Earth Angels

Now wait a minute,
I know I'm lying in a field of grass somewhere!

Branches shading my open mind
describe the shape of life and
hold the smallest of birds which,
informing me with a nod,
sings "All plants are Angels!
Praise God, Praise God!"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saguaro- The King of Cacti

Just the name is an adventure.  Say it- Suh waro,  with the feel of a hot day and a cold night running off the tongue like dry water.  It is the icon of the Sonoran Desert, the land which this plant whisperer calls home.  Did you know that these ancient sentinels of the magical desert can approach, or exceed 200 years in lifespan?  Or that occasionally someone will get crushed by one of the falling arms which can weigh tons, thorns not included?  They grow from the Colorado River in western Arizona, south beyond Rocky Point, through the state of Sonora in Mexico, east almost to Tombstone and north to what we Arizonans call the Mogollon Rim- where the oaks grow in the central part of the state.  North of that, for any that haven't been there, we have actual forests in Arizona folks, thus ending the natural range of the King of Cacti.

But this is not the interesting stuff about Saguaro to my sun baked mind.  When I was a kid, my dad made cactus candy out of good old Ferrocactus, or barrel cactus.  De-spining the body of the creature was a trick.  Then the bitter flesh had to be cooked and sugared to give it the signature desert rat preferred taste.  It took some time, but it was fun. 

Barrel cactus are more like the pawns in the cacti chess world (jumping cholla being the knights).  Saguaros are the king.  Their flowers marked the beginning of year for the indigenous O'odham people.  But the fruit are the food and sacrament of real desert rats.  Ripening to a magenta hue, the mourning, whitewing, and inca doves are the first to dig in.  

Before the desert rains, the fruit begin to dry and fall on their own (sometimes with some hungry human assistance) and begin a downpour of the richest, sweetest food that any sentient creature could possibly find on this garden earth.  Free for the taking, but getting up early before the withering heat is a must.  If you can do this for a week or so, and if the rains delay, a mom and dad and couple of kids can pack away a 50 pound bag of dried, loving desert sustenance which you will have to hide so that it does not get eaten right away.

Seeing as how we are away from the desert this year and can not be there for the harvest, I will make an ode to the saguaro- king of my ancestral lands, I think of you with every California sunrise.

Ok, lets's see... thinking...

(sung to the tune of This Land Is your Land)

As I was walking
Out in my mountains
I heard a song sing
Coming from the desert
Was a whitewing dove
On the tall Saguar oh oh
Singing, this food was made for you and me 

Saguaro Yarn Painting by Raven

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There Are No Bad Plants

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
This is something I've been wanting to shout from the rooftops for some time:  There are no bad plants, but there are bad people.

There was a time (perhaps we're still there) when knowledgeable, practicing herbalists were considered to be suspect at best, or worse, evildoers, green witches.  Recently while visiting my mom, my little boy noticed that she lives on Greenwich road.  "You grew up on Green Witch street dad?"  I've since been having conversations with him about why some people fear the benevolent powers of plants and often, the people who utilize, honor, or respect them.  Cultural ignorance is always a tough subject to explain to a young and wide-open mind.

Several years ago we had a cattle rancher as our nearest neighbor.  He was a typical western dude with lots of horse-sense but, somewhat ironically, little room for progressive nature boy type sentiments.  Once while conversing with him at our front door, he noticed a young volunteer Milk Thistle plant thriving in the desert soil near where we stood.  He immediately changed the subject and blurted out with some emotion, "That's a bad plant!  I spend lots of money every year trying to get rid of it.  You should kill it so that it doesn't spread."

With as little revealing of my disappointment in his small estimation of the basic dignity of plant life as I could muster, I related the following to him.  In the late 1980's, while living in Mexico, I picked up a nasty case of Hepatitis A at the village of the renowned elder Huichol shaman, Don Jose Matsuwa.  It took a few weeks for the miserable fatigue, yellowing of skin and whites-of-the eyes, deep joint pain, and non- specific skin itchiness to kick in.  It took a few more days still for me to figure out that I was the victim of a known viral attack.  The lethargy and pain that Hepatitis brings is almost impossible to describe.  You can get hit so hard that you nearly literally, want to die.  Very soon after my diagnosis was confirmed (plenty of rest, and possibly, a gamma globulin injection is the standard allopathic recommendation), a holistic healer and friend of mine called on the phone because he heard I was down with The Hep.  "I am having a bottle of glycerin-based Milk Thistle extract shipped overnight to you amigo.  Use it and you will be better soon."

