On July 22, 1894, Maria Sabina Magdalena was born in the small town of Huautla de Jiménez, in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Unquestionably, this being came to shake us and expand human consciousness; was a mainstay in the psychedelic wave of the sixties.
She never abandoned her essence, indigenous, humble and without any intention of profit, she became the first prophet of the psychedelic mushroom known to Western culture and in this article we will talk about it.
In some circles she was known as “la abuelita” for her knowledge and traditionalism in sacred ceremonies with hallucinogenic mushrooms. The first extensive documentation on these native ceremonies was made about their rituals.
Without looking for it and without wanting it, his work linked the mysticism of magic mushrooms with the scientific world, for which today his name is internationally recognized.
So today we commemorate his 128th birth anniversary with this article to tell you a little more about his history and his legacy.
Maria Sabina was born on July 22, 1894, into a humble family of Mazatec peasants and merchants in Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca, where she grew up with her mother, her younger sister, and her grandparents. She never learned the Spanish language, she only spoke Mazateco and she did not learn to read or write either.
His fascination with psilocybe mushrooms began at age 7, after accidentally ingesting them. He never abandoned his practice, he had 7 children in two different marriages. His first marriage was arranged at age 14 and both were tragic in their own way.
Later, after curing her sister of an unknown illness, she began her practices as a healer.
From there, her name began to sound in her community, so much so that people began to go to her to be cured of different diseases that seemed to have no remedy.
Meanwhile, in the United States, a couple of philanthropists interested in psychedelics undertook several trips to Mexico based on rumors about these experiences. Eventually on one of his trips, Robert Gordon Wasson, a banker by profession and mycologist by hobby , along with his wife Victoria, arrived in the town of Huautla de Jiménez.
When they appeared with Maria Sabina, she refused to perform a ceremony for them because they did not share her culture or worldview, and she was very traditional with her sacred rituals and performed them for specific purposes that did not consider a recreational experience for the expansion of consciousness as such. .
After a while, Wasson managed to convince her through lies and thus they participated in one of her rituals.
In 1957, two years after his first meeting with Maria Sabina, RG Wasson published an article in the American magazine LIFE, narrating the experience and sharing photos of his journey and the life of the healer.
The article was highly controversial and reached many millions of readers in the West, and the mystical world of magic mushrooms eventually became a popular curiosity.
The documents exhaustively recorded by Gordon Wasson, are today the fundamental documents of Mexican ethnology and through them we know this mystical side and this culture.
In 1962, Wasson brought Albert Hofmann, who had created LSD some years earlier, to meet Maria Sabina and try this other psychoactive substance for himself. Soon after, Hofmann identified psilocybin as the psychoactive compound in Psilocybe mushrooms and was able to reproduce the molecule in his laboratory so that the scientific community would begin to study its effects.
Let us remember that in these times, the hippie movement of the sixties began and, shortly after, this sacred place full of traditions became a focus of tourism that attracted famous artists and thousands of people from all over the world, in search of on a psychedelic trip. Eventually, Western culture appropriated the experience, leaving the Mazatec tradition in oblivion and ignoring the healing powers for which they intended it.
Now, Huautla de Jiménez was just another hippie place , where people were intoxicated in the streets and where sacred medicine was increasingly scarce. This caused a lot of discontent on the part of the community and Maria Sabina was pointed out as the person responsible. Such was the resentment that they set fire to his house on more than one occasion.
Maria Sabina became a victim of the movement, and of the fame it acquired without ever suspecting that her meeting with Wasson would lead to it.
Many people took advantage of the fact that he did not speak the language; her family charged for her services without her receiving anything; a documentary was recorded for him about his sacred ceremonies; RG Wasson wrote several books about her and her work, recorded and translated her songs without her consent, and despite this, Maria never received any remuneration.
Finally, in the last years of her life, Maria began to have health problems until she died at her home in Huautla de Jiménez at the age of 91.
Despite the apparent tragedy that determined her life, María Sabina never stopped advocating for “holy children” and their potential to heal us.
Energies like yours are not often witnessed. Its cause became a banner of the counterculture movement and the impact it had continues today to disrupt traditional medicine in favor of integrative medicine, healing the mind to heal the whole.
Magician is the one who manages to focus his energy towards sharing and spreading his own illumination; You were a magician, María Sabina, and we thank you with one of the Mazatecan songs that you imparted to us:
«Heal yourself, my daughter, with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon.
With the sound of the river and the waterfall.
With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds.
Heal yourself, mijita, with the mint leaves and the mint, with the neem and the eucalyptus.
Sweeten yourself with lavender, rosemary and chamomile.
Embrace yourself with the cocoa bean and a touch of cinnamon.
Put love in tea instead of sugar and drink it looking at the stars.
With the kisses that the wind gives you and the hugs of the rain.
Get strong with your bare feet on the ground and with everything that comes from it.
Get smarter every day, listening to your intuition, looking at the world with the little eye on your forehead.
Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier. Heal yourself, mijita, with beautiful love, and always remember...
You are the medicine!!«
- House of Oaxacan Culture. (2016). “María Sabina”. Indelible no. 20. Available at: https://www.oaxaca.gob.mx/cco/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2016/08/Indelebles20.pdf
- Rodrguez Venegas, Citlali. (2017). “Mazatecos, holy children and güeros in Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca”. Mexico, CDMX: National Autonomous University of Mexico, Postgraduate Studies Coordination. Available at: https://www.posgrado.unam.mx/publicaciones/ant_col-posg/76_mazatecos.pd f