The Mazatec call the mushrooms Nti-si-tho, in which “Nti” is a particle of reverence and endearment; the rest of the name means “that which springs forth.” Maria Sabina, a Mazatec shaman explained this thought poetically:
“The little mushroom comes of itself, no one knows whence. Like the wind that comes, we know not whence nor why.”
The shaman chants for hours, with frequent clapping or percussive slaps on the thighs in rhythm with the chant. Maria Sabina’s chanting, which has been recorded, studied, and translated, in great part proclaims humbly her qualifications to cure and to interpret divine power through the mushrooms. Excerpts from her chant, all in the beautiful tonal Mazatec language, give an idea of her many “qualifications.”
Woman who thunders am I, woman sounds am I.
Spiderwoman am I, hummingbird woman am I.
Eagle woman am I, important eagle woman am I.
Whirling woman of the whirlwind am I, woman of a sacred, enchanted place am I,
Woman of the shooting stars am I.