Religion: The Button Eaters

Visions and other mystical experiences are part of the regular spiritual diet of the 50,000-odd members of the Native American Church, thanks to what they consider a special gift from God: peyote (pronounced pay-oh-tee), a small cactus growing in the valley of the Rio Grande. The Indians of the Native American Church, 46 tribes in the West and Canada, cut off and dry the cactus tops, then eat the "buttons" in nightlong ceremonies to the accompaniment of sacred fire and chanting. A derivative called mescaline, subject of experiment by psychiatric researchers and mystical...

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