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Brugmansia, also known as Angel's Trumpet because of the shape of its late summer flowers, which are particularly fragrant, is terribly poisonous: all its parts, especially the leaves, contain tropane alkaloids of the atropine and scopolamine group, which in high doses act on the nervous system causing hallucinations and, in large doses, can even lead to death. This Solanaceae is used to prepare a hallucinogenic drink that was once used in Central and South America for religious rituals, but is still drunk today by some ethnic groups in the Amazon rainforest, such as the Huachipaire and Zapiteri, for 'experiences'. This drink, called xayápa, used to be consumed in the large communal house in the village, today, due to pressure from missionaries, it must instead be consumed secluded in a small hut located near the stream. The visionary experience, which is undertaken for specific reasons, such as the search for important lost objects such as machetes, axes or the like, the prediction of future events, the curing of illnesses and the physical 'renewal' of the body, must take place in the presence of someone who checks that everything is going well, but above all who pays attention to the verbal delusions and then brings them back to the inebriate so that he or she can analyse their content and understand their hidden meaning; for it is this that constitutes the 'oracular response' to what one has been asked to 'see'.


Villa Ortensia

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