Monday, July 30, 2007

Something Short on To-E

The subject of To-e (brugmansia grandiflora) came up recently on a bulletin board, and I put my two cents in. One of the 7 Master Plant Teachers, To-e is one of the world's most powerful psychotropics and NOT something to fool with.
With that disclaimer, here's a very short piece on it from my little experience:
There are dozens of uses for to-e. Adding leaves to ayahuasca certainly makes things intense. I'm not a fan of the additional hours or intensity of the experience, though. Too much for me. Chiric sanango root material, is similar and also can add hours and intensity to the ayahuasca experience.
I've never done a pure to-e experience, however. My old teacher, Julio, once made me a pint of it but said he wouldn't be serving it to me as the spirit of to-e and he were not on the best of terms.
Richard Schultes said the problem with datura was that the plant's alkaloid content didn't just change season to season, or morning to night, but that it changed hour by hour, making it very very difficult to judge the potential strength of a to-e brew.
On the other hand, my right-hand in Iquitos, Jhonny Java (correct spelling), knows a to-e curandero that he regards highly out on the Napo (I think), and a friend of mine once went to do dieta with the curandero. If you were going to try it, that would be the way to go: As many of you know, ayahuasca can be very difficult sometimes. To-e, as probably the most powerful of all jungle medicines, is said to be much more difficult, and in my experience with leaves added to ayahuasca, or root of chiric sanango, I'd think that would be right. So I think it's not something to play with unless you've really got the right curandero to help with things.
But to-e's other uses are also interesting: it's used as a love potion that will make your unwilling would-be partner not only fall in love with you but cling to you for several years. I don't want to give up the recipe for fear someone will utilize it, but I've met two men in jail on the Peruvian coast who'd used this pusanga and gotten their wifes and then finally killed them because the women were clinging so much they wouldn't let the men alone, even to go to the bathroom. Not for a week, but for years.
Then to-e was used in brujeria to make my mother-in-law go completely crazy for a couple of years (a rival for my father-in-law had it prepared for that by someone whose specialty were those sorts of things.) My mother in law eventually came out of it, with no recollection of the previous couple of years whatsoever.
Then I used it once in an altogether different fashion. I'd been in the jungle with my jungle teacher Moises Torres Vienna (the father, not the sons) for about 5 weeks. I'd pressed some plants, among them various varities of datura I'd seen along the Yivari river. Unfortunately, the plants got moist and by the time I returned to Iquitos they were shot.
In any event, I guess the vibe was there, because within an hour of returning to Iquitos (this is probably 1988), an old woman came lurching up to Moises and I (having coffee at the Cafe Express on Prospero)) and told Moises that she'd had a to-e dream the previous night and had seen my apartment in New York and that it was all torn up, like a burglar had been there.
Then she gave me three to-e leaves and said that when I went to sleep I should put one behind my head, one on my forehead, and roll the third into a cigarette and smoke it. Then I would dream who robbed me and where my stuff was.
Then she left.
I thought she was just a crazy lady--I'd never met her before--but Moises said she was a to-e curandera, very highly respected by locals in her neighborhood in Iquitos.
I still told Moises she was crazy because she had no idea who I was and so couldn't possibly have dreamt someone she never met, and more than that dreamt their apartment in a city she'd never visited 3,000 miles away.
Nonetheless, I was curious, and later that morning I called my brother Mike, a New York City cop who happened to be in the burglary unit in my Manhattan neighborhood. And sure enough, Mike said he'd just come from my apartment, where someone had jimmied open a kitchen window-gate. He'd been called in to investigate on a day off because the responding cops (they responded to neighbors who called to say things were being taken out of the windown and down the fire escape) knew me and knew Mike was my brother.
I was astounded and therefore did with the leaves as the woman had said: I dreamt the whole burglary, and saw the stolen goods in an apartment with a lot of other stolen goods. I couldn't place the other apartment though.
Two months later my brother's unit busted a burglary ring which stored stuff in an apartment just down the block from mine (while waiting to fence it), and I got a television back.
To-e is also utilized--infamously--in Bogata, Colombia, on unsuspecting people to make them do the bidding of the person who gives it to them. Long before GHB or Rophynol, a little to-e was the standard mickey given to tourists who would later realize they'd gone to the bank and taken out their maximum and given it to a stranger--and couldn't remember why. It was also the medicine utilized in those famous cases where people have woken up to realize one of their kidneys was taken during the night.
And there are lots of other uses for it as well. Dr. Solomon Melchor Arroyo, who used to run the Museum of Natural Healing and Health in Lima (and who was a cuy curandero) for the Peruvian government, once gave me a list of more than two dozen uses for the plant--an awful lot of them having to do with the plant's ability to make people susceptible to suggestion: like falling in love, giving all your money, allowing a doctor to take one of your kidneys, going crazy and so forth. (Unfortunately, the Peruvian government shuttered that museum in 1987, and Dr. Arroyo moved to a private practice far from the city center. He was already quite old, and I've been told that he has since died.)
It's certainly considered one of the Master Plant Teachers, but I also think it, like Amanita Muscaria, are difficult to use by novices, and perhaps best left alone unless one were to find just the right situation with the right curandero.


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Morgan said...

this post came at just the right time, really glad you posted it.
Datura has always been around, almost grew up with it in some sense, but never really met with it. Learned a great deal about To-e from Jhonny while in Iquitos, for which I am incredibly thankful.