Our Peyote Ceremony in Mexico: A Spiritual Experience

My way to a very unexpected Peyote ceremony in Mexico started with a Swiss guy in a hostel in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Tattoed all over, messy dreadlocks, eyes full of light. A beautiful traveler soul, one of many I have met. I did not know yet this brief encounter would be the beginning of what is now one of my deepest friendships.

Also little did I know that, a week later, we would sit in the Mexican desert together, holding a peyote ceremony under the stars.

What is Peyote?

Before I went to San Luis Potosí, I had already heard about Peyote, the little psychedelic cactus that contains the hallucinogen mescaline. It grows in the Northern Mexican desert as well as in some parts of the Southern USA. It has a long spiritual tradition among the Wixárikas, an indigenous tribe that uses Peyote in religious ceremonies.

Photo showing how Peyote grows - often hidden under branches on the ground. We collected it for our Peyote ceremony in Mexico.

Still, I was unsure if it was an experience I wanted to seek out. I knew little about it. My newfound friend, however, was determined to go find the sacred plant – and after having some open conversations and learning more about its effects, my curiosity was stronger than my fear. I decided to join Micah on his trip to the lands of Wirikuta, the sacred land of the Wixárikas.

Peyote is not for those who only seek a high. It is a spiritual, introspective experience, held in high respect. The Mexicans call it ‘medicina’, strongly believing in its healing powers. Medicine for the soul.

The Legend of Peyote

I later turned my experiences with Peyote into an artwork honoring the legend of Peyote – it is believed that hunters were led there by a sacred blue deer.

If you wish to bring the spirit of Peyote into your everyday life, this is for you:

Mexico, the magic land of Peyote

We started hitchhiking our way towards Northern Mexico, picking up another friend on the way. We call her Mama Montaña, Mother Mountain. She is a young Mexican woman, overflowing with kindness and radiating the wisdom of the ancestors.

Reaching the desert is a journey in itself. It takes us an entire day of hitchhiking, riding on pick-up trucks, and jumping on local busses, to get to the small town that we’ve been told to seek out.

It is in the middle of nowhere. One asphalted road leads through the town, surrounded by dusty backroads leading to the few houses that make up the settlement. Some goats are looking at us through the fences and some lonely motorbikes leaning against colorful houses, barely anything else. Micah and I are the only foreigners.

A man sitting in the shade in a remote village in Mexico.
Not much going on – we have arrived to the desert.

Finding Peyote with the help of locals

We start asking for the contact we’ve been given – but he’s been unheard of. But the locals know what we are looking for, and as we head deeper into the village to look for someone who can lead us to the Peyote, a Mexican man comes our way. He’s already expecting us.

We follow him to his house and he explains the procedure, tells us what to expect. He says he can still bring us there today, before the sun sets. All of a sudden, I feel nervosity rising inside of me – this is really happening. Now. It’s too late for second thoughts, as my friends, more experienced with plant medicine than me and eager to go, are already agreeing with his proposal.

Quickly, we head to a tiny store and get enough supplies to sustain us for two nights and days in the desert. Making sure we have enough water, we head back, where our guide is already waiting by his pick-up truck.

Preparing for the Peyote ceremony. Almost ready to go.

We go into the Mexican desert, to the hidden spots where Peyote grows.

On bumpy roads, he takes us away from the village. Deeper and deeper into the desert. At some point, we reach a lonely tree surrounded by wide, barren views. Here is where he will leave us. We agreed that he would not come back to search for us – after our Peyote ceremony, we wanted to take on the long way out of the desert on foot, by our own strength, as a thank-offering to nature.

Things to remember before your Peyote ceremony

Our guide bends down to the ground – underneath the dry desert growth, we spot the first few Peyote cacti. Respectfully, he cuts one plant to demonstrate to us how to consume it. It is important to remove the fluffy, button-like tufts of the beautiful sacred plant before eating it.

Peyote, also called Hikuri, is a precious plant. It grows very slow – that’s why the local population is very serious about protecting it. Because of increasing illegal trading, it has become endangered. We are reminded that we are welcome to come to the desert and consume it, but not to take away any plants with us. Already on our way to the desert, we have been stopped by the local police who suspiciously questioned and unnecessarily tried to search us for plants we might intend to take away from where they belong.

A Mexican showing how to harvest Peyote.
Peyote for beginners – we learn how to harvest the mescalin cactus correctly.

All alone, we inspect the area we have been brought to. The lone tree shows signs of the ones that have come before us. It is full of little offerings to mother nature, showing gratitude for what they’ve been given.

