Trumpets Of The Angels

1: The shamai lie use of the gold yellow flowering Brugmansia occurs primarily in Colombia and northern Peru.

2: The flowers and leaves are used by many Indian shamans for medicinal purpose s

3:1 ne ripe fruit of the Brugmansia ianguinea. This Angel's Trumpet puts out far more fruit than does any other species

4: The flower of Brugmansia sanguínea

The Guambiano of southern Colombia ; y of Brugmansia vulcanicola: "How pleasant is the perfume of the long, bell-like flowers of the Yas, as one inhales it in the afternoon . . . But the tree has a spirit in the form of an eagle which has been seen to come flying through the air and then to disappear . . . The spirit is so evil that if a weak person sea tions himself at the foot of the tree, he will ^oiget everything, , . . feeling up in the air as if on wings of the spirit of the Yas ... If a girl . . . sits resting in the tree's shade, she will dream about men of the Paez tribe, and later a figure will

Brugmansia Drawing

be left in her womb which will be borne six months later in the form of pips or seeds of the tree."

The species of Brugmansia are native to South America. Brugmansia in the past has usually been considered to re present a section of the genus Datura. Thorough studies of the biology of these plants have shown that they deserve to be classified in a distinct genus The behavor of the species—as well as their location- -indicates long association with man.

The hallucinogenic use of Brugmansia may have come from knowledge of :he closely related Datura, knowledge that proto Indian Mongoloids brought to the New World in late Paleolithic and Mesolithic times. As they migrated southward, they encountered other spe cies of Datura, especially in Mexico and bent them to shamanic use. Upon arriving in the Andes of South America they recognized the resemblance of the Brrgmansias to Datura and found their psychoactive properties very similar. At a iy rate, everything about the use of B- 'gmansia bespeaks great antiquity.

Little is known, however, of pre-Conquest use of Brugmansia. There are, nevertheless, scattered references to these hallucinogens. The French scientist de la Condamine mentioned :' ; use among the Omagua of the Rio Maranon. The explorers von Humboldt and Bonpland remarked on Tonga, the l-d-flowered B. sangumea, as a sacred plant of the priests in the Temple of the Sun at Sogamoza in Colombia.

Brugmansia arborea, B. aurea, and B. sanguinea usually occur above an altitude of six thousand feet The seeds are widely employed as an additive to chi cha. The crushed leaves and flowers are prepared in hot or cold water to be taken as a tea Leaves can be mixed with an infusion of Tobacco. Some Indians may scrape off the soft green bark of the stems and soak it in water for use.

The Brugmansia intoxication varies but is always characterized by a violent phase. There is probably no more succinct description than that of Johann J. Tschudi in 1846, who saw the effects in

Peru, The nat've "fell into a heavy stupor, his eyes vacantly fixed on the ground, his mouth convulsively closed, and his nostrils dilated. In the course of a quarter of an hour, his eyes began to roll, foam issued from his mouth, and h;s whole body was agitated by frightful convulsions. After these violent symp toms had passed, a profound sleep of several hours' duration followed, and when the subject had recovered, he related the particulars of his visit with his forefathers."

At Tunja, among the Muisca, accord ing to a report in 1589, a "dead ch;-f was accompanied to the tomb by his women and slaves, who were bured ~n different layers of earth ... of which none was without gold. And so that the women and poor slaves should not fear their death before they saw the awful tomb, the nobles gave them things to drink of inebriating Tobacco and other leaves of the tree we call Borrachero, all mixed in their usual drink, so that of their senses none is left to foresee the harm soon to befall them " The species employed were undoubtedly Brugmansia aurea and B. sanguínea.

Among the Jívaro, recalcitrant children are given a drink of B. sanguínea with parched maize; when intoxicated, the children are lectured so that the spir its of the ancestors may admonish them. In the Chocó, Brugmansia seeds put into magic chicha beer were thought to produce in children an excitement during which they could discover gold.

Indians in Peru still call Brugmansia sanguínea by the name Huaca or Hua-cachaca ("plant of the tomb") from the belief that it reveals treasures anciently buried in graves.

In the warmer parts of the western Amazon, Brugmansia suaveolens, B. ver sicolor, and B. x insignis are employed as hallucinogens or as an admixture with Ayahuasca.

Perhaps no locality can equal the Valley of Sibundoy in the Andes of Colombia for Brugmansia use. The Kamsá and Ingano Indians use several species and a number of local cultivars as hallucinogens. The Indians of this region, espe

Sibundoy Valley Colombia

cially shamans, have a developed knowledge of the effects of these piants and grow them as private possessions.

Usually the property of specific sha mans, these cultivars have native names. The leaves of Buyés (B. aurea) are employed mainly to relieve rheumatism, an effective medicine with _ts high concentration of tropane alkaloids. Biangan was employed formerly by hunters: the leaves and flowers were mixed with dogs' food to enable them to find more game The tongue-shaped leaf of Amaron is valued as a suppurant and in treating rheumatism. The rarest

Above: The seeds of Brugmansia suaveolens are used in Peru as an intoxicating additive to corn beer. They are taken by the shamans in higher doses and often produce a delirium that can last for days with the most powerful of hallucinations.