At the time I only knew Milk Thistle slightly, being aware of its prickly beauty and ability to weather the arid conditions of Arizona.  Well, within 24 hours of ingesting the extract I was feeling 200% better!

It turns out that Milk Thistle has been used in Europe as a treatment not just for Hepatitis, but also for deadly mushroom poisoning.  While an average of 50% of people who ingest Amanita or Gallerina mushrooms may die from liver failure, in certain trials of Milk Thistle extract, 0% mortality was observed.  Today, one can find potentized, dry extracts of Milk Thistle sold as over the counter herbal medications, even in the most standard of drug store chains.

It is a good plant, and I love it.  Here's what it tells me:  "Don't listen to people who don't know what they're talking about but do so loudly.  Be quiet enough to hear your own heartbeat and you will hear your own song of life."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sometimes Plants Whisper, Sometimes They Yell

Artemisia tridentata
Also known as Sagebrush, or Big Sagebrush.  It is not related to the true sages (Salvia), except that their distinct aromatic qualities might remind one of sage.  There are several subspecies, mostly ranging by local habitat, most of them being very similar in habit and aroma.  However, I've found that this "almost the same" aroma can range from citrusy, to minty, to dry, if anything can smell dry.  This plant owns the dry basins and lower foothills of the west, from Northern Arizona to Canada.  Although it is not a showy or even colorful flower, it is the state flower of Nevada.  This plant's aromatic signature connects with something deep in my brain, as if it were the oldest smell on the planet.  It is a clean aroma, like a sacred grandmother's earth perfume.  To be in the Sagebrush plains after a rain is Nature's ultimate aromatherapy treatment.  For me, nothing says sacred like the silent song that this plant offers ceaselessly to the western skies.

Artemisia is one of my most cherished plant familiars.  This is one of the friends that "cared enough" to show me how plants teach, how their schedule and agenda differs from mine, and how to get with the curriculum. 

One night in November 1989, the Raven's birthday, we pulled off on a side road near Grand Canyon National Park to get some sleep.  In the morning, stepping out of the VW van, we were greeted by the beauty of the everywhere scent of Sagebrush.  Yes!  We had just spent a season cooking at a retreat center where much use was made of dried Sagebrush bundles in "smudging", a "native incense" aromatic, often used for "clearing negative energies".  The smell of the fresh Artemisia is, of course, less smoky than when burned- something more like natural lovely laundry detergent.  Well, we knew we wanted this aroma in our van.  We picked the early flowers and new stems from scattered plants, leaving last years woody growth to re-sprout in the new year.  We got into the habit of doing this in this same area for many successive years and would indeed find vigorous new growth on the same plants we had respectfully harvested the year before.  We even began to be able to distinguish between certain familiar plants because of their unique aromas.

In that first year, we arrived a few days later in Tempe and went to our familiar food co-op, reeking with the beauty of Sagebrush smell.  People noticed, asked, liked it.  They wanted some.  We ended up trading several dozen fresh bundles that we had wrapped for food, a little $, some gas in the van.  Nice.  It was clear to me, an unrepentant weirdo, that the plant had done this.  We were grateful.  This chance occurrence in fact, eventually started a natural incense business which grew for many years.

By the second year of camping with, harvesting, bundling, drying, storing, using, and trading this plant, it had begun to impart data, mixed with feelings, or intuitions, to my little hippie brain.  Maybe the first, most subtle whispering was the immediate mood lift of the fresh fragrance of the unassuming leaves.  Even a tiny piece of leaf in the pocket works like an emotional Tums, or little invisible "stick-it note" to remember how beautiful The Mother...  

In the third year of living with this particular earth angel to the point where it would stain our hands, (sometimes pieces would fall in our food while cooking in the tiny van kitchen), my dreams began to intensify.  The effect was one of increased lucidity, or awareness that I was in a dream.  The plant had raised its volume to a loud whisper, but I, being a little dense, did not yet relate the 1st class, dreaming upgrades to the nature of the plant.

