Wednesday, August 16, 2017


In the same way that ololiuhqui was consecrated since ancient times as a visionary plant, Mexican and Otomian peoples, peyote represented the most important sacred to the native peoples of arid and semi-arid regions. 8  
It is a small cactus that was used since time immemorial to generate expanded states of consciousness and to make decisions, both socially and individually.
Among the Huichol it is known as hícuri or xicori. 
The Cora people of Tepic mountains call it huatari call it, and  the Tepehuane of Durango, kamaba. The Otomian peoples of the Mexican plateau, beyo, and the Mescalero Apaches, or ho u hos.
Its occurrence area stretches along the valleys and high plateaus of arid and semiarid Mexico (Rio Grande Valley, Tamaulpecan mountains, river Mezquital, Durango and Nayarit Sierras, etc), South and Central US (Texas, New Mexico). In general, it is adapted to limestone and clay soils of the Cretaceous formations in the aforementioned region.
The plant has very particular characteristics, it is small (typically a few centimeters in diameter), rounded and has no branches or leaves. Its flower is whitish pink, in which a reddish solid rosáceo- fruit and elongated shape develops.
Peyote contains nine alkaloids of the isoquinilina series and due to effects type  strychnine (toxic), and others effects type-morphine (sedative).

The combined effects of these compounds in the peyote are complex and depend on both the invididual who ingest it, to the context in which it is consumed and to the size of the dose.
The plant was described by Shagun in 1560, as a Chichimecas «narcotic» cactus ritually used. Jacinto de la Serna mentioned peyote in 1626 and the first botanical description was made ​​in 1638 by Francisco Hernandez, a Spanish naturalist, calling it Peyotl Zacatensis . This researcher noted that native peoples  divided peyote into two types: males and females.
The Huichol classify them into two varieties, one is more active and bitter, with smaller hubs and abundant in the area, which they call Tzinouritehua-hicouri or Peyote of the Gods, and another, of weaker effect, which they call Rhaitoumuanitarihua-hicouri or Peyote of the Goddess).
According to Rouhier quoted by Weston La Barre, 1970, the latter would be the juvenil phase of the first one.
The Huichols have a tutelary goddess of peyote called Hatzimouika, while for the Tarahumara, peyote is the God of man, hikuli walula saliami .
According to the Tarahumara traditions, peyote is a plant that sings. The way to find it is precisely by hear her singing. Then while she is in the bags she keeps singing.
During ceremonies peyote  also sing her songs.
Peyote is quite hard to find when you are looking for it... a person who is not accustomed may not recognize her despite being in the middle of a cluster of peyote. Once you see one, another appears and so on, until all peyotes appear like stars. If you have trouble finding them do the following: when you find one just eat it. When the effect put a little dizzy, you hear a sound like wind in a certain direction. Go over there ... .of where the sound comes, and you will find many peyote plants. (testimony of a lipan) 9  
You can get power by visiting the peyote field in Texas, and saying you want to to help heal people and get medicine. There should spill tobacco. The next morning, when the morning star appears, the person must return to the field where he put the tobacco and when approaching he will hear a jingle bell ringing. If there is a snake, you must grab it (as it is wrapped up the Medicine), remove it, and take a peyote button from that place. Then you go to another cluster and take another button ... Perhaps, when you go to grasp the fourth button you will find the snake again and you must remove it.  
The first effect of the ingestion of peyote is challenging both mentally and physically. It helps to cope with strenuous physical exertion, such as running and ceremonial dances.
Some people become euphoric and others come into depressive  states. In almost all cases, peyote acts as a suppressor of sleep. The ceremonial peyote sessions are usually done at night, and in them the participants can stay 10-12 hours awake.
Physiologically it produces visions of colors and unusual olfactory and auditory perceptions. Many observers have noted an increase in visual acuity and, perhaps for the most sensitive people, some photophobia (discomfort caused by light).
It is consumed in conjunction with a diet of sweet foods, corn soaked in sugar water, fruit and sweet meats and sweets. On the contrary, it is considered incompatible with alcohol or salt.
Normally, the peyote is consumed in group. 
A native oto Weston La Barre pointed out that:
« peyote does not work outside the groups, I know because I’ve tried . «
I is also used commonly for visions, to divine the future and as an aid to decision making. (to be continued)
From "Peoples, Drugs and Serpents", Danilo Antón, Piriguazú Ediciones

