Account of Mushroom Healing Ritual with Maria Sabina and Don Pablo

From: "The Flesh of God: Sacred Mushroom Traditions among the Mazatec Shamans" by Enrique Gonzalez Rubio


Maria Sabina


The next day I asked in town for Maria Sabina. A boy who heard me offered to take me to her.

- Quiere ir con Maria Sabina? Yo lo llevo.
- Por favor.

We agreed to meet at five in the afternoon.

My friends remained in Loreto's hut. I wanted to meet Maria Sabina, and intrigued by her already growing legend, I had decided to meet her one on one.

I had brought her a present: two oil paintings, one of Christ and one a portrait of her that I had painted myself.

On the way, it began to rain in torrents. The boy German, my guide, told me that the climb there takes more than one hour. The place was called El Fortin, and it was at the peak of the mountain.

We arrived there cold, tired and fully covered with mud. German knocked on the door. A young woman opened it and German explained to her in Mazateco the reason for our visit. She let us into the adobe house.

Inside it was peaceful and mystical like a church. None of the tempest semmed to intrude into the sanctuary. She was there. An old woman, white hair with grey patches, thin, not very tall, brown, indian appearance. She was the famous Maria Sabina.

I suddenly realized that I was before one of the most famous persons on the face of the earth. She had received many scientists who had come to study her telepathic and healing powers.

With reverence I kissed her hand. She represented the highest attainment that I could relate to at that time. I gave her the paintings of Jesus and her own portrait. It was the first time I saw her smile. She led us into the kitchen and offered us coffee.

I dried my clothes over the fire and regained my spirits with the warm coffee, while we waited for the sun to set. The Ceremony of the Sacred Mushroom is always done at night.

My guide and interpreter German had already explained that I came hoping to have a Ceremony. The young woman had already put all the necessary elements together.

Around nine o'clock, we went into the central room of the house. Maria Sabina ordered the figures on her altar: a figure of Jesus Christ, one of Saint Anthony, flowers, candles, and a brazier for the copal.

From a bag she took out several mushrooms, with a white stem and a dark bulb, the ones called "derrumbe" in Spanish, "Di shi to" in Mazatec.

They were medium sized, very dark. She gave me six and took six for herself.

She rubbed ground tobacco on my arms. This is called San Pedro and its function is to protect the tripper.

Maria Sabina lit the copal and passed the mushrooms several times over the smoky aroma while praying in a low voice. I felt filled with mystery and expectation; something solemn and sacred was about to happen.

German was my interpreter since Maria Sabina did not speak one word of spanish. She signaled to me to begin eating the mushrooms and we both ate together, in silence.

She chewed her mushrooms very slowly while I tried to do the same.

"Maria Sabina says to let her know when you begin to sense the effect of the mushroom," German said.

Within thirty minutes I was feeling dizzy and I told her so. The taste of the mushroom is very strong and stays with you for hours.

Maria Sabina put out the candles and sat next to me. She began to pray very low in mazateco. She asked me my name and I told her.

She then began to sing also in a very low voice.

I saw many colored lights which changed in brightness and intensity with the tone of her singing. The singing was rhythmic and hypnotic.

It was a shamanic chant, sacred, ancient. I felt her singing gently rocking me and transporting me to far away worlds.

Not once did I see any terrible visions nor sense any other negative vibration. Instead I experienced infinite peace, the sensation of flying in a spiral of color. In the center of the room next to the wall, I saw a white light of great intensity. I asked German what it meant and he asked Maria Sabina who said that it was the light of the Holy Spirit.

It was very impressive to me, that great white Light.

It started to fade until it disappeared completely from the room.

I lost all consciousness of the room. I suddenly found myself in a flower garden, with fountains and birds flying all around, dense and beautiful forests. The Garden of Eden.

Maria continued to pray. Suddenly I heard someone say

Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Lord Jesus Christ
Enrique, Enrique, Enrique, holy, holy, holy...

These words touched me very deeply and I felt like Jesus on the Cross. I could feel the Crown of Thorns, I could feel the blood dripping from my forehead. The Light became visible again.

I felt a great fear and the need to pray for protection...