It is an unwritten rule when going on a journey with plant medicine: Do not take without giving back.

The moment has come: Our first Peyote ceremony experience

The dark is approaching, so we set up our two little tents and use the last light of the day to collect the Peyote plants we intend to consume that night. Mexicans call Peyote ‘Abuelo’, grandfather, for the masculine energy and grandfatherly wisdom the trip brings.

As the moon rises, we light a fire. The nocturnal cold starts coming over the desert and a soft breeze runs through the vast, empty land. 

We set our intentions, reflecting on what we hope this Peyote experience will bring us. Mama Montaña speaks beautiful words in Spanish, a prayer coming from the heart, thanking nature for allowing us to be here.

Collecting sacred plants for a Peyote ceremony in Mexico - three hands holding Peyote cacti under the rising moon.

In silence, we start eating the first bites of Peyote. It tastes disgusting. Never in my life have I tasted anything this bitter. 

Peyote tastes like it is meant to be medicine. Not easy. Healing.

Struggling with the taste, we try to eat as much as we can. Even though they are so small, it is hard to eat an entire cactus. And to get the full experience, we know we need to ingest several. 

Nibbling on our Peyote plants by the fire, we wait for the first effects to show up. It is hard on the stomach. My two friends are struggling with strong feelings of nausea.

In the background, a calming, healing melody plays from Micah’s phone.

Todos somos medicina
Somos distintas medicinas
Nos sanamos unos al otro
Compartimos en harmonía 

We are all medicine, healing each other.

Two people sitting by the fire holding a Peyote ceremony in Mexico, far out in the desert.
My friends sitting by the fire – each of us immersed in our own experience.

Very subtly, I start feeling something. As if the world expands. I feel very light, tingly.

My mind feels sharp, very aware. Peyote does not cloud your mind – it brings you closer to consciousness.

I perceive everything around me very intensely. I am one with my surroundings.

The stars above us, the desert winds, the distant howling of the coyotes.

Even the cold is more intense than it normally would be. I curl up in my sleeping bag. I am alive with all my senses.

Wide awake in silent awe, an undefined amount of time passes. I am filled with gentle wonder for the world.

A close-up self portrait of a woman after her first Peyote experience. She covers her face with a hand, with only one blue eye looking intensely.
Taken after our first Peyote experience as I sought a moment of solitude in the desert.

Feeling the effects of Peyote… or not?

The next morning, the effects have faded. We share what we have experienced, nourish our bodies with the food we brought, getting ready for a second night of ceremony.

This time, even though I consume more of the bitter-tasting medicine than the night before, I don’t really feel anything, except for a sensation of being wide awake. 

We have been told that this can happen – sometimes, the medicine has nothing to say to you. I go to bed early, trying to rest despite my inner alertness. A Peyote trip takes a lot of energy. But then the rain comes and I stay awake, listening to the raindrops fall onto the tent. My friends are still out there by the fire, connecting intensely. By the time they crawl into the tent, they are soaking wet and so is everything we brought with us.

A woman holding a Peyote cactus in her hand.

Leaving the Mexican desert, with more experiences to come.

Only in the morning hours, the desert rain slowly stops. We have breakfast, pack up our drenched stuff and start making our way out of the desert. I feel weak, drained by the past two nights, but we have no other choice but to take on the 3-hour walk. I know that we are strong enough.

GPS is not working that far out, so we need to rely on our memory to get back to civilization. As we walk, we keep reflecting. Even though none of us had had a very strong Peyote experience, we all felt the subtle effects of the plant medicine. Something has changed.

A bond has been formed. We walked into the desert as friends. We left as family.

When we finally reach civilization, we notice how hungry and drained we are. We decide to stay a night with the man who had shown us the sacred plants in the desert. We fall asleep in the afternoon and wake up the next day, full 15 hours later.

A photo of a sky full of stars taken during our last peyote ceremony in Mexico.

When I finally understood the meaning of my Peyote experience in Mexico

It would not be our last Peyote ceremony in Mexico. About a week later, with fresh energy, we would hitchhike to another remote location and receive more lessons from El Abuelo.

That time, a way stronger Peyote experience than the ones before, was when I truly understood what the medicine was trying to tell me.

Underneath a sky full of stars that felt so close as if we could touch them, I felt my inner light as I never had before.

I started to comprehend that there was no darkness within me that I needed to fear. What I discovered underneath the worries of my mind was a soul full of joy. 

And it was that pure joy and light that streamed from my chest into every last corner of my body that night. 

