HISTORY

Dr. Fransisco Hernandez, physician to the king of Spain first discovered the peyote plant in 1651. He named the plant Peyotl zacatensis. In 1651 Dr. Hernandez described this new found plant in the following way:

The root is nearly medium size, sending forth no branches or leaves above the ground, but with a certain woolliness adhering to it on account of which it could not be aptly figured by me... It appears to have a sweetish and moderately hot taste. Ground up and applied to painful joints, it is said to give relief.... This root... causes those devouring it to foresee and predict things... or to discern who has stolen from them some utensil or anything else; and other things of like nature....On which account, this root scarcely issues forth, as if it did not wish to harm those who discover it and eat it.

The earliest recorded usage of the plant was in Texas in 1760. The Aztecs and Mexican Indians were known to have used peyote in religious practices. The Indians have many legends that tell of the discovery of this plant. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the use of peyote in religion spread northward. The peyote rituals of the Mexican Indians were adopted by various Indian tribes. Some of them included: Comanches, Shawneees, and Cheyenne. As the increase in alcoholism became a problem in many Indian tribes, the prevalence of the peyote religion boomed. The peyote religion advocated abstaining from alcohol consumption. The Native American Church of North America was established in the late nineteen twenties and thrives today with over 250,000 members.The NAC advocates brotherly love, a high moral principle, and abstenence from alcohol.

In 1899 Oklahoma became the first state to outlaw the use of peyote. However, in 1908 it was repealed due to the testimony of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, thus permitting the use of peyote in religious rituals.

Until recently, Lophophora seemingly consisted of only one species, L. williamsii. H.H. Bravo in 1967 discovered yet another species of the Lophophora, L. diffusa. As stated in the classification portion of this paper, L. diffusa is ribless, soft, yellowish-green in color and has less of the hallucinogenic alkaloid, mescaline than does L. williamsii.


Source for this page:

Furst, Peter T. Flesh of the Gods. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972.

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