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Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development.[2] The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

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.

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.[3]

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.

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.

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] 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]

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 (Native 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]

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.

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.[21]

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”.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[25]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.[26] 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,[27][28] 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”.[29]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[30] 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.[31]

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’,[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

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,[35] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[36]

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.[37] 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’.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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”).[42]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[43][44] 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.[45] 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.[46] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[47] 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).[48]

The artificial drug 2C-B is 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”.[49][50][51]

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.

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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[57]

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. In these traditions, taking kava is believed to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[62]

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”.[63]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).[64]

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) which held that a “neutral law of general applicability” was not subject to the test. Congress resurrected it for the purposes of federal law in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement. In Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), a case involving only federal law, RFRA was held to permit a church’s use of a DMT-containing tea for religious ceremonies.

Some states have enacted State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts intended to mirror the federal RFRA’s protections.

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, Inc. 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.

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.”[65]

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.”[65] 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 genus Panaeolus.

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.[66]

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 fida’is’ training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo’s account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is 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.[67] 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 Hammer’s retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

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

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Entheogens & Existential Intelligence: The Use of Plant …

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In light of recent specific liberalizations in drug laws in some countries, this article investigates the potential of entheogens (i.e. psychoactive plants used as spiritual sacraments) as tools to facilitate existential intelligence. Plant teachers from the Americas such as ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and the Indo-Aryan soma of Eurasia are examples of both past- and presently-used entheogens. These have all been revered as spiritual or cognitive tools to provide a richer cosmological understanding of the world for both human individuals and cultures. I use Howard Gardners (1999a) revised multiple intelligence theory and his postulation of an existential intelligence as a theoretical lens through which to account for the cognitive possibilities of entheogens and explore potential ramifications for education.

In this article I assess and further develop the possibility of an existential intelligence as postulated by Howard Gardner (1999a). Moreover, I entertain the possibility that some kinds of psychoactive substancesentheogenshave the potential to facilitate this kind of intelligence. This issue arises from the recent liberalization of drug laws in several Western industrialized countries to allow for the sacramental use of ayahuasca, a psychoactive tea brewed from plants indigenous to the Amazon. I challenge readers to step outside a long-standing dominant paradigm in modern Western culture that a priori regards hallucinogenic drug use as necessarily maleficent and devoid of any merit. I intend for my discussion to confront assumptions about drugs that have unjustly perpetuated the disparagement and prohibition of some kinds of psychoactive substance use. More broadly, I intend for it to challenge assumptions about intelligence that constrain contemporary educational thought.

Entheogen is a word coined by scholars proposing to replace the term psychedelic (Ruck, Bigwood, Staples, Ott, & Wasson, 1979), which was felt to overly connote psychological and clinical paradigms and to be too socio-culturally loaded from its 1960s roots to appropriately designate the revered plants and substances used in traditional rituals. I use both terms in this article: entheogen when referring to a substance used as a spiritual or sacramental tool, and psychedelic when referring to one used for any number of purposes during or following the so-called psychedelic era of the 1960s (recognizing that some contemporary non-indigenous uses may be entheogenicthe categories are by no means clearly discreet). What kinds of plants or chemicals fall into the category of entheogen is a matter of debate, as a large number of inebriantsfrom coca and marijuana to alcohol and opiumhave been venerated as gifts from the gods (or God) in different cultures at different times. For the purposes of this article, however, I focus on the class of drugs that Lewin (1924/1997) termed phantastica, a name deriving from the Greek word for the faculty of imagination (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 1973). Later these substances became known as hallucinogens or psychedelics, a class whose members include lysergic acid derivatives, psilocybin, mescaline and dimethyltryptamine. With the exception of mescaline, these all share similar chemical structures; all, including mescaline, produce similar phenomenological effects; and, more importantly for the present discussion, all have a history of ritual use as psychospiritual medicines or, as I argue, cultural tools to facilitate cognition (Schultes & Hofmann, 1992).

The issue of entheogen use in modern Western culture becomes more significant in light of several legal precedents in countries such as Brazil, Holland, Spain and soon perhaps the United States and Canada. Ayahuasca, which I discuss in more detail in the following section on plant teachers, was legalized for religious use by non-indigenous people in Brazil in 1987i. One Brazilian group, the Santo Daime, was using its sacrament in ceremonies in the Netherlands when, in the autumn of 1999, authorities intervened and arrested its leaders. This was the first case of religious intolerance by a Dutch government in over three hundred years. A subsequent legal challenge, based on European Union religious freedom laws, saw them acquitted of all charges, setting a precedent for the rest of Europe (Adelaars, 2001). A similar case in Spain resulted in the Spanish government granting the right to use ayahuasca in that country. A recent court decision in the United States by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 4th, 2003, ruled in favour of religious freedom to use ayahuasca (Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, 2003). And in Canada, an application to Health Canada and the Department of Justice for exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is pending, which may permit the Santo Daime Church the religious use of their sacrament, known as Daime or Santo Daimeii (J.W. Rochester, personal communication, October 8th, 2003)

One of the questions raised by this trend of liberalization in otherwise prohibitionist regulatory regimes is what benefits substances such as ayahuasca have. The discussion that follows takes up this question with respect to contemporary psychological theories about intelligence and touches on potential ramifications for education. The next section examines the metaphor of plant teachers, which is not uncommon among cultures that have traditionally practiced the entheogenic use of plants. Following that, I use Howard Gardners theory of multiple intelligences (1983) as a theoretical framework with which to account for cognitive implications of entheogen use. Finally, I take up a discussion of possible relevance of existential intelligence and entheogens to education.

Before moving on to a broader discussion of intelligence(s), I will provide some background on ayahuasca and entheogens. Ayahuasca has been a revered plant teacher among dozens of South American indigenous peoples for centuries, if not longer (Luna, 1984; Schultes & Hofmann, 1992). The word ayahuasca is from the Quechua language of indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Peru, and translates as vine of the soul (Metzner, 1999). Typically, it refers to a tea made from a jungle liana, Banisteriopsis caapi, with admixtures of other plants, but most commonly the leaves of a plant from the coffee family, Psychotria viridis (McKenna, 1999). These two plants respectively contain harmala alkaloids and dimethyltryptamine, two substances that when ingested orally create a biochemical synergy capable of producing profound alterations in consciousness (Grob, et al., 1996; McKenna, Towers & Abbot, 1984). Among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, ayahuasca is one of the most valuable medicinal and sacramental plants in their pharmacopoeias. Although shamans in different tribes use the tea for various purposes, and have varying recipes for it, the application of ayahuasca as an effective tool to attain understanding and wisdom is one of the most prevalent (Brown, 1986; Dobkin de Rios, 1984).

