Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is any psychoactive substance that induces a spiritual experience and is aimed at spiritual development.[2] This terminology is often chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. For example, entheogens are used by curanderos to heal people but also by malevolent sorcerers to allegedly “steal” their energy.[3]

The religious, shamanic, or spiritual significance of entheogens is well established in anthropological and modern contexts; entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including white and black magic, sensory deprivation, divinatory, meditation, yoga, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, hymns like peyote songs, and drumming. In the 1960s the hippie movement escalated its use to psychedelic art, binaural beats, sensory deprivation tanks, music, and rave parties.

Entheogens have been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use. However, in the mid-20th century, after the discovery of LSD, and the intervention of psychedelic therapy, the term entheogen, invented in 1979, later became an umbrella term used to include artificial drugs, alternative medical treatment, and spiritual practices, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure.

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years.

R. Gordon Wasson and Giorgio Samorini have proposed several examples of the cultural use of entheogens that are found in the archaeological record.[6][7] Evidence for the first use of entheogens may come from Tassili, Algeria, with a cave painting of a mushroom-man, dating to 8000 BP.[citation needed] Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BC, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[citation needed][8]

With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from the aforementioned plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol.

Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed. Alexander Shulgin developed hundreds of entheogens in PiHKAL and TiHKAL. Most of the drugs in PiHKAL are synthetic.

Entheogens used by movements includes biotas like peyote (Neo-American Church), extracts like Ayahuasca (Santo Daime, Unio do Vegetal), the semi-synthetic drug LSD (Neo-American Church), and synthetic drugs like DPT (Temple of the True Inner Light) and 2C-B (Sangoma[10]).

Both Santo Daime and Unio do Vegetal now have members and churches throughout the world.

Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and 2C-i, primarily to assist psychotherapy.

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of Ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, ketamine, LSA, LSD, MDE, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, Salvia divinorum and conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross cultural and meta-analysis research.[11]

L. E. Hollister’s[who?] criteria for identifying a drug as hallucinogenic are:[12]

Drugs, including some that cause physical dependence, have been used with entheogenic intention, mostly in ancient times, like alcohol. Common recreational drugs that cause chemical dependence have a history of entheogenic use, perhaps because their users could not access traditional entheogens, as shamans, considering non-visioning uses of their entheogens as hedonistic, were very secretive with them.[citation needed]

Alcohol has sometimes been invested with religious significance.

In ancient Celtic religion, Sucellus or Sucellos was the god of agriculture, forests and alcoholic drinks of the Gauls.

Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer.[13]

In the ancient Greco-Roman religion, Dionysos (or Bacchus) was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy, of merry making and theatre. The original rite of Dionysus is associated with a wine cult and he may have been worshipped as early as c. 15001100 BC by Mycenean Greeks. The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state. In his Laws, Plato said that alcoholic drinking parties should be the basis of any educational system, because the alcohol allows relaxation of otherwise fixed views. The Symposium (literally, ‘drinking together’) was a dramatised account of a drinking party where the participants debated the nature of love.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, a cup of wine is offered to Demeter which she refuses, instead insisting upon a potion of barley, water, and glechon, known as the ceremonial drink Kykeon, an essential part of the Mysteries. The potion has been hypothesized to be an ergot derivative from barley, similar to LSD.[14]

Egyptian pictographs clearly show wine as a finished product around 4000 BC. Osiris, the god who invented beer and brewing, was worshiped throughout the country. The ancient Egyptians made at least 24 types of wine and 17 types of beer. These beverages were used for pleasure, nutrition, rituals, medicine, and payments. They were also stored in the tombs of the deceased for use in the afterlife.[15] The Osirian Mysteries paralleled the Dionysian, according to contemporary Greek and Egyptian observers. Spirit possession involved liberation from civilization’s rules and constraints. It celebrated that which was outside civilized society and a return to the source of being, which would later assume mystical overtones. It also involved escape from the socialized personality and ego into an ecstatic, deified state or the primal herd (sometimes both).

Some scholars[who?] have postulated that pagan religions actively promoted alcohol and drunkenness as a means of fostering fertility. Alcohol was believed to increase sexual desire and make it easier to approach another person for sex.

Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduced “Mindful Drinking” to the West when he fled Tibet.[16][17]

The present day Arabic word for alcohol appears in The Qur’an (in verse 37:47) as al-awl, properly meaning “spirit” or “demon”, in the sense of “the thing that gives the wine its headiness.”[citation needed]

Many Christian denominations use wine in the Eucharist or Communion and permit alcohol consumption in moderation. Other denominations use unfermented grape juice in Communion; they either voluntarily abstain from alcohol or prohibit it outright.[citation needed]

Judaism uses wine on Shabbat and some holidays for Kiddush as well as more extensively in the Passover ceremony and other religious ceremonies. The secular consumption of alcohol is allowed. Some Jewish texts, e.g., the Talmud, encourage moderate drinking on holidays (such as Purim) in order to make the occasion more joyous.[citation needed]

Bah’s are forbidden to drink alcohol or to take drugs, unless prescribed by doctors. Accordingly, the sale and trafficking of such substances is also forbidden. Smoking is discouraged but not prohibited.

Kava cultures are the religious and cultural traditions of western Oceania which consume kava. There are similarities in the use of kava between the different cultures, but each one also has its own traditions.[citation needed]

Entheogens have been used by individuals to pursue spiritual goals such as divination, ego death, egolessness, faith healing, psychedelic therapy and spiritual formation.[18]

“Don Alejandro (a Mazatecan shaman) taught me that the visionary experiences are much more important than the plants and drugs that produce them. He no longer needed to take the vision-inducing plants for his journeys.”[19]

There are also instances where people have been given entheogens without their knowledge or consent (e.g., tourists in Ayahuasca),[20] as well as attempts to use such drugs in other contexts, such as cursing, psychochemical weaponry, psychological torture, brainwashing and mind control; CIA experiments with LSD were used in Project MKUltra, and controversial entheogens like alcohol are often mentioned in context of bread and circuses.

In some areas, there are purported malevolent sorcerers who masquerade as real shamans and who entice tourists to drink ayahuasca in their presence. Shamans believe one of the purposes for this is to steal one’s energy and/or power, of which they believe every person has a limited stockpile.[3]

The Native American Church (NAC) is also known as Peyotism and Peyote Religion. Peyotism is a Native American religion characterized by mixed traditional as well as Protestant beliefs and by sacramental use of the entheogen peyote.

The Peyote Way Church of God believe that “Peyote is a holy sacrament, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle”.[21]

Some religions forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic beverages. These include Islam, Jainism, the Bah’ Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, the United Pentecostal Church International, Theravada, most Mahayana schools of Buddhism, some Protestant denominations of Christianity, some sects of Taoism (Five Precepts and Ten Precepts), and Hinduism.

The Pali Canon, the scripture of Theravada Buddhism, depicts refraining from alcohol as essential to moral conduct because intoxication causes a loss of mindfulness. The fifth of the Five Precepts states, “Sur-meraya-majja-pamdahn verama sikkhpada samdiymi.” In English: “I undertake to refrain from meraya and majja (the two fermented drinks used in the place and time of writing) to heedless intoxication.” Although the Fifth Precept only names a specific wine and cider, this has traditionally been interpreted to mean all alcoholic beverages. Technically, this prohibition does also not even include light to moderate drinking, only to the point of drunkenness. It also doesn’t include other mind-altering drugs, but Buddhist tradition includes all intoxicants. The canon does not suggest that alcohol is evil but believes that the carelessness produced by intoxication creates bad karma. Therefore, any drug (beyond tea or mild coffee) that affects one’s mindfulness be considered by some to be covered by this prohibition.[citation needed]

Many Christian denominations disapprove of the use of most illicit drugs. The early history of the Church, however, was filled with a variety of drug use, recreational and otherwise.[22]

The primary advocate of a religious use of cannabis plant in early Judaism was Sula Benet, also called Sara Benetowa, a Polish anthropologist, who claimed in 1967 that the plant kaneh bosm – mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus, was in fact cannabis.[23] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[24] The lexicons of Hebrew and dictionaries of plants of the Bible such as by Michael Zohary (1985), Hans Arne Jensen (2004) and James A. Duke (2010) and others identify the plant in question as either Acorus calamus or Cymbopogon citratus.[25] Kaneh-bosm is listed as an incense in the Old Testament.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (founder of Jewish Renewal) and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) were influential early Jewish explorers of the connections between hallucinogenics and spirituality, from the early 1960s onwards.

It is generally held by academics specializing in the archaeology and paleobotany of Ancient Israel, and those specializing in the lexicography of the Hebrew Bible that cannabis is not documented or mentioned in early Judaism. Against this some popular writers have argued that there is evidence for religious use of cannabis in the Hebrew Bible,[26][27] although this hypothesis and some of the specific case studies (e.g., John Allegro in relation to Qumran, 1970) have been “widely dismissed as erroneous, others continue”.[28]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[29] The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosm (Hebrew: -). This is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. Although Chris Bennett’s research in this area focuses on cannabis, he mentions evidence suggesting use of additional visionary plants such as henbane, as well.[30]

The Septuagint translates kaneh-bosm as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to most later translations of the old testament. However, Polish anthropologist Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word ‘cannabis’,[31] with the root kan meaning reed or hemp and bosm meaning fragrant. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants containing psychotropic compounds.

In his research, Professor Dan Merkur points to significant evidence of an awareness within the Jewish mystical tradition recognizing manna as an entheogen, thereby substantiating with rabbinic texts theories advanced by the superficial biblical interpretations of Terence McKenna, R. Gordon Wasson and other ethnomycologists.

Although philologist John Marco Allegro has suggested that the self-revelation and healing abilities attributed to the figure of Jesus may have been associated with the effects of the plant medicines, this evidence is dependent on pre-Septuagint interpretation of Torah and Tenach. Allegro was the only non-Catholic appointed to the position of translating the Dead Sea scrolls. His extrapolations are often the object of scorn due to Allegro’s non-mainstream theory of Jesus as a mythological personification of the essence of a “psychoactive sacrament”. Furthermore, they conflict with the position of the Catholic Church with regard to transubstantiation and the teaching involving valid matter, form, and drug that of bread and wine (bread does not contain psychoactive drugs, but wine contains ethanol). Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross relates the development of language to the development of myths, religions, and cultic practices in world cultures. Allegro believed he could prove, through etymology, that the roots of Christianity, as of many other religions, lay in fertility cults, and that cult practices, such as ingesting visionary plants (or “psychedelics”) to perceive the mind of God, persisted into the early Christian era, and to some unspecified extent into the 13th century with reoccurrences in the 18th century and mid-20th century, as he interprets the Plaincourault chapel’s fresco to be an accurate depiction of the ritual ingestion of Amanita muscaria as the Eucharist.[citation needed]

The historical picture portrayed by the Entheos journal is of fairly widespread use of visionary plants in early Christianity and the surrounding culture, with a gradual reduction of use of entheogens in Christianity.[32] R. Gordon Wasson’s book Soma prints a letter from art historian Erwin Panofsky asserting that art scholars are aware of many “mushroom trees” in Christian art.[33]

The question of the extent of visionary plant use throughout the history of Christian practice has barely been considered yet by academic or independent scholars. The question of whether visionary plants were used in pre-Theodosius Christianity is distinct from evidence that indicates the extent to which visionary plants were utilized or forgotten in later Christianity, including heretical or quasi- Christian groups,[34] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[35]

Daniel Merkur at the University of Toronto contends that a minority of Christian hermits and mystics could possibly have used entheogens, in conjunction with fasting, meditation, and prayer.[citation needed]

According to R.C. Parker, “The use of entheogens in the Vajrayana tradition has been documented by such scholars as Ronald M Davidson, William George Stablein, Bulcsu Siklos, David B. Gray, Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, Shashibhusan Das Gupta, Francesca Fremantle, Shinichi Tsuda, David Gordon White, Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, James Francis Hartzell, Edward Todd Fenner, Ian Baker, Dr. Pasang Yonten Arya and numerous others.” These scholars have established entheogens were used in Vajrayana (in a limited context) as well as in Tantric Saivite traditions. The major entheogens in the Vajrayana Anuttarayoga Tantra tradition are cannabis and Datura which were used in various pills, ointments, and elixirs. Several tantras within Vajrayana specifically mention these entheogens and their use, including the Laghusamvara-tantra (aka Cakrasavara Tantra), Samputa-tantra, Samvarodaya-tantra, Mahakala-tantra, Guhyasamaja-tantra, Vajramahabhairava-tantra, and the Krsnayamari-tantra.[36] In the Cakrasavara Tantra, the use of entheogens is coupled with mediation practices such as the use of a mandala of the Heruka meditation deity (yidam) and visualization practices which identify the yidam’s external body and mandala with one’s own body and ‘internal mandala’.[37]

It has also been proposed by Scott Hajicek-Dobberstein that the Amanita Muscaria mushroom was used by the Tantric Buddhist mahasiddha tradition of the 8th to 12th century.[38]

In the West, some modern Buddhist teachers have written on the usefulness of psychedelics. The Buddhist magazine Tricycle devoted their entire fall 1996 edition to this issue.[39] Some teachers such as Jack Kornfield have acknowledged the possibility that psychedelics could complement Buddhist practice, bring healing and help people understand their connection with everything which could lead to compassion.[40] Kornfield warns however that addiction can still be a hindrance. Other teachers such as Michelle McDonald-Smith expressed views which saw entheogens as not conductive to Buddhist practice (“I don’t see them developing anything”).[41]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[42][43] as recreational drugs, and for medical and therapeutic use. The use of entheogens in human cultures is nearly ubiquitous throughout recorded history.

Naturally occurring entheogens such as psilocybin and DMT (in the preparation ayahuasca), were, for the most part, discovered and used by older cultures, as part of their spiritual and religious life, as plants and agents that were respected, or in some cases revered for generations and may be a tradition that predates all modern religions as a sort of proto-religious rite.

One of the most widely used entheogens is cannabis, entheogenic use of cannabis has been used in regions such as China, Europe, and India, and, in some cases, for thousands of years. It has also appeared as a part of religions and cultures such as the Rastafari movement, the Sadhus of Hinduism, the Scythians, Sufi Islam, and others.

The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga.[44] Although the ancient Egyptians may have been using the sacred blue lily plant in some of their religious rituals or just symbolically, it has been suggested that Egyptian religion once revolved around the ritualistic ingestion of the far more psychoactive Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, and that the Egyptian White Crown, Triple Crown, and Atef Crown were evidently designed to represent pin-stages of this mushroom.[45] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[46] Numerous other plants used in shamanic ritual in Africa, such as Silene capensis sacred to the Xhosa, are yet to be investigated by western science. A recent revitalization has occurred in the study of southern African psychoactives and entheogens (Mitchell and Hudson 2004; Sobiecki 2002, 2008, 2012).[47]

The artificial drug 2C-B is interestingly used as entheogen by the Sangoma, Nyanga, and Amagqirha people over their traditional plants; they refer to the chemical as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to “Medicine of the Singing Ancestors”.[48][49][50]

Entheogens have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of most American cultures for millennia. The first American entheogen to be subject to scientific analysis was the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). For his part, one of the founders of modern ethno-botany, the late-Richard Evans Schultes of Harvard University documented the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa, who live in what became Oklahoma. While it was used traditionally by many cultures of what is now Mexico, in the 19th century its use spread throughout North America, replacing the deadly toxic mescal bean (Calia secundiflora) who are questioned to be an entheogen at all. Other well-known entheogens used by Mexican cultures include the alcoholic Aztec sacrament, pulque, ritual tobacco (known as ‘picietl’ to the Aztecs, and ‘sikar’ to the Maya (from where the word ‘cigar’ derives), psilocybin mushrooms, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor and Turbina corymbosa), and Salvia divinorum.

Indigenous peoples of South America employ a wide variety of entheogens. Better-known examples include ayahuasca (most commonly Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) among indigenous peoples (such as the Urarina) of Peruvian Amazon. Other entheogens include San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), Peruvian torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana, syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), and various DMT-snuffs, such as epen (Virola spp.), vilca and yopo (Anadenanthera colubrina and A. peregrina, respectively). The familiar tobacco plant, when used uncured in large doses in shamanic contexts, also serves as an entheogen in South America. Also, a tobacco that contains higher nicotine content, and therefore smaller doses required, called Nicotiana rustica was commonly used.[citation needed]

Entheogens also play an important role in contemporary religious movements such as the Rastafari movement and the Church of the Universe.

Datura wrightii is sacred to some Native Americans and has been used in ceremonies and rites of passage by Chumash, Tongva, and others. Among the Chumash, when a boy was 8 years old, his mother would give him a preparation of momoy to drink. This supposed spiritual challenge should help the boy develop the spiritual wellbeing that is required to become a man. Not all of the boys undergoing this ritual survived.[51] Momoy was also used to enhance spiritual wellbeing among adults . For instance, during a frightening situation, such as when seeing a coyote walk like a man, a leaf of momoy was sucked to help keep the soul in the body.

The indigenous peoples of Siberia (from whom the term shaman was borrowed) have used Amanita muscaria as an entheogen.

In Hinduism, Datura stramonium and cannabis have been used in religious ceremonies, although the religious use of datura is not very common, as the primary alkaloids are strong deliriants, which causes serious intoxication with unpredictable effects.

Also, the ancient drink Soma, mentioned often in the Vedas, appears to be consistent with the effects of an entheogen. In his 1967 book, Wasson argues that Soma was Amanita muscaria. The active ingredient of Soma is presumed by some to be ephedrine, an alkaloid with stimulant properties derived from the soma plant, identified as Ephedra pachyclada. However, there are also arguments to suggest that Soma could have also been Syrian rue, cannabis, Atropa belladonna, or some combination of any of the above plants.[citation needed]

Fermented honey, known in Northern Europe as mead, was an early entheogen in Aegean civilization, predating the introduction of wine, which was the more familiar entheogen of the reborn Dionysus and the maenads. Its religious uses in the Aegean world are bound up with the mythology of the bee.

Dacians were known to use cannabis in their religious and important life ceremonies, proven by discoveries of large clay pots with burnt cannabis seeds in ancient tombs and religious shrines. Also, local oral folklore and myths tell of ancient priests that dreamed with gods and walked in the smoke. Their names, as transmitted by Herodotus, were “kap-no-batai” which in Dacian was supposed to mean “the ones that walk in the clouds”.

The growth of Roman Christianity also saw the end of the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation ceremony for the cult of Demeter and Persephone involving the use of a drug known as kykeon. The term ‘ambrosia’ is used in Greek mythology in a way that is remarkably similar to the Soma of the Hindus as well.

A theory that natural occurring gases like ethylene used by inhalation may have played a role in divinatory ceremonies at Delphi in Classical Greece received popular press attention in the early 2000s, yet has not been conclusively proven.[52]

Mushroom consumption is part of the culture of Europeans in general, with particular importance to Slavic and Baltic peoples. Some academics consider that using psilocybin- and or muscimol-containing mushrooms was an integral part of the ancient culture of the Rus’ people.[53]

It has been suggested that the ritual use of small amounts of Syrian rue is an artifact of its ancient use in higher doses as an entheogen (possibly in conjunction with DMT containing acacia).[citation needed]

Philologist John Marco Allegro has argued in his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that early Jewish and Christian cultic practice was based on the use of Amanita muscaria, which was later forgotten by its adherents. Allegro’s hypothesis is that Amanita use was sacred knowledge kept only by high figures to hide the true beginnings of the Christian cult, seems supported by his own view that the Plaincourault Chapel shows evidence of Christian amanita use in the 13th century.[54]

In general, indigenous Australians are thought not to have used entheogens, although there is a strong barrier of secrecy surrounding Aboriginal shamanism, which has likely limited what has been told to outsiders. A plant that the Australian Aboriginals used to ingest is called Pitcheri, which is said to have a similar effect to that of coca. Pitcheri was made from the bark of the shrub Duboisia myoporoides. This plant is now grown commercially and is processed to manufacture an eye medication. There are no known uses of entheogens by the Mori of New Zealand aside from a variant species of kava.[55] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[56]

Kava or kava kava (Piper Methysticum) has been cultivated for at least 3000 years by a number of Pacific island-dwelling peoples. Historically, most Polynesian, many Melanesian, and some Micronesian cultures have ingested the psychoactive pulverized root, typically taking it mixed with water. Much traditional usage of kava, though somewhat suppressed by Christian missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries, is thought to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[57]

Studies such as Timothy Leary’s Marsh Chapel Experiment and Roland Griffiths’ psilocybin studies at Johns Hopkins have documented reports of mystical/spiritual/religious experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[58] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition.

