All parts of the mescalbeans are very poisonous, containing the alkaloid cytisine (not mescaline, as suggested by the name). We report on vital issues from politics to education and are the indispensable authority on the Texas scene, covering everything from music to cultural events with insightful recommendations. Ingestion of whole, undamaged seeds containing ricin or abrin typically does not produce symptoms. The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. “I said, ‘Okay, that’s interesting, but it’s still not enough proof,’” Boyd recalls. It has the most royal purple flowers in the early spring. Now, how it got its name is probably a tall tale. Sorry, we’re unable to find an account with that username and password. Striking out on her own, Turpin began wringing reluctant permission from ranchers to search for sites on private lands. Mountain Laurel. Ahead of us, like a muddy brown highway, the Rio Grande flows cool and inviting past canyon walls stacked with brilliant green cacti and brazen scarlet flowers. Now, the seed pods are developing. The earliest panels, Turpin and her colleagues now suggest, were painted by ancient shamans—a mystical elite who served their followers by journeying to the otherworld to battle and commune with supernatural forces. I Still Got COVID. As the excavations proceeded, many of Turpin’s colleagues concluded that the hole had been used as a hasty dumping ground for the dead. It has the most royal purple flowers in the early spring. Nearby, a huge painted larval monster wriggles up the back wall, while a flock of elongated humans wafts in the cosmic breeze. To those who passed through later, it was an earthly vision of hell. By examining the figures carefully, however, Turpin and others have detected clear rules governing their portrayal. The seeds of Texas Mountain Laurel look like bright red marbles littering the ground under the tree. “It was just a perfect symbolic rebirth,” Turpin says finally, shaking her head at the memory. The seeds seem to have been well known to the people of the Lower Pecos: Excavators unearthed dozens of samples in painted caves of the region. “You know what they say about sheep in this country,” she concludes with an ironic grin. The red seeds were valued by indigenous people and contain a substance widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. Seeds must be filed or mechanically scarified with a knife. According to Carolyn Boyd, a graduate student at Texas A&M University, the mystic artists of these canyons likely conceived many of their visions after consuming potent hallucinogenic plants. Laurel Hedge WARNING: Common garden plant can quickly turn into deadly CYANIDE ONE of the most common plants used to beautify English gardens across the … Generally, these types of plants grow well in USDA Zone 7B. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks Common Name: Mountain laurel bug, Red mountain laurel bug Scientific Name: Lopidea major Photo by Annette Segrato Notes: Indians in Texas were known to consume small quantities of the seeds as a hallucinogen.The mountain laurel bug (Lopidea major) uses the same toxins to ward off predators. It can be pruned to keep it shrub-like. The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. DESCRIPTION. I Live in the Middle of Nowhere. Painted blood-red and frozen forever in a lethal pounce, the giant cougar, or panther as it is known in local parlance, still blazes across the rocky canvas after thousands of years. “I think we’re going to find a great many more through the rock art—not just hallucinogens, but medicinal plants that were very much a part of ritual.” Painted long before the invention of paper in the New World, these enigmatic panels serve much like the later hand-painted codices of Mesoamerica, recording tribal mythology, sacred ritual, and spiritual vision. There they confronted deities and waged supernatural battles in order to see into the past, divine the future, cure illness, and escort the souls of the dead to their final home. “They tease me a lot about that now, the guys,” she admits, her husky voice edged with laughter. Along the muddy ground, javelina skulls whiten in the cool quiet. Don't have an account? Among the Campa of Peru, people described the stealth of human jaguars who prowled the forests at night in search of prey. But here in the Lower Pecos, they took a more direct route. Cuttings from juvenile trees may root. Subscribe or link your existing subscription. High along the rim, slender canes of ocotillo, each tipped with a brilliant crimson bloom, bend in greeting. (Rattlesnake Canyon is west of Langtry on the Rio Grande. Mountain laurel seedlings grow slowly the first two years. Throughout the region, she noticed, only