The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert is a vast irregular-shaped area of some 120,000 square miles. It stretches from southeastern California across the southern half of Arizona and extends south into Sonora, Mexico. More than one thousand years ago, the Hohokam Indians began diverting water from the Gila River in order to irrigate the arid soil. Working with sticks and stones these primal people pioneered an extensive system of desert agriculture and produced art like the clay toad pictured above.

One of the most unique inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert is the native toad, Bufo alvarius. The metabolic pathway of the venom of B. alvarius is unique within the Animal Kingdom in that it produces large amounts of 5-methoxy indole derivatives. The predominant alkaloid among these, as much as fifteen per cent of the venom by dry weight, is 5- methoxy- N,N- dimethyltryptamine (5-MEO-DMT). 5-MEO-DMT is a potent hallucinogen, psychoactive in man at doses of three to five milligrams.

When vaporized by heat and taken into the lungs in the form of smoke, this indole-based alkaloid produces an incredibly intense psychedelic experience of incredibly short duration. There is no hangover or harmful effect. On the contrary, a pleasant psychedelic afterglow appears quite regularly after smoking the venom of B. alvarius, the Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert.

In 1983 Albert Most of Gila, Arizona formed The Church of the Toad of Light. His writings, especially Bufo alvarius: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert which is The Bible, draw thousands of young searchers to the Sonora Desert around Gila every year. Here is a link to the best general information about Bufo alvarius. Here is another to information on the church itself. Most interestingly Bufo alvarius is a mudite in that it lives underground in the mud under year around water sources, like the Gila River and the extensive modern irrigation systems that draw on the Colorado River, during the hot daylight hours found in this harsh zone where temperatures can reach 140 F. in the shade and rainfall amounts at as little as five inches per year.