Maria Sabina, Mother of Mushrooms – While most people are familiar with magic mushrooms, Not everybody is familiar with the lady who introduced the magic mushrooms to western culture. I want to share with you my summation of the story and history of Maria Sabina.
Maria Sabina was a Mazatec curendera (a healer) from Oaxacan village of Huautla de Jiménez, Mexico who welcomed R. Gordon Wasson into the ancient rite of the velada (sacred mushroom ceremony). Wasson famously wrote about the experience in a Time Magazine article called “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” which gave the mushrooms their common name used today.
The ceremony was a means by which a healer would traditionally purify themself and commune with the divine. It was not very common for normal people to partake of the medicine. Wasson had promised Sabina to keep her name and location a secret. Here is where it is probably worth mentioning that Wasson was a banker. Naturally, he broke his promise and published her name and location in his second volume of his book “Russia, Mushrooms and History”. Unfortunately, Maria was not familiar enough with bankers to know they cannot be trusted.
After Wasson’s broken promise, there was a boom in interest from Westerners seeking a new adventure. I cannot help but to feel conflicted when it comes to the story of Maria Sabina. Her sudden rise to fame brought her into the spotlight, which she seemed to actually enjoy at first. It is said that she met with a lot of celebrities such as Bob Dylan and John Lennon but there is no recorded proof of such encounters. The attention her small village was attracting was also putting the practice of the magic mushroom ritual on the radar of the Mexican Government. With threats to ban the mushrooms, the village ousted Maria Sabina and set fire to her house. The other members of her community claimed that she has given away the magic of the mushrooms and now they did not work the same.
The appropriation of the mushroom was underway and nothing could stop it. It is sad and unfortunate that the medicine that has helped to bring about a lot of the necessary changes in the Western Culture came at such a great cost to the people of Mazatec. In a lot of ways, Maria Sabina can be considered a “saint”.
It is my hope that as we move forward, we can learn from the mistakes of the past and find our way to healing without causing any more damage to the world and the people who have transmitted their ancient knowledge for the benefit of everyone.
My Hand Drawn Santa Maria Sabina Shirt Design
For the longest time, I have been meaning to make a shirt design in homage of MAria Sabina. I guess, the time finally came and I sat down and did it. As I stated before, I think of her as a sort of saint so I drew her as one. I hope you like it!