“Joy for the Topers.” Manti Messenger (Vol. 3 No. 16), January 24th, 1896. p2.

Published by Manti Messenger in Manti, San Pete County, Utah on January 24th, 1896

Entrancing visions in mescal buttons

A new drug which makes a person see all sorts of beautiful things is discovered – not considered dangerous like alcohol!

A new nerve stimulant has been discovered which makes brilliant and gorgeous colorings the most notable factor of a dream-haunted plumber. That is, it is new to the civilized. The Kiowa Indians have long known and used it. The drug is known as the mescal button and is nothing more nor less than the dried top of the mescal cactus which grows in the valley of the Rio Grande. The “button” swells in the mouth and has an exceedingly bitter taste. It is to the use of the mescal button by the Kiowas in their religious ceremonies that the white man owes his present knowledge of the drug. These Indians assemble in their council tents usually on Saturday night and seat themselves each with a supply of the buttons about a large camp fire which is kept burning brightly. Button after button is swallowed from sundown until 3 a.m.. Throughout the ceremony there is no dancing or singing, but a continual monotonous beating of drums is kept up by attendants. The Indians sit in a blissful reverie for hours, enjoying the beautiful vision of color and other manifestations caused by the resulting intoxication. Occasionally a bravo will rise and tell his experience. This is interpreted by the medicine men, and deductions and consultations are made for future guidance. The Indians leave the tent at noon on the following day and feel no depression or unpleasant after effect.

In six experiments made upon Caucasians it was found that only from three to seven buttons were necessary to produce a marked effect, whereas the Indians take ten or twelve at one ceremony owing, undoubtedly, to the tolerance for the drug which habit has produced in the Indian. In one of the experiments the subject, a chemist, described his visions as follows:

“On closing my eyes I could see all sorts of designs in brilliant and ever changing colors, such as no human being ever enjoyed under normal conditions. My mind was perfectly clear. An ever different panorama of infinite beauty and grandeur hurried before me. Perhaps the most pleasing of all was produced by my voluntarily thinking of Kiraify’s ‘America’ as given two years ago. My pleasure so far passed the more ordinary realms of delight as to bring me to that high ecstatic state in which our exclamation of enjoyment became involuntary. The loss of conception of time and space was a marked feature of my experience.”

Another subject saw “a host of little tubes of shining light, down which green and red balls the size of peas were constantly rolling. These tubes bent themselves into the shapes of wheels and began revolving with great velocity. All the field of view between these silent wheels was filled in with a shifting mass of green. The colors were wonderful. No words can give an idea of their intensity or of their ceaseless motion. The forms changed through rich arabesques and Syrian carpet patterns and with each new form came a new flush of color, every shade appearing, from pure white to deepest purple.”

“The production of visions,” said the discoverer, “is the most interesting of the physiological effects of the mescal buttons as shown by our experiments. There seemed to be no limit to the variety and beauty of visions which the drug could produce. The predominating feature of the visions is the color effects. Drumming or otherwise marking regular time entranced the beauty and variety of the objects seen. In some cases, no effect whatever was produced upon the reason or will of the individual. Compared with other intoxicants the effect upon the minds is extremely slight. More or less depression of the muscular system existed in every case. Inability to sleep for at least twelve hours after the effects of the drug commenced to pass of was a marked effect. Loss of the sense of time existed in all cases. In the tendency to produce wakefulness the new drug resembles cocaine. The effects of mescal resemble those of certain drugs in some of the symptoms produced, but differ widely from them in otherrs. Cannabis Indica produces visions, generally of a gay character, in most cases followed by sleep. The visions from mescal buttons produce wonder and admiration, but no merriment.”