I turned my face to Heaven and saw the millions of stars and galaxies. I repeated the Lord's Prayer:

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come
Thy Will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.
And let us not fall into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory
forever and ever.

I recited the prayer with my eyes closed, and miraculously, the Fear passed. I learned that the words to the Lord's Payer hold a great Power that puts the supplicant in touch with the Sacred Being.

I opened my eyes and looked at the sky. In the sky, the stars made the shape of a face. A timeless visage, as of an old man with a long flowing beard and white long hair. I felt that this was the face of God in a human form so I could relate to Him.

My body shook in ectasis as I prayed for forgiveness of all my sins, I saw my life and my death pale in importance compared to the greatness that I was witnessing. A great interior peace took over me, and I had the sensation of power and balance, beauty and harmony.

I returned inside the house and sat next to Maria. Her quiet demeanor sitting there on the petate, the thin palm blanket, wrapped in her rebozo, without moving in her serene state, brought to mind the gurus of India sitting in an asana. She was all sweetness and serene, and powerful at the same time. We remained sitting there quietly, with only a candle to light the room. And she began to sing in a low voice again.

She stopped her song suddenly, and she smiled at me with a great goodness. I was totally impressed by the personality of this woman and her Ceremony. I was with the High Priestess of the Sacred Mushroom who had been the subject of so many studies trying to prove her a fake. I remembered Benites and Watson, and I suddenly understood their description of the majesty and beauty of the mystic Ceremony of Maria Sabina. I knew that it was a privilege to be there and hear her wonderful song.

She was all mysticism and wisdom, while her attitude was full of humility, although she was the High Priestess.

She put out the candle and began to pray again. Her singing permeated the night, enfolding me in light and cosmic images.

The lights multiplied and strengthened. I had visions of ancient Aztec and Mayan temples and palaces.

When the day dawned, I was asleep full of images without equal.

The next day, with German translating, Maria told me that she had seen my life. She had seen my parents, my house, my works, my books. She described the house where I lived and my parents.

Maria Sabina says that your parents are older people, with white hair. She says you have many paintings of the Saints, your mother has many stone figures and your father has many books.

She described things that she had not seen. I asked her how she did it, how she could see things that I had not described for her and that only I knew.

She says that when she sings, she can see the lives of the people that come to her, their house, their health and their cure.

To me this was purely unbelievable. The extraordinary experience of the night before, and now demonstrating that she had powers of telepathy and clairvoyance.

My regard for her increased tremendously that day. After taking photographs of her, I thanked her and said good bye. I returned to town. While this happened in 1972, I still remember it as if it had been yesterday.

I continued to visit her and each time I took bread and cigarettes. The bread she gave to her many grandchildren and the cigarettes she kept for herself.

I returned to Mexico City. After several months, that night was still fresh in my mind.

The next time I returned to see Maria Sabina, it was with my parents. My mother was an anthropologist and a dance teacher, my father was a Lawyer and a philosopher. Both wanted to meet her, curious about my experience with the Sacred Mushroom. This time, the events in the Ceremony were similar to what I had experienced previously, but she also took my mother by the arm and told her:

Your left arm is very cold. You have a heart ailment.

I knew this to be true. My mother had undergone a cardiac attack some years before. I was baffled that without the benefit of X-ray nor any other aid she had diagnosed accurately my mother's condition. She had accomplished this with prayer and song.

I did not know of any doctor who could do the same.

Nevertheless, I heard some medical doctors remark in Mexico City that she was a charlatan and a witch. They could not accept that this humble woman had a secret knowledge that surpassed the scientific facts. I hope that someday she will find a proper place in people's consciousness, heir to timeless knowledge which surpasses our own understanding.

In this materialistic civilization we have learned to underrate the wisdom of Maria Sabina, we have lost any notion of sacredness; we have sacrificed the most precious spiritual treasures in exchange for materialistic well being. The atheistic science has brought man to the brink of destruction, with nuclear arsenals and merciless wars.

It is sad that the truly wise must live away from those who need them most, from those who live under the thumb of the destructive power of civilization.