Notwithstanding the explosion of popular interest in psychoactive drugs during the 1960s, ayahuasca until quite recently managed to remain relatively obscure in Western cultureiii. However, the late 20th century saw the growth of religious movements among non-indigenous people in Brazil syncretizing the use of ayahuasca with Christian symbolism, African spiritualism, and native ritual. Two of the more widespread ayahuasca churches are the Santo Daime (Santo Daime, 2004) and the Unio do Vegetal (Unio do Vegetal, 2004). These organizations have in the past few decades gained legitimacy as valid, indeed valuable, spiritual practices providing social, psychological and spiritual benefits (Grob, 1999; Riba, et al., 2001).

Ayahuasca is not the only plant teacher in the pantheon of entheogenic tools. Other indigenous peoples of the Americas have used psilocybin mushrooms for millennia for spiritual and healing purposes (Dobkin de Rios, 1973; Wasson, 1980). Similarly, the peyote cactus has a long history of use by Mexican indigenous groups (Fikes, 1996; Myerhoff, 1974; Stewart, 1987), and is currently widely used in the United States by the Native American Church (LaBarre, 1989; Smith & Snake, 1996). And even in the early history of Western culture, the ancient Indo-Aryan texts of the Rig Veda sing the praises of the deified Soma (Pande, 1984). Although the taxonomic identity of Soma is lost, it seems to have been a plant or mushroom and had the power to reliably induce mystical experiencesan entheogen par excellence (Eliade, 1978; Wasson, 1968). The variety of entheogens extends far beyond the limited examples I have offered here. However, ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote and Soma are exemplars of plants which have been culturally esteemed for their psychological and spiritual impacts on both individuals and communities.

In this article I argue that the importance of entheogens lies in their role as tools, as mediators between mind and environment. Defining a psychoactive drug as a toolperhaps a novel concept for someinvokes its capacity to effect a purposeful change on the mind/body. Commenting on Vygotskys notions of psychological tools, John-Steiner and Souberman (1978) note that tool use has . . . important effects upon internal and functional relationships within the human brain (p. 133). Although they were likely not thinking of drugs as tools, the significance of this observation becomes even more literal when the tools in question are plants or chemicals ingested with the intent of affecting consciousness through the manipulation of brain chemistry. Indeed, psychoactive plants or chemicals seem to defy the traditional bifurcation between physical and psychological tools, as they affect the mind/body (understood by modern psychologists to be identical).

It is important to consider the degree to which the potential of entheogens comes not only from their immediate neuropsychological effects, but also from the social practicesritualsinto which their use has traditionally been incorporated (Dobkin de Rios, 1996; Smith, 2000). The protective value that ritual provides for entheogen use is evident from its universal application in traditional practices (Weil, 1972/1986). Medical evidence suggests that there are minimal physiological risks associated with psychedelic drugs (Callaway, et al., 1999; Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1979/1998; Julien, 1998). Albert Hofmann (1980), the chemist who first accidentally synthesized and ingested LSD, contends that the psychological risks associated with psychedelics in modern Western culture are a function of their recreational use in unsafe circumstances. A ritual context, however, offers psychospiritual safeguards that make the potential of entheogenic plant teachers to enhance cognition an intriguing possibility.

Howard Gardner (1983) developed a theory of multiple intelligences that originally postulated seven types of intelligence (iv). Since then, he has added a naturalist intelligence and entertained the possibility of a spiritual intelligence (1999a; 1999b). Not wanting to delve too far into territory fraught with theological pitfalls, Gardner (1999a) settled on looking at existential intelligence rather than spiritual intelligence (p. 123). Existential intelligence, as Gardner characterizes it, involves having a heightened capacity to appreciate and attend to the cosmological enigmas that define the human condition, an exceptional awareness of the metaphysical, ontological and epistemological mysteries that have been a perennial concern for people of all cultures (1999a).

In his original formulation of the theory, Gardner challenges (narrow) mainstream definitions of intelligence with a broader one that sees intelligence as the ability to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in at least one culture or community (1999a, p. 113). He lays out eight criteria, or signs, that he argues should be used to identify an intelligence; however, he notes that these do not constitute necessary conditions for determining an intelligence, merely desiderata that a candidate intelligence should meet (1983, p. 62). He also admits that none of his original seven intelligences fulfilled all the criteria, although they all met a majority of the eight. For existential intelligence, Gardner himself identifies six which it seems to meet; I will look at each of these and discuss their merits in relation to entheogens.

One criterion applicable to existential intelligence is the identification of a neural substrate to which the intelligence may correlate. Gardner (1999a) notes that recent neuropsychological evidence supports the hypothesis that the brains temporal lobe plays a key role in producing mystical states of consciousness and spiritual awareness (p. 124-5; LaPlante, 1993; Newberg, DAquili & Rause, 2001). He also recognizes that certain brain centres and neural transmitters are mobilized in [altered consciousness] states, whether they are induced by the ingestion of substances or by a control of the will (Gardner, 1999a, p.125). Another possibility, which Gardner does not explore, is that endogenous dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in humans may play a significant role in the production of spontaneous or induced altered states of consciousness (Pert, 2001). DMT is a powerful entheogenic substance that exists naturally in the mammalian brain (Barker, Monti & Christian, 1981), as well as being a common constituent of ayahuasca and the Amazonian snuff, yopo (Ott, 1994). Furthermore, DMT is a close analogue of the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptamine, or serotonin. It has been known for decades that the primary neuropharmacological action of psychedelics has been on serotonin systems, and serotonin is now understood to be correlated with healthy modes of consciousness.

One psychiatric researcher has recently hypothesized that endogenous DMT stimulates the pineal gland to create such spontaneous psychedelic states as near-death experiences (Strassman, 2001). Whether this is correct or not, the role of DMT in the brain is an area of empirical research that deserves much more attention, especially insofar as it may contribute to an evidential foundation for existential intelligence.

Another criterion for an intelligence is the existence of individuals of exceptional ability within the domain of that intelligence. Unfortunately, existential precocity is not something sufficiently valued in modern Western culture to the degree that savants in this domain are commonly celebrated today. Gardner (1999a) observes that within Tibetan Buddhism, the choosing of lamas may involve the detection of a predisposition to existential intellect (if it is not identifying the reincarnation of a previous lama, as Tibetan Buddhists themselves believe) (p. 124). Gardner also cites Czikszentmilhalyis consideration of the early-emerging concerns for cosmic issues of the sort reported in the childhoods of future religious leaders like Gandhi and of several future physicists (Gardner, 1999a, p. 124; Czikszentmilhalyi, 1996). Presumably, some individuals who are enjoined to enter a monastery or nunnery at a young age may be so directed due to an appreciable manifestation of existential awareness. Likewise, individuals from indigenous cultures who take up shamanic practicewho have abilities beyond others to dream, to imagine, to enter states of trance (Larsen, 1976, p. 9)often do so because of a significant interest in cosmological concerns at a young age, which could be construed as a prodigious capacity in the domain of existential intelligencev (Eliade, 1964; Greeley, 1974; Halifax, 1979).