Notable early testing of the entheogenic experience includes the Marsh Chapel Experiment, conducted by physician and theology doctoral candidate, Walter Pahnke, under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In this double-blind experiment, volunteer graduate school divinity students from the Boston area almost all claimed to have had profound religious experiences subsequent to the ingestion of pure psilocybin. In 2006, a more rigorously controlled experiment was conducted at Johns Hopkins University, and yielded similar results.[59] To date there is little peer-reviewed research on this subject, due to ongoing drug prohibition and the difficulty of getting approval from institutional review boards.[60]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[61]

Peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, practitioners of the Peyote Way Church of God, a Native American religion, perceive the regulations regarding the use of peyote as discriminating, leading to religious discrimination issues regarding about the U.S. policy towards drugs. As the result of Peyote Way Church of God v. Thornburgh the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 was passed. This federal statute allow the “Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament,” exempting only use by Native American persons. Other jurisdictions have similar statutory exemptions in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Between 2011 and 2012, the Australian Federal Government was considering changes to the Australian Criminal Code that would classify any plants containing any amount of DMT as “controlled plants”.[62] DMT itself was already controlled under current laws. The proposed changes included other similar blanket bans for other substances, such as a ban on any and all plants containing Mescaline or Ephedrine. The proposal was not pursued after political embarrassment on realisation that this would make the official Floral Emblem of Australia, Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), illegal. The Therapeutic Goods Administration and federal authority had considered a motion to ban the same, but this was withdrawn in May 2012 (as DMT may still hold potential entheogenic value to native and/or religious peoples).[63]

In 1963 in Sherbert v. Verner the Supreme Court established the Sherbert Test, which consists of four criteria that are used to determine if an individual’s right to religious free exercise has been violated by the government. The test is as follows:

For the individual, the court must determine

If these two elements are established, then the government must prove

This test was eventually all-but-eliminated in Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990), but was resurrected by Congress in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) and Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), the RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement.

As of 2001, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas had enacted so-called “mini-RFRAs.”

Although entheogens are taboo and most of them are officially prohibited in Christian and Islamic societies, their ubiquity and prominence in the spiritual traditions of various other cultures is unquestioned. “The spirit, for example, need not be chemical, as is the case with the ivy and the olive: and yet the god was felt to be within them; nor need its possession be considered something detrimental, like drugged, hallucinatory, or delusionary: but possibly instead an invitation to knowledge or whatever good the god’s spirit had to offer.”[64]

Most of the well-known modern examples, such as peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and morning glories are from the native cultures of the Americas. However, it has also been suggested that entheogens played an important role in ancient Indo-European culture, for example by inclusion in the ritual preparations of the Soma, the “pressed juice” that is the subject of Book 9 of the Rig Veda. Soma was ritually prepared and drunk by priests and initiates and elicited a paean in the Rig Veda that embodies the nature of an entheogen:

Splendid by Law! declaring Law, truth speaking, truthful in thy works, Enouncing faith, King Soma!… O [Soma] Pavmana (mind clarifying), place me in that deathless, undecaying world wherein the light of heaven is set, and everlasting lustre shines…. Make me immortal in that realm where happiness and transports, where joy and felicities combine…

The kykeon that preceded initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries is another entheogen, which was investigated (before the word was coined) by Carl Kernyi, in Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Other entheogens in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean include the opium poppy, datura, and the unidentified “lotus” (likely the sacred blue lily) eaten by the Lotus-Eaters in the Odyssey and Narcissus.

According to Ruck, Eyan, and Staples, the familiar shamanic entheogen that the Indo-Europeans brought knowledge of was Amanita muscaria. It could not be cultivated; thus it had to be found, which suited it to a nomadic lifestyle. When they reached the world of the Caucasus and the Aegean, the Indo-Europeans encountered wine, the entheogen of Dionysus, who brought it with him from his birthplace in the mythical Nysa, when he returned to claim his Olympian birthright. The Indo-European proto-Greeks “recognized it as the entheogen of Zeus, and their own traditions of shamanism, the Amanita and the ‘pressed juice’ of Soma but better, since no longer unpredictable and wild, the way it was found among the Hyperboreans: as befit their own assimilation of agrarian modes of life, the entheogen was now cultivable.”[64] Robert Graves, in his foreword to The Greek Myths, hypothesises that the ambrosia of various pre-Hellenic tribes was Amanita muscaria (which, based on the morphological similarity of the words amanita, amrita and ambrosia, is entirely plausible) and perhaps psilocybin mushrooms of the Panaeolus genus.

Amanita was divine food, according to Ruck and Staples, not something to be indulged in or sampled lightly, not something to be profaned. It was the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and it mediated between the two realms. It is said that Tantalus’s crime was inviting commoners to share his ambrosia.

The entheogen is believed to offer godlike powers in many traditional tales, including immortality. The failure of Gilgamesh in retrieving the plant of immortality from beneath the waters teaches that the blissful state cannot be taken by force or guile: When Gilgamesh lay on the bank, exhausted from his heroic effort, the serpent came and ate the plant.

Another attempt at subverting the natural order is told in a (according to some) strangely metamorphosed myth, in which natural roles have been reversed to suit the Hellenic world-view. The Alexandrian Apollodorus relates how Gaia (spelled “Ge” in the following passage), Mother Earth herself, has supported the Titans in their battle with the Olympian intruders. The Giants have been defeated:

When Ge learned of this, she sought a drug that would prevent their destruction even by mortal hands. But Zeus barred the appearance of Eos (the Dawn), Selene (the Moon), and Helios (the Sun), and chopped up the drug himself before Ge could find it.[65]

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizari fida’is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries.

The tales of the fidais training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polos account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fidais would awaken. Here, they were told by an old man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause.[66] So went the tale of the “Old Man in the Mountain”, assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (17741856), a prominent orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammers retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of Ancient Greek, (ntheos) and (gensthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as “full of the god, inspired, possessed”, and is the root of the English word “enthusiasm.” The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means “to come into being.” Thus, an entheogen is a drug that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or “spiritual” manner.[67]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley’s experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954. Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for “mind manifest”, and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:

In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

Many works of literature have described entheogen use; some of those are:

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

This is a list of species and genera that are used as entheogens or are used in an entheogenic concoction (such as ayahuasca). For ritualistic use they may be classified as hallucinogens. The active principals and historical significance of each is also listed to illustrate the requirements necessary to be categorized as an entheogen.

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List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

Entheogens today Ethnobotanical 101

Today, the modern Entheogenic Movement seeks to reincorporate these highly effective sacraments into spiritual practice and religious tradition. In stark contrast with the counter-cultural movements social use of psychedelics for recreation, contemporary entheogenic practitioners are striving to make use of these plants and fungi in ways that honor and respect their sacred uses.

Though many entheogens are treated as drugs, and therefore subject to legal restrictions and prohibitions, there are currently three officially recognized religions in the United States in which one can legally practice entheogenic spirituality: the Native American Church (NAC), which uses the peyote cactus as a sacrament; Santo Daime (SD), which uses an ayahuasca drink; and Uniao do Vegetal (UDV), which also uses an ayahuasca drink. In addition to these official religions, many legal entheogens now also are available on the Internet, offering relatively easy access to a wide variety of plants and fungi.

The gift of entheogens is the difference between saying my religion teaches that God is love and we are all one and saying I know that God is love and we are all one because Ive experienced it myself and can confirm that it is true.

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Entheogens today Ethnobotanical 101

Yoga and Entheogens (aka Drugs) Do They Mix …

Yoga and Entheogens Towards a Deeper Understanding

[Please Note: This is the first in a series of pieces dealing with entheogens (god-inspiring substances; aka plant medicines, psychoactive drugs, psychedelics, hallucinogens the latter two terms somewhat obsolete or fallen into disfavor) and yoga. I will be asking, and attempting to resolve, certain thorny issues such as, Can or should entheogens be used by one who seriously walks the yoga path? and What benefit might they have for the serious student of yoga? and How has the yoga/spiritual communitys changed towards entheogens since the 60s and now, and why? and What are the legal and moral issues and ramifications? And so on.

First you might want to check out the following Wiki article on Entheogens, just in case you need to get up to speed (

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entheogen

Next, watch the following video of a lecture by Ram Dass speaking on the subject of his experiences with and reflections on entheogens (and for more info. on Ram Dass, either go to his website: http://www.ramdass.org/ ; or read the following Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Dass ) :

Heres the second part, too:

Finally, for right now well conclude with Ram Dass famous story of what happened when he gave LSD to his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Please be sure to read my comments afterward, too.3~**********************************************3~When I First Came to India (by Ram Dass)

In 1967 when I first came to India, I brought with me a supply of LSD, hoping to find someone who might understand more about these substances than we did in the West. When I had met Maharajji (Neem Karoli Baba), after some days the thought had crossed my mind that he would be a perfect person to ask. The next day after having that thought, I was called to him and he asked me immediately, Do you have a question? Of course, being before him was such a powerful experience that I had completely forgotten the question I had had in my mind the night before. So I looked stupid and said, No, Maharajji, I have no question.He appeared irritated and said, Where is the medicine?

I was confused but Bhagavan Dass suggested, Maybe he means the LSD. I asked and Maharajji nodded. The bottle of LSD was in the car and I was sent to fetch it.

When I returned I emptied the vial of pills into my hand. In addition to the LSD there were a number of other pills for this and thatdiarrhea, fever, a sleeping pill, and so forth. He asked about each of these.

He asked if they gave powers. I didnt understand at the time and thought that by powers perhaps he meant physical strength. I said, No. Later, of course, I came to understand that the word he had used, siddhis, means psychic powers. Then he held out his hand for the LSD. I put one pill on his palm. Each of these pills was about three hundred micrograms of very pure LSDa solid dose for an adult. He beckoned for more, so I put a second pill in his handsix hundred micrograms. Again he beckoned and I added yet another, making the total dosage nine hundred microgramscertainly not a dose for beginners. Then he threw all the pills into his mouth. My reaction was one of shock mixed with fascination of a social scientist eager to see what would happen.

He allowed me to stay for an hour and nothing happened. Nothing whatsoever.

He just laughed at me.

The whole thing had happened very fast and unexpectedly. When I returned to the United States in 1968 I told many people about this acid feat. But there had remained in me a gnawing doubt that perhaps he had been putting me on and had thrown the pills over his shoulder or palmed them, because I hadnt actually seen them go into his mouth.

Three years later, when I was back in India, he asked me one day, Did you give me medicine when you were in India last time?

Yes.

Did I take it? he asked. ( Ah, there was my doubt made manifest!)

I think you did.

What happened?

Nothing.

Go! Jao! and he sent me off for the evening.

The next morning I was called over to the porch in front of his room, where he sat in the mornings on a tucket. He asked, Have you got any more of that medicine?

It just so happened that I was carrying a small supply of LSD for just in case, and this was obviously it. Yes.

Get it, he said.

So I did. In the bottle were five pills of three hundred micrograms each. One of the pills was broken. I placed them on my palm and held them out to him. He took the four unbroken pills. Then, one by one, very obviously and very deliberately, he placed each one in his mouth and swallowed it another unspoken thought of mine now answered.

As soon as he had swallowed the last one, he asked, Can I take water?

Yes.

Hot or cold?

It doesnt matter.

He started yelling for water and drank a cup when it was brought.

Then he asked, How long will it take to act?

Anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour.

He called for an older man, a long -time devotee who had a watch, and Maharajji held the mans wrist, often pulling it up to him to peer at the watch.

Then he asked, Will it make me crazy?

That seemed so bizarre to me that I could only go along with what seemed to be a gag.

So I said, Probably.

And then we waited. After some time he pulled the blanket over his face, and when he came out after a moment his eyes were rolling and his mouth was ajar and he looked totally mad. I got upset. What was happening? Had I misjudged his powers? After all, he was an old man (though how old I had no idea), and I had let him take twelve hundred micrograms. Maybe last time he had thrown them away and then he read my mind and was trying to prove to me he could do it, not realizing how strong the medicine really was. Guilt and anxiety poured through me. But when I looked at him again he was perfectly normal and looking at the watch.

At the end of an hour it was obvious nothing had happened. His reactions had been a total put-on. And then he asked, Have you got anything stronger? I didnt. Then he said, These medicines were used in Kulu Valley long ago. But yogis have lost that knowledge. They were used with fasting. Nobody knows now. To take them with no effect, your mind must be firmly fixed on God. Others would be afraid to take. Many saints would not take this. And he left it at that.

When I asked him if I should take LSD again, he said, It should not be taken in a hot climate. If you are in a place that is cool and peaceful, and you are alone and your mind is turned toward God, then you may take the yogi medicine.by Ram Dass3~********************************************3~

Note: This story is actually a combination of two stories that Ram Dass told, the first (from his first trip to India in 68) is recounted in his book, Be Here Now. The second story is to be found in The Only Dance There Is, which is a collection of his lectures given at the Menninger Foundation in the early Seventies. I found the story here: http://neemkarolibaba.com/content/view/106/39/

I just want to conclude with a few comments and questions on what Ram Dass wrote: First, are these stories true, or only partly true? I ask this partly because one western yogi who went to India around the same time as Ram Dass recently wrote to me that he doesnt believe the whole Ram Dass mythology. Well, Ram Dass might have made the stories a little more elaborate and interesting, but my feeling is that the basic stories that he gave LSD to NKB and it didnt seem to have an effect on him are true. I believe that Bhagavan Das (who was present at the time) has confirmed as much, too.

The second question I want to bring up is: Was Neem Karoli Baba recommending that any serious yoga aspirant could take LSD, or only Ram Dass?It seems from this story, that he was just okaying it for Ram Dass, not for anyone else. The question then is: Did Ram Dass continue to recommend its use when he returned to the States? Not publicly, as far as Im aware, because by that time LSD was illegal. My understanding is that from that point on, Ram Dass began to publicly recommend and teach yoga practices like chanting, meditation, breathwork, etc., as alternatives to psychoactive drugs such as LSD. At the same time, as in the above videos, Ram Dass did continue to speak on the positive effects that psychedelics (entheogens was not a word in vogue at that point) had on his own life and consciousness, but also discussing their shortcomings, as well.

Please write me, though, if you have more information on this subject. I will return to it again in future blog entries. Thanks for listening! Namaste

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Yoga and Entheogens (aka Drugs) Do They Mix …

European Entheogens: Folk Medicine and Magical Aids …

If you have an apprehension towards the use of psychoactive plants and their effects on humans outside of the context of Modern pharmaceutical medicine, then you may not wish to read on about this particular subject. Even more so, this topic deals with some substances which are currently illegal or extremely dangerous to use without training, and thus are unsuitable for experimentation by most people. If this concept frightens or irks you, begone! It is better for those who do not know enough about the nature of such things to rely on the advice of professional practitioners, preferably ones who do not fall for the reductionist quackery of Modern medicine (though for most of us, this is unfortunately not the case). However, for those of you who feel compelled to explore such things in depth, or possibly those who feel the call to study the art of traditional medicine, I will present a summary of some of the main plants that can be used in a sacred or shamanic context within European culture.

It just so happens that we are among those various peoples across the world who do not have a significant tradition remaining that involves the use of such substances. The main culprit for this current state is the mania that seized our lands from the late 15th to the 17th Centuries AD, which encouraged religious and secular authorities to root out all traces of feminine folk wisdom and brand the practitioners of such arts as witches. This followed the social calamity of the Black Death and was an attempt by the Judeo-Christian authorities to assert themselves when the drastic population reduction in Europe and the loss of central authority had made folk more reliant on traditional methods in order to survive.

Much of this involved consulting wise women who were skilled in potion brewing and ointment making, as well as the creation of good luck charms and the practice of divination. These disciplines are all inter-related, and many of them can be achieved by working with plants which were once considered sacred. Sadly, the imposition of Judeo-Christianity merely followed earlier, statist attempts to outlaw such substances within the Roman Empire, and under such circumstances the use of these substances typically loses its sacramental context and devolves into a recreational or criminal activity.

Among tribal societies, however, the knowledge of how to work with sacred plants is at the heart of the spiritual, physical and psychological well-being of the tribe and the individuals that use them in this way are treated with a mixture of fear and respect. On one hand, they have an intuitive understanding of what particular plant should treat a specific ailment, and also what the dosage should be depending on the individual requiring treatment. However, their working of potentially poisonous plants and the ability to travel to other worlds and converse with deities and other spiritual beings makes them potentially dangerous. The accusations levelled at women (and sometimes men) who were supposedly engaging in black magic during the Burning Times were not completely unfounded all of the time, as the ability to heal also enables the potential to harm; and so it would be nave to assume that some of the cunning folk never employed poisoning or hexing, either as an abuse of power or as a way of teaching a lesson to a fool. However, the gift given to such individuals by the gods was one which could be taken away if misused, and so those involved in such practices had to abide by a deep adherence to natural law and know how to work above their own ego.

Below is a list of some of the more powerful substances that are known to have been used in native European tradition. I believe that it is important to focus on our own cultural perspective, as the adoption of practices from other cultures may not coincide with those of our forebears. It is unfortunate that we have experienced such a complete and utter devastation of the traditional use of entheogens in Modern Europe, and so most peoples understanding of these substances is tainted by harmful perspectives that are a result of prohibition.

Whether it be hysterical rejection of the use of such substances because of a belief in their inherently harmful nature and an ignorance of their positive uses, or a completely hedonistic worldview which sees such treasures as a way to get high and only seeks such substances for the sake of pleasure, I find it necessary to give a third perspective which focuses on their sacred rather than profane usage. As there are many fantastic blogs which deal with herbal lore, I will only focus on those that are more suitable for a ritual context rather than those which are of a more mild nature and can be utilized for everyday use. Be warned that the penalties for messing with these things may end with a prison sentence or harming ones body or mind because of side-effects, and I provide this list merely as a guide to entheogenic study.

Belladonna (Atropa Belladonna)

This infamous plant is commonly known as deadly nightshade, a name which has been attached to it mainly to ward of children from eating the berries, which are luscious and sweet, but usually result in a painful death for them. The main chemical constituents are scopolamine and hyoscyamine, though the latter metabolizes into atropine upon drying and is the main chemical associated with this plant. These chemicals are known as anticholinergics and are capable of inducing delirium, realistic or terrifying hallucinations, a rapid heart rate, difficulty urinating and stupor. However, they are also invaluable for their use in treating nausea, insomnia, toothache, low blood pressure and bradycardia (a dangerously slow heartbeat), and were historically used as sedatives before performing surgery.

Despite the lethal danger to children, Belladonna poisoning does not usually result in death for adults. However, its ability to trap a victim in a waking dream of hallucinations and delirium can have disastrous consequences for somebody who becomes poisoned by her, as they are reliant on others to make sure that they do not confuse their hallucinations for reality and injure or kill themselves in the process. It is for this reason that belladonna is feared for her dangerous power, and will only respond positively to those who employ her aid for reasonable purposes.

One particularly notable instance of its use for poisoning was at the Battle of Denmarkfield near Luncarty in Perthshire during the 11th Century. The Danes, led by Sweyn Knutson, had been pillaging Fife and besieged MacBeth near the River Almond. The Scottish king, Duncan, offered Sweyn and his army wine laced with Belladonna as a sign of truce. By nightfall, the soporific effects of the drug caused the Danes to pass out or become delirious, and were easily massacred by the Scots. Sweyn escaped, but the Danes were expelled from our land for good. There is a standing stone to mark the site of the battle near the village of Luncarty. Archaeological excavations have also unearthed remains of Belladonna seeds at the Medieval town of Elgin in Moray, and they are usually associated with monasteries. After the conversion to Christianity, much of the medicinal lore was kept in the hands of the monks, and healing herbs were a common feature of monastic gardens. Though Belladonna is fairly common in England, it is much rarer in Scotland, as it prefers chalky soil and much of our native soil is very acidic and dense in clay.

Denmarkfield Kings Stone, said to commemorate the Battle of Denmarkfield, Luncarty

Aside from the medicinal uses mentioned above, Belladonna is known to have been used to induce trance and was used in the practice of astral projection, where the user is able to send their hama (soul-skin or astral body) into other worlds to attain visions for the sake of divination or healing. It is for this particular quality that the cunning folk sought her aid in private rituals, although they would usually have needed an assistant to watch over them while they journeyed. Typically, Belladonna was used in the form of a flying ointment in conjunction with other, more poisonous herbs such as wolfsbane (aconitum napellus) or hemlock (conium maculatum). Atropine is unable to pass through the skin, and so this would reduce the negative effects on the body that would result from ingesting such a chemical. In this context, the entheogenic use would have been more secretive than that of some other substances, though it may have been used by a group of practitioners to achieve spirit flight.

The chemicals in Belladonna are also known to cause lycanthropy, a condition where the subject believes themselves to be a wolf, and may be connected to folklore about werewolves. An elite band of warriors in Norse society was known as the ulfheithnar, and they were supposedly able to invoke the spirit of the wolf to aid them in battle (much like the berserkers, whom I will mention shortly). It is possible that Belladonna was used in potions or ointments by these warriors for this purpose, and it could also have been used to contact ones own spirit animal. Belladonna is sacred to Nerthuz and it can be used as part of a Saturday incense (though this is not recommended).

Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa)

Ah, what a controversial herb this is! Found in every street in all corners of British society, this particular weed is widely utilized for its ability to treat nausea, calm the mind, relieve pain and increase appetite. Sadly, it is more often than not used as a recreational drug, and is associated with a black market that mass produces the plant without any regulation or oversight. As the result of prohibition, it is unable to be used for medicinal purposes unless in the extracted, chemical forms, though the non-psychoactive varieties of hemp are grown for their nutritious seeds which can be used to make oil, and also as a textile.

Nowadays, this herb is associated with Black gang culture and all of the thuggery and degeneracy that goes along with the criminal and recreational elements, but this is only a recent phenomenon. In the past, cannabis sativa was grown all over Europe for its value both as a medicine and as a textile, though it is probably not native. Its native range is probably Central Asia, and it was likely to have been introduced to Europe by the Aryans migrating from the Russian Steppe, where it grows wild in the form of cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa is the cultivated form of the herb and has been widely utilized for its mind altering affects, particularly those relating to euphoria and creativity. The main chemical constituents of cannabis are THC and CBD, though the ratio of these may vary between different strains of the herb.

The connection between Cannabis and ecstasy (the state of being, not the drug MDMA) is well attested today and in ancient times. It is known by names such as reliever of grief and banisher of sorrow, and was used to treat anxiety because of its ability to engage the more logical side of the brain and calm over-active emotions. It has been used by Indian ascetics known as sadhus to assist in meditation and to achieve liberation from the five senses. Naturally, the use of the herb for this purpose requires tremendous will and discipline, and so most folk prefer to utilize its ritual or medicinal uses.

One example is given by the Greek historian, Herodotus, who wrote that the Scythians of the Russian Steppe used Cannabis as part of a funeral ritual, where the seeds (he probably meant the flowers, which are known as buds and do not look like flowers) were thrown on heated stones underneath a felt blanket and the resulting vapour was inhaled by the participants. The effects of the vapour were probably intended to soothe grief and accept the passing of a relative, by easing the attachment to that person temporarily. Cannabis was also used by the Ancient Celts, as excavations of an Iron Age chieftains grave in Hochdorf, Germany, have revealed traces of hashish (a refined form of Cannabis) on his cloak, suggesting that he was involved in using the sacrament. Hemp seeds have also been found among the clothing of women from Viking Age burials in Denmark, although it is not clear whether they were used for psychoactive purposes or simply for food. Even excavations of William Shakespeares home at Stratford-Upon-Avon have revealed traces of Cannabis in clay pipes found in what would have been the garden, supporting the idea that Cannabis has, and still is frequently used, by writers and poets for inspiration and creativity.

Cannabis is not known to be lethal in any capacity (though it may be adulterated with toxins as a result of illicit production) and while its medicinal effects are lauded by those with enough clarity to see them, it also has its downsides as a drug. Some people with a predisposition to addiction may find themselves indulging in the plant for psychological pain relief, something which is possible with Cannabis but must be accompanied by the appropriate therapy, otherwise it becomes a habit and a vice. Excessive use can cause a loss of motivation and apathy, and may even result in a worse mood when the effects of the drug have worn off.

An excessive dosage can also cause tachycardia (rapid heart rate), low blood pressure, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia (although this last side-effect is probably due to the fact that it is illegal, as the stimulating nature of Cannabis would worsen the worry about this fact). However, within a medicinal context, such issues are rarely a cause for concern, and it is a dreadful shame that many who need pain relief are unable to access it and are forced to rely on the pharmaceutical extracts or on street dealers who have no interest in their well-being. In the UK, Cannabis is a Class B controlled substance, and being found in possession of it can result in up to 5 years in prison or an unlimited fine and it is illegal in most parts of the world. Cannabis is sacred to Freya and can be used for any magic involving love, as it is known to be an aphrodisiac.

Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)

This visually attractive red and white mushroom is ever present in European artistic aesthetics, as it is commonly portrayed as being surrounded by fairies and is usually associated with Father Christmas and his reindeer. It grows under birch and spruce trees and is native to all temperate and sub-Arctic parts of the world. Though not the magic mushroom that will be covered later on in this article, it is still psychoactive, though it is difficult to assess its actual effects for unknown reasons. For some reason, it can either have negligible effects or produce an intense hallucinogenic experience and it is difficult to know how to achieve this.

It is known that the main chemicals of Fly Agaric are muscimol and ibotenic acid, as well as muscarine and muscazone. Muscimol is a hallucinogen, while the other chemicals are simply poisons, and the side effects that can be experienced by this drug include delirium, stupor, vomiting, sweating and low blood pressure, effects which are associated with cholinergic drugs. For this reason, there is a lot of superstition surrounding the mushroom, and factors involved in the potency of the drug include the time of year picked, the conditions of the location where it grows (presumably soil acidity is a factor) and how it is dried. The mushroom eaten fresh and picked late in the year is known to produce the most side effects, while those picked earlier and dried are said to yield more positive results.

Though Fly Agaric is commonly described as lethal in mycology guides, this is incorrect, as it is only seriously dangerous raw and in large amounts and would even be eaten after parboiling by natives of Siberia and Asiatic peoples in Northern Europe. It has been observed among the Sami people that reindeer eat the mushroom, and that the poisonous effects are mitigated by drinking the urine from the reindeer after its ingestion. Such practices have also been followed by priests in Western Siberia, where the tribal priests take the mushroom and dispense their urine to their congregation.

In Eastern Siberia, use of the mushroom is less restricted, and it is not considered as essential that only the shaman can ingest the mushroom. The desired effects of Fly Agaric are similar to those of Belladonna and other plants carrying tropane alkaloids, though they have the opposite chemical mechanism on the brain and actually act as potentates or antidotes to atropine poisoning. While Fly Agaric may also cause delirium and stupor, the effects are known to be less unpleasant and dangerous as those of the tropanes, and in its dried form it is relatively safe to be ingested. The ability to induce dreamlike states and visions means that Fly Agaric is very valuable to shamans, and would also have been important to our European equivalents. Fly Agaric is not exactly used medicinally, being more utilized for its mind altering effects than anything else.

Interestingly, it has also become associated with the berserkers of Norse lore, and it has been suggested that it was used to induce battle frenzy among these men. Berserker means bear shirt and refers to the use of animal hides used to invoke the protection of an animal spirit. Though the connection between Fly Agaric and the berserker has been dismissed in more recent times, there is sufficient evidence that it was used by them. The Icelandic word for Fly Agric is berserkjasveppur, which means berserker mushroom and it has also been connected to the Indo-Aryan sacrament known as Soma (analogous to the Iranian Haoma).

This substance was used by Aryan warriors to achieve mental clarity, though it is difficult to imagine how this was achieved with the stupefying effects of Fly Agaric. It is likely that a combination of and mixture with other substances as well as the intention and discipline in conjunction with ingestion were utilized to achieve this, though it is difficult to assert with certainty due to the lack of evidence regarding its effects. It has also been connected with esoteric Christianity and and teachings of Christ, as one anecdotal claim holds that the subject experienced visions of Heaven and Hell, reinforcing the idea of the connection to Christian imagery. Though not illegal to posses, it cannot be bought or sold under recently implemented drug laws in the UK, which prohibit the sale of non-approved psychoactive substances. Fly Agaric is sacred to Wotan and the dried skin can be used in smoking blends with other herbs.

Henbane (Hysoscyamus Niger)

Another one of the tropane herbs, this plant is very similar in its actions to Belladonna, though it possesses its own distinct character and attributes. Henbane grows on waste ground and near the sea across Europe, though it is very rare and considered endangered in the wild. It is not native to Northern Europe, most likely originating in the Mediterranean, though it was brought here millennia ago. Traces of Henbane have been found in a clay pot from Balfarg, Fife, dating to around 3,000 BC, which suggests that it was used as part of a ritual. Henbane seeds have also been found among the burials of women in Viking Age Scandinavia (much like the hemp seeds, making a stronger case for the use of Cannabis as an entheogen). The effects of the herb are more or less the same as that of Belladonna, though it may be slightly less poisonous due to the small size and different chemical composition of the plant (Belladonna is a perennial shrub, while Henbane may come as an annual or biennial). Therefore, Henbane may be more suitable for ingestion than her sister, though this is not recommended due to the toxic nature of the tropane alkaloids.

Henbane was another witches weed and was considered especially useful in treating toothache, though the potential side-effects mean that it is no longer used medicinally today. In a magical context, Henbane was plucked by naked virgin girls in Medieval Germany in a ritual attempting to attract rain. It was also part of a potion given by the Iranian prophet, Zoroaster, to King Vishtaspa, who went into a deathlike sleep for three days and travelled to Heaven in that time. Henbane was also used for more sinister purposes by the Ancient Gauls, who dipped their javelins in poison derived from the herb in order to inflict more damage upon their enemies. Henbane may also have been part of the potion given by Circe to Odysseus men in The Odyssey, since the connection between tropane alkaloids and believing oneself to be an animal, as well as the connection between Henbane and pigs (which is what they were turned into), may mean that the story is about a witch who stole the wits of men by giving them a potion that made them believe that they were pigs. Henbane is sacred to Nerthuz, though some prefer to attribute its power to Thor, on account of its use in rain-making rituals.

Liberty Cap Mushroom (Psilocybe Semilanceata)

Also known as a magic mushroom, this is another substance which is prohibited under Modern law and has become associated with the worst aspects of the hippie culture and recreational drug use. Though more well-known than many of the other entheogens on this list, it is unique in being possibly the only psychedelic drug native to Europe. Psychadelics are different from other hallucinogens in that they do not produce delirium or dissociation, but rather they evoke colourful and geometric visual distortions which are sought after by those looking for a step up from the curious effects of Cannabis.

Naturally, such substances are not suitable for social gatherings outside of a medicine ceremony and are frequently abused by party-goers, which can lead to unpleasant experiences. When used in an appropriate setting, magic mushrooms are useful in psychological therapy, and are known to treat depression and anxiety. Another difference between this fungus and the other entheogens on this list is that its medicinal values seem to be purely psychological and spiritual in nature, as is not known to relieve physical ailments. While they are not completely non-toxic, you would need to ingest and absurd amount of mushrooms to become poisoned, and as such they are safe to the human body for consumption in reasonable doses. The main chemical constituents are psylocin and psilocybin (which converts into psylocin during digestion).

Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about their use as an entheogen in Europe, the only clue being that in Ireland, they are known as fairy mushrooms. That and the fact that they can produce visual swirls and patterns that are reminiscent of Neolithic art suggests that they were known to our ancestors. Mesolithic cave paintings from Spain and Morocco depict strange beings holding mushrooms, and these are suggestive of shamanic use involving psychoactive mushrooms. Another small detail that may go unnoticed is the depiction of magic mushrooms in Medieval art, which feature occasionally and are curiously associated with the Apple of Eden, suggesting that Medieval Europeans knew more about these substances than we may have suspected.

If they were used in a similar way as by the natives of places like Mexico, then the Church would have taken a dim view of such practices and seen them as being used to communicate with devils. Such were the criticisms levelled at the use of magic mushrooms by the Catholic Church when it came to Mexico, and the suppression of these cults is a reasonable explanation as to why we have no indigenous tradition in Europe pertaining to the use of these mushrooms. If their use had been driven underground during the Middle Ages and only surfaced in art, we can be sure that the last vestiges were driven out of our lands during the Burning Times, and so we are left with a dearth of knowledge on how to use them.

Fortunately, we can speculate to some degree based on their usage in Mexico. They were used by the Aztecs and the Mazatecs in order to communicate with the gods, and the purpose was usually to discover a cure for an illness. They could have been used either by the healer alone, or by the healer and the patient if the illness was of a more metaphysical nature and required expelling negative entities from the patient. Typically, these healers are not looking for the fantastic visual effects, but for the intuitive voice that tells them what they need to know. Though magic mushrooms can have awful side effects, these can be mitigated by the guidance of an experienced healer and are not as commonly felt if the participant engages in preparation beforehand.

Usually, a participant would fast and abstain from meat, sex and alcohol for a few days before taking part in a medicine ceremony, as the mushroom cleans out the body on a spiritual level and any toxins remaining may lead to nausea and other discomfort when under its influence. Psilocybe semilanceata typically grows on pasture and grassland and is native to temperate zones, growing near, but not on, the dung of cows and sheep. Its association with cattle means that it is sacred to Frigg and its effects would also associate it with healers. Unfortunately, in the UK it is a Class A controlled substance, which may lead to up to 7 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, and (like Cannabis) is illegal in most countries.

The use of these substances is something which is heavily looked down upon in our society, as it is deemed necessary for the state to have complete control over what medicines the people may have access to. Therefore, I neither promote nor encourage the use of such substances, as it is up to each individual to know if it is worth taking the risks that I have mentioned and if they can gain anything from their use. Some people are not meant to take certain substances due to risk factors, and so most of us will remain in the dark about their potential due to the restrictions on what can be done with them.

Though there is more and more evidence suggesting that our common perceptions of psychoactive plants are based on misinformation and lies, governments are slow to respond and prefer to maintain the unregulated black market rather than allow individuals to act responsibly and use what they can to treat illness. It must be kept in mind that if one does choose to use these drugs, then they must approach it with the utmost respect, as disregarding the spirit of the plant may anger it and may even be dangerous for the user. Therefore, it is important to remember what you are using them for and why you need to invoke their aid. Typically, other healing methods should be tried before attempting to deal with psychoactive drugs, and though some of these substances are not illegal, they are still capable of inflicting harm as much as they can heal. Tread carefully fellow travellers, as the world of entheogenic plant spirits is as dangerous as it is rewarding.

Wulf Willelmson

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Natural vs Synthetic Drugs & Entheogens | Animam Recro

I want to add something to my last post. And yes, I get this right from being a multi-dimensional transpersonal monochromatic knight of the inner realms. Or maybe its just because Im a geek.

The following point really merits more posts or more like its own book. I mention that the Viking Youth discuss various methods of trance induction that are not catalyzed by psychoactive chemicals and that dreams could be naturally induced non-ordinary states of consciousness.

The whole argument of synthetic drug (LSD) vs. natural drug (Morning Glory) and substance induced (drug) vs. naturally induced (meditation) altered states is riddled with misconceptions and ambiguities. If you listen to the Viking Youth Power Hour they mention a natural way to induce an altered state is by using pain to flood the brain with endorphins which are endogenous opioid biochemical compounds. Essentially, there is no way to avoid some sort of chemical process going on the brain that is not natural to the brains normal state, hence non-ordinary state of consciousness. Endogenous means that the compound originates naturally in the body but there are also synthesized drugs which are psychoactive by altering the level of endogenous compounds in the brain. There are even endogenous cannabinoids (from the word cannabis) found in the body.

When a shaman ingests magic mushrooms which contain psilocybin it is converted into psilocin in the body. There are only subtle differences in ingesting synthesized psilocin and naturally occuring mushrooms such as potency and whatever other chemicals can be found in the mushroom. It is possible that this subtle difference may make all the difference for shamanic a purpose, thats a complicated area of inquiry. But Albert Hofmann and Maria Sabina may offer some insight:

When I was in Mexico on an expedition with my friend Gordon Wasson in 1963, in search of a hallucinogenic plant, we also visited the famous curandera Maria Sabina in Huautla de Jimenez. We were invited to attend a nocturnal mushroom ceremony in her hut, but as it was late in the year and no more mushrooms were available, I supplied her with pills containing synthetic psilocybin. She took a rather strong dose corresponding to the number of mushrooms she usually ingests. It was a gala performance assisted by a number of people of Maria Sabinas clan. At dawn when we left the hut, our Mazateca interpreter told us that Maria Sabina had said there was no difference between the pills and the mushrooms. This was a final proof that our synthetic psilocybin was identical in every respect with the natural product.

-Albert Hofmann (discoverer of LSD)

In regards to dreaming there is an interesting assessment of DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) by Dr. Rick Strassman in DMT: The Spirit Molecule. The book is based on his project that took place for five years in which he administered approximately 400 doses of DMT to 60 human volunteers. This research took place at the University of New Mexicos School of Medicine in Albuquerque. Dr. Rick Strassman thinks Dimethyltryptamine may be connected to the hallucinogenic aspects of dreaming. It is an endogenous hallucinogenic tryptamine which is hypothesized to be produced by the pineal gland. This gland is also referred to as the third eye, the seat of the soul by the philosopher Rene Descartes, and Ajna or the sixth chakra in yoga. DMT is a schedule 1 drug even though we all have it in our brains. What is the fine line between experiencing the state after ingesting it for shamanic use, which is illegal in many countries, and simply going to bed?

To return to the topic of natural vs. synthetic:

I think the fear of synthetic chemicals is twofold. Our culture is at the point where its beginning to fear that which is not natural because of a number of reasons, specifically our environment being in decline and the partial responsibility of the synthetic for this. The idea of mimicking the ecstatic experience by ingesting something from a lab is somehow more threatening than something originating in the forest. However, this fear might not be completely unwarranted.

A method in assessing the toxicity of a substance or its potential harm to the body/mind when one doesnt have access to a lab is by focusing on the numbers of years and in what ways it was used through out history. Most, if not all entheogens (psychoactive substances taken in a religious or shamanic context) have been used for hundreds and thousands of years. If people have not been harmed by such use, its fairly safe to say that it wont be detrimental to your well being. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said by all synthesized substances, including some new pharmacological drugs which are used with modern psychotherapy. Please see the Mind vs. Body post and future posts on this topic. An example would be the withdrawal symptoms and addictive properties of Paxil.

I also mentioned the way entheogens are used for a specific reason as well. The ritual aspect of the use of psychoactive substances may have been an imbedded failsafe mechanism which prevented them from being used too frequently, the effects of which still need to be studied.

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Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen (/entheogen/), from Greek, literally meaning “generating God within”,[2] is any psychoactive substance that induces a spiritual experience and is aimed at spiritual development.[3] This terminology is often chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. For example, entheogens are used by curanderos to heal people but also by malevolent sorcerers to allegedly “steal” their energy.[4]

The religious, shamanic, or spiritual significance of entheogens is well established in anthropological and modern contexts; entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including white and black magic, sensory deprivation, divinatory, meditation, yoga, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, hymns like peyote songs, and drumming. In the 1960s the hippie movement escalated its use to psychedelic art, binaural beats, sensory deprivation tanks, music, and rave parties.

Entheogens have been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use. However, in the mid-20th century, after the discovery of LSD, and the intervention of psychedelic therapy, the term entheogen, invented in 1979, later became an umbrella term used to include artificial drugs, alternative medical treatment, and spiritual practices, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure.

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years.

R. Gordon Wasson and Giorgio Samorini have proposed several examples of the cultural use of entheogens that are found in the archaeological record.[7][8] Evidence for the first use of entheogens may come from Tassili, Algeria, with a cave painting of a mushroom-man, dating to 8000 BP.[citation needed] Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BC, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[citation needed][9]

With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from the aforementioned plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol.

Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed. Alexander Shulgin developed hundreds of entheogens in PiHKAL and TiHKAL. Most of the drugs in PiHKAL are synthetic.

Entheogens used by movements includes biotas like peyote (Neo-American Church), extracts like Ayahuasca (Santo Daime, Unio do Vegetal), the semi-synthetic drug LSD (Neo-American Church), and synthetic drugs like DPT (Temple of the True Inner Light) and 2C-B (Sangoma[11]).

Both Santo Daime and Unio do Vegetal now have members and churches throughout the world.

Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and 2C-i, primarily to assist psychotherapy.

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of Ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, ketamine, LSA, LSD, MDE, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, Salvia divinorum and conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross cultural and meta-analysis research.[12]

L. E. Hollister’s[who?] criteria for identifying a drug as hallucinogenic are:[13]

Drugs, including some that cause physical dependence, have been used with entheogenic intention, mostly in ancient times, like alcohol. Common recreational drugs that cause chemical dependence have a history of entheogenic use, perhaps because their users could not access traditional entheogens, as shamans, considering non-visioning uses of their entheogens as hedonistic, were very secretive with them.[citation needed]

Alcohol has sometimes been invested with religious significance.

In ancient Celtic religion, Sucellus or Sucellos was the god of agriculture, forests and alcoholic drinks of the Gauls.

Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer.[14]

In the ancient Greco-Roman religion, Dionysos (or Bacchus) was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy, of merry making and theatre. The original rite of Dionysus is associated with a wine cult and he may have been worshipped as early as c. 15001100 BC by Mycenean Greeks. The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state. In his Laws, Plato said that alcoholic drinking parties should be the basis of any educational system, because the alcohol allows relaxation of otherwise fixed views. The Symposium (literally, ‘drinking together’) was a dramatised account of a drinking party where the participants debated the nature of love.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, a cup of wine is offered to Demeter which she refuses, instead insisting upon a potion of barley, water, and glechon, known as the ceremonial drink Kykeon, an essential part of the Mysteries. The potion has been hypothesized to be an ergot derivative from barley, similar to LSD.[15]

Egyptian pictographs clearly show wine as a finished product around 4000 BC. Osiris, the god who invented beer and brewing, was worshiped throughout the country. The ancient Egyptians made at least 24 types of wine and 17 types of beer. These beverages were used for pleasure, nutrition, rituals, medicine, and payments. They were also stored in the tombs of the deceased for use in the afterlife.[16] The Osirian Mysteries paralleled the Dionysian, according to contemporary Greek and Egyptian observers. Spirit possession involved liberation from civilization’s rules and constraints. It celebrated that which was outside civilized society and a return to the source of being, which would later assume mystical overtones. It also involved escape from the socialized personality and ego into an ecstatic, deified state or the primal herd (sometimes both).

