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"To the ancient Inca culture of Peru, and later to the indigenous people and the mestizo colonistas Coca was a goddess, a kind of New World echo of Graves's white goddess Leucothea" (McKenna 211). The goddess Mama Coca is shown with feather headdress holding the moon sickle and offering the saving branch of coca to the Spanish conqueror. Some people might now say coca is a scourge, but like the poppy of the goddess it is the failure to recognise the spiritual significance of these agents and their relationship to the healing nature of the Earth Mother that leads to such grave error in our society.
Coca has always been a sacred plant of the Kechua speaking Indians of the Andes. There are also distinct cultivars of coca in the Amazon basin, which appear to be of ancient sacred use from the time required to develop such distinctive cultivars and the fact that manioc, yaje and coca are the three sacred plants in the canoe containing the first man and woman drawn by the anaconda itself. Perhaps the most ancient use of coca in South America is its employment in various shamanic practices and religious rituals ... enabling the shaman to enter more easily into a trance state in which he can communicate with the spiritual forces of nature and summon them to his aid" (S&R 112) It was the Catholic church which first condemmed its use, largely an account of its integral role in traditional spiritual life (Rudgley 112).