Reishi Mushroom

Ganoderma Lucidum

Reishi is Japanese for “divine” or “spiritual mushroom”, the word is derived from rishi which means a wise sage.  In China its known as Ling Chi, Ling Chih, Ling Zhi or “tree of life mushroom”. The most common name for this mushroom is the mushroom of immortality because of its ability to bring health. Reishi was associated with royalty, health, recuperation, longevity, sexual prowess, wisdom and happiness. The Reishi is often portrayed in Asian art work alongside the wise sages as a symbol of longevity. The myth and lore about the Reishi stretches back thousands of years.

This mushroom is available today for us all. It can be taken in tincture, tea or capsules. The dried Reishi mushroom should be cooked in water at a high heat for 30 minutes to 2 hours to get the full potency. The tea tastes earthy and a little sweet it is nice with honey. The mushroom is used by herbalists in tonic soups and teas and has a long history of use by ancient sages and spiritual masters of Asia as it aids is calming the mind and opening the energetic pathways of the body.

The dried Reishi mushroom can be made into a tincture by adding the mushroom into a mason jar filled with brandy or vodka. Shake the sealed jar daily with healing intentions in mind and wait 3-12 months. In the end you can filter out the mushroom and use a 1/16 to 1/8 of a teaspoon or a dropper full in hot water (180 Degrees) to boost immunity and promote longevity.

Description: Polypore with a hard, woody, shiny, varnished appearance. The spores, mushroom body and the mycelium are all medicinal and used in herbal preparations. Found worldwide. Active constituents: Has a wide variety of active components, including alkaloids, proteins, amino acids, polysaccharides (including Beta-D-glucans), ergosterol and other sterols, triterpenes, neucleotides (including adenosine), volatile oils, minerals, vitamins and lipids. Uses: Athletic performance: Enhances oxygenation of the blood, reducing and preventing altitude sickness in high altitude mountain climbers. Cardiovascular health: Lowers cholesterol levels, reduced blood and plasma viscosity in a controlled study of patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Immune enhancement: Potent action against sarcoma, stimulates macrophages and increases levels of tumor-necrosis factor (TNF-α) and interleukins. Immunopotentiation: Anti-HIV in in vitro and in vivo animal studies; protects against ionizing radiation. Liver health: Reduced liver enzyme levels (SGOT and SGPT) in hepatitis B patients. Respiratory health: in studies 60-90% of 3,000 patients with chronic bronchitis showed clinical improvement, especially older patients with bronchial asthma as it aids in regeneration bronchial epithelium (bronchial tract lining). Supports individuals with cancer. Miscellaneous uses: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory; liver detoxification and protective actions.

Mushroom Cafe Mural at COSM in Upstate NY.

Scientific research about Reishi’s medicinal properties: It is directly active as a anti-microbial (Suay et al. 2000) Reishi primarily functions as a biological response modifier, stimulating production of macro phages (often due to interleukins-1, -2, -6, -10) activation the host’s production of natural killer cells, T cells and tumor-necrosis factors. More than 100 distinct polysaccharides and 119 triterpeniods have been isolated (Gao 2002), These triterpenoids and polysaccharides demonstrate immuno-modulatory properties. Can be good for bronchitis, asthma, and allergies (Hirotani and Furuya 1986; han et al 1998; Zhu et al 1999). Has been shown to limit the in-vitro growth of Meth-A and LLC tumor cell lines (Min et al. 2000) and cervical HeLa cells (Zhu et al 2000). It strongly stimulates the activity of T-lymphocytes (Bao et al. 2002). Natural killer T cells were significantly augmented when cancer cells were co-cultured with human spleen cells (Ohtomo 2001) Slivova and colleagues reported Reishi inhibited breast cancer cell adhesion, reducing motility and migration of highly metastasized cancer cells. Reishi’s polysaccharides caused a 5 to 29 fold increase in the tumor-necrosis factors, interlukins -1 and -6 and a substantial augmentation of T lymphocytes (Lieu and other 1992). polysaccharides of Reishi significantly inhibited the growth of leukemia (U937) cells. This mushroom also restricts tumor angiogenesis. (Lee and others 2001) found that Reishi prevents oxidative damage from the effects of cancer chemotherapy. Reishi has a Beta-Glucan from the mycelium enhanced the production of nitric oxides from macrophages but decreased other free radicals and the collateral harm they cause to healthy cells (Han et al. 198; Li et al 2000; Zhou and Gao 2002). Tumor necrosis factors (Alpha TNF’s) were released by macrophages 8 hours after exposure to derivatives of mushroom polysaccharides targeting cancerous cells, followed 4 hours later by a burst of nitric oxide, which then killed the diseased cells.