The third criterion for determining an intelligence that Gardner suggests is an identifiable set of core operational abilities that manifest that intelligence. Gardner finds this relatively unproblematic and articulates the core operations for existential intelligence as:

the capacity to locate oneself with respect to the farthest reaches of the cosmosthe infinite no less than the infinitesimaland the related capacity to locate oneself with respect to the most existential aspects of the human condition: the significance of life, the meaning of death, the ultimate fate of the physical and psychological worlds, such profound experiences as love of another human being or total immersion in a work of art. (1999a, p. 123)

Gardner notes that as with other more readily accepted types of intelligence, there is no specific truth that one would attain with existential intelligencefor example, as musical intelligence does not have to manifest itself in any specific genre or category of music, neither does existential intelligence privilege any one philosophical system or spiritual doctrine. As Gardner (1999a) puts it, there exists [with existential intelligence] a species potentialor capacityto engage in transcendental concerns that can be aroused and deployed under certain circumstances (p. 123). Reports on uses of psychedelics by Westerners in the 1950s and early 1960sgenerated prior to their prohibition and, some might say, profanationreveal a recurrent theme of spontaneous mystical experiences that are consistent with enhanced capacity of existential intelligence (Huxley, 1954/1971; Masters & Houston, 1966; Pahnke, 1970; Smith, 1964; Watts, 1958/1969).

Another criterion for admitting an intelligence is identifying a developmental history and a set of expert end-state performances for it. Pertaining to existential intelligence, Gardner notes that all cultures have devised spiritual or metaphysical systems to deal with the inherent human capacity for existential issues, and further that these respective systems invariably have steps or levels of sophistication separating the novice from the adept. He uses the example of Pope John XXIIIs description of his training to advance up the ecclesiastic hierarchy as a contemporary illustration of this point (1999a, p. 124). However, the instruction of the neophyte is a manifest part of almost all spiritual training and, again, the demanding process of imparting of shamanic wisdomoften including how to effectively and appropriately use entheogensis an excellent example of this process in indigenous cultures (Eliade, 1964).

A fifth criterion Gardner suggests for an intelligence is determining its evolutionary history and evolutionary plausibility. The self-reflexive question of when and why existential intelligence first arose in the Homo genus is one of the perennial existential questions of humankind. That it is an exclusively human trait is almost axiomatic, although a small but increasing number of researchers are willing to admit the possibility of higher forms of cognition in non-human animals (Masson & McCarthy, 1995; Vonk, 2003). Gardner (1999a) argues that only by the Upper Paleolithic period did human beings within a culture possess a brain capable of considering the cosmological issues central to existential intelligence (p. 124) and that the development of a capacity for existential thinking may be linked to a conscious sense of finite space and irreversible time, two promising loci for stimulating imaginative explorations of transcendental spheres (p. 124). He also suggests that thoughts about existential issues may well have evolved as responses to necessarily occurring pain, perhaps as a way of reducing pain or better equipping individuals to cope with it (Gardner, 1999a, p. 125). As with determining the evolutionary origin of language, tracing a phylogenesis of existential intelligence is conjectural at best. Its role in the development of the species is equally difficult to assess, although Winkelman (2000) argues that consciousness and shamanic practicesand presumably existential intelligence as wellstem from psychobiological adaptations integrating older and more recently evolved structures in the triune hominid brain. McKenna (1992) goes even so far as to postulate that the ingestion of psychoactive substances such as entheogenic mushrooms may have helped stimulate cognitive developments such as existential and linguistic thinking in our proto-human ancestors. Some researchers in the 1950s and 1960s found enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills among subjects given LSD and other psychedelic drugs (Harman, McKim, Mogar, Fadiman & Stolaroff, 1966; Izumi, 1970; Krippner, 1985; Stafford & Golightly, 1967), skills which certainly would have been evolutionarily advantageous to our hominid ancestors. Such avenues of investigation are beginning to be broached again by both academic scholars and amateur psychonauts (Dobkin de Rios & Janiger, 2003; Spitzer, et al., 1996; MAPS Bulletin, 2000).

The final criterion Gardner mentions as applicable to existential intelligence is susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. Here, again, Gardner concedes that there is abundant evidence in favour of accepting existential thinking as an intelligence. In his words, many of the most important and most enduring sets of symbol systems (e.g., those featured in the Catholic liturgy) represent crystallizations of key ideas and experiences that have evolved within [cultural] institutions (1999a, p. 123). Another salient example that illustrates this point is the mytho-symbolism ascribed to ayahuasca visions among the Tukano, an Amazonian indigenous people. Reichel-Dolmatoff (1975) made a detailed study of these visions by asking a variety of informants to draw representations with sticks in the dirt (p. 174). He compiled twenty common motifs, observing that most of them bear a striking resemblance to phosphene patterns (i.e. visual phenomena perceived in the absence of external stimuli or by applying light pressure to the eyeball) compiled by Max Knoll (Oster, 1970). The Tukano interpret these universal human neuropsychological phenomena as symbolically significant according to their traditional ayahuasca-steeped mythology, reflecting the codification of existential ideas within their culture.

Narby (1998) also examines the codification of symbols generated during ayahuasca experiences by tracing similarities between intertwining snake motifs in the visions of Amazonian shamans and the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid. He found remarkable similarities between representations of biological knowledge by indigenous shamans and those of modern geneticists. More recently, Narby (2002) has followed up on this work by bringing molecular biologists to the Amazon to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies with experiences shamans, an endeavour he suggests may provide useful cross-fertilization in divergent realms of human knowledge.

The two other criteria of an intelligence are support from experimental psychological tasks and support from psychometric findings. Gardner suggests that existential intelligence is more debatable within these domains, citing personality inventories that attempt to measure religiosity or spirituality; he notes, it remains unclear just what is being probed by such instruments and whether self-report is a reliable index of existential intelligence (1999a, p. 125). It seems transcendental states of consciousness and the cognition they engender do not lend themselves to quantification or easy replication in psychology laboratories. However, Strassman, Qualls, Uhlenhuth, & Kellner (1994) developed a psychometric instrumentthe Hallucinogen Rating Scaleto measure human responses to intravenous administration of DMT, and it has since been reliably used for other psychedelic experiences (Riba, Rodriguez-Fornells, Strassman, & Barbanoj, 2001).

One historical area of empirical psychological research that did ostensibly stimulate a form of what might be considered existential intelligence was clinical investigations into psychedelics. Until such research became academically unfashionable and then politically impossible in the early 1970s, psychologists and clinical researchers actively explored experimentally-induced transcendent experiences using drugs in the interests of both pure science and applied medical treatments (Abramson, 1967; Cohen, 1964; Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1979/1998; Masters & Houston, 1966). One of the more famous of these was Pahnkes (1970) so-called Good Friday experiment, which attempted to induce spiritual experiences with psilocybin within a randomized double-blind control methodology. His conclusion that mystical experiences were indeed reliably produced, despite methodological problems with the study design, was borne out by a critical long-term follow-up (Doblin, 1991), which raises intriguing questions about both entheogens and existential intelligence.

