The Selected Quirks of Madjag

The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.

The Princes of Peyote

While the late 1960’s gave birth to a small and secretive guerrilla herb growing scene in Arizona, the mid-1970’s matured into a dependable connoisseur market of high-quality homegrown. Additionally several strong alternative plant scenes came to fruition as well, including the fast growing market for Peyote cacti and psilocybin mushrooms. Old School Arizona at its finest.

Strangely enough, the two young guys who were responsible for almost every Peyote button sold in the US, hell, for that matter in the world, were friends of mine who lived in the Verde Valley. Not to say that you couldn’t go up to the Navajo Reservation and meet someone in The Native American Church to score your own. You could if you felt lucky and had the time to hang out and be patient. However the many, many 1,000, 5,000, or 10,000 button orders during those years from every state in the union were filled from the 100,000, 150,000, and 250,000 button orders these guys received from Sam and his clan.

Sam was a peaceful man, a Road Chief in the Church, who also had led countless sweat lodge ceremonies and allegedly had helped build over 1,000 sweat lodges throughout his life. He had the Church’s Federal Import license in hand when he went down to Texas and either purchased there or crossed over into Old Mexico for the larger quantities the Church was increasingly needing thanks to the exploratory hearts and souls of a million young hippies hungry for the Peyote Road and whatever it might hold for them. Mescaline, and I mean real mescaline, not light LSD powders capped and renamed, was extremely rare, but again, the volumes needed for its production came solely from the Princes and their deep ties to the Navajo Res.

Can you imagine what 100,000 fresh buttons looks like, how much it weighs, and how much space that equates?  It’s certainly a large pickup truck with its bed overloaded. One fine spring day I walked over to the younger of the two Prince’s house hoping to get in on an upcoming shipment that was soon expected to hit town. I squeezed between dozens of  burlap potato sacks on his crowded porch and knocked on the door, hoping to be one of the first to catch a glimpse of what was reputed to be “a huge lot” of buttons. No one answered, so I turned to go. As I did I finally paid attention to the dozens of burlap bags that I had moved around so unconsciously to get across his porch. The bags were fat and tied with loose ropes, some of which had fallen off the bags and exposed their cargo. Yep, Peyote. Yep, 20 or more bags larger than you could comfortably hold or get your arms around, like big color TV size bags. And yep, I was buzzed, a bit shaky, and nervously looked in all directions to see who was watching.

The Navajos had come by and merely dropped off their cargo since no one was home. Later I discovered that this sort of delivery was not at all unexpected and allowed the delivery clan to keep their own schedules, schedules that did not resemble our timelines and certainly had a different energy involved. Right about then my energy was a bit different as well as I looked into a bag with sheer wonder and picked up a few cacti for examination. Though an absolutely brilliant emerald green on the inside, the buttons had a dusty outer skin from their recent removal from their high-desert Big Bend, Texas or northern Mexican habitat. Their hot, long distance ride to reach Cottonwood made their white tufts even dustier and the dirt coated them completely.

I had eaten Peyote several times before that moment and remembered the difficult price of admission required of anyone wanting to journey this way: the offensive alkaline taste and repulsive swallow-and-return-to-mouth echo of each bit you swallowed, the bright green juice that was seriously more bitter than wormwood, and the dread that accompanied every bite as you saw how much you still had left to consume. The Church tended to use tea and its concentrated Peyote extract as their selected method of ingestion. It allowed one to at least get a journey’s worth in your body before it tried to get back out. Others I knew engaged in secret ceremonies like Peyote enemas, bypassing the gut and eliminating any vomit response. Not a bad method overall from what I had heard and certainly easier to engage,  just a bit questionable for the new initiate wanting to know why they had to stick it up their butt to have their journey. Others took dried buttons and ground them into powder, encapsulating that green-brown magic dust into large gelatin caps (AAA size), and then having a swallow party.

