The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications




The Lacandon, a Mayan tribe, prepare the divine balche’ drink in a ritual canoe. (Photograph taken in Naha’, Chiapas, 1990)


Other Names


Ba’che’, ba’alche, balché, pitarilla

The name balche’ refers to three things: a tree (see Lonchocarpus violaceus), a drink prepared from this tree through fermentation (with Saccharomyces cerevisiae), and a religious ritual during which the drink is collectively consumed. The balche’ beverage is a ritual drink used by the pre-Hispanic Maya, the Yucatec Maya, and the Lacandon. It is a kind of mead made from water, honey (or more rarely sugarcane syrup, pineapple juice, or refined sugar), and the fresh or previously used bark of Lonchocarpus violaceus. The drink is mildly alcoholic (2 to 5% alcohol), and sometimes other ingredients are added to it.

Numerous so-called chultunes (Mayan, “moist stone holes”) have been discovered in archaeo-logical excavations at Petén (Guatemala), e.g., at the ceremonial center of Tikal. Some archaeologists have suggested that these underground, shoe-shaped hollows in the limestone may have been used as storage spaces. Others have speculated that the chultunes were used during the Classic Mayan period (300 to 900 C.E.) as vessels for brewing balche’ (Dahlin and Litzinger 1986). Chacmol, a reclining god of the post-Classic period, has been interpreted as the god of the balche’ drink (Cuéllar 1981).

Both the tree and the ritual drink made from it are mentioned in all of the ethnohistorical sources about the Yucatec Maya (Blom 1928; Roys 1967; Rätsch 1986*). The Motul dictionary, prepared during the early colonial period, describes the balche’ tree as the tree from which “the ancient wine” was brewed (MS 45r). The translator Gaspar Antonio Chi remarked that balche’ was the most important ritual drink of the Maya prior to the Spanish conquest (Blom 1928, 260). The Spanish Franciscan and book burner Fray Diego de Landa wrote about it in his sixteenth-century Relación de las cosas de Yucatán:


The Indians were very dissolute, drinking until they were intoxicated. . . . They make wine from honey, water and the root of a certain tree that they cultivated for this purpose. The drink thus produced was strong and smelled foul. (de Landa 2000, 67)


The drink and its ritual and medicinal significance were described in de Landa’s early colonial text:


A further reason why these Indians are decreasing in number is that they have been prevented from drinking a wine that they were accustomed to preparing and of which they said it was healthy for them and that they called balche. They made it out of honey, water, and a root called balche. They filled this into large containers that were like big tubs and held fifty arrobas [= 200 gallons] or more of water. There it fermented and frothed for two days, became very strong, and then smelled very bad. At their dances and songs, and when they were dancing and singing, they gave everyone who was dancing or singing a small bowl to drink from. They gave them so much until they became very inebriated from it so that they did strange things and made such faces that their condition did not remain hidden from the spectators. When they were drunk they vomited and emptied themselves. This purified them and made them so hungry that they ate with a great appetite. Some of the elder men said that this was very good for them, that it was a medicine for them, that it healed them, because it worked like a very good laxative. With it they remained healthy and strong and many grew to be very old because of it. (2.188)



Freshly pressed pineapple juice (Ananas comosus) was once used as a fermenting agent for balche’. The use of pineapple to prepare fermented drinks is widespread throughout Central and South America. (Copperplate engraving from Meister, Der Orientalisch-Indianische Kunst- und Lustgärtner [The Oriental-Indian Art and Pleasure Gardener], 1677)


Both the balche’ tree and the drink of the same name are mentioned repeatedly in the esoteric texts of the chilam balam, the shamanic divining priest. In these texts, the drink is metaphorically called u ci maya “the exquisite of the Maya.” In a passage dealing with the symbolic (secret) Yucatec Maya language of Zuyua, the balche’ ritual is metaphorically described as “little woman”:



Depiction of the traditional balche’ ceremony. (Drawing by K’ayum Ma’ax, ca. 1980)


This is the green blood of the little woman, who is called for, it is the Mayan’s exquisite.