The day Man forgot God, and pretended to replace Him in the Universe, Man lost his way and Himself. It is a world of the blind leading the blind and falling into the abyss.

I still remember the afternoon that I went to say hello. I had a terrible pain in my bowel, and I told her. Maria Sabina put her hand over my stomach and prayed in silence. I felt her hand very hot. In five minutes, the area had become numb and the pain had disappeared. She lifted her hand and I thanked her. I still do not understand how she did it. I asked several doctors and all of them said it was autosuggestion. It seems incredible to me that they should try to explain a miracle as something imaginary. Their explanation seemed incomplete to me.

Is there a doctor who could produce a diagnosis without the aid of technology, lab tests and instruments? Few of them. What doctors could look into the past of their patients and relate their illnesses to their actions? None.

Maria Sabina is an example of the power of the mind in the Mazatec shamans. Her powers have been the subject of serious studies in the United States and in Europe, leading to controversy about the true nature of her powers. All those who have studied her agree that Maria Sabina has something significant to offer and amenable to scientific study.

It has been more than a few scientists who went to meet her and study her powers who went away unconvinced of her genuineness.

Since then, I stand in awe of Maria Sabina and what she stands for. I feel that it was a great privilege to have known her and to have participated in her Ceremony of the Sacred Mushroom.



In September 1980, I went once again to Huautla in the sierra. I continued my interest in meeting shamans, I asked people of the town. Pablo's name came up several times.

I found him in his wooden house, built at the edge of a mountain overlooking the abyss. The view was impressive and beautiful from his house.

Excuse me. Are you Pablo?
A tus ordenes (His response was the typical courtesy meaning "At your service").
I am looking for someone who can help me with a Ceremony of the Sacred Mushroom. I would like to know if you can do one for me, and how much you will charge me.
Whatever you wish to give. I cannot put a price on it. It's sacred.

I was pleased with his response and his demeanor. He was simple and direct although he seemed very poor. I was greatly touched by his selflessness.

We agreed to meet that night. He told me to bring the mushrooms, copal, candles, cacao, red hot pepper and holy water.

I arrived on time after sunset. It was beginning to get dark. I knocked on the door.

Come in, the door is open.

I went in and gave him the things I had brought. While he did the preparations I sat on the petate. We had a lively conversation in the meantime.

He lit the fire and began to burn the copal.

Don Pablo, what is the difference between a healer and a brujo?
Please do not call me Don, Pablo is o.k. Think of me as your friend and talk to me with "tu". A healer is someone who knows how to heal the sick by working with the Divine Being. The brujo is someone who works with the Devil to make others sick or to kill.

What is a Nahual, Pablo?
They are brujos who change into animals or into devils.
Do they really exist?
Of course.
And the healers, do they also change into something else?
When the healer heals people, he becomes a god.
Can you tell me something about the mushrooms?
Well, they are something wonderful. You can see very deep to resolve problems. When someone gets sick, their spirit ends lost somewhere out there. With the mushroom, you can find their spirit, in the mountains, the gorges, the basements, the woods, the bottom of the sea. Even in other planets or the Great Beyond.
Pablo, the practice of eating the mushroom is very old, is it not?
Yes, very old, very ancient. Before the Spaniards came, the Mazatecos already had this tradition. I inherited my knowledge from my dead mother. She was a good healer.

While we talked, Pablo made the fire in the brazier. He had already arranged the candles on the hard packed earth floor and he had taken out a prayer book and a rosary. Before proceeding too far, he held the mushrooms over the smoky fire smelling of copal to bless them. We knelt before the candles, facing east, and he began to pray. He prayed for a very long time in a very low voice which was barely audible.

Later on he told me that the altar had to face the East because we had to face the rising sun.

After a long while, he gave me my mushrooms to eat and he took his. We both ate.

He put out the candles and we remained silently in the dark for almost two hours.

The noises of the nighttime insects took on an unreal intensity. While observing silence, I began to recollect my life, as if I was watching a film. I felt an obstacle in my life which prevented me from realizing my most cherished goals. I made an analysis of my life errors, and tried to do it objectively as if I were reviewing someone else's life.

I was suddenly overcome with the desire to lie down on the floor, face up. I felt myself being born.

