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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Mestizo: The History, Culture and Politics of the Mexican and the Chicano: The Emerging Mestizo-Americans

Vento, Carlos Arnoldo (1998).
Lanham, MD: University Press of America

ISBN:0-7618-0920-1 paperback
0-7618-0919-8 hardcover

Description: Paperback, xvi + 316 pages.

Contents: Preface, acknowledgments, 8 chapters divided into 2 parts: 1. Roots, Colonialism and Conflict (300 A.D. - 1890), 2. The XX Century Mestizo/Chicano, bibliography, index.


The question of drunkenness as a social problem can only be considered within an historical framework. Much of this is due to the European sociocultural impact on the Native Americans. It is only after the Spanish destroy the sociocultural/religious base that drinking becomes the rule rather than the exception. Most researchers admit that drinking was strictly prohibited in pre-Conquest times. For a high priest to drink or steal was considered an outrageous offense against the principles of Tloke-Nahuake. The penalty was death for a priest/sage who had to possess the ultimate and highest selection of ideals. Drunkenness violated the sacred principles of the total spiritual/intellectual development of humankind.

Davies contends that "under the stress of change and faced with the dissolution of their society, the native population . . . literally . . . took to drink, so severely controlled in pre-Hispanic times and largely limited to religious ceremonies." Friars intent on massive conversion projected a condemning view of sacred plants used by the Aztecs in spiritual ceremonies. Sahagún referred to péyotl (peyote) and teonanakatl (a sacred fungus) within the demonic context of drunkenness. The Lakota Nation, as well as many other Native Americans in the United States, still use péyotl as a sacred plant in their religious ceremonies; here, they achieve harmony with the universe and through visions are able to obtain a high level of precognitive vision. Sahagún, however, does admit that "nobody drank wine (octli) excepting those who were already aged, and they drank a little in secret, without becoming drunk". Since social drinking was severely prohibited and recognized as a deterrent to the total development of a person, why were deities of drink and drunkenness created by the friars during the post-Conquest colonial period? In every case concerning religious practices of pre-Columbian peoples, there is immediate condemnation of their rituals and religious symbolism. Fagan cites maguey as being represented by a four-hundred-breasted goddess, Mayahuel. She and her children, the Four Hundred Rabbits, inhabited the world of drink and drunkenness. What is obvious is the intent to portray a negative and discrediting image of the religious practices of native peoples. Ironically, this is an exact picture of ancient Western gods and paganism reminiscent of Greek/Roman decadence. Fagan, in discussing the 260-day Tonalpohualli, incorporates into the Tochtli (rabbit sign days) Mayahuel as the deity of pulque and intoxication "because the drunkard weaved and strutted about in the same erratic and unpredictable way as a rabbit". Moreover, he cites Ometochtli as associated with maguey and pulque, whose assistants were known collectively as Centzon Totochtin. There appears to be confusion among the chroniclers of post-Hispanic codices. It is also possible that the original sources were altered by Inquisitional tribunals of the Roman Catholic Church who were totally intolerant of any religious ideas beyond the established theology of their dogma. (Pages 74-75)

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