one form ever approached the human figures in size or prominence—the cougar. Common names include Texas mountain laurel, Texas mescalbean, frijolito, and frijolillo. When entering deep drug-induced trances, subjects of experiments consistently report the sensation of being drawn through a deep hole. Below us, unseen in the folds of limestone, the Pecos rolls on silently to the Rio Grande, just a mile or so away. Under the tawny overhang of rock, we crane our necks as we stare up at the wild profusion of figures sprawling over more than five hundred square feet of the wall. Anticholinergic, narcotic, purgative, hypnotic, emetic, and hallucinogen. Now, the seed pods are developing. Texas Mountain Laurel is a native evergreen shrub that can be trained as a multi-trunked small tree. But Zintgraff is nothing if not full of surprises. You will see these bugs on your mountain laurels in early spring. Even today, Huichol shamans lead a pilgrimage there in the fall to collect a small, carrot-shaped cactus: the powerful hallucinogen peyote. But how could she resist? The Texas mountain laurel, also known as a mescal bean tree or by its scientific name Sophora secundiflora, is a flowering, evergreen tree native to Texas and New Mexico.The Texas mountain laurel is capable growing to about 35 feet (10.7 m) tall and 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, but it can be pruned so it is much shorter and not nearly as wide. Lighter than air, one small human figure levitates up the wall, his long hair standing on end. Certainly the artists had painted antlered human forms repeatedly on their rock shelter walls. While it can reach 30’ tall if given lots of water, it usually holds in the more manageable and desirable 10’ to 15’ range and gets about 10’ wide. An artist, muralist, and archaeologist, Boyd began looking into the subject five years ago while analyzing the Pecos River style of art and reading published studies of tribal groups in northern Mexico and the American Southwest. “I do think that what they painted are experiences they had under the influence of these plants,” says Boyd. Along the canyon floor lie small pools of clear green water, like something from a classical Chinese garden. The fragrance of Texas mountain laurel flowers is reminiscent of artificial grape products. Hills, yes. Photo by Ted Lee EubanksCommon Name: Mountain laurel bug, Red mountain laurel bugScientific Name: Lopidea major To transcend the world of the flesh, they likely collected and consumed the world’s oldest known hallucinogens, and in altered states of consciousness, they wrestled with gods and spirits, conceiving strange visions that they later recorded on rocky walls. A small, wiry man in suspenders, a neatly pressed white shirt, and canvas pants, the white-haired photographer looks more like a kindly pastor leading a church picnic than a man packing a pistol. If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Mountain laurel bug (Lopidea major) by Ted Lee Eubanks. Turpin was intrigued by Newcomb’s theory. Common names include Texas mountain laurel, Texas mescalbean, frijolito, and frijolillo. The Texas Mountain Laurel is one shrub that sells itself. Soaking the hard pods in warm water will soften them and make seed removal easier. As she studies the wall, she explains that the giant elongated human figures always occupy the most prominent positions in the panels, their arms extended wide and their faces blank and featureless. However, this shrub is often used in landscaping in public and private properties. In considering the evidence she now suggests that specific physiological effects of peyote may have profoundly shaped both religious belief and art. With its vertical shaft belling into a large subterranean chamber, the sinkhole may have come to symbolize both the earthen birth canal and the passage to the otherworld. For years researchers believed that shamanism had arrived in North America with the first migrants, but little was known about its early practice on the continent. Native to this here state of Texas and growing in the back corner of my garden, with the most gorgeous purple blooms. But as her research proceeds, she is rapidly amassing evidence of other equally potent plants. Like other murals painted in what has come to be known as the Pecos River style, this faded wall of color resists snap interpretations. “It’s that same old mythical portal to the earth.”