April 27, 2022 So I’m up on the roof. The sunset is later each day and the orange ball lands further out on the spit of urban space to our west. Soon it will dunk itself into the ocean. We are nearing the end of the dry season which means it’s time to turn our thoughts to preparations for hurricane season. We know what we need and deep in our psyche feel the consequences of neglect. One of the cool things about being a writer is we must learn about so many obscure and interesting subjects. If you were to see the search history of a crime or thriller writer, you would see inquiries into poisons, blood spatter, hiding the body and so on. In my second novel, now in beta readers hands, the Taino culture is a significant feature. I’ve read several books although have barely scratched the surface of understanding their culture. One topic that fascinates me is the use of hallucinogens. There is scholastic agreement that food, water, and sex are essential to human existence. An active scientific inquiry is whether there is a fourth essential driver: an altered state of consciousness. Amerindians used over one hundred and eighty different kinds botanical intoxicants. In Taino society, like much of Mesoamerica, the culture was shamanic. Hallucinogen use was centered on a shaman and the chief or cacique. Art was expressed in the implements that were used to ingest the drugs. These are quite intricate and indicative of a well-developed artistic tradition supportive of a deeply embedded need to seek an altered state.
The neat thing about this is I was well along with the novel when I came across this bit of research. Although I had no plan or intention to incorporate Amerindian drug use in the story, it became an important plot line and a the key to the resolution of a major conflict.
How cool is that?