Studies such as Pahnkes (1970), despite their promise, were prematurely terminated due to public pressure from a populace alarmed by burgeoning contemporary recreational drug use. Only about a decade ago did the United States government give researchers permission to renew (on a very small scale) investigations into psychedelics (Strassman 2001; Strassman & Qualls, 1994). Cognitive psychologists are also taking an interest in entheogens such as ayahuasca (Shanon, 2002). Regardless of whether support for existential intelligence can be established psychometrically or in experimental psychological tasks, Gardners theory expressly stipulates that not all eight criteria must be uniformly met in order for an intelligence to qualify. Nevertheless, Gardner claims to find the phenomenon perplexing enough, and the distance from other intelligences great enough (1999a, p. 127) to be reluctant at present to add existential intelligence to the list . . . . At most [he is] willing, Fellini-style, to joke about 8 intelligences (p. 127). I contend that research into entheogens and other means of altering consciousness will further support the case for treating existential intelligence as a valid cognitive domain.

By recapitulating and augmenting Gardners discussion of existential intelligence, I hope to have strengthened the case for its inclusion as a valid cognitive domain. However, doing so raises questions of what ramifications an acceptance of existential intelligence would have for contemporary Western educational theory and practice. How might we foster this hitherto neglected intelligence and allow it to be used in constructive ways? There is likely a range of educational practices that could be used to stimulate cognition in this domain, many of which could be readily implemented without much controversy.vi Yet I intentionally raise the prospect of using entheogens in this capacitynot with young children, but perhaps with older teens in the passage to adulthoodto challenge theorists, policy-makers and practitioners.vii

The potential of entheogens as tools for education in contemporary Western culture was identified by Aldous Huxley. Although better known as a novelist than as a philosopher of education, Huxley spent a considerable amount of timeparticularly as he neared the end of his lifeaddressing the topic of education. Like much of his literature, Huxleys observations and critiques of the socio-cultural forces at work in his time were cannily prescient; they bear as much, if not more, relevance in the 21st century as when they were written. Most remarkably, and relevant to my thesis, Huxley saw entheogens as possible educational tools:

Under the current dispensation the vast majority of individuals lose, in the course of education, all the openness to inspiration, all the capacity to be aware of other things than those enumerated in the Sears-Roebuck catalogue which constitutes the conventionally real world . . . . Is it too much to hope that a system of education may some day be devised, which shall give results, in terms of human development, commensurate with the time, money, energy and devotion expended? In such a system of education it may be that mescalin or some other chemical substance may play a part by making it possible for young people to taste and see what they have learned about at second hand . . . in the writings of the religious, or the works of poets, painters and musicians. (Letter to Dr. Humphrey Osmond, April 10th, 1953in Horowitz & Palmer, 1999, p.30)

In a more literary expression of this notion, Huxleys final novel Island (1962) portrays an ideal culture that has achieved a balance of scientific and spiritual thinking, and which also incorporates the ritualized use of entheogens for education. The representation of drug use that Huxley portrays in Island contrasts markedly with the more widely-known soma of his earlier novel, Brave New World (1932/1946): whereas soma was a pacifier that muted curiosity and served the interests of the controlling elite, the entheogenic moksha medicine of Island offered liminal experiences in young adults that stimulated profound reflection, self-actualization and, I submit, existential intelligence.

Huxleys writings point to an implicit recognition of the capacity of entheogens to be used as educational tools. The concept of tool here refers not merely the physical devices fashioned to aid material production, but, following Vygotsky (1978), more broadly to those means of symbolic and/or cultural mediation between the mind and the world (Cole, 1996; Wertsch, 1991). Of course, deriving educational benefit from a tool requires much more than simply having and wielding it; one must also have an intrinsic respect for the object qua tool, a cultural system in which the tool is valued as such, and guides or teachers who are adept at using the tool to provide helpful direction. As Larsen (1976) remarks in discussing the phenomenon of would-be shamans in Western culture experimenting with mind-altering chemicals: we have no symbolic vocabulary, no grounded mythological tradition to make our experiences comprehensible to us . . . no senior shamans to help ensure that our [shamanic experience of] dismemberment be followed by a rebirth (p. 81). Given the recent history of these substances in modern Western culture, it is hardly surprising that they have been demonized (Hofmann, 1980). However, cultural practices that have traditionally used entheogens as therapeutic agents consistently incorporate protective safeguardsset, settingviii, established dosages, and mythocultural respect (Zinberg, 1984). The fear that inevitably arises in modern Western culture when addressing the issue of entheogens stems, I submit, not from any properties intrinsic to the substances themselves, but rather from a general misunderstanding of their power and capacity as tools. Just as a sharp knife can be used for good or ill, depending on whether it is in the hands of a skilled surgeon or a reckless youth, so too can entheogens be used or misused.

The use of entheogens such as ayahuasca is exemplary of the long and ongoing tradition in many cultures to employ psychoactives as tools that stimulate foundational types of understanding (Tupper, in press). That such substances are capable of stimulating profoundly transcendent experiences is evident from both the academic literature and anecdotal reports. Accounting fully for their action, however, requires going beyond the usual explanatory schemas: applying Gardners (1999a) multiple intelligence theory as a heuristic framework opens new ways of understanding entheogens and their potential benefits. At the same time, entheogens bolster the case for Gardners proposed addition of existential intelligence. This article attempts to present these concepts in such a way that the possibility of using entheogens as tools is taken seriously by those with an interest in new and transformative ideas in education.

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Entheogens & Existential Intelligence: The Use of Plant …

Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development.[2] The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

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.

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.[3]

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.

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.

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] 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]

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 (Native 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]

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.

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.[21]

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”.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[25]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.[26] 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,[27][28] 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”.[29]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[30] 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.[31]

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’,[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

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,[35] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[36]

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.[37] 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’.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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”).[42]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[43][44] 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.[45] 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.[46] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[47] 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).[48]

The artificial drug 2C-B is 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”.[49][50][51]

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.

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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[57]

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. In these traditions, taking kava is believed to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[62]

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”.[63]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).[64]

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) which held that a “neutral law of general applicability” was not subject to the test. Congress resurrected it for the purposes of federal law in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement. In Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), a case involving only federal law, RFRA was held to permit a church’s use of a DMT-containing tea for religious ceremonies.

Some states have enacted State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts intended to mirror the federal RFRA’s protections.

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, Inc. 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.

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.”[65]

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.”[65] 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 genus Panaeolus.