But that was about to change.  This was the year that we actually had received many orders from bookstores and whole-food retailers who consistently sold out of our moderately priced and beautifully wrapped "sagebrush sticks."  We were finishing up several days of camping, harvesting, and drying, and were preparing for our return to civilization.  Dried Sagebrush bundles in paper grocery bags were stacked each evening in the front seats of the van so that we would have enough room to open our bed and catch some Zs.  I remember the air in the van being so pungent that it almost burned the eyes.  Before I passed out from exhaustion I remembered wondering if I should get up and clear out the front so that it didn't smell so strong.  But I was tired and so I passed right out.

Next, I'm in this white room with a white bed and it looks like it could be a hospital but there's a young girl laying prone in it that I recognized.  It was Lala, my first peyote teacher's granddaughter.  I had not seen her since she was young, her age at this time being about 20.  For whatever reason, she was asking me to lay down with her, not in a sexual way, just in a weird way.  Then she began to plead, beg for me to lay down with her.  I know, I'm in a dream here- but this freaked me out!  I thought I was there and I began to implore her to get up.  I'm saying, "Please Lala, get up, please!."  She was saying no, and I was crying and was going to pick her up and move her and right at this moment I heard a loud crash.  I knew it was her, but I simultaneously realized that the noise was in the van I was sleeping in, something very loud!  I bolted upright and screamed, "Lala?"  Raven jumped up too- it was weird.  I, for a moment was convinced that Lala was in the van.  Totally freaked (Raven was wondering what was up also) I turned on a light to see, which revealed that 2 bags of Sagebrush bundles had basically tumbled from where they had been and hit all our kitchen stuff and things, thus creating a jarring awakening.  I was still emotionally involved in the just vanished dream such that I recall muttering Lala's name a few more times even after I saw the cause of the racket.

I explained to Raven who Lala was and described the dream but it didn't make any sense, especially as I had not really thought of her for quite some time.  The intensity of the event left me laying awake for a while before eventually drifting off again, this time to an uneventful sleep.

Two days later we arrived at our food cooperative in Tempe.  Approaching the front door I saw this hand written notice taped on the door- "Please pray for Lala (then her full name) who was in an auto accident and is in a coma at such and such hospital."  So what am I to make of that friends?  I don't try to make these things happen, I don't even really want them to, but they do, and they demand that I become more ignorant or more aware.

I thought about this for some time.  But I'm not that good at thinking, so I decided to read all I could about Artemisia, reading being one of the activities I enjoy and excel at only slightly more than naked, fluorescent, black-light, Twister.  It turns out that Artemisias are all avid volatile aromatic producers, little factories of scent.  Certain Artemisias wre the basis for the legendary intoxicant, Absinthe, as well as being used in traditional "dream pillows" in Asiatic herbology.  It turns out that years later, our association with the Native American Church would bring this plant to us again as an essential ceremonial herb, a fresh bundle of A. tridentata being passed around the tipi following tobacco and preceding the Peyote.  This all makes sense to me now, but it took me a while to realize its special role in my life.  In following years I enjoyed using fresh sprigs next to my bed, lifting the nightime experience in a positive way, much like the summer aroma of night-flowering Sacred Datura can.

I eventually came to understand that the sacks of falling Sagebrush were just this being's way of getting the attention of a fairly slow starter, not the quickest flower in the bunch, not me.  But in this way, the plant did indeed, effectively communicate with me.  It got me to pay attention to the subtle of its ways but the solid of its presence.  This was the hollering part of its talk with me, I could not get the message from the whispers alone.

This also began to clarify my personal ethos of how to learn a plant, I mean really learn from the inside out, not from the head down.  Put simply, it is this:  To let a plant speak with you first listen.  If you can't hear anything, live with it, camp in it, sleep with it.  If you still don't get the message, find a sustainable means and purpose for harvesting it.  Lots of it.  Not there yet?  Taste it, eat it, accidentally and on purpose.  People like my friend Amanda at Tucson Herbs know how fun this is, the stalking, the finding, the capture.  Take it home after living where it grows, and lay on it.  Keep it where you live and appreciate it.  Do this for many seasons, and you will know what you know about this being without anybody having to explain it for you, guaranteed.  I have been very fortunate (and stubborn enough) to be able to get to know quite a few species using this method since my childhood.  Sometime soon, I hope to start to make a list- "Plants I Have Known and Loved," or "Total Plant Immersion Therapy, A Way of Knowing." :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Tree I Knew

There was a tree that I grew up with.  It was not an outstanding tree really, other than it grew in the front yard of my mom and dad's house.  It was a mulberry tree, a male, first planted when the house was constructed around 1959.  It watched over my friend's and my childhood adventures, like a silent relative.

