maria sabina

Maria Sabina’s Amazing Journey into the Sacred Realm of Psilocybin

by | May 17, 2024

maria sabina

Written by Amy Donohue

Amy Donohue, a former high school Spanish teacher turned stand-up comedian and radio DJ, transitioned into the cannabis industry after realizing the value of social media for building relationships. Leveraging her expertise in social media, she co-founded Hybrid Social, Arizona's first all-cannabis marketing and social media agency. She is a prominent figure in the Phoenix chapter of Women Grow, consulted on the Prop 205 campaign, and co-founded Cannafriends, a cannabis networking group in Arizona. She has been featured in various cannabis publications and contributed to Dope Magazine in 2016.

Maria Sabina, born Maria Sabina Magdalena García, often referred to as the “Mazatec Curandera” and the “Godmother of Magic Mushrooms,” holds a significant place in the history of psychedelic exploration.

Born on July 22, 1894, in Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca, Mexico, Maria Sabina was a sabia, or healer, and spiritual guide within the Mazatec indigenous community, known for her profound knowledge of sacred mushrooms, particularly Psilocybe mushrooms. She died in 1985, suffering from malnutrition due to poverty.

maria sabina
Maria Sabina

Maria Sabina’s Life & Heritage

After losing her father at the age of 3, Maria was left to take care of her grandparents when her mother had to go to work to care for the rest of the family. Living in poverty, the family made money by raising silkworms and animals.

Maria Sabina’s relationship with psychedelic mushrooms stemmed from her cultural heritage and spiritual practices deeply rooted in Mazatec traditions. As a young girl, she had seen her uncle being treated by a village shaman with mushrooms for his illness. For centuries, the Mazatec people had revered certain mushrooms, believing them to be gateways to the divine and conduits for healing and spiritual enlightenment. Maria Sabina was initiated into the rituals involving these mushrooms at a young age, learning the intricate ceremonies and methods of mushroom consumption.

Maria Sabina as a Healer

One of the most notable aspects of Maria Sabina’s work was her role as a “sabia” or healer, using psychedelic mushrooms to treat various ailments, both physical and spiritual. She conducted ceremonies known as “veladas,” during which participants ingested mushrooms under her guidance, seeking healing, insight, and communion with the spiritual realm. These ceremonies were characterized by chanting, prayers, and the use of other traditional elements to facilitate the psychedelic experience and its therapeutic effects.

Maria Sabina gained widespread recognition outside of her community in the 1950s when she was visited by Gordon Wasson, an American ethnobotanist, and his photographer, Allan Richardson. Wasson’s account of his experience with Maria Sabina and the psychedelic mushrooms was published in a 1957 article in Life magazine, introducing the Western world to the Mazatec mushroom ceremonies and sparking a surge of interest in psychedelic research and exploration. This article has been credited as sparking the psychedelic movement of the hippies of the 1960s.

The Price of Fame

However, the unintended consequences of this exposure were profound and, in many ways, detrimental to Maria Sabina and her community. The influx of outsiders seeking psychedelic experiences disrupted the sacredness of the Mazatec rituals, leading to exploitation, cultural appropriation, and environmental degradation in the search for psychedelic mushrooms. Maria Sabina herself faced persecution from Mexican authorities, who viewed her practices as subversive and sought to suppress them. Her Mazatec community ostracized her for this. Her son was murdered, and they burned her house down.

Despite these challenges, Maria Sabina remained steadfast in her commitment to her spiritual beliefs and healing practices. She continued to conduct veladas for those who sought her guidance, albeit with greater secrecy and caution. Many celebrities have claimed she had cured them, but it can’t be proven without photo evidence.

Her legacy as a pioneer of psychedelic exploration endures, serving as a reminder of the importance of cultural respect, ethical conduct, and reverence for the profound mysteries of the psychedelic experience. Maria Sabina’s work with psychedelic mushrooms not only opened doors to new avenues of consciousness exploration but also raised important questions about the intersection of spirituality, indigenous wisdom, and modern science.

The Legacy of a Visionary

In the chronicles of psychedelic exploration, Maria Sabina emerges as a central figure, living a life rich in Mazatec tradition and spiritual practice. Despite enduring poverty and persecution, Sabina remained steadfast in her role as a healer, guiding seekers through the transformative rituals of the mushroom ceremonies.

Sabina’s legacy serves as a reminder of the complexities created by culture, spirituality, and modernity. Her story challenges us to navigate the pursuit of enlightenment with respect, integrity, and a deep appreciation for the wisdom of indigenous traditions. In honoring her memory, we acknowledge the profound impact of her work on psychedelic exploration and the enduring importance of preserving and respecting the cultural heritage from which it springs.