These are the entrails of the little woman, they are beehives.

This is the head of the little woman, it is the untouched vessel of the exquisite that is being prepared.

This is the stool of the little woman, it is the honeycomb [?] of the bees.

This is the left ear of Ah Bol [probably the god of inebriation], it is the small zul cup [a small tree gourd vessel used in the preparation of the drink] of the exquisite.

These are the bones of the little woman, they are the bark strips of the balche’ tree.

These are the thighs—so it is said—, they are the trunk of the balche’ tree.

These are the arms of the little woman, they are the branches of the balche’ tree.

This—so it is said—is her crying, it is the language of inebriation.

(Chumayel MS 37c; in Rätsch 1986, 216*)


The balche’ drink is associated with the origin of the world. The first god or gods were Ah Muzencab, “the honey collector(s)” (bee deities). During the creation of the world, the balche’ drink was (re)born with the rain gods. In the Mayan creation myth, as related in The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, the divine origins of the drink and the plants associated with it are noted:


Then the Lord (of Katun) 11 Ahau released his bees. Then came the word of the Bolon Dzacab (nine descendant) from the tip of his tongue. Then the burden of Katun was searched for. Ninefold is his burden. Then it came from heaven. Kan is the day to which his burden is bound. Then water came out, it came out of the heart of heaven, for the rebirth, nine years old is his house. And with it came Bolon Mayel [“nine mayel”; from Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of pulque inebriation; see Agave spp.]; sweet was his mouth and the tip of his tongue. Sweet too was his brain [i.e., they were sexually aroused]. Then came the four Chacs [the rain gods of the four cardinal points], they have pots full of blessings [filled with the balche’ drink]. There is the honey of the flowers [of the balche’ drink]. Then emerged the red opening vessel and the white opening vessel and the black opening vessel and the yellow opening vessel and the opened water lily and the closed water lily. And with it emerged the five-petaled flower, the five-petaled flower, the toothed cocoa [= ninichh cacao] and the chabil tok plant [?] and the bac flower [probably Polianthes tuberosa] and the macuil xuchit flower [macuilxochitl “five flower,”401 a manifestion of Xochipilli, the Aztec god of psychedelic plants], the flower with the hollow interior and the laurel flower and the paralyzing (crooked flower). (Smailus 1986, 132 f.)


Both this text and various archaeological sources and other ethnohistorical reports (such as the 1710 report from Thomas Gage [1969, 225]) suggest that a number of ingredients were added to the balche’ drink of the pre-Hispanic Maya period (see the table on page 725). The balche’ drink of that time thus seems to have been a kind of “witch’s cauldron” with quite potent, synergistic effects (Gonçalves de Lima et al. 1977).

There are only a few sparse reports about balche’ from the colonial era (Blom 1928). The most interesting of these is contained in the travel journal of the English clergyman Thomas Gage, who visited the New World in the sixteenth century. The tenth chapter contains a “description of an unusual drink of the Indians”:


They [the Pokomchi] make among other things a special drink / that is much stronger than wine / in large earthen jugs or pots / that are brought from Spain / in this way: They first add a little sugarcane / or a little honey / so that the drink will be sweet / as well as other roots / that grow in that land / and of which they know / that they have the same effect. I have myself seen at different locations / that they have thrown a living toad into it.

Then the vessel is closed / and they let this all sit together fermenting for fifteen days or a month / until everything is well worked through / the frog totally decayed / and the drink has reached its desired potency.

And then they open the vessel up again / and invite their friends to the feast / which usually takes place at night / so that they are not caught by the village priests / and they do not stop drinking / until they are totally crazy and full.

They call this drink, which smells foul as it comes from the vessel, chicha / and it often causes many to die / particularly in those places / where they add toads. (Gage 1710, 307 f.)