The antioxidant properties of Reishi have been well established (Chang and But 1986; Chen and Zhanga 1987; Wang et al. 1985; Yang et al. 1992; and Lee et al. 2001) and thus provides a powerful antioxidant effect. Reishi can play an important role in minimizing the effects of aging by reducing damage from oxidative stress associated with free radicals. Constituents including Lanostanic triterpenoids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory (Ukai et al 1983) in the treatment of arthritis (stavinoha et al. 1990, 1996; Lin et al. 1993; Mizuno and Kim 1996; Lee et al. 2001). Mushroom inhibited platelet aggregation and gave positive results in treatment of atherosclerosis (Tao and Feng 1990). Significant results were obtained in a clinical study in the treatment of prostate inflammation (Small et al. 2000). Zhang (2002) isolated an bioactive glucose-galactose-mannose sugar that enhances lymphocyte activity and immunoglobulin. Reishi helps respiration, since this species enhances the oxygen absorbing capacity of the alveoli in the lungs, thereby enhancing stamina (Chang and But 1986). Andreacchi and others (1997) demonstrated that Reishi increased coronary flow due to vasodilation, with a corresponding decrease in diastolic blood pressure and no change in heart rhythm.

By: Transpersonal spirit

Bibliography Hobbs, C., 1995. Medicinal Mushrooms: an Exploration of Tradition, Healing and Cultures. Interweave Press. http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/information-about-mushrooms-health.html Staments, Paul Mycelium Running How Mushrooms Can Help Save The world. Ten Speed Press. 2005. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-stamets/mushrooms-cancer_b_1560691.html http://www.naturalnews.com/023633.html http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/shiitake-mushroom?sitearea=ETO http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/maitake-mushrooms    Hobbs, C., 1995. Medicinal Mushrooms: an Exploration of Tradition, Healing and Cultures. Interweave Press. Jones, K., 1997. Cordyceps: Tonic Food of Ancient China. Sylvan Press. Jones, K., 1995. Shiitake: The Healing Mushroom. Healing Arts Press. Stamets, P. 1993. Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms. Ten Speed Press. Stamets, P. 1999. MycoMedicinals®: an Informational Treatise on Mushrooms. MycoMedia® Publications. Willard, T., 1995. Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder. Sylvan Press. Selected articles and papers about mushrooms medical properties. Yoshida, J. 1989. “Antitumor activity of an extract of Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. against murine tumor cell line.” Japan J. Exper. Med. 59: 157-160. Yamaguchi, N., J. Yoshida, LJ Ren, et al., 1990. “Augmentation of various immune reactivities of tumor-bearing hosts with an extract of Cordyceps sinensis. Biotherapy 2(3): 199-205. . Wang, S.Y., M.L. Hsu, H.C. Hsu, C.H. Tzeng, S.S. Le, M.S. Shiao, & C.K. Ho, 1997. “The anti-tumor effect of Ganoderma lucidum is mediated by cytokines released from activated macrophages and T lymphocytes.” International Journal of Cancer. 70(6): 669-705. Suzuki, I., T. Itani, N. Ohno, S. Oikawa, K. Sato, T. Miyazaki, T. Yadomae, 1984. “Antitumor activity of a polysaccharide fraction extracted from cultured fruitbodies of Grifola frondosa.Journal of Pharmacobiodyn. Jul; 7(7): 492-500. Sugano et al., 1982. “Anti carcinogenic actions of water-soluble and alcohol-insoluble fractions from culture medium of Lentinus edodes mycelia.” Cancer Letters 17: 109-114 Ohno, N., K. Lino, T. Takeyama, I. Suzuki, K. Sato, S. Oikawa, T. Miyazaki, & T. Yadomae, 1985. “Structural characterization and antitumor activity of the extracts from matted mycelium of cultured Grifola frondosa.Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 33 (8)3395-3401 Ohno, N., I. Suzuki, S. Okawa, K. Sato, T. Miyazaki, and T. Yadomae, 1984. “Antitumor activity and structural characterization of glucans extracted from cultured fruitbodies of Grifola frondosa.Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin Mar; 32(3): 1142-51. Oguchi, Y. 1987. “Effect of PSK on cytotoxicity against sarcoma 180 in tumor-bearing mice.” Anticancer Research. Pt. B 7: 681-4. Nanba, H., 1997. “Maitake D-fraction: Healing and Preventative Potential for Cancer.” Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine vol. 12: 43-49 Nanba, H., 1992. “Immunostimulant activity in-vivo and anti-HIV activity in-vitro of 3 branched ß-1-6 glucans extracted from Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa).” From the published abstracts of the Proceedings of the VIII International Conference on AIDS and the III STD World Congress. Nanba, H. 1987. “The chemical structure of an antitumor polysaccharide in fruitbodies of Grifola frondosa (Maitake).” Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 35: 1162-8 Mizuno, T & C. Zhuang, 1995. “Maitake, Grifola frondosa, pharmacological effects” Food Reviews International 111: 135-149. Marcel Dekker, New York. Mizuno, T, H. Saito, T. Nishitoba, & H. Kawagishi, 1995. “Antitumor active substances from mushrooms.” Food Reviews International 111: 23-61. Marcel Dekker, New York Maruyama, H., K. Yamazaki, S. Murofushi, et al., 1989. “Antitumor activity of Sarcodon aspratus (Berk.) S. Ito and Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) Karst. J. Pharmacobiodyn 1989; 12 (2): 118-23. Liu, C., S. Lu, MR Li, 1992a. “Effects of Cordyceps sinensis (CS) on in vitro natural killer cells.” Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Cheih Ho Tsa Chih 12(5): 267-9, 259. Lin, Y., 1993. “Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and liver-protective effects of Anoectochilus formosanus, Ganoderma lucidum and Gynostermma pentaphyllum in rats.” American. Journal of Chinese Medicine 21: 59-69. Lieu, C.W., S.S. Lee, and S.Y. Wang, 1992. “The effect of Ganoderma lucidum on induction of differentiation in leukemic U937 cells.” Anticancer Research Jul-Aug: 12(4): 1211-5 Kurashige, S., Y. Akuzawa, and F. Endo, 1997. “Effects of Lentinus edodes, Grifola frondosa and Pleurotus ostreatus administration on cancer outbreak, and activities of macrophages and lymphocytes in mice treated with a carcinogen, N-butyl-N-butanolnitrosoamine” Journal of Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology May; 1902): 175-183. Kuo, Y.C., C.Y. Lin, W.J. Tsai, and C.L. Wu, C.F. Chen & M.S. Shiao, 1994. “Growth inhibitors against tumor cells in Cordyceps sinensis other than cordycepin and polysaccharides” Cancer-Investigation. 12(6): 611-5. Kubo, K., H. Aoki, & H. Nanba, 1994. “Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body Grifola frondosa (Maitake).” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 17, 8: 1106-1110. Kim, B.K., H.W. Kim and E.C. Choi, 1994. “Anti-HIV effects of Ganoderma lucidum.” In Ganoderma: Systematics, Phytopathology & Pharmacology: Proceedings of Contributed Symposium 59 A,B. 5th International Mycological Congress. Vancouver. Kahlos, K. et al., 1996. “Preliminary tests of antiviral activity of two Inonotus obliquus strains”. Fitopterapia 6 (4) 344-7. Ikekawa, T., N. Uehara, Y. Maeda, M. Nakanishi, F. Fukuoka, 1969. “Twenty years of Studies on Antitumor Activities of Mushrooms”. Cancer Research 29, 734-735 Hattori, M., 1997. “Inhibitory effects of components from Ganoderma lucidum on the growth of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the Protease Activity” in Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium on Ganoderma lucidum in Japan, Nov. 17-18th, 128-135. Tokyo. Furusawa, E., S.C. Chou, S. Furusawa, et al. 1992. “Antitumor activity of Ganoderma lucidum, an edible mushroom, on intraperitoneally implanted Lewis lung carcinoma in synergenic mice. Phytotherapy Research 6: 300-304. Ebina, T. and K. Murata, 1994. “Antitumor effect of intratumoral administration of a Coriolus preparation, PSK: inhibition of tumor invasion in vitro.” Gan To Kagaku Ryoho 21: 2241-3 Collins, R.A., and T.B. Ng, 1997. “Polysaccharopeptide from Coriolus versicolor has potential for use against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection” Life Sciences 60(25): PL383-7. Chihara, G. et al., 1969. Inhibition of mouse sarcoma 180 by polysaccharides from Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Sing. Nature 222: 637-688 Chen, W.C., D.M. Hau, C.C. Wang, I.H. Lin, and S.S. Lee., 1995 “Effects of Ganoderma lucidum and Krestin on subset T-cell in spleen of gamma-irradiated mice.” American Journal of Chinese Medicine. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 23(3-4): 289-98 Adachi, Y., M. Okazaki, N. Ohno, and T. Yadomae, 1994. “Enhancement of cytokine production by macrophages stimulated with (1—3)-beta-D-glucan, grifolan (GRN), isolated from Grifola frondosa. Biol. Phar. Bull. Dec; 17(12)1554-60. Adachi, K. et al., 1987. “Potentiation of host-mediated antitumor activity in mice by B-glucan obtained from Grifola frondosa (Maitake)” Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 35:262-270. Adachi, et al. 1988. “Blood pressure lowering activity present in the fruitbody of Grifola frondosa (Maitake). “Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 3: 1000-1006. Adachi, Y., N. Ohno, M. Ohsawa, S. Oikawa, T. Yadomae, 1990. “Change of biological activities of (1—3) beta-D-glucan from Grifola frondosa upon molecular weight reduction by heat treatment. “Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Feb; 38:(2):477-481. Zhou, A.R., 1987. “Studies on antitumor activity of Tremella polysaccharides.” J. Beijing Med. Univ. 19: 150-. Weil, A. 1993. “Boost immunity with mushrooms.” Natural Health, May-June, pp. 12-16. Weil, A., 1997. “Miraculous mushrooms.” Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter, May, 1997.