Fresh buttons were the toughest to eat. Cutting a big, fat button into say, eight pieces, and then swallowing one after another with fast swigs of water was a plan seldom accomplished, or at least seldom accomplished without serious gastric reflux. Needless to say, I don’t know many folks that can honestly admit that they have eaten a nice journey’s amount, perhaps 10 fresh buttons, without resorting to Cheezits, peanut butter, or some other element for masking the taste. Those methods, of course, were fraught with even more stomach issues in the long run. Seeing pulpy, green juice leave your inner gut like Old Faithful is one thing; seeing cheese or P.B. accompany the vomit mix slows the purification process and extends these unpleasant moments for what can seem to be an eternity.

Later I saw Duke and asked him about the delivery. He seemed totally mellow with the concept of having 100,000 buttons on his porch even though he lived only two blocks from the local police station. An event like this was expected when dealing with the clan. They lived without any fear attached to Peyote use and worship so if you were going to work with them, you had to meet them on their level, at least a little bit. Your neurosis amplified in the face of their simple peace. You learned about what mattered in a new way. Life with the teacher Peyote would set you free if you allowed it to.

And we did. The Princes moved millions of buttons to anxious hands and minds over the course of 6-7 years and the full extent of that unique worldwide distribution is difficult to evaluate. If you were around back then and shared in this bounty even once, you know that Peyote’s price of admission makes the experience all the more handsome once you reached that first Aha! moment. Then, the strange trail to get there mattered no longer.

Peyote stories abounded among my peers in the Valley. In 1973 the cost of 100 buttons from one of the Princes or their close friends was a mere 20 cents per button or $20.00. A thousand buttons would drop to 10-12 cents a button or $100.00 – $120.00. My Prince of Peyote friend Duke paid somewhere in the fluctuating range of 3-5 cents per button in large lots like the porch drop. Another two amigos of mine had a chemist client in Oakland that would purchase 50,000-75,000 buttons a pop on a bi-monthly basis. They’d pack their old Toyota pickup camper to the brim and drive non-stop all night to reach his house late the next day. His gig was producing the rare and authentic pure mescaline sulfate, skinny, ¼” – ¾’ long crystalline spears that resembled the thin spikes that were used in the game “Pick Up Sticks” when you dumped out a dose onto a flat surface. I remember $3.00 hits of chocolate mescaline in 1970 Boulder and now realize, after considering the effects, that it wasn’t authentic Mescaline but most likely a light dose of greenish-brown colored LSD powder capped in clear gelatin so you could marvel at its color. High-quality mescaline, just like coke, is semi-translucent or clear, and costs quite a lot per dose, 10 times more than street hits of strong acid. Quality coke did it with thin sheets of shimmering flakes or tiny rock crystals, whereas real mescaline came in the pure form of transparent crystalline spikes and spears.

Tip:  if you did what you think was Mescaline back in the day and your dose cost less than $10-$15, you didn’t do actual mescaline sulfate. The authentica was primarily visual in its effects and even at friendly wholesale prices, it cost way, way more than its lysergic cousin LSD or dried psilocybin powder. I once spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 hours laying on big flat boulders next to Aravaipa Creek near Klondyke, Arizona watching stream water flow by, up close and personal, just 15 inches away. The color refractions from spray mist and the bubbling water reflections kept me within a 100 foot square area for the whole day, alternating my solemn gazing into the narrow, rocky creek with lying on my back while watching the rich, green riparian shrubs and trees, surrounded by 200 foot vertical cliffs, and topped with ascending layers of even steeper rock walls.

It’s all so subjective of course, however if I had to summarize Mescaline I’d say it was like Peyote without the Teacher. It limited you to your senses, but it didn’t speak to you with a clear, inner voice like buttons.

Medicine, as my Navajo friends referred to it, had a voice and it often sounds like yourself thinking out loud. But wait, it also sees everything in its naked state. The voice points this out. It’s not just you projecting, there’s some other energetic force as well. And when you finally fall into a deep sleep after your journey,  you awaken the next day in a state that is even clearer than the day before you ate the Medicine.

Fill in the blanks if you truly know. And thank the Princes for their passion.

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