Nahera seeds of civilization


Above from left to right: The Mataco use a decoction of fresh (still green) Cebil pods as a head wash for headaches.

Cebil, the "Seeds of Civilization" (seeds of the Anadenanthera colubrina). Bufotenine is the main active constituent.

Above from left to right: The Mataco use a decoction of fresh (still green) Cebil pods as a head wash for headaches.

Cebil, the "Seeds of Civilization" (seeds of the Anadenanthera colubrina). Bufotenine is the main active constituent.

The ripe seed pods of the Cebil tree (Anadenanthera colubrinavar. cebil) collect underneath the leaf canopy. The knotty bark of the Argentinian Cebil tree (Anadenanthera colubrina bvar. cebitj.

Page 121: The Cebil tree (Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil) with ripe seed pods.

In the Atacama Desert of northern Chile there is an oasis called San Pedro de Atacama. The art historian and ar chaeologist C. Manuel Torres excavated and studied over six hundred prehisto ric graves there. The results were astonishing Nearly every interred person was accompanied for the last journey by numerous tools dedicated to the ritual sniffing of Cebil

The name Cebil designates a tree (Anadenanthera colubrina) as well as its seeds, which can induce a strong psychoactive effect.

In the Puna region of northwest Argentina is the oldest archaeological proof of the ritual or shamanic use of Cebil. They have been smoked there for over 4,500 years. Numerous ceramic pipes have been discovered in certain caves of this region. Occasionally the

The Chemistry of Anadenanthera colubrina

Some varieties of Cebil seed contain exclusively bufotenin (C12H16ON2) as the psychoactive ingredient. In tests of other seeds, 5-MeO-MMT, DMT, DMT-A/-oxide, bufotenin, and 5-OH-DMT-A/-oxide were found. Old tests of the seeds contained 15 mg/g of bufotenin.

In the dried seeds from the trees of northeast Argentina (Salta), there has been found mostly bufotenin (more than 4%), and a related substance (perhaps serotonin), but otherwise no other tryptamines or alkaloids. In tests of other seeds taken from the garden of a Mataco shaman, 12% bufotenin content was found. The ripe pods of the fruit also contain some bufotenin.

bowls of the pipe still contain Cebil seeds. The psychoactive use seems in particular to have influenced the culture of Tiahuanaco (literally, "City of the Gods"). The Tiahuanaco culture is the "mother" of Andean civilizations. All subsequent high cultures of the region have been influenced by it.

Many examples of pre-Columbian snuff paraphernalia (snuff tablets, snuff pipes) displaying the iconography of the Tiahuanaco culture have been found in Puna and the Atacama Desert. They appear to be significantly inspired by the visions of the Cebil seeds.

The use of Cebil as a snuff powder in the southern Andean region is first mentioned in 1580 by the Spanish chronicler Cristobal de Albornoz in his work Relacion. A psychoactive substance cited in sources from colonial times called Villca is possibly identical to Cebil

The shamans of the Wichi (Mataco Indians) of northwest Argentina still use a snuff made of Cebil today. The shamans of the Mataco smoke the dried or roasted seeds, preferably in a pipe or rolled in a cigarette. The Cebil seeds are for them a means to enter and influence another reality Cebil is, in a manner of speak' ig, a gateway to a visionary world; this is how the shaman Fortunato Ruiz expresses it. He smokes the seeds with tobacco and Ai-omo—just as his ancestors did five thousand years ago. This makes the

Ritning Natur

Below: The German artist Nana Nauwald depicted her experience with Cebil seeds in a painting in 1996. The picture bears the title "Nothing is separate from me" and shows the typical "worm-like" visions

Right: Recently it was reported that the Mataco in northern Argentina smoke and sniff Anarie-nanthera colubrina. With this the Spaniards' assumption, that the snuffs Cebil and Villca are made from this plant, is confirmed.

What Was Villca?

In the colonial literature of New Spain, there are numerous references to the psychoactive use of certain seeds or fruits that were known variously as Huilca, Huillca, Vilca, Vilcas, Villca, Wil'ka, Willca, or Willka. The ethnohistori-cally documented villca (fruit) is today kr iwn as the se&d ot Anadenanthera colubrina. Villca was of great ritual and religious significance in Peru in the time before the arrival of the Spaniards, and was known to the Incan high priests and soothsayers (umu) as Villca or Villca camayo. A holy Indian relic (huaca) was known as Villca or Vilcacona and an especially holy mountain is known as Villca Coto. On the peak of Villca Coto, it is said that a couple of humans saved themselves during the primeval deluge.

Villca seeds had a ceremonial significance for the Incas as a psychoactive subsitute for beer. The "juice" of Villca was added to a fermented corn beverage and taken by the soothsayer, who would then be able to look into the future.

Villca was also the name for enemas, which were used for medicinal or shamanic purposes. - .

northwest of Argentina the place with the longest uninterrupted ritualistic or shamanic use of psychoactive substances in the world

As some Matacos have converted to Christianity in recent years, they have come to identify Cebil with the biblical Tree of Knowledge. But they do not see Cebil as a "forbidden fruit"; rather, they see it as the fruit of a holy tree, which is used by shamans for healing.

The hallucinat' ns triggered by Cebil seem to have been very influential in the iconography of the so-called Tia-huanaco Style The iconography of artist Chavin de Huantar is full of similar motifs: intertwined snakes coming out of the head of the oracle god are clearly Cebil hallucinations

The vision-inducing effects of Cebil snuff last for roughly twenty minutes and include strong hallucinations, which are often only black and white, and seldom in color. They are not (or are only very rarely) geometric in nature, but are strongly flowing and "decentralized." They are very reminiscent of the images produced by the pre-Columbian Tiahuanaco culture.

Cebil seeds also have psychoactive effects if they are smoked. The effects are very strong for about thirty minutes and then fade away The effects begin with a feeling of heaviness in the body. After five to ten minutes, visual hallucinations begin with the eyes closed, often featuring worm- and snake'' ke' nages flowing into one another. Sometimes geometric, symmetrical, or crystallographic hallucinations can occur, but very seldom are there any strong 1 isions of a realistic nature (such as the experience of flying, traveling in another world, transforming into an animal, contact with helping spirits, and so on).

Far left: Pre-Columbian snuff toolsrtfcm a grave at San Pedro de Atacama.

Left: Pre-Columbian snuff vessel made from a carved bone (San Pedro de Atacama, Chile)

Above: The northwest Argentinian region of Puna is the area in which the longest continued use of visionary and shamanic plants can be proved. In this region the Cebil seeds have been smoked or sniffed for 4,500 years for healing ceremonies

Left: The painting (oil on canvas, 1996) by the Columbian-American artist Donna Torres shows the study of an ethnobotanist who is researching Anadenanthera colubrina



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