"Early one morning, very many winters ago, two Lakola (Siouxj were out hunting with their bows and arrows, and as they were standing on it hi JI looking for game, they saw in the distance ... a very beautif ul woman, dressed in white buckskin, and bearing a bundle on her back ... [While. Buffalo Cow Woman instructed the hunters 10 gather all the people in a large tipk to which she returned the next day J .,„ She took from the bundle a pipe, and also a small round stone which she placed on the ground. Holding the pipe Lip with its stem 10 the heavens, she said: Willi this sacred pipe you will walk upon the Earth; for the Earth is your Grandmother and Mother, and She is sacred. Every step that is taken upon Her should be as a prayer. The howl of this pipe is of red stone; it is the l.arth. Carved in the stone and facing the center is this buffalo calf who represents all the four-leggeds who Live upon your Mother. The stem of the pipe is of wood, and this represents ail that grows upon the Earth. And these twelve feathers which hang here where the stem fits into the bowl are from Wanbli Ga/esíúw, the Spotted Kaglc, and they rep resent the eagle and all the wingeds of the air. All these peoples, and all the things of the universe, are joined to you who smoke the pipe all send their voices to Wahvti- Tonka, the Great Spirit. , When you pray wiih this pipe, you pray for and with every-thing.1 "
Black Elk, Oglttin Sioux in The Sat red Pipo, J<¿53
(probably for tobacco) dale back to about 1500 b.c. in Guerrero, Mexico. The Aztecs mixed picietf, a bright green powder of N. rustics, with lime, stuck the wad between teeth and gums and sucked it. Nevada and California Indians ground tobacco on a stone mortar with lime and water and licked it off the pestle; natives on the northwest coast of Canada mixed lime with tobacco in pellets dissolved in the mouth. In the southeastern U.S., Creek Indians added tobacco to a sacred emetic called "black drink," whose main ingredient was Hex c as si ne leaves. Rich in caffeine and tannic add (like its relative I. paraguayensis, from which mate tea is made in South America), this bitter brew induced immediate vomiting» but left the shaman or warrior feeling high, clean and ready for action.
Columbus also noticed the Tainos of Haiti sniffing a "dust" that made them "become like drunken men." During his second voyage he hired Friar Ramon Pane to investigate native customs. Pane soon found out that this powder, cohoha, was snuffed through Y-shaped tubes by chiefs and shamans to communicate with spirits and predict the future: "Consider what a state their brains are in, because they say the cabins seem to them to be turned upside down and that men are walking with their feet in the air."
The use of this snuff, made from beans of
Early European idea of New World tobacco smoking
"The powder, the ceremonies and the procedure, [the Indians of Hispanic in, which is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) called cohoba ... in their language. This intoxication caused them to babble confusedly, or talk like the Germans. They talked I do not know what about or with what words. This powder put them in a state to converse with the statues and oracles, or rather, with the enemy of human nature. Thus they revealed secrets, prophe-sized or forewarned; thus (hey heard or knew whether any fortune, misfortune or harm would befall them. Thus it was when the priest alone prepared himself to speak and the statues were to talk lo turn,"
Fray Bartholome do Iks Casas (1474-1566) Apologetic. History of the Indies
Anadenanthera peregrin a, was probably brought to the West Indies by earjy migrants from the Orinoco basin, where it was called yopo or niopo. Its main ingredients are the powerful tryptamines DMT, MMT and 5 MeO DMT, as well as
beta-carbolines thai trigger the tryptamines, and bufotemne (54)H-DMT), which mayor may not contribute to its hallucinogenic effect. . A similar snuff from A. coiuhrim was anciently used under the names vilcci, huilca and cebil in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina Snuff tubes and trays from about 1500 B.C. have been found in Peru, and a supernatural hunting scene with a deer caught in a vile(i tree on a Mochica vessel tan Peru (c. AD, 500) instantly recalls the ancient Eurasian shaman is tic association between deer and hallucinogens.
Another snuff used in the northwest Amazon of Brazil and Colombia, and in the Orinoco headwaters of Venezuela, since ancient times comes from several species of a quite different jungle tree, virola, but has the same tryptamines and beta-car holmes (excluding bufoteninc) as yopo. Virola snuffs are variously called epehc, paric6, yakee and yato, and are usually mixed with plant ashes and other additives. Bright-red oozing resin is scraped off the inner bark of virola.
