“The importance of psychoactive plants in many major pre-Columbian Andean cultures is well-documented, with an abundance of convincing evidence for their use in diverse geographical locations and time periods. However, significant gaps remain in the archaeological record, where the current evidence of hallucinogen use in certain cultures is scarce or non-existent. This presentation attempts to address such gaps in our knowledge.”
May 24, 2022 4:05 pm
May 24, 2022 8:55 pm
Colin Domnauer graduated from UC Berkeley, where he completed his thesis investigating the use of the psychoactive plant Vilca (Anadenanthera spp.) in pre-Columbian Andean cultures. He is now pursuing graduate research in Mycology at the University of Utah.
Expanding Evidence of Anadenanthera in the pre-Columbian Andes: Identifying Depictions of Anadenanthera in the Iconographic Records of Cupisnique, Paracas, and Nazca Cultures
The importance of psychoactive plants in many major pre-Columbian Andean cultures is well-documented, with an abundance of convincing evidence for their use in diverse geographical locations and time periods. However, significant gaps remain in the archaeological record, where the current evidence of hallucinogen use in certain cultures is scarce or non-existent. This presentation attempts to address such gaps in our knowledge, presenting novel visual evidence of the hallucinogenic plant vilca (Anadenanthera spp.) appearing in the iconographic record. Specific symbolic depictions believed to represent vilca are identified. Supporting this interpretation, these images often appear in combination with themes associated with shamanism and non-ordinary states of consciousness. The occurrence of these common motifs is traced through the artistic record of multiple important Andean cultures that exhibited no previous evidence for the use of vilca: Cupisnique (ca. 1000–200 BCE), Paracas (ca. 800-100 BCE), and Nazca (100–800 CE). Such iconographic evidence suggests that vilca was utilized in a shamanic context and indicates that it was culturally significant enough for individuals to devote a substantial amount of time and effort to reflect these themes of vilca and shamanism in their artistic creations, whether through detailed ceramics or intricate textiles. This new visual evidence therefore acts to further expand and reinforce our understanding of the prevalence and significance of vilca in the pre-Columbian Andes.
Reports of Psychoactive Boletes
For more than half a century, the existence of certain species of mushrooms in the family Boletaceae (“boletes”) possessing psychoactive properties has been rumored, with independent ethnographic reports emerging from Papúa New Guinea and China. In both cases, local inhabitants describe consuming a type of bolete mushroom, followed by the occurrence of various hallucinations, generally characterized by a perception of being surrounded by an abundance of colorful, diminutive creatures – clinically referred to as “Lilliputian Hallucinations”. Despite the numerous and suggestive reports, the identity of psychoactive boletes remains a mycological mystery. To this date, no rigorous scientific studies have been performed that conclusively reveal the taxonomic identity or active chemical constituents of this unstudied group of psychoactive mushrooms. In this presentation, the history of psychoactive bolete reports is compiled together, our scant sum of knowledge on the topic is summarized, and future directions for research are suggested.