Erythroxylon Coca Farmer
Coca can be harvested four times a year. Traditionally, chewing the sacred leaf promotes contact with the spirit world. Chewing or smoking coca leaves invigorates the user, allowing him to absorb the plant's magical powers and protect body and spirit alike. Ancient Peruvians used coca as a local anaesthetic before trepanning - the hazardous surgical technique of drilling a hole in the skull to relieve various physical and psychic woes.
In traditional Indian cultures, Mama Coca was accounted a benevolent deity. She was regarded as a sacred goddess who could bless humans with her power. Before the coca harvest, the harvester would sleep with a woman to ensure that Mama Coca would be in a favourable mood. Typically, a decoction of coca and saliva was rubbed onto the male organ to prolong erotic ecstasy.
Tales of the aphrodisiacal properties of cocaine eventually reached the Old World too. In his journal of 1794, Hipolito Unanue writes of "coqueros, 80 years of age and over, and yet capable of such prowess as young men in the prime of life would be proud of."
Later authorities made no less extravagant claims. In Der Kokainismus (1926), Swiss psychiatrist Hans Maier records: "After a night of sexual prowesses, compared to which the seven labours of Hercules were a mere nothing, I fell asleep, only to be immediately awakened by the renewed demands of my insatiable partner. I was able to verify on myself the degree to which cocaine renders women incapable of achieving sexual relation. Orgasm follows orgasm, each one further increasing the intensity of the desire. The most sexually potent man must eventually give up the hope of satisfying such a woman. There was nothing to do but flee in self-preservation."
Such purple prose may mislead the unwary. Cocaine is not an aphrodisiac if taken in large quantities over prolonged periods. Indeed chronic cocaine use may suppress erotic behaviour altogether. This is because taking pure cocaine is typically more pleasurable than having sex. Captive animals given the opportunity to enjoy unlimited quantities of both will initially be more sexual active. But they end up focusing entirely on the cocaine. This pattern of behaviour is also the common experience of humans who pass from casual recreational use of the drug to become cocaine addicts.
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