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Exploring the Rich History of the Peyote Cactus

Nestled underneath shrubs and between limestone crevices hides a small, spineless, psychedelic cactus that holds profound cultural significance for Indigenous peoples. This plant is known as the Peyote cactus and it grows wild in a small region of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Ceremonial Use of the Peyote Cactus

The ceremonial use of Peyote dates back thousands of years and has ties to Indigenous communities such as the Huichol, Navajo, Comanche, and Tarahumara. To these people, the Peyote cactus is a sacred medicine.

Evidence of peyote use has been found at archaeological sites dating back at least 5000 years. Small buttons used in traditional ceremonies have been found at theses sites. These small buttons are either chewed or boiled in water to produce a tea which is then consumed.

These ceremonies are still practiced today and are held out in nature areas by a shaman. They consist of prayers, chanting, drumming, and spiritual guidance. Peyote is thought to cure many things, including physical and mental ailments. It is also believed to be a way of communicating with ancestors and deities.

The effects of the Peyote cactus are very profound and similar to that of ayahuasca or psilocybin mushrooms. It produces a state of euphoria, colorful visions, and a feeling of being one with the universe as well as nature. Many believe that it brings them to a higher state of consciousness.

Modern Law and Studies

When European settlers colonized America, they tried to suppress the use of peyote by making it illegal. They viewed its use as sacrilegious to the Christian faith and its beliefs. The natives fought for their rights and were exempt from the law in the USA under The American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1994.

Recently, Scientists have been studying the active compound in the peyote cactus (mescaline) with promising results for treating addiction, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are still studies that need to be done, but many people believe that psychedelics could be very beneficial for people struggling with these afflictions. 

Peyote Cactus Cultivation

The rich history and psychoactive properties of the peyote cactus have peaked interest among many people in recent years. Its cultivation is legal in several countries, including Canada, and has become very popular, spreading as far as Thailand.

Peyote belongs to the Lophophora family. There are two main species in this family. Lophophora williamsii (peyote) and its non psychoactive cousin Lophophora diffusa. Each species has many variations. 


Unfortunately, the peyote cactus has become scarce in the wild. This is due to its slow growing nature, over harvesting, poor harvesting practices, and land development. Those who wish to cultivate it should only buy seeds and cacti from sustainable growers like Sacred Buttons and should never poach or purchase cacti poached from the wild.

Respect for these cacti and for the natives to whom it is so sacred is essential for fostering understanding, cultural preservation, and respect for diversity in society.





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