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Maria Sabina

Maria Sabina

 

According to R. Wasson, a US ethnomycologist and banker, Doña María Sabina was born on the 17th of March, 1894, but her mother María Concepción said, that her daughter had been born on the day of the Virgin Magdalene, which is on July 22nd. Documents in the local parish state that she was baptized on the 24th.

Doña María's father Crisanto Feliciano died from an illness when she was only three years old so her mother took her and her younger sister María Ana to live with her parents in the Sierra Mazateca of southern Mexico, in the house of her maternal grandparents.

Doña María got acquainted to magic mushrooms at a very early age. She said that she could recall playing with her little sister when she was only 7 years old while they were tending the family's animals, when she saw a bunch of beautiful mushrooms growing beneath a tree. She recognized that those were the same mushrooms as the local curandero (healer) Juan Manuel used in his ceremonies to cure the sick, so she picked some of them and ate them. María told her sister to do the same and soon she felt the magic effects of the divine mushrooms. The following months both she and her sister would consume the magic mushrooms several times and even though her mother once caught her and asked what she had done when she was laughing and singing in exuberant joy, she was never scolded for consuming the magic mushrooms. When she was eight years old her uncle fell sick and many shamans from the surrounding Sierras near her village failed to cure him with their herbs, his condition only got worse instead. She then remembered the mushrooms she had taken and that they had offered to help if she should ever need it. Doña María went to collect some the sacred mushrooms and ate them. When the effects came on she would ask the mushrooms how she could help her uncle to get well again and the mushrooms told her that she would have to give him a special herb to expel the "evil spirit" that had entered her uncle's blood and possessed him. The mushrooms told her that she would need a different herb than the shamans had used and that she would find it in a place in the mountains, where the waters of the brook run pure and the trees grow tall. Knowing the place the mushrooms hinted her to, she ran and fetched some of the herb. She made a concoction and gave it to her uncle and within only a few days he was cured. This was when Doña María knew that this would become her way of life and as she grew older, she became respected as an honest and powerful "Sabia", "a wise one" in her village. Countless hundreds of sick and suffering people sought out her magic throughout the decades she conducted her healing ceremonies.

It was in 1955, when the first Westerner came to the little village of Huautla de Jimenez in Oaxaca. R. Gordon Wasson, a US ethnomycologist and banker visited Doña María's hometown and he also was first Westerner participating in a velada with her. Wasson brought spores to Paris, where he identified it as Psilocybe mexicana. Its main active ingredients were isolated and synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1958. Although Wasson tried to keep Doña María's identity a secret, the story of the Mazatec Sabia and his experiences with her magic mushrooms inevitably spread throughout the West like wildfire after he had first written of Doña María and her ceremonies in the Life magazine in May 1957. Soon thousands of mushroom seekers, scientists and others arrived in the Sierra Mazateca, among them 60s celebrities, including rock stars such as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and even the CIA sent an undercover agent to collect specimens of the magic mushrooms.

Doña María said that "Before Wasson, nobody took the children (magic mushrooms) simply to find God. They were always taken to cure the sick." Another remarkable citation implies her regrets having shown her magic to Wasson: "From the moment the foreigners arrived, the 'holy children' lost their purity. They lost their force, they ruined them. Henceforth they will no longer work. There is no remedy for it." Each time she gave the visitors what they were looking for and each time she conducted her ceremonies, she gave away a bit of herself.

Soon the Mexican police thought that she was selling drugs to the foreigners and this unwanted attention completely altered the social dynamics of the Mazatec community and threatened to terminate the Mazatec custom. The community put the blame on Doña María, exiled her and burned down the hut that had been her home for all her life.

Doña María Sabina, the most well-known and acclaimed curandera on earth died on November 23, 1985.

 


Zamnesia