Peyote Whisperer?

My unusual connection with a psychedelic cactus…

When I told my friend Randall Rodrigues about my weird connection with a group of Peyote cacti in Amsterdam, he said: “So you are like a Peyote whisperer?” I laughed it off, but in the days following his remark, I explored this strange connection and concluded that – as weird as it sounds- he might be right. Without ever eating or otherwise ingesting the cactus, even before meeting them for the first time, they seem to have found the frequency to speak directly into my mind… I’ll share the story here. Curious to hear what you think…

Meeting the Peyote that I had never met…

In 2007 in Bali, I met Menno Philippo, a Dutch blacksmith. He told me about the 40 Peyote cacti he saved from a dealer in The Netherlands, who cut them up in pieces to sell to smart shops, where people would buy them as hallucinogenic drugs. As he shared their story, I became intrigued. The more he told me, the more I started to feel some sort of connection to these cacti, which I had never even seen.

Menno explained that the dealer had been sick for a while and the cacti –stored in a garage- were in pretty bad shape. The dealer practically gave away the Peyote, when Menno offered to take care of them, even though they have a very high ‘street value’ when sold as drugs. Menno had an unusual connection with the Peyote. He promised them he would take care of them and would not harm or sell them. “Normally the baby cacti are cut from the mothers, and they hate that!” he explained passionately.

Uncovering opportunities in Cape Town - Inspiration shot

He also said that the Peyote told him they wanted to live in hexagonal ceramic pots. So Menno took a ceramics course and hand-made 40 pots, exactly according to their instructions.

Then he had to prepare the perfect mineral mix, to achieve the optimal PH value of the soil they would grow in. Menno looked up the minerals in the soil of the Sonora desert and added some other stuff he thought the cacti might need. Then he let the Peyote guide him in finding the right proportions. When he finished he measured the PH and E.C. values and they were exactly right. “The Peyote know what they want.”

 Peyote Whisperer?

“They also have real personalities” he explained to me. “Sometimes they make fun of me, or send me weird dreams” he confided. I had no idea what to think of this, but I was intrigued. I could almost picture the Peyote in their hexagonal ceramic pots at his house, laughing at Menno like Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys commenting on everything that happens in the Muppet Show…

I decided I wanted to visit the cacti and ‘tuned into them’. As soon as I did that, I got the weird sensation as if they wanted to tell me something. It felt like they wanted to connect more to Menno; in my mind, they showed me a picture of him meditating with them. I asked Menno if he ever meditated with the Peyote. “No I haven’t,” he answered. “But, you know, I have been thinking about it for a while. There are even some friends who talked about wanting to do that, but we never got around to it.” I made him promise that he would meditate with the Peyote. That was it.

Meeting them ‘live’ for the first time

About 6 months later, I visited Menno and the Peyote in Amsterdam. The cacti looked beautiful, and their hexagonal pots were just as Menno had described them. But to tell you the truth, I did not really connect with the cacti. I did not experience some magical feeling or revelation or strong connection. Maybe I had hoped for something like that now that I was physically so close to them?

I only got a vague feeling that they wanted to tell me something about Menno, again. Were they worried about his liver? I asked him if he was aware of any health problems, especially his liver. He said that yes, he knew he had to take care of that.

Second meeting – feeling ‘used’

Another 1,5 years later I had almost forgotten about the Peyote. But when Argentinian watercolour artist Vladimir Merchensky visited Amsterdam, I felt a sudden urge to take him to Menno. I felt that the two of them – both artists – would really get along. But I also felt the pull of the Peyote again. They were ‘calling’ me! I felt honoured and was really curious about what they wanted to tell me.

While Vladimir and Menno were getting acquainted, I went to visit the Peyote. Menno had told me they were not active; they were stored in the garden for their ‘winter sleep’. And indeed, they looked very grey and inactive. I was a bit disappointed. I was sure they had ‘called’ me. Did they have an important message for me? I stayed with them a bit, but nothing happened. I only got this weird image of a shape, a diamond-like shape. It had something to do with them, but what?

When I told Menno, he got it immediately: “Yes, I see, when I store them in that shape, instead of in the straight lines the pots are in right now, they will be able to catch the sunlight better. Say no more, I know exactly what to do!” So the Peyote did give me a message: they wanted their pots in different positions…

After Vladimir and I left Menno’s house, I felt weird. In one way, it was kind of special that I could receive messages from the Peyote, on the other hand, I felt …used. They seemed to connect to me only when they needed or wanted something. There seemed to be nothing in it for me, no personal message, not even acknowledging me as a person, they had just used me to communicate with Menno…

Peyote whisperer?

I laughed it off and not thought about the Peyote for another year, till I shared this story with Randall. I told him that I was convinced that you don’t need to ingest the cactus if you want to connect with them. You just tap into their frequency (or they tap into yours). You don’t even need to be near them. He nodded and then proceeded to ask me if I realized that maybe not everybody could do that? The moment he asked if I was a Peyote whisperer, I very strongly felt this special connection I have with the Peyote. I could feel their energy all around me. I felt like they had another message for me. I knew that there was more than what I had experienced so far. I wanted to explore that.

eyote Whisperer?
Peyote Whisperer?
eyote Whisperer?

