"Fly-agaric produces intoxication, hallucinations and delirium. Light forms of intoxication are accompanied by a certain degree of animation and some spontaneity of movements. Many shamans, previous to their seances, eat fly-agaric to get into ecstatic states »»»» Under strong intoxication the senses become deranged; su noun din g objects appear either very large or very small, hallucinations set in, spontaneous movements and convulsions occur» So far as I could observe, attacks of great animation alternate with moments of deep depression. The person intoxicated by fly-agaric sits quietly rocking from side to side, even taking part in conversations with his family» Suddenly his eyes dilate, lie begins to gesticulate convulsively, converses with persons whom he imagines he sees, sings, dances. Then an interval of rest sets in again. However, to keep up the intoxication additional doses of fungi are necessary There is reason to think that the effects of fly-agaric would be stronger were not its alkaloid quickly taken out of the organism with the urine. The Koryak knows this by experience, and the urine of persons intoxicated by fly-agaric is not wasted. The drunkard himself drinks it to prolong his hallucinations, or he offers it to others as a treat.1!
Vladimir [ochelson Tlie Koryak, 1905
coordination and possibly some nausea soon give way to dreamy visual hallucinations, especially size distortion (macropsia or micropsia-cf. , Alice in Wonderland and Grace Slick's 11 White Rabbit'"), a growing euphoria and mental clarity in which everything seems more alive. Physical strength and energy may increase dramatically before the trip ends with the mushroom eater falling into a deep sleep.
Recreational use of A. mnscaria in Siberia has been effectively replaced by vodka, the national Soviet psychoactive drug, but is increasing in the U.S. as people are beginning to get over their fear of this mushroom with the reputation of being deadly poisonous. An intoxicant rather than a psychedelic, but a strong hallucinant as well, A. muscaria provides a heavy-duty trip that requires respect for its toxic potential .
OTHER TOXIC SUBSTANCES Mescal bean (Sophora secwtdiflora), a red bean of the evergreen shrub, was the hallucinogenic bean sacrament of more than a dozen Texas and Mexican Indian tribes before it was replaced by the safer, less toxic peyote cactus» Every silvery pod of the evergreen contains six or seven beans. The drink prepared from them was perhaps the most ancient of New World hallucinogens. Archaeological evidence (including carbon-14
dating) shows it was in use perhaps thousands of years eanlier than the assigned date of 1500 B.C. Its now defunct tribal uses included divining, predicting and the ceremonial Red Bean Dance. The active principle is cytisine» Eating more than about half of the bean is highly toxic; an overdose could precipitate nausea, convulsions and death from asphyxiation. The alkaloid cytisine is also the active agent in genista (Cytisus canariensis), a plant native to the Canary Islands and at some point introduced into Mexico, where it became a sacrament of Yaqui brujos, who used it for magi co-religious purposes»
The inhalation of the burning leaves and branches and the eating of the berries of the Mediterranean juniper tree (used to make gin) produces intoxicating and hallucinogenic effects which may result, in delirium and hypnotic trance. The intoxicated state is supposed to last no more than 30 minutes, and may include the experience of communication with the spirit worjd. The psychoactive agent among the half dozen alkaloids in the tree 'has not yet been identified.
The African plant Kan no, which is related to the cactus family, has been used for hundreds of years for its visionary powers by the Hottentots» When the roots are chewed, laughter and buoyancy resultv followed by a strong delirium and loss of consciousness if loo much is taken.
Devil's-foot root is one of the strangest of all psychotropic drugs. The reddish-brown foot-shaped root (partly humanlike and partly goatlike) is grown in extreme secrecy on the banks of the Ubangi River in the Congo, where it is used by natives as an ordeal poison. It's possible to fully recover from a low dose of this extremely toxic hallucinogen, but excessive inhalation of the burning vapor can be fatal. This drug figures in both A. Conan Doyle's SherJock Holmes stories and in Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu series. Another interesting and very dangerous hallucinogenic plant is Hierba loco (Chilean "'maddening plant'"). Eating the fruit of this small, shrub can cause mental confusion, culminating in permanent, insanity. Tag Hi is a related species found in Ecuador, hallucinogenic and highly toxic. Both substances somewhat resemble datura in their effects.