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.[66]

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 fida’is’ training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo’s account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is 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.[67] 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 Hammer’s retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

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

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Entheogens & Existential Intelligence: The Use of Plant …

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In light of recent specific liberalizations in drug laws in some countries, this article investigates the potential of entheogens (i.e. psychoactive plants used as spiritual sacraments) as tools to facilitate existential intelligence. Plant teachers from the Americas such as ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and the Indo-Aryan soma of Eurasia are examples of both past- and presently-used entheogens. These have all been revered as spiritual or cognitive tools to provide a richer cosmological understanding of the world for both human individuals and cultures. I use Howard Gardners (1999a) revised multiple intelligence theory and his postulation of an existential intelligence as a theoretical lens through which to account for the cognitive possibilities of entheogens and explore potential ramifications for education.

In this article I assess and further develop the possibility of an existential intelligence as postulated by Howard Gardner (1999a). Moreover, I entertain the possibility that some kinds of psychoactive substancesentheogenshave the potential to facilitate this kind of intelligence. This issue arises from the recent liberalization of drug laws in several Western industrialized countries to allow for the sacramental use of ayahuasca, a psychoactive tea brewed from plants indigenous to the Amazon. I challenge readers to step outside a long-standing dominant paradigm in modern Western culture that a priori regards hallucinogenic drug use as necessarily maleficent and devoid of any merit. I intend for my discussion to confront assumptions about drugs that have unjustly perpetuated the disparagement and prohibition of some kinds of psychoactive substance use. More broadly, I intend for it to challenge assumptions about intelligence that constrain contemporary educational thought.

Entheogen is a word coined by scholars proposing to replace the term psychedelic (Ruck, Bigwood, Staples, Ott, & Wasson, 1979), which was felt to overly connote psychological and clinical paradigms and to be too socio-culturally loaded from its 1960s roots to appropriately designate the revered plants and substances used in traditional rituals. I use both terms in this article: entheogen when referring to a substance used as a spiritual or sacramental tool, and psychedelic when referring to one used for any number of purposes during or following the so-called psychedelic era of the 1960s (recognizing that some contemporary non-indigenous uses may be entheogenicthe categories are by no means clearly discreet). What kinds of plants or chemicals fall into the category of entheogen is a matter of debate, as a large number of inebriantsfrom coca and marijuana to alcohol and opiumhave been venerated as gifts from the gods (or God) in different cultures at different times. For the purposes of this article, however, I focus on the class of drugs that Lewin (1924/1997) termed phantastica, a name deriving from the Greek word for the faculty of imagination (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 1973). Later these substances became known as hallucinogens or psychedelics, a class whose members include lysergic acid derivatives, psilocybin, mescaline and dimethyltryptamine. With the exception of mescaline, these all share similar chemical structures; all, including mescaline, produce similar phenomenological effects; and, more importantly for the present discussion, all have a history of ritual use as psychospiritual medicines or, as I argue, cultural tools to facilitate cognition (Schultes & Hofmann, 1992).

The issue of entheogen use in modern Western culture becomes more significant in light of several legal precedents in countries such as Brazil, Holland, Spain and soon perhaps the United States and Canada. Ayahuasca, which I discuss in more detail in the following section on plant teachers, was legalized for religious use by non-indigenous people in Brazil in 1987i. One Brazilian group, the Santo Daime, was using its sacrament in ceremonies in the Netherlands when, in the autumn of 1999, authorities intervened and arrested its leaders. This was the first case of religious intolerance by a Dutch government in over three hundred years. A subsequent legal challenge, based on European Union religious freedom laws, saw them acquitted of all charges, setting a precedent for the rest of Europe (Adelaars, 2001). A similar case in Spain resulted in the Spanish government granting the right to use ayahuasca in that country. A recent court decision in the United States by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 4th, 2003, ruled in favour of religious freedom to use ayahuasca (Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, 2003). And in Canada, an application to Health Canada and the Department of Justice for exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is pending, which may permit the Santo Daime Church the religious use of their sacrament, known as Daime or Santo Daimeii (J.W. Rochester, personal communication, October 8th, 2003)

One of the questions raised by this trend of liberalization in otherwise prohibitionist regulatory regimes is what benefits substances such as ayahuasca have. The discussion that follows takes up this question with respect to contemporary psychological theories about intelligence and touches on potential ramifications for education. The next section examines the metaphor of plant teachers, which is not uncommon among cultures that have traditionally practiced the entheogenic use of plants. Following that, I use Howard Gardners theory of multiple intelligences (1983) as a theoretical framework with which to account for cognitive implications of entheogen use. Finally, I take up a discussion of possible relevance of existential intelligence and entheogens to education.

Before moving on to a broader discussion of intelligence(s), I will provide some background on ayahuasca and entheogens. Ayahuasca has been a revered plant teacher among dozens of South American indigenous peoples for centuries, if not longer (Luna, 1984; Schultes & Hofmann, 1992). The word ayahuasca is from the Quechua language of indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Peru, and translates as vine of the soul (Metzner, 1999). Typically, it refers to a tea made from a jungle liana, Banisteriopsis caapi, with admixtures of other plants, but most commonly the leaves of a plant from the coffee family, Psychotria viridis (McKenna, 1999). These two plants respectively contain harmala alkaloids and dimethyltryptamine, two substances that when ingested orally create a biochemical synergy capable of producing profound alterations in consciousness (Grob, et al., 1996; McKenna, Towers & Abbot, 1984). Among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, ayahuasca is one of the most valuable medicinal and sacramental plants in their pharmacopoeias. Although shamans in different tribes use the tea for various purposes, and have varying recipes for it, the application of ayahuasca as an effective tool to attain understanding and wisdom is one of the most prevalent (Brown, 1986; Dobkin de Rios, 1984).

Notwithstanding the explosion of popular interest in psychoactive drugs during the 1960s, ayahuasca until quite recently managed to remain relatively obscure in Western cultureiii. However, the late 20th century saw the growth of religious movements among non-indigenous people in Brazil syncretizing the use of ayahuasca with Christian symbolism, African spiritualism, and native ritual. Two of the more widespread ayahuasca churches are the Santo Daime (Santo Daime, 2004) and the Unio do Vegetal (Unio do Vegetal, 2004). These organizations have in the past few decades gained legitimacy as valid, indeed valuable, spiritual practices providing social, psychological and spiritual benefits (Grob, 1999; Riba, et al., 2001).