Plant Spirit Communication

The spiritual and healing power of plants cannot be denied. How could any human live without the help of the plants? They give us food, medicine, oxygen and so much more. Plants have the power to heal the body, mind and spirit. The study of plant medicine has been ongoing since prehistory and highly developed in the medical systems in India (Ayurveda), China (TCM) and in the western world. Indigenous communities throughout history have developed holistic sciences of botanical healing cross culturally using local plants. We now know many of the chemical constituents of the healing plants and can use many varieties of preparations to aid in healing. Many of these plants have been the foundation for development of pharmaceutical medications.

Juan Carlos Taminchi

Juan Carlos Taminchi

In many indigenous communities plants can play a central role in their traditional and contemporary religious practices. The Native American Church (N.A.C.) uses the sacred sacrament peyote internally and the religion itself could not exist without this central plant teacher. There are many examples of societies using other plant medicines as a sacred sacrament in their spiritual traditions such as ayahuasca, san pedro, datura, marijuana and other lesser known plants. In these cultures the physical plant itself is not the focus but rather the plant is integrated into a complex ritual and spiritual structure. The view of plant medicines as a packet of chemicals which have a certain effect on human chemistry is a contemporary idea which is just now influencing some of the medicine people around the world. Traditional medicine inside indigenous communities focuses on a holistic framework which involves communing with the sacred plant spirits in a special set and setting.