Some scholars[who?] have postulated that pagan religions actively promoted alcohol and drunkenness as a means of fostering fertility. Alcohol was believed to increase sexual desire and make it easier to approach another person for sex.

Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduced “Mindful Drinking” to the West when he fled Tibet.[17][18]

The present day Arabic word for alcohol appears in The Qur’an (in verse 37:47) as al-awl, properly meaning “spirit” or “demon”, in the sense of “the thing that gives the wine its headiness.”[citation needed] The term ethanol was invented 1838, modeled on German thyl (Liebig), from Greek aither (see ether), and hyle “stuff”. Ether in late 14c. meant “upper regions of space,” from Old French ether and directly from Latin aether, “the upper pure, bright air,” from Greek aither “upper air; bright, purer air; the sky,” from aithein “to burn, shine,” from PIE root *aidh- “to burn” (see edifice).[19]

Many Christian denominations use wine in the Eucharist or Communion and permit alcohol consumption in moderation. Other denominations use unfermented grape juice in Communion; they either voluntarily abstain from alcohol or prohibit it outright.[citation needed]

Judaism uses wine on Shabbat and some holidays for Kiddush as well as more extensively in the Passover ceremony and other religious ceremonies. The secular consumption of alcohol is allowed. Some Jewish texts, e.g., the Talmud, encourage moderate drinking on holidays (such as Purim) in order to make the occasion more joyous.[citation needed]

Bah’s are forbidden to drink alcohol or to take drugs, unless prescribed by doctors. Accordingly, the sale and trafficking of such substances is also forbidden. Smoking is discouraged but not prohibited.

Kava cultures are the religious and cultural traditions of western Oceania which consume kava. There are similarities in the use of kava between the different cultures, but each one also has its own traditions.[citation needed]

Entheogens have been used by individuals to pursue spiritual goals such as divination, ego death, egolessness, faith healing, psychedelic therapy and spiritual formation.[20]

“Don Alejandro (a Mazatecan shaman) taught me that the visionary experiences are much more important than the plants and drugs that produce them. He no longer needed to take the vision-inducing plants for his journeys.”[21]

There are also instances where people have been given entheogens without their knowledge or consent (e.g., tourists in Ayahuasca),[22] as well as attempts to use such drugs in other contexts, such as cursing, psychochemical weaponry, psychological torture, brainwashing and mind control; CIA experiments with LSD were used in Project MKUltra, and controversial entheogens like alcohol are often mentioned in context of bread and circuses.

In some areas, there are purported malevolent sorcerers who masquerade as real shamans and who entice tourists to drink ayahuasca in their presence. Shamans believe one of the purposes for this is to steal one’s energy and/or power, of which they believe every person has a limited stockpile.[4]

The Native American Church (NAC) is also known as Peyotism and Peyote Religion. Peyotism is a Native American religion characterized by mixed traditional as well as Protestant beliefs and by sacramental use of the entheogen peyote.

The Peyote Way Church of God believe that “Peyote is a holy sacrament, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle”.[23]

Some religions forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic beverages. These include Islam, Jainism, the Bah’ Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, the United Pentecostal Church International, Theravada, most Mahayana schools of Buddhism, some Protestant denominations of Christianity, some sects of Taoism (Five Precepts and Ten Precepts), and Hinduism.

The Pali Canon, the scripture of Theravada Buddhism, depicts refraining from alcohol as essential to moral conduct because intoxication causes a loss of mindfulness. The fifth of the Five Precepts states, “Sur-meraya-majja-pamdahn verama sikkhpada samdiymi.” In English: “I undertake to refrain from meraya and majja (the two fermented drinks used in the place and time of writing) to heedless intoxication.” Although the Fifth Precept only names a specific wine and cider, this has traditionally been interpreted to mean all alcoholic beverages. Technically, this prohibition does also not even include light to moderate drinking, only to the point of drunkenness. It also doesn’t include other mind-altering drugs, but Buddhist tradition includes all intoxicants. The canon does not suggest that alcohol is evil but believes that the carelessness produced by intoxication creates bad karma. Therefore, any drug (beyond tea or mild coffee) that affects one’s mindfulness be considered by some to be covered by this prohibition.[citation needed]

Many Christian denominations disapprove of the use of most illicit drugs. The early history of the Church, however, was filled with a variety of drug use, recreational and otherwise.[24]

The primary advocate of a religious use of cannabis plant in early Judaism was Sula Benet, also called Sara Benetowa, a Polish anthropologist, who claimed in 1967 that the plant kaneh bosm – mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus, was in fact cannabis.[25] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[26] The lexicons of Hebrew and dictionaries of plants of the Bible such as by Michael Zohary (1985), Hans Arne Jensen (2004) and James A. Duke (2010) and others identify the plant in question as either Acorus calamus or Cymbopogon citratus.[27] Kaneh-bosm is listed as an incense in the Old Testament.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (founder of Jewish Renewal) and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) were influential early Jewish explorers of the connections between hallucinogenics and spirituality, from the early 1960s onwards.

It is generally held by academics specializing in the archaeology and paleobotany of Ancient Israel, and those specializing in the lexicography of the Hebrew Bible that cannabis is not documented or mentioned in early Judaism. Against this some popular writers have argued that there is evidence for religious use of cannabis in the Hebrew Bible,[28][29] although this hypothesis and some of the specific case studies (e.g., John Allegro in relation to Qumran, 1970) have been “widely dismissed as erroneous, others continue”.[30]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[31] The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosm (Hebrew: -). This is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. Although Chris Bennett’s research in this area focuses on cannabis, he mentions evidence suggesting use of additional visionary plants such as henbane, as well.[32]

The Septuagint translates kaneh-bosm as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to most later translations of the old testament. However, Polish anthropologist Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word ‘cannabis’,[33] with the root kan meaning reed or hemp and bosm meaning fragrant. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants containing psychotropic compounds.

In his research, Professor Dan Merkur points to significant evidence of an awareness within the Jewish mystical tradition recognizing manna as an entheogen, thereby substantiating with rabbinic texts theories advanced by the superficial biblical interpretations of Terence McKenna, R. Gordon Wasson and other ethnomycologists.

Although philologist John Marco Allegro has suggested that the self-revelation and healing abilities attributed to the figure of Jesus may have been associated with the effects of the plant medicines, this evidence is dependent on pre-Septuagint interpretation of Torah and Tenach. Allegro was the only non-Catholic appointed to the position of translating the Dead Sea scrolls. His extrapolations are often the object of scorn due to Allegro’s non-mainstream theory of Jesus as a mythological personification of the essence of a “psychoactive sacrament”. Furthermore, they conflict with the position of the Catholic Church with regard to transubstantiation and the teaching involving valid matter, form, and drug that of bread and wine (bread does not contain psychoactive drugs, but wine contains ethanol). Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross relates the development of language to the development of myths, religions, and cultic practices in world cultures. Allegro believed he could prove, through etymology, that the roots of Christianity, as of many other religions, lay in fertility cults, and that cult practices, such as ingesting visionary plants (or “psychedelics”) to perceive the mind of God, persisted into the early Christian era, and to some unspecified extent into the 13th century with reoccurrences in the 18th century and mid-20th century, as he interprets the Plaincourault chapel’s fresco to be an accurate depiction of the ritual ingestion of Amanita muscaria as the Eucharist.[citation needed]

The historical picture portrayed by the Entheos journal is of fairly widespread use of visionary plants in early Christianity and the surrounding culture, with a gradual reduction of use of entheogens in Christianity.[34] R. Gordon Wasson’s book Soma prints a letter from art historian Erwin Panofsky asserting that art scholars are aware of many “mushroom trees” in Christian art.[35]

The question of the extent of visionary plant use throughout the history of Christian practice has barely been considered yet by academic or independent scholars. The question of whether visionary plants were used in pre-Theodosius Christianity is distinct from evidence that indicates the extent to which visionary plants were utilized or forgotten in later Christianity, including heretical or quasi- Christian groups,[36] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[37]

Daniel Merkur at the University of Toronto contends that a minority of Christian hermits and mystics could possibly have used entheogens, in conjunction with fasting, meditation, and prayer.[citation needed]

According to R.C. Parker, “The use of entheogens in the Vajrayana tradition has been documented by such scholars as Ronald M Davidson, William George Stablein, Bulcsu Siklos, David B. Gray, Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, Shashibhusan Das Gupta, Francesca Fremantle, Shinichi Tsuda, David Gordon White, Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, James Francis Hartzell, Edward Todd Fenner, Ian Baker, Dr. Pasang Yonten Arya and numerous others.” These scholars have established entheogens were used in Vajrayana (in a limited context) as well as in Tantric Saivite traditions. The major entheogens in the Vajrayana Anuttarayoga Tantra tradition are cannabis and Datura which were used in various pills, ointments, and elixirs. Several tantras within Vajrayana specifically mention these entheogens and their use, including the Laghusamvara-tantra (aka Cakrasavara Tantra), Samputa-tantra, Samvarodaya-tantra, Mahakala-tantra, Guhyasamaja-tantra, Vajramahabhairava-tantra, and the Krsnayamari-tantra.[38] In the Cakrasavara Tantra, the use of entheogens is coupled with mediation practices such as the use of a mandala of the Heruka meditation deity (yidam) and visualization practices which identify the yidam’s external body and mandala with one’s own body and ‘internal mandala’.[39]

It has also been proposed by Scott Hajicek-Dobberstein that the Amanita Muscaria mushroom was used by the Tantric Buddhist mahasiddha tradition of the 8th to 12th century.[40]

In the West, some modern Buddhist teachers have written on the usefulness of psychedelics. The Buddhist magazine Tricycle devoted their entire fall 1996 edition to this issue.[41] Some teachers such as Jack Kornfield have acknowledged the possibility that psychedelics could complement Buddhist practice, bring healing and help people understand their connection with everything which could lead to compassion.[42] Kornfield warns however that addiction can still be a hindrance. Other teachers such as Michelle McDonald-Smith expressed views which saw entheogens as not conductive to Buddhist practice (“I don’t see them developing anything”).[43]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[44][45] as recreational drugs, and for medical and therapeutic use. The use of entheogens in human cultures is nearly ubiquitous throughout recorded history.

Naturally occurring entheogens such as psilocybin and DMT (in the preparation ayahuasca), were, for the most part, discovered and used by older cultures, as part of their spiritual and religious life, as plants and agents that were respected, or in some cases revered for generations and may be a tradition that predates all modern religions as a sort of proto-religious rite.

One of the most widely used entheogens is cannabis, entheogenic use of cannabis has been used in regions such as China, Europe, and India, and, in some cases, for thousands of years. It has also appeared as a part of religions and cultures such as the Rastafari movement, the Sadhus of Hinduism, the Scythians, Sufi Islam, and others.

The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga.[46] Although the ancient Egyptians may have been using the sacred blue lily plant in some of their religious rituals or just symbolically, it has been suggested that Egyptian religion once revolved around the ritualistic ingestion of the far more psychoactive Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, and that the Egyptian White Crown, Triple Crown, and Atef Crown were evidently designed to represent pin-stages of this mushroom.[47] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[48] Numerous other plants used in shamanic ritual in Africa, such as Silene capensis sacred to the Xhosa, are yet to be investigated by western science. A recent revitalization has occurred in the study of southern African psychoactives and entheogens (Mitchell and Hudson 2004; Sobiecki 2002, 2008, 2012).[49]

The artificial drug 2C-B is interestingly used as entheogen by the Sangoma, Nyanga, and Amagqirha people over their traditional plants; they refer to the chemical as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to “Medicine of the Singing Ancestors”.[50][51][52]

Entheogens have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of most American cultures for millennia. The first American entheogen to be subject to scientific analysis was the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). For his part, one of the founders of modern ethno-botany, the late-Richard Evans Schultes of Harvard University documented the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa, who live in what became Oklahoma. While it was used traditionally by many cultures of what is now Mexico, in the 19th century its use spread throughout North America, replacing the deadly toxic mescal bean (Calia secundiflora) who are questioned to be an entheogen at all. Other well-known entheogens used by Mexican cultures include the alcoholic Aztec sacrament, pulque, ritual tobacco (known as ‘picietl’ to the Aztecs, and ‘sikar’ to the Maya (from where the word ‘cigar’ derives), psilocybin mushrooms, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor and Turbina corymbosa), and Salvia divinorum.

Indigenous peoples of South America employ a wide variety of entheogens. Better-known examples include ayahuasca (most commonly Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) among indigenous peoples (such as the Urarina) of Peruvian Amazon. Other entheogens include San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), Peruvian torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana, syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), and various DMT-snuffs, such as epen (Virola spp.), vilca and yopo (Anadenanthera colubrina and A. peregrina, respectively). The familiar tobacco plant, when used uncured in large doses in shamanic contexts, also serves as an entheogen in South America. Also, a tobacco that contains higher nicotine content, and therefore smaller doses required, called Nicotiana rustica was commonly used.[citation needed]

Entheogens also play an important role in contemporary religious movements such as the Rastafari movement and the Church of the Universe.

Datura wrightii is sacred to some Native Americans and has been used in ceremonies and rites of passage by Chumash, Tongva, and others. Among the Chumash, when a boy was 8 years old, his mother would give him a preparation of momoy to drink. This supposed spiritual challenge should help the boy develop the spiritual wellbeing that is required to become a man. Not all of the boys undergoing this ritual survived.[53] Momoy was also used to enhance spiritual wellbeing among adults . For instance, during a frightening situation, such as when seeing a coyote walk like a man, a leaf of momoy was sucked to help keep the soul in the body.

The indigenous peoples of Siberia (from whom the term shaman was borrowed) have used Amanita muscaria as an entheogen.

In Hinduism, Datura stramonium and cannabis have been used in religious ceremonies, although the religious use of datura is not very common, as the primary alkaloids are strong deliriants, which causes serious intoxication with unpredictable effects.

Also, the ancient drink Soma, mentioned often in the Vedas, appears to be consistent with the effects of an entheogen. In his 1967 book, Wasson argues that Soma was Amanita muscaria. The active ingredient of Soma is presumed by some to be ephedrine, an alkaloid with stimulant properties derived from the soma plant, identified as Ephedra pachyclada. However, there are also arguments to suggest that Soma could have also been Syrian rue, cannabis, Atropa belladonna, or some combination of any of the above plants.[citation needed]

Fermented honey, known in Northern Europe as mead, was an early entheogen in Aegean civilization, predating the introduction of wine, which was the more familiar entheogen of the reborn Dionysus and the maenads. Its religious uses in the Aegean world are bound up with the mythology of the bee.

Dacians were known to use cannabis in their religious and important life ceremonies, proven by discoveries of large clay pots with burnt cannabis seeds in ancient tombs and religious shrines. Also, local oral folklore and myths tell of ancient priests that dreamed with gods and walked in the smoke. Their names, as transmitted by Herodotus, were “kap-no-batai” which in Dacian was supposed to mean “the ones that walk in the clouds”.

The growth of Roman Christianity also saw the end of the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation ceremony for the cult of Demeter and Persephone involving the use of a drug known as kykeon. The term ‘ambrosia’ is used in Greek mythology in a way that is remarkably similar to the Soma of the Hindus as well.

A theory that natural occurring gases like ethylene used by inhalation may have played a role in divinatory ceremonies at Delphi in Classical Greece received popular press attention in the early 2000s, yet has not been conclusively proven.[54]

Mushroom consumption is part of the culture of Europeans in general, with particular importance to Slavic and Baltic peoples. Some academics consider that using psilocybin- and or muscimol-containing mushrooms was an integral part of the ancient culture of the Rus’ people.[55]

It has been suggested that the ritual use of small amounts of Syrian rue is an artifact of its ancient use in higher doses as an entheogen (possibly in conjunction with DMT containing acacia).[citation needed]

Philologist John Marco Allegro has argued in his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that early Jewish and Christian cultic practice was based on the use of Amanita muscaria, which was later forgotten by its adherents. Allegro’s hypothesis is that Amanita use was sacred knowledge kept only by high figures to hide the true beginnings of the Christian cult, seems supported by his own view that the Plaincourault Chapel shows evidence of Christian amanita use in the 13th century.[56]

In general, indigenous Australians are thought not to have used entheogens, although there is a strong barrier of secrecy surrounding Aboriginal shamanism, which has likely limited what has been told to outsiders. A plant that the Australian Aboriginals used to ingest is called Pitcheri, which is said to have a similar effect to that of coca. Pitcheri was made from the bark of the shrub Duboisia myoporoides. This plant is now grown commercially and is processed to manufacture an eye medication. There are no known uses of entheogens by the Mori of New Zealand aside from a variant species of kava.[57] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[58]

Kava or kava kava (Piper Methysticum) has been cultivated for at least 3000 years by a number of Pacific island-dwelling peoples. Historically, most Polynesian, many Melanesian, and some Micronesian cultures have ingested the psychoactive pulverized root, typically taking it mixed with water. Much traditional usage of kava, though somewhat suppressed by Christian missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries, is thought to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[59]

Studies such as Timothy Leary’s Marsh Chapel Experiment and Roland Griffiths’ psilocybin studies at Johns Hopkins have documented reports of mystical/spiritual/religious experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[60] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition.

Notable early testing of the entheogenic experience includes the Marsh Chapel Experiment, conducted by physician and theology doctoral candidate, Walter Pahnke, under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In this double-blind experiment, volunteer graduate school divinity students from the Boston area almost all claimed to have had profound religious experiences subsequent to the ingestion of pure psilocybin. In 2006, a more rigorously controlled experiment was conducted at Johns Hopkins University, and yielded similar results.[61] To date there is little peer-reviewed research on this subject, due to ongoing drug prohibition and the difficulty of getting approval from institutional review boards.[62]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[63]

Peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, practitioners of the Peyote Way Church of God, a Native American religion, perceive the regulations regarding the use of peyote as discriminating, leading to religious discrimination issues regarding about the U.S. policy towards drugs. As the result of Peyote Way Church of God v. Thornburgh the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 was passed. This federal statute allow the “Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament,” exempting only use by Native American persons. Other jurisdictions have similar statutory exemptions in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Between 2011 and 2012, the Australian Federal Government was considering changes to the Australian Criminal Code that would classify any plants containing any amount of DMT as “controlled plants”.[64] DMT itself was already controlled under current laws. The proposed changes included other similar blanket bans for other substances, such as a ban on any and all plants containing Mescaline or Ephedrine. The proposal was not pursued after political embarrassment on realisation that this would make the official Floral Emblem of Australia, Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), illegal. The Therapeutic Goods Administration and federal authority had considered a motion to ban the same, but this was withdrawn in May 2012 (as DMT may still hold potential entheogenic value to native and/or religious peoples).[65]

In 1963 in Sherbert v. Verner the Supreme Court established the Sherbert Test, which consists of four criteria that are used to determine if an individual’s right to religious free exercise has been violated by the government. The test is as follows:

For the individual, the court must determine

If these two elements are established, then the government must prove

This test was eventually all-but-eliminated in Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990), but was resurrected by Congress in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) and Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), the RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement.

As of 2001, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas had enacted so-called “mini-RFRAs.”

Although entheogens are taboo and most of them are officially prohibited in Christian and Islamic societies, their ubiquity and prominence in the spiritual traditions of various other cultures is unquestioned. “The spirit, for example, need not be chemical, as is the case with the ivy and the olive: and yet the god was felt to be within them; nor need its possession be considered something detrimental, like drugged, hallucinatory, or delusionary: but possibly instead an invitation to knowledge or whatever good the god’s spirit had to offer.”[66]

Most of the well-known modern examples, such as peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and morning glories are from the native cultures of the Americas. However, it has also been suggested that entheogens played an important role in ancient Indo-European culture, for example by inclusion in the ritual preparations of the Soma, the “pressed juice” that is the subject of Book 9 of the Rig Veda. Soma was ritually prepared and drunk by priests and initiates and elicited a paean in the Rig Veda that embodies the nature of an entheogen:

Splendid by Law! declaring Law, truth speaking, truthful in thy works, Enouncing faith, King Soma!… O [Soma] Pavmana (mind clarifying), place me in that deathless, undecaying world wherein the light of heaven is set, and everlasting lustre shines…. Make me immortal in that realm where happiness and transports, where joy and felicities combine…

The kykeon that preceded initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries is another entheogen, which was investigated (before the word was coined) by Carl Kernyi, in Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Other entheogens in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean include the opium poppy, datura, and the unidentified “lotus” (likely the sacred blue lily) eaten by the Lotus-Eaters in the Odyssey and Narcissus.

