Mabel Luhan

Businessperson

Mabel Luhan was born Mabel Ganson in Buffalo, New York in 1879. She grew up in an atmosphere of wealth and privilege and became a patron of the arts, as well as a member of the avant-garde in Greenwich Village.

As a child, Mabel was raised by her nursemaid and her parents provided her with everything she could possibly want, except for emotional and spiritual support. Mabel grew up to marry several times, have affairs, and undergo years of psychoanalysis. Ultimately, she always had a feeling of “being nobody in [her]self.”

In 1914, Mabel and nine of her friends were introduced to peyote by anthropologist Raymond Harrington. Unfortunately, this first peyote experience was not good and frightened her. In 1917, Mabel married Tony Lujan, a Pueblo peyote leader in Taos, Mexico (Mabel changed the spelling of her last name so it was easier to pronounce). When Mabel became very ill one day, her husband gave her peyote medicine. Mabel experienced a transformative vision which she later described in her memoirs as an “expansion of consciousness.” She also wrote that the whole universe fell into place for her. This was the first time a woman wrote about a peyote experience from the female point of view.

Ironically, in the years following, Mabel insisted her husband give up peyote. She also encouraged the religious persecution of peyote users, who she referred to as drug addicts. Mabel also supported the idea of federal laws that would prohibit the use of peyote.