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Peyote 51. conserve

 

 

 

 

 

CHEMISTRY and some STORIES
Gives us Mescaline or synthetically 3, 4, 5-trimethoxy phenyl ethylamine.

The peyote plants contain more than fifty-five alkaloids and related compounds. Some of these alkaloids have been studied and when ingested, affect the mind in interesting ways.

The miraculous entheogenic peyote cactus has been claimed to hold curative properties for ailments as diverse as toothache, pain in child birth, fever, breast pain, skin disease, rheumatism, diabetes, colds, blindness, neurasthenia, hysteria and asthma. The original cactus from where mescaline was first isolated, peyote has also been shown to have antibiotic activity against a wide variety of bacteria including some penicillin resistant strains. This famous sacred cactus is the centre of many ancient and modern churches and religions and is a truly fascinating species to grow.

The chemists, ever on the lookout for new worlds to conquer, had taken the divine plant into their laboratories, bent on determining the nature of those substances that endow it with its vision-provoking properties. The brown malodorous decoction of the mescal buttons was progressively purified and one crystalline compound after another was separated from the crude material. No less than nine alkaloids were finally crystallized, several of which influenced the behaviour of experimental animals. Most poisonous of these alkaloids was lophophorine, which, in doses of about 12 milligrams per kilogram body weight, would produce in rabbits violent convulsions of the type seen in sufferers from tetanus or strychnine poisoning. The substance pellotine produced in man a drowsiness suggesting that it might be of use as a sedative. Anhalonidine, on the other hand, had a stimulating effect on the central nervous system.
But of all the substances isolated from this curious cactus the most important and interesting was called mescaline. To this substance and to this substance alone the extraordinary visions of the peyotl eater could be attributed. Mescaline is not a complex substance. It belongs to the large and important group of chemicals known as amines, many of which (for instance, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline) have a powerful action on the chemistry of the body. To be more specific, mescaline is a derivative of ammonia (NH3) in which one of the hydrogen atoms has been replaced by a chain of carbon atoms. Chemically it is 3, 4, 5-trimethoxy phenyl ethylamine, a substance which can be synthesized without too much difficulty so that those who wish to enjoy the peyotl-induced visions need not depend on the cactus for their supply of the drug.
With pure mescaline available, investigators of the properties of the drug no longer had to chew the nauseating cactus or swallow revolting decoctions brewed from its buttons. They left such questionable pleasures to the Indians and continued their studies with the purified essence of the sacred plant, either swallowing or injecting the solution into their persons. Research continued vigorously. From the laboratory of Dr. Beringer in Heidelberg emerged a tome, three hundred and fifteen pages in length, a worthy example of German Wissenschaftlichkeit, which remains a most valuable contribution to the subject. Dr. Beringer's subjects generally took their mescaline in the form of an injection; the dose employed being usually 400 milligrams. Their experiences had much in common with those described by Weir Mitchell and Havelock Ellis, but the metaphysical bent of the Teutonic mind, its tendency to seek the ultimate, the infinite, the inexpressible, added to the already rich spectrum of the mescal experience, certain deeper hues not noted by the earlier investigators.

Soon there began on the carpet before me a wonderful display. From the edge of the field of vision there crept across the green carpet beasts like the monsters from a fairy tale stretching out tongues and claws. I watched their play with pleasure only regretting that the beasts appeared in various shades of grey. Scarcely had this thought passed through my mind before the eyes of the beasts glittered with green or red lights. Soon their tongues and claws became touched with crimson and began to flicker like the play of flames in a fire . . . Somewhat later I fixed my eyes on a point on the ceiling on which were a few small flies in the web of a spider. Suddenly the flies began to multiply lit up by beautiful colours within the ever-changing form of the spider's web.
Now there appeared before my eyes splendid architectural forms, which seemed to hang from the ceiling divided into hexagonal segments like honeycombs. Above the ceiling each honeycomb rose up and developed into a painted Gothic arch. While I delighted in the upward striving of these slender arches they towered to ever-greater heights before my eyes. Extraordinary joy overcame me; a strong and beautiful feeling of eternity and infinity. This so overwhelmed me that soon everything appeared infinite. There they were again, the deep beautiful perspectives which I had seen during my first experience with mescaline, but now they never stood still, they grew constantly deeper, as with space so with time. The ordinary human concept of time seemed contemptible. I would not even think of it. The sense of drifting in the infinite, of flowing into the ocean of eternity occupied me entirely and was most closely and intimately associated with my self-awareness. I experienced a unique pleasure from exploring the endlessness of my own ego, the boundlessness of every one of my psychic functions . . .. My psychological equilibrium was constantly changing. At one moment I would experience pleasure because I could go to sleep in my own little world; at another I stood astounded by profound riddles, by the mystery of the magic play within me. I even felt fear at the thought of that wild secret force at work within my being.

