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Unformatted text preview: Hallucinogenic mushroom use in South American rituals: Religious tradition and its various ramifications The intimate bond between South American indigenous communities and magic mushrooms introduced me to an entirely different outlook on hallucinogens. This divergence from the mainstream American view of mushrooms is what primarily attracted me to the subject. I found that the interesting roles that hallucinogens play in native societies starkly contrasts the American view of hallucinogens as illegal Schedule I drugs that should be eliminated. Rather than eating mushrooms for recreational reasons, the indigenous peoples of South America, especially Mesoamerica, limit the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms and plants for medical or religious purposes. The mushroom is viewed as a sacred healing agent, and is taken very seriously people dont trip on mushrooms just for fun. Understanding the South American natives relationship with hallucinogenic mushrooms is a step towards understanding the mushrooms full potential as a medical and spiritual aid. The use of hallucinogens in indigenous societies may hold greater scientific application than we now understand, and legal ramifications that have only just begun to surface. The relationship between South American natives and magic mushrooms is not only deeply rooted in history, but also intricately connected to religion. Archaeological evidence now indicates that the native people of Mesoamerica have lived with mushrooms since as far back as 500 B.C. Mushroom-like stones were found during an archeological dig in the Purepecha region in Michoacan (Guzmn 1990). Measuring an average height of about 12 inches, the tops of the stones strongly resemble mushroom caps. Hundreds of mushroom stones have been found in Mesoamerica, along with other 1 mushroom-like artifacts and countless mushroom inspired paintings (Mayer 1977; Schultes et al. 1998). A statue of Xochipilli, the Aztec Prince of Flowers, was discovered on the slops of Mt. Popocatepetl. He seems to be in a state of ecstasy, apparently representing the experience of a hallucinogenic ritual. What is more interesting, though, is the pedestal on which he sits. The designs very closely resemble the caps of Psilocybe aztecorum , a hallucinogenic mushroom only found at Mt. Popocatepetl. These archaeological findings illustrate and explain the magic mushrooms integral role in various South American indigenous cultures, and their prominence in religious rituals today. Numerous species of hallucinogenic mushrooms are used in native Mesoamerican rituals, the most common of which belong to the genus Psilocybe . Of the twelve species discovered, P. mexicana, P. cubensis, and P. caerulescens seem to be the most prevalent....
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- Spring '07