Texas Matters: Understanding Peyote

Feb 26, 2016

It’s the most misunderstood cactus in Texas – Peyote. For thousands of years before the arrival of the European it was a sacred plant for the original peoples of North America. But today it remains an illegal controlled substance and the future of peyote is in doubt.

In American popular culture, peyote is a substance that is linked to the mystical – metaphysical and the bizarre. In the most recent edition of the video game Grand Theft Auto the player seeks out peyote plants and gets the virtual experience of grand hallucinations and animal vision quests.

That’s not what peyote is about. Anthropologist Stacy Schaefer has spent her career studying peyote and the native people’s connection to it. She is a professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, Chico, and she has written the book “Amada’s Blessings from the Peyote Gardens of South Texas.” It’s published by the University of New Mexico Press.