because Mother Nature was coming in her own way to set things right and bring the affairs of the world to a natural conclusion. This extended to a blessing of relatives who had disabilities and then spread out into a blessing of all people present and all things in which they have concern which fanned out into a great prayer in Native American, English and Spanish.
Afterwards the water bucket was passed around everyone. Then the younger women came back circumnavigating the tepee once outside and once inside, placing a bowls of corn porridge and sweet raisin pork. The cowboy drummer and the roadman Junior did one last song, dismantled the water drum and handed it round the principal practitioners to drink from the peyote drum.Finally the breakfast was handed clockwise around everyone in the ring.
After we went out again ringing the tipi, everyone exchanged a formal “Good Morning” with their eyes riveted on one another in great sincerity. Telles, who had been eyeing me through his one not too good eye very alertly during the evening beamed at me and said “So you made it!”. Hence his name ‘Tell-us-goodmorning’. The morning protocol continued to a a formal lunch opened with a traditional grace saying how ‘these people have gathered together to hear your wisdom through the sacred medicine dear god, and all their relatives have gathered dear god, to eat this sacred food dear god’ in traditional style.
Bertha the Mother Waters who was actually the roadman Junior’s mother put on a formidable performance. She had spent twenty years often missing two nights sleep in a week to attend far-flung meetings. She explained that non-ordinary reality was the real reality and everyday reality was only a shadow into which the greater reality was condensed. How it was manifest in all things from the birds to the wind and how she could see and travel to distant cities in the peyote fire. She told us this story of how she threw the ceremonial water pot over her husband in play and it rained for a week solid everywhere she went until she sat in a medicine meeting a week later and vowed never to abuse the sacred water again. She knew the rain would stop at midnight and sure enough it did. Mother Waters has a history that goes all the way back to Chalchiuhtlicue, Jade Skirt, the mother of springs, steams, lakes and water holes.
After the meal I was sternly ordered by Didi the fireman to come and help dig up the ashes and sand altar from the teepee. He admonished me very firmly not to score the ground because that is the peyote road you are working and it should be smooth and gentle. Next the teepee and finally the poles, which were Telles’s own ones, were brought down.
The Christian Prophecies: It is commented that Jesus came to the white man as flesh and blood, but to the Native American as peyote. John Wilson, who many claim as the ‘founder’ of of the peyote religion in the United States cliamed that he was continually translated in spirit to the ‘sky realm’ by peyote and it was there that he learned the events of Christ’s life and the relative position of several of the spirit forces such as sun, moon and fire. He reported that he had seen Christ’s grave, now empty and that peyote had instructed him about the ‘Peyote Road’ which led from Christ’s grave to the moon (this had been the Road in the sky which Christ had travelled in his ascent (Anderson 36).
“Most peyotist strongly affirm the Christian elements as an important part of their religion. One ofthe most interesting claims is that” (Anderson 51):
He sent Christ to the whites who killed him …
God made Peyote It is His power.
It is the power of Jesus.
Jesus came afterwards on this earth, after peyote.”
However, it is Christ in his second-self who came to give the peyote ritual to the Menomini:
“This old man was a chief of a whole tribe, and he have his son to be a chief. He said, “I’m going to go, and you take my place. Take care of this [tribe].” And the boy, he went out hunting; He was lost for about four days. He began to get dry and hungry, tired out; so he gave up. There was a nice place there – there was a tree there; nice shade, nice grass – and he looked at that place there; it would be a nice place for him to die. So he went, lay himself down on his back; he stretched out his arms like this [extending his arms horizontally], and lay like that. Pretty soon he felt something kind of damp [in] each hand. So he took them, and after he took them, then he passed away” (Anderson 23-4).
” Just as soon as he – I suppose his soul – came to, he see somebody coming on clouds. There’s a cloud; something coming. That’s a man coming this way, with a buckskin suit on; he got long hair. He come right straight for him; it’s Jesus himself. So he told this boy, “Well, one time you was crying, and your prayers were answered that time. So I come here. I’m not supposed to come; I said I wasn’t going to come before two thousand years,” he said. “But I come for you, to come tell you why that’s you [are] lost. But we’re going to bring you something, so you can take care of your people. That’s what you’re crying for; you don’t know how – how you’re going to take care of your people. So we’re going to give you that power to do it. But we go up here first.” So they went up a hill there. There’s a tipi there, all ready. So Christ, before he went in it, offered a prayer. So they went in there. Then he showed him the [ritual] ways; the medicine, how to use it, he gave him the songs, them songs we’re using -but that’s why, see [that] we don’t understand them words [of the songs], you know. Take this medicine along, over there. Whoever takes this medicine, he will do it in my name.” So that’s how it represents almost the first beginning.” (Anderson 23-4)
There is an apocryphal story peyote had a role in the transcendental experiences responsible for the evolution of Adolf Hitler’s messianic ideas. The story goes that during 1911, Hitler met a bookseller named Ernst Pretzsche whose father had been an apothecary in MÃ©xico City and had spent leisure hours in an extensive study of the customs and ritual magic of the Aztecs. He lead Hitler through an exploration of von Eschenbach’s “Parsival” in which initiates acquired the art of reading from the cosmic chronicle of human destiny in which past, present and future were united in one uncoiling ribbon of time. He persuaded him to take the meditative initiations before taking peyote as a short cut to realization. In 1913, Walter Stein travelled with Hitler up the Danube. After they had left Hitler disclosed that he was planning to stay with the herbalist Hans Lodz who had previously prepared a poition of peyote with which he had had his first experience of the Macrocosm and an insight into the mysteries of Reincarnation. He admitted to Stein that he had not cherished the idea of compromising his own will to a process over which he might have little control. Although his interest was primarily in discovering the meaning of his own destiny within the historical process, he did remark to Stein on his visions of the physiological processes of his body biochemistry (Andrews 1975 417). However other historians doubt this story was possible.
In any case neither the power plants nor the substances they contain can be held responsible for the twisted vision of the partaker, nor what may result from their application to dark ends. Aldous Huxley who made mescalin famous to the post-war generation set a completely different example, dying peacefully under LSD. Peyote has a great reputation as both a spiritual and a physical medicine and has 250,000 adherents in the Native American Church alone