Jaguars, the magnificent jungle cats, were apparently the original source of veneration for the yagé vine. Yagé contains psychoactive alkaloids and is an essential ingredient in ayahuasca preparations.
The ancient wisdom of Amazonian shamanism teaches that the yagé vine was discovered from observing jaguars eat it and then go into ecstasy. Ayahuasca is sometimes taken before a hunt to channel the spirit of the jaguar. The late Richard Schultes, a revered ethnobotanist, wrote “the repetitiveness with which snakes and jaguars occur in ayahuasca visions has intrigued psychologists.”
It doesn’t stop with catnip or dogs that like to drink beer; animals enjoy the psychoactive effects of plants as much as we do. In fact, history tells us that humans often discover psychoactive plants by observing the inebriated behavior of animals that eat them. Could it be coincidence that the animals are getting high? Yes, of course; but when the creatures go back time and time again to consume an apparently toxic plant, it makes you believe that they do it for enjoyment!
(Illustration by Noore Yazigi @NOOZIGI)
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