Similarly pervaded with what Baudelaire has called 'The Taste of the Infinite" were the experiences of another of Beringer's subjects:

My ideas of space were strange beyond description. I could see myself from head to foot as well as the sofa on which I was lying. About me was nothingness, absolutely empty space. I was floating on a solitary island in the ether. No part of my body was subject to the laws of gravitation. On the other side of the vacuum, the room seemed to be unlimited in space; extremely fantastic figures appeared before my eyes. I was very excited; I perspired, shivered and was kept in a state of ceaseless wonder. I saw endless passages with beautiful arches, delightfully coloured arabesques, grotesque decorations, divine, sublime and enchanting in their fantastic splendour. These visions changed in waves and billows, were built, destroyed, and appeared again in endless variations first on one plane and then in three dimensions, at last disappearing into infinity. The sofa island disappeared. I did not feel my physical self; an ever-increasing sense of dissolution set in. I was seized with passionate curiosity; great things were about to be unveiled before me. I would perceive the essence of all things; the problem of creation would be unravelled. I was dematerialized!

Aldous Huxley, a representative of that "universal man" commoner in the Renaissance than in our overspecialized age, has studied the mystical aspects of the mescaline experience from the standpoint of a creative writer who is at the same time a mystic and a scientist. His own experiences, after swallowing 400 milligrams of mescaline, involved a change not in the identity of things perceived but in the content of perception. He describes no fields of gorgeous jewels, none of the Gothic arches so popular with the German investigators, none of the strange beasts, the "delightful dragons balancing white balls on their breath," which visited one of Havelock Ellis's poets. There is nothing in Aldous Huxley's account that even suggests mescaline might be, as some have described it, a hallucinogen- that is to say, an agent capable of generating hallucinations. The essence of a hallucinogen is that it causes those under its influence to hear, see, or feel things, which are not present. Havelock Ellis's rotating flower beds, Weir Mitchell's tower dripping jewels, these were hallucinations in the true sense of the word. No such phenomena are described in Aldous Huxley's book.
The change, which for him, was brought about by mescaline, concerned the manner in which familiar objects were perceived. "How wonderfully supernatural and how miraculous this," wrote the Zen patriarch, "I draw water and I carry fuel!" It was exactly this transformation of simple things that Aldous Huxley described, and this element of the miraculous, haloing ordinary objects, was for him far more significant than any colour vision or elaborate fantasy. Certainly he experienced that enrichment of colour values which is an almost universal feature of descriptions of the mescaline experience. His books, for example, took on a gemlike glow.

Red books, like rubies; emerald books; books bound in white jade; books of agate; of aquamarine, of yellow topaz; lapis lazuli books whose colour was so intense, so intrinsically meaningful, that they seemed to be on the point of leaving the shelves to thrust themselves more insistently on my attention.

But this enrichment of the quality of colours was secondary to the extraordinary significance with which simple objects became endowed. An hour and a half after taking mescaline Aldous Huxley found himself looking intently at a small glass vase.

The vase contained only three flowers; a full blown Belle of Portugal rose, shell pink with a tint at every petal's base of a hotter, more flamed hue; a large magenta and cream-coloured carnation; and pale purple at the end of its broken stalk, the bold heraldic blossom of an iris. Fortuitous and provisional, the little nosegay broke all the rules of traditional good taste. At breakfast that morning I had been struck by the lively dissonance of its colours. But that was no longer the point. I was not looking now at an unusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation, the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence.

What the rose, the iris, and the carnation so intensely signified when viewed with perception modified by mescaline was

….nothing more, and nothing less, than what they actually were, a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen in the divine source of all existence.
I continued to look at the flowers, and in their living light I seemed to detect the qualitative equivalent of breathing, but of a breathing without returns to a starting point, with no recurrent ebbs but only a repeated flow from beauty to heightened beauty, from deeper to ever deeper meaning. Words like "grace" and "transfiguration" came to my mind, and this, of course, was what, among other things, they stood for. My eyes travelled from the rose to the carnation, and from that feathery incandescence to the smooth scrolls of sentient amethyst, which were the iris. The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit Ananda, Being-Awareness-Bliss, for the first time I understood, not on the verbal level, not by inchoate hints or at a distance, but precisely and completely to what those prodigious syllables referred.

