<aside> 💡 Teonanácatl is what the Aztecs used to call the mushroom known today as pajarito, or “little bird.” My friend Emilio recommended it as a treatment for my cluster headaches, and he got me a generous dose in chocolate form. I stashed the squares in the fridge and awaited the first symptoms with resignation, though I sometimes fantasized that the mere presence of the drug would keep the headaches at bay. Sadly, soon enough I felt one coming on. I devoured the first square, prepared for a brief, utilitarian trip. The chocolate was delicious, and I now think that that must have influenced my decision, after an impatient twenty-minute wait, to eat a second square. This time the effect was almost instantaneous: I felt hands reaching into my head to turn off my pain, like someone rearranging cables or dexterously pressing the keys on a safe. It was a delightful, glorious sensation.


I don’t want to get into too much detail about the misery this illness has caused me over the course of more than twenty years. Suffice it to say that my headaches came roughly every eighteen months, and their corrosive company lasted between two and four months, during which the idea of cutting off my head started to feel reasonable and efficient. Occasionally some medication or other allowed me to control or rather tame the pain, but none had ever brought the miraculous results I felt from this little bird. Teonanácatl—I should have mentioned before that the word means “flesh of the gods”—radically cleansed me. Of course, there was still the risk that the pain could return, but somehow I knew it wouldn’t, that I would be safe for a long time (eleven weeks and counting).

Teonanácatl - The Paris Review