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Peyote crosses the border and causes a riot. Drug companies want their taste, and psychedelics reach the social elite. What could possibly go wrong?
In episode two of PsychedeRx, Peyote comes north to the good old US of A. And it’s not just for religious ceremonies anymore, either. Spanish conquistadors and European explorers, seeking to dominate the indigenous tribes, used Peyote to show force by banning its use and denying the tribes their spiritual practices. And we all know what happens when prohibitions are imposed - the use doesn’t stop, it just gets moved underground. James Mooney, an ethnographer dispatched by the Smithsonian Institute, is one of our best resources for this era. He committed to his diary first-hand accounts of the use of and backlash against peyote in tribal rituals.
As Peyote moved north, albeit underground, it became the catalyst for a series of events that were bloodier than an episode of Dexter. Wovoka and the Ghost Dance were the turning point. The execution of Sitting Bull led to the massacre at Wounded Knee - and it was all over peyote and freedom of religion - ain’t that an ironic twist?
Episode two also sheds light on the earliest interventions of the drug companies like Merck and Parke-Davis and their part in our little psychedelic drama. Arthur Heffter separates the resins from the alkaloids and isolates the first real information on dosing. We get a close-up look at how the psychiatrists and psychologists got involved - where they got it right, and where they got it all wrong. Psychedelics also make their way into the world of the social elites through folks like Aldous Huxley and Ken Kesey.
We’ll close out this week with our first peek at LSD. So remember to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.”
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