Longform

A Vision Gone Bust

Page 5 of 5

(Leo admits that he once ingested both cactuses, but says he quit when Native American Church members chastised him. He claims not to mix pot and peyote during ceremonies.)

"He's a nice guy, and he has good intentions and everything," Pomani says. "But he's trying to go over Road Men's heads and go over the Native American Church. He's going against what this church is all about. . . . A lot of people who read about Leo will say, 'Look, that peyote is making people crazy.' But it's not the peyote. When peyote grows in the desert, it is perfect. There is nothing bad about it. The only thing bad about it is the man or the woman eating it."

One Pima Road Man observes, "Maybe the medicine is trying to tell him something. Leo's always running into trouble with it.

"I think if he was using it in a good way, he wouldn't have all these problems."

Leo says he's "chagrined" by the lack of support, says plenty of church members he knows are less than perfect.

"I really feel unity is what is called for in this case, not division," he says.

"This peyote religion was started by Mexican Indians," he says. "It was given freely to North American tribes . . . the North American tribes never had a common ceremony they could share. But with the advent of the peyote religion, they had one common ceremony they could share from coast to coast.

"Just like it spread to North American tribes, the peyote religion is now spreading to all parts of the Earth. . . . Now the peyote religion is for all people."

Raven seems dispirited by Leo's battles. Right now, she says, she just "wants to stay out of harm's way."

She knows her husband will be shipped off to prison if Carter Olson gets his way.

Asked why on Earth he would martyr himself and risk being separated from his wife and child, Leo responds: "Peyote gave me my wife and child. If peyote wants me to go to jail for a while, I will go.

"And anyway, I don't have a choice. This is the way I believe.
"I am just a God-intoxicated peyoteist."

Contact Terry Greene Sterling at 229-8437, or online at [email protected]

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Terry Greene Sterling