No Credit Check Payday Loans



JoomlaWatch Agent

Visitors hit counter, stats, email report, location on a map, SEO for Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal, Magento and Prestashop

JoomlaWatch Users

JoomlaWatch Visitors

54% United States  United States
11.3% United Kingdom  United Kingdom
5.9% Australia  Australia
5.6% Canada  Canada
3.3% Philippines  Philippines
2.2% Kuwait  Kuwait
2.1% India  India
1.6% Germany  Germany
1.5% Netherlands  Netherlands
1.1% France  France

Today: 189
Yesterday: 310
This Week: 1552
Last Week: 2303
This Month: 5364
Last Month: 5638
Total: 24129

Written by Weston La Barre   
Tuesday, 04 January 2011 00:00



Numerous errors involved in the study of peyote, many of them still widely current, make it advisable to identify our subject-matter clearly at the very outset of our study. The plant peyote was first described by Sahagun in 1560 as a narcotic cactus used ritually by the Chichimeca, the root peiot1.1 Jacinto de la Sane in 1626 mentioned peyote, which he distinguished from other intoxicants. The first properly botanical description was made in 1638 by Hemandez,3 the naturalist of Philip II of Spain, under the rubric De Peyotl Zacatensi, seu radice molli et lanuginosa. Ortega,4 again, in 1754, mentioned peyote as used in a Cora dance.

Since 1845 peyote has had numerous modem botanical classifications, being listed variously as Echinocactus williamsii Lem., Anhalonium williamsii Lem., Mammillaria williamsii Coulter, Echinocactus lewinii Hennings, Mammillaria lewinii Karsten, Lophophora lewinii Thompson, etc. The commonest designation in the older ethnological literature is Anhalonium lewinii or A. wilhamsii. For a considerable period it was thought that these last were two species—a point argued both on botanical and ethnographic grounds—but the present classification of peyote is as a single species, the unique member of its genus, Lophophora williamsii.5

The peyote plant is a curious and unique little cactus. It has no spines whatsoever, and ranges from the carrot-like to the turnip-like in shape and size, without, however, any branches or leaves. The rounded top surface, which alone appears above the soil (and which, cut off and dried, becomes the peyote "button"), is divided radially by straight, or slightly spiral, or sinuous furrows that in some specimens become so complex as to lose the appearance of ribs altogether. These ribs bear little tufts or pencils of matted grayish-white hair, not unlike artists' fine camel's-hair brushes. It is from these that the cactus takes both its modern botanical designation, Lophophora ("I bear crests") and its Aztec name peyotl (from the resemblance to cocoon-silk). In the center of the top there is a little spot of closely matted fuzz, from which the ribs derive and grow; the flower, borne on a stalk, grows from here too, the pinkish-whitish blossom growing into a rapidly maturing club-shaped pinkish-reddish fruit.'


Several matters regarding the botany of peyote should be discussed, for their having given rise to legends about the plant. After discussing the nefarious uses to which the Chichimeca put peyote, Hernandez writes that

on this account the root scarcely issues forth, but conceals itself in the ground, as if it did not wish to harm those who discover and eat it.7

Dr. Parsons8 recounts a Taos origin legend in which peyote acts even more spectacularly. A warrior on the war-path heard a singing, and when he approached,

the plant would go open and shut like this [the narrator moves his finger-tips close together and then opens them] . .. Then the plant told the Indian to come inside. But the opening was so small Then it got bigger; it got to be a big hole in the ground, a square hole. The Indian went down the hole. There was a big hollow place down there in the ground, round like a kiva.

And the story continues, telling of how the Indian learned the peyote rite from the man in the kiva. On scrutiny this appears to be the Kiowa origin legend for peyote, modified by the addition of familiar Pueblo folk-tale motifs. The Kiowa themselves say,

you must look closely at peyote, because it is like a mole when it comes on top of the ground—if you don't look closely it is gone again.

These curious legends, however, are not without some histological') and ecological reality. In this semi-desert region the subterranean funnel-formed tap-root of the plant is covered with woody scales which form a rigid shell. Rouhier writes :"

All this chlorophyll-region [the portion above the ground] is tumid, plump and fleshy, firm and elastic to the touch, when, after the season of heavy rains, the plant is replete and vigorous. During the hot season it droops and shrivels, becomes soft, and has a dull rumpled look. It retracts then into the rigid cylinder formed by the desiccated corky desquammated part of the stem; the plant literally gives the impression of pulling its head into its neck. (M. Diguet has told us that the plant, at this time, buries itself in the soil, as though drawn, by a powerful force of traction of its adventive radicles, at the base of the funnel which its taproot has bored.)

Another matter of ethnobotanical interest concerns the supposed existence of two varieties of peyote." In discussing Peyotl Zacatensis Hernandez" writes that "they say they are male and female." The Huichol likewise distinguish two kinds of Peyote, one, the more active and bitter in taste and presenting smaller and more numerous mammillations on the surface, called Tzinouritehua-hicouri, "Peyotl of the Gods," the other, whose physiological effect is less pronounced, called Rhaitoumuanitarihualicouri, "Peyotl of the Goddesses." In the opinion of Rouhier," "The Peyotl of the Goddesses. . . is the young form of Echinocactus williamsii [ =Lophophora williamsii], and the Peyotl of the Gods is its adult form."

