Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Boyd, Doug. (1974).
New York: Dell.
Description: Delta paperback,
x + 273 pages.
by Dee Brown, author's note, 25 chapters, epilogue by Elmer E.
and Alyce M. Green.
Thunder, the subject of this book, is a keeper of tribal secrets-a
modern medicine man. After witnessing one of Rolling Thunder's
healing rituals at a conference sponsored by the research department
of the Menninger Foundation, Doug Boyd decided to open his mind
fully to the mysteries of such secret healing powers as might
be revealed to him. Boyd's book is an account by a contemporary
white man of the inner experience of American Indians, an exploration
into what some accept as the "real" world. To the believer
or to the skeptic, Boyd's experiences form a penetrating and challenging
story of a world that is little known to most Americans. (Dee
Brown, Introduction, page vi)
When evening came, Spotted Fawn
began to steep the peyote buttons in the large enamel pot. To
Rolling Thunder peyote was not a drug but a sacred agent, and
in our ritual it was a sort of healing agent. People
were instructed to put a finger in the cup and rub the mildly
bitter liquid on any troubled area of the body.
As I watched Spotted Fawn, I thought about the Potawatomi
and other tribes that regularly perform peyote rites in which
they eat a number of bitter peyote buttons in elaborate all-night
rituals. Rolling Thunder had told us at Council Grove that he
was a member of the peyote religion, and since then I had learned
from him some appreciation of the rituals. He considered these
affairs "serious business." "It's a purification
ceremony," he had said, "like most of our ceremonies.
It's not used to get high or for foolishness. It's used in a way
that we want to cleanse our systems and our minds, so we can put
ourselves on a higher plane of life."
Rolling Thunder, like the Potawatomi and perhaps
all traditional Indians, considered the use of peyote for "spacing
out" or "getting stoned" a gross misuse of the
agent and a misuse of the mind. Both agent and the mind are sacred.
In Rolling Thunder's view, the meaningful use of drugs requires
a state of mind that can be acquired only through practice and
purification, and a great deal of careful preparation. The rituals
are conducted by a chief "who directs the meeting in certain
ways." Rolling Thunder said he knew that there were a couple
of groups of white people now who are using peyote right, "but
the great majority of them aren't using it right at all, and they
might be punished for it. I've seen some of the results of punishment,"
he continued. "It's terrible when it kicks back on you. But
peyote is good. I've seen it used for many good purposes, when
it is used right."
... Rolling Thunder, like Swami
Rama and perhaps all "medicine people," gives priority
to the capacity to control the attention, to maintain "one-pointedness
of mind." There can be no healing, no meditation, no meaningful
spiritual experience without that highest of disciplines-particularly
if drugs are to be used and not dangerously distracting or defeating.
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