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as a "medicine" as well as for the induction of visions. A low dose serves

as what the investigators interpreted to be a "tonic" or "panacea" as well

as for "magical" healing (Don Alejandro did not use such terms). An infu-

sion prepared from 4 or 5 pairs of fresh or dry leaves may be taken by the

glass (vase) or tablespoonful (cucharoda) as needed. It is used to "cure"

the following "illnesses", although there may be other possible uses:

(1) It helps one defecate and urinate. It stops diarrhea (the plant appar-

ently is believed to regulate eliminatory functions).

(2) It is given to the sick, old or dying to revive them or alleviate their

illness. People who are pale, white and almost ready to die (they have

"anemia") may recuperate on taking la Maria.

(3) It may be taken to relieve headache and rheumatism (however, when

taken in the high doses that induce visions; it often leaves one with a

ache the following morning, according to the curandero).

(4) There is a semi-magical disease known panz6n de barrego (sic), or

a swollen belly, which is supposedly caused by a curse from a brujo, or

sorcerer. The victim's midsection swells up due to a "stone" that has been

put inside them. Taking the Salvia causes elimination of this "stone" and

the belly shrinks down to size. The researchers met an old shaman who

showed them his wrinkled middle and said he had cured himself of the

"disease" by use of la Maria. Don Alejandro confirmed the "illness" and

the "cure".

Divination with S. divinorum

S. divinorum may be prepared as an infusion from 20 (about 50 g) to

80 (about 200 g) or more pairs of fresh leaves to induce visions, and may

be taken by the curandero, the patient (or apprentice) or both, depending

on the situation. Only fresh foliage will serve for divination; At this

level, the Salvia is used to foretell the future, find the causes and cures

illnesses and obtain answers to questions about friends, enemies and rela-

tives. In shamanic training, the future healer takes la Maria to learn the

ways of healing and the identification and use of medicinal plants (there

supposedly a tree in Heaven with all such herbs on it and one talks to God

and the Saints about them under the influence of the hallucinogens). After

preliminary sessions in the company of the master, who takes the infusion

along with the apprentice to watch over him on the journey, the future

healer may continue study on his own until it is time for the next plant in

the series. Don Alejandro told the investigators that the Salvia, the

glory seeds and the mushrooms each told their own historic (story or

and ska Maria was the best teacher of the ways of curing, as one learned

the most from it. During the course of visits, the researchers were able to

participate in two sessions under the shaman's guidance. As the hallucino-

gens are never taken without a valid purpose and since the visitors were

from "the University", the ceremonies were oriented to teach them about

healing and especially the uses of the Maria and other medicinal plants.

Don Alejandro said they would have to follow the dieta, or ritual diet for

16 days, although they could bathe and drink beer (after the first time,

the dieta for S. divinorum is only 4 days in length).

The preparations for the two ceremonies were essentially the same. As

dark came (about 19:30 h to 20:00 h) the curandero began making the

Salvia infusion. The leaves were first counted out in pairs to arrive at

person's dose and put neatly into piles with their petioles aligned. Then

Don Alejandro picked lip part of a pile and crushed it by hand into a small

enameled bowl partially-filled with water (Fig. 3). As more foliage was

squeezed and added, the liquid turned dark green from the chlorophylls.

After the potion was prepared, it was poured through a sieve into a glass

which was topped off with water (Fig. 4). During the preparations for the

second session a head of foam formed on the glasses and the curandero

laughed. He explained through his son that the foam (espuma) was an

indication of strength and the Maria would be very potent that evening. The

glasses were covered with inverted cups to "prevent the escape of the

humor (que no salga el humor)". Although the foliage of S. divinorum could

reportedly be kept fresh for a week or longer when wrapped in the large

Fig. 3. crushing the leaves while preparing the Salvia infusion.

Fig. 4. Straining the prepared infusion to remove the marc.

leaves of Xanthosoma robustum Schoff, the prepared infusion was said to

be stable for a day. The spent leaves were set aside to be discarded in an

of the way location where they wouldn't be defiled by people or animals.

However, Don Alejandro said that they could still be used by putting them

on a subject's head to refresh them after the session. The curandero Picked

up a glass of the Maria and began an oration. The Holy Trinity, Saint

the Virgin Mary and other Saints were called on to watch over the partici-

pants and teach the visitors the ways of curing:

In nomine Spiritu Santo (this "Latin" phrase was

always translated into the vernacular as:

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost)

Most Holy Lord Saint peter

In the name of Leandros (the subject),

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Maria, show Leandros,,

that he may see what there is in the world

For he wishes to study all the classes of medicines

Lord Jesus Christ, show him

May he learn

May he see all the classes of medicinal plants

You, who know all, show him

I want you to show him all the different kinds

of illnesses and remedies that exist in the world

In a short time he must learn your story

In nomine spiritu Santo

Most Holy Sainted Rosary

Set him free, that he may see it

Show him as you have shown me

May he recognize all that is the Universe,

All that is you History

HI wishes to learn out of love and sincerity

I want you to show him, as I am asking your favor

You, Maria and Lord Jesus Christ, amen

If there is bad or good, save him

Help him out of sincerity and love

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

You too, Maria, show him

Set him free that he may see it

Do not be deceptive

This day, on this very date

he is going to take it (the Salvia infusion)