"I^WJWWJ WlW j u' timaigaamniiiin tigr^^fc
S nuf'ii rig paraphernalia
Blowing virola snuff dried or boiled down to a sediment, pulverized, mixed with ashes and blown into the nostrils through long tubes. The DMT effect is almost immediate.
In some regions use of this magical snuff is restricted to shamans, who take it to see spirit forces, either "little people" or greatly enlarged giants, who control human destiny. Elsewhere it is employed by all adult. males, and sometimes even taken by individuals just to get stoned. According to Schultes, many Waika tribes conduct an annual funeral ceremony for those who have died the previous year, involving all the men and older boys of the village. They blow enormous quantities of snuff into each other's nostrils, gesticulate wildly, brandish weapons, shout and sing and pound each other's chests with fists or clubs, often drawing blood: "the effects of the narcotic are so strong that the men do not flinch or show signs of pain,"
Jesuit missionaries in the Amazon occasionally mentioned a "diabolic brew" used by seventeenth-century Indians for divination, but not until the mid-nineteenth century did explorers realize that it was another major hallucinogen, variously known as yeje (yagej, ayahuasca, natema or caapi. Richard Spruce was invited to drink caapi during a "Feast of Gifts" in a Brazilian village on the Rio Vaupes' in 1852. Noting its effects (The Indian turns deadly pale, trembles in every I bib and horror is in his aspect. % Suddenly he bursts into a perspiration, and seems possessed with reckless fury ... "), Spruce was determined to try some. He succeeded in downing a cupful, but the festival leader, anxious that the white man should try all their favorite drugs, plied him with mandioc beer, a two-foot long cigar (Spruce had never smoked tobacco) and a large cup of palm wine.
Overcome with "a strong inclination to vomit," Spruce retired to a hammock, drank coffee and passed out,. He was sufficiently impressed, however, to gather specimens of the jungle liana to
Blowing virola snuff
Gold coco co ill airier from ancient Peru send back to England for analysis. Later he noted its use among Orinoco tribes who not only drank the "nauseous beverage," but also chewed the dried stem,. In Ecuador he found the same substance under 3 different name, ayahuasca, or "dead man's vine."
Throughout western South America, coca was used ceremonially ftom the most ancient periods. Applied externally, it was an excellent local anesthetic for surgical operations like trephining the skull. . When "chewed," i.e., parked in the cheek with shell lime or plant ashes and slowly sucked, it was the constant stimulant of warriors, hunters and runners.
Certain tribes in the northwestern Amazon of Colombia snort coca snuffy often mixed with tobacco or plant ashes. Apparently, use of coca in northern South America goes back well before the conquest, for Amerigo Vespucci found the natives of Margarita Island, off the coast of Venezuela, chewing coca in the traditional fashion in 1499. Interestingly, at the same site, Huaca Prieta, on the north coast of Peru where the earliest snuffing implements were found, archeologists have unearthed coid bags containing leaves, dried flowers and a chewed quid of coca These are dated about 1500 B.C.. but the area was inhabited for perhaps a thousand years before that..
The Incas made this divine plant the essential sacrament of their sun religion and restricted its use considerably. According to Inca legend, the flashing white star Spica in the constellation Virgo was "Mama Coca." At the beginning of time, the children of the sun gave the supernatural plant to the first Inca, Manco Capae, to "satisfy the hungry, provide the weary md fainting with new vigor and cause the unhappy to forget their miseries." Inca rulers were direct descendants of the sun, and no one could use coca without their permission. Since no one could enter the sun temples without coca in their mouths, Inca chiefs and high priests had a monopoly on coca as well as religion. Likewise only women such as the queen of the reigning Inca could use coca; women were daughters of the moon. Mama Qui 11a, the goddess of love who held coca sprays in her hands.
Permission to use coca and enter the Inca religion was granted to chiefs of tribes who submitted to Inca rule and given to great warriors and others, like the fabled relay runners who could carry messages 150 miles in a day. Thus coca was inextricably bound up in the establishment of Inca control over much of western South America before the Spanish arrived. It also probably had something to do with the building of irrigated farm terraces, massive temples and other public works like the incredible Inca mad system. We may even assume it was what gave the Incas iheir divine powers: the Incas certainly thought so.