The tree functioned as hideaway, home-base for games of tag, watchtower, and spaceship.  The tree did make shade but I don't remember actually sitting under it for this reason.  Mostly the tree served as our most visible playground monitor, an old friend who enjoyed our company.  The tree never asked for much.  My mom would appreciate it when my dad neglected to perform winter pruning as she always believed that he would cut it back too much, and most of the neighbors agreed.  But pruned or not, it's branches would grow each summer to make a friendly but formidable, and undemanding habitat each summer for us kids.

Years go by and I move away from home.  My children and grandchildren would play in and around the tree.  This always brought on a satisfying, nostalgic sense of deja vu in me.  In these later years, I would deep water the tree on visits to my mom, spending a little time appreciating our shared personal history.

The last time I visited, mom had considerable house renovation and landscaping done and the tree was chopped down/dug up.  I visited with the big, old stump awaiting pickup at the side of the house.  Old friend, thank you for all the fun.  I miss you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Luther Burbank And The Garden Of Invention

Frida Kahlo: Luther Burbank, 1931

I've been a fan of old Luther Burbank for a while.  He was the original, if not the only, horticultural superstar, aside from possibly Johnny Appleseed.  Actually, both Johnny and Luther were raised in the same area.  But anyway, nobody knows who Luther Burbank is now because, who gives a damn about plants, and making plants more beautiful and productive and generally making everyone better fed and more happy?  I mean how does that put food on the table, bring the bacon home?  Anyone can just go buy some fries and a Coke if they're hungry right?  Well anyway, every one of those fries comes from Luther Burbank.  Funny that we hardly know his name.

I first picked the guy up on my radar by reading "Autobiography Of A Yogi", by Paramahansa Yogananda who not only devotes a chapter to Luther, but the book is dedicated to him.  Now I'm not going to provide you with a Wikipedia link here so that you can bone up on Luther, get off your butt and google it yourself or go to a library for gosh sakes already.  

I recently brought a title home from the library titled, "The Garden Of Invention, Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants", by Jane S. Smith.  I have extracted a portion in which she describes a speech which Luther gave in 1905 to the California Board of Trade, in which he promised to "be brief, and not to the point."

"Don't feed children on maudlin sentimentalism or dogmatic religion," he urged his listeners. "Give them nature. Let their souls drink all that is pure and sweet... Let nature teach them the lessons of good and proper living, combined with an abundance of well-balanced nourishment. Those children will grow to be the best men and women. Put the best in them by contact with the best outside. They will absorb it as a plant does the sunshine and the dew."

And then he gave the prescription that became the most popular, most quoted passage in The Training of the Human Plant, a wonderful evocation of the joys of his own childhood wandering the fields and woods of nineteenth-century New England. "Every child," Burbank wrote, "should have mud pies. grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilles, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grandfather Peyote: How Some Plants Are More Equal Than Others

Pencil drawing by Michael Wisnowski
As in the memorable oxymoronic quote from Orwell’s Animal Farm- “Some animals are more equal than others”, some plants may also be more equal than others, depending on what your particular human situation might be.  Sour orange trees are beautiful to see ubiquitously planted in Tucson/Phoenix landscaping, but the inedible fruits end up dropping all over the place and people pay Mexicans like me good money to collect and bag and haul them off to the landfill.  (Why not just plant sweet, rather than sour oranges in the medians and public commons you ask?  Well we wouldn’t want people thinking that food grows on trees would we?  And think of the people who need the pay to gather the sours, as the sweets would mostly be hauled off for free, and now the dudes at Safeway have to layoff some workers because nobody’s buying oranges and, well you see- it’s all such a vicious cycle.)  Ok, so you get that if you’re hungry and thirsty, Arizona Sweets are way more equal than the equally visually appealing, Arizona Sours.
With this same utilitarian, practical prejudice in mind, I will share a few words, and more effectively perhaps, a few images illustrating the following notion; Based on my experience of hunting, observing, planting, growing, harvesting, drying, giving, being blessed by, and also consuming no small amount of the humble and ancient looking Chihuahuan Desert medicine they call peyote, I believe this plant is by far, the most equal plant I have ever known.  And if I live long enough, I hope to tell you, the willing reader, about quite a few of them, but let's start with my favorite plant- a cactus.  (Important note to you, mis amigos y amigas, who've read this far: I have it on the solid word of the honorable Mr. Uncle Pete Petrie of Mesa, Arizona and Santiago, Chile- that only the readers of this world have any chance at all of evolving from loserhood to actualized, sustainably cognizant, earth-loving, friendly human beans, so congratulations people- you're at the right party!)
Ink Drawing by Leo
About cactus; I remember when I worked with Uncle Pete at The Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum there was a back greenhouse, not open to the public, that really only got watered when Dr. Crosswhite or I had nothing else going on.  So this place was full of cacti in little pots that baked all summer with precious little or no moisture, lots of heat, and absolutely no attention.  There was one particular ceramic container that had a setting of a small family of healthy looking cactoid beings with a little sign that said, "Cacti: Warmth, Courage, Endurance"  That's all it said.  I don't know why.  But I understood exactly what it meant from the moment I saw it and each time thereafter.  The way they somehow germinate and thrive on a dry, vertical cliff, hanging on in unbelievable heat, witnessing the decades away.  I was in awe of cacti before I even liked them, mostly due to "jumping-cholla" and stuff, but then I loved them, and part of this is that they show me how to develop warmth, courage, and endurance for myself, my family, my world.  At some point, I pretty much just realized that I want to be around cacti, the deserts where they grow, especially saguaros and peyote. (The Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.)

