The close friendship and mutual trust that existed between the three characters that made the book Vida de María Sabina possible. The sage of mushrooms, María Sabina herself, Álvaro Estrada and Gordon Wasson, allows the reader to approach a worldview different from modern Western rationality, said anthropologist Julio Glockner.
When presenting in Puebla the most recent edition of the book published by Siglo XXI under the impulse of its editor Tomás Granados, the researcher said that Álvaro Estrada’s book leads to “understanding that it is not, for the Mazatec people, an imaginary world of hallucinations, but of an ancestral spiritual wealth that manifests itself in mental images impregnated with a deep religious sense”.
With the call for the volume to be read by the new generations with the same interest that it was read by the readers of 45 years ago, glockner He reviewed the context and the characters that surrounded the appearance of this book, a documentary “jewel” because it brings the reader closer, through the account of a personal life of a wise Mazatec, to the extensive knowledge of the rituals of a people.
Accompanied by the therapist Julia Lucila Valadés Gameros, he recalled that María Sabina could not receive the knowledge of the family tradition, however, as it happens in her town where children become familiar with healing rites in which sacred mushrooms are used and learn them To use later in case of an eventuality, María Sabina knew how to do it when her sister got sick, consuming 30 pairs of “collapse” to cure her, a high dose that allowed her to follow the instructions of the “holy children” during the trance.
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He explained that Álvaro Estrada met María Sabina in unfavorable conditions for her: when she had received a summons from the Teotitlán police for having been clumsily defamed that she sold marijuana to young people. “Álvaro offered to escape to Mexico City where he was studying engineering at the National Polytechnic Institute, and she gladly accepted. From that gesture of solidarity a deep friendship was born, nurtured by long conversations in Mazatec and finally one of the most fascinating books that have been written in Mexico: Vida de María Sabina. The mushroom sap, a title suggested by Octavio Paz and Arnaldo Orfila, then editor of Siglo XXI”.
Said book, he continued, is one of the most interesting and moving testimonies about Mazatec spirituality and the activity ritual of a shaman. “We have very few biographical texts of this type: I think of only two: that of Nadia Stepanova, the summoner of the gods, stories of a Siberian shaman, and that of Fernando Payaguaje, who was considered the last sequoia shaman of the Ecuadorian jungle. , the yajé drinker”.
Julio Glocker also considered that although the language barrier vanished in the conversations of Álvaro Estrada and María Sabina and their subsequent translation, these were only in colloquial language, since the shamanic language remained wrapped in beautiful metaphors. that make up a whole poetic body as well as in the idiomatic mystery of symbols and verbal signs that are exclusive to each shaman as they come from the revelations that are presented to them in the state of entheogenic ecstasy.
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He noted that Henry Munn approached this hermetic language that is deployed in a ceremony not only verbally but also as a gestural and body language that can include dances, percussions, clicks, and songs by the shaman.
Regarding Gordon Wasson, he stressed that the New York banker said that it was a “religious office” that should be presented to the world in a dignified manner, without sensationalism, without cheapening it or making it coarse, with sobriety and truthfulness. Thus, after his article appeared in Life y Life magazine in Spanish in 1957, “it is not that it was a debased narration, but as Marshall McLuhan stated: the medium is the message, and his collaboration in one of the magazines with the largest circulation in the world was titled In Search of the Magic Mushroom and appeared in the series Great Adventures, among General Motors advertising, perfumes, tires and next to articles on international politics and the latest fashion cleavage; This is how the Mazatec rituals became known worldwide.
The author of the books Los volcanes sagrados and La mirada interior explained that after the publication of the article the social impact was not long in coming and despite the fact that the names of the mountains, towns and people changed, Huautla became in the years 60 and 70 of the previous century in a place of psychedelic pilgrimage of the hippie and “hippiteca” movement, as the writer José Agustín called it. From the door of the family business in Huautla de Jiménez, continued the presenter of the book, Álvaro Estrada witnessed the gaze of the first foreigners and the first Protestant missionaries who helped Wasson translate his research. Thus, for more than a decade thousands of young people went up to the mountains, some in search of a simple psychedelic experience and others for a transcendent experience; “They wanted to see God”, María Sabina told Álvaro Estrada.
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When he finished the book, Estrada sent it to Wasson and he read it moved, writing an interesting prologue that is included in this edition, reflecting on the consequences of his work. “Álvaro maintained a good friendship with him and with Alfred Hoffman, to whom he dedicated what was his last work: Albert Hofman, the wise man who undid the sacred Mexican mushrooms and turned them into pills”. Even, noted Julio Glockner, Álvaro Estrada also shared with him “his good humor, his warm friendship and his sharp intelligence” which were traits of his personality.
To close, he said that years later, after María Sabina’s book was published, Álvaro Estrada visited her with the intention of eating mushrooms with her, since until then he had not given himself the opportunity to do so. “Sabina was already 84 years old and had unusual vitality. It was a moving experience that appears recounted from the seventh edition. I will only remember that almost at dawn they both lay down to sleep a little in the same bed, and Álvaro had a vision that seems to me now an allegory of his farewell to this world: ‘o he kept lying down looking at the ceiling… Which ceiling? ? The roof had disappeared and Sabina’s house was a box of adobes from where he could see the sky and its pulsating stars. Thus, looking towards the celestial depth, I saw a fine and fresh breeze coming towards me that fell on my body, soaking my clothes, my face and my hands. The breeze continued for a while and then it was gone.”
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