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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Maria Sabina and «Los Niños Santos» (Holy Children)

The Mazatecos are the people who more purely have preserved the teonanacatl rituals. It was precisely a Mazatec shaman: Maria Sabina, who spread, despite herself, the power and strength of the « Niños Santos” the Holy Child  of the teonanacatl mushrooms.
Maria Sabina was a native of Huautla in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  She was born in 1894, and since young life lived in poverty and sacrifice. She recounts that when she was a child tending sheep in the mountains and at one moment she went hungry.
Mushrooms offered available food.   It was at that moment that she had her first contacts with the Niños Santos.
Over the years, inspired by her large family, her grandfather, her grandmother, her uncles, connoisseurs of traditional Mazatec traditions, she began using mushrooms to heal people.
Her fame spread to neighboring regions and beyond, to the capital and abroad.
Among those who heard about the existence of María Sabina was the ethnic mycologist Gordon Wasson and his wife Valentina Pavlovna. In June 1955 the couple traveled to Oaxaca and attended an evening singing with Maria Sabina in Huautla. Both consumed teonanacatl and were very impressed by the experience. At that time María Sabina was 61 years old.
Following on from this point Pavlovna Wasson set out to study the theme. They invited Professor Roger Heim, an expert mycologist, who joined a research team that would have to devote to work on teonanacatl in subsequent years.  Valentina Pavlovna died soon after, but after three years as a result of these exploration the book Les champignons hallucinogènes du Mexique s was published , whose principal authors were Roger Heim and Gordon Wasson himself.
Almost twenty years later, a student of Mazateco  origin named Alvaro Estrada, devoted himself to the task of collecting the history of the life of Maria Sabina from her own lips and translated it into Spanish. In 1977 the first edition of Alvaro Estrada book “Life of Maria Sabina, the Sage of the Fungi «prefaced by Wasson himself was published.
The global diffusion of the power of teonanacatl made many people travel to Huautla to meet Maria Sabina or to obtain their «dose» of mushrooms.
External influence and its impact on medical practice and the power of the Niños Santos was discussed by Maria Sabina in this way:
« Before Wasson, I felt that the saint children raised me. I no longer feel that way ... If Cayetano had not brought to foreigners, the Niños Santos would retain their power .... From the moment foreigners arrived ... the Niños Santos lost their power.  They lost their force, they were decomposed. From now on they no longer serve. There is no remedy. «13  
Wasson himself, who reproduced this statement of the Mazateca shaman, lamented the process that he had unwittingly sparked some years earlier.
 «These words shake me, I, Gordon Wasson, I am made responsible for the end of a religious practice in Mesoamerica that goes back millennia ago.»(The little mushroom) will no longer serve. It is hopeless. «I fear telling the truth, showing her wisdom. A practice carried out in secret for centuries has been brought to light, and the light announces its end. «
 One of the visitors who received Maria Sabina in Huautla was the eminent writer and researcher Fernando Benitez, who died recently. Benitez was one of the most important personalities in the study of native cultures of Mexico. 
His work «The Indians of Mexico», in several volumes, is one of the most important milestones in world anthropology.
Not so long ago he presented a conference on the power of mushrooms which is very expressive in this regard.

«Back to the hallucinogenic mushrooms.»

“I was one of the first to try. I went to Huautla, I came into contact with the magic priestess María Sabina. I ate mushrooms and chocolate to remove the bitterness. The ceremony had several stages: first of crazy laugh, laugh to tears, which already meant the beginning of catharsis and of which you relieve you crying. Then I entered a period of extraordinary visions, a display of Persian carpets of wonderful drawings. Then I went to the sounds; I heard sounds I had never heard, I saw things illuminated by a light that they don’t have.
I stood four hours in the rain, without feeling. A friend came and asked me: Who are you? I said, I am God, I do not need glasses. I see.
I took the glasses and smashed them on the floor. The shaman Maria Sabina tended me in bed and covered me with some blankets, until I could return to the world, purified, clean and, of course, infinitely wiser and more sensitive. It was the most important experience of my life. «
From "Peoples, Drugs and Serpents". Danilo Antón, Piriguazú Ediciones.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Witch Hunters
«If the government were to prescribe our medicines and our diet, our bodies would be in such a dire state as our souls after so many centuries  of censorship.» Thomas Jefferson  