Unlike aboriginal shamanism, Inca state religion was extremely hierarchical. . The grand Inca appointed a chief high priest (viHac-wnu) who held office for life and in turn, appointed the lesser priests. Each province had its chief priest (villac), and no ceremony was complete unless this official blessed il by throwing coca lo the four cardinal points. Beneath him were soothsayers, doctors and subalterns of all kinds, including the vira-piricue, whose duty it was to offer coca into the fire and foretell events from the curling of its smoke. Coca was involved in every aspect of Andean life from birth (under Mama Qnilla's tutelage) to burial..The rigorous ordeal of initiation into manhood was climaxed by investment with the warrior's sling and coca bag.
Coca was (and siDl, is) the indispensable treatment for mountain sickness among all who traveled the high Andes and was preferred above all other drugs for treatment of malaria. Bags of coca were conventionally, deposited in graves with the mummies of important persons and sacrificial victims to nourish the departed spirits during their -voyageinto the beyond.
The Spanish, of course, were appalled. Pizarro executed the grand Inca Alahualpa and melted down all gold, including the models of coca shrubs in the gold-walled Temple of the Sun. In 1569all the Inquisition bishops of South America banned coca as "a demonic delusion." The Spanish refused to believe that coca had real effect and attributed "what is done to the compact the Indians have with the Devil/' But soon they discovered thai the natives could endure forced labor and be more productive if allowed to chew coca, and its cultivation and use were encouraged. Wages were paid in coca; taxes were collected in coca; the divine plant became slave money. Tithes of one-tenth of the coca crop were imposed by the Church, and soon most of the revenue of the bishops of Cuzco was derived from coca.
The Spanish destroyed many of the historical records and artifacts of the Inca empire in an attempt to wipe out native religion and culture, and so less is known about pre-Colombian use of other drugs in western . South America. Maize beer (chicha) was, of course, familiar, though the Spaniards preferred wine. Hallucinogenic tree daturas (subgenus Brugmansia) were widely employed throughout the Andes for divination, prophecy and communication with the dead. Witch doctors in a valley of Chile used another solanaceous plant, Lalua pubijloru, for sorcery, and the Mapuche Indians of Chile smoked Lobelia
A CONTEMPORARY CURANDERO ON THE EFFECTS OF SAN PEDRO CACTUS "First a slight dizziness that one hardly notices. And (hen a great vision, a clearing of all (he faculties of (he individual... It produces a light numbness in the body and afterward a tranquility. And then comes a detachment, a type of visual foire in the individual inclusive of all the senses: seeing, heating, smelling, touching, etc.-all._ the senses, including the sixth sense, the telepathic sense of transmitting oneself across time and matter San Pedro tends to reach the subconscious
"The subconscious is a superior pan (of man] ... a kind of bag where the individual has stored all his memories, all his valuations One must try ... to make I he individual jump out! of his conscious mind. That is the principal task of curanderismo. By means of the magical plants and the chants and the search for the roots of the problem, the subconscious of the individual is opened like a flower, and it releases these blockages. AIJ by itsel£ it telJs things. A very practical manner ... which was known to the ancients [of Peru]."
Cnlvaoz. a Peruvian curandero, as told to Douglas Sharon in 'The San Pedro Cactus in Peruvian Folk Healing," (972
tit pa ("devil's tobacco") and used the fruits of Gomortega keule as an intoxicant. .
San Pedro cactus, Trichocereus pachanoi, was the main ingredient of a drink called cimora in Peru that would allegedly allow a sorcerer to invade another person's soul and take over his identity. Use of this mescaline-containi ng cactus dates back at least 3,000 years. I( was another easly hallucinogen associa(ed with (he jaguar cult and is still widely employed in Pertiyian folk healing.
It was in Mexico, however, thai the conquistadores confronted the most highly developed (and brutal) psychedelic religion of all time. Montezuma thought Cortes might be a representative of the god Quetzalcoatl^ so he welcomed him in 1519 wiLh gold, pearJs, fine clothing and sacred drugs. He ordered his priests to prepare certain potions, which Cortes scorned as "bewitched food." Had Cortes eaten it, the fate of the wonld might have been changed.