In these indigenous communities the focus is not the material plant but rather on the spirit world. The concept of spirits is difficult to understand in western society because there are no equivalent concepts in modern western worldviews. Every plant has a spirit associated with it, these spirits are not a metaphor but rather they are real intelligences within the plants and all things. The spirits are many and the sacramental use of plants is based in ceremony, ritual, song and communication with the spirit world. These various elements of the ceremony all bring in certain spirits whom are called by the medicine people through the songs, ritual objects and plants. These spirits hear the prayers of the participants and work in the spiritual dimension to bring about the desired healing.

Caught in the Web By Martina Hoffman

Caught in the Web By Martina Hoffman

The plants spirits often remind us that we are just humans and have limited influence but the spirits are powerful and can make magic and miracles happen. Healing in this way comes in the form of psychological, spiritual, physical healing as well as helping with anything in life. If one has no job and asks for a job in these ceremonies they will honor and pray to the spirits to help them get a job. This is part of the healing medicine and is essential to balance the health of the community and the individual. Some wish to see the future or to find happiness and love; others are there to gain power to help others heal or to make peace with a deceased relation. Plants are used to determine the future, to find the cause of disease, to find lost objects, to bring wealth, health and spiritual well-being amongst many other attainments. The central power of the healing medicine is not in the hands of the medicine people who guide the healing rites but is determined by the spirits.

In Plant Spirit Shamanism by Ross Heaven and Howard G. Charing they quote a Santeria priest saying, “As long as the diviner is in good standing with the gods and at one with the plants, he will find the answer his client needs (35).” This clearly illustrates the point that the person leading the healing needs to be connected with the intelligence of the plant and with the various spirits and gods. The plant and the spirits are not mythological beings, archetypes or fantasies but rather they are living creatures with intelligent who can communicate with those who develop an honorable relationship with the plants.

The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird goes into great detail about many researchers who use biofeedback machines to study the reactions of plants to their surroundings. Clive Backster began to use polygraph equipment to study plants while he worked as an expert in police investigation. By attaching the electrodes to plants he measured the surface tension of the leaves and determined how the plant responded to the stimulus in the same way that a polygraph is used in police interrogation for lie detection. When he would bring a burning match close to a plant it would have a dramatic response with the needle dramatically spiking and waving. Backster began to notice that the response on the polygraph machine occurred when he thought of harming the plant before any physical action was taken. This was repeatedly found in many different plants and all seemed to respond to human thought. The plants also showed reactions to the environment such as the movement of spiders in the room.

Yvonne McGillivary

Yvonne McGillivary

The plants also responded to human emotion. For example, Backster cut his finger and the plant responded as though shocked by the appearance of distress and blood. Later, he discovered that plants developed a connection to their owner and could sense their distress even when they were far away. When Backster walked several blocks away and thought lovingly of the plants they would respond. He repeated the test with friends and their plants would respond much the same way even at a distance of 700 miles. In this test the plants were placed inside a lead container which blocked all electromagnetic energy. He concluded that plants have tremendous awareness and intelligence and they were detecting some force which was outside the electromagnetic spectrum.

Alfred Vogal conducted similar experiments and ultimately came to this conclusion, “Man can and does communicate with plant life…Plants…may be blind deaf and dumb in the human sense, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are extremely sensitive…they radiate energy forces that are beneficial to man. One can feel those forces! They feed into one’s own force-field, which in turn feeds energy back to the plant (43).”

This extreme sensitivity of plants has been further explored by a group of Italians in a unique community known as Damanhur. They have conducted research on plants by attaching electrodes to leaves and routing the signals into a synthesizer instead of the standard polygraph which uses needles which draw lines on paper. They have been perfecting this technology since 1976 and have come to similar conclusions. The observed the plants becoming aware that they are producing the music in the room and begin to make it more harmonious and musical. If multiple plants are hooked up to these machines in the same space they will begin to make music in harmony with one another. If a human preforms music in the room the plants will respond to the human as well. The Damanhurians have videos of humans making music with the plants. When the machine is attached to wild plants in their natural environment they respond to what is around them the weather, animals ect. For example when a storm is approaching the music of the plants will be more chaotic and frantic then it is on a sunny day. (http://www.damanhur.org/philosophy-a-research/research/1429-the-music-of-the-plants)

