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The Datura Cult Among the Chumash

The Datura Cult Among the Chumash

  1. NeuroChi
    Journal Issue:
    Journal of California Anthropology, The, 2(1)
    Author:
    Applegate, Richard B, California State University, San Jose

    In their quest for visions and for supernatural power, the Chumash of the Santa Barbara region
    were one of many tribes throughout North and South America that resorted to the use of
    hallucinogenic plants. Datura was one of the most widely known of these hallucinogens; Indians
    of an area from Chile to the American Southwest made ritual use of several species of Datura.
    Until recently, references to Datura in the literature on the Chumash have been brief and largely
    conjectural. Now contemporary workers are synthesizing the unpublished manuscripts of John
    P. Harrington's ethnographic work among the Chumash between 1912 and 1922. In particular,
    Thomas Blackburn (1974) has done a cultural analysis of Chumash narrative texts in which Datura
    figures prominently.