The message had come home. I am light and I am here to share it with the world.

A woman dancing wildly, a light beam hitting her chest.
A self portrait, taken in the desert. Connecting to the inner light.

If you are looking for your own Peyote experience…

I have been getting a lot of messages asking for the exact location or contact details – which I do not have, nor would I deem it wise to share. Sending such a flood of internet strangers to one very small Mexican desert village would do more harm than good, even if you are coming with the best intentions. I believe finding the medicine is part of the journey and locals will do their best to help you once you get to the area. So, please, I appreciate you not asking for any further details than I have given in this post.

gracias a los abuelos
gracias a la Pachamamita
gracias a la gente mexicana
gracias al universo

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  1. hey! from human to human, looking to heal and sit with this sacred medicine, would you be able to point where i can go where you went for this?
    all the best,

    1. Hi Ryan! We traveled to the city San Luis Potosí and asked our way through from there. Please understand I’m not sharing a more precise location because I do not want this blog post to contribute to too many people traveling to the very same place just because they read about it online – I believe finding the plant is part of the journey, too. Just go there and trust you will find it, locals are happy to help 🙂 From what I hear it also grows in the Southern US (New Mexico), so that could be a place to start looking, too.
      Wishing you a wonderful experience with this planta sagrada, Anna

  2. Beautiful soul.
    My journey to Mexico, Belize n Guatemala has so far been so magical n crazy amazing n answer love n answers n gifts from Universe like every day since I left Cus needed to escape from Europe n the system n all negative things happened in short time.
    Father passed away, contact Finnish Ed n boyfriend broke up with me .
    Did Temazcal yesterday n feels so cleaned.
    However plans to move over. But need to go back in 2-3 weeks just to finish things properly
    And planning a spiritual healing week -where trying peyote starts.. Donyiu know where I should go?

    Lots of love from just Me to You❤️🙏

  3. Hey Anna!

    Super cool blog – can tell from your writing that you’re a dedicated seeker 😀

    Any chance you could share the general area of where in San Luis Potosí to go in order to experience the sacred medicine? From the safety perspective as a girl traveling alone, I’d prefer not to have to spend the night in the desert by myself.. would you suggest trying to join a group of people that one may encounter after arriving in the city? And if so, is there a lot of tourist foot traffic through the area and therefore easy to meet like-minded individuals, or is it all locals? Or perhaps there are lodging accommodations available in the nearby vicinity of the city itself?

    Sorry for all the questions, and THANK YOU in advance!!!

    Good vibes ~

    1. Hi Rachel, thank you for leaving a comment 🙂 as stated before, I am not giving out any precise location in order to avoid masses streaming there. Not because I want to gatekeep anyone from the experience but because I keep receiving A LOT of messages. It would be too much for one tiny village. The city of San Luis Potosí is a great place to start making connections. There are many hostels where you might encounter fellow seekers and can get tips from locals. If you do not want to take the journey alone, there are also guided ceremonies – being under the guidance of an experienced shaman might help you to ease safely into the experience. As for accommodation, you might have to ask around a little depending on which desert village you end up going to. The bigger ones might have official accommodation; after camping in the desert we stayed in an unofficial place but the wall paintings showed that a lot of previous peyote pilgrims have stayed there 🙂 enjoy the journey of finding peyote & may it give you what your soul needs! Anna xx

  4. Hi Anna, love both this post and your position on not revealing the exact location, I really respect that. I’m not sure if peyote is for me but keen to explore the region and wondered if you could recommend somewhere to stay in San Luis Potosí to meet like minded travellers?
    Best wishes, Grace

    1. Hi Grace, thank you so much for your kind words. If you’re not sure Peyote is for you don’t feel pressured, people usually feel called by the medicine when the right time has come – you’ll know! 🙂
      I stayed in a low-budget hostel back then and met fantastic people there! I’m sure you’ll make great connections in most hostels around town. The one I stayed in is called Sukha Hostel if you want to look it up.
      Enjoy exploring the area!

  5. Thanks for sharing your spiritual journey –– reading your experience was a meditation in its own! Do you still feel connected to that experience? What other similar pilgrimages have you made that match this one?

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, I would say that all of my intentional psychedelic experiences have had a profound and lasting impact on me and I still cherish their lessons. I’ve experienced quite a few different plants in the past but have refrained from most substances for some years now after a mushroom trip left me with anxiety that took quite some time to heal from – I am now well again but haven’t felt the calling to sit with plant medicine again since 🙂

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