Nor is this the end of the matter. It is well known that sex is attributed to plants in the Plains, but there is also a well-defined pattern regarding the sex" specifically of peyote throughout Mexico and the Plains. The Huichol have a tutelary goddess for peyote called Hatzimouika; the peyote deity of the Tarahumari, on the other hand, is male, and great reverence is paid by them to the hikuli wahlla säliami, or "hikuli great authority," literally, who is surrounded by smaller plants, his "servants," and who, not satisfied with mere sheep and goats, demands the sacrifice of oxen.

Being persons, peyote plants naturally talk and sing on occasion. Lumholtz" writes of the Tarahumari belief that

in the fields in which it grows, it sings beautifully, that the Tarahumare may find it. It says, "I want to go to your country, that you may sing your songs to me." . . . It also sings in the bag while it is being carried home. One man, who wanted to use his bag as a pillow, could not sleep, he said, because the plants made so much noise.

Bennett and Zingg" mention' the Tarahumari belief that the singing one hears as the baldnawa moves about in the night near the sleeper may be made clearer by chewing a bit of the plant. Indeed, Mooney" says the Tarahumari find the peyote by hearing its song, Hilur6wa, which it sings day and night. Peyote speaks to the Tarahumari shaman during the night of dancing and curing, and encourages him with words and by singing to him. The fetish-plant in the ceremony proper is placed on the altar under a half-gourd resonator; the rasping of the shaman, thus amplified, is very pleasing to peyote, who manifests his strength by the amount of noise produced with his aid.

In the Plains, however, when pleased with the singing, the peyote goddess actually joins in with it." The Kiowa call her stimui, literally, "Peyote Woman." Mooney describes a Kiowa peyote rattle on which she is represented, and at her feet the Morning Star, which heralds her approach. A Taos origin legend for peyote tells of a warrior abandoned by his companions, who heard a singing and rattling near where he lay, and finally discovered it coming from the blossom in the center of the top of the plant.

The Shawnee 19 say that if you listen carefully you can "catch songs" from Peyote Woman. The Kickapoo likewise have the concept of the peyote "goddess" who sometimes sings in meetings when pleased; one informant further said that "the spirit of a woman who had been faithful to peyote sings after she has passed away. Sometimes we put pieces of food near the fire for spirits of a dead man or woman or child. Sometimes you hear a man's voice too." The Lipan say they hear "Changing Woman's" voice in peyote meetings. The Wichita believe it is kicu.idie, "the woman who stays in the water," and her little son, wilitdiwidá, "the boy who rolls along the banks of the water," who are mentioned in prayer, and who give power in meetings. The "peyote-woman" belief is attenuated elsewhere in the Plains."


Native terms for peyote differ somewhat in denotation and connotation. For clarity sake we shall list only those terms referring specifically to Lophophora wilham.sii. Native classifications of cacti, as well as extensions of the term "peyotl," will be discussed in an appendix, as involving special problems.

The Huichol of Jalisco call peyote hícuri, hicori, xicori or hicouri (in the notation of speakers of different European languages); sometimes they refer to it metaphorically as foutouri, "flower." The Cora of the Tepic mountains term peyote huatari, houtari or watara; the Tepehuane of Durango, kamaba. The Tarahumari of Chihuahua call it híkuli or hikori, sometimes adding, according to Lumholtz, the epithet wanamé (or houanamé), superior," to designate the peyote par excellence; the same meaning appears to be indicated in the reduplication híkurl-lkuriwa."

The Opata22 call it pejori, the Otomi beyo. The Pima of the Gila River region use the name peyori. The Comecrudo or Carrizo of Tamaulipas call peyote kop, and Gatschet recorded the term küampamát for "bailar el peyote" ("many are dancing [the peyote dance]"). The Lipan name is xvrucdjiyahi, "pricker one eats." The Tonkawa of southern Texas call peyote non'e-gáicn; the Taos name is walena, the generic term for "medicine." Mescalero Apache call it ho or hos; the Wichita nesac'. The Comanche wokwi or wokowi is said by Mooney to be the generic name for cacti.23 The Arapaho call peyote hahaayánx. Most of the Oklahoma tribes have their own version of the term peyotl, such as the Kickapoo pi.yot, or, like them, they may use some older native term for "medicine" such as natáinoni. John Wilson (Caddo-Delaware), curiously, called peyote "sugar" or "bee-sugar"; and some Anadarko Delaware call peyote-eating "ear-eating."

Whites have used numerous confusing and erroneous non-botanical terms for Lopho, phora williamsii. Of these usages the commonest, "mescal," "mescal beans" or "mescal buttons" are the most confusing. Mescal (from the Nahuatl mexcalli, "metl [maguey] liquor") in northern Mexico, properly refers to the Agave americana or Agave spp. baked in earth ovens and widely eaten in the Southwest, and from which the Mescalero Apache take their name. By extension the term is applied to the intoxicant distilled from the native beer, pulque, also made from Agave spp. A more precise designation of this native brandy (as opposed to the native beer) is tesvino and its variants, from the Nahuatl tehuinti or teyuinti, "intoxicating."24

