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Peyote is a small cactus found from southwest United States to central Mexico, parts of which that can be chewed as a narcotic. Also called mescal. It is also the name-sake source of mescaline.


From earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by indigenous peoples, such as the Huichol of northern Mexico and the Navajo in the southwestern United States, as a part of traditional religious rites. There is documented evidence of the religious, ceremonial, and healing uses of Peyote dating back to over 20,000 years. The tradition began to spread northward as part of a revival of native spirituality under the auspices of what came to be known as the Native American Church, whose members refer to Peyote as "the sacred medicine", and use it to combat alcoholism, spiritual, physical and other social ills. Between the 1880s and 1930s, U.S. authorities attempted to ban Native American religious rituals involving the Peyote, including the Ghost Dance. Native American Church is one among several religious organizations that use peyote as part of their religious practice.

A resurgence of interest in the use of peyote was spawned in the 1970s by very detailed accounts of its use, properties and effects in the early works of writer Carlos Castaneda. Don Juan Matus, the name of Castaneda's teacher in the use of peyote, used the name "Mescalito" to refer to an entity that purportedly can be sensed by those using peyote to gain insight in how to live one's life well, but only if Mescalito accepted the user. Later works of Castaneda asserted that the use of such psychotropic substances was not necessary to achieve heightened awareness although his teacher advised its use was beneficial in helping to free the mind of some persons.

An image of the plant, and by extension its possible usage, can be seen in the gonzo fist symbol attributed to Hunter S. Thompson.


"With the synthesis of mescaline from peyote by Arthur Heffter in 1897, Germany became the leader in psychopharmacological research. The year Walter Benjamin began his experiments, Louis Lewin published his second edition of Phantastica in Berlin, which appears on the list of books which Benjamin read from cover to cover.
This book alone would have supplied Benjamin with a library of information about psychopharmaka. Hermann Schweppenhäuser's claim that Benjamin's writings on hashish, opium and mescaline are among the most genuine ever put to paper can only be evaluated against the context of Weimar experimentation with psychopharmaka.
Kurt Beringer's amazing monograph on mescaline, DER MESKALIN-RAUSCH was also published in 1927, and remains the greatest work ever written on the subject. Beringer's book contains over 200 pages of protocols from 60 experiments in Heidelberg among doctors, medical students, natural scientists, and philosophers, all of whom demonstrate remarkable articulateness. Only within the full context of this research, which produced literally hundreds of monographs on peyote, mescaline, cannabis, opiates, ayahuasca, cocaine, can we really begin to evaluate Benjamin's writings and experiments, in which he participated not merely as test subject, but at times as supervisor." --Scott Thompson via [1]

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Peyote" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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