According to the authors of a new study, the aged California teens were taking hallucinogenic drugs designed to help them “get in touch with a supernatural” plane and “acquire power animals” and even visit the land of the dead.
According to the study, initiates of the Chumash, a Native American people who inhabited coastal areas of California, including what is now Los Angeles, would enter a trance-like state thanks to psychoactive compounds in the plant Datura.
Dr. David Robinson, Lecturer in Archeology at the University of Central Lancashire, claims that humans have taken Datura “primarily as a way of connecting with the supernatural to achieve certain things.”
He added that people who died without having undergone the initiation ceremony were viewed as somewhat ‘culturally ignorant’ and would find it difficult to reach the land of the dead – usually equated with traveling through the Milky Way in Chumash culture – because they didn’t have the secret. knowledge of consuming the plant.
He added, “What they would do is isolate the initiates around puberty and prepare a drink called the Toloache.
“An elder experienced with this would find the plant, talk to it often, and ask permission to use the plant.”
He said the hallucinogens were used so that initiates could get “power animals” also known as “familiars.”
“Different groups call them different things, but essentially the central idea in California that you aligned yourself was trying to get allies in the supernatural powers of animals, who would then be your advocates and helpers for the rest of you. live, ”he said.
Dr. Robinson said the cave paintings in Pinwheel Cave, California, may have been drawn under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug.
The authors of the study said in their article that a painting in the cave on the ceiling may represent the flowers of Datura.
“These results confirm the use of hallucinogens at a rock art site, while calling into question previous assumptions regarding trance and rock art images,” they wrote.
Speaking of whether the pinwheel petroglyph image was something people saw and drew during the trance or whether it was something created afterward, said Dr. Robinson: Well, this is the debate!
“Because a lot of people think the petroglyphs are a reflection of what people see in a trance.”
Datura is used in modern medicine mainly for its compound scopolamine, which is used to treat motion sickness, nausea and vomiting after surgery.
Another compound in the plant, atropine, is used, among other things, to treat a lower heart rate and to reduce salivation before surgery.