Explorer Captain James Cook, who gave this plant the botanical name of “intoxicating pepper”, first discovered Kava Kava. Kava has been used for over 3,000 years for its medicinal effects as a sedative, muscle relaxant, diuretic, and remedy for nervousness and insomnia. The rhizome (root stock) is used medicinally. This botanical marvel has been used in parts of the Pacific at traditional social gatherings as a relaxant, and in cultural and religious ceremonies to achieve a “higher level of consciousness”.
On the site where the Vatican now stands there once stood a Pagan temple. Here Pagan priests observed sacred ceremonies which early Christians found so disturbing that they tried to erase all evidence of them ever having been practised. What were these shocking Pagan rites? Gruesome sacrifices or obscene orgies perhaps. This is what we have been led to believe. But the truth is far stranger than this fiction.
Peyote (Lophophora williamsii grows in South-Eastern America and in northern regions of Mexico. In Mexico, peyote has been used for divination in shamanic rituals and in the treatment of ailments for at least 10,000 years.
The Paumari tribe of the Brazillian Amazon make a snuff called koribo-nafuni from the leaves of Tanaecium nocturnum. They use this snuff during special festivals, as a rite of passage, in healing ceremonies and in coming-of-age ceremonies for prepubescent girls. Before any child in the Paumari tribe can begin eating the meat of a new animal, a special ceremony using Koribo must be performed by the elder tribesmen. The men of the tribe form a circle and take Koribo by inhaling the snuff through the hollow leg bone of a water bird. The tribesmen then call the animals’ spirits and imitate the animal that the child will soon be consuming. The tribesmen chant sacred songs, and dance in ritualized motions.
Phragmites australis has many uses as building and craft material – for weaving mats, as a roofing material, as a source of cellulose and to create arrows and instruments. All parts of the plant are edible and have been prepared in various ways. Native Americans have used this plant to aid with digestive ailments and headaches, and the Iroquois soak corn seeds in it to speed germination. Medicinally the leaves and roots are renowned as a diuretic. Extracts of the rhizome have recently been found to be effective as an ayahuasca analogue and the dried extract (resin) has psychoactive properties when smoked.
Xochipili is the Aztec god of flowers, pleasure, feasting, debauchery and creativity. This is our favorite recipe for Xochipili liqueur – it combines several very potent entheogens that were used by the Aztecs, and we are sure you will find the effects quite pleasant.
The Aztecs used all species of Tagetes for medicinal purposes, such as in a tea made from the infusion of the fresh herbage to treat hiccups and diarrhea. Tagetes lucida extract was specifically used to treat people who were struck by lightning. In modern times, its fresh herbage is made into a tea to treat stomach pains and abdominal cramps. In Mexico, it is believed that it promotes lactation, and it is also added to bath water to help relieve the symptoms of rheumatism.
Reed canary grass has been known since ancient times. One species of Phalaris grass was described by Dioscorides as phalaridos. He says that this grass, when crushed and mixed with water or alcohol, is good for treating bladder troubles. A number of these grasses are found in herbals from the early modern period. Reed canary grass was discovered to be psychoactive through phytochemical studies for agricultural purposes.
In Texas, peyote buttons have been found in areas that contain archaological artifacts that are up to six thousand years old. In northern Mexico, remains of peyote have been found that have been dated to about 2500 to 3000 B.P. A cave burial area from 810-1070 C.E. contained peyote samples that still contained active alkaloids. This indicates that peyote was likely being used in Mexico and Texas during the prehistoric era. Although the native peoples were persecuted for the use of peyote by the inquisition, several peyote cults such as the Huichol managed to thrive and their rituals have been studied extensively.
The effects of smoking Petunia violacea are said to be similar to those of Coriaria thymifolia. Both plants are said to cause a feeling of flying into the air or floating away from the earth. This type of psychotropic experience is often attributed to tropane alkaloids. However, so far, studies have not been able to identify the presence of any alkaloids in any part of P. violacea. This species has been found to strongly inhibit human plasma AChE.
E. sinica is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs in China. Its use as a medicine may date as far back as six thousand years. Traditional Chinese Medicine has its roots in shamanism, and since E. sinica has such a long history of use, it is almost certain that Chinese and Mongolian shamans used the plant for ritual and medicinal reasons. However, at present, there are no sources available that confirm this. E. sinica is still used in aphrodisiac tonics in China, and it may also be assumed that Taoist practitioners have utilized the plant when seeking long life and in practicing sex magic. For about 2000 years, the Qawrighul of western China buried their dead with bundles of E. sinica twigs tied to them.
According to legends, Bodhidharma, a disciple of the Buddha brought tea from India to China along with the teachings of the Buddha. According to legend, Bodhidharma was always falling asleep while meditating. In frustration, he cut off his eyelids and threw them away. The first tea plant grew from the ground where they fell, and thus its leaves resemble those eyelids. The monks who witnessed this collected the leaves and poured hot water on them, thus making the first tea, which was consumed before meditation.