"Mescal bean- as used to designate Lophophora williamsii is quite indefensible, being wrong on two counts: the "mescal" bean proper is Sophora secundiflora (=Broussonetia secundiflora) or, incorrectly, Erythrina flabelliformis. The former is a red bean which was used in a pre-peyote narcotic cult of the southern Plains, to be discussed later. The adjectival use of "mescal" in the designations "mescal beans" or "mescal buttons" no doubt comes from the known intoxicating properties of the distilled liquor mescal, as extended in meaning to other unfamiliar new intoxicants, Sophora secundiflora (bean), and Lopho, phora williamsii (cactus); the term "dry whisky" bears this out. Lurnholtz,23 indeed, wrote that the Texas Rangers, during the Civil War, when taken prisoner and deprived of all other stimulating drinks, soaked peyote (which they called "white mule") in water and became intoxicated on the liquid. Further confusion of peyote with mescal has arisen from the north Mexican habit of mixing the two in a drink. Dealers call peyote the "turnip cactus" or "dumpling cactus" from its shape, to which also refers the local Mexican term biznagas, "carrot." A local name in Starr County, Texas, where the plant grows abundantly, is challote, but the usual dealers' name is "peyote buttons," from their flat shape when dried.


A precise understanding of the meaning of this term is essential, for it gives a linguistic clue of primary importance in botanical identification. Molina" in 1571 recorded the Nahuatl term peyutl, whose elastic and unprecise sense designates something white, shining, silky or woolly, and which applies to the moth-cocoon, a spider-web, a fine tissue, or, indeed, from its appearance (familiar enough to the Aztecs) even to the pericardium or covering of the heart. Rémi Siméon, in his Nahuatl dictionary of 1885, lists "Peyotl or Peyutl—A plant whose root served to make a drink that took the place of wine (Sahagun); silkworm cocoon; pericardium, envelope of the heart."27

This etymology, the oldest as well as the most authoritative, is accepted by Rouhier." The present writer, having been informed of its linguistic impeccability, further finds it explanatory of otherwise curious extensions of the term "peyotl" in Hernandez," as well as later Mexican usages. Various plants in Mexico besides Lophophora wilhamsh, some of them not even belonging to the Cactus Family, have been called "peyote." In each case, however, there has been some part of the plant to which the meanings of flocculence or cocoon-like woolly pubescence descriptively can legitimately apply. An appendix is devoted to the clearing up of this terminological confusion.


We have now touched upon the etymological connotation of "peyotl," and its extended denotation in Mexican usage. But one further matter remains to be pointed out, viz., incorrect identification and misusages involving peyote. Safford" in 1915 adequately indicated the identity of the modern peyote of the Plains with the peiotl of Sahagun and other earlier Spanish writers. Not content, however, with proving this somewhat obvious point, he went beyond and even contrary to his evidence and attempted to prove the identity of peyote with a further narcotic mentioned in Spanish sources, a yellow thin, stemmed mushroom, called teo-nanacatl by the Aztec. This confusing and wholly erroneous identification is discussed at length in an appendix, inasmuch as it has unfortunately won wide acceptance.

A more widespread error is the application of the terms "mescal," "mescal bean" or "mescal button" to the cactus Lophophora williamsii or peyote. These misusages are common in the literature on peyote, and arise from confusion with a pre-peyote narcotic of the southern Plains and Texas, the red bean of Sophora secundifiora, a true member of the Bean Family The word "mescal" as applied either to the cactus or the bean is erroneous and misleading, and should properly be applied only to the "Indian cabbage" (Agave spp.) of the Southwest, or the brandy distilled from Agave-beer or pulque.3' The true "mescal bean" is discussed elsewhere.


The present section of our study proposes to deal with the physiology of peyote intoxication only insofar as it may be supposed to have influenced the form of native culture, patterns and rites surrounding its use. The efficacy of native doctoring with peyote, however, must be decided on the basis of properly controlled medical experiments, of a sort discussed in Appendix 6, and is not at issue here.

So far as the brute effect of the drugs is concerned, the first stage is one of physical and mental exhilaration. To this physiological fact no doubt is due the Mexican use of peyote in foot-races, in war and for allaying hunger and thirst when on fasting pilgrimages for the plant. Expression of this exhilaration by dancing is common in Mexico, and is found likewise among the Tonkawa, the Lipan and sporadically in the Plains.32

Gross attitudinal behavior may be exhibited in extreme cases Lumholtz" says of the Huichol that

in a few cases a man may consume so much that he is attacked with a fit of madness, rushing backward and forward, trying to kill people, and tearing his clothes to pieces. People then seize upon him, and tie him hand and foot, leaving him thus until he regains his senses. Such occasions are thought to be due to infringements of the law of abstinence imposed upon them before and during the feast.

This semi-psychotic state is no doubt as much conditioned culturally as the Malay "running amok"; in Mexico early Spanish writers repeatedly describe native visions as sometimes horribly frightening as well as sometimes laughable. Indeed, in Mexico, among the Mescalero, and the early Plains users, aggressions welling up under peyote intoxication commonly took the form of witchcraft fear and counter-witchcraft. Typically in the Plains, however, the attitude repeatedly emphasized is that of inter-tribal brotherhood and an individual feeling of friendliness and well-being. Nevertheless some fifty native visions collected indicate great variability in the psychic state. A Taos instance records euphoria to the point of laughter," but Crashing Thunder (Winnebago)35 experienced a state of deep depression and intense fear:

