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Page 61: The Fly Agaric is used for shamanic purposes worldwide. It has even been linked to the ancient Indian Soma.

Shamanic Plants

been suggested that even the idea of deity may have arisen from experiences with its unearthly effects. The sacred Mexican mushrooms have a long history that is closely linked to shamanism and religion The Aztecs called them Teonanacatl ("divine flesh"), and they were ceremonially in gested. Highland Maya cultures in Guatemala apparently had, more than three thousand years ago, a sophisticated religion utilizing mushrooms. Probably the most famous sacred hallucinogen of the New World, however, is Peyote, which, among the Huichol of Mexico, is identified with the deer (their sacred animal) and maize (their sacred vegetal staff of life). The first Peyote-collecting expedition was led by Tatewari, the original shaman, and subsequent annual trips to collect the plant are holy pilgrimages to Wirikuta, original paradisiacal home of the ancestors. In

Notwithstanding the recent upsurge in the use of psychoactive plants in modern Western societies, the thrust of this book emphasizes almost exclu sively the employment of hallucinogens among aboriginal peoples who have restricted the use of these plants mostly to magic, medical, or religious purposes. The outstanding difference between the use of hallucinogens in our culture and their use .n preindustrial societies is precisely the difference in the belilf concerning their purpose and origin: all aboriginal societies have considered—and still do—that these plants are the gifts of the gods, if not the gods themselves. It is obvious that our culture does not view hallucinogenic plants in this ligl

There are many examples—and more will be di: cussed in the following pages—of plants that are sacred and even revered as gods. Soma, the ancient god-narcotic of India, may be the most outstanding example. Most hallucinogens are holy mediators between man and the supernatural, but Soma was deified. So holy was Soma that it has

South America, Ayahuasca reveals the real world, while daily living is an illusion. Ayahuasca means "tendril of the soul" in Kechwa and comes from the frequent experience that the soul separates from the body during the intoxication, commun ing with the ancestors and forces of the spirit world. The drinking of Caapi is a return "to the maternal womb, to the source and origin of all things," and participants see "all the tribal divinities, the creation of the universe, the first human beings and animals and even the establishment of the social order" (Reichel-Dolmatoff).

It is not always the shaman or medicine man who administers these sacred plants. The general population—usually the adult male portion— often shares in the use of hallucinogens. Under

Above■ The symbols In Hulchol mythology are vividly depicted in their popular sacred art. The beauty of the forms has as a basis the ceremonial use of Peyote The yarn painting above, like an Aztec Codex, is a chronicle of the creation of the world. The gods emerged from the Underworld to Mother Earth. This was possible because Kauyumari, Our Elder Brother Deer, found the nierika, or portway The nierika of Kauyumari (top center) unifies the spirit of all th ngs and all worlds. Through it all life came into being

Below Kauyumari's nierika, Our Mother Eagle (center) lowers her head to listen to Kauyumari, who sits on a rock, bottom right. His sacred words travel down a thread to a prayer bowl and are transformed into life energy, depicted as a white blossom.

Above Kauyumari, the Spirit of Ram a serpent, gives life to the gods. Tatewari, firsi shaman and Spirit of Fire (top center right), is bending down toward Kauyu man listening to his chant. Both are connected to a medicine basket (center right), which binds them together as shamanic allies. Our Father Sun, seen op posite Tatewari on the left, is connected with the Spirit of Dawn the orange figure below. The Sun and Spirit of Dawn are both found in Wirikuta, the Sacred Land of Peyote. Aiso in Wirikuta is Kauyumari's nierika and the temple of Elder Brother Deer Tail. The temple is the black field, lower center. Deer Tail, with redantlers, is seen with his human manifestation above him. Behind Deer Tail is Our Mother the Sea. A crane brings her a prayer gourd containing the words of Kauyumaii Blue Deer (left center) enlivens all sacred offerings. A stream of energy goes from him toour Mother Sea's prayer gourd; he also offers his blood to the growing corn the staff of life germinating below him. Above Blue Deer is the First Man, who invented cultivation. First Man laces a sacrificed sheep.

Page 62: This early-sixteenth-centuiy Aztec statue of Xochipilli, the ecstatic Prince of Flowers, was unearthed in Tlamanalco on the slopes of the volcano Popocatepetl. The stylized glyphs depict various halluainogenic plants. From left to right, the glyphs represent: mushroom cap; tendril of ihe Mor. ig Gloiy, flower of Tobacco; flower of the sacred Morning Glory; bud of Sinicuiche; arid, on the pedestal, stylized caps of Psilocybe aztecorum these circumstances, however, use is often strictly controlled by taboos or ceremonial circumscriptions. In almost all instances, in both the Old and the New World, the use of hallucinogenic drugs is restricted to adult males. There are, however, striking exceptions. Among the Koryak of Siberia, Amanita may be used by both sexes. In southern Mexico, the sacred mushrooms can be taken by both men and women; in fact, the shamar is usual ly a woman. Similarly, in the Old World, Iboga may be taken by any adult, male or female. While purely speculative, there may be a basic reason for the exclusion of women from ingesting narcotic preparations. Many hallucinogens are possibly sufficiently toxic to have abortifacient effects Since women in aboriginal societies are frequently pregnant during most of their childbearing years, the fundamental reason may be purely an insur-

Nierika Shaman

"Whether shaman alone, or shaman and communicants, 01* communicants alone imbibe or ingest Ilex drinks, Datura infusions, Tobacco, . . . Peyote cactus. Ololiuqui seeds, mushrooms, narcotic Mint leaves or Ayahuasca . . . the ethnographic principle is the same. These plants contain spirit power." —Weston La Barre ance against abortions—even though this reason has been forgotten.

Sometimes hallucinogens are administered to children. Among the Jívaro, Brugmansia may be given to boys, who are then admonished by the ancestors during the intoxication. Frequently, the first use of a hallucinogen occurs in puberty rituals.

There is hardly an aboriginal culture without at least one psychoactive plant: even Tobacco and Coca may, in large doses, be employed for the induction of visions. An example is the smoking of Tobacco among the Warao of Venezuela, who use it to induce a trancelike state accompanied by what, for all practical purposes, are visions.

Although the New World has many more species of plants purposefully employed as hallucinogens than does the Old World, both hemispheres have very limited areas where at least one hallucinogen is not known or used. So far as we kriow, the Inuit have only one psychoactive plant; the Polynesian Islanders of the Pacific had Kava kava (Piper metbysticum), but they seem never to have had a true hallucinogen in use: Kava kava is classed as a hypnotic.

Africa has been poorly studied from the point of view of drug plants, and may have hallucino genie species that have not yet been introduced to the scientific world. It is, however, posible to assert that there are few parts of the continent where at least one such plant is not now utilized or was not employed at some time in the past.

Asia, a vast continent, has produced relatively few major hallucinogenic varieties but their use has been widespread and extremely significant from a cultural point of view; furthermore, the use of them is extremely ancient. Numerous sources describe the use of hallucinogenic and other intoxicating plants in ancient Europe. Many researchers see the roots of culture, shamanism, and religion in the use of psychoactive or hallucinogenic plants.

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