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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

People of the Peyote: Huichol Indian History, Religion, and Survival.

Schaefer, Stacy B. and Furst, Peter T. (editors) (1996).
Albuquerque, NM : University of New Mexico Press.

ISBN: 0-8263-1648-4

Description: hardcover, xiv + 560 pages.

Contents: preface, 17 chapters with chapter notes (most with an introduction by the editors), conclusion, glossary, bibliography, index.

Contributors: Carlos Chavez, Muuqui Cuevixa, Marina Anguiano Fernandez, Allen R. Franz, Peter T. Furst, Denis Lemaistre, Michel Perrin, Konrad Theodor Preuss, Armando Casillas Romo, Stacy B. Schaefer, Anthony A. Shelton, Ramon Medina Silva, Salomon Nahmad Sitton, Susana Eger Valadez, Guillermo Espinosa Velasco, Masaya Yasumoto. Translators: Maribel Carrizales, Bonnie Glass-Coffin, Kunie Miyahara, Karin Simoneau.

Note: This book seems destined to become a standard source about the Huichols and peyote and would be a welcome addition to the libraries of universities and specialits in these topics. The conclusion, Peyote Pilgrims and Don Juan Seekers, Huichol Indians in a Multicultural World is likely to especially interest to readers of this guide. The following excerpts are all from the conclusion.

Excerpt(s): Other than the long-standing problem of land theft and lack of legal title, the Huichols are faced with a more subtle assault on their spiritual equilibrium. Unwittingly, they have become the matrix in which other people who have lost their spiritual center seek sustenance for their souls. This is an entirely new experience with foreigners, whose unfortunate by products are both a degree of social disruption and unwelcome attention from authorities evidently more concerned with pleasing the giant to the north than safeguarding the religious traditions of their own people even when their drug laws and fears that inspired them, like those in the United States, fly in the face of all the scientific evidence. (page 504)

There developed a burgeoning interest, mainly among young people, and not only in the United States, in exploring inner worlds and alternate realities through the use of psychedelic substances. It is difficult to pinpoint where it all started. Certainly not in the *60s and not with Timothy Leary, for scientific interest in hallucinogens was much older than that. ...

Still, it was in the *60s, at a time when, not coincidentally, America was losing an innocence it may never have possessed but which many people had bought into, by involving itself in what was to become its most divisive and unpopular war, that the inner journey and the search for instant chemical Nirvanas became a growth industry. Whatever the intent of scholars, news of the Huichols and their peyote-centered religion fit right into that. (page 507)

We personally have no objection to people trying almost anything to recover their spiritual selves, especially if they do so by reaching back to their own cultural roots, but also, if they want to take the time and trouble, by reintegrating into their own lives, something of the shamanic world view and ecological wisdom of Native Americans, including the Huichols. At the same time, it must be stressed that native peoples are maintaining that wisdom at some political cost to their very existence, and that their spirituality is an inextricable component of their physical and social environment. In other words, the so-called spiritual teachings for which white people are so hungry did not develop, and do not persist, in a vacuum, but are part of an all-inclusive matrix.

This does not mean that Indian people do not have something to teach whites. We appreciate the objections some traditional North American Indian elders have to what they regard as another form of the white man's theft of what properly belongs to Indian people, and its commercialization. Yet, one could also see it as borrowing, which people have always done, not only in material culture but in the realm of ideas. And shamanism, after all, is as close to pan-human Ur- religion as we can hope to come. (pages 508-509)

Compilation copyright © 1995 – 2001 CSP

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