Yarn Painting by Raven
  So then, here's this little Arizona-grown, altar-boy, spoiled, Mexican, lucky brat, who loves cactus, then finds out there's one that you eat and it teaches and heals and gives you art and community and all stuff like that.  Ok people, how could I not go there, check that trail out?
All photos by Leo
You can read all kinds of stuff about peyote, (Lophophora williamsii, or Hikuri amongst my Huichol relations), in books and online- botanical, historical, cultural, pharmacological, and personal experience reports.  Like it's a drug or something.  A special Grandmother said in a New Year's ceremony, you can research this medicine if you want but all you can really say about it is that, it's wonderful."  The emphasis on the so-called trip, the experiences... It’s embarrassing, or something that feels like embarrassment, to talk about this medicine in this way… It reminds me of our common culturally under-informed discussions of religion, gardening, and sex.  Why?  Because it's something you do, not say, and if you're saying it, chances are good that you're not doing it, and therefore any words can only confuse an otherwise good thing. 
Yarn Painting With Silver Liberty Coin by Leo
I edited the re-publication of “Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti”, which is a factual synopsis of, you know, the basic information- but all of this stuff is just the hole in the donut I say.  It’s actually pretty boring in its abstract relation to the yummy, creamy filling that we actually crave to nourish our souls in our short time on this earth.  If this sparks your appetite, take a bite of the way this spiritually healing earth donut looks, its visual form, the shape of what it is. 
Ink drawing by Raven
Peyote is a mandala, the Circle of Life, with a flower in the center.
There’s an old concept called The Doctrine of Signatures, attributed originally to Paracelsus, who got hip to the idea that plant medicines resemble the body parts and/or ailments for which they focused their healing properties.  This means that a plant with leaves whose shape resembles lungs would heal pulmonary complaints, walnuts for the head and brain, and the like.  (For what it’s worth, one of my hippie postulates is that Everybody Looks Like Who/What They Are.  This might also be a cousin to the universally recognized posit, Dogs Resemble Their Master.)  To my eyes, the shape of peyote tells me that it’s good for everything.  This is how the medicine talks to me.  This green growing guru also has the communication skills sufficient to teach us about other medicines and methods, if we ask respectfully and pay attention.


Like people, all peyote plants look similar but all are unique.  Also like people, the little baby ones are just the cutest little things so that you just want to caress and kiss them!

It is not a loud, large, or proud or even particularly noticeable creature, almost hiding in its lowliness.  Like stars becoming coming out after dusk, it let’s itself be seen by the humble, rewarding the childlike, the down-and-out, the truly devoted seeker, with the strengthening of their walk on this earth. 