The next morning [he writes] I tried to sleep. I suffered a great deal. I lay down in a very comfortable position. After a while a fear arose in me. I could not remain in that place, so I went out into the prairie, but here again I was seized with this fear. Finally I returned to a lodge near the one in which the peyote meeting was being held, and there I lay down alone. I feared that I might do something foolish to myself if I remained there alone, and I hoped that someone would come and talk to me. Then someone did come and talk to me, but I did not feel any better. I went inside the lodge where the meeting was taking place. "I am going inside," I told him. I went in and sat down. It was very hot and I felt as though I was going to die. I was very thirsty, but I feared to ask for water. I thought that I was surely going to die. I began to totter over. I died and my body was moved by another life. I began to move about and make signs. It was not myself doing it and I could not see it. At last it stood up. The eagle feathers and the gourds, these it said, were holy. They also had a large book there. What was contained in the book my body saw. It was the Bible. . . . Not I, but my body standing there, had done the talking [this schizoid quality of consciousness in peyote intoxication has been frequently noted by white observers]. After a while I returned to my normal condition. Some of the people present had been frightened thinking I had gone crazy. Others, on the other hand, liked it. It was discussed a great deal; they called it the "shaking state."

The vision experiences of John Wilson (Caddo-Delaware) and Enoch Hoag (Caddo) are typical results of physiologically-induced hallucinations in individuals whose culture-background highly values vision-experiences." The Enoch Hoag "moon" had its origin apparently in a (tetanic?) trance, wherein he saw himself as dead, with many people around him weeping and his arms composed on his chest as with a corpse. His companions tried to give him water with a spoon, but his jaws were stiff—a common symptom of strychnine poisoning."

The stimulating effect of peyote may partly account for the holding of meetings at night, for there is no desire or ability to sleep for ten or twelve hours after eating peyote; however, all-night meetings for various purposes are not unknown in the Plains, and the older culture pattern merely exploits the physiological fact as a limiting condition probably. Some observers report that, although there is heightened reflex-activity (including those of the skin), peyote induces a partial skin anaesthesis. A Zacatecas ceremony reported by Arlegui," on the occasion of the birth of the first male child, appears to utilize this virtue of the plant:

The relatives gather and invite other Indians to a horrible ceremony of which the father is the object. They give him to drink a brew concocted of a root called peyot and which not only has the property of intoxicating him who drinks it, but also renders him insensible and drugs the flesh and paralyzes the whole body. This drink is administered to the patient after twenty-four hours of fasting. Then he is seated on a staghorn in a place specially chosen for this. The Indians come with sharpened bones and teeth of different animals. Then with different ridiculous ceremonies, they approach the unfortunate victim one by one; each one makes a wound on him, without pity, making a great deal of blood flow out; and as those present are numerous, the wounds are many and the unfortunate person is so maltreated that, from head to foot, he offers a lamentable spectacle. • . According to how the miserable victim has borne this, they augur the valor which the son of a father who has suffered so much will possess.

The stages of peyote intoxication have been noted by natives. Writing of the Kiowa and Comanche, Mooney" maintained that "in the peyote ceremonies, the songs of those present are more vigorous after midnight," and informants frequently indicate their awareness of this.4° Kroeber says of this period late in the intoxication that"

the physiological discomforts have usually worn off, and the pleasurable effects are now at their height. It appears that new songs, inspired perhaps by the visions of the night, are often composed during this day.

Many well known songs composed by such leaders as Quanah Parker (Comanche), Enoch Hoag (Caddo) and John Wilson (Caddo-Delaware, called Nishinintu or "Moonhead") are said to have arisen from the auditory hallucinations of peyote intoxication. The popular song "Heyowinlo" came to John Wilson in a synaesthetic auditory hallucination in which he heard the sound of the sun's rising. Crashing Thunder" said of the beating of a drum that "the sound almost raised me in the air so pleasurably loud did it sound to me." Other kinaesthetic derangements have been reported in visions.

The dilation of the pupils of the eyes possibly explains the Huichol" belief that the squirrel- and skunk-fetishes of their ceremony can see better than ordinary people, guiding and guarding the hikuli-seekers on their way. Visual phenomena, indeed, are perhaps the most conspicuous effects of peyote eating. The colors red and yellow, usually with reference to birds and feathers, are common in both Mexican and Plains peyote symbolism." The widespread Plains belief that peyote makes one see better may derive from pupil-dilation; white observers have reported acuter vision in peyote intoxication from this cause. Indians frequently manifest a marked "photophobia" even in the mild morning sunlight after meetings, and many younger men affect colored glasses at this time.

The peyote alkaloids cause increased salivation, and there is a constant noise in meetings of spitting as the users eat peyote; in some meetings attended individual tin-can spittoons were provided. The increased flow of saliva probably accounts for the thirst-allaying effect of the plant encountered in the origin legends and elsewhere, but this and the diuretic" action of the drugs cause thirst to reappear more strongly later. A regular feature, therefore, of the typical Plains ritual is the bringing in of water at midnight and in the morning, which is passed around clockwise." The widespread taboo on the use of salt in connection with peyote may have some reference to this action of the plant.47 On the other hand, the use of sweet" foods is a necessary part of the ritual; these are stereotyped both in the Plains and Mexico to include parched corn in sugar-water, sweet fruit, and sweetened meat either dried and powdered or cut into chunks, and candy is a regular feature in some meetings. Sugar may in effect relieve the stage of depression in peyote intoxication somewhat."

