What Are the Psychological Effects of Using Peyote?
The use of mind altering substances in non-Western societies is sometimes motivated, to some degree, by the principles of escapism & pleasure seeking . This parallel can be seen in western society as well, as trancedence without a real purpose is the reasoning behind the use. It's for pleasure in traditional societies, however non-westerners take the pleasure and learn from it. This may be why Peyote is seen as a teacher. "It has been suggested that the propensity to seek out mystical experiences through naturally occurring psychoactive substances reflects a human desire to regain paradise (i.e. to get closer to God)".
In a recent study, I had to dissect the "The Peyote Road" written by Michael Kiyaani. Kiyaani first used peyote in the late 1940s, "after returning to his native Arizona as an honored veteran of military service. He had served in an elite Marine unit, along with other Navajos who used their complex native language to communicate sensitive information--a code that defied penetration."
Michael Kiyaani describes the effects peyote had on him when he came back from war. He had no clarity or peace of mind. By taking the peyote, he first experienced his entire world coming to an end. Even so, he continued to take it. This was the vision he was supposed to see through his journey. By morning, everything was beautiful. So in a sense, peyote presented his entire life to him, all aspects of the bad, and made him see the bigger picture in the morning. “There was a lot of sagebrush out there, and everything was too beautiful”. Peyote was never pleasant to look at, but after the entire process, “I looked for that peyote, and now I saw it was real pure, real white”.
Patients taking Peyote, as described by Kiyanni, will talk to their mind. They will see things, mostly bad, but they seem to have a sense of knowing. In some cases they will be bothered by witchcraft or the lightning in the sky. Their blood will fill with the Peyote, however the drug, like nature, can be spoken to. Just as we are made mostly of water, and in it, we feel most at home. We feel level with nature.
Therefore, psychologically, there’s no way of knowing the effects conclusively, because every person will be confronted with a different obstacle while using it. Physiologically, there can be vomiting, dizziness, blood pressure may be elevated, but this is completely normal. To the non-Native American medical community, this is a drug requiring control; however that’s in lieu of the fact non-Native Americans shouldn’t be taking it in the first place.
Kiyanni says is perfectly,
“This natural herb peyote is used by Native Americans with more sincerity. Indian people are more serious in their mind, in their heart, in the way they worship. Just let the Indians have it, let the Indians use it the way they want it, just natural. Our identity is there.”
"The Peyote Road" by Mike Kiyaani
Dr. Ty Matejowsky: Professor of Anthropology UCF