Ayahuasca is not the only plant teacher in the pantheon of entheogenic tools. Other indigenous peoples of the Americas have used psilocybin mushrooms for millennia for spiritual and healing purposes (Dobkin de Rios, 1973; Wasson, 1980). Similarly, the peyote cactus has a long history of use by Mexican indigenous groups (Fikes, 1996; Myerhoff, 1974; Stewart, 1987), and is currently widely used in the United States by the Native American Church (LaBarre, 1989; Smith & Snake, 1996). And even in the early history of Western culture, the ancient Indo-Aryan texts of the Rig Veda sing the praises of the deified Soma (Pande, 1984). Although the taxonomic identity of Soma is lost, it seems to have been a plant or mushroom and had the power to reliably induce mystical experiencesan entheogen par excellence (Eliade, 1978; Wasson, 1968). The variety of entheogens extends far beyond the limited examples I have offered here. However, ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote and Soma are exemplars of plants which have been culturally esteemed for their psychological and spiritual impacts on both individuals and communities.

In this article I argue that the importance of entheogens lies in their role as tools, as mediators between mind and environment. Defining a psychoactive drug as a toolperhaps a novel concept for someinvokes its capacity to effect a purposeful change on the mind/body. Commenting on Vygotskys notions of psychological tools, John-Steiner and Souberman (1978) note that tool use has . . . important effects upon internal and functional relationships within the human brain (p. 133). Although they were likely not thinking of drugs as tools, the significance of this observation becomes even more literal when the tools in question are plants or chemicals ingested with the intent of affecting consciousness through the manipulation of brain chemistry. Indeed, psychoactive plants or chemicals seem to defy the traditional bifurcation between physical and psychological tools, as they affect the mind/body (understood by modern psychologists to be identical).

It is important to consider the degree to which the potential of entheogens comes not only from their immediate neuropsychological effects, but also from the social practicesritualsinto which their use has traditionally been incorporated (Dobkin de Rios, 1996; Smith, 2000). The protective value that ritual provides for entheogen use is evident from its universal application in traditional practices (Weil, 1972/1986). Medical evidence suggests that there are minimal physiological risks associated with psychedelic drugs (Callaway, et al., 1999; Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1979/1998; Julien, 1998). Albert Hofmann (1980), the chemist who first accidentally synthesized and ingested LSD, contends that the psychological risks associated with psychedelics in modern Western culture are a function of their recreational use in unsafe circumstances. A ritual context, however, offers psychospiritual safeguards that make the potential of entheogenic plant teachers to enhance cognition an intriguing possibility.

Howard Gardner (1983) developed a theory of multiple intelligences that originally postulated seven types of intelligence (iv). Since then, he has added a naturalist intelligence and entertained the possibility of a spiritual intelligence (1999a; 1999b). Not wanting to delve too far into territory fraught with theological pitfalls, Gardner (1999a) settled on looking at existential intelligence rather than spiritual intelligence (p. 123). Existential intelligence, as Gardner characterizes it, involves having a heightened capacity to appreciate and attend to the cosmological enigmas that define the human condition, an exceptional awareness of the metaphysical, ontological and epistemological mysteries that have been a perennial concern for people of all cultures (1999a).

In his original formulation of the theory, Gardner challenges (narrow) mainstream definitions of intelligence with a broader one that sees intelligence as the ability to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in at least one culture or community (1999a, p. 113). He lays out eight criteria, or signs, that he argues should be used to identify an intelligence; however, he notes that these do not constitute necessary conditions for determining an intelligence, merely desiderata that a candidate intelligence should meet (1983, p. 62). He also admits that none of his original seven intelligences fulfilled all the criteria, although they all met a majority of the eight. For existential intelligence, Gardner himself identifies six which it seems to meet; I will look at each of these and discuss their merits in relation to entheogens.

One criterion applicable to existential intelligence is the identification of a neural substrate to which the intelligence may correlate. Gardner (1999a) notes that recent neuropsychological evidence supports the hypothesis that the brains temporal lobe plays a key role in producing mystical states of consciousness and spiritual awareness (p. 124-5; LaPlante, 1993; Newberg, DAquili & Rause, 2001). He also recognizes that certain brain centres and neural transmitters are mobilized in [altered consciousness] states, whether they are induced by the ingestion of substances or by a control of the will (Gardner, 1999a, p.125). Another possibility, which Gardner does not explore, is that endogenous dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in humans may play a significant role in the production of spontaneous or induced altered states of consciousness (Pert, 2001). DMT is a powerful entheogenic substance that exists naturally in the mammalian brain (Barker, Monti & Christian, 1981), as well as being a common constituent of ayahuasca and the Amazonian snuff, yopo (Ott, 1994). Furthermore, DMT is a close analogue of the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptamine, or serotonin. It has been known for decades that the primary neuropharmacological action of psychedelics has been on serotonin systems, and serotonin is now understood to be correlated with healthy modes of consciousness.

One psychiatric researcher has recently hypothesized that endogenous DMT stimulates the pineal gland to create such spontaneous psychedelic states as near-death experiences (Strassman, 2001). Whether this is correct or not, the role of DMT in the brain is an area of empirical research that deserves much more attention, especially insofar as it may contribute to an evidential foundation for existential intelligence.

Another criterion for an intelligence is the existence of individuals of exceptional ability within the domain of that intelligence. Unfortunately, existential precocity is not something sufficiently valued in modern Western culture to the degree that savants in this domain are commonly celebrated today. Gardner (1999a) observes that within Tibetan Buddhism, the choosing of lamas may involve the detection of a predisposition to existential intellect (if it is not identifying the reincarnation of a previous lama, as Tibetan Buddhists themselves believe) (p. 124). Gardner also cites Czikszentmilhalyis consideration of the early-emerging concerns for cosmic issues of the sort reported in the childhoods of future religious leaders like Gandhi and of several future physicists (Gardner, 1999a, p. 124; Czikszentmilhalyi, 1996). Presumably, some individuals who are enjoined to enter a monastery or nunnery at a young age may be so directed due to an appreciable manifestation of existential awareness. Likewise, individuals from indigenous cultures who take up shamanic practicewho have abilities beyond others to dream, to imagine, to enter states of trance (Larsen, 1976, p. 9)often do so because of a significant interest in cosmological concerns at a young age, which could be construed as a prodigious capacity in the domain of existential intelligencev (Eliade, 1964; Greeley, 1974; Halifax, 1979).

The third criterion for determining an intelligence that Gardner suggests is an identifiable set of core operational abilities that manifest that intelligence. Gardner finds this relatively unproblematic and articulates the core operations for existential intelligence as:

the capacity to locate oneself with respect to the farthest reaches of the cosmosthe infinite no less than the infinitesimaland the related capacity to locate oneself with respect to the most existential aspects of the human condition: the significance of life, the meaning of death, the ultimate fate of the physical and psychological worlds, such profound experiences as love of another human being or total immersion in a work of art. (1999a, p. 123)

Gardner notes that as with other more readily accepted types of intelligence, there is no specific truth that one would attain with existential intelligencefor example, as musical intelligence does not have to manifest itself in any specific genre or category of music, neither does existential intelligence privilege any one philosophical system or spiritual doctrine. As Gardner (1999a) puts it, there exists [with existential intelligence] a species potentialor capacityto engage in transcendental concerns that can be aroused and deployed under certain circumstances (p. 123). Reports on uses of psychedelics by Westerners in the 1950s and early 1960sgenerated prior to their prohibition and, some might say, profanationreveal a recurrent theme of spontaneous mystical experiences that are consistent with enhanced capacity of existential intelligence (Huxley, 1954/1971; Masters & Houston, 1966; Pahnke, 1970; Smith, 1964; Watts, 1958/1969).

