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.
Description: hardcover, xiv + 560 pages.
Contents: preface, 17 chapters with chapter notes (most with an
introduction by the editors), conclusion, glossary, bibliography,
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)
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP