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In 2002, on assignment for Discover Magazine, I participated in a peyote ceremony of the Native American Church. I’ve been recalling this extraordinary experience lately because I’ve been in contact with the man who arranged it, psychiatrist John H. Halpern, an authority on psychedelics, whom I met while researching my 2003 book Rational Mysticism. Below is the article I wrote for Discover about the peyote trip, Halpern and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. See "Further Reading" for a link to Halpern's peer-reviewed article on long-term peyote consumption. Keep an eye on this space for a Q&A with Halpern. John Horgan

Even with several tablespoons of peyote in me, by three in the morning I'm fading. For almost six hours I have been sitting in a tepee in the Navajo Nation, the largest Indian reservation in the United States, with 20 Navajo men, women, and children. They belong to the Native American Church, which has 250,000 members nationwide. Everyone except the four children has eaten the ground-up tops, or buttons, of peyote, Lophophora williamsii. U.S. law classifies the squat cactus and its primary active ingredient, mescaline, as Schedule 1 substances, illegal to sell, possess, or ingest. The law exempts members of the Native American Church, who revere peyote as a sacred medicine.

Been there, done that. It was a truly extraordinary experience. To read more, click here.

Category: Weird Desk