Those who venture into the middle of nowhere to find Peyote Way get a tour of its grounds, after which they are given a place to stay for the night so they can fast. The next day, they pick out one of the three spots on the property, each with a rustic lean-to and a fire pit, where they spend the second night drinking the church's peyote mixture.

"When it comes time for the spirit walk, Anne will measure 21 grams of peyote — it's the reputed weight of the soul — then boiling water is poured over it," Kent says. "The mixture really is more gruel than a tea."

In general, visitors report having three types of reactions to drinking the potion: They get sick all night and nothing happens, they are sick half the night and then the most amazing things happen, or it is wonderful from beginning to end, Zapf says.

The sacramental tea then is ready to be consumed on the spirit walk. Instructions are provided on each jar.
Andrew Pielage
The sacramental tea then is ready to be consumed on the spirit walk. Instructions are provided on each jar.
The peyote is ground up to a fine powder, which is mixed with tea before getting poured into pint-size jars.
Andrew Pielage
The peyote is ground up to a fine powder, which is mixed with tea before getting poured into pint-size jars.

"The first four hours are the most physical, as the tea has a challenging taste and ingestion of it can cause nausea," she says. "The next four hours are critical, as fear and nausea compete with the rational, curious mind. At this point, one can surrender to the experience or succumb to fear and fight it all the way."

The taste of peyote is notoriously bad, and drinking the mixture is a lengthy and arduous process. Most visitors don't make it through an entire pint-size container, says Kent. They typically vomit.

"Let's just get it straight from the beginning: Peyote is not a recreational substance, it's a re-creational substance," says Kent, who sees peyote as a medicinal plant that can be used for psychological and physical healing.

Church members who have participated in a spirit walk typically refer to peyote as "medicine" rather than a drug. One such member, Dr. Joe Tafur, an integrative family physician in Phoenix and co-founder of Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual healing center in Peru, says he learned of Peyote Way in an old article about the church. He subsequently decided to experience a spirit walk and since has participated in seven such psychedelic journeys.

"The average person can benefit from the spirit walk," says Tafur via e-mail correspondence from the Amazon, where he works at his Nihue Rao foundation. "The spirit walk offers an opportunity for profound spiritual healing."

Long-term, repeated use of peyote is safe, he says. He cites John Halpern's Harvard-affiliated study on it as evidence of the cactus' safeness.

"In my experience, it allows for healing of the subconscious and deep emotional traumas that often evade allopathic and psychological approaches," Tafur says. "Healing of the mind and spirit then allows for a number of physiological benefits through mind-body connections, primarily through psychoneuroimmunologic and psychoneuroendocrine connections."

Another church member, Robert McDermott, a former technology worker at University of California-San Diego, says he has experienced 15 spirit walks.

He embarked on one of his earliest in an attempt to overcome anxiety related to a "serious illness."

Says McDermott: "The medicine was difficult for me to take, and I became very nauseous. Then [after about an hour] I began seeing my anxieties and my fears of death associated with my illness for what they were. My anxieties were preventing me from being present with my family and friends. I found a place of profound gratitude for my life as it was."

McDermott says he wouldn't be alive today "if it were not for this sacred medicine."

The church's late founder and Kent's teacher, the Reverend Immanuel Pardeahtan Trujillo, started using peyote as a way to treat himself for post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from his combat in World War II, according to Kent.

Far-fetched as it may sound, Kent credits peyote with reversing his vasectomy — after which he and Zapf had their three children.


A mound of stones and gravel draped with an American flag and surrounded by discarded cattle gates holds a prominent place in Peyote Way's dirt yard. It's the burial spot of Immanuel Trujillo, who died at 82 in a small room at the church in June 2010.

With little prompting, Kent dives into an extensive biography of Trujillo, who went from New Jersey to Europe in World War II to New York City to Texas and eventually to Arizona. It's clearly a story he's told many times.

Kent's recounting of Trujillo's life can seem implausible, even mythic, but in many ways, the church's existence in the high desert of Arizona is just as outlandish.

As the story goes, Trujillo was born to a Jewish mother of French-American descent and a Mexican/Apache father. Trujillo's father had come to the United States from Mexico in 1917 and enlisted in the U.S. Army to gain American citizenship.

His father was exposed to mustard gas during World War I and suffered resulting ailments for much of his later life, Kent says. Trujillo was just a few months old when his father died.

Trujillo's mother, 14 years old at the time of his conception, gave him up for adoption. For the first two years of his life, he was raised in an orphanage. Then an Irish-Catholic family adopted him and renamed him Jimmy Coyle.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
2 comments
hurricaneric
hurricaneric moderator

Here's a Letter to the Editor we received from Peyote Way Church:


1. Carlos Castenada’s work has long been regarded as fiction by scholars. For more accurate and scientific information about peyote’s alkaloids, please consult MAPS or EROWID, or Edward Anderson’s Peyote the Divine Cactus.

2. No one is getting rich off Peyote. The holy sacrament Peyote is not for sale at the Peyote Way Church. The gross income listed in the article does not reflect the taxes paid by Mana pottery, or the cost of upkeep for buildings, vehicles that wear out quickly on the rough roads, or minimal salaries for minimal staff. Our records are available upon request
 
3. The church is tolerated and even admired by many of its Mormon and non-Mormon neighbors. Mormons tend to know a thing or two about religious persecution and do not tend to practice it. The many other friends of the church, in and out of Graham County public office, will go unnamed, but we know who you are and appreciate your kindness, acceptance, and often support over the decades.
 
4. When Immanuel and his associates purchased the land in Aravaipa, it was not in foreclosure. It was Immanuel who was often battling foreclosure to hold this beautiful 160 acres as a sanctuary for all race Peyotism.
 
5. Membership is not a one time fee, but an annual donation. We, like all other non profit organizations, depend on membership support.
 
6. To a person who considers Peyote a Holy Sacrament it is painful to hear it described as a hallucinogen. We consider the word hallucinogen to be a pejorative. It is an inaccurate term that has been used since the 50’s and 60’s to denigrate the Peyote experience and not an accurate description.
 
7. The establishment of discriminatory Peyote laws that limit Peyote use strictly to Native American members of the Native American Church, while prohibiting these same people from cultivating their holy sacrament, is a threat to the survival of this sacred plant.

Rev. Anne L Zapf, Apostle, with approval of the Peyote Way Church of God Board of Stewards

mtomchee
mtomchee

It's difficult not to quickly judge these individuals as peyote, a healing medicine to our Native peoples, has provided psychological benefits through mind-body connections. It's not surprising that non-natives have embraced this herb to heal PTSD and other ailments in their quest for spiritual enlightenment. In the early years (1950s and 1960s) the Native Americans fought unwaveringly to legalize the possession/use of this healing herb. The result is the passage of the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1978. This non-profit group should follow the same suite in all fairness.


 
Phoenix Concert Tickets
Loading...