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A lot of people have asked about salvia here is a little history.
History Of Salvia (part 1)
? Leander J. Valdes III, Jose Luis Diaz and Ara G. Paul.
Salvia divinorum is a perennial labiate used for curing and divination by the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico. The psychotropic effects the plant produces are compared to those of the other hallucinogens employed by the Mazatecs, the morning glory, Rivea corymbosa L., Hallier f. and the psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
A discussion of the role of ska Maria Pastora in the native pharmacopeia is based on previous reports and fieldwork by the authors, with a Mazatec shaman.
Introduction Salvia divinorum (Epling & Jativa-M.) is a perennial herb in the Labiatae (mint family) native to certain areas in the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, Mexico.
It is one of about 500 species of Salvia in the New World subgenus Calosphace (Epling and Jativa-M., 1962).
The plant grows in large clones to well over 1m in height and its large green leaves, hollow square stems and white flowers with purple calyces are characteristic taxonomic features.
This sage has been found only in forest ravines and other moist humid areas of the Sierra Mazateca between 750 m and 1500 m altitude (Diaz, 1975a).
Carl Epling, who first described S. divinorum, reported the newer as having a blue corolla, and it has been illustrated this way in the literature (Epling and Jativa-M, 1962; Schultes, 1976). However, this description has been shown to be an error, as all living specimens of the plant have had blossoms with white corollas and purple calyces (Diaz, 1975a; Emboden, 1979).
S. divinorum is one of several vision-inducing plants employed by the Mazatec Indians, one of the native Peoples living in the mountains and upland valleys of northeastern Oaxaca.
Unlike other Mexican tribes, there is little information concerning their existence before the arrival of the conquering Spanish, who reduced the Mazatecan population through exploitation and disease (Weitlaner and Hoppe, 1964).
The 1970 census estimated their number at 92,540 (Cortes, 1979) and the language of the Mazatec Popoloca family is one of the many non-Spanish dialects spoken throughout Mexico (Weitlaner and Hoppe, 1964).
The Mazatecan ritual use of hallucinogens, such as mushrooms containing psilocybin and morning glory seeds containing lysergic acid amide, has been widely publicized through the investigations of R. Gordon Wasson and Albert Hofmann, among others (Wasson and Wasson, 1957; Wasson, 1963; Hofmann, 1964; Hofmann,1980).
Review Of Literature Although the use of the mushrooms and morning glories was documented by the Spanish conquistodores and chroniclers who arrived in Mexico during the Sixteenth Century (Wasson, 1963), the literature on S. divinorum is relatively recent.
Wasson originally proposed that this Salvia was the plant known to the Spanish by the Nahuatl (Aztec) name of pipiltzintzintli, but new investigations suggest that the Mexican name probably refers to Cannabis sativa I,. (Diaz, 1979).
There are a number of common names for S. divinorum and nearly all are related to the plant's association with the Virgin Mary.
It is known to the Mazatecs as ska Maria Pastora, the leaf or herb of Mary, the Shepherdess. The name is usually shortened to ska Maria or ska Pastora and the sage is also known by a number of Spanish names including hojas de Maria, hojas de la Pastora, hierba (yerba) Maria or la Maria.
The Mazatecs believe this Salvia to be an incarnation of the Virgin Mary, and care is taken to avoid trampling on or damaging it when picking the leaves, which are used both for curing and in divination.
Attempts at the identification ska Maria Pastora were carried out in conjunction with anthropological expeditions led by one of Mexico's leading anthropologists, the former Austrian engineer, Roberto G. Weitlaner, who rediscovered native use of hallucinogenic mushrooms among the Mazatecs in 1936 (Wasson, 1963).
On a field trip in 1938, Weitlaner's future son-in- law, the American anthropologist, Jean B. Johnson learned that the Mazatecs employed a tea made from the beaten leaves of a hierba Maria for divination. The preparation was used in a manner similar to the narcotic mushrooms and the semillas de la Virgen, which were later identified as morning glory seeds (Johnson, 1939).
Bias P. Reko, who knew Weitlaner well, referred to a magic plant employed by the Cuicatec and Mazatec Indians to produce visions. It was known as the hoja de adivinaci6n (leaf of prophecy) and although Reko could not identify the plant, it was probably S. divinorum (Reko, 1945).
