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Drugs 101: Peyote

Author: Philippe
Posted: 05 Sep 2004

One day, Anthony and I were at a party and discussing various things about life, and girls and beer. It tends to happen a lot when we're together (happens a lot when any member of TTA comes across another member, actually). Needing some fresh air, we went for a walk. So there we were, walking along the streets of Northampton, when all of the sudden a large green cloud appeared overhead. Lightning started striking all around us and we started to run. The lightning, however, was too fast for us and, after striking Anthony, it struck me.

Our brains were jostled around a little bit and we both fell into a state of insanity which lasted, by my calculations, about two months.

When we woke up, we were in the desert. That's the only explanation I have, really, about why Anthony and I thought it would be a good idea to move to the desert. I mean, who the fuck wants to live in the desert? Not any sane people. That's for goddamned sure. There's no reason to move anywhere where you can walk outside on a 100 degree day and think "it's cool out today."

And before anyone says anything stupid like "but Philippe, it's a dry heat so it's not so bad right?," don't. You have no idea what it's like in the desert. An oven is dry heat, too, yet it can get surprisingly warm in there. Dry or wet, 120-degree summers are one of the worst things you can endure. Let me also say that it doesn't get all that cold at night, either.

Anyway, that all aside, you have to wonder if anything good could ever come out of a desert. Particularly, and especially, if you've ever lived in one. Can anything at all come from the desert that has even the remotest possibilities of being cool?

The answer, oddly enough, is yes. The thing in question, of course, is Peyote.

Peyote, or Lophophor williamsii, as I (and botanists) like to call it, is a cactus. A tiny, little cactus which usually measures in at about three inches round. It's also the most famous of the hallucinogenic cacti, of which there are many. It grows in Mexico and up into the southwest states, though in the US it's primarily found in Texas. Granted, it's easy enough to find a wild one and bring it to any number of places in the world and grow some yourself, assuming you have a desert-condition greenhouse somewhere). Like Magic Mushrooms, this bad boy started out as an accidental snack a few thousand years ago and then quickly became the religious sacrament du jour for all desert folk in the Americas. Or so I'm led to believe.

Peyote, of course, is just the name of the cactus. The super fun-time drug that gives you the hallucinations is mescaline. The mescaline being natural in the cactus, you're going to get a slightly different high than you would if you simply chowed down some pills but, as it affects the same area of the brain, it's more or less the same sort of thing.

Keep in mind, of course, that along with the mescaline there're about a hundred other minor compounds wandering around the insides of the cactus, so, of course, it'll be a bit different.

As an interesting side note -- some of the extra things in Peyote actually have an antibacterial quality to them. So, for what it's worth, it can be used as a medicine of sorts, mainly to prevent infection from, oh, say an arrow wound from a neighboring tribe. You can also use it to get rid of some infections on the inside of your body, too. Or so they say. That's venturing dangerously into what I call the "Navaho-hair tampon" area, however, so take it with a grain of salt. If you get sick, taking psychedelics isn't nearly as good as some cold medicine from the store (Robitussin, for instance).

The cacti will have different amounts of psychoactive drugs depending on how old they are. The older the thing gets, the bigger and more potent. Normally, people will chew on peyote that's about ten years old. That'll give you a nice buzz, but hey, if you want to go stronger then by all means, make a life-long project out of cultivating a twenty-year-old plant.

For the most part, the drug is safe as far as drugs go, and there's not a high level of addictive qualities.

So break out some Doors records, go to the desert, and eat a cactus (take the pointy bits off first) and see what it's all about. Do it in moderation, of course, and...well, lets face it, your dealer probably ain't gonna be sporting cacti with him so, well, trust whoever you get it from.

Remember, however, when eating plants, that the moment people start eating strange plants they've never seen is sometimes the moment that people start dying, so for god's sake be careful about what cactus you pick up out there.

Also bring water. Lots of water.


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