Backstory: In my youth, I was an insufferable know-it-all who just knew everything about the world! I would never be open to other people’s point of view, I was blindly stubborn and I would defend my side of the argument until my last breath – even if a very big part of me was aware that I was wrong, because I simply didn’t want to lose face.
And one of the subjects that I used to fight so vehemently against was that of recreational drugs usage. I knew sooo much about it (even without any experience) that I was a self-confirmed expert and anybody that experimented with drugs was an idiot, completely below me and my shining moral compass.
I would happily get hammered from binge drinking (at least) twice a week, and I fetishised alcohol like most people do. But for some reason I thought that recreational drug users were somehow doing something worse? A pretty flawed logic when you take off your blinders and have a real look at it.
Since leaving home and getting to know the real me, I have come to understand that I was holding onto some illogical anger. I’ve done a complete 180 and experimented with LSD and Ayahuasca and to be honest those experiences will need a completely individual article to put the feelings into words. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on going from one extreme to the other and turning into a full blown junkie, but I have magic mushrooms to tick off my bucket list and I’m very much interested in the power of certain plants.
I’m only just recovering and recuperating my thoughts and awakenings after Ayahuasca and as I am about to try Peyote for the first time here in Mexico in a week or so – I thought I’d let you know the background of the spiritual plant…
Peyote has been used by the Huichol people in Mexico for thousands of years. There are several theories on how long it has actually been used. One Spanish storyteller said that the ritual uses of Peyote began 1890 years before Spaniards arrived in the New World. A Danish anthropologist claims it has been used since Mesoamerican times due to ceremonial rock carvings that date to this time period. Still others have used carbon dating to confirm that is has been used since around 800 B.C.
What it Does
So what is the bid deal with Peyote? The most basic answer to this question is that it is a natural hallucinogenic, but on a deeper level, Peyote is reported to trigger states of “deep introspection and insight” that have been described as being of a metaphysical or spiritual nature. The Huichol in Mexico have been using it for centuries to perform ritual ceremonies.
In these ceremonies, the Huichol take Peyote to connect with their gods and ancestors. They do this through having visions, singing, and weeping. Today, Peyote has sparked a tourist interest in the plant for its psychedelic properties so tourists have flocked to the Chihuahuan desert to dig up the cactus and get high.
The Peyote Ceremony
Where do the traditional ceremonies take place? The most sacred Huichol ceremony is in Wirikuta. It begins with an annual pilgrimage to collect Peyote. The first peyote harvested is shared with everyone. Then the people harvest enough to last for a full year. After that everyone eats Peyote until visions occur and the Shaman of the group conducts rituals to ensure the regeneration of everyone’s souls. Suffice it to say, Peyote is central to the Huichol culture and without it they have no religion or way of life.
To protect the Peyote from disappearing, the Mexican government has made it illegal for anyone other than the Huichol to use the cactus. Despite this, the average tourist can find Peyote pretty easily. Peyote grows in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Potosi in Mexico. Tourists can find the cactus in their own as it is easy to identify.
Or they can go to the popular, yet tiny town of Real de Catorce. Originally a mining town, this town has been put on the map as the starting place for tourists to find Peyote. You can buy Peyote in the form of jellies or candies in the town or take a ride out the desert and dig up the plant itself.
I’ll update the blog candidly on my experiences on Peyote, but it may take a while. I’m not quite ready to put my Ayahuasca experience into words, so both will probably be a separate post.
Do you have a Peyote experience to share?