Another criterion for admitting an intelligence is identifying a developmental history and a set of expert end-state performances for it. Pertaining to existential intelligence, Gardner notes that all cultures have devised spiritual or metaphysical systems to deal with the inherent human capacity for existential issues, and further that these respective systems invariably have steps or levels of sophistication separating the novice from the adept. He uses the example of Pope John XXIIIs description of his training to advance up the ecclesiastic hierarchy as a contemporary illustration of this point (1999a, p. 124). However, the instruction of the neophyte is a manifest part of almost all spiritual training and, again, the demanding process of imparting of shamanic wisdomoften including how to effectively and appropriately use entheogensis an excellent example of this process in indigenous cultures (Eliade, 1964).

A fifth criterion Gardner suggests for an intelligence is determining its evolutionary history and evolutionary plausibility. The self-reflexive question of when and why existential intelligence first arose in the Homo genus is one of the perennial existential questions of humankind. That it is an exclusively human trait is almost axiomatic, although a small but increasing number of researchers are willing to admit the possibility of higher forms of cognition in non-human animals (Masson & McCarthy, 1995; Vonk, 2003). Gardner (1999a) argues that only by the Upper Paleolithic period did human beings within a culture possess a brain capable of considering the cosmological issues central to existential intelligence (p. 124) and that the development of a capacity for existential thinking may be linked to a conscious sense of finite space and irreversible time, two promising loci for stimulating imaginative explorations of transcendental spheres (p. 124). He also suggests that thoughts about existential issues may well have evolved as responses to necessarily occurring pain, perhaps as a way of reducing pain or better equipping individuals to cope with it (Gardner, 1999a, p. 125). As with determining the evolutionary origin of language, tracing a phylogenesis of existential intelligence is conjectural at best. Its role in the development of the species is equally difficult to assess, although Winkelman (2000) argues that consciousness and shamanic practicesand presumably existential intelligence as wellstem from psychobiological adaptations integrating older and more recently evolved structures in the triune hominid brain. McKenna (1992) goes even so far as to postulate that the ingestion of psychoactive substances such as entheogenic mushrooms may have helped stimulate cognitive developments such as existential and linguistic thinking in our proto-human ancestors. Some researchers in the 1950s and 1960s found enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills among subjects given LSD and other psychedelic drugs (Harman, McKim, Mogar, Fadiman & Stolaroff, 1966; Izumi, 1970; Krippner, 1985; Stafford & Golightly, 1967), skills which certainly would have been evolutionarily advantageous to our hominid ancestors. Such avenues of investigation are beginning to be broached again by both academic scholars and amateur psychonauts (Dobkin de Rios & Janiger, 2003; Spitzer, et al., 1996; MAPS Bulletin, 2000).

The final criterion Gardner mentions as applicable to existential intelligence is susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. Here, again, Gardner concedes that there is abundant evidence in favour of accepting existential thinking as an intelligence. In his words, many of the most important and most enduring sets of symbol systems (e.g., those featured in the Catholic liturgy) represent crystallizations of key ideas and experiences that have evolved within [cultural] institutions (1999a, p. 123). Another salient example that illustrates this point is the mytho-symbolism ascribed to ayahuasca visions among the Tukano, an Amazonian indigenous people. Reichel-Dolmatoff (1975) made a detailed study of these visions by asking a variety of informants to draw representations with sticks in the dirt (p. 174). He compiled twenty common motifs, observing that most of them bear a striking resemblance to phosphene patterns (i.e. visual phenomena perceived in the absence of external stimuli or by applying light pressure to the eyeball) compiled by Max Knoll (Oster, 1970). The Tukano interpret these universal human neuropsychological phenomena as symbolically significant according to their traditional ayahuasca-steeped mythology, reflecting the codification of existential ideas within their culture.

Narby (1998) also examines the codification of symbols generated during ayahuasca experiences by tracing similarities between intertwining snake motifs in the visions of Amazonian shamans and the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid. He found remarkable similarities between representations of biological knowledge by indigenous shamans and those of modern geneticists. More recently, Narby (2002) has followed up on this work by bringing molecular biologists to the Amazon to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies with experiences shamans, an endeavour he suggests may provide useful cross-fertilization in divergent realms of human knowledge.

The two other criteria of an intelligence are support from experimental psychological tasks and support from psychometric findings. Gardner suggests that existential intelligence is more debatable within these domains, citing personality inventories that attempt to measure religiosity or spirituality; he notes, it remains unclear just what is being probed by such instruments and whether self-report is a reliable index of existential intelligence (1999a, p. 125). It seems transcendental states of consciousness and the cognition they engender do not lend themselves to quantification or easy replication in psychology laboratories. However, Strassman, Qualls, Uhlenhuth, & Kellner (1994) developed a psychometric instrumentthe Hallucinogen Rating Scaleto measure human responses to intravenous administration of DMT, and it has since been reliably used for other psychedelic experiences (Riba, Rodriguez-Fornells, Strassman, & Barbanoj, 2001).

One historical area of empirical psychological research that did ostensibly stimulate a form of what might be considered existential intelligence was clinical investigations into psychedelics. Until such research became academically unfashionable and then politically impossible in the early 1970s, psychologists and clinical researchers actively explored experimentally-induced transcendent experiences using drugs in the interests of both pure science and applied medical treatments (Abramson, 1967; Cohen, 1964; Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1979/1998; Masters & Houston, 1966). One of the more famous of these was Pahnkes (1970) so-called Good Friday experiment, which attempted to induce spiritual experiences with psilocybin within a randomized double-blind control methodology. His conclusion that mystical experiences were indeed reliably produced, despite methodological problems with the study design, was borne out by a critical long-term follow-up (Doblin, 1991), which raises intriguing questions about both entheogens and existential intelligence.

Studies such as Pahnkes (1970), despite their promise, were prematurely terminated due to public pressure from a populace alarmed by burgeoning contemporary recreational drug use. Only about a decade ago did the United States government give researchers permission to renew (on a very small scale) investigations into psychedelics (Strassman 2001; Strassman & Qualls, 1994). Cognitive psychologists are also taking an interest in entheogens such as ayahuasca (Shanon, 2002). Regardless of whether support for existential intelligence can be established psychometrically or in experimental psychological tasks, Gardners theory expressly stipulates that not all eight criteria must be uniformly met in order for an intelligence to qualify. Nevertheless, Gardner claims to find the phenomenon perplexing enough, and the distance from other intelligences great enough (1999a, p. 127) to be reluctant at present to add existential intelligence to the list . . . . At most [he is] willing, Fellini-style, to joke about 8 intelligences (p. 127). I contend that research into entheogens and other means of altering consciousness will further support the case for treating existential intelligence as a valid cognitive domain.