Peyote Way Church Ceramic Peyote Drum

Yarn Painting by Leo
I used to think that I was looking for peyote, wanting to find it, to know something of what it truly is.  Now it looks like  peyote was looking for me, wanting me to find myself, to know something of what I truly am.
 Our Huichol elder, Don Jose Matsuwa Rios, would say that when it comes to knowing anything about Hikuri, he was becoming more of a baby, Nu nu'tsi, with age.  The more you think you know, the less you do.
A circle points in all directions.  Peyote sees in all directions.  It also hears us, listening to what we say, then dividing that by what we mean, and multiplying the sum total of truth straight to Creator’s realm.  
Yarn Painted Mirror by Leo
For myself and my brothers and sisters in the sacred circle, this little round and living entity is a far better representation and reminder of Christ in our lives than a cathedral full of bleeding Jesus forever affixed to, and suffering around on a cross.
Peyote Way Church
An old story about how peyote came to the people was through a woman whose brother was lost.  In desperation, she and her nursing child searched but eventually became lost themselves.  With no food or water the mother lost her strength, her milk for her child, and her hope of finding her brother.  She resigned herself to death by dehydration under a shrub, but feeling something cool and moist in her outstretched hands, the woman heard a voice telling her to eat of this, for it is food and water.   
Rejuvenated by the desert manna of this perfectly soft, fuzzy, and moist, spineless cactus, the woman sees where her brother is and she brings him, the sacred medicine, and the ceremony back to the tribe.  In some ways, we are all lost.  In the tipi ceremony, the Morning Water Woman greets us at dawn with food and water, and we are no longer lost, we are back with our tribe.
Oil painting by Raven
Often people ask how much peyote they need to eat to experience whatever.  As westerners, we believe we ingest a substance then something happens.  Maybe the thing we expect to happen after eating peyote is already happening before we eat it.  If you believe in the strength of the subtle, then perhaps eating this medicine with our mouths is not as powerful as taking it in with our eyes.  So my answer to “How much should I eat?” is usually some dumb, crazy-wisdom sounding, but true answer like, “You don’t need to eat any Holmes, just look at it clearly my friend, and let the healing begin!”

Yarn Painting by Raven
 My personal experience is that I don’t trip out from eating peyote; I am tripping out before I eat it.  Its most powerfully reliable effect is then, to make me stop tripping. 
"To be the person you want to be, be the person you want to be.", it says.  "When you get responsible for being here now, then you'll be here now."
Yarn painted clock by Leo
Huichol beaded art
People looking for some psychedelic trip should drop acid or eat mushrooms. People looking for a buzz should drink beer.  If you want to see cool colors and stuff, go see a 3D movie already.

This medicine works on you from the inside out.  The sad fact that peyote is categorized as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, pcp, and the like is simply a hype-generated bureaucratic artifact from the overzealous 1970’s, J. Edgar Hoover, paternalistic, pink panty wearing War On Vegetables which paves over the sacred and humble things of the earth with the asphalt of the profane.

Incense burner with hikuri designs, from Israel
Gift of the late Eliav Medina

Texas Rock Art


Few plants inspire so much storytelling, music, and art.  I see the universal shape of peyote buttons in everything everywhere, from crop circles to, petroglyphs, to chocolate treats.

Mesquite Yarn Painting by Leo
Clock by Leo
Crop Circle Diagram
“If there’s no peyote button in it, can it really be art?”- my friends have all heard me say this dozens of times.

Crop Circle Diagram

Candle, gift of the late Eliav Medina

To my understanding, this plant loves to be respectfully harvested and eaten.  It loves humans.  It especially loves women and children.
Sunday morning after church

Peyote loves food and music and all-night fire vigils, waiting for the sun.  It finds its larger, non-corporeal form in honest expressions, heartfelt tears, joyous laughter, and community cooperation. 
In many ways I feel that when I’m in a tipi ceremony, I’m once again showing up to make myself, and old man peyote, a little happier.  I relish and need this, the feeling of being silently but sincerely wanted; my attendance and more importantly, my attention being requested.  It’s a perfect circle feeling of getting help and being helpful, intertwined with each other like a DNA helix.
Huichol Yarn Painting

Yarn Painted Mirror by Leo
They say you taste yourself when you eat this medicine.  Its taste always makes me think that I am chewing every taste on the earth.  When I eat enough of it, the taste seems to change from bitter, to what I can only describe as “good for me”.
 Every time we take this medicine in, it changes us in a positive manner.  It is a green light for healing, a red light for negativity, and a yellow warning signal to respect and take care of our earth, ourselves, and each other so our children and their children and their children can live harmoniously, and that it starts with us.
Yarn Painted Clock by Leo
Yarn Painted Clock by Leo