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Observations placeholder

Tree, Isabella - Sliced Iguana – 03 About peyote



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The five peyote burned with intent on their stone in the dappled shade. They looked like scones, or rock-cakes, or some strange fibrous souffle with skin like a celeriac. The top of them, the 'button', would have been flush with the surface of the desert and was a pattern of segments - solar panels, in effect - which were dotted with small white tufts.

Peyote comes in five colours, like its sister, maize. These were of the blue, and supposedly mose powerful, variety. All the colours, though, were virtually invisible to the untrained eye in the desert where they grew. Even here, exposed in full view, root and all, the peyote seemed to retreat metamorphically into the rock, folding in among the swirls of lichen……………..

Peyote is imbued with the characteristics of the deer god - tricky yet illuminating, laughter-producing yet also visionary, it is ally and protector, messenger and guide. It is 'hunted' not 'gathered', using ceremonial arrows as if it were an animal. When it is cut, it is done ritually and with great care, leaving the rootstock - the 'bones'- behind so that another peyote will grow in its place. Sometimes this produces a clump of peyotes which are specially revered for the patterns they produce, often reminiscent of the shape of a deer. Little white tufts on the surface of the button are said to be deer tails…………………..

The Huichol regard peyote as the key to the metaphysical world.

Children as young as five years old are given little tastes of it so they can learn its magic at an early age. But the plant has physical properties, too, long familiar to the Huichol and yet only just becoming known to science. While the Huichol regard the medicinal aspects of peyote as secondary to its spiritual purpose - almost as a side-effect of its spectacular transcendental powers - the Western world has been going into a head-spin over 'its' biological discoveries.

Peyote is used by the Huichol as a general panacea, but it's known to be particularly effective applied topically to infected wounds and a certain type of scorpion sting and, swallowed in an infusion, it can kill intestinal worms and salve other problems of the gut. 

Western scientists have recently proved its antibiotic activity against a wide spectrum of bacteria and fungi, including – they were excited to find - strains of the deadly and robust staphylococcus aureus.

The source of the experience

Tree, Isabella

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps