Maria was believed to be born in 1894-98 in the mountainous Mexican district of Huatla, but no records to prove it. Born into a poor family with ancestral shamans, she quickly took a liking to her grandparents who helped train her in the ways of communicating with God through the use of mushrooms. She had lived in very rough conditions as a child due to the lasting effects of spanish colonization. She had said “we suffered very much, because we had nothing. Only hunger, only cold. I think that our will to live was very strong, stronger even than the will of many men. Our life wish kept us struggling every day just to get a piece of bread to quite our great hunger.” (Sabina 6:00”-7:00”)
At 14 she had been forced into an arranged marriage with only several hours notice. She was married to a man 6 years her senior. After only six years of marriage and 3 kids, she became a widow after her husband died at the age of 26, the same story as her mother 10 years prior. 12 years after Maria had become a widow a man started to court her, her response was “ I don’t need a man I know how to support myself, I know how to work” After much negotiation she finally accepted. In the beginning it was all on HER terms, He had to move in with her family, get a job, sober up, among several other things. Her terms were short lived. 12 years of abuse and beatings and cheating later, he had died. Both husbands were killed by the women they were cheating on Maria with. Heartbreak after heartbreak, she realized her destiny. Her fate was to be wise, to heal. In Marias’ culture you cannot be a healer if you have sexual relations, during her entire marriages she had not partaken with what she refers to as “the little children”. The culture also believes that in order to meet with God and stay in his grace, one must abstain from sex for 4 days before and after the ceremony. Once she had sufficiently trained in the ways of these medicines, she had quickly become a magnate in the community. It was said that she would take the mushrooms to communicate with the realm of death to ask for knowledge on how to heal the wards in her care. She is solely responsible for bringing these mushrooms into the mainstream due to her willingness to treat anyone who is sick, not just the Mazatecas. It is hard to speak about her story without many people crediting Wasson, Hoffman, Leary, or Heim. But we won’t, because they are only a small part of this story. The only reason those men were even able to participate in this sacred ritual is because they HAD to find her, not many other shamans would be willing to perform a healing ceremony to a white man. While they were not the first white men there, they were the first to openly publish their findings in a non-scientific manner. Shortly after getting back to the US they published news articles speaking of the mushroom ceremony.
Rockero.net wrote “The notoriety of this woman began to grow extensively. What she was using was called magic mushrooms, at least in the United States, starting in the early 1960s. People began seeking her out, and during this time, thousands of people came to Sierra Mazateca. During 1967, there was a multitude of Western Europeans, Canadians, and people from America that were renting cabins to stay for extended periods. Much of this was started because of a 1957 article that was in life magazine which depicted the findings of R. Gordon Wasson. It was called Seeking the Magic Mushroom. It is this article which inspired many notable people such as Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and even Bob Dylan to make the trip down to where she lives. She was initially very receptive to everyone, but due to what was perceived as a lack of respect for traditions, she made some comments. She related the fact that the mushrooms, which she referred to as the children, were used to cure the sick. Only after his study did people flock to her location in an attempt to find God only.” (name unknown 2)
As her popularity grew and the hippies; and business people; generals; and politicians did not stop coming Maria gained some attention, not the good kind. After being ostracized for sharing these sacred medicines with the west, she had said she regretted giving Wasson the ceremony. He claimed that these were better in the hands of the sum of human knowledge than being held behind the curtain of religion. While as romantic as that sounds, the entire time he was being paid for his work by the CIA for his role in identifying compounds and exploiting many sacred medicines for the mind control experiments of MKULTRA. (Irvin, Jan) She was being watched by the Mexican government because of suspicion of drug dealing, she was arrested and jailed several times. One of the days she was jailed her house was burnt down, forcing her to move to the outskirts of society making her bitter at first but slowly came to accept it. All of this buzz changed when the mexican army put a ban on all american, european, and really any other countries’ citizens from entering Huatla from 1967-1977. Maria could not be stopped from healing her wards though.
After upwards of 40 years of shamanic service, María Sabina Magdalena García Passed away on the 22nd of November 1985. Estimated to have lived to 91-97 years old. Hated by some, love by many, her story is that of heartbreak and regret. She said it was all her destiny, she had no grand vision of thousands of peoples flocking to Hautla. She was a shaman that was taken advantage of and still is to this day. The district of Huatla is still incredibly poor. The place that has made people billions of dollars since its discovery, has no money. Please find a way to support our indigenous siblings and share the love that we have stolen. Below is an organization that InoculateThe West stands behind and has been donating to.
name, unknown. “Who Was Maria Sabina?” https://rockero.net, 2018, https://rockero.net/who-was-maria-sabina/. Accessed 5 1 2021.
Sabina, Maria. Who was Maria Sabina. Rockero, 2018. rokcero.net, https://rockero.net/who-was-maria-sabina/.
Irvin, Jan (2013). Rush, John (ed.). R. Gordon Wasson: The Man, the Legend, the Myth. In: Entheogens and the
Development of Culture. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. location 10098-10170. ISBN 978-1-58394-624-4.
Allen, John W. (1997). María Sabina: Saint Mother of the Sacred Mushrooms. Ethnomycological journals, v. 1