Saying “YES!”

In my car on the way home, I could still ‘feel’ the Peyote energy; I could feel them in my heart. They were asking me, without words, if I wanted to explore. I said ‘yes’ out loud, feeling a bit ridiculous, by myself in the car. They kept pushing: was I sure? (yes), this was not something to be taken lightly, did I understand (yes). I had no idea exactly what else they asked of me, but I kept saying yes, because I had a very deep urge to explore, to connect. I was surprised by their sudden interest in me, because up to that moment, I had thought of them as kind of cold, distant, calculating, maybe even a bit arrogant. But in the car, I felt another side. It was as if they were acting as mirrors.

To be honest, I had wanted to connect with them out of curiosity, maybe also a bit as a novelty, maybe even to show off? I had been ‘using’ them, too. Just like I felt they were ‘using’ me. Suddenly I felt my heart open. Tears welled in my eyes. Under that ‘hard’ shell that they had been showing me, mirroring me, there was beauty, softness, love, colours, emotions, molecules, and connection…. For a moment, I felt like a veil had lifted. They showed me that when I showed my true self, my inner beauty, and my vulnerability, that is what it would feel like.

Letting go – the Peyote song

The next day I was struggling with letting go. Things were happening in my life that I had trouble dealing with. To test out this new connection with the Peyote, I asked them: how do you guys deal with letting go, cleansing, processing, and transforming stuff that happens? The answer was very short and very clear. A thought came into my mind as if it was my own thought, but the voice I heard was not mine. I could have never come up with this answer: “We sing” they said.

I googled ‘Peyote song’, hoping that somebody had maybe recorded the cactus songs in the desert. But all I came across were Native American Peyote songs, that were meant to help the Native Americans go in trance to help them find the cacti. The songs were weird; very high energy, very fast rhythms. I felt that this was not what I was looking for. Why could I not find the songs the cacti themselves sing?

“You won’t find us there [on YouTube]” a voice in my head said; “you will hear us here, in your head” … For a second I heard/knew their song: it was a weird, high-pitched voice and the song is kind of ethereal, the most weird and beautiful thing I ever heard. One voice starts and the others pitch in. I can imagine sunset and sunrise in the desert and the cacti singing with and to each other. It was over as fast as it started, leaving me wondering if I had imagined it all…

By the way, while Googling to learn more, I found this in a blog of one of the Shamans, working with Peyote:

“Peyote lives in other dimensions. One could walk this land, looking carefully within the sand for the turquoise-colored buttons, and never see one. The Huicholes say that the Peyote knows your heart and if your heart is open to it, it will show itself to you. With Ceremony, you must open your eyes and your heart to the dimension where the Peyote is, and when your eyes and your heart are open, the Peyote is everywhere.”

When your heart is open, you experience everything more vividly

Did a mini-meditation with the Peyote. I’m sitting cross-legged and suddenly felt like my left half is in a dry, barren desert. My right half is in the same desert, but it’s living and green. There is a white Peyote flower in my right hand. I am moved by this image of two contradictions and start thinking about what it means. Day and night? Cause and effect? The more I think, the further I drift away from it. The Peyote tells me: don’t think but feel! I try and feel my heart draw towards the green, living desert image. And then I get it: when your heart is open, you experience everything more vividly, with more color and love and things start to blossom! That same day Menno Philippo sends me these pictures of the Peyote in bloom!

The magic happens in the transitions

It’s Dec 31st, 2017. I am doing a mini meditation at the end of my workout, in a busy gym. I think of the Peyote and immediately see the desert they live in. It’s beautiful. But then the sunset starts and the colors just go wild. The most beautiful shades of orange and purple sweep over the landscape. Not one second is the same as the next. It’s magical! It only lasts for a moment and then it’s night. Also beautiful, but more stable.

Then the words come to me. It takes a while to get them exactly right. “The magic happens in the transitions,” they say. The transition between day and night, like in the meditation, but also the transitions from one year to the next, as is about to happen. The moments between two givens are those fleeting, unstable moments when the veils separating two worlds are at their thinnest, thus allowing us to see and feel and know things we normally don’t see. Like that moment just before you fall asleep. Or those transitions in your life, often difficult, painful moments when you don’t quite feel ‘yourself’, but that is when insights come and personal growth happens.

A beautiful insight at the end of a very eventful 2017…

Enlightenment is not the goal

Don’t strive for enlightenment. Our time on earth is to ground, to connect with the earth, with ourselves, and with each other.

The Peyote showed me a picture of a person meditating with their back turned to the sun. The focus was not on the light but on the connection with the earth. Through the earth, we are all connected.


I haven’t heard from the peyote for a while. To be honest, I did not really try to connect with them.

Last weekend I was visiting galleries in Paarl, Western Cape South Africa, and to my surprise, I saw this painting:

I asked the artist if she knew what she had painted, and she said “Yes, this is part of a series about various cacti”. I immediately recognized them as peyote and felt the calling…

The peyote is not easy to connect to. It’s not a fast, ‘commercial’ thing. I really have to be in a state of emptiness and surrender.

*No cacti or other plants were harmed in the creation of this blog…. 🙂