Below: The Blood-Red Angel's Trumpet is often planted in sacred places and cemeteries. Here is a large plant growing witn an image of the Madonna in southern Chile.

The Chemistry of Brugmansia

The solanaceous Brugmansia arborea, B. aurea, B. sanguinea, B. suaveolens, and B. versicolor contain the same tropane alkaloids as the Daturas: scopolamine, hyoscyamine, atropine, and the various secondary alkaloi< s of the tropane group, such as norscopolamine, aposcopolamine, meteloidine, etc. Scopolamine, responsible for the hallucinogenic effects, is always found in the largest quantity. The leaves and stems of B. aurea, for example, with a total alkaloid of 0.3 percent, contain 80 percent scopolamine, which is also the main alkaloid in the roots of Brugmansia.

William Clark Texas

Right: The Valley of Sibundoy in southern Colombia is a location of intensive use of Brugmansia. One of the most renowned medicine men of the Kamsâ tribe is Salvador Chindoy. Here he is pictured in his ceremonial garb at the beginning of a Brugmansia-inuuceà intoxication for purposes of d.vination.

Right: The Valley of Sibundoy in southern Colombia is a location of intensive use of Brugmansia. One of the most renowned medicine men of the Kamsâ tribe is Salvador Chindoy. Here he is pictured in his ceremonial garb at the beginning of a Brugmansia-inuuceà intoxication for purposes of d.vination.

Left: A young Kamsâ Indian boy of Sibundoy, Colombia, holds a flower and leaves of Culebra Borrachera prior to brewing a tea for the purpose of intoxication in preparation for learning the secrets of use of hallucinogens in magic and medicine.

cultivar is Salaman, with bizarrely atrophied leaves; it is employed both in treating rheumatism and as a hallucinogen. The extreme in aberration is found in Quinde and Munchira: these two are used as hallucinogens but also in the treatment of rheumatism and as emetics, carminatives, vermifuges, and suppurants; Munchira likewise is employed to treat erysipelas. Quinde is the most vdely employed cultivar in Sibundoy; Munchira the most toxic. The rare Dientes and Ochre find their most important use in the treatment of rheumatic pains.

"A spirit so evil, our grandparents tell us, was in these trees with flowers like long bells, which give off their sweet perfume in the afternoon, that they were the food of those Indians at whose name people trembled: fierce Pijaos."

Culebra borrachero is thought by some botanists to be one of those mon strous cultivars. More potent than any of the cultivars of Brugmansia, it is used hallucinogenically for the most difficult cases of divination and as an effective medicine for rheumatic or arthritic pains.

The cultivars Quinde and Munchira are most frequently used for their psychoactive effects. The juice of the crushed leaves or flowers is drunk either alone in a cold- water preparation or with aguardiente (an alcoholic distillate of sugar). In Sibundoy only shamans usually take Brugmansia. Most shamans "see" fearful visions oi taguars and poisonous snakes. Symptoms and unpleasant aftereffects probably have contributed to the limitation of Brugmansia as a hallucinogen.

The Jívaro believe that normal life is an illusion, that the true powers behind daily life are supernatural. The shaman, with his potent hallucinogenic plants, can cross over into the world of ethereal wonder and deal with the forces of

Brugmansia Aurea Guambiano

evil. A jívaro boy at the age of six must acquire an externai soul, an arutam wakani, the vision-producing soul that can allow him to communicate with ancestors. To get his arutam the boy and his father make a pilgrimage to a sacred svaterfall, bathing, fasting, and drinking Tobacco water. Maikoa or Brugmansia juice may also be taken to effect contact with the supernatural during which the boy's arutam appears as jaguars and anacondas and enters his body.

The Jívaro frequently take Natema (Ayahuasca) or Banisteriopsis to acquire the arutam, since it is a strong intoxi cant, but Brugmansia must be used if Natema is not successful. Maikoa intoxication, the Jívaro assert, may cause msanity.

From all viewpoints, species of Brug mansia have had a difficult time of it in spite of their great beauty. They are plants of the gods, but not the agreeable gifts of the gods, like Peyote, the mushrooms. Ayahuasca Their powerful and wholly unpleasant effects, leading to periods of violence and even temporary insanity, together with their sickening aftereffects, have conspired to put them in a place of second category. They are plants of the gods, true, but the gods do not always strive to make life easy for man—so they gave man the Brugman-sias, to which he must on occasion re pair. The evil eagle hovers over man, and his Borrachero is an ever-present reminder that it is not always easy to attain an audience with the gods

Right:Jbe beautiful flowers of the Angel's Trumpet inspired the Symbolists (fabric printed after a design by Alphonse Mucha, Paris 1896; original is in the Württemburg State Museum, Stuttgart, Germany)

Left| This drawing by a Guambiano Indian of the southern Andes of Colombia depicts a native woman under a Borrachero tree, Brugmansia vulcanicola. The portrayal of an eagle associated with an evil spirit indicates the dangerous toxicity of this tree, which causes a person tarrying under it to become forgetful and to feel as if he were fly.ng.

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