Culture Guides

Peyote

In the deserts of Mexico grow the peyote cactus. Ancient tribes discovered that eating the buttons induce visions. The buttons contain doses of the psychoactive drug mescaline.

Every June the Huichol Indians set out from their homes along the west coast in Mexico, near Tepic, on a pilgrimage to the desert mountains to collect the buttons. Eating the buttons allows the Indians to receive visions of animals and gods and the ceremonies involve a lot of dancing.

Eating peyote can be an enlightening or terrifying experience. The drug is legal in the United States only for certain religious groups of Indians who use it in their ceremonies. A person who ingests peyote will vomit and then begin to have strange visions that last up to twelve hours. Peyote allows self-analysis and insight of a religious nature. It can be very dangerous to eat peyote alone without a proper guide.

Peyote is discussed in Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. Travelers who go to Real de Catorce high in the mountains of Mexico can go and collect buttons themselves there.

More peyote info: History of peyote and Wikipedia.