Pablo said that I was reliving my birth and my life. Without prompting, Pablo began to mention events in my life which I had never told him in the few hours since we had met.

I should not have been surprised. Seeing that Maria Sabina had already done something of the sort before with me and with my parents. But I was still awed by it all. This is a common feature of the Mazatec healers. They can look into the your life and tell you about it without being told anything about you. Some of it has to do with the transmission of thought. I was thinking of my life. But I still did not know how he did it.

He told me that most of my problems were caused by envy.

How can you know these things about my life?
You are telling me. With the mushroom I can see your past, your illnesses, or if you are the target of sorcery, "brujerias."
Sometimes I have horrible dreams. I see ugly devils and satanic things. Can you tell me how to put an end to these things?

He asked me a description of my dreams and began to throw up.

Pablo are you all right?
I am helping you to vomit those malefic beings that are damaging your mind. You should have vomited, but I did it for you. You have to destroy the books on satanism and black magic that you are keeping in your house. That's why you have all those dreams.

I couldn't believe my ears. In my widening search for explanations on magic and the supernatural I had acquired some books on black magic.

How do you know?
I told you that I can see the life of people. It is a divine gift that comes to fruition with the mushroom. You do not understand now, but in time you will.
And are you saying that those books are causing my nightmares?
Yes. And you have to destroy them, as soon as possible. Don't give them away and don't throw them away. Burn them. There is something you must learn. It has to do with the practices of the Mushroom.
What practices?
Listen well. After you commune with the mushroom, you have to abstain from sexual relations for five days. This is very important. If you do not, then the work accomplishes nothing. Do you understand?
All right. I will do it. But what relation is there between the mushroom and sex?

I must have seemed confused or disappointed because he began to laugh as if he were watching a total neophyte.

What do you mean what is the relation between those two? "No seas tonto!" Do not be confused. The mushroom is divine and sex is the lowest. It is pure materialism. It is as if you decided to go into a church and have sex. It is a profanation.

Now that I could understand.
Yes but understanding is not enough. You have to do it. You think too much of women. This keeps you from rising to higher worlds.

Pablo was right. I was constantly fighting between two ways. I told Pablo how amazed I was at his findings. I asked him if he was willing to help me.

I can teach you, but you have to abide by the rule of five days. If you do not, then I have nothing to teach you.

In a few hours with Pablo I had learned a lot more about the occult knowledge and psychology from the Magic Mushroom than with the university books. He had completely analyzed my life and told me what was keeping me from progressing, and I had not mentioned anything to him. That night he was my psychiatrist, my father confessor and my friend, at the same time he became my teacher. I felt a great respect for him that in spite of his appearance of poverty and simple humility he was in reality a wise man. He was hidden in the mountains and he knew more about me than myself.

How did you learn all this, Pablo?

I learned it all from the Mushroom. Once in a trip I entered the trunk of a tree to its deepest level and I found all the answers. The Great Wise One asked me what sort of knowledge I desired and I said - All - and She asked "Will your mind be ready?" I said "I will try". And the Great Wise One gave this knowledge which is all buried deep in this place.

We continued to talk until dawn. It was like two old friends and we fell asleep from tiredness. I felt a great liberation, completely relieved of all my sins and my material weight.

Next day we continued the conversation. I told him that I had studied Anthropology and that I had found those in the field to be completely taken over by materialism and marxism. That they refused to acknowledge the world of magic and the sacred element in all of us.

He told me to forget about the scientists.

They are more lost than the rest of us. They are sure that God does not exist. I saw those who came to confirm the reality of the Mushroom. This is something sacred and they could not see.

He was scornful of the scientists that he had seen.

Huautla became lost when they arrived. They talked about the Mushroom to all and sundry. There was nothing they would not stoop to. To them the Mushroom was not an entity, it was a drug that makes your mind hallucinate. The Mushroom is something greater. You know it now. After a few months that the scientists had been in Huautla, a lot of tourists came here, gringos and hippies who did not know the meaning of respect.

I knew he was right, although I had never seen it from his point of view. The simple but sacred rite had become a tourist attraction, a sort of mexican curiosity. People from all around the world had come, but none had been on the right Path. Huautla did not need these visitors who thought nothing of profaning the sacred worlds.