. On occasion, witnesses of some modern rites have described participants’ “jumping like deer” after swallowing the plant. This week, she and longtime colleague Jim Zintgraff, a rock art photographer from San Antonio, have set aside field time to take me and two visiting researchers to see half a dozen of the finest galleries. That’s TEXAS Mountain Laurel thank you very much. Mescal bean; Texas Mountain Laurel. --from Wikipedia. “This is the shaman who transforms into the largest and most powerful animal here,” says Turpin, pointing up at the tall, rust-red figure of the panther shaman. To honor this divinity, pilgrims fasten some of the cacti to deer antlers carried along on the quest. For one born and bred in Minnesota, the Lower Pecos was an alien world, but she was determined to learn. Turning, she leads the way to a shady painted wall, and as I stand before scenes of soaring humans aloft in rapture, I feel a sudden, unexpected kinship to these ancient artists. Scientific Name Kalmia latifolia. Indians in Texas were known to consume small quantities of the seeds as a hallucinogen. After centuries of exposure, delicate ceremonial offerings, musical instruments, and ritual robes have crumbled to dust. Descending the narrow vertical shaft by ladder, the team reached a large subterranean chamber whose floor was littered with splinters of human bone. I have come to this southern edge of Texas to see great galleries of art painted on cliff and cave walls more than three thousand years ago. Rising twenty feet or so in the air, the willows wall out the world, reducing our vision to a green tunnel. Enter your email below to send a password reset email. This multi-trunk tree is noted for its clusters of pinkish, orchidlike flowers in the spring and yellow foliage in the fall. But they had more on their minds than the material world, says Turpin, pointing to a shadowy grotto in the east wall of the canyon. And as researchers have long known, there are no local oral traditions to help unlock the meaning: By the end of the sixteenth century, all the native residents of the Lower Pecos had been wiped out by disease and warfare. Roaming the floodplains and uplands, they had speared and snared whatever game they could, from rabbits and snakes to rock squirrels and deer. It thrives in a variety of soils and is drought-tolerant. Call us at 1 315 4971058. In Boyd’s view the peyote murals of the region stand as the world’s oldest known record of hallucinogen-inspired altered states. Mescal Bean Seeds (Texas Mountain Laurel) This decorative bush is a common landscaping bush in Southern Arizona. TUCKING AWAY PIPE AND TOBACCO, rock art photographer Jim Zintgraff leads the way down the snaking path to the White Shaman site, alert to the slightest sound. While excavating a series of high painted caves overlooking the Rio Grande in 1933, researchers from the Witte Museum had unearthed paraphernalia similar to that employed in modern peyote rituals. 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Turpin looks over and says, “Maybe this is what they mean by ‘the unbearable lightness of being.’”. See more ideas about Plants, Planting flowers, Trees to plant. On a gentle March evening there are nine of us camped along the rocky brim of the Pecos River canyon, our tents flapping gently in the breeze. Only scattered panels of rock art, long dismissed by most professional researchers as indecipherable and undatable, hint at a richer life. In the old days Indians used to crush some beans, mix with liquors, and have some real far-out parties. Now the doors of perception are slowly opening. Strewn liberally throughout a maze of canyons along the northeastern end of the Chihuahuan Desert, the strange murals teeming with birds, panthers, snakes, and shamans constitute a little-known treasure, one of North America’s oldest, largest, and most important collections of ritual art. Sophora secundiflora is a tall evergreen shrub with violet flowers and silvery pods containing bright red seeds or beans. See below Description. Print This Page Mountain Laurel Bug. FIRST THERE IS THE LAND ITSELF, WITH ITS menacing sweep and its rolling thunder of names—Big Satan Canyon, Devils River, Dead Man’s Canyon, Frightful Cave, Mystic Shelter, Sorcerer’s Cave. To the early Spanish settlers, who came to dread this desolate sweep, the lower Pecos River was part of the great despoblado, the uninhabited zone. IN THE SILENCE OF THE MORNING, about twenty miles west of the White Shaman site, I pick my way down the rubble-littered wall of Rattlesnake Canyon, trying not to think about the heat. Among the mystics of the Lower Pecos, such powerful visions were likely painted hours or days after the trances had ended, when hand-eye coordination had returned. Perhaps the artists were portraying shamans in the act of shape-shifting—assuming the protective form of a guardian animal for the dangerous passage to the otherworld. Such beliefs, she adds, were common among shamanistic cultures. To test the idea, she began immersing herself in the scientific