According to Ruck, Eyan, and Staples, the familiar shamanic entheogen that the Indo-Europeans brought knowledge of was Amanita muscaria. It could not be cultivated; thus it had to be found, which suited it to a nomadic lifestyle. When they reached the world of the Caucasus and the Aegean, the Indo-Europeans encountered wine, the entheogen of Dionysus, who brought it with him from his birthplace in the mythical Nysa, when he returned to claim his Olympian birthright. The Indo-European proto-Greeks “recognized it as the entheogen of Zeus, and their own traditions of shamanism, the Amanita and the ‘pressed juice’ of Soma but better, since no longer unpredictable and wild, the way it was found among the Hyperboreans: as befit their own assimilation of agrarian modes of life, the entheogen was now cultivable.”[66] Robert Graves, in his foreword to The Greek Myths, hypothesises that the ambrosia of various pre-Hellenic tribes was Amanita muscaria (which, based on the morphological similarity of the words amanita, amrita and ambrosia, is entirely plausible) and perhaps psilocybin mushrooms of the Panaeolus genus.

Amanita was divine food, according to Ruck and Staples, not something to be indulged in or sampled lightly, not something to be profaned. It was the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and it mediated between the two realms. It is said that Tantalus’s crime was inviting commoners to share his ambrosia.

The entheogen is believed to offer godlike powers in many traditional tales, including immortality. The failure of Gilgamesh in retrieving the plant of immortality from beneath the waters teaches that the blissful state cannot be taken by force or guile: When Gilgamesh lay on the bank, exhausted from his heroic effort, the serpent came and ate the plant.

Another attempt at subverting the natural order is told in a (according to some) strangely metamorphosed myth, in which natural roles have been reversed to suit the Hellenic world-view. The Alexandrian Apollodorus relates how Gaia (spelled “Ge” in the following passage), Mother Earth herself, has supported the Titans in their battle with the Olympian intruders. The Giants have been defeated:

When Ge learned of this, she sought a drug that would prevent their destruction even by mortal hands. But Zeus barred the appearance of Eos (the Dawn), Selene (the Moon), and Helios (the Sun), and chopped up the drug himself before Ge could find it.[67]

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizari fida’is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries.

The tales of the fidais training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polos account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fidais would awaken. Here, they were told by an old man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause.[68] So went the tale of the “Old Man in the Mountain”, assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (17741856), a prominent orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammers retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of ancient Greek, (ntheos) and (gensthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as “full of the god, inspired, possessed”, and is the root of the English word “enthusiasm.” The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means “to come into being.” Thus, an entheogen is a drug that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or “spiritual” manner.[69]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley’s experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954. Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for “mind manifest”, and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:

In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

Many works of literature have described entheogen use; some of those are:

More:

Entheogen – Wikipedia

List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

This is a list of species and genera that are used as entheogens or are used in an entheogenic concoction (such as ayahuasca). For ritualistic use they may be classified as hallucinogens. The active principals and historical significance of each is also listed to illustrate the requirements necessary to be categorized as an entheogen.

Read the original here:

List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

by Keith Cleversley | Feb 19, 2017 | Features, Kava Kava | 0 Comments

We’re amazed at an ingenious new product by Happy Kava Brand called Happy Kava Blends. They have a product builder that allows you to CHOOSE YOUR TINCTURE BY EFFECT! That’s right! If you want some help easing into your meditative state, they’ve got a Custom Kava Blend…

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 30, 2016 | Features, Kratom | 1 Comment

What I think really happened, is that the DEA had no idea how large the Kratom industry was. They vastly underestimated the pro-Kratom movement, the number of Kratom users, as well as the size of the Kratom industry. After reading through the extraordinarily cherry-picked, and very biased notice they entered into the Federal Register, the truth becomes difficult to deny.

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 29, 2016 | Kratom | 1 Comment

It turns out that the government isn’t as broken as we thought, that democracy still works, and we, as a people, do have the power to have our individual voices heard! From the horse’s mouth, a spokesperson for the DEA formally announced that they do not yet have a…

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 13, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness Kratom Letter There was a glimmer of hope for the absurdly unfair Emergency Scheduling of Kratom by the DEA today. If you’re not up on the current status of Kratom and how it’s in severe danger of being made a Schedule I substance,…

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 7, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

The unspeakable has happened; the DEA has decided that because of a fabricated public threat, thatKratom needs to be scheduled immediately. They cited 15 deaths from Kratom, yet when that number was researched, there was not a single death associated with Kratom….

by Keith Cleversley | Mar 29, 2016 | Features, Kava Kava | 0 Comments

What is a usual and safe Kava Kava dosage? We answer that question in detail here at Entheology.com to help give you a safe path to Kava consumption.

by Keith Cleversley | Mar 4, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

Shockingly, the current Congress of the United States has offered an official response to President Barak Obamas recent interview with David Remnick in the January 27, 2014 issue of the New Yorker (See our article entitled President Obama for Marijuana…

by Keith Cleversley | Feb 23, 2016 | Kava Kava | 1 Comment

I’ve spent more than half my life exploring and working with various plants. One of my favorite plants to help me relax is one that continues to gain steam in the mainstream, but is still very much in the shadows; Kava Kava. I’ve been in the Kava biz for nearly 20…

by Keith Cleversley | Nov 3, 2015 | Kava Kava, Research | 1 Comment

Ona late 2015 trip to the Hawaiian Islands, I had the pleasure of experiencing a cultivar of Kava unlike any other I had experienced previously. This variety was called Hiwa (pronounced HEE-vuh), and I had the pleasure of experiencing this incredible cultivar over a…

by Keith Cleversley | Mar 30, 2015 | Kava Kava, Research | 0 Comments

I was having difficulty finding an articles regarding Kava benefits in terms of health and nutrition, so I thought an article here would be appropriate. What I discovered, is that since Kava lost its “food” status (called GRAS) in the early 2000’s, and is only…

by Keith Cleversley | Dec 19, 2014 | Kratom, News Articles | 0 Comments

Recent developments in Florida indicate that Palm Beach County officials are backing away from an outright ban on kratom and may instead implement educational initiatives to teach consumers about kratom, its effects, and its potential risks. The initiative would include warning labels on packages of kratom, partnerships with schools, and distributing information at community events and through social media.

by Keith Cleversley | Dec 7, 2014 | Features, Kava Kava | 6 Comments

Now that Cannabis is legal for recreational use in three states as of the writing of this article, it feels important to address what will undoubtedly be a continuing flood of questions regarding combiningkava and cannabis (marijuana). Customers from both Washington…

Go here to see the original:

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

This is a list of species and genera that are used as entheogens or are used in an entheogenic concoction (such as ayahuasca). For ritualistic use they may be classified as hallucinogens. The active principals and historical significance of each is also listed to illustrate the requirements necessary to be categorized as an entheogen.

Excerpt from:

List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

by Keith Cleversley | Feb 19, 2017 | Features, Kava Kava | 0 Comments

We’re amazed at an ingenious new product by Happy Kava Brand called Happy Kava Blends. They have a product builder that allows you to CHOOSE YOUR TINCTURE BY EFFECT! That’s right! If you want some help easing into your meditative state, they’ve got a Custom Kava Blend…

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 30, 2016 | Features, Kratom | 1 Comment

What I think really happened, is that the DEA had no idea how large the Kratom industry was. They vastly underestimated the pro-Kratom movement, the number of Kratom users, as well as the size of the Kratom industry. After reading through the extraordinarily cherry-picked, and very biased notice they entered into the Federal Register, the truth becomes difficult to deny.

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 29, 2016 | Kratom | 1 Comment

It turns out that the government isn’t as broken as we thought, that democracy still works, and we, as a people, do have the power to have our individual voices heard! From the horse’s mouth, a spokesperson for the DEA formally announced that they do not yet have a…

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 13, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness Kratom Letter There was a glimmer of hope for the absurdly unfair Emergency Scheduling of Kratom by the DEA today. If you’re not up on the current status of Kratom and how it’s in severe danger of being made a Schedule I substance,…

by Keith Cleversley | Sep 7, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

The unspeakable has happened; the DEA has decided that because of a fabricated public threat, thatKratom needs to be scheduled immediately. They cited 15 deaths from Kratom, yet when that number was researched, there was not a single death associated with Kratom….

by Keith Cleversley | Mar 29, 2016 | Features, Kava Kava | 0 Comments

What is a usual and safe Kava Kava dosage? We answer that question in detail here at Entheology.com to help give you a safe path to Kava consumption.

by Keith Cleversley | Mar 4, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

Shockingly, the current Congress of the United States has offered an official response to President Barak Obamas recent interview with David Remnick in the January 27, 2014 issue of the New Yorker (See our article entitled President Obama for Marijuana…

by Keith Cleversley | Feb 23, 2016 | Kava Kava | 1 Comment

I’ve spent more than half my life exploring and working with various plants. One of my favorite plants to help me relax is one that continues to gain steam in the mainstream, but is still very much in the shadows; Kava Kava. I’ve been in the Kava biz for nearly 20…

by Keith Cleversley | Nov 3, 2015 | Kava Kava, Research | 1 Comment

Ona late 2015 trip to the Hawaiian Islands, I had the pleasure of experiencing a cultivar of Kava unlike any other I had experienced previously. This variety was called Hiwa (pronounced HEE-vuh), and I had the pleasure of experiencing this incredible cultivar over a…

by Keith Cleversley | Mar 30, 2015 | Kava Kava, Research | 0 Comments

I was having difficulty finding an articles regarding Kava benefits in terms of health and nutrition, so I thought an article here would be appropriate. What I discovered, is that since Kava lost its “food” status (called GRAS) in the early 2000’s, and is only…

by Keith Cleversley | Dec 19, 2014 | Kratom, News Articles | 0 Comments

Recent developments in Florida indicate that Palm Beach County officials are backing away from an outright ban on kratom and may instead implement educational initiatives to teach consumers about kratom, its effects, and its potential risks. The initiative would include warning labels on packages of kratom, partnerships with schools, and distributing information at community events and through social media.

by Keith Cleversley | Dec 7, 2014 | Features, Kava Kava | 6 Comments

Now that Cannabis is legal for recreational use in three states as of the writing of this article, it feels important to address what will undoubtedly be a continuing flood of questions regarding combiningkava and cannabis (marijuana). Customers from both Washington…

Continued here:

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen (/entheogen/), from Greek, literally meaning “generating God within”,[2] is any psychoactive substance that induces a spiritual experience and is aimed at spiritual development.[3] This terminology is often chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. For example, entheogens are used by curanderos to heal people but also by malevolent sorcerers to allegedly “steal” their energy.[4]

The religious, shamanic, or spiritual significance of entheogens is well established in anthropological and modern contexts; entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including white and black magic, sensory deprivation, divinatory, meditation, yoga, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, hymns like peyote songs, and drumming. In the 1960s the hippie movement escalated its use to psychedelic art, binaural beats, sensory deprivation tanks, music, and rave parties.

Entheogens have been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use. However, in the mid-20th century, after the discovery of LSD, and the intervention of psychedelic therapy, the term entheogen, invented in 1979, later became an umbrella term used to include artificial drugs, alternative medical treatment, and spiritual practices, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure.

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years.

R. Gordon Wasson and Giorgio Samorini have proposed several examples of the cultural use of entheogens that are found in the archaeological record.[7][8] Evidence for the first use of entheogens may come from Tassili, Algeria, with a cave painting of a mushroom-man, dating to 8000 BP.[citation needed] Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BC, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[citation needed][9]

With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from the aforementioned plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol.

Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed. Alexander Shulgin developed hundreds of entheogens in PiHKAL and TiHKAL. Most of the drugs in PiHKAL are synthetic.

Entheogens used by movements includes biotas like peyote (Neo-American Church), extracts like Ayahuasca (Santo Daime, Unio do Vegetal), the semi-synthetic drug LSD (Neo-American Church), and synthetic drugs like DPT (Temple of the True Inner Light) and 2C-B (Sangoma[11]).

Both Santo Daime and Unio do Vegetal now have members and churches throughout the world.

Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and 2C-i, primarily to assist psychotherapy.

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of Ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, ketamine, LSA, LSD, MDE, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, Salvia divinorum and conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross cultural and meta-analysis research.[12]

L. E. Hollister’s[who?] criteria for identifying a drug as hallucinogenic are:[13]

Drugs, including some that cause physical dependence, have been used with entheogenic intention, mostly in ancient times, like alcohol. Common recreational drugs that cause chemical dependence have a history of entheogenic use, perhaps because their users could not access traditional entheogens, as shamans, considering non-visioning uses of their entheogens as hedonistic, were very secretive with them.[citation needed]

Alcohol has sometimes been invested with religious significance.

In ancient Celtic religion, Sucellus or Sucellos was the god of agriculture, forests and alcoholic drinks of the Gauls.

Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer.[14]

In the ancient Greco-Roman religion, Dionysos (or Bacchus) was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy, of merry making and theatre. The original rite of Dionysus is associated with a wine cult and he may have been worshipped as early as c. 15001100 BC by Mycenean Greeks. The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state. In his Laws, Plato said that alcoholic drinking parties should be the basis of any educational system, because the alcohol allows relaxation of otherwise fixed views. The Symposium (literally, ‘drinking together’) was a dramatised account of a drinking party where the participants debated the nature of love.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, a cup of wine is offered to Demeter which she refuses, instead insisting upon a potion of barley, water, and glechon, known as the ceremonial drink Kykeon, an essential part of the Mysteries. The potion has been hypothesized to be an ergot derivative from barley, similar to LSD.[15]

Egyptian pictographs clearly show wine as a finished product around 4000 BC. Osiris, the god who invented beer and brewing, was worshiped throughout the country. The ancient Egyptians made at least 24 types of wine and 17 types of beer. These beverages were used for pleasure, nutrition, rituals, medicine, and payments. They were also stored in the tombs of the deceased for use in the afterlife.[16] The Osirian Mysteries paralleled the Dionysian, according to contemporary Greek and Egyptian observers. Spirit possession involved liberation from civilization’s rules and constraints. It celebrated that which was outside civilized society and a return to the source of being, which would later assume mystical overtones. It also involved escape from the socialized personality and ego into an ecstatic, deified state or the primal herd (sometimes both).

Some scholars[who?] have postulated that pagan religions actively promoted alcohol and drunkenness as a means of fostering fertility. Alcohol was believed to increase sexual desire and make it easier to approach another person for sex.

Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduced “Mindful Drinking” to the West when he fled Tibet.[17][18]

The present day Arabic word for alcohol appears in The Qur’an (in verse 37:47) as al-awl, properly meaning “spirit” or “demon”, in the sense of “the thing that gives the wine its headiness.”[citation needed] The term ethanol was invented 1838, modeled on German thyl (Liebig), from Greek aither (see ether), and hyle “stuff”. Ether in late 14c. meant “upper regions of space,” from Old French ether and directly from Latin aether, “the upper pure, bright air,” from Greek aither “upper air; bright, purer air; the sky,” from aithein “to burn, shine,” from PIE root *aidh- “to burn” (see edifice).[19]

Many Christian denominations use wine in the Eucharist or Communion and permit alcohol consumption in moderation. Other denominations use unfermented grape juice in Communion; they either voluntarily abstain from alcohol or prohibit it outright.[citation needed]

Judaism uses wine on Shabbat and some holidays for Kiddush as well as more extensively in the Passover ceremony and other religious ceremonies. The secular consumption of alcohol is allowed. Some Jewish texts, e.g., the Talmud, encourage moderate drinking on holidays (such as Purim) in order to make the occasion more joyous.[citation needed]

Bah’s are forbidden to drink alcohol or to take drugs, unless prescribed by doctors. Accordingly, the sale and trafficking of such substances is also forbidden. Smoking is discouraged but not prohibited.

Kava cultures are the religious and cultural traditions of western Oceania which consume kava. There are similarities in the use of kava between the different cultures, but each one also has its own traditions.[citation needed]

Entheogens have been used by individuals to pursue spiritual goals such as divination, ego death, egolessness, faith healing, psychedelic therapy and spiritual formation.[20]

“Don Alejandro (a Mazatecan shaman) taught me that the visionary experiences are much more important than the plants and drugs that produce them. He no longer needed to take the vision-inducing plants for his journeys.”[21]

There are also instances where people have been given entheogens without their knowledge or consent (e.g., tourists in Ayahuasca),[22] as well as attempts to use such drugs in other contexts, such as cursing, psychochemical weaponry, psychological torture, brainwashing and mind control; CIA experiments with LSD were used in Project MKUltra, and controversial entheogens like alcohol are often mentioned in context of bread and circuses.

In some areas, there are purported malevolent sorcerers who masquerade as real shamans and who entice tourists to drink ayahuasca in their presence. Shamans believe one of the purposes for this is to steal one’s energy and/or power, of which they believe every person has a limited stockpile.[4]

The Native American Church (NAC) is also known as Peyotism and Peyote Religion. Peyotism is a Native American religion characterized by mixed traditional as well as Protestant beliefs and by sacramental use of the entheogen peyote.

The Peyote Way Church of God believe that “Peyote is a holy sacrament, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle”.[23]

Some religions forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic beverages. These include Islam, Jainism, the Bah’ Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, the United Pentecostal Church International, Theravada, most Mahayana schools of Buddhism, some Protestant denominations of Christianity, some sects of Taoism (Five Precepts and Ten Precepts), and Hinduism.

The Pali Canon, the scripture of Theravada Buddhism, depicts refraining from alcohol as essential to moral conduct because intoxication causes a loss of mindfulness. The fifth of the Five Precepts states, “Sur-meraya-majja-pamdahn verama sikkhpada samdiymi.” In English: “I undertake to refrain from meraya and majja (the two fermented drinks used in the place and time of writing) to heedless intoxication.” Although the Fifth Precept only names a specific wine and cider, this has traditionally been interpreted to mean all alcoholic beverages. Technically, this prohibition does also not even include light to moderate drinking, only to the point of drunkenness. It also doesn’t include other mind-altering drugs, but Buddhist tradition includes all intoxicants. The canon does not suggest that alcohol is evil but believes that the carelessness produced by intoxication creates bad karma. Therefore, any drug (beyond tea or mild coffee) that affects one’s mindfulness be considered by some to be covered by this prohibition.[citation needed]

Many Christian denominations disapprove of the use of most illicit drugs. The early history of the Church, however, was filled with a variety of drug use, recreational and otherwise.[24]

The primary advocate of a religious use of cannabis plant in early Judaism was Sula Benet, also called Sara Benetowa, a Polish anthropologist, who claimed in 1967 that the plant kaneh bosm – mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus, was in fact cannabis.[25] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[26] The lexicons of Hebrew and dictionaries of plants of the Bible such as by Michael Zohary (1985), Hans Arne Jensen (2004) and James A. Duke (2010) and others identify the plant in question as either Acorus calamus or Cymbopogon citratus.[27] Kaneh-bosm is listed as an incense in the Old Testament.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (founder of Jewish Renewal) and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) were influential early Jewish explorers of the connections between hallucinogenics and spirituality, from the early 1960s onwards.

It is generally held by academics specializing in the archaeology and paleobotany of Ancient Israel, and those specializing in the lexicography of the Hebrew Bible that cannabis is not documented or mentioned in early Judaism. Against this some popular writers have argued that there is evidence for religious use of cannabis in the Hebrew Bible,[28][29] although this hypothesis and some of the specific case studies (e.g., John Allegro in relation to Qumran, 1970) have been “widely dismissed as erroneous, others continue”.[30]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[31] The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosm (Hebrew: -). This is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. Although Chris Bennett’s research in this area focuses on cannabis, he mentions evidence suggesting use of additional visionary plants such as henbane, as well.[32]

The Septuagint translates kaneh-bosm as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to most later translations of the old testament. However, Polish anthropologist Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word ‘cannabis’,[33] with the root kan meaning reed or hemp and bosm meaning fragrant. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants containing psychotropic compounds.

In his research, Professor Dan Merkur points to significant evidence of an awareness within the Jewish mystical tradition recognizing manna as an entheogen, thereby substantiating with rabbinic texts theories advanced by the superficial biblical interpretations of Terence McKenna, R. Gordon Wasson and other ethnomycologists.