The classification of plants into male and female on the basis of their physiological action has, as we have seen, a botanical basis. We are convinced on the other hand, however, that peyote has no effect whatsoever in the curbing of an appetite for liquor. Both native and white apologists" for peyote advance this argument in extenuation and defence. Natives are perfectly sincere in their belief that the antagonism of peyote and alcohol is physiological (even in the face of conspicuous contrary evidence)," and Plains Indians are annoyed and hurt at the widespread association of drinking and peyote-eating through the confusion of the term "mescal." Yet the stubborn ethnographic fact remains that in Mexico peyote is commonly drunk with tesvino or mescal.

Various other physiological effects noted by whites find native parallels. Many of the visions recorded for natives deal with synaesthesias of sight and hearing and smell, and there occur cases of taste, and smell-hallucinations as well as the more common auditory and visual ones. Kinaesthetic derangements are also not unknown.52

One final question is less of physiological than psychological and ethnographic import. Along with teo-nanacatl, marihuana (Cannabis spp.) and the Peyotl Xochimikensis (Cacalia cordifolia), peyote has been said to have an aphrodisiac action. This association suggests that a matter of Spanish-White or Mexican-Indian ethnography is involved.° But love-magic was not unknown either in Mexico or the Plains, and it is conceivable that this new medicine (particularly since it was used for "witching") because of its other spectacular effects, might have been valued for this purpose also.

We have now discussed the bearing of physiological reactions on the peyote ritual and other native behavior: the exhilarating first effect of the drug (in the allaying of hunger and thirst on the march, to give courage in war, and strength in dancing and racing) and the second stage of depression and visions ("running amok," witchcraft-suspicion, psychic fear-states, euphoria and feeling of brotherhood, partial anaesthesia, the "suffering to learn something" characteristic of the Plains vision quest, synaesthesias, auditory hallucinations, and "catching songs," visual hallucinations, and "learning" of painting- and bead-designs, symbolical birds and feathers, etc.).

We found, too, behavior definitely related to the pupil-dilating power of peyote as well as its sialogogue and diuretic action; the injunction against salt and the use of sweet foods, however, may involve culture-historical matters. We have been skeptical of the alleged anti-alcoholic virtue of peyote, and have likewise doubted that physiologically peyote is either aphrodisiac or anaphrodisiac, despite heated claims on both sides. The efficacy of native doctoring with peyote is a special problem treated elsewhere along with the therapeutic and psychiatric experiments of Whites.

The following ethnographic part of our study deals first with the non-ritual uses of peyote, arising from its special properties, and secondly with the ritualization of its use.

1 They [the Chichimeca] have a considerable knowledge of plants and roots, their qualities and their virtues. They were the first to discover and use the root called peiotl, which enters among their comestibles in the place of wine" (Sahaglan,Histoire générale, 10: 66 r-62). Again, "There is another herb, like tunas of the earth [tunas is the Spanish name for the fruit of the prickly pear, Opuntia opuntia]; it is called peiotl; it is white; it is produced in the north country; those who eat or drink it see visions either frightful or laughable; this intoxication lasts two or three days and then ceases" (Sahagfin, Historid general, 3: 241; in Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 294—

Translations from the Spanish have been made with the aid of Mr. H. W. Tessen of the Yale Graduate School.

2 "Teonanacatl [has] . . . the same properties as ololiuhqui or peyote, since when eaten or drunk, they intoxicate those who partake of them, depriving them of their senses, and making them believe a thousand absurdities" (Manual de Ministros; in Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 309-1o).

3 Peyote of Zacatecas, or soft and lanuginous root. The root is of nearly medium size, sending forth no branches nor leaves above ground, but with a certain wooliness adhering to it, on which account it could not be aptly figured by me" (De Historia Plantarum, 3: 70; in Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 295. See also Rouhier, Monographic du Peyotl, 43-44).

4 Nearby [the leader] was placed a tray filled with peyote, which is a diabolical root [raiz diabolica] that is ground up and drunk by them so that they may not become weakened by the exhausting efforts of so long a function" (Ortega, Historia del Nayarit; in Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 295).

5 Those interested in the taxonomic problem should consult the numerous botanical references in the bib, liography. Britton and Rose, in their four volume work on the Cactaceae classify peyote as Lophophora
which will be followed in the present study.

6 The most succinct and complete description of the plant is found in Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae, 83-84.
Peyote's range is comprehended within an irregularly-shaped lozenge from Deining, New Mexico, to Corpus Christi, Texas, to Puebla, Sombrerete, Zacatecas, and back to Deming. That is, the valley of the Rio Grande (north), Tamaulipecan Mountains (east), the watershed of the affluents of the right bank of the Rio Grande de Santiago and Rio de Mezquital (south), and the foothills of the Sierra Madre, the Sierra de Durango and the Sierra del Nayarit (west). It prefers the calcareous and argillaceous soils of the Cretaceous formation in the north of this region.

7 In Safford, Aztec Narcotic, 295; see also Narcotic Plants, 401.

8 Parsons, Taos Pueblo, 63.

9 The best histological account is in Rouhier, Monographie, 34-42; the work of Dr. Helia Bravo, Nota acerca de la Histologia, is more recent. Richard Schultes at Harvard has also pursued histological studies. It is noteworthy that the Indians ordinarily take only the upper portion of the plant, which contains a larger proportion of the alkaloids according to Rouhier.

10 Rouhier, op. cit., 25. I am persuaded that many such insights would be afforded us in ethnography if we had a less cavalier attitude toward native science and history: for after all even our own science grows from criticism of traditional notions.