In 1952 Weitlaner reported the use of a yerba (hierba)-de Maria by the Mazatecs in Jalapa de Diaz, a small Oaxacan village. According to his informant the leaves of this plant were gathered by curanderos (shamans or healers), who went up into the mountains and harvested them after a session of kneeling and prayer.
For use in curing the foliage was rubbed between the hands and an infusion of from 50 to 100 leaves was prepared, the higher dose being used for alcohol addicts. Around midnight the curandero, the patient and another person went to a dark quiet place (perhaps a house) where the patient ingested the potion.
After about 15 min the effects became noticeable. The subject would go into a semi-delirious trance and from his speech the curandero made a diagnosis and then ended the session by bathing the patient in a portion of the infusion that had been set aside; The bath supposedly ended the intoxicated state.
In addition to such curing, the yerba Maria also served for divination of robbery or loss (Weitlaner, 1952).
Five years later the Mexican botanist, A. G6mez Pompa, collected specimens of a Salvia known as xka (sic) Pastora. He noted that the plant was used as a hallucinogen (alucinante) and a dose was prepared from 8 to 12 pairs of leaves.
Since flowering material was not available, the sage could not be identified beyond the generic level (G6mez Pompa, 1957).
The holotype specimen of S. divinorum was acquired by Wasson and Hofmann in 1962 while they were traveling with Weitlaner. Flowering plants were brought to them in the village of San Jose Tenango, as they were not permitted to visit the locality in which ska Maria Pastora grew.
This collection was sent to Epling and Jativa-M. who described it as a new species of Salvia, S. divinorum(Wasson, 1962; Epling and Jativa-M., 1962).
Wasson was the first to personally describe the effects of ska Pastora, relating the experiences he and members of his party had on ingestion of different doses of a beverage prepared from the plant's foliage.
At a session in July 1961 in which he participated, a curandera (female shamans are very common among the Mazatecs and other Mexican peoples) squeezed the juice of 34 pairs of leaves by hand into a glass and added water. Wasson drank the dark fluid and wrote that although the effects came on faster than those of the mushrooms, they lasted a much shorter time.
He saw only dancing colors in elaborate, three-dimensional designs (Wasson, 1962). Summing up the experience, he later stated (pers. comm.): "A number of us (including me) had tried the infusion of the leaves and we thought we experienced something, though much weaker than the Psilocybe species of mushroom." Hofmann and his wife, Anita, who accompanied Wasson on an expedition the following year, took the infusion prepared from five and three pairs of S. divinorum leaves, respectively.
Mrs. Hofmann saw striking, brightly bordered images while Hofmann found himself in a state of mental sensitivity and intense experience, which, however, was not accompanied by hallucinations (Hofmann, 1980).
Maria Sabina, the Mazatec shaman made famous by Wasson, and who lives in the Mazatec highland town of Huautla, in Oaxaca, briefly mentioned her use of the plant in her autobiography (Estrada, 1977): If I have a sick person during the season when the mushrooms are not available, I resort to the hojas de la Pastora.
Crushed (molido) and taken, they work like the children (i.e., the mushrooms). Of course, the Pastora doesn't have as much strength. Roquet and Ganc reported that the Mazatecs prepared a dose of S. divinorum from 120 pairs of crushed leaves and used the plant only when the mushrooms and morning glory seeds were not available.
Roquet and his associates used the plant twice in their psychiatric investigations of Mexican hallucinogenic plants and stated that they had difficulties in working with it (Roquet, 1972).
Jose Luis Diaz and his coworkers studied the use of ska Maria Pastora in the Mazatec highlands during the 1970's. Diaz himself took the Salvia infu- sion under the supervision of a shaman, Dona J., on six different occasions, noting an increased awareness of the plants effects each time.
The first changes he perceived were a series of complex and slowly changing visual patterns that occurred only in complete quiet with closed eyes.
There were no colored geometric patterns which characteristically occur with ingestion of other hallucinogens nor were there auditory images. After a short time he noticed peripheral phenomena, such as a feeling of lightness in the extremities and odd sensations in the joints.
The climax of effects, accompanied by dizziness or nausea (mareo), lasted about 10 min and disappeared about 0.5 h after ingestion of the infusion.
Other, more subtle, effects seemed to persist for a few hours (Diaz, 1975a). Hofmann (Hofmann, 1964) and Diaz (Diaz, 1975a) each investigated S. divinorum chemically without isolating and identifying any active prin- ciple. As noted above, the descriptions in the literature emphasize the mildness of the plant's effects.
