Big Bend Conservancy
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HistoryMorning Glory seeds called tlitlitzin were used ritually by the Aztec for their psychoactive properties. Spanish chroniclers in the mid 16th century reported on the divinitory use of these seeds. Their use has continued in southern Mexico, although it wasn't until about 1900 that tlitlitzin was identified botanically as Morning Glory.
PRESENT USE of the sacred Mexican morning glory seeds differs little from ancient practices. The seeds are used for divination, prophecy, and diagnosis and treatment of illness by many tribes, especially the Chatinos, Chinantecs, Mazatecs, and Zapotecs. In almost all Oaxacan villages, the seeds serve the Indians "as an ever present help in time of trouble."The modern ceremony, featuring the use of morning glory seeds to treat an illness, is a curious blending of old Indian beliefs and Christianity. The native who is to be treated collects the seeds himself. About a thimbleful of the seeds—often the magic number is 13— is measured out. The seeds are ground by a virgin, usually a child, in a special ritual accompanied by complex prayer. Water is added, the resulting beverage is strained, and the patient drinks it at night in silence. After more prayers, he lies down with someone by his side who listens to what he says while intoxicated. This determines the cause of his troubles.
After more prayers, he lies down with someone by his side who listens to what he says while intoxicated. This determines the cause of his troubles.
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