The foregoing descriptions of the effects of mescaline will probably have left the reader with the impression that this purified product of the sacred cactus offers the key to a very remarkable world. To many people it does indeed offer such a key and its virtues have been summarized very clearly by Havelock Ellis:

Mescal intoxication may be described as chiefly a saturnalia for the specific senses and above all, an orgy of vision. It reveals an optical fairyland, where all the senses now and again join the play, but the mind itself remains a self-possessed spectator. Mescal intoxication thus differs from the other artificial paradises that drugs procure. Under the influence of alcohol, for instance, as in normal dreaming, the intellect is impaired, although there may be a consciousness of unusual brilliance; hashish, again, produces an uncontrollable tendency to movement and bathes its victim in a sea of emotion. The mescal drinker remains calm and collected amid the sensory turmoil around him; his judgement is as clear as in the normal state; he falls into no oriental condition of vague and voluptuous reverie. The reason why mescal is of all this class of drugs the most purely intellectual in its appeal is evidently because it affects mainly the most intellectual of the senses. On this ground it is not probable that its use will easily develop into a habit. Moreover, unlike most other intoxicants, it seems to have no special affinity for a disordered and unbalanced nervous system; on the contrary, it demands organic soundness and good health for complete manifestation of its virtues. Further, unlike the other chief substances to which it may be compared, mescal does not wholly carry us away from the actual world, or plunge us into oblivion; a large part of its charm lies in the halo of beauty which it casts around the simplest and commonest things. It is the most democratic of the plants that lead men to an artificial paradise. If it should ever chance that the consumption of mescal becomes a habit, the favourite poet of the mescal drinker will certainly be Wordsworth. Not only the general attitude of Wordsworth but many of his most memorable poems and phrases cannot, one is almost tempted to say, be appreciated in their full significance by one who has never been under the influence of mescal. On all these grounds it may be claimed that the artificial paradise of mescal, though less seductive, is safe and dignified beyond its peers.

The author, however, would not be doing his duty as an impartial reporter if he did not add that even the glamorous world of mescaline has its darker side. Not everyone can enter its colourful kingdom.
"Along with the happily transfigured majority of mescaline takers," writes Aldous Huxley, "there are a minority that finds in the drug only hell and purgatory." This is undoubtedly true, nor is it easy to be sure just how correctly we can claim that the "happily transfigured" are in the majority. The following description by Tayleur Stockings of the general appearance of a group of individuals under the influence of mescaline seems hardly that of "happily transformed beings":

The lips and tongue become dry and coated with sordes; the skin is flushed at first, and later becomes dry and harsh with an earthy pallor; the conjunctiva are injected, and the eyes appear unnaturally bright. The urine is scanty and highly coloured, and there is absolute insomnia, anorexia (loss of appetite) and in the later stages, restlessness . . .. There is always nausea and occasionally vomiting in the early stages.

This nausea may not interfere with the subject's enjoyment of his strange experiences. As Kluver points out, "In spite of marked nausea many subjects 'have a good time'; being in a state of mental exhilaration they become talkative and jocular, they commit social errors and enjoy committing them, harmless remarks, even a potato salad or a catsup bottle, are considered unusually funny." In other subjects, however, the unpleasant symptoms produced by the drug are unrelieved by any consoling experience, visual or otherwise.
One might suppose such individuals to be degraded types whose "doors of perception" are so hopelessly muddied that even the potent cleansing action of mescaline makes no impression on the encrusting grime. This can hardly be true. That prince of psychologists, William James, was certainly no stranger to the realm of mystical experience. He remains one of the few psychologists of any standing who has ever taken the trouble to investigate religious phenomena. Yet William James, who received peyotl from Weir Mitchell, derived from the sacred cactus nothing more than a stomach-ache. "I ate one bud three days ago," he wrote in a letter to his brother Henry, "was violently sick for twenty-four hours, and had no other symptoms whatever except that and the Katzenjammer the following day. I will take the visions on trust." Even Weir Mitchell, whose experiences were much more promising, commented, "These shows are expensive . . .. The experience, however, was worth one such headache and indigestion but was not worth a second."
Quite apart from the nausea, anorexia, and insomnia, the mescaline visions themselves are by no means always divine:

In some individuals the "ivresse divine" (good trip) of which Rouhier speaks comes nearer to being an "ivresse diabolique." (Bad Trip) Vague tenors and the sense of impending disaster often mingle with the cosmic experiences. The immensity of the new realms perceived may frighten more than they enlighten the mescaline taker. . The experiences in the mescal state are not easily forgotten. One looks "beyond the horizon" of the normal world, and this "beyond" is often so impressive or even shocking that its after effects linger for years in one's memory. No wonder some subjects are disinclined to repeat the experiment . . . [Kluver].

