Maria Sabina

From Academic Kids

Her Life

Maria Sabina Garcia (1888–November 23, 1985) was a Mazatec medicine woman who lived her whole life in a humble hut in the Sierra Mazateca of southern Mexico. Her practice was the use of the "holy children" (Mazatec euphemism for various species of native magic mushrooms, which are otherwise not named directly).

She was the first Native shaman in modern times to allow westerners to participate in the healing ceremony known as a velada, a vigil, during the course of which all the participants partake of the magic mushroom as a sacrament which opens the gates of the mind. The ceremony is seen as a purification and as a communion with the sacred.

Her work was inseparable from her chants, which were recorded and translated by fellow Mazatec Alvaro Estrada. In her words:

I have never seen the demons, although to arrive where I should I pass through the dominions of death. I submerge myself and walk down below. I can search in the shadows and in the silence. Thus I arrive where the sicknesses crouch. Very far down below. Below the roots and the water, the mud and the rocks. At other times I ascend very high up, above the mountains and the clouds. Upon arriving where I should I look at God and at Benito Juarez. There I look at the good people. There everything is known. About everything and everyone, because there everything is clear. I hear voices. They speak to me. It is the voice of "Little-One-Who-springs-Forth." The God that lives in them enters my body. I cede my body and my voice to the "Holy Children." They are the ones who speak. In the vigils they work in my body, and I say:

Because you gave me your clock

Because you gave me your thought

Beacause I am a clean woman

Because I am a Cross Star woman

Because I am a woman who flies

I am the sacred eagle woman, says

I am the Lord eagle woman, says

I am the lady who swims, says

Because I can swim in the immense

Because I can swim in all forms

Because I am the launch woman

Because I am the sacred opposum

Because I am the Lord opposum

I am the woman Book that is beneath the water, says

I am the woman of the populous town, says

I am the shepherdess who is beneath the water, says

I am the woman who shepherds the immense, says

I am a shepherdess and I come with my shepherd, says

Because everything has its origin

And I come going from place to place from the origin . . .

Then . . .

I am the woman of the sacred Sun Stone, says

I am the woman of the Lord Sun Stone, says

I am the shooting star woman, says

I am the shooting star woman beneath the water, says

I am the lady doll, says

I am the sacred clown, says

I am the Lord clown, says

Because I can swim

because I can fly

Because I can follow tracks . . .

Language belongs to the "holy children." They speak and I have the power to translate. If I say the I am the little woman of the Book, that means that a "Little-One-Who-springs-Forth" is a woman and that she is the little woman of the Book. In that way, during the vigil, I turn into a mushroom — little woman — of the book . . .


  • Alvaro Estrada, Maria Sabina: her Life and Chants
  • Alvaro Estrada, Vida de Maria Sabina: La Sabia de los Hongos
  • Enrique Gonzales, Conversaciones con Maria Sabina y Otros Curanderos

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