Trujillo traveled to Arizona and and tracked down Yoakum and, later, Apache Bill, a medicine man for the Native American Church. In those days peyote use was illegal but the Navajo and other Native American tribes, including the Huichol, continued to employ the hallucinogenic cactus in religious ceremonies.

“[Peyote] allows for healing of... deep emotional traumas. Healing of the mind and spirit then [fosters] physiological benefits.”

Yoakum and Apache Bill introduced Trujillo to the hallucinogen.

"They took Immanuel up to Redington Pass and said, 'Son, you stay here and fast for a day and then start eating this medicine, and we'll be back on the third day.' And that was Immanuel's first spirit walk," Kent says.

The grave site of Peyote founder Immanuel Trujillo (inset) maintains a prominent place on church property near where church members take spirit walks.
Andrew Pielage
The grave site of Peyote founder Immanuel Trujillo (inset) maintains a prominent place on church property near where church members take spirit walks.
Anne Zapf sitting in the peyote house where there are more than 10,000 plants in various stages of growth.
Andrew Pielage
Anne Zapf sitting in the peyote house where there are more than 10,000 plants in various stages of growth.

Like Trujillo, Yoakum and Apache Bill were military veterans. They had served during the Philippine-American War and had participated in the massacre of 600 people in the Moro Crater battle of 1906, Kent says.

"Part of each of their hearts was shattered by the violence they had done and had witnessed. It goes with any veteran," Kent says. "They knew that the peyote helped them find some peace. And so they knew it would help Immanuel."

After his first spirit walk under the guidance of Apache Bill, Trujillo began using peyote regularly for spiritual and therapeutic purposes. He joined the Native American Church and eventually became "roadman," a leader of peyote ceremonies.

Trujillo remained a member of the church for nearly two decades, finally breaking away to establish an inclusive, multiracial church offering peyote to non-natives.

Trujillo's experience with psychedelic drugs and his promotion of the use of peyote led him and prominent Harvard psychologist and LSD advocate Timothy Leary to become friends. Trujillo introduced the counterculture icon to peyote, and Leary in turn introduced Trujillo to LSD, Kent says.

Eventually, Trujillo joined Leary's League for Spiritual Discovery, which held storied LSD-fueled escapades at Millbrook Estate, north of New York City. After police raided Millbrook, Leary and "psychedelic yoga master" Bill Haines decided to establish the Sri Ram Ashram in Arizona, with the help of Trujillo.

Kent says Trujillo located the property in the small Arizona town of Benson, where Leary and Haines started their ashram. Trujillo lived at the ashram for several years and helped establish the center as he looked for property for Peyote Way.

Eventually, Trujillo left the League for Spiritual Discovery to have a family. Leary, who famously was called "the most dangerous man in America" by President Richard Nixon, was hounded by authorities and in and out of jail for years. Members of his organization faced similar scrutiny.

Off on his own, Trujillo hired an Arizona real estate agent to find him land with a water source, which is how he came to purchase the 160 acres near Aravaipa Canyon in a foreclosure deal. After purchasing the land, Trujillo focused on making pottery and establishing his church.

Trujillo and his wife, Jane, lived on the land with their four-year-old son, Juan, while building their pottery business. Then the little boy was killed in a freak accident. As Juan and his father hauled pottery to Trujillo's kilns for firing, the boy fell off the back of their truck and was run over.

"It broke their hearts, and that was the beginning of the end of Immanuel's last marriage," Kent says. "From the time we knew him until he died, he was celibate."


Zapf and Kent met Trujillo in October 1977. They were in their mid-twenties at the time and had recently married in their home state of Pennsylvania.

They arrived at Trujillo's fledgling church through circumstance.

A man they had caught a ride with while traveling across the country had rescued Trujillo's elderly mentor, Yoakum, who had become trapped behind a refrigerator in his home.

"He would have died had our ride not entered his remote cabin and pushed it off him," Zapf says.

The two had been at Peyote Way, then called the Church of Holy Light, for a few days when Trujillo showed them a tray of drying peyote and offered them an opportunity to go on a spirit walk.

Soon after their first experience with the drug, the two decided to stay and join the church. They were designated by Trujillo as the "Reverend" Zapf and "Rabbi" Kent, although they have no formal affiliations to Christianity and Judaism.

Over the next several years Trujillo, Zapf and Kent worked to incorporate the burgeoning business, Mana Pottery, and to formally found the church, which was officially registered as a nonprofit organization in 1981, according to public records.

The pottery business expanded with the arrival of the married couple. Back in its heyday, Goldwater's Department Store carried Mana Pottery. Celebrities, including former NBA star and tie-dyed wearing big man Bill Walton, collected the colorful pieces featuring images of peyote and animal figures. And the Smithsonian Institution gave Trujillo's work a place in its permanent collection at the National Museum of the American Indian.

But the road to establishing the peyote-based church wasn't without obstacles. At various times, Trujillo, Zapf and Kent each faced prosecution for possession of peyote, designated a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

In the early '80s, Zapf and Kent were arrested in Texas while on a "spiritual mission" to purchase peyote from an authorized dealer. Trujillo was arrested at least twice, once in Denver in the '60s and again in 1986 in Globe, Arizona, for eating part of a peyote button in front of a police officer.

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