According to Aztec historical records, the fermented agave beverage pulque was first created in Central America after the Aztecs had migrated there from the north just after 1000 CE. It has probably been used for a much longer period of time by many peoples of the region. The Apaches also used mescal to make fermented drinks for ritual. At this time, Mexican agave is primarily used in the production of tequila.
Due to its moderate caffeine content, Ilex paraguariensis tea is used medicinally as a diuretic and stimulant to alleviate mental and physical fatigue. Brazilian herbalists also recommend yerba mate tea to treat depression, as an analgesic to treat nerve pain and headache, and as a herbal tonic to stimulate the central nervous system, the heart, and the immune system.
E. micromeris is credited with great intellectual and moral qualities. This “medicine” is said to give speed to runners, prolong life, and make the eyes large and clear to be able to see sorcerers. Both it, and its fruit, are ingested as a stimulant and protector by traditional Tarahumara foot-runners, but are considered less effective than L. williamsii or A. fissuratus. Its fruits are laid before the altar in ceremonies, and it had continued to play a minor part in Tarahumara festivals well into the 20th century. Similar to terms surrounding A. fissuratus, any words describing the effects of E. micromeris must be viewed as only abbreviated renderings of traditional reports, and should not be interpreted according to a western understanding.
Ilex cassine was sacred to the peoples of Florida and the East Coast of North America, and was used similarly to Ilex vomitoria to produce ‘the black drink’, a beverage that is high in caffeine and that often causes vomiting, an effect which was thought to prepare one for contact with the spirit world.
In Europe, in the Middle Ages, mugwort was used as a protective herb, and was placed in gardens to repel insects. It was also used to prevent fatigue and to ward off evil spirits and wild animals. In witchcraft traditions, it has long been used to induce lucid dreaming and astral projection. It was one of the nine sacred herbs given to the world by Odin. The Romans placed mugwort in their sandals to relieve tired, aching feet.
There are very intriguing similarities between these Jurema rituals and the Ayahuasca rituals of the Amazon Forest. The Jurema rituals exhibit all the characteristics of psychoactive influence although these Indians also drink alcohol to induce an altered state of consciousness. Alcohol is the only available medium through which their rituals can be enhanced and attendant spirits served. At the ritual’s end, many empty bottles of cachaça (aquardente from sugar cane, the strongest alcohol available in Brazil), are scattered around the altar. However, the participating mediums, through whom the spirits have been drinking, are sober. (This phenomena has been registered in Umbanda, Cadomblé and other African traditions that are part of the Brazilian syncretism of religions).
The oral preparation called majum in India, composed of Cannabis indica resin or foliage with other ingredients, was reported to induce euphoria, feelings of flying, sexual desire, and enhanced appetite in its users. Cannabis indica seems to produce a quieter, more introspective experience lacking in the high levels of hilarity and sociability produced by Cannabis sativa.
Although the medicinal healing properties of African Dream Herb have been known and utilized by aboriginal tribes for centuries, very little modern research has been conducted to verify its efficacy. Because Entada Rheedii is so widespread, growing on every continent adjacent to the Indian Ocean, and in almost every country therein, many different tribes have many different uses for this plant. Some tribes believe the seeds possess magical abilities to bring the owner good luck; the seeds would be strung together and used as jewelry; the bark could be cleaned and processed into cordage that was then twisted into rope. In South Africa the seeds would be used as a substitute for coffee, when coffee beans were unavailable.
The Huichol strongly warn against consuming A. fissuratus, and associate it strongly with dark sorcery. They believe that those individuals who do not properly purify themselves at the start of the peyote hunt pilgrimage by admitting all of their sexual encounters outside of marriage may mistake A. fissuratus for real peyote, the consumption of which will result in a deliriant-hallucinogenic state. The Tarahumara, meanwhile, consider A. fissuratus to be even more powerful than peyote.
Lemon Balm has long been known for its aromatic qualities and its culinary uses. The Greeks used Lemon Balm to treat insomnia, to calm nerves and alleviate anxiety. It was used as an ingredient in Mediterranean dishes, as a garnish, as an additive to flavor deserts, to make hot and cold teas, and as a flavoring agent in candies and gums; its essential oils were used in much the same manner as spearmint oil. Lemon Balm is also one of the psychoactive ingredients used to make the historically renowned Absinthe.
The family Mesembryanthemaceae contains many pharmacologically active species. One of the most utilized by native peoples in South Africa was the genus Sceletium tortuosum (Kanna), for which whole tribes would travel hundreds of miles to pick a years supply. The plants of the Sceletium genus were utilized as a euphorant and intoxicant; but there is still little information available on this wondrous plant with such a long history of ritualistic and Shamanistic use.
The first specimen of Brugmansia candida was collected in 1935 by one H. Garcia-Barriga in Colombia. Since then, various forms have been described. In Colombia, extracts of the leaves are consumed in ceremonies for purposes of divination, prophecy and healing. The Kamsa associate the plant with the jaguar, the strongest of shamanic animals, and so one can understand that the plant represents a very powerful shamanic tool. The Kamsa use D. candida exclusively for divination and only turn to it in very serious cases, as it can cause the shaman who ingests it to enter a comatose state for two to three days. During this time, an assistant watches over the shaman and records any messages he may come forth with.