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Hallucinogens and Culture

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Yet there is little question that the Huichol ceremony is pre-European and that its eucharistic element is no more "Christian" than was the communal eating of the dismembered body of the transubstantiated "god-impersonator" in the sacrificial rite of the Aztecs. Indeed, this act of ritual cannibalism reminded some of the early Spaniards so uncomfortably of the rite of the Eucharist that they tried to explain it away as vile distortion of Christian communion by the Devil himself! Figure 1 Banisteriopsis caapi Harmaline and Related Alkaloids Hallucinogenic harmala alkaloids (harmine, harmaline, harmalol, and harman), which belong to the beta-carbolines, were originally isolated from an Old World perennial Peganum harmala, or Syrian rue.

Because I want to devote more space in this chapter to the harmala alkaloids, whose subjective effects in psychotherapy sometimes strikingly resemble those reported from the aboriginal cultural context, the discussion of ibogaine will be limited to a summary of its role in African cults (for a wider discussion of its application to psychiatry see Naranjo's The Healing Journey, pp. 174-228). 39 Iboga Cults in Tropical Africa The first significant modern anthropological examination of Tabernanthe iboga is that of James W.

However, such negative experiences are not attributed to peyote; rather, say the Huichols, someone who has transgressed and not purified himself before going out to collect peyote will be supernaturally misled into mistaking another hallucinogenic cactus, Ariocarpus retusus, for the true peyote, Lophophora williamsii, and will suffer terrible psychic agonies instead of seeing "what it is to be Huiehol" in vividly colored peyote dreams. * 47 5. Hallucinogens And "Archetypes" In the preceding chapter it was suggested that visions of jaguars, anaconda snakes, and the like are expectable images in a tropical forest setting.

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