The slaughter with which Cortes repaid Montezuma's kindness is well known, but the religious reason behind it is less recognized. Imagine the cultural collision between the Spanish Catholics, who regarded wine as the blood of Christ, and the Aztecs, who regarded hallucinogenic mushrooms as teonanacatl "God's flesh." The Spaniards discerned many resemblances between Christianity and Aztec religion, which led them to conclude that the latter was counterfeit, a delusion of the Devil to lead the natives to their own destruction. Thus the conquerors rationalized that the slaughter of the Aztecs was (he means (o (heir salvation!
The Aztec state religion, like that of the Incas, was hierarchical, with all the hallucinogenic plants of Mexico used by different orders of priests. Among the sacred drugs were two cultivated tobaccos, Nicotiana rustico and N. tabacum, both snuffed and smoked. Bitter, frothy chocolate was the court aphrodisiac and (he only beverage Moniezuma drank daily; i( was '"food of (he gods,"' a title that persisis in its botanical name, Theobrom a cacao. Cacao beans were also used as money.
A culL revolved around (he maguey, or century plant (Agave), which provided food, paper, clothing, roof thatching and a sirong beer, pulque. The Aztecs called the plant mexcalli (from which mezcal for the drink is derived) and pei*sonified it as (he goddess Mayahuel, whose 400 sons were rabbits representing degrees of intoxication. "Two Rabbit1' was a god of exalted consciousness, while '"400 Rabbit'" stood for complete drunkenness, punishable by a beating on the First offense and death on the second. Additives rendered agave drinks more potent:. highly toxic mescal beans (Sophora secundijlora), for instance, were put into mezcal.. Tequila is now made from agave. Contemporary sorcerers now crush morning-glory seeds in pulque.
A major Aztcc hallucinogen was ololiuqui, identified in 1939 as a drink made from crushed morning-glory seeds (Rivea corymbosa) by Schulles and Reko, who found it being used by a Zapotec whch doctor in Oaxaca. Black seeds of another morning-glory, Ipotnoea viotacea, are also employed by the Zapotecs, and Wasson has suggested that these might have been the Aztec "'black sacrament"' tlitliltzin. In 1960, scientists were flabbergasted to leam_ from Alber( Hofmann that these seeds contained lysergic acid amides.
The eauly chroniclers were also amazed, and not a little frightened, by this drink that produces lethargy as well as visions. One wrote,"the naiives ... communicate wi(h the Devil. ..when they become intoxicated with ololiuqui, and (hey are deceived by (he various hallucinations which they altribuie to the deiiy which they say resides in (he seeds." Others commented on the numbing effects of (he drug. Aziec sorcerers were said (o make an ointment of ololiuqui, tobacco and poisonous insects that, when rubbed on the body, made ihem lose all fear. It is suspected (ha( living human victims sacrificed (o Aztec gods were smeared with this pas(e before (heir hearts were torn, out, and perhaps that high priests took it to
MORNING GLORY VISIONS 'They attribute llie visions to (lie deily which tliey say resides in lliese seeds, known as ololiuJiqui or cuexfwlli. . It is remarkable Iww much failh cliese natives have in this seed, for, wlien they drink il, they consult., it as an oiactr 10 learn many things (hat tliey wish lo know, especially tliose which are beyond the power of (lie human mind (o penetrate, as for example, to learn (lie cause of an illness which they attribute lo witchcraft _ They wish to know this or find out about other things such as stolen articles, future ag&ressois. They consult this sce<J through the medium of llieir deceiving doctors, some of whom practice ololiuhqui-drinking as a profession. If a doctor' wlx) does not practice ololiu/iqui-drii>kii>g wishes to free a patient of some trouble, lie advises the patient himself lo partake of the seeds Finally, the one drinking the oMiuhqui ... must seclude himself in a room alone, mostly llie doctor's parlor. 1 No one must enter the room during the lime of the divination, that is, during the time the consulting person is out of his mind. He who is consulting the seeds believes that the ololiutujii i... is revealing what he wants to know
"For this reason they venerate and fear these plants [ololiiJiqui and peyote] so much that lliey do all in llieir power so that (lie use of the plants does not come to the attention of the ecclesiastical authorities."
B. Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon, seventeenth century inure themselves lo the hideous riles.
