The Bufoalvarius, Endemic Toad of the Sonoran Desert Whose Venom Has Powerful Hallucinogenic Effects

    In shamanic ceremonies, the "molecule of God" is sought, which consists of inhaling the poison of the Bufoalvarius

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    The Bufoalvarius, or Colorado River toad, one of the 400 species of Mexican frogs, stores a secretion in glands behind its head that, dried and then smoked, contains an explosive cocktail of psychoactive alkaloids, especially 5- MeO-DMT. A molecule, present in low doses in the human brain itself, which, when circulating through serotonin receptors, causes brief but extremely acute states of altered or abduction of consciousness. It is the most important source of tryptamines in the chain of experiences with entheogens that comes from pre-Hispanic peoples.

    Today, Seri shamans collect, treat and consume the secretion of the alvarius as part of their rituals, integrating, for example, one of their ancient songs, called “rezo del sapo”, or the original myth of the cuacöjcuasol, the yellow man, the first inhabitant of the desert who gave them knowledge of the land through their songs and prayers.

    Multiple effects

    This practice is based on smoking the venom of the bufoalvarius, an endemic toad from the Sonoran desert (Mexico), whose glands located behind the head produce more than a dozen secretions with hallucinogenic effects. Especially noticeable is the effect caused by the 5-MeO-DMT molecule, which, when circulating through the serotonin receptors in the human brain, generates states of altered consciousness. Certain shamanic currents seek to obtain the ‘molecule of God’ through this process. The ceremonial use of this substance originates from Mexico, but has recently spread to other parts of the world. Within minutes of smoking or inhaling the vapors of 5-MeO-DMT, many people describe experiences of deep immersion, to the point of losing external references and even control of their own body for a few minutes.

    An ancient practice

    The consumption of psychedelics from batrachians is not new. Artistic representations of Mesoamerica suggest that some pre-Columbian shamans already integrated toads in their liturgies. This is the case of the Olmec sites, where a multitude of stone toads have been found; or the Mayans, who have left for posterity paintings of human figures smoking through gadgets that connected with these amphibians. For its part, the Mexica deity Xochipilli is frequently represented with plant motifs identified with different varieties of mushrooms, which also suggests the use of these hallucinogens.

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