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Ancient Dreams, Modern-Day Dreamers

Hallucinogens Throughout History

Scientists and historians believe Mexican Indians used peyote more than ten thousand years ago. Archaeologists have found paintings of mushrooms in northern Africa that, some believe, may indicate hallucinogenic substances were used in rituals there as long ago as nine thousand years. Three-thousand-year-old statues of gigantic mushrooms have been discovered in Central America. Two thousand years ago, the Greeks, according to historical writings, may have mixed a substance similar to LSD in a festival drink concocted to make people feel happy.

Ancient peoples used hallucinogens for different reasons, not merely to feel good. Tribal religious leaders believed the substances could connect them with their gods and dead ancestors and could reveal the future. In some tribes, they were prescribed by medicine men as remedies. Five hundred years ago, the Aztecs of Mexico made a paste including hallucinogenic parts of morning glories. They rubbed it on the skin of soldiers and priests, believing it gave them special powers. Viking warriors are believed to have eaten a type of mushroom before battle because it made them supernaturally violent and frightful.

Approximately a quarter of a million American Indians today still use peyote in religious ceremonies. They won the legal right to use it for that purpose in six western states.

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Science EncyclopediaCommon Street DrugsAncient Dreams, Modern-Day Dreamers - Natural Hallucinogens, Synthetic Hallucinogens, Hallucinogens Throughout History, Medical Experiments, From Medical Practice To Peace Rallies