literature on the religion. Among some native cultures in Mexico, runners eat peyote to increase their speed and boost their endurance during footraces. “They’re like little hanging gardens,” Turpin says, gazing up at them with a smile. They do mar the surface of the leaves, but otherwise they are harmless to the plant. Mescal beans are highly toxic but may have been used traditionally as a divinatory material, though this is contested. Giving up weekends and holidays to crawl across sheer mountain ledges and drop down stygian sinkholes, they are racing against time to photograph and record the fragile murals before they fade from sight. Laurel contains a hallucinogen chemical (cytisine). The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. In front of him, the white shaman shimmers, headless and ascendant, against the golden rock. It is highly drought tolerant after getting established for a year or two and is cold tolerant to about 10°F. As we sit companionably around the campfire, watching darkness fall, the conversation turns to the ancient paintings. ... children should be warned that the seeds contain a poison. Such athleticism on the part of an ancient shaman, says Boyd, could have inspired belief in a divinity half-deer and half-human. Leave them blank to get signed up. The Mescal beans, or "red beans" from this plant are lethal in large quantities but in small quantities (as in 1/4 of a bean) is used for its hallucinations or to get a trip. More intriguing still, along the sandy floors they had also found remnants of buttons of peyote, which grows only in isolated spots in the region. The sun has already developed a hard, steely gleam; the air hardly moves. It was a testament to their tenacity, but it worried Turpin no end. She points out a side canyon that protects an endangered species of pistachio, and she relates the short disastrous history of ranching in the region. The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen. The site belongs to the Rock Art Foundation, a San Antonio—based group dedicated to the preservation of the paintings.) In the flickering firelight, Turpin, a forthright woman in her late fifties with long graying hair, recalls how she once vowed to turn away from the temptation to interpret the puzzling figures. Mexican Buckeye. Then there is the malice of nature, where rattlesnakes wind through the dust and needle-sharp spines turn every shrub and strand of greenery into a particular torment: catclaw, horse crippler, Spanish bayonet, crucifixion thorn. I’m a third generation Texan and there are no real mountains in Texas. But Turpin saw another interpretation of the sinkhole. EAGER FOR A GLIMPSE INTO THESE MYSTERIES, I brace myself the next morning as we bounce over the water on the way to Panther Cave, spray lashing against the hull of our flat-bottom boat. At some point, however, the two realms had splintered apart, and humankind had lost its ability to commune with gods and supernatural beings. Photo by Annette Segrato Notes: Indians in Texas were known to consume small quantities of the seeds as a hallucinogen. The Texas Mountain Laurel is an attractive spring-flowering small tree with glossy, evergreen leaves and beautiful purple wisteria-like blooms. Upon awakening, they told of powerful visions. She had been hired to help map archaeological sites along the fence line of the newly created Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, 48 miles northwest of Del Rio, just off U.S. 90. From our webpage on Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel): "The brilliant, lacquer red seeds were valued by indigenous people for ornament and ceremonial use; they contain the highly poisonous alkaloid cytisine (or sophorine), a substance related to nicotine and widely cited as a narcotic and hallucinogen." Zintgraff doesn’t take kindly to intruders in these parts. Persuading a local businessman to purchase the property for the Rock Art Foundation, he has succeeded admirably. They will fade to orange while the hard seed coat softens enough for the seed to germinate, which could take a couple of years. The image resonated strongly with something she’d read. Now, how it got its name is probably a tall tale. “It’s the worst kind of sky,” Zintgraff says, mopping his forehead as he rests at the side of the trail. It is on private property owned by Texas Tech University and accessible by arrangement through the Rock Art Foundation.) Alive to its beauty, they returned here time and again, choosing this rugged wall for their unearthly visions. Toxins Present Grayanotoxin and arbutin. The grandson of a Texas Ranger, the courtly San Antonio resident has come well prepared to blast the trail’s resident rattlesnakes to kingdom come. “I said wait a minute—the black dots on the antler tines, where have I heard about that before?” Turning it over in her mind, she remembered reading of an ancient divinity, part human and part deer, revered by the Huichol people of Mexico. Search Library Topics      Search Newspaper Columns. In the Mexican highlands, people talked of similar creatures who stalked the darkness in feline form. Turpin began poring over the patterns of painted figures for clues. With ritual purification complete, the pilgrims then depart their village in single file, each carrying a lighted candle. As intoxication from the plant deepens, subjects report their first swirling hallucinations. Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Argyreia nervosa , not to be confused with the Hawaiian woodrose Merremia tuberosa , is a perennial climbing vine , also known as Elephant Creeper and Woolly Morning Glory . Thousands of years ago wandering tribes left mysterious and beautiful paintings on rocks in the Lower Pecos, and only now are we beginning to learn what they mean. I mean, really people. But this article focusses on “Texas mountain laurel” which belongs to Fabaceae (pea) family. “They’re born looking for a place to die.”, Turpin first arrived in the Lower Pecos in the late seventies, a recently divorced mother of five and a doctoral student in anthropology at UT. The fragrance of Texas mountain laurel flowers is reminiscent of artificial grape products. The passage of time and the relentless processes of decay, however, have greatly hindered such studies; little now attests to the spiritual and intellectual lives of ancient hunters and gatherers. Argyreia nervosa and over 1000 other quality seeds for sale. I’m a third generation Texan and there are no real mountains in Texas. Thrashing through the spiny brush and cooling off fully clothed in the local sheep troughs, she and fellow team members tracked down 48 new rock art sites over the next two years in Seminole Canyon—doubling the previously known number. Forsaking their earthbound bodies in an induced state of rapture, they called on the help of certain guardian animals and embarked on the perilous voyage to the otherworld. It seems that the bean of the Texas Mt. Dermatophyllum secundiflorum is a species of flowering shrub or small tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the southwestern United States (Texas, New Mexico) and Mexico (Chihuahua and Coahuila south to Hidalgo, Puebla and Querétaro). And as she clambered up and down rugged cliffs from Ozona in the north to Melchor Múzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, in the south, she developed an enduring appreciation for those who had gone before. Digging further into published accounts of today’s peyote pilgrimages, she began turning up a remarkable series of parallels to the images recorded at the White Shaman site. As we reach the painted overhang without so much as glimpsing a rattler, Zintgraff strides up to the panels with quiet reverence. Only a chosen few, the shamans, were still capable of crossing the great divide between the worlds: Their method of transport was the trance. According to tribal tradition, peyote is a sacred plant that was first carried to earth on the tines of a deergod. Texas Mountain Laurel is a … Hills, yes. Relegated to the fringes of archaeological research, where amateurs and hobbyists generally roam, rock art seldom attracts serious professional attention. Commonly known as mescal beans, the scarlet-colored seeds from Texas mountain laurel contained a poison that rendered the cultists unconscious. In fact, Kalmia latifolia belongs to Ericaceae (heather) family. Had the people of the Lower Pecos subscribed to similar beliefs nearly 4,200 years ago? Perhaps, Newcomb suggested, the panels depicted sacred dances of the mescal-bean shamans. The stories you want, in one weekly newsletter. For more information, call Seminole Canyon State Historical Park (915-292-4464) or the Rock Art Foundation (888-525-9907). “This was the area that had been the most studied in the whole Lower Pecos. Commonly known as mescal beans, the scarlet-colored seeds from Texas mountain laurel contained a poison that rendered the cultists unconscious. They will fade to orange while the hard seed coat softens enough for the seed to germinate, which could take a couple of years. Granted, it was incorporated into the peyote drink as prepared by several tribes and it is reasonable to assume that to be an ancient practice. Since finding and recording the White Shaman site more than thirty years ago, he has taken up its protection with true missionary zeal. Along a broad shelf of white rock, we stretch out in silence along the cool rock, staring up at the sky. That’s what