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

Help this Leandros

May he grow more, may he learn things

Show him all that there is in the world

All that is good

All that is medicinal

In nomine spirit Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

Lord Saint Anthony, Lord Saint Peter, Jesus Christ

You are the only three who know about la Maria

You must show him all that is medicinal

All that is the Universe

All that is your History

Show him, do not be bad

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Holy Sanctuary, Lord Santa Ana

You who are good, You must help him

so that he becomes acquainted with our Universe

You must teach him what I ask

to that it will be to the Lord Saint Peter's pleasure

Let Leandros take it (la Maria)

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

Two to four hours passed in conversation and the telling of stories. The·

shaman repeatedly emphasized that it was important to describe one's

visions, "If you are going to learn or if you are going to understand what

it is all about, you must speak." Finally it was time for ingestion of the

infusions (between 21:00 h and 23:00 h). Following Mazatec custom, at

least one person didn't participate, in order to watch over the rest

et al., 1974). As a last protection against any dangers during the

"travels", Don Alejandro performed limpias, or ritual cleansings, on the

visitors (Fig. 5),

In nomine spirit Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

This is a limpia for Leandros (subject)

Arise, listen, as it is now the time

'''In nomine Spiritu Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

I ask Your favor for Leandros '

Heal him, care for him

For I am going to cleanse him now

Help him at this moment that he may be cleansed

Strike out the bad illnesses that he may have

Lord (Saint Peter) attend him

That he may see the Universe

What there is in the world


Help him, raise him

May he see what there is

All that he wishes to know

Save him, care for him

Fig. 5. The shaman prepares to anoint the subject with a piece of copal
dipped in the

San Pedro during the limpia, or ritual cleansing.

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

Reclaim this man

That he live well, live better

For this man is known by all the children of God

Heal him, as You will

Heed his messages the moment you heal him

Take care of him, help him

That is what I am saying

In nomine Spiritu Santo

Molt Holy Lord Saint Peter

Lord Jesus Christ

You know how to save him, how to cleanse him

Cure him, no matter what badness has fallen on him

Heal him, care for him

I want You to heal him and save him from all bad things

Being in my hands, I can help him,

having faith and will

In nomine Spiritu Sato

Most Holy Lord Saint Peter

Sainted Trinity, care for him

Help him, let no evil befall him

As the oration was being recited, Don Alejandro anointed the subject

with a piece of copal dipped in the San Pedro. The curandero then gave him

a pinch of the San Pedro to carry for protection if he felt dangerduring or

after the session. After a final benediction (Fg. 6), the potions were

and the light was turned out.

Session 1, August 18, 1979

The participants were Diaz, Valdes and Don Alejandro, whose son sat on a

bench and watched over the others during the proceedings. The curandero

and Diaz, who had taken la Maria several times previously, each had doses

prepared from 50 pairs of leaves. Valdes received a beginner's dose made

from 20 pairs. They took the Salvia preparations around 22:30 h. The

visitors shared a large cot while the shaman lay on a petate, or sleeping

which was unrolled on the floor.

Diaz sat quietly on the side of the cot after the lights went out. About

15 min after ingesting the infusion he began to see subtle visions,

like columns of smoke in the total darkness. It made no difference whether

his eyes were opened or closed. Deciding to speak out, he saw a light which

disappeared as he began to describe it. The images increased in intensity.

saw a mountain made of ice, as though he were at the base of a cliff formed

from large ice columns. The vision slowly changed into Cerro Rab6n, a

nearby mountain intimately associated with Mazatec legends (Inchiustegui,

1977). About 23:00 h the flow of images changed into lights of various

Fig. 6. Benediction of the Salvia infusion just prior to its ingestion.

shades of blue, indigos and purples, scattered as if in a spatial vacuum.

Depending on his perspective, he was either traveling through them or else

they were being projected toward him. He saw a cross being encircled by

a light and a mantle. As he described the imagery in words, it seemed to be

fixed more clearly in his memory and he felt it would aid in later recall

the experience.

Some 45 min after the light went out, Don Alejandro began to speak in

a monotone. His son did not interrupt to translate from the Mazatec. As

the shaman spoke, Valdes (who had only experienced a few brief visions

which he hadn't described) saw a black sky with brightly-colored objects

floating in it. He suddenly found himself speeding toward one and actually

felt he was accelerating through space past the rest. The light turned out

be a Mazatec village similar to that of the curandero. Valdes saw it from

above, as if he were on a hill. Shapes, like kaleidoscopic pillars of

were at the sides of some of the houses, Then he was suddenly back in

receding away from the vision.

Don Alejandro stopped speaking, turned on the light and went to look

for a "spy" he had heard outside the house. He found nothing, but forced

himself to vomit, which he said would end his visions. The session had

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