From the early days when the dominator societies were imposed, six or seven millennia ago, those in power decided to attack all those who by their thoughts, attitudes or activities could threaten the cultural and political foundations of their dominance.
The main objectives of these persecutory campaigns were those individuals or communities that kept alive the practice of ceremonial ingestion of plants and substances that promoted modified states of consciousness.
With this authoritarian point of view, any plant or medicine could be considered undesirable. At different times, various customs or practices were persecuted under various excuses or accusations.
In Greece there were several periods and places where the ecstasy practices were outlawed. This situation is well spelled out in the Bacchae of the Euripides tragedy. It tells the story of a king of Thebes, Pentheus, who decided to pursue the Dionysian wine cults. According to Euripides, this harassment policy achieved the opposite result to that intended. Most of the Theban women put aside their family and civic duties and took to live a dissipated life in the forest, with coiled snakes that licked their cheeks, and suckle mountain goats and wild cubs.
The elders of Thebes, Cadmus and Tiresias, proposed to recognize the God-plant as an essential element of human nature. However, Pentheus ignored them, and in the name of health and public decorum, decided to ban ceremonies, promising to «hunt» the offending people in the mountains and enclose them in iron nets for them to leave these criminal ‘orgies’. He threatened to behead the young foreigner who incited young women to vice, 
 «They say that a foreigner has arrived, which in  his lovely dark eyes has the charms of ause of Aphrodite and spends his days and nights providing bacchanalian feasts to the young girls.  If I have him in this house I will separate the neck of the trunk. Isn’t he worth of this horrible hanging with fury and rage, no matter who is the foreigner?»  
Euripides ironic comments about this «stranger» capable of such powers of conviction, a strange «sissy»  that has an incredible sexual magnetism that attracts women, and wonders how it is possible to ‘imprison’ a plant that grows in open fields, « a renovated fruit of Mother Earth. «
Dionysian celebrations in Rome were very important in the third and second centuries b.c.e..  Finally, in year 186 b.c.e. the Roman Senate banned in all Italy i the participants in this rituals, many of them women, were persecuted and imprisoned.
It was supposed at the time that the consuls who proposed the measure   came to «learn» about this «moral plague» that had invaded the peninsula, the night orgiastic mysteries. The defendants were convicted ipso facto. Armed pickets were installed at various points and at the gates of the city.For the first time, Roma closed the doors but not to control the entry, but to keep people out. They piled up prisoners in the dungeons.
In the city there was panic, people trying to escape, many committed suicide. At the end about seven thousand people were executed by knife or crucifixion (5% of the population of the city).
Various Greco-Latin and ancient oriental mysteric religious systems were a form of rebellion against the imperial authoritarianism imposing by force their religion on the conquered territories. In addition to the aforementioned Dionysian or Bacchic rituals, other beliefs that had great influence in the early Christian communities were the Orphic ceremonial, the cults of Isis (of Egyptian origin), the Mithras (from Persia) and and Attis Mysteries (cults of the Great Mother originated in Phrygia).  (to be continued). (to be continued).
From "Peoples, Drugs and Serpents", Danilo Antón, Piriguazu Ediciones.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The major psychoactive plants