Although philologist John Marco Allegro has suggested that the self-revelation and healing abilities attributed to the figure of Jesus may have been associated with the effects of the plant medicines, this evidence is dependent on pre-Septuagint interpretation of Torah and Tenach. Allegro was the only non-Catholic appointed to the position of translating the Dead Sea scrolls. His extrapolations are often the object of scorn due to Allegro’s non-mainstream theory of Jesus as a mythological personification of the essence of a “psychoactive sacrament”. Furthermore, they conflict with the position of the Catholic Church with regard to transubstantiation and the teaching involving valid matter, form, and drug that of bread and wine (bread does not contain psychoactive drugs, but wine contains ethanol). Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross relates the development of language to the development of myths, religions, and cultic practices in world cultures. Allegro believed he could prove, through etymology, that the roots of Christianity, as of many other religions, lay in fertility cults, and that cult practices, such as ingesting visionary plants (or “psychedelics”) to perceive the mind of God, persisted into the early Christian era, and to some unspecified extent into the 13th century with reoccurrences in the 18th century and mid-20th century, as he interprets the Plaincourault chapel’s fresco to be an accurate depiction of the ritual ingestion of Amanita muscaria as the Eucharist.[citation needed]

The historical picture portrayed by the Entheos journal is of fairly widespread use of visionary plants in early Christianity and the surrounding culture, with a gradual reduction of use of entheogens in Christianity.[34] R. Gordon Wasson’s book Soma prints a letter from art historian Erwin Panofsky asserting that art scholars are aware of many “mushroom trees” in Christian art.[35]

The question of the extent of visionary plant use throughout the history of Christian practice has barely been considered yet by academic or independent scholars. The question of whether visionary plants were used in pre-Theodosius Christianity is distinct from evidence that indicates the extent to which visionary plants were utilized or forgotten in later Christianity, including heretical or quasi- Christian groups,[36] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[37]

Daniel Merkur at the University of Toronto contends that a minority of Christian hermits and mystics could possibly have used entheogens, in conjunction with fasting, meditation, and prayer.[citation needed]

According to R.C. Parker, “The use of entheogens in the Vajrayana tradition has been documented by such scholars as Ronald M Davidson, William George Stablein, Bulcsu Siklos, David B. Gray, Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, Shashibhusan Das Gupta, Francesca Fremantle, Shinichi Tsuda, David Gordon White, Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, James Francis Hartzell, Edward Todd Fenner, Ian Baker, Dr. Pasang Yonten Arya and numerous others.” These scholars have established entheogens were used in Vajrayana (in a limited context) as well as in Tantric Saivite traditions. The major entheogens in the Vajrayana Anuttarayoga Tantra tradition are cannabis and Datura which were used in various pills, ointments, and elixirs. Several tantras within Vajrayana specifically mention these entheogens and their use, including the Laghusamvara-tantra (aka Cakrasavara Tantra), Samputa-tantra, Samvarodaya-tantra, Mahakala-tantra, Guhyasamaja-tantra, Vajramahabhairava-tantra, and the Krsnayamari-tantra.[38] In the Cakrasavara Tantra, the use of entheogens is coupled with mediation practices such as the use of a mandala of the Heruka meditation deity (yidam) and visualization practices which identify the yidam’s external body and mandala with one’s own body and ‘internal mandala’.[39]

It has also been proposed by Scott Hajicek-Dobberstein that the Amanita Muscaria mushroom was used by the Tantric Buddhist mahasiddha tradition of the 8th to 12th century.[40]

In the West, some modern Buddhist teachers have written on the usefulness of psychedelics. The Buddhist magazine Tricycle devoted their entire fall 1996 edition to this issue.[41] Some teachers such as Jack Kornfield have acknowledged the possibility that psychedelics could complement Buddhist practice, bring healing and help people understand their connection with everything which could lead to compassion.[42] Kornfield warns however that addiction can still be a hindrance. Other teachers such as Michelle McDonald-Smith expressed views which saw entheogens as not conductive to Buddhist practice (“I don’t see them developing anything”).[43]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[44][45] as recreational drugs, and for medical and therapeutic use. The use of entheogens in human cultures is nearly ubiquitous throughout recorded history.

Naturally occurring entheogens such as psilocybin and DMT (in the preparation ayahuasca), were, for the most part, discovered and used by older cultures, as part of their spiritual and religious life, as plants and agents that were respected, or in some cases revered for generations and may be a tradition that predates all modern religions as a sort of proto-religious rite.

One of the most widely used entheogens is cannabis, entheogenic use of cannabis has been used in regions such as China, Europe, and India, and, in some cases, for thousands of years. It has also appeared as a part of religions and cultures such as the Rastafari movement, the Sadhus of Hinduism, the Scythians, Sufi Islam, and others.

The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga.[46] Although the ancient Egyptians may have been using the sacred blue lily plant in some of their religious rituals or just symbolically, it has been suggested that Egyptian religion once revolved around the ritualistic ingestion of the far more psychoactive Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, and that the Egyptian White Crown, Triple Crown, and Atef Crown were evidently designed to represent pin-stages of this mushroom.[47] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[48] Numerous other plants used in shamanic ritual in Africa, such as Silene capensis sacred to the Xhosa, are yet to be investigated by western science. A recent revitalization has occurred in the study of southern African psychoactives and entheogens (Mitchell and Hudson 2004; Sobiecki 2002, 2008, 2012).[49]

The artificial drug 2C-B is interestingly used as entheogen by the Sangoma, Nyanga, and Amagqirha people over their traditional plants; they refer to the chemical as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to “Medicine of the Singing Ancestors”.[50][51][52]

Entheogens have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of most American cultures for millennia. The first American entheogen to be subject to scientific analysis was the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). For his part, one of the founders of modern ethno-botany, the late-Richard Evans Schultes of Harvard University documented the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa, who live in what became Oklahoma. While it was used traditionally by many cultures of what is now Mexico, in the 19th century its use spread throughout North America, replacing the deadly toxic mescal bean (Calia secundiflora) who are questioned to be an entheogen at all. Other well-known entheogens used by Mexican cultures include the alcoholic Aztec sacrament, pulque, ritual tobacco (known as ‘picietl’ to the Aztecs, and ‘sikar’ to the Maya (from where the word ‘cigar’ derives), psilocybin mushrooms, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor and Turbina corymbosa), and Salvia divinorum.

Indigenous peoples of South America employ a wide variety of entheogens. Better-known examples include ayahuasca (most commonly Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) among indigenous peoples (such as the Urarina) of Peruvian Amazon. Other entheogens include San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), Peruvian torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana, syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), and various DMT-snuffs, such as epen (Virola spp.), vilca and yopo (Anadenanthera colubrina and A. peregrina, respectively). The familiar tobacco plant, when used uncured in large doses in shamanic contexts, also serves as an entheogen in South America. Also, a tobacco that contains higher nicotine content, and therefore smaller doses required, called Nicotiana rustica was commonly used.[citation needed]

Entheogens also play an important role in contemporary religious movements such as the Rastafari movement and the Church of the Universe.

Datura wrightii is sacred to some Native Americans and has been used in ceremonies and rites of passage by Chumash, Tongva, and others. Among the Chumash, when a boy was 8 years old, his mother would give him a preparation of momoy to drink. This supposed spiritual challenge should help the boy develop the spiritual wellbeing that is required to become a man. Not all of the boys undergoing this ritual survived.[53] Momoy was also used to enhance spiritual wellbeing among adults . For instance, during a frightening situation, such as when seeing a coyote walk like a man, a leaf of momoy was sucked to help keep the soul in the body.

The indigenous peoples of Siberia (from whom the term shaman was borrowed) have used Amanita muscaria as an entheogen.

In Hinduism, Datura stramonium and cannabis have been used in religious ceremonies, although the religious use of datura is not very common, as the primary alkaloids are strong deliriants, which causes serious intoxication with unpredictable effects.

Also, the ancient drink Soma, mentioned often in the Vedas, appears to be consistent with the effects of an entheogen. In his 1967 book, Wasson argues that Soma was Amanita muscaria. The active ingredient of Soma is presumed by some to be ephedrine, an alkaloid with stimulant properties derived from the soma plant, identified as Ephedra pachyclada. However, there are also arguments to suggest that Soma could have also been Syrian rue, cannabis, Atropa belladonna, or some combination of any of the above plants.[citation needed]

Fermented honey, known in Northern Europe as mead, was an early entheogen in Aegean civilization, predating the introduction of wine, which was the more familiar entheogen of the reborn Dionysus and the maenads. Its religious uses in the Aegean world are bound up with the mythology of the bee.

Dacians were known to use cannabis in their religious and important life ceremonies, proven by discoveries of large clay pots with burnt cannabis seeds in ancient tombs and religious shrines. Also, local oral folklore and myths tell of ancient priests that dreamed with gods and walked in the smoke. Their names, as transmitted by Herodotus, were “kap-no-batai” which in Dacian was supposed to mean “the ones that walk in the clouds”.

The growth of Roman Christianity also saw the end of the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation ceremony for the cult of Demeter and Persephone involving the use of a drug known as kykeon. The term ‘ambrosia’ is used in Greek mythology in a way that is remarkably similar to the Soma of the Hindus as well.

A theory that natural occurring gases like ethylene used by inhalation may have played a role in divinatory ceremonies at Delphi in Classical Greece received popular press attention in the early 2000s, yet has not been conclusively proven.[54]

Mushroom consumption is part of the culture of Europeans in general, with particular importance to Slavic and Baltic peoples. Some academics consider that using psilocybin- and or muscimol-containing mushrooms was an integral part of the ancient culture of the Rus’ people.[55]

It has been suggested that the ritual use of small amounts of Syrian rue is an artifact of its ancient use in higher doses as an entheogen (possibly in conjunction with DMT containing acacia).[citation needed]

Philologist John Marco Allegro has argued in his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that early Jewish and Christian cultic practice was based on the use of Amanita muscaria, which was later forgotten by its adherents. Allegro’s hypothesis is that Amanita use was sacred knowledge kept only by high figures to hide the true beginnings of the Christian cult, seems supported by his own view that the Plaincourault Chapel shows evidence of Christian amanita use in the 13th century.[56]

In general, indigenous Australians are thought not to have used entheogens, although there is a strong barrier of secrecy surrounding Aboriginal shamanism, which has likely limited what has been told to outsiders. A plant that the Australian Aboriginals used to ingest is called Pitcheri, which is said to have a similar effect to that of coca. Pitcheri was made from the bark of the shrub Duboisia myoporoides. This plant is now grown commercially and is processed to manufacture an eye medication. There are no known uses of entheogens by the Mori of New Zealand aside from a variant species of kava.[57] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[58]

Kava or kava kava (Piper Methysticum) has been cultivated for at least 3000 years by a number of Pacific island-dwelling peoples. Historically, most Polynesian, many Melanesian, and some Micronesian cultures have ingested the psychoactive pulverized root, typically taking it mixed with water. Much traditional usage of kava, though somewhat suppressed by Christian missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries, is thought to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[59]

Studies such as Timothy Leary’s Marsh Chapel Experiment and Roland Griffiths’ psilocybin studies at Johns Hopkins have documented reports of mystical/spiritual/religious experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[60] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition.

Notable early testing of the entheogenic experience includes the Marsh Chapel Experiment, conducted by physician and theology doctoral candidate, Walter Pahnke, under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In this double-blind experiment, volunteer graduate school divinity students from the Boston area almost all claimed to have had profound religious experiences subsequent to the ingestion of pure psilocybin. In 2006, a more rigorously controlled experiment was conducted at Johns Hopkins University, and yielded similar results.[61] To date there is little peer-reviewed research on this subject, due to ongoing drug prohibition and the difficulty of getting approval from institutional review boards.[62]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[63]

Peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, practitioners of the Peyote Way Church of God, a Native American religion, perceive the regulations regarding the use of peyote as discriminating, leading to religious discrimination issues regarding about the U.S. policy towards drugs. As the result of Peyote Way Church of God v. Thornburgh the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 was passed. This federal statute allow the “Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament,” exempting only use by Native American persons. Other jurisdictions have similar statutory exemptions in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Between 2011 and 2012, the Australian Federal Government was considering changes to the Australian Criminal Code that would classify any plants containing any amount of DMT as “controlled plants”.[64] DMT itself was already controlled under current laws. The proposed changes included other similar blanket bans for other substances, such as a ban on any and all plants containing Mescaline or Ephedrine. The proposal was not pursued after political embarrassment on realisation that this would make the official Floral Emblem of Australia, Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), illegal. The Therapeutic Goods Administration and federal authority had considered a motion to ban the same, but this was withdrawn in May 2012 (as DMT may still hold potential entheogenic value to native and/or religious peoples).[65]

In 1963 in Sherbert v. Verner the Supreme Court established the Sherbert Test, which consists of four criteria that are used to determine if an individual’s right to religious free exercise has been violated by the government. The test is as follows:

For the individual, the court must determine

If these two elements are established, then the government must prove

This test was eventually all-but-eliminated in Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990), but was resurrected by Congress in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) and Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), the RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement.

As of 2001, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas had enacted so-called “mini-RFRAs.”

Although entheogens are taboo and most of them are officially prohibited in Christian and Islamic societies, their ubiquity and prominence in the spiritual traditions of various other cultures is unquestioned. “The spirit, for example, need not be chemical, as is the case with the ivy and the olive: and yet the god was felt to be within them; nor need its possession be considered something detrimental, like drugged, hallucinatory, or delusionary: but possibly instead an invitation to knowledge or whatever good the god’s spirit had to offer.”[66]

Most of the well-known modern examples, such as peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and morning glories are from the native cultures of the Americas. However, it has also been suggested that entheogens played an important role in ancient Indo-European culture, for example by inclusion in the ritual preparations of the Soma, the “pressed juice” that is the subject of Book 9 of the Rig Veda. Soma was ritually prepared and drunk by priests and initiates and elicited a paean in the Rig Veda that embodies the nature of an entheogen:

Splendid by Law! declaring Law, truth speaking, truthful in thy works, Enouncing faith, King Soma!… O [Soma] Pavmana (mind clarifying), place me in that deathless, undecaying world wherein the light of heaven is set, and everlasting lustre shines…. Make me immortal in that realm where happiness and transports, where joy and felicities combine…

The kykeon that preceded initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries is another entheogen, which was investigated (before the word was coined) by Carl Kernyi, in Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Other entheogens in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean include the opium poppy, datura, and the unidentified “lotus” (likely the sacred blue lily) eaten by the Lotus-Eaters in the Odyssey and Narcissus.

According to Ruck, Eyan, and Staples, the familiar shamanic entheogen that the Indo-Europeans brought knowledge of was Amanita muscaria. It could not be cultivated; thus it had to be found, which suited it to a nomadic lifestyle. When they reached the world of the Caucasus and the Aegean, the Indo-Europeans encountered wine, the entheogen of Dionysus, who brought it with him from his birthplace in the mythical Nysa, when he returned to claim his Olympian birthright. The Indo-European proto-Greeks “recognized it as the entheogen of Zeus, and their own traditions of shamanism, the Amanita and the ‘pressed juice’ of Soma but better, since no longer unpredictable and wild, the way it was found among the Hyperboreans: as befit their own assimilation of agrarian modes of life, the entheogen was now cultivable.”[66] Robert Graves, in his foreword to The Greek Myths, hypothesises that the ambrosia of various pre-Hellenic tribes was Amanita muscaria (which, based on the morphological similarity of the words amanita, amrita and ambrosia, is entirely plausible) and perhaps psilocybin mushrooms of the Panaeolus genus.

Amanita was divine food, according to Ruck and Staples, not something to be indulged in or sampled lightly, not something to be profaned. It was the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and it mediated between the two realms. It is said that Tantalus’s crime was inviting commoners to share his ambrosia.

The entheogen is believed to offer godlike powers in many traditional tales, including immortality. The failure of Gilgamesh in retrieving the plant of immortality from beneath the waters teaches that the blissful state cannot be taken by force or guile: When Gilgamesh lay on the bank, exhausted from his heroic effort, the serpent came and ate the plant.

Another attempt at subverting the natural order is told in a (according to some) strangely metamorphosed myth, in which natural roles have been reversed to suit the Hellenic world-view. The Alexandrian Apollodorus relates how Gaia (spelled “Ge” in the following passage), Mother Earth herself, has supported the Titans in their battle with the Olympian intruders. The Giants have been defeated:

When Ge learned of this, she sought a drug that would prevent their destruction even by mortal hands. But Zeus barred the appearance of Eos (the Dawn), Selene (the Moon), and Helios (the Sun), and chopped up the drug himself before Ge could find it.[67]

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizari fida’is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries.

The tales of the fidais training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polos account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fidais would awaken. Here, they were told by an old man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause.[68] So went the tale of the “Old Man in the Mountain”, assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (17741856), a prominent orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammers retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of ancient Greek, (ntheos) and (gensthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as “full of the god, inspired, possessed”, and is the root of the English word “enthusiasm.” The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means “to come into being.” Thus, an entheogen is a drug that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or “spiritual” manner.[69]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley’s experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954. Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for “mind manifest”, and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:

In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

Many works of literature have described entheogen use; some of those are:

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

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by Keith Cleversley | Mar 4, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Dec 7, 2014 | Features, Kava Kava | 6 Comments

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Read the rest here:

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen (/entheogen/), from Greek, literally meaning “generating God within”,[2] is any psychoactive substance that induces a spiritual experience and is aimed at spiritual development.[3] This terminology is often chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. For example, entheogens are used by curanderos to heal people but also by malevolent sorcerers to allegedly “steal” their energy.[4]

The religious, shamanic, or spiritual significance of entheogens is well established in anthropological and modern contexts; entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including white and black magic, sensory deprivation, divinatory, meditation, yoga, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, hymns like peyote songs, and drumming. In the 1960s the hippie movement escalated its use to psychedelic art, binaural beats, sensory deprivation tanks, music, and rave parties.

Entheogens have been used by native tribes for hundreds of years. Some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use. However, in the mid-20th century, after the discovery of LSD, and the intervention of psychedelic therapy, the term entheogen, invented in 1979, later became an umbrella term used to include artificial drugs, alternative medical treatment, and spiritual practices, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure.

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years.

R. Gordon Wasson and Giorgio Samorini have proposed several examples of the cultural use of entheogens that are found in the archaeological record.[7][8] Evidence for the first use of entheogens may come from Tassili, Algeria, with a cave painting of a mushroom-man, dating to 8000 BP.[citation needed] Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BC, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[citation needed][9]

With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from the aforementioned plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol.

Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed. Alexander Shulgin developed hundreds of entheogens in PiHKAL and TiHKAL. Most of the drugs in PiHKAL are synthetic.

Entheogens used by movements includes biotas like peyote (Neo-American Church), extracts like Ayahuasca (Santo Daime, Unio do Vegetal), the semi-synthetic drug LSD (Neo-American Church), and synthetic drugs like DPT (Temple of the True Inner Light) and 2C-B (Sangoma[11]).

Both Santo Daime and Unio do Vegetal now have members and churches throughout the world.

Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and 2C-i, primarily to assist psychotherapy.

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of Ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, ketamine, LSA, LSD, MDE, MDMA, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, Salvia divinorum and conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross cultural and meta-analysis research.[12]

L. E. Hollister’s[who?] criteria for identifying a drug as hallucinogenic are:[13]

Drugs, including some that cause physical dependence, have been used with entheogenic intention, mostly in ancient times, like alcohol. Common recreational drugs that cause chemical dependence have a history of entheogenic use, perhaps because their users could not access traditional entheogens, as shamans, considering non-visioning uses of their entheogens as hedonistic, were very secretive with them.[citation needed]

Alcohol has sometimes been invested with religious significance.

In ancient Celtic religion, Sucellus or Sucellos was the god of agriculture, forests and alcoholic drinks of the Gauls.

Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer.[14]

In the ancient Greco-Roman religion, Dionysos (or Bacchus) was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy, of merry making and theatre. The original rite of Dionysus is associated with a wine cult and he may have been worshipped as early as c. 15001100 BC by Mycenean Greeks. The Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state. In his Laws, Plato said that alcoholic drinking parties should be the basis of any educational system, because the alcohol allows relaxation of otherwise fixed views. The Symposium (literally, ‘drinking together’) was a dramatised account of a drinking party where the participants debated the nature of love.

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, a cup of wine is offered to Demeter which she refuses, instead insisting upon a potion of barley, water, and glechon, known as the ceremonial drink Kykeon, an essential part of the Mysteries. The potion has been hypothesized to be an ergot derivative from barley, similar to LSD.[15]

Egyptian pictographs clearly show wine as a finished product around 4000 BC. Osiris, the god who invented beer and brewing, was worshiped throughout the country. The ancient Egyptians made at least 24 types of wine and 17 types of beer. These beverages were used for pleasure, nutrition, rituals, medicine, and payments. They were also stored in the tombs of the deceased for use in the afterlife.[16] The Osirian Mysteries paralleled the Dionysian, according to contemporary Greek and Egyptian observers. Spirit possession involved liberation from civilization’s rules and constraints. It celebrated that which was outside civilized society and a return to the source of being, which would later assume mystical overtones. It also involved escape from the socialized personality and ego into an ecstatic, deified state or the primal herd (sometimes both).

Some scholars[who?] have postulated that pagan religions actively promoted alcohol and drunkenness as a means of fostering fertility. Alcohol was believed to increase sexual desire and make it easier to approach another person for sex.

Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduced “Mindful Drinking” to the West when he fled Tibet.[17][18]

The present day Arabic word for alcohol appears in The Qur’an (in verse 37:47) as al-awl, properly meaning “spirit” or “demon”, in the sense of “the thing that gives the wine its headiness.”[citation needed] The term ethanol was invented 1838, modeled on German thyl (Liebig), from Greek aither (see ether), and hyle “stuff”. Ether in late 14c. meant “upper regions of space,” from Old French ether and directly from Latin aether, “the upper pure, bright air,” from Greek aither “upper air; bright, purer air; the sky,” from aithein “to burn, shine,” from PIE root *aidh- “to burn” (see edifice).[19]

Many Christian denominations use wine in the Eucharist or Communion and permit alcohol consumption in moderation. Other denominations use unfermented grape juice in Communion; they either voluntarily abstain from alcohol or prohibit it outright.[citation needed]

Judaism uses wine on Shabbat and some holidays for Kiddush as well as more extensively in the Passover ceremony and other religious ceremonies. The secular consumption of alcohol is allowed. Some Jewish texts, e.g., the Talmud, encourage moderate drinking on holidays (such as Purim) in order to make the occasion more joyous.[citation needed]

Bah’s are forbidden to drink alcohol or to take drugs, unless prescribed by doctors. Accordingly, the sale and trafficking of such substances is also forbidden. Smoking is discouraged but not prohibited.

Kava cultures are the religious and cultural traditions of western Oceania which consume kava. There are similarities in the use of kava between the different cultures, but each one also has its own traditions.[citation needed]

Entheogens have been used by individuals to pursue spiritual goals such as divination, ego death, egolessness, faith healing, psychedelic therapy and spiritual formation.[20]

“Don Alejandro (a Mazatecan shaman) taught me that the visionary experiences are much more important than the plants and drugs that produce them. He no longer needed to take the vision-inducing plants for his journeys.”[21]

There are also instances where people have been given entheogens without their knowledge or consent (e.g., tourists in Ayahuasca),[22] as well as attempts to use such drugs in other contexts, such as cursing, psychochemical weaponry, psychological torture, brainwashing and mind control; CIA experiments with LSD were used in Project MKUltra, and controversial entheogens like alcohol are often mentioned in context of bread and circuses.

In some areas, there are purported malevolent sorcerers who masquerade as real shamans and who entice tourists to drink ayahuasca in their presence. Shamans believe one of the purposes for this is to steal one’s energy and/or power, of which they believe every person has a limited stockpile.[4]

The Native American Church (NAC) is also known as Peyotism and Peyote Religion. Peyotism is a Native American religion characterized by mixed traditional as well as Protestant beliefs and by sacramental use of the entheogen peyote.

The Peyote Way Church of God believe that “Peyote is a holy sacrament, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle”.[23]

Some religions forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic beverages. These include Islam, Jainism, the Bah’ Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, the United Pentecostal Church International, Theravada, most Mahayana schools of Buddhism, some Protestant denominations of Christianity, some sects of Taoism (Five Precepts and Ten Precepts), and Hinduism.

The Pali Canon, the scripture of Theravada Buddhism, depicts refraining from alcohol as essential to moral conduct because intoxication causes a loss of mindfulness. The fifth of the Five Precepts states, “Sur-meraya-majja-pamdahn verama sikkhpada samdiymi.” In English: “I undertake to refrain from meraya and majja (the two fermented drinks used in the place and time of writing) to heedless intoxication.” Although the Fifth Precept only names a specific wine and cider, this has traditionally been interpreted to mean all alcoholic beverages. Technically, this prohibition does also not even include light to moderate drinking, only to the point of drunkenness. It also doesn’t include other mind-altering drugs, but Buddhist tradition includes all intoxicants. The canon does not suggest that alcohol is evil but believes that the carelessness produced by intoxication creates bad karma. Therefore, any drug (beyond tea or mild coffee) that affects one’s mindfulness be considered by some to be covered by this prohibition.[citation needed]

Many Christian denominations disapprove of the use of most illicit drugs. The early history of the Church, however, was filled with a variety of drug use, recreational and otherwise.[24]

The primary advocate of a religious use of cannabis plant in early Judaism was Sula Benet, also called Sara Benetowa, a Polish anthropologist, who claimed in 1967 that the plant kaneh bosm – mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus, was in fact cannabis.[25] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[26] The lexicons of Hebrew and dictionaries of plants of the Bible such as by Michael Zohary (1985), Hans Arne Jensen (2004) and James A. Duke (2010) and others identify the plant in question as either Acorus calamus or Cymbopogon citratus.[27] Kaneh-bosm is listed as an incense in the Old Testament.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (founder of Jewish Renewal) and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) were influential early Jewish explorers of the connections between hallucinogenics and spirituality, from the early 1960s onwards.

It is generally held by academics specializing in the archaeology and paleobotany of Ancient Israel, and those specializing in the lexicography of the Hebrew Bible that cannabis is not documented or mentioned in early Judaism. Against this some popular writers have argued that there is evidence for religious use of cannabis in the Hebrew Bible,[28][29] although this hypothesis and some of the specific case studies (e.g., John Allegro in relation to Qumran, 1970) have been “widely dismissed as erroneous, others continue”.[30]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[31] The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosm (Hebrew: -). This is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. Although Chris Bennett’s research in this area focuses on cannabis, he mentions evidence suggesting use of additional visionary plants such as henbane, as well.[32]

The Septuagint translates kaneh-bosm as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to most later translations of the old testament. However, Polish anthropologist Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word ‘cannabis’,[33] with the root kan meaning reed or hemp and bosm meaning fragrant. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants containing psychotropic compounds.

In his research, Professor Dan Merkur points to significant evidence of an awareness within the Jewish mystical tradition recognizing manna as an entheogen, thereby substantiating with rabbinic texts theories advanced by the superficial biblical interpretations of Terence McKenna, R. Gordon Wasson and other ethnomycologists.

Although philologist John Marco Allegro has suggested that the self-revelation and healing abilities attributed to the figure of Jesus may have been associated with the effects of the plant medicines, this evidence is dependent on pre-Septuagint interpretation of Torah and Tenach. Allegro was the only non-Catholic appointed to the position of translating the Dead Sea scrolls. His extrapolations are often the object of scorn due to Allegro’s non-mainstream theory of Jesus as a mythological personification of the essence of a “psychoactive sacrament”. Furthermore, they conflict with the position of the Catholic Church with regard to transubstantiation and the teaching involving valid matter, form, and drug that of bread and wine (bread does not contain psychoactive drugs, but wine contains ethanol). Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross relates the development of language to the development of myths, religions, and cultic practices in world cultures. Allegro believed he could prove, through etymology, that the roots of Christianity, as of many other religions, lay in fertility cults, and that cult practices, such as ingesting visionary plants (or “psychedelics”) to perceive the mind of God, persisted into the early Christian era, and to some unspecified extent into the 13th century with reoccurrences in the 18th century and mid-20th century, as he interprets the Plaincourault chapel’s fresco to be an accurate depiction of the ritual ingestion of Amanita muscaria as the Eucharist.[citation needed]

The historical picture portrayed by the Entheos journal is of fairly widespread use of visionary plants in early Christianity and the surrounding culture, with a gradual reduction of use of entheogens in Christianity.[34] R. Gordon Wasson’s book Soma prints a letter from art historian Erwin Panofsky asserting that art scholars are aware of many “mushroom trees” in Christian art.[35]

The question of the extent of visionary plant use throughout the history of Christian practice has barely been considered yet by academic or independent scholars. The question of whether visionary plants were used in pre-Theodosius Christianity is distinct from evidence that indicates the extent to which visionary plants were utilized or forgotten in later Christianity, including heretical or quasi- Christian groups,[36] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[37]

Daniel Merkur at the University of Toronto contends that a minority of Christian hermits and mystics could possibly have used entheogens, in conjunction with fasting, meditation, and prayer.[citation needed]

According to R.C. Parker, “The use of entheogens in the Vajrayana tradition has been documented by such scholars as Ronald M Davidson, William George Stablein, Bulcsu Siklos, David B. Gray, Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, Shashibhusan Das Gupta, Francesca Fremantle, Shinichi Tsuda, David Gordon White, Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, James Francis Hartzell, Edward Todd Fenner, Ian Baker, Dr. Pasang Yonten Arya and numerous others.” These scholars have established entheogens were used in Vajrayana (in a limited context) as well as in Tantric Saivite traditions. The major entheogens in the Vajrayana Anuttarayoga Tantra tradition are cannabis and Datura which were used in various pills, ointments, and elixirs. Several tantras within Vajrayana specifically mention these entheogens and their use, including the Laghusamvara-tantra (aka Cakrasavara Tantra), Samputa-tantra, Samvarodaya-tantra, Mahakala-tantra, Guhyasamaja-tantra, Vajramahabhairava-tantra, and the Krsnayamari-tantra.[38] In the Cakrasavara Tantra, the use of entheogens is coupled with mediation practices such as the use of a mandala of the Heruka meditation deity (yidam) and visualization practices which identify the yidam’s external body and mandala with one’s own body and ‘internal mandala’.[39]

It has also been proposed by Scott Hajicek-Dobberstein that the Amanita Muscaria mushroom was used by the Tantric Buddhist mahasiddha tradition of the 8th to 12th century.[40]

In the West, some modern Buddhist teachers have written on the usefulness of psychedelics. The Buddhist magazine Tricycle devoted their entire fall 1996 edition to this issue.[41] Some teachers such as Jack Kornfield have acknowledged the possibility that psychedelics could complement Buddhist practice, bring healing and help people understand their connection with everything which could lead to compassion.[42] Kornfield warns however that addiction can still be a hindrance. Other teachers such as Michelle McDonald-Smith expressed views which saw entheogens as not conductive to Buddhist practice (“I don’t see them developing anything”).[43]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[44][45] as recreational drugs, and for medical and therapeutic use. The use of entheogens in human cultures is nearly ubiquitous throughout recorded history.

Naturally occurring entheogens such as psilocybin and DMT (in the preparation ayahuasca), were, for the most part, discovered and used by older cultures, as part of their spiritual and religious life, as plants and agents that were respected, or in some cases revered for generations and may be a tradition that predates all modern religions as a sort of proto-religious rite.

One of the most widely used entheogens is cannabis, entheogenic use of cannabis has been used in regions such as China, Europe, and India, and, in some cases, for thousands of years. It has also appeared as a part of religions and cultures such as the Rastafari movement, the Sadhus of Hinduism, the Scythians, Sufi Islam, and others.

The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga.[46] Although the ancient Egyptians may have been using the sacred blue lily plant in some of their religious rituals or just symbolically, it has been suggested that Egyptian religion once revolved around the ritualistic ingestion of the far more psychoactive Psilocybe cubensis mushroom, and that the Egyptian White Crown, Triple Crown, and Atef Crown were evidently designed to represent pin-stages of this mushroom.[47] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[48] Numerous other plants used in shamanic ritual in Africa, such as Silene capensis sacred to the Xhosa, are yet to be investigated by western science. A recent revitalization has occurred in the study of southern African psychoactives and entheogens (Mitchell and Hudson 2004; Sobiecki 2002, 2008, 2012).[49]

The artificial drug 2C-B is interestingly used as entheogen by the Sangoma, Nyanga, and Amagqirha people over their traditional plants; they refer to the chemical as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to “Medicine of the Singing Ancestors”.[50][51][52]

Entheogens have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of most American cultures for millennia. The first American entheogen to be subject to scientific analysis was the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii). For his part, one of the founders of modern ethno-botany, the late-Richard Evans Schultes of Harvard University documented the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa, who live in what became Oklahoma. While it was used traditionally by many cultures of what is now Mexico, in the 19th century its use spread throughout North America, replacing the deadly toxic mescal bean (Calia secundiflora) who are questioned to be an entheogen at all. Other well-known entheogens used by Mexican cultures include the alcoholic Aztec sacrament, pulque, ritual tobacco (known as ‘picietl’ to the Aztecs, and ‘sikar’ to the Maya (from where the word ‘cigar’ derives), psilocybin mushrooms, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor and Turbina corymbosa), and Salvia divinorum.

Indigenous peoples of South America employ a wide variety of entheogens. Better-known examples include ayahuasca (most commonly Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) among indigenous peoples (such as the Urarina) of Peruvian Amazon. Other entheogens include San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi, syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), Peruvian torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana, syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), and various DMT-snuffs, such as epen (Virola spp.), vilca and yopo (Anadenanthera colubrina and A. peregrina, respectively). The familiar tobacco plant, when used uncured in large doses in shamanic contexts, also serves as an entheogen in South America. Also, a tobacco that contains higher nicotine content, and therefore smaller doses required, called Nicotiana rustica was commonly used.[citation needed]

Entheogens also play an important role in contemporary religious movements such as the Rastafari movement and the Church of the Universe.

Datura wrightii is sacred to some Native Americans and has been used in ceremonies and rites of passage by Chumash, Tongva, and others. Among the Chumash, when a boy was 8 years old, his mother would give him a preparation of momoy to drink. This supposed spiritual challenge should help the boy develop the spiritual wellbeing that is required to become a man. Not all of the boys undergoing this ritual survived.[53] Momoy was also used to enhance spiritual wellbeing among adults . For instance, during a frightening situation, such as when seeing a coyote walk like a man, a leaf of momoy was sucked to help keep the soul in the body.

The indigenous peoples of Siberia (from whom the term shaman was borrowed) have used Amanita muscaria as an entheogen.

In Hinduism, Datura stramonium and cannabis have been used in religious ceremonies, although the religious use of datura is not very common, as the primary alkaloids are strong deliriants, which causes serious intoxication with unpredictable effects.

Also, the ancient drink Soma, mentioned often in the Vedas, appears to be consistent with the effects of an entheogen. In his 1967 book, Wasson argues that Soma was Amanita muscaria. The active ingredient of Soma is presumed by some to be ephedrine, an alkaloid with stimulant properties derived from the soma plant, identified as Ephedra pachyclada. However, there are also arguments to suggest that Soma could have also been Syrian rue, cannabis, Atropa belladonna, or some combination of any of the above plants.[citation needed]

Fermented honey, known in Northern Europe as mead, was an early entheogen in Aegean civilization, predating the introduction of wine, which was the more familiar entheogen of the reborn Dionysus and the maenads. Its religious uses in the Aegean world are bound up with the mythology of the bee.

Dacians were known to use cannabis in their religious and important life ceremonies, proven by discoveries of large clay pots with burnt cannabis seeds in ancient tombs and religious shrines. Also, local oral folklore and myths tell of ancient priests that dreamed with gods and walked in the smoke. Their names, as transmitted by Herodotus, were “kap-no-batai” which in Dacian was supposed to mean “the ones that walk in the clouds”.

The growth of Roman Christianity also saw the end of the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation ceremony for the cult of Demeter and Persephone involving the use of a drug known as kykeon. The term ‘ambrosia’ is used in Greek mythology in a way that is remarkably similar to the Soma of the Hindus as well.

A theory that natural occurring gases like ethylene used by inhalation may have played a role in divinatory ceremonies at Delphi in Classical Greece received popular press attention in the early 2000s, yet has not been conclusively proven.[54]

Mushroom consumption is part of the culture of Europeans in general, with particular importance to Slavic and Baltic peoples. Some academics consider that using psilocybin- and or muscimol-containing mushrooms was an integral part of the ancient culture of the Rus’ people.[55]

It has been suggested that the ritual use of small amounts of Syrian rue is an artifact of its ancient use in higher doses as an entheogen (possibly in conjunction with DMT containing acacia).[citation needed]

Philologist John Marco Allegro has argued in his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that early Jewish and Christian cultic practice was based on the use of Amanita muscaria, which was later forgotten by its adherents. Allegro’s hypothesis is that Amanita use was sacred knowledge kept only by high figures to hide the true beginnings of the Christian cult, seems supported by his own view that the Plaincourault Chapel shows evidence of Christian amanita use in the 13th century.[56]

In general, indigenous Australians are thought not to have used entheogens, although there is a strong barrier of secrecy surrounding Aboriginal shamanism, which has likely limited what has been told to outsiders. A plant that the Australian Aboriginals used to ingest is called Pitcheri, which is said to have a similar effect to that of coca. Pitcheri was made from the bark of the shrub Duboisia myoporoides. This plant is now grown commercially and is processed to manufacture an eye medication. There are no known uses of entheogens by the Mori of New Zealand aside from a variant species of kava.[57] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[58]

Kava or kava kava (Piper Methysticum) has been cultivated for at least 3000 years by a number of Pacific island-dwelling peoples. Historically, most Polynesian, many Melanesian, and some Micronesian cultures have ingested the psychoactive pulverized root, typically taking it mixed with water. Much traditional usage of kava, though somewhat suppressed by Christian missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries, is thought to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[59]

Studies such as Timothy Leary’s Marsh Chapel Experiment and Roland Griffiths’ psilocybin studies at Johns Hopkins have documented reports of mystical/spiritual/religious experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[60] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition.

Notable early testing of the entheogenic experience includes the Marsh Chapel Experiment, conducted by physician and theology doctoral candidate, Walter Pahnke, under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In this double-blind experiment, volunteer graduate school divinity students from the Boston area almost all claimed to have had profound religious experiences subsequent to the ingestion of pure psilocybin. In 2006, a more rigorously controlled experiment was conducted at Johns Hopkins University, and yielded similar results.[61] To date there is little peer-reviewed research on this subject, due to ongoing drug prohibition and the difficulty of getting approval from institutional review boards.[62]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[63]

Peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, practitioners of the Peyote Way Church of God, a Native American religion, perceive the regulations regarding the use of peyote as discriminating, leading to religious discrimination issues regarding about the U.S. policy towards drugs. As the result of Peyote Way Church of God v. Thornburgh the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 was passed. This federal statute allow the “Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament,” exempting only use by Native American persons. Other jurisdictions have similar statutory exemptions in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Between 2011 and 2012, the Australian Federal Government was considering changes to the Australian Criminal Code that would classify any plants containing any amount of DMT as “controlled plants”.[64] DMT itself was already controlled under current laws. The proposed changes included other similar blanket bans for other substances, such as a ban on any and all plants containing Mescaline or Ephedrine. The proposal was not pursued after political embarrassment on realisation that this would make the official Floral Emblem of Australia, Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle), illegal. The Therapeutic Goods Administration and federal authority had considered a motion to ban the same, but this was withdrawn in May 2012 (as DMT may still hold potential entheogenic value to native and/or religious peoples).[65]

In 1963 in Sherbert v. Verner the Supreme Court established the Sherbert Test, which consists of four criteria that are used to determine if an individual’s right to religious free exercise has been violated by the government. The test is as follows:

For the individual, the court must determine

If these two elements are established, then the government must prove

This test was eventually all-but-eliminated in Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990), but was resurrected by Congress in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) and Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), the RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement.

As of 2001, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas had enacted so-called “mini-RFRAs.”

Although entheogens are taboo and most of them are officially prohibited in Christian and Islamic societies, their ubiquity and prominence in the spiritual traditions of various other cultures is unquestioned. “The spirit, for example, need not be chemical, as is the case with the ivy and the olive: and yet the god was felt to be within them; nor need its possession be considered something detrimental, like drugged, hallucinatory, or delusionary: but possibly instead an invitation to knowledge or whatever good the god’s spirit had to offer.”[66]

Most of the well-known modern examples, such as peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and morning glories are from the native cultures of the Americas. However, it has also been suggested that entheogens played an important role in ancient Indo-European culture, for example by inclusion in the ritual preparations of the Soma, the “pressed juice” that is the subject of Book 9 of the Rig Veda. Soma was ritually prepared and drunk by priests and initiates and elicited a paean in the Rig Veda that embodies the nature of an entheogen:

Splendid by Law! declaring Law, truth speaking, truthful in thy works, Enouncing faith, King Soma!… O [Soma] Pavmana (mind clarifying), place me in that deathless, undecaying world wherein the light of heaven is set, and everlasting lustre shines…. Make me immortal in that realm where happiness and transports, where joy and felicities combine…

The kykeon that preceded initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries is another entheogen, which was investigated (before the word was coined) by Carl Kernyi, in Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Other entheogens in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean include the opium poppy, datura, and the unidentified “lotus” (likely the sacred blue lily) eaten by the Lotus-Eaters in the Odyssey and Narcissus.

According to Ruck, Eyan, and Staples, the familiar shamanic entheogen that the Indo-Europeans brought knowledge of was Amanita muscaria. It could not be cultivated; thus it had to be found, which suited it to a nomadic lifestyle. When they reached the world of the Caucasus and the Aegean, the Indo-Europeans encountered wine, the entheogen of Dionysus, who brought it with him from his birthplace in the mythical Nysa, when he returned to claim his Olympian birthright. The Indo-European proto-Greeks “recognized it as the entheogen of Zeus, and their own traditions of shamanism, the Amanita and the ‘pressed juice’ of Soma but better, since no longer unpredictable and wild, the way it was found among the Hyperboreans: as befit their own assimilation of agrarian modes of life, the entheogen was now cultivable.”[66] Robert Graves, in his foreword to The Greek Myths, hypothesises that the ambrosia of various pre-Hellenic tribes was Amanita muscaria (which, based on the morphological similarity of the words amanita, amrita and ambrosia, is entirely plausible) and perhaps psilocybin mushrooms of the Panaeolus genus.