11 From the middle of the last century there has raged an acrimonious debate as to whether there are two varieties of peyote corresponding to Anhalonium wilIiamsii and A. lewinii. The former, it was contended, had seven or eight straight ribs and lacked most of the alkaloids of the latter, which had more numerous (twelve or more) sinuous ribs. This long, somewhat nationalistic debate may be regarded as ended since Rouhier (Monographie, 67) in 1926 figured a bicephalous plant on the same root, one head being a true williamsii, the other a perfect lewinii. It is apparent that the lewinii "variety" is merely an older plant, which often takes the williamsi aspect in its younger stages of growth; the more numerous alkaloids of the former more mature plant is likewise purely a growth-phenomenon, as are the rib-configurations and mammillations, though environmental and seasonal conditions may be involved as well.

12 Hernandez, De Historia Plantarum, 204, "Se dice que hay macho y hembra." Inaccurately translated by Safford, Aztec Narcotic, 295, and Rouhier, Monographie, 43. The simplest and most obvious translation is the most satisfactory. According to the Lipan (Opler, Use of Peyote, 279) male peyotes bloom red, female peyotes white.

13 Diguet, Le Peyote, 25; Rouhier, Monographic, 133.

14 Handbook of the American Indians. 6o4b. Spier informs me this is also Navaho and perhaps Pueblo as well. As indicated elsewhere, peyote, teo-nanacatl and associated plants have repeatedly been thought to be aphrodisiacs. The supposed sex of the plants may have some reference to this belief; cf. the Huichol belief that "Maize is a little girl whom one sometimes can hear weeping in the fields; she is afraid of the wild beasts, the coyote and others that eat corn" (Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, 279). Different colors of corn belong to different deities also; it is interesting to note that the Huichol attribute different colors symbolically to peyote which have no effective reality (Rouhier, op. cit., 133). In 1935, in a non-peyote context, Apekaum told me that cotton plants in a field we were passing were male and female; some trees were male, too, and others female, he thought. No botanical realities were involved in any of these cases. The Jivaro also attribute sex to plants (Karsten, Civilization, 301, 304-06, 314-15, 323) as do the Aymari and others.

15 Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, 1: 362.

16 Bennett and Zingg, The Tarahumara, 295.

17 Mooney, Tarumari-Guayachic; Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, a: 365; Bennett and Zingg, The Tarahumara, 293.

18 This auditory hallucination of hearing voices in peyote intoxication is most striking. Several explanations may be offered: the cultural (the belief is common in Mexico and the Plains that peyote talks and sings), the physiological (white observers, many in obvious ignorance of the ethnographic facts, have reported aural hallucinations), or the physical (the peculiarly resonant vibrations of the water-drum echoing from the taut, cone-shaped canvas of the tipi). A physiological constant for Indians and whites (culturally modified) seems indicated. See Mooney, A Kiowa Mescal Rattle, 65; Parsons, Taos Pueblo, 63.

19 Statements without references are understood to be made from my own field work.

20 The Cora peyote goddess appears to be "Mother Harimoa" (Preuss, Die Nayarit-Expedition, 103). Tarahumari dancers sometimes imitate hikuli's talk with a sound which reminded Lumholtz of the crow of a cock (Tarahumari Dances, 455). The Lipan information is from Opler (The Use of Peyote).

21 Diguet, Le peyote et son usage, 21, 25; Rouhier, Monographie, 4; Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 297; Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, a: 357, 2: passim; Preuss, Die Nayarit•Expedition, to3; Bennett and Zingg, Tara, humara, 135; Mooney, Tarumari-Guayachic.

22 Rudo Ensayo (I760) in Mooney, Tarumari.Guayachic. A note by F. W. H[odge] indicates a purely medic, inal use of peyote for the Opata. Otomi: Leon, fide Mooney; Mooney doubts this, somewhat unwarrantedly I think. Pima: Alegre, in Mooney, Tarumari•Guayachic. Comecrudo: Handbook of the American Indians, I: 209a; Mooney, Tarumari•Guayachic, whose source is probably Gatschet. Lipan: Opler, The Use of Peyote. Tonkawa: Mooney, op. cit. Taos: Parsons, Taos Pueblo, 114, note 115. Mescalero Apache: Rouhier, Monographic, 4 (Opler records this as am); Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 297; Mooney, op. cit. Comanche • Mooney, Miscellaneous Notes; the present writer recorded wa'kwePI and pua'kit (= "medicine").

23 Mooney (Peyote Notebook, 21) likewise says the Kiowa term for peyote ni means "prickly" or "prickly fruit" and is generic for all cacti. But peyote, it will be remembered, is conspicuous for its lack of spines; perhaps this was an older term for the prickly pear, Opuntia opuntia, transferred to the more recently known plant. In any case it occurs nowadays in many compounds: Kirmyi, "peyote woman," sçpi, "peyote meeting," etc., and in the phrase behdbe niuoki, "smoke, peyote power." (Compare the Comanche hos mdbd'mho'i.) See also Mooney, Calendar History, 239; Rouhier, Monographie, 4; Kroeber, The Arapaho, 399; Speck, Notes on the Life of John Wilson, 552.

24 See Handbook of the American Indians, 2: 8451 846 (the Yuma, Mohave, Ute, Apache, etc., use it). The Mescalero Apache do not derive their name from the use of the peyote, "mescal," as Mooney stated, being so designated long before they knew or used peyote. In the second etymology see Siméon, Dictionnaire, 436; also Safford, An Aztec Narcotic, 293. See also La Barre, Native American Beers, 225.

