Stacy B. Schaefer, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita in the Department of Anthropology, California State University, Chico (CSUC) and former Co-Director of the Museum of Anthropology (CSUC)
Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics is an annual forum that examines the role of psychedelic drugs in science, medicine, culture and spirituality.
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Biography: Dr. Stacy B. Schaefer has been carrying out ethnographic field research with the Huichol Indians of Mexico since 1976 and members of the Native American Church in the United States from 1993-2015. Her research has focused on traditional beliefs and practices that revolve around the use of the mind-altering peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). She is co-editor with Peter T. Furst, and contributor to the book People of the Peyote, Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival. Dr. Schaefer also published the book To Think With a Good Heart: Wixárika Women, Weavers and Shamans, 2002, with a second edition of the book in 2015 titled Huichol Women, Weavers and Shamans. From 1991 to 1999 she was Assistant and Associate professor at University of Texas Pan American along the Texas/Mexico border during which time she conducted extensive fieldwork research among federally licensed Mexican-American peyote dealers and members of the Native American Church (NAC). This work continued through 2015, culminating in Amada’s Blessings From the Peyote Gardens of South Texas, published in 2015 by the University of New Mexico Press, a winner of three literary awards in 2016. Her current research examines the relationship between peyote and the human reproductive system.
"Communing with the Gods: Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) in the Lifecycle of Huichol Indians of Mexico"
This presentation provides insights into the relationship between Huichol Indians and peyote throughout their lives. The influence of peyote continues from the womb via their mother's ingestion of peyote and the implications this may have in their cognitive perspectives of the world, through childhood, adolescence as a rite of passage, adulthood and specialization in shamanism and the arts, to death and beyond where the souls of the deceased travel to the sky above the sacred peyote desert. The peyote experiences and their interpretations shared with me by Huichol consultants provide a personal dimension to the topic and add rich context to my own participant/observations among Huichol family and community members. In addition to subjective accounts, biomedical literature on peyote/mescaline is included in the discussion to bring a holistic understanding to this way of life.