My three oldest grandchildren came to visit from out of town. They are now much older than they were when I told them the story of Coyote and the Assholes, so they did not climb up on my lap, but they sat at my feet, their eyes shining, crying out together, “Grampa, grampa, tell us a story about empathogens.”
But first a little background. At a meeting of the Native American Church, after a long night of singing and praying, the participants are served a sacred breakfast of small amounts of water, parched corn, and pemmican — pounded meat, fruit, and nuts — at the close of the ceremony. This is then followed by an informal breakfast where people eat, stretch their cramped legs, chat, and tell funny stories, often having to do with peyote and peyote ceremonies. James Howard, a professor at the University of North Dakota, calls these stories peyote jokes, and it is from his blog that I took the story I told to my eager grandchildren.
Well, my little moppets, I said, there once was a young Indian who had made some money from a land sale, and, being young, he was eager for some female company. So he bought a new suit of clothes and got on the bus for the big city of Anadarko, the county seat of Caddo County.
When he got off the bus, he saw an old Indian man standing on the corner, his hair in braids wrapped with blue and green yarn, a dark shirt and pants, moccasins, and an old blanket. “Aha,” the young man thought. “This is a real old-timer who can help me out. These old guys know a lot about love medicines, and that’s what I need right now.”
So he approached the old man, introduced himself, and in Indian fashion invited the old man for a meal. He took him to a fancy restaurant, bought him a big steak, offered him pie with ice cream, and gave him a cigar to smoke after the meal, all of which the old man gladly accepted.
When the meal was over, the old man said, “You have been very kind to me, and I appreciate what you have done for a poor old man. But I cannot help thinking that, in the Indian way, this means that you need my help in some way.”
“That is very true, Uncle,” the young man said. “I do need your help. I am here to meet some young ladies, and I know that you old people are wise in the ways of the old Indian medicines. Could you get me some love medicine?”
So the old man smiled, reached under his blanket into his pants pocket, and pulled out four peyote buttons. He handed then to the young man and said, “Here, take these and love everybody!”
“Thank you, grampa,” said my wonderful grandchildren. “We see now why you are so wise.” And they all scampered off to their iPads to look at my blog post on the experiential typology of sacred plants.