The major psychoactive factors include many substances, generally of plant origin. Below is a list of the main synthetic plants that have been used historically and psychoactive compounds extracted from them ends.
1.  Poppy ( Papaver somniferum ) is a herbaceous flowering plant from which opium-bearing seeds are obtained. It contains several active substances with psychoactive properties: morphine (from which heroin is extracted), codeine and others.
2.  Hemp ( Cannabis sativa ), also improperly called marijuana, is a, native to southern Asia shrubby plant, which has psychoactive alkaloids with well defined properties. Hashish is obtained.from cannabis
3.  Peyote ( peyote ) is a cactus whose main active ingredient is mescaine. The peyote grows in arid subtropical areas of North America.
4.  Teonanacatl ( Mexican Psilocybe and Stropharia cubensis ) is formed by several species of psychoactive mushrooms that grow in the mountains of Mesoamerica (Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guatemala). They contain psilocybin and psilocin
5.  Fly agaric ( Amanita muscaria ) is a psychoactive mushroom that grows in the Nordic and temperate mountain forests in Eurasia. It contains muscarine and muscimol.
6. Ayahuasca is an infusion prepared from a vine that grows in the Amazonian region. This vine called  Banisteriopsis caapi contains harmina13   (C 13 H 12 N 2 O), an alkaloid with strong sicoativas properties.
7. Ergot  ( Claviceps purpurea ) is a fungus that parasites rye, wheat and other grasses. It is strongly psychoactive and has significant toxicity that can be removed in its preparation. It is of Eurasian or North African origin. It contains several psychoactive alkaloids including lysergic acid, closely related to LSD-25 (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) the known synthetic psychedelic compound.
8.  Ololiuhqui ( Turbina corymbosa ), also called “seeds of the Virgin” is a vine found in Mexico whose seeds have visionary properties.Like the ergot alkaloids lysergic acid containing, with strongly psychoactive character.
9.  Aguacolla, also called San Pedro or giant ( Trichocereus pachanoi ) is a large-sized cactus (5-8 meters high) that grows in central and northwestern South Andes (Ecuador, Peru) America. Just as the peyote contains mescaline.
10. Coca is a very bushy plant of the Andean foothills in South America whose leaves contain numerous alkaloids, including cocaine.
11. Tobacco is a shrub native American origin grown in most of the native societies. It has several alkaloids, including nicotine.
12 Beleño ( Hyoscyamus niger ) is a herb of the family Solanaceae characteristic of Europe and the Mediterranean region. It contains tropane alkaloids, including hyoscyamine and scopolamine. The latter has visionary properties.
13. Belladonna ( Atropa belladonna ) is a typical European continent herbaceous plant of the family Solanaceae, which contains several tropane alkaloids including hyoscyamine and scopolamine.
14. Mandragora ( Mandragora officinarum ) is a herbaceous plant of European origin that has a thick and irregular root of anthropomorphic appearance. It contains several tropane alkaloids including hyoscyamine, scopolamine, atropine and mandragorina.
15. Iboga ( Tabernanthe iboga ) is a shrub of Central Africa whose roots are used for its visionary properties. It is a species of milkweed family, consisting of shrubs and trees characterized by their simple leaves, colorful flowers and a milky juice. It contains ibogaine and 11 more indole-alkaloids.
16.Syrian rue ( Peganum harmala ) is a small shrub native to the desert areas of the Mediterranean East. It contains beta-carboline alkaloids such as harmine, harmaline and harmine tetrahydro-with visionary properties.
17. Datura ( Datura inoxia ) is a perennial herb that can reach more than 1 m high that grows in Mexico. The root is used, seeds and leaves lesser extent. It contains scopolamine and hyoscyamine.
 There are many other plants rich in alkaloids. Some of them are commonly used in industrial preparations and mass consumption (coffee, tea, chocolate, kola, mate, etc.) (see Chapter 6). Others are known only locally. Surely there are many whose properties are unknown. A complete list would include several thousand species.