The Aztecs referred to datura as "sister of ololiuqui," naming ihe plant uacazrul or lolohuaxthuhl and the drink prepared from il roloarzin. These names have sumved in modern Mexico as roloache. European species of daiura were long familiar lo Inquisition priests as witches' drugs; American species were cast in the same shadow, with some justification. The Chibchas of pre-conquesi Colombia stupefied ihe wives and slaves of dead chiefs wilh daiura in beer before they were buried alive; ihe Aztecs may have done the same wilh sacrificial victims.
The king of Spain's personal physician, Francisco Hernandez, noted ihe medical and ritual uses of datura among Azlec sorcerers and warned that excessive use could produce madness, ''an alienation of the mind, visions and deliriums." He also said its pulverized seed mixed with resin and smeared on bird feather splints "excellently solders and sets broken bones" of patients in hot vapor baths. Throughout Mexico and the southern U.S., various spccics of daiura were commonly employed in ihe initiation ordeals of young men. According to Azlec mythology, their capital city Tenochtitlan had been established near a rock where iheir ancestors had beheld a "tuna'1 (cactus, probably prickly pear) wilh a royal eagle holding a serpent in its lalons perched on top. Because of ihis, cacij were especially, sacred lo the Aztecs, and one above all others: peyotl. . It is not known when peyote (Lophophora wHJfamsii) was first employed as a sacramenl; use of "mescal beans" (Sophora.1 secundijlora) predates it considerably in Mexico and Texas, going back about 10,000 years. The Spanish Friar Bernardino de Sahagun, doubtless retelling Azlec belief, slates thai the Chichimecs, a barbarous northern race who preceded the Aziecs inio ihe valley of Mexico about ihe twelfth century, "were the first lo discover and use the root which they called peiotl." A Oaxacan snuff pipe in ihe form of a deer holding peyote in his mouth, however, is dated 300-100 b.c„ showing that peyote was probably involved in shamanism ai least thai eaily. A modem legend of peyote's discovery has il that a pregnant woman lost her way in the desert, had her child and collapsed in despair. A voice commanded her lo eat ihe cacius growing beside her. She did, and wilh renewed strength found her way back lo her tribe, bringing the magic plant with her. Peyoie's most famous use is to find losi objects through visions.
Hernandez was quite specific: "Miraculous properties are attributed lo this root those who eat it will be able lo foresee and predict everything, such as whether they should attack the enemy on ihe following day or raiher wail for favorable limes; or who had stolen a utensil,, or other matters of like nature " Another cleric confirmed that they "eal peyote, lose their senses, see visions of terrifying sights like the Devil and were able lo prophesy the future." Inquisition priests were anxious to stamp out this "satanic trickery."
The crowning sacraments of Aztec religion were the magic mushrooms-14 or more species of al leasl two genera, Psilocybe and Conocybe. These were ieo>ian6cail, "mushrooms of the gods" or "flesh of the gods." (The resemblance between Nahuatl leo, "god," and the Greek root theo, meaning the same, deeply impressed the Spanish and was further "proof that Aztec religion was a demonic counterfeit of Christianity.) Religious use of mushrooms dales back lo prehistoric times, perhaps even lo that remote era when paleo-Siberian shamans crossed ihe land bridge between Siberia and Alaska and slowly, over centuries, worked their way south. Mexican frescoes from about a.d. 300 depict mushroom worship, and "mushroom stones" from highland Maya civilizations in Mexico and Guatemala are dated ai 1000 b.c. or easlier.
"... in 1959,1 tried LSD-25 again In tlie course of two experimenis I was ama2ed and somewhat embarrassed 10 find myself going through states of consciousness that corresponded precisely with every description of major mystical experiences that I had ever read. Furtheimore, they exceeded both in depth and in peculiar quality of unexpectedness the tlnee "natural and spontaneous" experiences of this kind that liad happened to me in previous years."
"Psychedelic^. and Religious Experience/" 1968
It is said that Montezuma celebrated his coronation as emperor of the wonld in 1502 with a public mushroom festival in which even strangers from far-0ung provinces were invited to participate. Normally, however, mushroom ceremonies were secret, reserved for nobles and priests and held at night to escape the prying eyes of outsiders. Sahagun has given us an eloquent account of one such ceremony he managed to observe. Because the Spanish saw witchcraft everywhere, it was impossible to be very detailed about Aztec rituals or their significance, but Hernandez reported that three types of mushrooms of varying toxicity and expense were used, the most desirable being "sought with night-long vigils, awesome and terrifying.''
