Witches Medicine - Forbidden Medicine: Coca and Cocaine

Publication Year: 
2003

After the establishment of the drug laws, coca plants (all species and varieties0 and the alkaloids found in them (cocaine, ecgonin) were made illegal, and to use them became punishable.
In the year 1630 on all church doors of the Peruvian kingdom an edict against astrologers, stargazers, and witches was hung. In it the witches were accused of using "certain drinks, herbs, and roots called achuma, chamico and coca, to numb there senses. The illusions and phantasms that take place are them reported as revelation or news" (Andritzky, 1989: 462). In those days people were already mixing up "consciousness expanding" with numbing... They saw their "opponent's allies" in the psychoactive plants (Andritzky, 1987: 550).
Achuma is the Native American name for a mescaline-containing cactus known in Ecuador and Peru as San Pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi); chamico is the ancient Native American name for the thorn apple (Datura stramoniumssp. ferox).
The use of coca--which has a tradition of about ten thousand years --was forbidden by colonial rulers and the inquisitors:

The use of coca leaves was also a widespread tool of love magic. Dona Jana Sarabia, a young woman in Lima, knew "that when she used coca leaves to attract her lover she found the same enjoyment and sinful pleasures as when he had actual sexual relations with her." ... The use of coca leaves makes the precarious situation of the 'colonial witches" before the tribunal particularly clear, that chewing coca leaves was a heathen worship of the "huacas," the Indian sacred shrines. On a law of 18 October 1569, Philipp II urged the priests to beware of its use for witchcraft and superstitious practices, but confirmed the use of coca as medicine and stimulant for the heavy labor of the Indios. At this time there was a debate going on whether or not to completely forbid the use of coca because it was a hindrance to Christianization and to destroy the plants because the Indians were constantly reminded of their past because of them, or whether to allow them to be used on account of their quality as a food supplement. In addition to its widespread use as a medicine, the defenders added that the Indian mine workers refused to work when they didn't get their daily coca ration (Andritzky, 1987: 554).

In other words, when coca assists in the exploitation of the Indians, they are allowed to use it. (Strangely, coca is not allowed for Western workaholics.) Thus a number of "witches" and "warlocks" were accused because of their use in coca in combination with invocations, and were subsequently punished by the Inquisition. (Andritzky, 1987: 554f).
In the archives of the Spanish inquisition in Peru an Indian love potion --distorted through the European witch-crazed eyeglasses, was documented. The case files state that Francisca Arias Rodriquez "took coca leaves, wax, and a woman's shoe in her hands. Then she would nail a scissors to the sole of the shoe, while invoking Satan, Barraba, and all the legions of demons. The invocation was closed with the following words: "I bind you/ with my heart I break you/ your blood I drink/ I call you to my love/ come to me and stay/ bound on hands and feet" (Millones, 1996: 44).

The Andean Indians handled countless problems and illnesses successfully with coca leaves in a variety of preparations: weakness, depression, painful haemorrhoids, noise-bleeds, headaches, migraines, skin tumours, colic, stomach aches, diarrhoea, itchy throat, fevers, coughs, colds, sinusitis, rheumatism, arthritis, ulcers, altitude sickness, and diabetes. Coca is therefore called "aspirin of the Andes" (although it works better than the salicylic acid preparation.), Native Americans regard coca as a food: indeed, the leaves have very high nutritional value.

Text: Text: Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, And Forbidden Plants. Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl.

Image: http://vivalatinamerica.com/2012/04/24/the-thing-about-coca/

coca leaves
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