There are many ways to achieve visions other than by ingestion of classically defined hallucinogens such as mescaline, LSD and psilocybin. Among these are meditation, prayer, mental illness, disease (especially when accompanied by fever), poisoning, experiences of dying, and suggestion (placebo effect).
Therefore, prior to conducting chemical and animal studies, we decided to attempt to clarify the role of S. divinorum as a vision inducer among the Mazatec Indians.
Mazatec Healing The following report is based on fieldwork with a Mazatec curandero, or healer, living near the Alemin Reservoir in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, about 100 km from the port of Veracruz.
Although a study based on in- formation from a single source is open to criticism, the jealous and secretive nature of native shamans works against statistical methods of survey.
Visiting many shamans in a single area can actually lessen the amount of information gathered, as each curandero may fear the visitor is telling their secrets and giving their power to a rival.
To them magic can hurt or kill. Wasson and 'Richard E. Schultes have both commented on the difficulty of making contacts with the curanderos of this region (Wasson and Wasson, 1957; Schultes, 1941). Don Alejandro, the informant, spoke only a Mazatecan dialect.
One of his sons served as an interpreter, translating from the native tongue to Spanish. The information they provided the authors was gathered in frag- ments over many visits during the summer of 1979 and spring of 1~980.
Mazatec healing and religion are united in a manner common to tradi- tional cultures. This is somewhat foreign to Western scientific medicine which is isolated from religion except for the times when it no longer serves to cure.
A brief description of Mazatec healing, based mainly on the work with Don Alejandro should help to explain the use of ska Maria Pastora and its relationship to other healing plants.
The Mazatecs (the name, taken from the city of Mazatlan, was actually imposed on the natives by the Spanish) are nominally Catholic Christians, but they have incorporated many features of their traditional beliefs into their conceptions of God and the Saints, whom they consider to have been the first healers.
The most promi- nent among them is San Pedro, or Saint Peter, who is said to have cured a sick and crying infant Jesus through the ritual use of tobacco (Nicotonia spp.).
Tobacco is considered to be a health problem in the United States and many other countries, and its acute pharmacological effects are due to the alkaloid nicotine (Larson et al., 1961). Yet for the Mazatecs, as well as for almost all Mesoamerican Indians, it is the most important curing tool in the pharmacopeia.
The fresh tobacco leaf is ground, dried and mixed with lime to form a powder known to the Mazatecs as San Pedro (Saint Peter); the best is prepared on the Saint's day, June 29th (Inchaustegui, 1977). This preparation is more familiarly known by its Nahuatl name, picietl @piciete).
It is worn-in charms and amulets as a protection against various diseases and witchcraft, but its most important use is in limpias, or ritual cleansings. It may be used alone with a prayer and copal (an incense prepared from the resin of Bursera spp.) (Diaz, 1975b), or in conjunction with herbs such as basil (Ocimum spp.) or marijuana (Cannabis sativa)*, eggs or various other substances.
Anyone who comes to Don Alejandro to be treated usually gets a : limpia This ritual cleansing may be the cure in itself, or it may be accompanied by other medicines. The patient is given a pinch of the San Pedro powder (wrapped in paper) to carry with them and use during the healing period.
One learns to become a shaman through an informal apprenticeship, although the Mazatecs will insist they are taught by a progression of visions from and of heaven, rather than by people.
Psychotropic plants are inti- mately associated with this training, which can last up to two years or longer. in this area of Oaxaca, as well as the highland region visited by Diaz, +Don Alejandro does not use marijuana, as it is illegal.
The vision inducers are taken systematically at intervals of a week to a month. Once one becomes a healer the hallucinogenic plants are ingested much less frequently.
The process begins by taking successively increasing doses of S. divinorum for a number of times to become acquainted with the way to Heaven. Next comes mastery of the morning glory (Rivea corymbosa (L.), Hallier, f.) seeds and finally one learns to use the sacred mushrooms.
There is a very rigid diet to follow during this time, Hot foods such as garlic and chili peppers are restricted and there must be abstinence from sex and alcohol for extended periods.
However, many Mazatec shamans incorporate alcohol into their training and drink during their ceremonies (Wasson and Wasson, 1957). Breaking from this dieta, or ritual diet could make one crazy, according to Don Alejandro and since I such obligations require maturity, one should be at least 30 years old before becoming a curandero.
A Comparison Of Mazatec Hallucinogens Ska Maria Pastora is, pharmacologicaly the weakest of the three hallucino- genic plants. Following its ingestion the Virgin Mary is supposed to speak to the individual, but only in absolute quiet and darkness.
