Mike Jay – Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic

December 17, 2019

In today’s episode, Joe interviews Mike Jay, Author of the book, Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic. In the show they discuss Mescaline’s origins and the history of Peyote use.

Subscribe Share

In today’s episode, Joe interviews Mike Jay, Author of the book, Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic. In the show they discuss Mescaline’s origins and the history of Peyote use.

3 Key Points:

  1. Mike Jay is a Cultural Historian and Author whose topics include science, medicine, drugs, madness, literature and radical politics.

  2. Mike’s recent book, Mescaline, is a definitive history of mescaline that explores its mind-altering effects across cultures, from ancient America to western modernity.

  3. Over time, Peyote has been used by spiritual seekers, by psychologists investigating the secrets of consciousness, artists exploring the creative process, and by psychiatrists.

Support the show

Navigating Psychedelics

Show Notes

About Mike

  • Mike Jay is a freelance writer, an author and cultural historian
  • Mike has been interested in Mescaline for a really long time

Indigenous Use

  • James Mooney is a crucial figure in the transition from indigenous use of peyote to the more current applications
  • The New Deal made religions respected, protected under the First Amendment for freedom of worship


  • There is a ton of literature before the 60’s on psychedelic use
  • It was obvious that if people were interested in psychoactive drugs, they would take it themselves
  • Back then, science was much more proactive than it is today, but it is becoming more popular again

Peyote Experience

  • It’s hard to find an ethical source of Peyote
  • Mike says its unpleasant but warm and tingly and euphoric
  • By 1970, Mescaline was this legendary substance, but it was hard to find on the streets unless you knew an underground chemist
  • On the Erowid site, they have a bulletin that the DEA created about all of the street drug seizures
    He wrote a book 20 years ago called Emperors of Dreams
  • 2CB is not as intense as Mescaline
  • Mescaline is a phenethylamine
  • It does not cross the blood brain barrier as easily. So you need to take more of it
    • It is a body and mind drug

Indigenous Use

  • The Comanches were in a reservation in the Wichita mountains
  • He was notified by the Comanches on some history
    • He went to meet with them, and they told him stories on the history
    • Peyote use originated inside of a Tipi
    • The way that we see psychedelics in modern Western culture, is not the only way of thinking about it:” – Mike

Native American Church

  • There is an interesting thing that happened between Mexican/South American Shamanic practice and Native American Church
    • In the ceremony, the facilitator is made to not ask like a priest, everyone is their own priest
    • It is a healing modality for everybody
  • The very first peyote experiences in the west encouraged artists to make art
  • Salvador Dali was apparently anti-drug use
    • The surrealist movement had a number of rules
  • Huichol art is a very psychedelic inspired art

The plant

  • Peyote is so fast growing, in some places it is growing naturally
  • San Pedro is way more sustainable than Peyote
  • There is a lot of demand for Peyote currently
  • Joe says he thinks that Peyote is not scheduled in Canada


  • The western story is full of first-person experiencesIts based on the personal
    • experiences and visions
  • In the indigenous accounts, there are very little stories on experience or personal matters, its more recording on the collective experience




About Mike

Mike Jay is a leading specialist in the study of drugs across history and cultures. The author of Artificial Paradises, Emperors of Dreams, and The Atmosphere of Heaven, his critical writing on drugs has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The International Journal of Drug Policy. He sits on the editorial board of the addiction journal Drugs and Alcohol Today and on the board of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. He lives in England.

Use code PSYTODAY at Onnit for a discount on all products except fitness equipment
Get a 30 day free audible trial at