From "Peoples, Drugs and Serpents", Danilo Anton, Piriguazu Ediciones

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The space colonists

Reproduced from

“On April 20, 1967, the unmanned lunar lander Surveyor 3 landed near Oceanus Procellarum on the surface of the moon. One of the things aboard was a television camera. Two-and-a-half years later, on November 20, 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan L. Bean recovered the camera. When NASA scientists examined it back on Earth they were surprised to find specimens of Streptococcus mitis that were still alive. Because of the precautions the astronauts had taken, NASA determined that the germs were inside the camera when it was retrieved, so they must have been there before the Surveyor 3 was launched. Apparently, these bacteria had survived for 31 months in the vacuum of the moon's atmosphere. Perhaps NASA shouldn't have been surprised, because there are other bacteria that thrive under near-vacuum pressure on the earth today. Anyway, we now know that the vacuum of space is not a fatal problem for bacteria.
What about the low temperature and the possible lack of liquid water in space? The bacteria in the camera recovered from the moon would have suffered huge monthly temperature swings and the complete lack of water. Freezing and drying, in the presence of the right protectants, are actually two ways normal bacteria can enter a state of suspended animation. And interestingly, if the right protectants aren't supplied originally, the bacteria that die first supply them for the benefit of the surviving ones! English microbiologist John Postgate discusses this fact in The Outer Reaches of Life:
"When a population of bacteria dries out without a protectant, many of the cells break open and release their internal contents. Among these contents are proteins, gums and sugars, all of which are protective. If the population is sufficiently dense, so that significant amounts of protectant are released, material released from the majority which died first can protect a few of their surviving fellows.
"Comparable considerations apply to death from freezing.... Protective substances such as glycerol are well known and widely used; they are called cryoprotectants. Bacteria frozen without such chemicals leak internal contents, among which are many substances that are cryoprotective."
Postgate says that bacteria have apparently survived for 4,800 years in the brickwork of Peruvian pyramids, and maybe even 300 million years in coal, using the drying strategy. He also describes bacteria that apparently survived for 11,000 years in the gut of a well-preserved mastodon, although in this case the colony may have continued to live and multiply using nutrients available in the carcass. Postgate gives several other examples of long-surviving bacteria, and he is careful to mention the possibility that some of the bacterial cultures may have been contaminated, so not all of the reports are necessarily reliable.
Some bacteria have another even more effective survival strategy: they form spores. Spores are bacterial cells in complete dormancy, with thick protective coats. In terms of our computer analogy, a bacterial spore is like a handheld calculator that has repackaged itself into its original protective shipping carton and turned itself off.
"The resistance of some bacterial cells to environmental destruction is impressive. Some bacteria form resistant cells called endospores. The original cell replicates its chromosome, and one copy becomes surrounded by a durable wall. The outer cell disintegrates, but the endospore it contains survives all sorts of trauma, including lack of nutrients and water, extreme heat or cold, and most poisons. Unfortunately, boiling water is not hot enough to kill most endospores in a reasonable length of time.... Endospores may remain dormant for centuries".
Postgate concludes his chapter on spores, entitled "Immortality and the Big Sleep," by saying, "There may be much older spores out there, waiting for energetic microbiologists to revive them." And there were.”

Friday, August 11, 2017

LNG tanker

Will natural gas replace oil?

Natural gas is becoming more and more abundant, and at the same time, much cheaper. Also its distribution has become increasingly global, it can be shipped around the world much like oil with the LNG ocean tankers.
For these reason gradually it will replace oil in much of our everyday lives, particularly transportation and heating.
Althoug this will not happen immediately, natural gas could be a distruptive technology.  
It could become the hydrocarbon of choice for the entire world for much of what we now use oil for.  And in addition it is much cleaner than oil.
As it is known, natural gas may be cooled down to -160 degrees Celsius, and not only does it turn liquid, it reduces in volume 600 times. 
LNG is 1/600th the volume of regular natural gas.  It is now shipped from continent to continent in tankersin that condensed form.  When it reaches port, it goes into a special LNG terminal, is heated up to normal and ready to go into a pipeline. 
For this reason the countries that possess natural gas fields are in a much better economic position. This is the case of Qatar and Iran, with their large field in the middle of the Persian Gulf, and the case of Russia which is exporting large quantities of natural gas to Europe. In Bolivia the natural gas production has increased considerable, and today the country has significantly improved its economic situation.

LNG is not yet a big factor in the US market, counting for some 3% of its use.  And because of all the low cost, abundant shale gas discovered in the last few years, it is unlikely LNG will ever be needed much here.
LNG terminals are being built around the world, especially in Asia.  The four big countries in LNG are Russia, Iran, Qatar and Indonesia.  RBC Capital Markets estimates global LNG production will increase over 30% in the next two years, or just under 10 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d). All the shale gas in the US has increased production there by the same 10 bcf/d since 2002.  So the new LNG supply is the same as adding 3-4 major shale gas plays.
One important thing to note is that governments are big players in these LNG infrastructure projects that cost billions, and they need money for social services.  So LNG infrastructure will not get turned off during a regular price downturn at the bottom of a business cycle.  It will keep producing and shipping except under real economic duress (though we have had some of that lately!)
Qatar, for example, basically has a zero cost on its LNG, because of byproduct credits – other natural gas liquids in the mix. This means that the money Qatar makes on those other liquids pays for all the costs associated with the natural gas. While shipping and freezing/thawing the gas does have a cost, the point is the increasing new supply is fairly cheap gas by recent North American prices (RBC estimates $3-$4/mcf).

(to be continued)