The relatively mild experience is readily terminated by noise (such as a loud voice) or light. Don Alejandro says the effects of tu-tu-sho, the flower seeds (R. corymbosa), are similar to those of the Maria (S. divinorum) as both plants are siblings (son hermanos) under the protection of the Virgin Mary and San Pedro.
A dose he provided weighed 9.6 g and consisted of about 350 R. corymbosa seeds. A brief report on another morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea Both) noted that the ingestion of a large number of seeds produced effects similar to LSD, but with an additional narcotic component characterized by drowsi- ness and torpor (Savage et al., 1972).
Humphry Osmond also noted a narcotic effect on dosing himself with R. corymbosa seeds (Hoffer and Osmond, 1967).
The activity of morning glories appears to be due to d-lysergic acid amide (ergine) and related alkaloids (Schultes and Hofmann, 1980).
Interestingly, the authors discovered a woodrose (Argyreia spp.) growing in the vicinity of the village where Don Alejandro lived. Argyreia spp. contain LSD- like compounds (Chao and DerMarderosian, 1973). When asked whether he used the plant, Don Alejandro said that he did not, since it caused people to become crazy. The curandero also had several horticultural specimens of Coleus spp. growing near his house.
Wasson has reported that the Mazatecs believe Coleus to be a medicinal or hallucinogenic herb closely related to S. divinorum (Wasson, 1962). However, Don Alejandro said the plants were not medicinal and his daughter had bought them at the market because they were pretty.
According to Don Alejandro ni-to, or the mushrooms-that-one-takes (hongos para tomar, probably not a literal translation, see Wasson, 1980) are unlike the other two plants. The fungi are delicado (delicate), nervioso (nervous), una cosa de envidia (a thing of envy).
Unfortunately the English translations of these terms do not convey the Indian-Spanish concept of magic that has a dangerous and sinister side. Santa Ana and San Venanzio, the Saints the curandero associates with the mushrooms, were not as good at healing as San Pedro and the Virgen Maria, the patrons of the Saliva and the morning glory. Eating too many of the fungi can leave one crazy and the visions are often trucos (tricky).
Other Mazatec informants have attributed such characteristics to the visions, saying that one has to separate the true from the false (Inchaustegui, 1977). Wasson has reported that misuse of the mushrooms can lead to madness (Wasson and Wasson, 1957). Munn and Wasson have given complementary descriptions of shamanic use of mushrooms among the Mazatecs (Munn, 1979; Wasson 1980).
Psilocybin and psilocin, the vision-inducing compounds in the fungi, were isolated by Hofmann, who used himself as a subject to assay for their activity. He reported that a dose of 2.4 g of dried Psilocybe mexicana Helm (an average amount for a curandero) produced effects he could not control or resist.
A colleague was transformed into an Aztec priest and at the height of the experience Hofmann felt that he would be torn into this whirlpool of form and color and would dissolve (Hofmann, 1980).
This powerful experience was quite unlike the mild one produced by S. divinorum. As Don Alejandro stated it, The Maria, on the other hand accepts you (la Maria, en cambia, te acepta).
The Salvia Divinorum Grower's Guide
This book is dedicated to growing Salvia Divinorum only. There are other books that about dozens or hundreds of types of salvia, but this is the book to get if you want to grow the mind altering Salvia Divinorum plant.
It's an informative book that tells you everything you need to know about the special growing conditions of this unusual plant. It is only 64 pages, but the information it contains will help anyone start and maintain a Salvia Divinorum garden with ease.
The Salvia Divinorum
A Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden Salvias constitute the largest genus in the mint family, valued for their medicinal and culinary qualities. The name is derived from the Latin word salvare, to heal, and salvias provides a beneficial addition to any garden.
More than 900 species of Salvia exist, with more than half occurring in North and South America. In this book, the author has selected over 100 beautiful, garden worthy species and dozens of commercially significant hybrids and arranged them alphabetically with documentation providing the scientific name and native habitat of each, including elevation ranges and temperature tolerance, as well as historical background.
The author describes the leaves and flowers of each species, its blooming cycle, and its light, watering, fertilizing, and pruning requirements. Also suggests companion plants and offers data on propagation. The book includes a list of where to see and buy salvias, a flowering guide by seasons, and cold and shade tolerance guides. There are 96 color photographs and 40 line drawings.
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