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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


Peyote Religion: A History.

Stewart, Omer C. (1987).
Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.


ISBN: 0-8061-2457-1 paperback

0-8061-2068-1 hardcover


Description: Paperback, xviii + 454 pages, The C ivilization of the American Indian Series.


Contents: Preface, 12 chapters divided into 3 parts: 1. Peyote and Its Earliest Use; 2. The Beginnings of Peyotism in the United States, 1885-1918; 3. The Later Twentieth Century: Politics and Consolidation; 3 appendices: A. Program of the Native American Church State Convention, Allen, South Dakota, July 3-7, 1948; C. Church Canons for the Native American Church of South Dakota, 1948; bibliography; index of personal names; general index.


Excerpt(s): From the beginning, the Catholic Church found in peyote another evil to be rooted out of the New World. ...

In an effort to purge their new Christian converts of the use of peyotl and ololuiqui the Church prepared a catechism to be used by priests confessionals. One can appreciate just how evil peyote was considered to be by the Church by reading a few lines of this catechism:

Hast thou eaten the flesh of man?

Hast thou eaten the peyote?

Do you suck the blood of others?

Do you adorn with flowers places where idols are kept?


That the use of peyote was pervasive throughout central and northern Mexico and deeply ingrained in the lives of those who used it can be judged by the radical efforts of the Catholic Church to stamp it out. The Church, afraid that peyote was spreading among converted christians, and possibly to some Spaniards as well, took its strongest measures to fight it. In 1620, it brought the Inquisition to bear against peyote and issues the following edict:

Inasmuch as the use of the herb or root peyote has been introduced into these Provinces for the purpose of detecting thefts, of divining other happenings, and of foretelling future events, it is an act of superstition condemned as opposed to the purity and integrity of our Holy Catholic Faith. ... We order that henceforth no person of whatever rank or social condition can or may make use of the said herb, peyote, nor any other kind under any name or appearance for the same or similar purposes, nor shall he make the Indians or any other person take them, with the further warning that disobedience to these decrees shall cause us ... to take action against such disobedient or recalcitrant persons as we would against those suspected of heresy to our Holy Catholic Faith.

The hearings resulted from the prosecution of this edict occupied the Church for much of the next two centuries. ... We have then, ninety cases for forty-five locations extending over a period of 265 years. (pages 20-21)



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