Damanhur Temples of Humankind. Hall of Earth

Damanhur Temples of Humankind. Hall of Earth

All this suggests that plant have a great deal of intelligence, creativity and psychic powers as well. In other words, the spirit of the plant is very sensitive to humans and their intentions. The medicine people working with sacred plants develop the knowledge of how to communicate with the plants through their traditions, rituals and personal experiences. Ways of honoring the spirits of the plant are developed over millennium and passed down generation to generation. A strong line of communication between the medicine person and the plant spirit develops into a complex ceremonial and ritual structure which is used for greater connection to the universal life force or the Great Spirit. The connection to the supreme life force and its various messengers allows one to become more complete and integrated with the larger universe. This connection to the whole of existence brings about spiritual realization and healing. A medicine man once told me, “Healing is the remembrance of our divinity.”

By: Transpersonal Spirit

Bibliography

Heaven, Ross; Charing, Howard G. Forward by Pablo Amaringo. Plant Spirit Shamanism: Traditional Techniques for Healing the Soul. Destiny Books . Rochester, VT. 2006.

http://www.damanhur.org/philosophy-a-research/research/1429-the-music-of-the-plants

http://www.damanhur.org/philosophy-a-research/research/1807-plant-research-and-experiments

 

Native American Church

Native American Church

Tipi night fire

The Native American Church is a cross tribal religious organization which uses all night ceremonies to magnify the effect of their intentions and prayers. These ceremonies are done to communicate with the spiritual world which is filled with intelligence and life.   This unseen spiritual realm is interconnected with the natural world and all physical life. The spirits hear are called in by the medicine man and his alter and the prayers are carried by the spirits who help us transform our lives. This organization was not always a legal entity but is thousands of years old and center around the use of the Sacred Medicine known as Grandfather Peyote.

Peyote is a sacred medicine used for healing and primary religious experience. Peyote has many names including; The Medicine, Grandfather or Grandmother, The Sacred Medicine. It is used as a medicinal herb to treat physical ailments as well as for religious ceremony. In legal and scientific circles the term Entheogen is used to describe the religious use of a sacrament like Peyote. Entheogen is defined as: “A psychoactive sacramental; a plant or chemical substance taken to occasion primary religious experience.” The longest standing legal use of an Entheogen in The United States of America is the Native American Church (N.A.C.) and the sacred medicine Peyote.

In these ceremonies one enters a part of the world inhabited by healers and ancient traditions. The ceremony is fully considered the sacred relationship between humans, plants, healing and the spiritual levels of reality are woven seamlessly. Recorded here are the wise words of the medicine people, in first-person perspective,  as they introduce Grandfather Peyote.

 

peyote

We wandered toward the fire a large tipi stood against the big open sky.  When arr immediately greeted by the Medicine Man. He had a large friendly smile, long dark hair he came closer for a hug. After our embrace he said, “Welcome, I am so glad you guys could come. It has come full circle, we spoke some time ago and now, here you are. I am glad you two came.”

We greeted him and expressed our appreciation for allowing us to attend the ceremony.  I asked, “Where or when do I make the tobacco offering.” He responded, “You can give it to me now if you want.” So I handed him the tobacco offering and then he began showing us around.

He pointed out the fire and the sweat lodge, the house, the tipi, where to put the food we brought and then we came to a large metal pot with a lid. He said, “Here is the Peyote tea, we call it The Medicine, you can have as much or as little as you want.”

I asked him, “I have never had this particular type of tea. How much should one drink?”

He responds with a smile, “If you’re feeling cautious take one cup and see how you feel, it should start to be felt in twenty minutes or so.  It is best to take the tea slowly with a little bit at a time…”

I said, “I am not exactly feeling cautious.”

He laughs, “Then drink the whole thing and it won’t hurt you.” A silent pause…  “Lately, I start with just one cup and it can get me there, but many people will need more. It can show you everything; it has the power to answer all of your questions. There have been times when it answered all my questions.” He looked toward the fire with inner focus.