The so-called loco weed (datura species) found on the American prairies affects animals-particularly horses, sheep and oxen-as well as people. Young animals can become addicted to the intoxication, which causes them to display weird behavior, and show signs of physical degeneration. Sometimes whole herds can be affected. Mental excitement and illusory thinking characterize the
effects of the weed on people. Literature of cowboy life on the Plains abounds with tales of the mad sprees of loco weed users.
Plant intoxication of animals is known elsewhere in the world. Indigo eaters of Australia keep aloof front the herd, refuse to eat grass, stagger as though drunk or stand in one place for days. The horses and cattle must ultimately be confined like junkies going cold turkey. Shaushi, an Andean shrub whose fruits poison cattle, also intoxicates humans and, like the deadly nightshades, produces the sensation of flying.
SAN PEDRO AND DONANA CACTUS San Pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi% a tall, mescaline containing Peruvian cactus, is more palatable and provides a more tranquil trip than peyote. An important folk medicine, its ritual use in divination and in confronting evil spirits goes back at least 3,000 years. The hallucinatory brew called clmors is made by boiling pieces of San Pedro cactus with other psychoactive additives, including a species of datura. The very elaborate ceremonial use occurs at night, and unlike the peyote ceremony, it takes place outdoors. It is led by a curandcro who, besides chanting and diagnosing illness, engages negative forces by performing somersaults with a staff. The effects of cimora are fell within an hour or an hour and a half and last up to eight hours. Pagan and Christian elements are combined in the ceremony, which is said to be becoming more widespread in Peru. San Pedro and other mescaline-eontainjng Trichocereus are legal in the U.S. and have been used sacramentally by several neo-American native churches,
Dofiana (Coryphantha macremeris), a small spiny cactus found in the American Southwest, contains macremerine, an alkaloid similar to mescaline but with one-fifth its gram potency. After the spines are removed, eight or ten fresh or dried specimens are consumed on an empty stomach or crushed and brewed as a tea. The trip is mescaline!ike but not as intense. Don ana is one of a dozen cacti containing alkaloids similar in their effects to mescaline. Hallucinations are commonly experienced under the influence of these cacti, whose use is strongly related to sorcery and magic among the Huichols and Tarahumaras of Mexico.
SWEET FLAG Acarus calamus, also known as sweet flag, rat root or calamus, is a plant found in marshes and by ponds and streams in Europe, Asia and the eastern pail of North America. In the Old Testament, Moses used it (or, possibly, cannabis) as a sacramental herb; Walt Whitman sang its praises in one of his most important poem cycles; and Ciee Indians in Alberta chew it as a stimulant and for oral hygiene. A stimulant in low-doses (two inches of root), in high doses (about ten inches) sweet flag produces a hallucinogenic experience. The active agents are asarone and /3 -asarone, the nonamine precursors of the powerful hallucinogen TMA-2 (which has 18 times the potency of mescaline). It must be noted that the FDA discourages commercial distribution of sweet flag because the asarone constituents have produced tumors in laboratory animals. However, the Cree Indians studied have shown no ill effects from long-term use.
NUTMEG AND MACE Nutmeg is the seed, and mace the fibrous seed covering, of the tropical evergreen tree Myristica fragrans, native to the Spice Islands. Medicines in olden times, and long used as condiments, nutmeg and mace have also served as "last resort" hallucinogens, particularly» in prisons. Malcolm X described the effects of a small matchbox of ground nutmeg as having "the kick of thxee or four reefers." It is likely that many members of the drug subculture have tried it-once. Recreational use of nutmeg and mace has been limited by the difficulty in swallowing enough of the ground powder to get off, as well as by some undesirable side and after-effects. Low doses (5 to 10 gm., the weight of one or two seeds) produce euphoria; doses approaching 20 gm. produce a heavy intoxication and
hallucination-fi I led stupor, with time-space distortion. Nausea, diarrhea and headache may result, especially in the upper dosage range. Components of nutmeg-seed oil include myristicin, which is similar in chemical make-up to mescaline; safrole, which, like asarone, is a highly toxic and potentially harmful substance; and elemicuL Myrislicin and safroie are the non ami ne precursors, respectively, of M DA and MMDA, to which they may convert in the body. The effects of nutmeg and mace intoxication are felt in two to five hours after ingestion; the aftereffects, which may include a savage hangover, can last for a day or more.