Amanita was divine food, according to Ruck and Staples, not something to be indulged in or sampled lightly, not something to be profaned. It was the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and it mediated between the two realms. It is said that Tantalus’s crime was inviting commoners to share his ambrosia.

The entheogen is believed to offer godlike powers in many traditional tales, including immortality. The failure of Gilgamesh in retrieving the plant of immortality from beneath the waters teaches that the blissful state cannot be taken by force or guile: When Gilgamesh lay on the bank, exhausted from his heroic effort, the serpent came and ate the plant.

Another attempt at subverting the natural order is told in a (according to some) strangely metamorphosed myth, in which natural roles have been reversed to suit the Hellenic world-view. The Alexandrian Apollodorus relates how Gaia (spelled “Ge” in the following passage), Mother Earth herself, has supported the Titans in their battle with the Olympian intruders. The Giants have been defeated:

When Ge learned of this, she sought a drug that would prevent their destruction even by mortal hands. But Zeus barred the appearance of Eos (the Dawn), Selene (the Moon), and Helios (the Sun), and chopped up the drug himself before Ge could find it.[67]

The legends of the Assassins had much to do with the training and instruction of Nizari fida’is, famed for their public missions during which they often gave their lives to eliminate adversaries.

The tales of the fidais training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polos account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fidais would awaken. Here, they were told by an old man that they were witnessing their place in Paradise and that should they wish to return to this garden permanently, they must serve the Nizari cause.[68] So went the tale of the “Old Man in the Mountain”, assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (17741856), a prominent orientalist writer responsible for much of the spread of this legend. Until the 1930s, von Hammers retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of ancient Greek, (ntheos) and (gensthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as “full of the god, inspired, possessed”, and is the root of the English word “enthusiasm.” The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means “to come into being.” Thus, an entheogen is a drug that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or “spiritual” manner.[69]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley’s experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954. Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for “mind manifest”, and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same drugs. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:

In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

Many works of literature have described entheogen use; some of those are:

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

Entheogen | definition of entheogen by Medical dictionary

The ‘subject of entheogens actually feels dangerous to write about, and yet there is enormous irony in this: just as neuroscience is telling us that our sense of self is extremely malleable, even an illusion, society is fighting harder than ever to make sure that people are not free to play with themselves.A prominent value of incorporating an entheogen into a psychotherapeutic regimen is that by accessing and processing conscious and unconscious material from a different angle (the perspective offered by the substance), radical and effective solutions may occur to the individual.Psychoactive substances, especially ones that engender ecstatic or terrifying, death-like experiences, were used in all aspects of the traditions from medicine to stimulant, sedative, entheogen for meditation, initiation ordeals and perhaps, (as discussed below), to aid in martial arts combat.The following is a profile for those groups most likely to prevail when suing for an exemption to use a entheogen.This virtual haven has many names, one of which is the entheosphere: a mind-space concerned with entheogens, psychedelic drugs that are ingested with a view to consciousness expansion and spiritual enlightenment (Ott 1995: 88).It is clear that the ancients made a very thorough investigation of all vegetation they encountered as a potential food source, medicine, entheogen, weapon, or even fuel source, such as the use of Peganum harmala in hard Iranian winters (Flattery & Schwartz 1989).Perhaps more accurately, Stan Krippner (2006) terms them “potential entheogens,” for they do not automatically induce mystical or spiritual experiences, but may do so for some people when both the “set” and the “setting” are conducive to it, that is, when the person is in the right frame of mind and the right environment, as in the recent experiments with psilocybin and mystical experience at Johns Hopkins University (Griffiths, Richards, McCann, & Jesse, 2006).Psychedelic Healing: The Promise of Entheogens for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Development” explores the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in a medical situation.Psychedelics are treated as sacred medicines and are often referred to as entheogens (“that which generates the experience of God within”) or simply as “medicine.Both The Jaguar that Roams the Mind and The Shamanic Odyssey are published by Inner Traditions Bear & Company, which publishes “books for the mind, body, and spirit”; their Park Street Press imprint is dedicated to “travel, psychology, entheogens, consumer and environmental issues, archeology, women’s and men’s studies, and fine art.Spiritual Science explores and answers these and many more questions covering a wide-range of topics including quantum physics, consciousness, synchronicity, the holographic universe, morphic fields, the human energy body, psychoneuroimmunology, life force energy, the chakra and meridian systems, acupuncture, qigong, pranayama, the power of prayer, auras, psi science, telepathy, psychokinesis, clairvoyance, remote viewing, precognition, out of body experiences, near death experiences, entheogens, death, ghosts, reincarnation, God, Oneness and much more.An extraordinary and informative work, “Magic Mushroom Explorer: Psilocybin and the Awakening Earth” is highly recommended and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Spirituality & Entheogens reference collections.

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Entheogen | definition of entheogen by Medical dictionary

Entheogen – PsychonautWiki

An entheogen (“generating the divine within”)[2] is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context[3] that may be synthesized or obtained from natural sources. The chemical induces altered states of consciousness. Jonathan Ott helped coin the term “entheogen”.[4]

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established with anthropological and modern evidence. Examples of traditional entheogens include psychedelics like peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and iboga; atypical hallucinogens like salvia and Amanita muscaria; quasi-psychedelics like cannabis; and deliriants like datura.

With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, with many derived from these plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol. Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD used by the New American Church) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT used by the Temple of the True Inner Light and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed.[5]

More broadly, the term entheogen is used to refer to any psychoactive drug when used for its religious or spiritual effects, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure. This terminology is often chosen to contrast with the recreational use of the same drugs. Studies such as the Marsh Chapel Experiment have documented reports of spiritual experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[6] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition; however, some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use.

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Entheogen – PsychonautWiki

Vex – Destinypedia, the Destiny encyclopedia

“I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”This article has new content coming soonfrom Destiny 2 and may not be complete, confirmed, or correct. Please update it as soon as any relevant and accurate material is available. Editors must cite sources for all contributions to this article. Edits that do not follow this standard will be reverted without notice. For more information, see the Citation Policy. Vex Overview

Homeworld:

Black Garden

Focal world(s):

Mars Mercury Venus Nessus Io Leviathan

Goals:

Weave their way into the fabric of reality Protect Nessus from the Red Legion Unite on Mercury within the Infinite Forest

At war with:

Cabal Fallen Hive Taken The City

Distinctions:

Single red optic sensor Large, fan-like head Sparse frame, tails, and long claw-like fingers Biological Mind/Power Core (critical point)

Average lifespan:

Indefinite (possibly thousands of years old)[1]

Notable groups:

Hezen Corrective Hezen Protective Sol Primeval Sol Divisive Sol Imminent Virgo Prohibition Precursors Descendants Unidentified Vex collective

Notable individuals:

Argos, Planetary Core Atheon, Time’s Conflux Brakion, Genesis Mind Panoptes, Infinite Mind Protheon, Modular Mind Sekrion, Nexus Mind Sol Progeny The Gorgons Theosyion, the Restorative Mind The Templar The Undying Mind Qodron, Gate Lord Zydron, Gate Lord

The Vex are a race of transtemporal, cybernetic[2] war-machines[3]referred to as a time-spanning thought-mesh by some[4]who are hostile to the Guardians.[5] They are encountered on Venus,[6] where they have built the Citadel and the Vault of Glass, and also on Mars, where they guard the entrance portal to the mysterious Black Garden.[7] Additionally, they have lay claim to Mercury and Nessus, both of which have been fully converted into Machine Worlds. [8]

Vex units come in a diverse array of shapes and sizes, but the majority share features such as triangular or conical “heads,” single glowing photoreceptors, jointed limbs, and in several cases arrays of flexible tentacles. Despite their often animalistic appearance, the Vex appear to be mass-produced units, constructed of an unknown metal alloy resembling hammered brass.[10] Their robotic bodies still carry a hint of organic components, however, particularly in the form of their mind cores, which contain a milky radiolarian fluid seemingly central to Vex functionality.[11] Headshots do not do much damage and instead send them into a berserk state; however, shooting their abdomen power cores will cause them to explode.[12]

Interestingly, according to records from the Ishtar Collective, Vex are capable of generating simulations of real-world events with perfect fidelity and predictive abilityessentially running a parallel reality in their minds which is arguably indistinguishable from the “real” universe.[13] This ability appears to be limited only to ordinary situations, as the Vex are apparently unable to simulate complex phenomena that is linked to a paracausal power. These include Guardians,[14] and Oryx; in the latter case they were only able to bootstrap a simulation of his original incarnation as Aurash. Warminds, on the other hand, are a different case altogether. But perhaps their Golden Age origins (through the Traveler) are key to the Vex’s inability to simulate them. The source of Venus Spirit Blooms might be a byproduct of Vex-influenced flora.[15] It is said that Vex encryption is unbreakable.[16] [17]

The Vex’s origins are unknown. The earliest event associated with the Vex is when the Hive god Crota, Son of Oryx opened a portal to a place where the Vex were present, hoping to find a secret power for himself. Instead, he allowed the Vex to invade Oryx, the Taken King’s Ascendant Realm, the High War.[18] In the Ascendant Realm, and by its rules, the Vex quickly learned of the Hive’s Sword-Logic, creating Quria, Blade Transform to investigate it. Through Quria, the Vex learned to achieve divinity by killing all who opposed them and adopting worship as a primary function. Though Oryx eventually succeeded in eliminating the Vex from his realm, they preserved what they learned and passed it on to the rest of the Vex hive mind.[19]

During humanity’s Golden Age, Vex structures were found on Venus dating back to a few billion years before humanity’s existence.[20] Ishtar researchers suspected that the Vex ruins came from an alternate Venus and came into being when the Traveler transformed Venus into a habitable world.[21]

The Collective also recovered a live specimen of the Vex and discovered that it had created an internal simulation of themselves, accurately predicting their every move. To Collective researchers, this ability raised profound philosophical quandaries about the nature of reality. Eventually the researchers were driven near to the point of madness when they discovered the Vex had simulations of themselves and perfectly predicted their every action, as they started to wonder if they themselves were just Vex simulations, so they decided to bring in a Warmind to intervene on their behalf. Warminds were many orders of magnitude more complex than humans, and it was believed that the Vex would be unable to simulate them; thus, the Warmind’s presence and actions would be a sufficiently chaotic variable to allow the researchers to discern which universe was real and disrupt the simulation.[22][23][24]

The Vex first appeared on Mercury during the Golden Age as well, shortly after the Traveler terraformed the planet into a garden world. Panoptes, Infinite Mind was created following the Vex’s arrival, and began converting the planet into a Machine World that would house the “reality engine” known as the Infinite Forest within its core.

When the Guardians Kabr, the Legionless, Pahanin, and Praedyth ventured into the Vault of Glass on Venus, a major confluence of the Vex network, they were thwarted by the Templar and its Gorgons. Pahanin managed to escape, but Kabr perished and Praedyth was trapped and lost in time. Praedyth was forgotten until the time of the Taken War, when the Taken began to blight the Vex network. After receiving a distress signal from Praedyth, The Guardian was sent to the Vault to investigate and was unexpectedly granted access by the Vex. Inside, the Guardian discovered a series of Dead Ghosts Praedyth had left behind. Praedyth revealed through recordings within the Ghosts that he had seen what the Vex had calculated would be their future: eons hence, they would be completely corrupted by the Taken, becoming an eternal part of the legacy of Oryx, the Taken King. Although the Vex were able to foresee this future and compelled to seek a way to avert it, they concluded that this grim fate was inevitable without the Light; allowing the Guardian to fight the Taken blight that plagued them was an act of desperation. Traveling through a portal, the Guardian was transported to the Vex’s future, where the blight was defeated, the Vex were spared from their fate, and Praedyth’s remains and Ghost were recovered. Despite this moment of cooperation, however, the Vex still had no intention of returning the favor or sparing the Last City.[25]

In recent times, the Vex had suffered numerous setbacks across the system – a large number of Vex Axis Minds were destroyed by Guardians, leaving the Vex network in disarray. With the arrival of the Taken, attacks against the Vex had only escalated. The Vex have yet to counter these failures, though some believe the cybernetic machines have begun preparing countermeasures as Variks, the Loyal notes, following Skolas’ defeat, “Old machines are waking up…”.[26]

By the time of the Red War, two years after the Taken War, the Vex had come under attack by the Fallen House of Dusk and the Cabal Red Legion on Io, Mercury, Mars, and Nessus. Of note, on Mars the Red Legion quickly succeeded against the Vex where other Cabal legions had failed for decades: they destroyed the gate to the Black Garden and drove the Vex out of Meridian Bay.[27] According to Cayde-6, the Red Legion has brought even more of their might to bear on Mars than on Earth.[28]

However, following the death of Dominus Ghaul and the reawakening of the Traveler, Vex Minds began to call the modern Vex, Precursors, and Descendants to Mercury, in order to bring forth a dark future that only they dominated through the means of the Infinite Forest. This required the Vanguard to locate Osiris, in the hopes of stopping them.[29]

In time, Panoptes, Infinite Mind was stopped from merging reality into the Vex’s dark future, and Osiris was found, being reunited with Ikora Rey, but returned to the Infinite Forest.

At some point, the Leviathan consumed a chunk of Nessus that contained a powerful Vex Mind, Argos, Planetary Core, who caused the world-eater to clog up and malfunction. Emperor Calus immediately called upon the help of the Guardians to destroy the Vex intrusion, where they succeeded and repaired the Leviathan. Calus saved the Guardians from being sucked into the Leviathan afterward, where he rewarded them for their efforts.

“Oh the headache again. I swear it’s these symbols…”

At least one known programming is known to study its enemies. Notable experiments include the Ishtar Collective scientists, Failsafe’s crew, and later The Guardian. According to data gathered during the Red War the Vex’s primary goal is to study and understand their foes, including paracausal entities like the Light and Darkness. When the Traveler awoke these Vex analyzed its burst of Light.[citationneeded]

Beginning long ago when Crota first cut into their world from the Ascendant realm of Oryx, the Taken King, the Vex have sought to survive the heat death of the universe. They were able to comprehend the Sword Logic through Quria’s deduction of worship during a hundred year war with the Hive; this may be the source of their combat algorithms. Quria tried and failed to effectively simulate Oryx, however, as he was a creature of Darkness.[citationneeded] Through their experiments on Guardians such as Praedyth and Asher Mir (as well as his Ghost) the Vex have gotten closer to understanding the Light.[citationneeded]

Years later, during the Golden Age, a Goblin platform was captured by the Ishtar Collective, and it took the opportunity to simulate two hundred twenty seven alternate realities of the scientists. Alarming them the Collective quickly brought in a Warmind to rescue them, and its own computational abilities and apparent complexity was enough to overwhelm the Goblin.[citationneeded] The colony ship Exodus Black was also intercepted by the orbit of Nessus, and her crew eventually captured by the Vex. They conducted behavioral experiments on the human crew members, forcing them to fight each other. The crew eventually died and Captain Jacobson perished. The algorithm overseeing the experiment remained in effect well into the Red War.[citationneeded] During the Red War, the Vex captured a band of migratory Dusk Fallen on Nessus and forced them to fight one another, promising freedom to the Fallen. Surprisingly, the Fallen refused and remained imprisoned until the Young Wolf came to their “rescue”. Failsafe confirmed that these tests were the same as issued to her crew.[citationneeded]

The ultimate goal of the Vex appears to be no less than achieving total control over the universe, both by spreading their machinery throughout time and space and by manipulating the very nature of reality to suit their purposes. Praedyth described the Vex as being motivated by a “Pattern,” which drives the Vex to either reshape or destroy everything in their path. Osiris referred to the Vex’s objective as “Convergence,” an outcome where all life in the universe has been converted to a simplified, digital form. As part of this ideal future, the Vex seek to bring about a state where neither the Light nor the Darkness exist any longer.

It is thought that their structures are buried within every known celestial body and linked together in a massive trans-dimensional and trans-temporal network called the Nexus. This Nexus converts new worlds into massive Vex machines; Mercury was converted into a Machine World within days of the Collapse. Ostensibly, the purpose of the Nexus is to create a massive supercomputer in order to incorporate the Vex into the fabric of the universe itself.[31] The Vault of Glass, a place where the Vex can manipulate reality at will, is potentially a testing ground for this power. This power is limited to the Vault, though Ikora hypothesizes that the Sol Progeny were meant to carry this ability into the rest of the universe.[32] Both the Vault of Glass and The Nexus are part of a massive project being undertaken by the Hezen Protective, so it can be assumed the two are related.[33]

Vex already exist in the distant past and future as the Precursors and Descendants, respectively. But despite already existing in the past and future, the Vex have not yet eliminated their enemies for unknown reasons. This may be due to our poor understanding of the nature of time, or that the Vex do not currently have the resources to carry out their plans.[34] This may also have to do with the aforementioned theory that the Vex do not come from our own timeline. It is known, however, that the Vex also exist outside of time; Gate Lords are responsible for locking specific realms outside of time.

On Mars, the Vex (under the Virgo Prohibition) waged an intense war with the Cabal, who managed to repel the machines despite the vast numbers of them that continually assaulted Cabal positions.[35] The reason for this massive, if ineffective, offensive against the Cabal is that the Vex were surging to protect the Black Garden,[36] which the Vex are being summoned to for an unknown purpose. Guardians who succeeded in breaking into the Black Garden discovered that the Vex in fact worshiped an entity within the Garden known as the Black Heart, an abomination that lent power to the Vex.[31] Even after the destruction of the Sol Progeny and the Black Heart, the Vex sought to control the Black Garden and pull it back out of space and time. Besides the Black Heart, the Vex may have another connection with the Darkness; Osiris speculated that Vex structures such as the Timekeeper are designed to activate in the presence of the Darkness.[37] With the gate to the Black Garden having been destroyed by the Red Legion, it is unknown if the Vex still have the means to access the Garden itself. It’s possible the entrance from the Tharsis Junction still exists and the Garden is still accessible.

The Vex in their true form are aquatic microorganisms known as radiolaria cells.[39][40] The “mind-fluid” inside each of their mind-cores is composed of a milky substance wherein radiolaria cells float; this centralized mind-core is also a localized receiver for each individual Vex “component” of the Nexus.[40] Their aquatic origins are strongly implied through their architecture.[40] Vex cells are noted entheogens and physical contact with Vex units can produce dangerous mind-altering effects. [41]

Each Vex chassis is a “vessel of bronze” where the Vex move through time and space in “rivers of thought”.[40][42] Their chassis can be a wide variety of shapes: humanoid, creature, in-between, or other bizarre forms. These chassis resemble hammered brass, usually brown in color, though different Vex collectives can have unique colorations and even slight variations in overall design. The Vex travel to the Floating Gardens where they recycle their vessel when it is no longer functional to them.[43]

It is believed that Vex are not born or made, so much as converted. When Asher Mir was infected with Radiolarian fluid, his arm turned into a Vex construct. Kabr, the Legionless would have suffered a similar fate had he not used his Light to become The Aegis.

The Vex are all connected to one another in a massive hive mind, but individual Vex units called Axis Minds act as leaders by storing all information necessary to complete a particular goal, freeing up individual Vex to pursue local tasks while the Axis Mind can plan globally. This creates a centralized weakness for the Vex, but they seem to consider it worth the risk.[45] The Vex are divided up into different programming collectives, each with a different set of directives intended to advance the Vex race as a whole. Whether the Vex in question are devoted to engineering projects, full-scale war, or religious devotion, all Vex are united by a single, unfathomable purpose.[46]

See more here:

Vex – Destinypedia, the Destiny encyclopedia

Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants

by Keith Cleversley | Feb 19, 2017 | Features, Kava Kava | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Sep 13, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Sep 7, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Mar 29, 2016 | Features, Kava Kava | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Mar 4, 2016 | News Articles | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Nov 3, 2015 | Kava Kava, Research | 1 Comment

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by Keith Cleversley | Mar 30, 2015 | Kava Kava, Research | 0 Comments

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by Keith Cleversley | Dec 19, 2014 | Kratom, News Articles | 0 Comments

Recent developments in Florida indicate that Palm Beach County officials are backing away from an outright ban on kratom and may instead implement educational initiatives to teach consumers about kratom, its effects, and its potential risks. The initiative would include warning labels on packages of kratom, partnerships with schools, and distributing information at community events and through social media.

by Keith Cleversley | Dec 7, 2014 | Features, Kava Kava | 6 Comments

Now that Cannabis is legal for recreational use in three states as of the writing of this article, it feels important to address what will undoubtedly be a continuing flood of questions regarding combiningkava and cannabis (marijuana). Customers from both Washington…

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Entheogens and Spirituality | Kava | Kratom | Teacher Plants