peyote church

Encyclopedia Article


The informal term for the Native American Church, which was established in 1918 as a Pan-Indian movement and in response to government abuses and relocations. The Native American (peyote) Church synthesized Christian beliefs with the sacramental use of peyote, a small, spineless cactus that grows primarily in Texas and Mexico. Although using peyote, a known hallucinogen, for ceremonial purposes occurred in many tribes prior to the organization of the Church, the Native American Church is the first, large ceremonial organization to transcend tribal differences. The Church still exists today despite U.S. legal objection to the use of peyote, which is classified as an illegal drug.

Peyote ceremonies, intended for healing and blessing, usually take place on weekends, but there is no set schedule. Some groups hold meetings monthly while others are more spontaneous. Because peyote is psychoactive, service participants often have visions, but it is the community experience of these effects that gives the ceremony spiritual power.

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"Peyote road sand half-circle, June 7, 2008" by Haiduc is licensed under Public Domain.

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