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A Different MedicinePostcolonial Healing in the Native American Church$
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Joseph D. Calabrese

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199927722.001.0001

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The Peyote Ceremony

The Peyote Ceremony

Psychopharmacology, Ritual Process, and Experiences of Healing

(p.116) 6 The Peyote Ceremony
A Different Medicine

Joseph D. Calabrese

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an analysis of the symbolism and ritual process of the Peyote Ceremony of the Native American Church, which involves a dialectic between therapeutic emplotment and consciousness modification. Ritual symbolism emplots the patient in a drama of sacred reflexivity, divine communication, and transformative redemption in the form of a death/rebirth experience aimed at changing the patient's personal narrative and behavior. A semiotic/reflexive paradigm of psychopharmacology, involving ingestion of the psychedelic Peyote cactus, supports this process by altering attentional processes, suggestibility, and self-awareness in a way that makes the mind malleable and open to therapeutic communication. The term "therapeutic emplotment," a concept developed throughout this chapter, concisely captures the ritual-based symbolic or rhetorical approach to shaping consciousness studied by anthropologists. A related concept, “culturally embedded therapeutic emplotment," highlights the therapeutic structuring of cultural meaning. Several first-hand accounts of healing experiences are included and therapeutic processes of the ritual described.

Keywords:   peyote ceremony, native american church, ritual, ritual symbolism, therapeutic emplotment, consciousness modification, reflexivity, semiotic/reflexive paradigm of psychopharmacology, healing experiences, psychedelic

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