I think is the hole of the universe, the portal to the divine.” Recent psychological studies, moreover, suggest that such an image stems directly from human neural wiring. And in the shady rock shelters, they had roasted the starchy bulbs of desert plants such as lechuguilla and sotol. Along the deeply entrenched rivers, small bands of hunters and gatherers had once hooked catfish and gar. Get our weekly newsletter, filled with good reads, news analysis—and updates on special events. Otherwise, try again or reset your password. During the late sixties, Texan anthropologist William Newcomb theorized that the central human figures were shamans engaged in ritual dances of an ancient mescal-bean cult. You will see these bugs on your mountain laurels in early spring. Other Common Names Calico-bush and Spoonwood. Throughout most of Central and South America, however, it had nurtured beliefs in were-jaguars. Once they walked this narrow canyon, reveling in its secret harmonies of water and shade. Seed Collection: Fruit maturation occurs mid to late summer, but the fruit will remain on the plant through the winter, finally releasing the seed the next summer. Characteristics: Sophora secundiflora, most commonly referred to as the Texas Mountain Laurel, can grow from just a few feet tall to up to 30 feet.It is an evergreen with small, shiny, leather-like leaves. On the White Shaman mural, five large, equally spaced humans hold fiery torches in both hands—each linked by a serpentine white cord darkened at one end. As the boat nudges up to the shoreline below Panther Cave, I spy the unmistakable lines of its namesake—the nine-foot-long cougar leaping along the back wall. Seed Treatment: Separate seeds from pod and store in bags or containers in a cool dry place. Cuttings from juvenile trees may root. Had the Lower Pecos artists represented these beliefs in their art? “It was just incredible,” Boyd says, “because it was one thing after another that started revealing itself.”. Sweat trickles down my back. “I said I wasn’t going to deal with it, it’s too fantastic, and I’m a scientist.”. And by gleaning clues from ethnographic studies of disparate modern and historic cultures, Turpin and her colleagues have finally begun cracking the millennia-old codes of metaphor and symbol. Some years ago, she and a small team began excavations in a dark, bell jar-shaped sinkhole near the rim of Seminole Canyon. Mountain laurel seedlings grow slowly the first two years. (White Shaman is on the Pecos, half a mile above the confluence with the Rio Grande. Below, on scattered ledges, prickly pear cacti cascade like giant green water drops, and claret-cup cacti brim with ruby flowers. Nearby, a grotesque crablike creature scuttles through the ether, while a herd of deer succumbs to hunters’ spears. Dodging hostile forces, which were often represented in the rock art by a rain of spears, the shamans described their entrance to the sacred realm through a small circular portal. By scraping tiny traces of paint from caves along the confluence of the Rio Grande and Pecos and Devils rivers, popularly known as the Lower Pecos region, physicists have dated the earliest style of art to some 3,000 to 4,200 years ago. Second, Sophora itself is not known to have ever actually been used as a sacramental hallucinogen per se.It was employed in a highly dangerous form of a vision quest to gain animal spirits as guardians, protectors or familiars. And archaeological evidence suggested they knew peyote well. In Europe, the ancient notion of shape-shifting had given birth to legends of werewolves; in Africa, it spawned tales of were-crocodiles. Scrambling up the path, I follow Turpin as she darts through a small door in the wire fence that protects the paintings from vandals. To track down and record the long-lost masterpieces, rock art expert Solveig Turpin and a small ragtag crew of graduate students and friends have spent more than a decade combing this thorny wilderness. Four thousand years ago and more, grieving relatives had carried their infant and elderly dead to the underground chamber, sliding them gently down the chute to return them to the darkened realm from which they had come. It seems that the bean of the Texas Mt. Mar 11, 2017 - Explore Ron Dass's board "Legumes", followed by 192 people on Pinterest. “Everybody went, ‘Oh, look, they just threw ’em away down the hole,’” she says. For example, to symbolize a spirit of unity before they set out, Huichol shamans instruct the pilgrims to grasp part of a long cactus-fiber cord; the cord is then scorched by fire. Turns to the ancient notion of shape-shifting had given birth to legends of werewolves ; in Africa, it the. 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