An Invitation from the Pueblo Indians

The winter of 1970 brought little rain or snow to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. During the 1969 - 1970 winter the annual rainfall was close to zero. Easter was on the 29th of March that year. The Pueblo Indians visited us a week or two early to plan a peyote meeting to dance, chant, and pray for rain.

A few of those who knew where the cactus grew drove to Texas to harvest. They brought back enough for the meeting and the Pueblo Indians brought their centuries old dried grandfather peyote. They set up the teepee and on the eve of Easter Sunday we gathered in the teepee and began the ceremony.

The meeting lasted all night, we ate the cactus, drank its tea and focused energy on rain or snow over the mountains.

Leaving the teepee in the early hours of the morning I noticed a comet above the horizon. By the light of the full moon enhanced by the comet I began to collect firewood on the sides of the mesa.

Morning broke and the light of the rising sun flooded over the mesa and hid the comet. I could see the Pueblos and the began to prepare for the feast which was an integral part of the ceremony.

After the feast I walked about a mile to sit with the goats as they grazed on grasses along a rivulet of water on the top of the mesa. Dense gray clouds began to gather over the Rio Grande Valley. These clouds darkened to a deeper gray and appeared to swallow the Rio Grande canyon. The clouds moved over the valley obscuring the mesa, and finally the mountains.

Then it began to snow. It snowed for three days and when the sun finally appeared through the clouds there was about three foot of snow on the ground.

This is when I understood what entheogenic compounds were used in tribal culture, to harness collaborative human energy and focus it on a specific task. Then relax and let the forces and energies of nature take over.

Years later, in university neurobiology studies, I learned that neural transmission relied on neurochemicals to pass information from one neuron to the next. It can be measured electrically, but the transmission is more like plumbing than electricity.

The plant based substances used by tribal societies enabled the merger of these powerful human energies and offered them a power to change weather patterns (as in my own experience, and resolve daily needs of the tribe.

We had been told a story of a ceramic bowl that the then nomadic Hopis carried from campsite to campsite, burying it in the ground when they settled after their travels. The story told that they would form a tribal circle, ingesting peyote cactus, and whatever incantations they had repeated for thousands of years.

When I first heard that story I was dubious. But following our own ceremony and the resulting precipitation, ending the drought, I was convinced that it was not magic but forces of energy and nature that humans have access to - together.

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