I questioned him further, “How long does the effect last?  I know the prayers and the spirits are going to have a healing effect also, but does it last like 4 or 5 hours?”

He quickly responds, “Umm… more like 15 to 18 hours.”  He thinks for a moment and says, “The greatest effect is noticed months and years later even though there is an immediate effect , the long term effect is there. It changes you.” He turns back toward the fire.  “When I was your age I did my first Peyote ceremony.” He laughs a little, “and look at what I am doing now.”

Blackowl

I went into the tipi and sat down by the fire, an older native man with a long black coat was coming through to sit right behind me. He bumped into me and said, “Oh I am sorry if I bumped you. Don’t take it personally. But if I get well on you then you should take it personally.”  I responded, “I will keep that in mind.”

The Medicine Man sang a song to start the ceremony and then spoke. “The medicine is Peyote which is a sacred medicine, we call it the Grandfather. Grandfather Peyote is the only medicine which is sanctioned for religious use by U.S. law so what we are doing here is protected in U.S. law and thus we are not doing anything illegal. These ceremonies are part of the Native American Church and people of all tribes are part of the Native American Church. There are now branches all over the world with even tipi meetings in Africa, many groups in Canada, South and Central America. You can take as much or as little as you like but we do require that on the first round some is taken even if it’s just a small amount. Likewise, if you want to drink a whole gallon of tea please feel free to do so, we have plenty and if we run out of this we have more so no worries about taking too much. The Medicine will be passed several times throughout the night so you don’t have to take a lot all at once and if you would like to you can pass The Medicine on without taking any. But not in the first round you are required to take some.”

The pot of Peyote tea was brought in and the Medicine Man gave some brief recommendations, “You should always pray with the Peyote before you drink it. It reminds me of a story about a woman who was using a face cream to help remove scars. She had been using this cream for a few years and noticed gradual improvement but then one day someone said to her, you have to pray over that first or else it won’t work. Since that day on the lady prayed over the cream before applying and her scars were gone in a couple of months. You see the medicine would not work until the prayers were said to activate it. The Peyote works in the same way as do many things in life.”

The Medicine Man began to explain about The Medicine Peyote telling the story of its discovery and showing its connection to women and water. “In fact, in the old stories from Mexico it is originally a women’s medicine and is called the Grandmother. In North America it is called the Grandfather. The story goes as follows. A woman was walking through the desert and was out of water and getting very thirsty. She suddenly heard singing, she looked around and saw no one but the singing continued. She looked on the ground and saw nothing but then the voice said, ‘I am here. I am on the ground.’ She moved the brush a little and saw a Peyote button. The Peyote said to the woman ‘eat me I am full of water.’ The woman ate the Peyote and that is how Peyote entered into ceremony. In fact, this place is not new to the Peyote ceremony the petroglyphs show that this same ceremony was happening in this same valley over 2000 years ago.”

Stephen Mopope Peyote Prayer

Stephen Mopope
Peyote Prayer

“In this first round everyone must take some Medicine even if it’s a small amount and take four portions of any size of the mush. Also don’t just swallow the Medicine, pray with it, offer it to the fire, and offer it to your head and heart. This is a sacred teacher and it can reveal things to you that you may not have known before. With this ceremony there is no need for a mediator you can talk to the Divine yourself and get your own answers for your own path.”

He seemed saddened when he spoke about how attendance at all religious ceremonies is down both in Catholic institutions and in the Native America Church (NAC). He went on to discuss how happy he was to see so many younger people at the ceremony and offered this advice, ”Although there are many new religious groups emerging, remember it is important to learn spiritual things in a good way. Traditional spiritual institutions have thousands of years of wisdom in what they do and they can lead you safely and in a positive way. Tradition is very important. In this life there are many difficulties but always remember, so much of what we do here is for later. What we do now is to help us later.”

Fred Cleveland Peyote Ceremony watercolor on board

Fred Cleveland Peyote Ceremony
watercolor on board

“You should know that people may be throwing up in here. We call this “getting well” it is to remove the negative connotation. We call it “getting well” because that is in fact what we are doing. We are removing sickness from our body. This sickness when it’s out needs to be removed. When you “get well” a person comes and cleans it up and takes it outside to bury it in a hole.”

