Lophophora williamsii (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) Coult.
[Peyote, mescal cactus]
IUCN Red List Status: Unknown
Peyote is a type of spineless cactus which can be found in the deserts of Mexico and the Southwestern United States. The cactus produces a number of alkaloids, most notably mescaline, which cause hallucinogenic effects in humans when ingested. In Mexico it grows in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas in the north to San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas. Lophophora williamsii is a small spineless cactus with a flattened, globose, blue-green stem divided by five to 13 ribs that are often tuberculate. The adult cactus measures 4-11 cm in diameter but only 2-6 cm tall. It features small areoles arranged along the ribs and bearing soft whitish hairs. The subterranean portion of the stem, which is as wide as the aerial portion, extends several cm below the surface of the ground and transitions smoothly into a large taproot, which may extend over 25 cm below ground level.
Peyote is one of the oldest psychedelic agents known. Aztecs of Pre-Columbian Mexico who considered the cactus magical and divine often used it. Peyote use then spread from Mexico to North America to other Native American groups who used it to treat illnesses, communicate with spirits, and for highly religious ceremonies. In 1918, The Native American Church was formed to preserve their right to use peyote.
The active substance in peyote is mescaline, one of several naturally occurring hallucinogenic drugs . An alkaloid, mescaline tastes bitter, causes an initial feeling of nausea, then produces visions and changes in perception, time sense, and mood. There are no uncomfortable aftereffects, and the drug is not physiologically habit-forming. It is important in the Native American Church , which fused Christian doctrine with peyote-eating tribal ritual. The use of peyote is said to produce a mental state that allows celebrants to feel closer to their ancestors and their Creator.
"[...]I was surprised, not only by the enormous profusion of the imagery presented to my gaze, but still more by its variety. Perpetually some totally new kind of effect would appear in the field of vision; sometimes there was swift movement, sometimes dull, somber richness of color, sometimes glitter and sparkle, once a startling rain of gold, which seemed to approach me. Most usually there was a combination of rich, sober color, with jewel-like points of brilliant hue. Every color and tone conceivable to me appeared at some time or another. Sometimes all the different varieties of one color, as of red, with scarlets, crimsons, pinks, would spring up together, or in quick succession. But in spite of this immense profusion, there was always a certain parsimony and æsthetic value in the colors presented. They were usually associated with form, and never appeared in large masses, or if so, the tone was very delicate.[...]"
a description of the hallucinations created by mezcalito,
also available in greek by τυφλόμυγα