The Maya who live in the Yucatán today still consume the balche’ drink (Steggerda 1943, 209*; Redfield and Villa Rojas 1962, 38), which they brew from water, honey from native nonstinging bees, and four pieces of balche’ tree bark per person. There appear to be a number of magical sayings that the Mayan shamans (h-mènó’ob) use when they are preparing the drink (Bolles 1982). One Mayan from Campeche informed me that there is a balche’ song (u k’àyil bà’lché) that invokes many poisonous animals and the bees of the forest.


The magical incantation for brewing balche’ invokes Chäk Xok (“red shark”), a water dweller, and asks him for assistance in starting the fermentation. (Drawing by a Lacandon child, Naha’, ca. 1982)


Balché is brewed only for non-Catholic ceremonies. The h-mèn (shaman) uses the drink, which is stored in gourd containers called homa, during pagan ceremonies for divinatory purposes (Redfield and Villa Rojas 1962, 36, 125). Drops of balche’ are offered during prayers to Yuntsilob (the lord of the animals) (Redfield and Villa Rojas 1962, 128). Before the h-mèn gazes into his sastun (quartz crystal; cf. Turbina corymbosa) so that he may divine, he dips the sastun into the balche’, thereby awakening its powers (Redfield and Villa Rojas 1962, 171). The h-mènó’ob also ingest seeds of Datura innoxia and Turbina corymbosa with the balche’.

In Valladolid (Yucatán), balche’ is also prepared for wedding ceremonies (Aguilera 1985, 131*; Barerra M. et al. 1976, 302*). The Yucatec Maya drink balche’ at rain and agricultural ceremonies to honor the rain god Chakó’b (Friedel et al. 1993). They believe that a man who owns chickens that are currently incubating their eggs should not drink balche’, lest the chicks die in the eggs (Steggerda 1943, 209*).

There is also evidence for the use of balche’ among the Chol-Lacandon, who lived in Chiapas during colonial times and have since disappeared. They also used sugarcane and pineapple juice for fermentation (Tozzer 1984, 15).

It is remarkable that the classic balche’ ritual of the Mayan-speaking Lacandon of Chiapas has been preserved. The earliest ethnographic reports noted that “honey, mixed with the bark of the balche’ tree, was fermented into an inebriating drink (balche’)” (Sapper 1891, 892). At that time, it was said that the Lacandon still performed their rituals in Yaxchilan, a ruin from the Classic Mayan period:


It seems likely to me that the Lacandon have always had a connection to Manché Tinamit [ = Yaxchilan], for otherwise we could not explain why they (until recently) would travel every year from their residences in imprecisely known places in Lacanjá and other areas to Manché in order to celebrate their festivals there with balche’ carousals and unusual customs, and to make offerings to their gods in the different buildings, in particular an exceptional three-storied structure (apparently the main temple of the former city). (Sapper 1891, 894)


The balche’ ceremony is a ritual circle that is still performed by the Lacandon of Naha’. The gods gave this ritual to the Lacandon primordial ancestors, the “great, ancient people, who still found the paths to heaven.” The god of creation himself originally conceived of the ritual, during which the inebriating balche’ drink is communally consumed. The brewing of the drink, on the other hand, was the job of Bol, the god of inebriation:


Bol made a balche’ drink for Hachäkyum, our true lord. He tried some of it. Bol stood up and gave it to the gods. How many of them were soon lying there! Mensäbäk lay there, and even Hachäkyum; they did not move, they were completely drunk. All of the gods were stretched out there on the ground. They were drunk all at once. They were very drunk, but they were happy and sang. (Ma’ax and Rätsch 1984, 127)


From that time on, the primordial ancestors of the Lacandon as well as their descendants were to imitate the inebriation of the gods in their ritual circle in order to continually relive the drunken state of consciousness that creates harmony between heaven and earth. The drink is prepared in a special ceremonial mahogany canoe (called u chemi balche’) from honey (or sugar), water, and the bark of the balche’ tree, which is cultivated specifically for this purpose. The solution will ferment, and when the fermentation is finished—usually after two to three days—the drink is ready. It contains 1 to 5% ethanol, which dissolves various other substances from the bark (Rätsch 1985b).

Brewing the balche’ is a well-established magical act. Magical incantations and prayers are recited during the brewing process. The brewer identifies himself with Bol, the god of inebriation. Uttering a long incantation (u t’ani balche’), he calls the invisible spirits of all the poisonous animals and plants of the forest to him and asks them to add the essences of their poisons to the drink so that it will be especially potent. One after another, the following animals are called forth and asked to add the “juice of their stings/teeth/ nettles” to the brew: wasps, caterpillars, ants, spider killers, bird spiders, scorpions, poisonous lizards, beetles, and snakes. Then the brewer invokes other beings, such as Chäk Xok (“red shark”), the helpful water spirit, and these stir the drink, heat it, and cause it to froth (cf. Ma’ax and Rätsch 1984, 270–82; also Boremanse 1981).

One or two days later, the drink is done fermenting. Now it is time to offer the “soul” of the balche’ drink to the gods. The “head of the balche’” is carried in a ceramic jug to the house of the gods. The gods, in the form of ceramic incense bowls (u läkil k’uh), are placed on the ground. As prayers are continuously offered, a palm leaf is used to give every god and every goddess a mouthful of the drink. From the bowls of the gods on the ground, the soul of the drink rises into the heavens, where it manifests as a drink that will inebriate the gods. The gods love to be inebriated, and they sing and dance and amuse themselves with delight for the ritual offerings the humans have provided.


“Stab through, bore through my foot

stab through, bore through my hand

I, were I Bol

I, were I Istal

Here is the green chili pepper

It passes through my canoe

Here is the green chawa’ chili

Here is the raging chili pepper With it the heat comes into my canoe

It comes in and bites into my vessel Here is the pot of my solution Here are the wasps

That is the root of my canoe

Here is the nose of my canoe

Here are the wasps

They pass by on the flanks of my canoe

Come, give me the juice of your stingers for my balche’ drink Come and give it to me

Here are the raging wasps

Here are the hard red drinking wasps

Here are the wasps

Here are the branch wasps

Here are the hornets

Here are the bumblebees

Here are the white bumblebees Here are the big bumblebees

Here come here, give me the juice of your stingers for my canoe In my vessel

Here is my balche’ drink

Come, give me the juice of your stingers . . .

Here is the ground chili in my canoe

There they come

Here the bubbles rise

The air bubbles are rising up in my vessel

Here is Chäk Xok, the water man He stands in the middle of my canoe

He stands at the root of my canoe Here is the nose of my canoe

It goes to the ground of the vessel of the solution

He enters and stirs the juice of my balche’ drink

He enters and awakens the fermentation

He makes the bubbles rise

He, Chäk Xok, the water man

So come then . . .

Here are the ch’el birds [Penelope nigra]

So come then

Come and light the fire

Beneath my vessel

Come, kindle the fire

With your tails

You ch’el birds . . .

There the ants rise up and pass by Through my vessel

There the tree toads croak

That is their croaking

The tree toads croak in my vessel the wo’ toads croak in my vessel Here are the white salmon

Here are the bayok’ fish

They swim through my canoe

They dive into it

These are the things in my canoe . . . It bubbles in my vessel

Here are my tree toads

The crocodiles make noise

Here are the crocodiles of the sea . . . The turtles pass by . . .

There the ants are passing by on the air bubbles

There are the things of my vessel They rumble in my vessel

In my canoe

All came and gave of themselves for my vessel

I, were I Bol

I, were I Itsal.”







