Wade Davis hopes that we always keep in mind a fundamental truth regarding this cactus: “In fact, we now know, based on recent archeological discoveries, that the native people of Mexico have eaten peyote for seven thousand years.”
About what they characterize as a “divine cactus” used by the Huichol (Wixárica) of Mexico, Stacy B. Schaefer and Peter T. Furst say: “Peyote serves as an enculturating force, echoing religious tenets in recurring themes that are transcended to visions, the spoken word through myths and songs, actions in rituals and ceremonies, and beliefs that permeate all levels of individual and collective Huichol consciousness.”
In a fascinating article on peyote and women’s health, Stacy B. Schaefer concludes that there is a need for further research as to how “the ingestion of peyote alkaloids may influence the production of hormones in the endocrine system via the neurons in the nervous system.”
Over the decades, Schaefer has experienced firsthand how the Huichol “have developed and fine-tuned a complex, elaborate worldview that provides members with tools and traditions to heal their bodies, promote fertility, manage healthy pregnancies, and raise their babies.”
It is also important to mention in the context of this website the Native American Church (NAC), originally established in North America in 1918 and which now has more than 250,000 members who are part of federally recognized tribes, and its use of peyote as a ritual sacrament.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 protects NAC’s right to incorporate this cactus as part of its ceremonies.
Attorney Jerry Patchen has written about how “the Native American Church, assisted by ethnologists, ethnobotanists, anthropologists, pharmacologists, and psychiatrists, was the spear point that established the court precedents and legislation that resulted in the legal use of Peyote and ayahuasca for religious purposes in the U. S.”