25 Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, 1:358. For "dry whiskey" see the New Century Dictionary, Supplement: "Mescal Buttons." For the other names see Rouhier, op. cit., 4; Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae, 3: 84 (the spelling pellote of Velasco, from Mooney, is a Castillianization of the Nahuatl); Peyotes, datos para su estudia, 209. The spelling pezote in Alarc6n, Tratato de las Superstkiones, 131, is obviously a copyist's error.

26 de Molina, Vocabulario, So, "Peyud--capullo de feda, o de gufano." The Spanish o and u constitute a single phoneme in Nahuatl, according to Mr. Benjamin Wharf, so the vowel is purely a matter of recording. On the other hand, Reko's etymology in Was bedeutet das Wort Teo,Nanacatl ? (lent through the courtesy of R. E. Schultes) is inadmissable. He writes: "Pe-yotl, Old-Aztec Pilautli, is quite clear in its etymology: Pi is the significative (or affix) for 'little.' ... Yau-di is always something narcotic or strong narcotic-smelling substance. Yau- is the root, -di the post-positive article (substantive significative) . . . A pi-yautli (pe-yotl) is therefore the mildly intoxicating poison, in contrast with Hua-yautli (today Guayule, sap of the Gum-tree, which smells very strong) which means extremely intoxicating." This is an ad hoc forcing of an etymology on a word, according to Whorf: in the first instance "old Aztec" pi-yautli appears to be an assumed rather than a quoted form; but even so, lautli should not give -yotl or -iotl of Sahagun's recording, but an unchanged -yautli. If the rules for Nahuatl sound-change are to be observed, peyotl must come from an uncontracted stem of two syllables, plus the absolutive suffix, this stem being pe-yo; -yautli, on the other hand, must come from a contracted stem, originally of two syllables, ya-wi (the 4 standing for a variable or unknown vowel), plus the absolutive suffix, having the form 41 when preceded by a vowel, -di when preceded by a consonant, i.e., a contracted stem. As for the first syllable, pi- and pe- are absolutely distinct phonemically in Aztec. The etymology, therefore, is neither phonetically nor phonemically correct, and assumes random and unexplained sound changes. The writer is grateful to Mr. Whorf for the preceding information. P. Augustin Hunt y Cortes (in Rouhier, 7) derives peyotl from the active verb pepeyoni, pepeyon, "to move, to stir, to set into motion, to excite, to activate." Other offerings are "child" and a derivation from peyonanic, "stimulate, goad, prick, incite." These are untenable for the same reasons that Reko's is.

27 Siméon, Dictionnaire 412, 436.

28 Rouhier, Monographic 7.

29 De Historia Plantarum, 3: 70 (Peyotl Xochimilcensi). Peyote, because of its abundance in certain localities, figures frequently in place names.

30.Safford, An Aztec Narcotic; see also other items by this author in the bibliography.

31 See the New Century Dictionary, "Pulque," 4841, a word conjectured to be of Carib (Haiti or Cuba) or Spanish origin. Agave and maguey are the American aloe, sometimes called "century plant" (cf. "maguey," 3578, "agave," 108). "Mescal" proper, therefore, = Agave americana = maguey = American aloe = "century plant."

32 White Wolf (Comanche) tells of Kuaheta, at the time acting as fireman in Comanche Jack's meeting, that he once failed to return after having asked to leave the tipi. Commissioned to investigate, White Wolf found him outside "jumping like a deer" from deep peyote intoxication. Hoebel relates a similar experience in a Northern Cheyenne meeting. Tonakat, the well-known Kiowa "witch," once forced a man to get up and dance in a meeting (Autobiography of a Kiowa Indian, recorded by the writer, 1936). Jonathan Koshiway (Oto) laughingly told me of a meeting in Kansas where the singer's jaw became locked; the whole meeting was upset while they shook and fanned him with cedar incense until his jaw "came back." This may have been an effect of the strychnine-like alkaloids in peyote, as in the case of Tom Panther (Shawnee) who became unable to talk or sing once in George Fry's meeting: "it took me four or five minutes to say the word 'study'," he said.

33 Lumholtz, Huichol Indians, 9.

34 Parsons, Taos Pueblo, 63.

35 Raclin, Crashing Thunder, 198-99.

36 Fernberger (Further Observations, 368), citing Petrullo, writes: "The best reporters of this group of Indians [Delaware] insist that visions may occur under peyote intoxication but that it has become socially admirable to suppress these visions and that, after some practice, this may be successfully accomplished." But after establishing ordinarily friendly relations with informants I found no such reticence about visions; these, indeed, were publicly discussed in the Sunday forenoons after meetings (usually spent lounging under "shades" quietly exchanging peyote experiences). Many, like Spotted Horse (Kiowa), Tom Panther (Shawnee) and Sly Picard (Wichita) distinguished the ordinary effects of peyote from full-blown "visions"; and some corrective modesty is occasionally exhibited for the familiar Plains assertiveness and individualism, for, in fact, through peyote visions individuals push themselves to positions of leadership and influence. Fernberger continues: "The informants also state that they are able to control visions when they occur, that is, to change the vision to that of any particular known object or to hold a vision that occurs in consciousness for a considerable time. Both of these statements are totally at variance with the descriptions of all previous observers of the visual manifestations." We disagree with this dictum; many informants would paraphrase the statement of Tom Panther (Shawnee) that in peyote intoxication, "I wasn't boss of myself." White observers too have remarked on the dualism of consciousness exhibited by Crashing Thunder. One might even go so far as to say that this is a reason natives think of peyote as an external "power" working its influence on them.