(MA’AX AND RÄTSCH 1984, 270–82)


After the balche’ drink has been offered to the gods, the humans may drink it. This occurs in a ritual, the form of which can be characterized as a ritual circle. The communal drinking, in which the tu wolol winik, “whole circle of humans,” takes part, usually begins just before dawn. When the first offering has been made, the brewer blows into a conch trumpet (from Strombus gigas, the queen conch) to sound the call and invitation to the ritual. The people come. No one is required to participate in the ritual, but all who have been initiated are allowed to come. The men go into the house of the gods and the women meet in the ceremonial kitchen. The brewer assigns each person a place in the circle around the ceramic jug filled with balche’. Using a measure (u p’iis), the brewer fills special drinking glasses (luch or hama’, made from Crescentia cujete L.; cf. Morton 1968). Each participant receives the same amount. Everyone drinks at the same time, and all the participants are supposed to drink the same amount. Within just a few hours, each of the participants will consume approximately 17 liters. The communal inebriation and the corresponding alteration of consciousness rather quickly becomes apparent. It is said that consciousness gets lost or turned around and is exposed to the adventure of inebriation. The Lacandon say that the effects of the drink are determined by the quality of the bark used and the magical abilities of the brewer. They attribute the least part of the effects to the alcohol.


Depiction of a toad (uo-glyph) on lintel 48 at Yaxchilan (from the Classic Mayan period).


The effects of balche’ are not like those of beer or wine or any other inebriant known to us. Balche’ is not hallucinogenic. Its effects may be more precisely described as empathogenic. Consciousness becomes euphoric, perception more acute, the muscles relaxed, and the stomach and intestines emptied, and the heart is brought to laughter. Very strong doses (20 liters) have narcotic and analgesic effects. The effects on mood are especially pronounced. The inebriated people are prone to cramps from laughing and sentimental or affable feelings. As the effects increase, aggressive feelings disappear. Sometimes the drink may also produce a mildly psychedelic effect, particularly when a lot of fresh bark has been used (Rätsch 1985b).

The main purpose of the ritual circle is to heal the sick or to improve the state of the “consciousness of heaven” (as Hachäkyum, the main god, is referred to ceremonially). When humans come together into the circle and imitate the gods’ inebriation, the inebriated gods in heaven develop such a good mood that their magical healing powers are able to heal the sick, counteract ecological catastrophes, and make the rain fall and the corn grow.

One important function of the balche’ ritual is to promote social contact among the Lacandon community, the communal alteration of consciousness, and often a kind of social therapy that appears to be reinforced by the specific effects of the drink. When two men who have been in an aggressive mood toward each other take part in the ritual, one is able to say to the other,“Come, let us drink, for there is something between us.” Then the two quickly and simultaneously drink such an enormous quantity that they can barely keep it down. In this way, they shift their state of consciousness together and, because of the large amounts of liquid, must soon vomit and empty their bladders and intestines together as well. The drink flushes out their bodies completely, alters their consciousness with its strong inebriation, and cleanses them both of their problem.

The ritual is over when all of the balche’ has been consumed. The inebriated participants then typically fall into a dreamless sleep. Several hours later, they awaken with a clear consciousness and a purified body (the drink has diuretic, purgative, and laxative properties). No unpleasant side effects or aftereffects are known.

Balche’ Additives


Balche’ appears to have had meaning and function in Mesoamerican and Mayan culture similar to that of ayahuasca in Amazonia. The archaeo-logical, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic information makes it clear that balche’ has long been a drink to which various other, often more potent psychoactive substances were added. There has been considerable speculation about which other substances may have been used.


In the Lacandon creation myth, the gods and goddesses were born enveloped in the sweet scent of night hyacinth (Polianthes tuberosa) blossoms. These enchantingly scented flowers are sometimes used to perfume the balche’ drink. (Photographed in Naha’, Chiapas)


Older Lacandon still remember that the Lacandon who once lived near Piedras Negras (Guatemala) brewed an extremely potent balche’. One small bowlful was said to have induced powerful inebriation and visions. We can only conjecture as to whether these effects were achieved by the addition of turtles, frogs (e.g., Dendrobates spp. or Phyllobates spp.; cf. Daly and Myers 1967 and Myers et al. 1978), or plants. I assume that the plants and the animals referred to in the magical spell for balche’ brewing were once used to flavor or strengthen the drink. Among the plants that are mentioned are some (e.g., Acaciaspp.) that contain N,N-DMT or other tryptamines. It is entirely possible that the longistylines that are present in balche’ bark may have MAO-inhibiting properties and could thus have orally activated any ingredients that contained DMT (cf. ayahuasca).

