In the mountains of northern Oaxaca, Huautla has had a far bigger impact on Western civilization than vice versa. Its valleys are a cornucopia of rare flora and fungi where its ”magic mushrooms” ignited the psychedelic culture of the 1960’s.
For centuries, the Mazatec Indians who live here have used psilocybin mushrooms in ceremonies combining Catholic and indigenous rituals, conducted only at night, before homemade altars adorned with 13 flickering candles and the images of saints. They call the mushrooms ‘God’s flesh. ”They have the power to cure, to heal, to deliver understanding,” said Aurelia Aurora Catarino, 56, one of Huautla’s leading curanderas, or shamans. ”They are not a drug. They are a sacrament.”