Huautla did not need all those scientists who had come to debunk its ancient tradition. I had never seen it through the Mazatecs' eyes. To them the arrival of strange and exotic visitors who had no regard for the occult knowledge and skill conferred by the mushroom was a disaster, it was social and spiritual pollution. The mushroom had become a commodity with a price.

Pablo continued.

Those scientists did not take note of the sacred meaning of the mushroom nor of its taboos. They completely ignored the rule of five days of abstinence. They ignored the use of copal and cacao. They did not think of the consequences. They could trip, but their destination was pure Hell.

I did not want to tell Pablo but at that moment I understood why my first experience had been so horrible. I myself had not known any of the things that Pablo was imparting to me. I had always observed the healers use copal in their rituals. Cacao was a universal element everywhere I had gone with the help of a healer.

Pablo, what are the powers the mushroom confers?

In order to acquire those powers, it is necessary to understand the Path of your trip. You have to have courage and you have to stand whatever your trip shows you. You can see many things without knowing what they are. Those who take the mushroom for the first time suffer greatly. It is natural, just as it should be. All the pain from the past crowds the mind. But once you get over it, you are totally at peace. Many things become clear. You no longer have this angst. I have always been able to confirm that the mushroom is something wonderful. It takes you to the bottom of things. My forefathers, they were great priests, my mother was one.

What prayer do you say?

Once you smoke the mushroom over the copal, you bless them seven times with the sign of the cross. You ask the spirits to make the Mushroom talk. If you are caught somewhere, in a bewitched place, the Mushroom goes to pick you up and bring you home. Home is your body. That is why you have to invoke the Mountains, the Wind, Water and Fire, our gods. With their help, you can heal the sick. But to do this, you have to be clean and pure.

What happens when the healer is not?

He is not healer.

Then it must be very difficult to be a healer.

It is.



Enrique Gonzalez Rubio


Enrique was born in Mexico City in 1953, during a beautiful spring. Son of two wonderful human beings, his father, Enrique Gonzalez Rubio, a very cultivated lawyer and philosopher; and Margarita Montoya, a teacher of traditional Indian dances and rituals. They also had their own theater company. His early environment influenced Enrique deeply, and he became a student of theater and artist specializing in oil painting. Later, due to the influence of his mother, he began to research Indian traditions.

Enrique studied anthropology in Mexico City and for many years conducted anthropological research with the healers of the Mazatec, an indigenous Indian group from the mountains of Oaxaca. He observed and studied the process of spiritual healing, practiced by the shamans. This research changed his life completely. After several years living in the mountains and learning from the Mazatec shamans, Enrique gained a spiritual understanding of the universe and the place of humans in it, far removed from any anthropological explanation. After some philosophical differences with the teachers in anthropology school, Enrique abandoned anthropology and became a student of the spiritual world of shamanism. He observed and participated in "supernatural healing phenomena", and wrote about his experiences.

His first book, "Maria Sabina and Other Healers" (1991), published in Spanish, is the result of several years living with the Mazatec Indians, learning from them the secrets of spiritual healing. His book in English, "The Flesh of God: Sacred Mushroom Traditions among the Mazatec Shamans" includes some of his previous work. It is not an anthropological book, but rather a testimony of his spiritual research about the process of healing through prayer, chanting and the ritual use of sacred psilocybin mushrooms.

Enrique's other literary works include "Project Sophie", a mystical science fiction novel, and a rendition for the stage of "Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson", based on Gurdjieff's philosophical novel. Both these works are intended to be modified for the screen.

In addition to writing, Enrique has also taught theater, directed plays and produced films and videos, and worked in cultural centers in Mexico.

Enrique's main objective in coming to the United States was to find a publisher for his book in English and a producer for his projects for the screen. While in the United States he has continued his research into spiritual healing, among Native American and Latin American shamans living in New York City and the surrounding area. He has also given lectures about Mexican shamans in several cultural centers in New York.

The above two passages are chapters from a book by Enrique. He is currently looking for a publisher and can be contacted at