A Remote Arizona Church Offers Followers Peyote-Induced Psychedelic Trips

Categories: News

Peyote-Feature1-15.jpg
Andrew Pielage
A Mana Pottery plate featuring a dancing peyote button.
The DEA licenses a small number of peyote distributors who must be authorized annually to cultivate and sell the plant.

"These distributors are permitted to sell peyote to the [Native American Church] and its members for traditional religious rites," Sanchez says. "There are a handful of distributors in the Southwest region."

Instead of Native American Church principles, Kent and Zapf's church uses a tenet of the Mormon religion to justify peyote as a sacrament.

Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants of Joseph Smith, also known as the "Word of Wisdom," states in part: "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving."

States Peyote Way's website: "Adherence to a dietary discipline, like the one suggested in the Word of Wisdom, goes hand in hand with the spiritual awakening produced by the Holy Sacrament Peyote."

Kent and Zapf think their 35-year relationship with Graham County Sheriff Preston J. Allred has helped smooth the way for the church.

When they were selling Mana Pottery to Goldwater's, the couple would take chipped pieces to the courthouse in Safford, their intent to give it away.

"The secretaries would give us $10, and the deputies would [give] a little less," Kent says with a laugh, adding, "They saw that whatever we were up to, it wasn't criminal or dangerous."

But being out of sight, out of mind is the biggest reason that the church has avoided hassle from the authorities over the years. From Phoenix, it's a four-hour drive east on U.S. 60, past Superior and Globe, and onward to U.S. 70. Twenty-five miles of washboard dirt road outside Safford lead to a remote area of desert wilderness. A large red mailbox -- painted with the word "Mana" -- alerts visitors that they've arrived.

"You don't need to worry . . . about your neighbors. They've all got plenty of property," Kent says. "They think we're kind of strange, but cowboys are kind of strange, too."


Kent's tour of the church takes about three hours. Outside, near one of the campsites, the large blond man is chopping wood for his spirit walk. He pauses just long enough to wave and smile.

Asked what kind of future is in store for Peyote Way, Kent -- as with his lengthy explanation about Trujillo's life and the spiritual importance of peyote -- has a rehearsed answer.

His greatest hope is that someday, he and Zapf can grow peyote legally and educate others about how to grow it.

"When we plant peyote, I'm not thinking of personal ingestion, I'm thinking about my grandkids," Kent says. "I think that's pretty healthy to think in big chunks of time -- 20, 40, 60 years. If we thought that way about our planning for society, then we might not be having so many of the problems we're having now."

That night, on the way to a hotel in Safford, headlights illuminate "Peyote Way Church of God" on an Arizona "Adopt a Highway" sign.

E-mail eric.tsetsi@newtimes.com.

Correction: The story incorrectly stated Trujillo's son Juan was killed in an accident at the church. It was Trujillo's son Byram who was killed in the accident. Juan now goes by the name of Will and lives in Santa Fe.

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26 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

onebigjuan
onebigjuan

Historically, the Carrizo/Comecrudo people of Texas are the people who showed others to maintain their native identities through the use of the medicine.  It was never intended to become a lifestyle or religion.  This was lifeway of the Esto'k iyope'm ( Carrizo/Comecrudo), in other words it was part of daily life, but not the only thing of daily life, it was never intended to become what it is today.  As native population struggle to maintain a healthy and stable identity, the more confused generic colonialism populous distorts and misrepresent our lifeways to accommodate their co-dependent and dysfunctional ignorance.


Even the the more popular ways of the Native American Church is a compromise and an accommodation to the Colonial oppressive thought to allow us as natives to have a God that makes the Colonial oppressive thought more comfortable at the expense of even forgetting and leaving the original people of the sacred Medicine out of the picture.


So, the distorted Idea of a non Indian non tribal man and woman saying "welcome to the Peyote way" is only part of the shock.  The roots of exploitation, discrimination, distortion, collusion, and misrepresentation is deeper than being shocked that some hippie who read Carlos Casteneda wants to be part of something that we in our language say  tokom anawalom, it is nothing without the teachings.


gnosis43
gnosis43

The disappearance of the idea of God in the modern world is not due to the appearance of drugs (for drugs have after all been known and used for thousands of years). We might, in fact, say the exact opposite: the use of drugs betrays the fact that man is not a natural being; he experiences not only thirst, hunger, dreams, and sexual pleasure, 

but also a nostalgia for the infinite. ‘Alternating current’, Octavio Paz http://www.artbreak.com/work/show/655801-solidificar-sunofman

DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa
DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa

Is this guy even native? This was intended for native people, and or people they invite into the culture lol, me being half native I'm suprised the navajo gov hasn't said anything to this individual.

John Clayton Cross
John Clayton Cross

Perhaps they mean people currently experiencing psychological issues.

Krista Peterson
Krista Peterson

This place has been around for at least 30 years. Why don't you just go out and visit them. They are nice people. Talk to them and make your decision. Cripes.

Pia Kitchen
Pia Kitchen

Smh.. Natives are sacred with it, other people it seems to have no effect. Dam shame!

Allen Kee
Allen Kee

Tradition like this should stay with its culture and not taken into a new context. Just need to leave these native traditions alone.

Kreme Infinite
Kreme Infinite

White Folk … Always Trynna do Native things… and turn it into complete fuckery.

Scott Hecker
Scott Hecker

This place has been around for a long time. I've considered making the trip.

Eleanor Riddle
Eleanor Riddle

Interesting ... in a never-gonna-do-it kind of way

Valerie Moreno
Valerie Moreno

So mentally ill individuals are "turned away", but it says people have used it to alleviate PTSD and anxiety. Hmm. Which is it?

Dimitri
Dimitri

Mister you're a racist prick, taking your own segregationist opinions for facts..yuck

Dimitri
Dimitri

Says who? You? There's absolutely nothing scientific in what you state

Dimitri
Dimitri

yep : apartheid. Why does this not suprise me coming from a yankee...

Dimitri
Dimitri

There's a difference between being mentally ill and having psychological problems in relation to trauma , like PTSD. Surely you must know the difference...

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