Many of the Aztec hallucinogens, according lo Wasson and Schulles, appear on the great statue of Xochipilli,. ''Prince of Flowers,1' thai now stands in the National Anthropological Museum in Mexico City. Most prominent are stylized Psilocybe mushroom caps on the god's headdress, earlobes, knees, right arm and around his pedestal. . His chest is gaslanded with closed morning-glory flowers, which open up in carvings on both thighs. On Xochipilli's right thigh is a tobacco flower, repeated on the left forearm. A bud and flower of sinicuichi (Heimia salichoUa) may be represented on Xochipilli's back and right leg, while another auditory hallucinogen, Caiea zacatechichi, has been tentatively identified on his left; torso. All in all, it seems thai the "Prince of Flowei-s" was the ecstatic Aztec god of psychedelic, plants.
The Spaniards lost no time in removing the ''diabolic'1 Aztec religion from the face of the planet. .An office of the Inquisition was established in Mexico in 1541, scarcely 20 years after Cortez had butchered the Aztec aristocracy. But the mushrooms and other sacred plants grew everywhere and it was hard lo keep people from eating them secretly. At last in 1574 the Inquisitioners set up a final purge, the auto-da-te. This ''act of the faith1' was precisely the mechanism for wilch-hunting in Europe: exposure, trial by ordeal and judgment of heretics by Church officials whose sentences-usually death by fire or hanging-were carried out by civil authorities. ''IL is no wonder,1' as Dr. Steven Pollock has said, "that the mushroom cults went into hiding, not to be rediscovered until the twentieth century."
Thus was Aztec sacrifice replaced with blood-drenched Christianity, through psychedelic genocide. And just as Christianity had once survived by adopting certain elements of the mystery, cults, so the hallucinogenic religions remained secretly alive in Christian guise.
Peyole is the central sacrament of the Native American Church, whose litanies are couched in Christian terms, but whose rituals are unmistakably Indian. Chief among the ritual objects displayed on the altar at a traditional Saturday night peyote meeting is Father Peyote, a superbly formed button often passed down through generations. It is the medium for direct communication with God. Up to 30 peyote buttons apiece are consumed at intervals by members under the direction of an experienced ''road man1' who leads the ceremony. The road man's robes are adorned with mescal beans and other ancient accoutemients. Tobacco smoking is a ritual adjunct to the service, the road man lighting cigarettes with a torch. A fire tended by ''fire
Peyole paraphernalia .
Airat\getncnl of mhnor of leepee far a Kiowa peyole meeting
Peyole paraphernalia .
Airat\getncnl of mhnor of leepee far a Kiowa peyole meeting
mad" burns, all night while "drummer man" keeps up the rhythmic beats, chanting and singing.
Whites are generally not admitted to Native American Church ceremonies, not only because the government wishes to keep people away from hallucinogens, but also because chuir- leader-wish to protect their rituals from massive outside intrusions. For similar reasons, Mexican curanderos have long been reluctant to expose their rituals to any but the most trusted whites. Anthropologists have described peyote use -mong the Huichol, , Con-j, Tarahumara and other tribes since the 1880s. Serious students like S eh niters have been admitted to shumanistic rites in the Amazon as well as Mexico since the late 1930s.
In 1955, the courageous Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina of Huautla de Jimenez in Oaxaca broke through this cultural prohibition by allowing Wasson and others to participate in magic mushroom ceremonies. Her act of faith-the exact opposite of the I nquisit toners' auto-da-fe in 1574-has had profound consequences. Just as many feared, Oaxaca soon swarmed with whites seeking mushrooms, forcing the healers to be ultraselective once more. But in a larger sense, the studies of Wasson and many others have contributed immensely to the understanding of hallucinogenic religions throughout the world. Maria Sabina opened a door that had been closed for almost four centuries, and it is to be most earnestly hoped that the doors to infinite consciousness will never be dosed again.
Interested while people have tried to establish religions using native hallucinogens, such as the Church of the Awakening, founded by John and Louisa Aiken in New Mexico in 1963. With tb-e advent of the psychedelic . Sixties, many attempts were made to establish contemporary cults usi.ng
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