a quiet day at the temple

Havelock Ellis is widely known for his scientific studies of sex. He also was very interested in mind altering substances.

“On Good Friday I found myself entirely alone in the quiet rooms in the Temple which I occupy when in London, and judged the occasion a fitting one for a personal experiment. I made a decoction of three buttons of mescaline, the full physiological dose, and drank this at intervals between 2.30 and 4.30 p.m.

At first there was merely a vague play of light and shade which suggested pictures, but never made them. Then, in the course of the evening, they became distinct, but still indescribable-mostly a vast field of golden jewels, studded with red and green stones, ever changing. This moment was, perhaps, the most delightful of the experience, for at the same time the air around me seemed to be flushed with vague perfume.

Carole Bouquet played Melina HAVELOCK in For Your Eyes Only

I was further impressed, not only by the brilliance, delicacy, and variety of the colors, but even more by their lovely and various textures — woven, polished, glowing, dull, veined, semi-transparent — the glowing effects, as of jewels, and the fibrous, as of insects’ wings, being perhaps the most prevalent.

image of Victorian microslide found here

It occurred to me that it would be interesting to have the experiences of an artist under the influence of mescal, and I induced an artist friend to make a similar experiment. To make sure of success the experiment was repeated with four buttons, which proved to be an excessive and unpleasant dose. There were paroxysmal attacks of pain at the heart and a sense of imminent death, which naturally alarmed the subject.

(feeling alarmed by imminent death)

Mescaline is used in the peyote religion of the Native American Church.

“The evangelistic spread of what is commonly called Peyotism is well documented . Aside from North American peyotism being an inter-tribal affair, there have at times been mixed or all-race NAC groups, anglo-american and afro-american groups or members.

Peyote church fan found here

An unusual case of harassment under the Drug Control Act took place in North Dakota, in October 1984, when a white couple, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Warner, were arrested by the FBI for possessing peyote, a controlled drug. The two were members of the NAC of Tokio,  North Dakota, and had been for a number of years, and Mrs. Warner was custodian of the supply of peyote for the Tokio congregation. A jury in Grand Forks Federal Court found the defendants innocent of breaking the law, since they were able to prove that although they were not Indians, nevertheless they were members in good standing of the local congregation of peyotists. The charges were dismissed.”

I found the image of a peyote button at this link where you can read the story of another peyote enthusiast who considers it a key element to his religious beliefs

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 7:26 am  Comments (45)  
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45 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The donkey has his personal special decoction!
    … but never meet something religious in his “travel”

    • May I sample your concoction?

  2. peyote – more is not always better. damn, i can’t wait until i retire!

  3. Thorne Smith (Topper, Night Life of the Gods) wrote a story back in the 30s in which Havelock Ellis was the name of a pet duck.
    The Bishop’s Jaegers

    • Thanks for the link Tom, I’ll read it tonight

  4. Those peyote buttons certainly look more attractive than any other drug. But I have enough weird dreams already!

  5. I guess I don’t have that adventurous spirit. I’ll settle for a double scotch.

  6. Ahh, the days (and nights) when the air was coloured and the sounds smelled alluring. Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra” was a pleasant accompaniment. It began all citrussy, became quite musky and later changed to light florals.

    Or so I’ve been told – – –

  7. When I was a Humboldt County hippie boy in the 1970’s a fellow came to town with his car trunk full of fresh buttons he’d dug in Mexico. I had the foresight to acquire many and spent some of the finest days of my life swimming wild Northern California rivers and staring at birds and bugs and flowers. No kidding- I felt at one with the world and massive love for all living things. It may have even been spiritual and I always try to recapture the feeling when I start to get down about the world. End of testimonial.

    Farley Outer

    • Reminds me of my hippie days….. though I never came across peyote in New Zealand

  8. It sounds as if Havelock Ellis’s artist friend was having a panic attack to me.

  9. Ah, yes. This brings be back to my days of experimentation with hallucinogenics as a young man back in Cleveland. Two “good” experiences and then one “bad” one. That was the end of that! Surely I must have a old hit of blotter tucked into the folds of my wallet.

  10. Last two images are beautiful. Isn’t it interesting–one man’s drug is another man’s spiritual quest? All depends on the context in which they are used. And one’s legal, the other illegal.

  11. My mind definitely needs altering but I shall heed the warning. Three buttons only. Now I just have to find the mescaline – don’t think my collection of assorted (and never used) buttons will do the trick.

  12. alot of people think religious beliefs are based on hallucinations lol so i guess causing the hallucinations YOURSELF is a great way to start a religion 🙂

    • And some call religious faith a neurosis (Freud) and others, a delusion (Dawkins).

      • Ack! I meant ‘belief in God’ not ‘relgious faith’.

  13. Been there, done that.. many years ago!

    • Fodder for a blog post maybe Laura?

  14. I doubt I’d be able to handle images like that playing in my mind… LOL

  15. I just found a new hero!

    I hope we still have a peyote in the dessert date coming up in the future….

    • Scott, if you type Havelock Ellis into my search engine, you’ll find a lot of posts about him

      • In the ice-cream or in the apple crumble? Sorry, Scott, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

      • Well, I thought Scott was having dates for dessert… sticky date pudding perhaps

  16. Whilst running a small business near Bilbao, in Spain’s Basque region, I was offered a regular supply of what I thought was peyote. It turned out to be a season ticket to watch players hurling a ball at a wall. Peyote/Pelote….easy mistake to make!

  17. I’d buy Carole Bouquet some flowers ……. shusssssh

  18. I think I’ll pass on the peyotes and the mescaline. Hey that Victorian microscope slies site is amazing! Thanks for the link

    • Isn’t it beautiful? I was really impressed too.

  19. Contrary to popular belief, I am not on peyote when I write my posts.

  20. I think it’s likely that mind altering substances were fundamental to other world religions in the past that have since discontinued using them. Even where they didn’t record using a substance the recorded experiences of their diety are often very like the experiences of people who do use them for religious purposes.

  21. Wow I thought they would hang the couple in North Dakota as I think it is very conservative there. Glad they got off.

    I have not tried tis drug and am not sure I want to despite it being legendary. I don’t feel like vomiting while being high. I heard that is a side effect.

  22. I like mescaline, give me some

  23. Hi Myra! Some days I could use some peyote. I’m just stopping by to say hi! I finally got settled in and have internet again.


    • Welcome back Claire – your new venture looks SO exciting!

  24. Now that’s a religion i’d gladly get on board with!

  25. Havelock Ellis is actually an anagram of ‘Out of my wee fucking head’ You do of course have to translate it into Chinese Mandarin, and squint slightly in a dark room to get the full effect.

  26. My doors of perception are slowly creaking open. Ellis’ were probably left un(Have)locked permanently.

  27. Three buttons and everything’s cool, but take the initiative to add an additional button and its a nightmare. The devil is in the details…literally!!

  28. Mescalin schmescalin. Psychopathia Sexualis is one of the great erotic books of all time.

    Oh alright it’s porn.

  29. God I must be on mesc myself, Havelock Ellis isn’t Krafft-Ebbing.

    But I bet he’d like to be.

  30. i once took mescaline and woke up floating against the ceiling, much like that scene in the movie Lost Boys.

  31. Those Victorian Microslides remind me of a certain person’s artwork.

    (But he doesn’t take peyote to make them…)

    • How about absinthe?

      • Oh, OK. You got me there.

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