For this reason it is improbable that mescaline will ever become widely popular as a means of fleeing the drab realities of the ordinary world. The artificial paradise to which it holds the key is too strange a realm to appeal to the average taste and the cost of getting there, in terms of unpleasant physical reactions, would seem excessive. Many, in fact, would agree with William James that the experience is not worth the Katzenjammer. This expressive German word means, literally, caterwauling. In the sense used above it describes the unpleasant symptoms left by an alcoholic debauch, in short a "hangover."
As a euphoriant it is unlikely to replace alcohol, though its effects are infinitely more interesting, and it "does not drive the taker into the kind of uninhibited action which results in brawls, crimes of violence and traffic accidents" (Huxley). It has no addiction forming properties. Indians who have consumed it for years can still manage perfectly well without the drug. It seems to have no lasting ill effect on any organ in the body, including the liver on which falls the task of detoxifying this particular poison, for mescaline is poisonous, albeit the effects are interesting and the toxic symptoms rarely alarming. It belongs to the class of poisons that the great toxicologist, Lewin, labelled phantastica, a class of materials now more commonly referred to as hallucinogens. It is probably one of the most harmless members of this group of drugs, but is nonetheless quite toxic for certain people.


As regards the way in which mescaline exerts its effects, we have to admit that we are almost entirely ignorant. Quastel and Wheatley have shown that mescaline and several related substances interfere with oxidative processes in minced brain tissue. Aldous Huxley has accepted this finding as the explanation of mescaline's mode of action. He envisages the brain as a kind of reducing valve that protects our little human minds from the overwhelming pressure of "Mind at Large." When the efficiency of the reducing valve is impaired by mescaline "Mind at Large," or the mind of the macrocosm, pushes its way into the mind of the microcosm, which explains the overwhelming character of certain mescaline experiences. To assume, however, that mescaline exerts its characteristic action simply by lowering the brain's capacity to utilize oxygen would not seem warranted by the evidence. The barbiturates also cut down oxidation in brain slices but these substances do not produce the colour visions or other experiences typical of mescaline. They merely put the one who takes them to sleep. Further, it must be emphasized again that between minced brain in a test tube and living brain in a man's skull there is a very wide gap. We dare not even assume that mescaline taken by mouth or even injected into the blood necessarily enters the brain itself. It may be checked by the blood-brain barrier. It may be transformed in the liver into something chemically different. This, say the German workers Patzig and Block, is actually what does happen. When mescaline is "labelled" by building into it an atom of radioactive carbon, its presence can be detected in the liver but hardly a trace of the substance can be found in the brain. Its effects, these workers believe, are due to its combining with liver protein to form a toxic substance which, like a number of other toxic substances, interferes with brain function and causes hallucinations.
F. M. Sturtevant and V. A. Drill, who injected mescaline directly into the brains of cats, thus forcing the drug past the blood-brain barrier, have shown that it produces dramatic effects on the animal's behaviour. The cats began a loud continuous yowling that was unlike any normal cat sound. They retched, they salivated, they defecated, and their breath came in short gasps. Particularly noticeable was the change in their behaviour toward mice. Cats, which, before treatment with mescaline, had instantly caught and killed a mouse, merely ignored the animal while under the influence of the drug. Indeed, so great did their forbearance become that one submitted placidly to having his ears and nose nibbled. The drug evidently made pacifists out of the cats and filled them with brotherly love that extended even to mice. They appeared to derive enjoyment from rubbing their cheeks against the mice and allowing them to crawl over and under their bodies. The happy state foretold by the prophet was thus realized; the lion lay down with the lamb and did not hurt nor destroy. For the next eighteen to twenty hours the peace continued, after which the fondling became progressively rougher, ending with typical cat and mouse play in which the mice were killed and eaten. It is clear from this work that mescaline does have some direct effect on the chemistry of the brain; the nature of this action is still under investigation.

This site may look ancient
It is the result of an evening class in Dreamweaver 4 website construction
I attended in 2002.
But it is current and working, thank you very much.

Now in Feb. 2015.
They are all having their winter sleep.
This is a good time to travel to a new home with no disruption to growth.

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Plea to conserve home of the peyote cactus

from the UN Environment Programme

25 March 2006 - New Scientist