The Medicine Woman chimes in “Also I want to say that getting well is part of The Medicine but there is also something very rewarding about not getting well and experiencing the Peyote in your body. Also for the back row after The Medicine is passed out we will give you plastic bags so that you can get well in the bag but if you have dirt in front of you it is best to get well in the dirt this way is better so if there is dirt available use that but if not you use the bag.”

The Medicine Man spoke up, “It is tradition for the host to thank other medicine men who attend the ceremony. I want to introduce a special person he is a healer, medicine man and the son of a special medicine man who has since left his body.  Would you like to say anything? We’d be honored.”

“Yes” says the man behind me with the long black coat, “My Dad was great but I am not him. His words helped many people and introduced many to great healing and to our traditions. He was a great healer and so were my Grandfather and his Grandfather. But I am not him, I am an insignificant significant. I just want to add about getting well, when you get well it is something coming out of you that you don’t need that you are letting go of. You are removing those spirits from your body and we bury them in the earth to stop them from coming back or from getting anyone else sick. People go to healers and get exorcised, have spirits removed from them, but the spirit is not buried it is just pulled out and usually it will just go back to the person’s home and wait for them to return and they get sick again. Also it is best to get sick inside the tipi if you go outside the spirits are not as contained. I also want to thank everyone here for coming and praying like this. You know that twenty years ago there were no white people praying in this way and now there are many people who are coming to the Medicine to be healed. I see this as a very good thing the Medicine brings us all together. So I would like to thank my friends holding this ceremony”

Huichol Yarn Painting Wirikuta Land Of The Sacred Peyote.

Huichol Yarn Painting Wirikuta Land Of The Sacred Peyote.

The Medicine Man thanks him again and continues, “Altars are used to communicate with the spirits. Certain altars are designed for certain spirits. This is why altars vary from medicine person to medicine person and from ceremony to ceremony. The altar for the spirits must be prepared in the proper way even slight changes in the altar are powerful signals to the spirits. One must be mindful and do their best to follow the flow of the ceremony according to the medicine person mediating the ceremony.   This alter is the half-moon altar and it was put into my care by those before me. The prayers of all those who have come before the altar are still present with this altar. “

The Medicine Man continued, “There are specific spirits associated with each altar and they will hear those prayers and take them up. It is as though by praying to the fire the prayers are being spoken directly to the creator there is no priest no mediator. It’s you and the creator; it’s your prayers. You also need to be careful what you wish for because they can come true and if you pray for a Camaro and you already have twenty of them you will get it but it may be the last ride of your life. So there are two sides to every prayer so you want to be specific because the prayers may come at a cost.”

The man behind me spoke again. “Yes, be specific because if you say a loose prayer like, I pray for all the animals in the world, the spirits may take a little energy from you for every animal in the world and leave you drained of energy.”

The Medicine Man continued. “Yes, and also I will often say ‘may this person be healed if it’s for their highest good’. Also, don’t be afraid to pray for yourself if you need money or a car or healing for yourself, pray for those things. I use to always pray for something spiritual but then I realized what good is the spiritual when I have no truck so I prayed for a specific truck and that exact truck came to me. So if you need a job or anything like that don’t be afraid to ask. Also I often pray for the ancestors, family and friends and for the land, rain, spiritual knowledge and wellbeing. Just make sure you are specific in your prayers and thoughtful.”

The ceremony ended with the sun emerging from the mountains and great thanksgiving for the abundance of life given to us by the creator. The ceremony was full of medicine people, university students studying world religions, and seekers from various traditions altogether praying and healing with the sacred medicine Peyote. I am eternally grateful for the openness I experienced from all who were present at this ceremony and for the Grandfather Peyote.

Jeff Yellowhair Morning Water

Jeff Yellowhair
Morning Water

By

Transpersonal Spirit

Bibliography

Council on Spiritual Practices  – http://csp.org/practices/entheogens/entheogens.html

http://csp.org/practices/entheogens/docs/nomenclature.html

http://nac-art.com