It has been asserted in the literature that the Lacandon add psychedelic mushrooms to their balche’ (Furst 1976; Greene Robertson 1972). Unfortunately, there is no ethnographic information of any kind to support this conjecture. Today, the Lacandon use only aromatic additives (Polianthes tuberosaPlumeria spp., cocoa beans, vanilla pods, balche’ flowers).

It is very likely that the Maya of the Classic period added Nymphaea ampla to their balche’; it is probable that Tagetes spp. and other as yet unidentified plants were also added. A report from the colonial period states that the roots of a maguey agave (perhaps Agave americana var. expansa; cf. Agave spp.) were used as a balche’ additive in the northern Yucatán (Relacíon de Mérida, Col. Doc. inéd., 11:49).




Vanilla, a native of the southern Mexican rain forest, is used to flavor the balche’ drink. (Wild plant, photographed in the Selva Lacandona region of Chiapas)



The balche’ drink was once flavored with chili pods. (A variety cultivated by the Lacandon, photographed in Naha’, Chiapas)



The exquisitely aromatic Plumeria rubra flowers are used to perfume the balche’ drink.



The Maya use frangipani or temple tree (Plumeria alba) flowers for love magic and also occasionally add them to the balche’ drink.



This image of a turtle (äh bäb) was carved into a Lacandon balche’ drinking vessel. (Drawing: C. Rätsch)




See also the entries for Lonchocarpus violaceusNymphaea amplabufotenine, and 5-MeO-DMT.


Blom, Frans. 1928. Gaspar Antonio Chi, interpreter. American Anthropologist 30:250–62.


———. 1956. On Slotkin’s “fermented drinks in Mexico.” American Anthropologist 58:185–86.


Bolles, David. 1982. Two Yucatec Maya ritual chants. Mexicon 4 (4): 65–68.


Boremanse, Didier. 1981. Una forma de clasificación simbólica: Los encantamientos al balche’ entre los lacandones. Journal of Latin American Lore 7 (2): 191–214.


Cuéllar, Alfredo. 1981. Tezcatzoncatl escultorico—el “Chac-Mool”—(El dios mesoamericano del vino). Mexico City: Avangrafica, S.A.


Dahlin, Bruce H., and William J. Litzinger. 1986. Old bottle, new wine: The function of chultuns in the Maya lowlands. American Antiquity 51 (4): 721–36.


Daly, John W., and Charles W. Myers. 1967. Toxicity of Panamanian poison frogs (Dendrobates): Some biological and chemical aspects. Science 156:970–73.


Freidel, David, Linda Schele, and Joy Parker. 1993. Maya cosmos: Three thousand years on the shaman’s path. New York: William Morrow and Co.


Furst, Peter T. 1976. Fertility, vision quest and auto-sacrifice. In Segunda Mesa Redonda de Palenque 3, 181–93. Pebble Beach, Calif.: Pre-Columbian Art Research.


Gage, Thomas. 1710. Neue, merkwürdige Reise-Beschreibung nach Neu-Spanien. Gotha: Verlegts Johann Herbordt Kloß.


———. 1969. Thomas Gage’s travels in the New World. Ed. J. E. S. Thompson. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.


Gonçalves de Lima, O., J. F. de Mello, I. L. d’Albuquerque, F. delle Monache, G. B. Marini-Bettolo, and M. Sousa. 1977. Contribution to the knowledge of the Maya ritual wine: Balche. Lloydia 40:195–200.


Greene Robertson, Merle 1972. The ritual bundles of Yaxchilan. Lecture given at the Tulane University Symposia on the Art of Latin America, April 15, New Orleans.


Landa, Diego de. 2000. An account of the things of Yucatán. Mexico City: Monclem Ediciones.