37 Is the peculiar mode of wearing a blanket in meetings due to the necessity of supporting the back in strychnine-opisthotonus (from lophophorine and anhalonine)?

38 Arlegui, Crdnica, 144; Rouhier, Monographic, a.

39 Mooney, in Rouhier, op. cit., 344.

40 "We're pulling for daylight now—that's the time those boys sang a little faster" (Voegelin, Shawnee Field Notes). "I wish you could see Quanah's songs—they just like beautiful race horses—go fast" (Mooney, Peyote Notebook, 1/).

41 Kroeber, The Arapaho, 404-405. Maillefert (La Marihuana, 6) says that marihuana habitués in Mexico have special songs that they sing together; a marked feature of the Mexican use of drugs, of which this may be a case, is the pattern of group-narcosis.

42 Raclin, Crashing Thunder, 178.

43 Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, 2: 272.

44 This is obviously heavily culture-conditioned, but Klüver (Mescal, 4r) records the predominance of red and green early in peyote intoxication, and yellow and blue in later stages, with possible reference to the Ladd-Franklin phylogenetic theory of color vision.

45 Maillefert (loc. cit.) says marihuana habitués believe water decreases the effect of the drug, and therefore they do not use it when smoking. Although the peyote leader must otherwise be present all through the meeting (to prevent rival witching among the Apache), a fixed part of the Plains ritual is his exit alone at midnight to whistle at the four points of the compass, an opportunity which is no doubt exploited. Again, spitholes are a part of Tarahumari altars (Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, I: 165).

46 The Caddo, however, make a point of not drinking water at night, as though looking upon the meeting as a vision-ordeal; this aberrance is given point by the fact that they do no doctoring in peyote meetings either, and must make four rounds of the drum before quitting, no matter if it takes until noon of the next day.

47 The Comanche exclude the eating of pork also, but whether this is because pork is commonly a salt meat or because it is oily like the flesh of another tabooed food animal, the bear, I do not know.

48 Maillefert (op. cit., 6-7) says marihuana smokers believe that sugar augments the effect of the "grifos" ("reefers" in Harlem parlance), so they eat sweets while smoking them. Compare the consuming of honey with teo-nanacatl in Mexico.

49 The Arapaho (Kroeber, 407) use a more magical means to this end: they tie four bunches of yellowhammer or other feathers at the northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest poles of the tipi to brush the bodies of worshippers who become tired.

50 E.g., Skinner, Societies of the Iowa, 694.

51 For mescal (the agave-drink distilled from pulque) and peyote are mixed and used together in northern Mexico. Yet Mooney often and at length produced this argument with regard to akohol; Skinner said it destroyed the desire of tobacco as well (see appendix on the Native American Church). But peyote, physiologically and culturally, is only one more means of achieving the culturally valued state of psychic derangement, and such fundamentally deep-rooted patterns as this one is in native America do not change over-night. Even so, is the cure any better than the disease? The writer was a little startled when a Kiowa friend, an ardent peyote user, suggested that we go to a neighboring town one mid-week to drink. When I sought to discover his attitude on this he soon made it clear that it was no matter of moral sentimentality but purely one of physiology: there wasn't another peyote meeting until Saturday, so what was the harm? One can eat lobsters one day and ice-cream the next, but one ought not eat them the same day. This informant conceived of the antagonism as a fight between liquor- and peyote-power, a matter-of-fact attitude probably not universal, and by no means as cynical as it seems.

52 Rouhier (Monographic, 320) however suggests that the illusions of phonation (the distance, strangeness and hollowness of the voice) may not be entirely sensory, i.e. auditory, but may also be a matter of voice-production; he cites Ellis, Putt, and Eshner

53 Note the ritual necessity that a woman bring the morning water into a meeting formerly restricted to men, and the mythological significance of the "Peyote Woman." &pier (The Influence of Aboriginal Pattern) says that Mescalero saw women in visions and wanted them, believing that if one began with visions of women they would stay with him. Crashing Thunder (Radin, iryry) confessed that at one time he attended meetings chiefly to find "a woman whom I cared to marry permanently. Before long," he says, "that was the only thing that I would think of when I attended the meetings." We have on the other hand, however, the healthy skeptic, ism of an Oto who said, "You can see dead people in meetings, but peyote won't get you a woman you desire though. She makes up her mind." But may not other explanations than the physiologically-aphrodisiac be in, volved? Might there not be an association with promiscuity of the ritual mingling of the sexes (for in the older Sun Dance just this was implied when the main lodge-pole was brought in) M a region where sexual segregation ritually was usual? Compare the injunction of one Ghost Dance prophet to the people not to think of women, but to join hands with them on either side and dance the Ghost Dance. Would he have made the explicit statement if it had not been implicitly considered reasonable to expect natural sexual arousement or preoccupation in a rite in which men and women are not separated? Indeed, there is evidence among the Shawnee at least that sexual opportunities afforded through the Ghost Dance were not left unexploited.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 January 2011 14:39

Our valuable member Weston La Barre has been with us since Sunday, 09 January 2011.

Show Other Articles Of This Author