In 1957, Robert Gordon Wasson introduced María Sabina to the world. She was a Mexican healer and shaman who based her rituals on the sacred tradition of magic mushrooms. In his visits he tracked with interest the ceremonies she performed, her spiritual connection to nature and peyote, and of course, the effects of the mushroom.
Once his article was published in Time Magazine, María Sabina became a celebrity in Mexico and worldwide. However, it wasn’t until the sixties that her visions and beliefs were adopted by the flower generation, who were using substances in their quest to find alternative realities. And so, many people set out to find and meet this mysterious Mexican shaman who would provide them with this otherworldly experience. It’s said that many personalities like Walt Disney, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Peter Townshend, and Mick Jagger visited María Sabina, but these visits are likely to be exaggerated myths, since there's no evidence. What is true is that during the sixties and seventies, many foreigners did visit the mountains of Oaxaca, anxious to try out these sacred mushrooms.
The consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms, of course, belongs to a millenary tradition that has passed from generation to generation. However, it was with María Sabina that this local custom became popular among the youth who sought a new way of life. The psychedelic movement worshiped the consumption of not only mushrooms, but other substances like LSD and mescaline, which is a derivative of peyote.
This movement was often represented in artistic pieces, which tried to emulate the sensations and visual effects of these substances, creating highly colorful designs that became emblematic of this period. Now, illustrator Joel Cortez, whose story remains a mystery, creates amazing images that remind us of that particular artistic movement, but with a modern twist we all can relate to.
This experience would wrench you away from reality and twist your perception. Tastes would become smells and colors into sounds, as hallucinations swirled in your new state of mind. This inspiring experience was sought after by consumers as they believed through these substances they could touch new, mystical dimensions with their fingertips.
Through bright and neon colors, Cortez takes us on a journey where the senses are multiplied in a fantastic atmosphere filled with elements of nature and ancestral traditions. Mushrooms, LSD, and mescaline come pouring out and connect us with nature and our past. These images become a ritual of revelation and enlightenment for those who seek a different truth than the one imposed upon them.
Those elements that Cortez includes in his illustrations remind us of the array of symbols and traditions that are sometimes taken for granted but are always a latent power in our everyday reality. The psychedelic experience of admiring Cortez's work brings us one step closer to our true consciousness and the reality we inhabit.
María Sabina: The Untold Stories Of The Mushroom Healer