Ma’ax, K’ayum, and Christian Rätsch. 1984. Ein Kosmos im Regenwald: Mythen und Visionen der Lakandonen-Indianer. Cologne: Diederichs. Repr. Munich, 1994.


McGee, R. Jon. 1984. The influence of pre-Hispanic Maya religion in contemporary Lacandon Maya ritual. Journal of Latin American Lore 10 (2): 175–187.


———. 1985. Sacrifice and cannibalism: An analysis of myth and ritual among the Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, Mexico. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International.


———. 1988. The Lacandon Maya balche ritual. VHS. Berkeley: The Extension Media Center, University of California.


———. 1990. Life, ritual, and religion among the Lacandon Maya. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Co.


Metzner, Ralph. 1996. The true, original first world and the fourth—a visit to the Lacandon Maya in Chiapas. Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness 4 (1995): 231–44.


Miyanishi, Teruo. 1992. La cultura de trance en los grupos mayas. In Memoria de Primer Simposium Internacional de Medicina Maya—the ancient Maya and hallucinogens, ed. Teruo Miyanishi, 107–38. Wakayama, Japan: Wakayama University.


Morton, Julia F. 1968. The calabash (Crescentia cujete) in folk medicine. Economic Botany 22:273–80.


Myers, Charles W., John W. Daly, and Borys Malkin. 1978. A dangerously toxic new frog (Phyllobates) used by Emberá Indians of western Colombia, with discussion of blowgun fabrication and dart poisoning. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. 161, art. 2. New York: American Museum of Natural History.



A Mayan god (God F) with the hands of a tree toad (Hyla eximia) or a tree frog (Dendrobates sp.). The secretions of such tree-dwelling amphibians were likely added to the balche’ drink. (Codex Tro-Cortesianus 26b, 26a)


Rätsch, Christian. 1985a. Der Rausch der Götter: Zum kulturellen Gebrauch von Datura und Balche’ in Mexico. Lecture given at the symposium “Über den derzeitigen Stand der Forschung auf dem Gebiet der psychoaktiven Substanzen,” Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 1985, Burg Hirschhorn. (See Leuner and Schlichting 1986*.)


———. 1985b. Eine Hamburger balche’-Zeremonie. Trickster 12/13:50–58.


———. 1986. Balche’—der Rausch der Götter. In Rausch und Erkenntnis—Das Wilde in der Kultur, ed. Sigi Höhle et al., 90–94. Munich: Knaur Taschenbuch.


———. 1987. Alchemie im Regenwald—Dichtung, Zauberei und Heilung. Salix 2 (2): 44–64.


———. 1988. Das Bewußtsein von der Welt: Mensch und “Umwelt” im lakandonischen Kosmos. In Die neuen “Wilden, ed. Peter E. Stuben, 166–71 (Ökozid 4). Giessen: Focus. Repr. in Politische Ökologie 24, 51–53 (1991).


———. 1992. Their word for world is forest: Cultural ecology and religion among the Lacandon Maya Indians of southern Mexico. Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness 1:17–32. Berlin: VWB.


———. [1993]. Kinder des Regenwaldes. Löhrbach: Werner Pieper’s MedienXperimente.


———. 1994. Der Stamm der Anarchisten. Esotera 3/94:88–94.


Redfield, Robert, and Alfonso Villa Rojas. 1962. Chan Kom: A Maya village. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.


Roys, Ralph L. 1967. The book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.


Sapper, Carl. 1891. Ein Besuch bei den östlichen Lacandones. Ausland 64:892–95.


Slotkin, J. S. 1954. Fermented drinks in Mexico. American Anthropologist 56:1089–90.


Smailus, Ortwin. 1986. Die Bücher des Jaguarpriesters—Darstellung und Texte. In Chactun—Die Götter der Maya, ed. C. Rätsch, 107–36. Cologne: Diederichs.


Tozzer, Alfred M. 1907. A comparative study of the Mayas and the Lacandones. New York: Macmillan.


———. 1984. A Spanish manuscript letter on the Lacandones. Culver City, Calif.: Labyrinthos.