KAVAKAVA The national drink of the Polynesian Islands was offered in coconut shells to members of the Cook expedition in 1776, and Captain Cook named Tonga "the Friendly Island" because of the disposition of the kava-drinking natives. Le win made the first pharmacological study a century later. In New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and other islands the lower classes use kavakava for relaxation, the upper classes use it for pleasure and the priestly class uses it ceremonially and medicinally.
The drink is prepared from the roots of the shrub Piper metbysticum, which are chewed by young femalfc virgioa and then infused in bowls of water.
The ceremonial use is quite festive and varies from island to island; for a time it was suppressed by Christian missionaries, and the kava drinkers turned to alcohol. ,
The active principles in kavakava may he dihydrokawain and dihydromethysticum, which are chemically similar to myristicin (nutmeg) and asarone (sweet flag), respectively. Chewing the roots releases these active alkaloids. A small or moderate dose of one ounce of finely ground kava to ten ounces of water, blended with coconut oil, gives two to four people a mild but de~ini~e euphoria. Stimulation is felt, at the beginning, and a pleasant sedation without loss of mental powers occurs afterward. The high lasts about two or three hours, often ending in sleep. With larger doses kava can be hallucinogenic and a powerful sedative. Mediums and seers of the South Seas use it to increase their psychic powers, gaining, inspiration from its magical visions. There ate no hangovers or unpleasant side effects, but the. drink is habit forming if used in excess, and chronic intoxication (kawaism) has occurred among natives and white settlers. Western therapists have had success treating patients with 300 to 800 mg. doses. Kavakava is legal in the U.S., and in recent years the fust signs of recreational and ceremonial use have been observed in California.
BANISTERIOPSIS CAAPI (YAGE) "We drank nixi poe> Before starling to chant, we talked a bii_ The brew began to move me and I drank some more. Soon I began'to shake all over. The earth shook. The wind blew and the trees swayed The ruxi*pcc people began to appeal'. They had bows and arrows and wanted to shoot me. I was afraid but they told me their arrows would not kill me, only make me more drunk Snakes, large brightly colored snakes were crawling on the ground. They began to crawl all over me. One large female snake tried to swallow me, but since I was chanting she couldn't succeed I heard armadillo (ail trumpets and then many frogs and toads singing.
Amazonian Cashinahua Indian reporting yage intoxication in "Drug Dependence." October 1070
BANISTERIOPSIS CAAPI Banisteriopsis caapi and B. inebrians are long woody vines the bark of which is used to make the famous, potent hallucinogenic brew called caapi in Brazil, ayahuasca in Amazonian Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador and yage' in (he Andean foothills of Ecuador and Colombia.
Pieces of the bark are boiled for up to 24 hours, often in combination with other psychoactive plants ranging from datura and to bacco to several with trypiamiue alkaloids. The baik lias a high concentration of haimine alkaloids-particularly the more active harmaline and d-tetiahydiohannine. Ceremonial use was discovered by Richard Spruce in the 1850s. The specimens he collected at that time were chemically analyzed in 1969 and found to be still potent. . Articles about B. caapi have appeared from time to time, particularly* _ on the subject of its telepathic powers. The vine and its uses were popularized in modern __ times with the publication of The Yage Letters, an epistolary account coauthored by Beat writers William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg after their experiences in Colombia and Peru in the early 1950s.
The effects of the drug begin to be felt, almost immediately and have been reported as a period of intense nausea, sweating and vertigo, leading to fantastic color visions (especially blue and puiple) of wild jungle animals and biids, dark-skinned men, circular and ornamental patterns,, images of creation and death and visualizations of tribal gods. These visions are the basis of the religion of the yage' drinkers, who feel they arc the animals visualized. Sound and hearing are enhanced, and synesthesia is commonly experienced. There is dancing, and finally a dreamy sleep culminates the trip.
Ayuhuosco puts the Indian in touch with his ancestral spirits. The hallucinations are
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