By recapitulating and augmenting Gardners discussion of existential intelligence, I hope to have strengthened the case for its inclusion as a valid cognitive domain. However, doing so raises questions of what ramifications an acceptance of existential intelligence would have for contemporary Western educational theory and practice. How might we foster this hitherto neglected intelligence and allow it to be used in constructive ways? There is likely a range of educational practices that could be used to stimulate cognition in this domain, many of which could be readily implemented without much controversy.vi Yet I intentionally raise the prospect of using entheogens in this capacitynot with young children, but perhaps with older teens in the passage to adulthoodto challenge theorists, policy-makers and practitioners.vii

The potential of entheogens as tools for education in contemporary Western culture was identified by Aldous Huxley. Although better known as a novelist than as a philosopher of education, Huxley spent a considerable amount of timeparticularly as he neared the end of his lifeaddressing the topic of education. Like much of his literature, Huxleys observations and critiques of the socio-cultural forces at work in his time were cannily prescient; they bear as much, if not more, relevance in the 21st century as when they were written. Most remarkably, and relevant to my thesis, Huxley saw entheogens as possible educational tools:

Under the current dispensation the vast majority of individuals lose, in the course of education, all the openness to inspiration, all the capacity to be aware of other things than those enumerated in the Sears-Roebuck catalogue which constitutes the conventionally real world . . . . Is it too much to hope that a system of education may some day be devised, which shall give results, in terms of human development, commensurate with the time, money, energy and devotion expended? In such a system of education it may be that mescalin or some other chemical substance may play a part by making it possible for young people to taste and see what they have learned about at second hand . . . in the writings of the religious, or the works of poets, painters and musicians. (Letter to Dr. Humphrey Osmond, April 10th, 1953in Horowitz & Palmer, 1999, p.30)

In a more literary expression of this notion, Huxleys final novel Island (1962) portrays an ideal culture that has achieved a balance of scientific and spiritual thinking, and which also incorporates the ritualized use of entheogens for education. The representation of drug use that Huxley portrays in Island contrasts markedly with the more widely-known soma of his earlier novel, Brave New World (1932/1946): whereas soma was a pacifier that muted curiosity and served the interests of the controlling elite, the entheogenic moksha medicine of Island offered liminal experiences in young adults that stimulated profound reflection, self-actualization and, I submit, existential intelligence.

Huxleys writings point to an implicit recognition of the capacity of entheogens to be used as educational tools. The concept of tool here refers not merely the physical devices fashioned to aid material production, but, following Vygotsky (1978), more broadly to those means of symbolic and/or cultural mediation between the mind and the world (Cole, 1996; Wertsch, 1991). Of course, deriving educational benefit from a tool requires much more than simply having and wielding it; one must also have an intrinsic respect for the object qua tool, a cultural system in which the tool is valued as such, and guides or teachers who are adept at using the tool to provide helpful direction. As Larsen (1976) remarks in discussing the phenomenon of would-be shamans in Western culture experimenting with mind-altering chemicals: we have no symbolic vocabulary, no grounded mythological tradition to make our experiences comprehensible to us . . . no senior shamans to help ensure that our [shamanic experience of] dismemberment be followed by a rebirth (p. 81). Given the recent history of these substances in modern Western culture, it is hardly surprising that they have been demonized (Hofmann, 1980). However, cultural practices that have traditionally used entheogens as therapeutic agents consistently incorporate protective safeguardsset, settingviii, established dosages, and mythocultural respect (Zinberg, 1984). The fear that inevitably arises in modern Western culture when addressing the issue of entheogens stems, I submit, not from any properties intrinsic to the substances themselves, but rather from a general misunderstanding of their power and capacity as tools. Just as a sharp knife can be used for good or ill, depending on whether it is in the hands of a skilled surgeon or a reckless youth, so too can entheogens be used or misused.

The use of entheogens such as ayahuasca is exemplary of the long and ongoing tradition in many cultures to employ psychoactives as tools that stimulate foundational types of understanding (Tupper, in press). That such substances are capable of stimulating profoundly transcendent experiences is evident from both the academic literature and anecdotal reports. Accounting fully for their action, however, requires going beyond the usual explanatory schemas: applying Gardners (1999a) multiple intelligence theory as a heuristic framework opens new ways of understanding entheogens and their potential benefits. At the same time, entheogens bolster the case for Gardners proposed addition of existential intelligence. This article attempts to present these concepts in such a way that the possibility of using entheogens as tools is taken seriously by those with an interest in new and transformative ideas in education.

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Entheogens & Existential Intelligence: The Use of Plant …

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 principles and historical significance of each are also listed to illustrate the requirements necessary to be categorized as an entheogen.

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List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

Entheogens and the Future of Religion: Robert Forte …

…the book represents a call for a revival of scientific and religious inquiry into entheogens as a means of cultivating spiritual awareness. (The Scientific and Medical Network, July 2012)

Offers a thoughtful, sane examination of a topic of great social, psychological, and religious significance. (Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California)

Essential reading for everyone concerned with spiritual, psychological, and social well-being. A fascinating and significant collection. (Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., author of Shadows of the Sacred and The Inward Arc)

Collectively, these essays constitute the best single inquiry into the religious significance of chemically occasioned mystical experiences that has yet appeared. (Huston Smith, Ph.D., author of The Worlds Religions)

This book provides a balanced, thoroughly researched, and clear account about a topic that has fascinated people for centuries–even millennia–and will be with us, one way or another, for a long time to come. (Harvey Cox, Ph.D., professor of divinity at Harvard University and author of The Future of Faith)

This book of essays plows new ground in the relationship between entheogens and religion. It is well worth reading. Any path that can bring the human family closer together should be investigated. (Rev. Dr. Kenneth B. Smith, president of the Chicago Theology Seminary)

An important book for anyone who cares about the future of the human race. The sensible use of entheogens is one of most promising paths to deep spiritual insight for many people, and this book shows how that could be done–if we care enough. (Charles T. Tart, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California)

We have long needed this well-articulated, thoughtful, and rational basis for understanding the power of psychedelic biomechanicals to stimulate visionary experience. These essays make a strong case for the use of these substances in future religious practice. (Frank Barron, Ph.D., Sc.D., author of No Rootless Flower: An Ecology of Creativity)

If you want more than emotional and subjective outpourings about entheogens, and if you think like I do that unless we expand our awareness we will not have a happy future, then this is a book to read. (Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, author of From Age-ing to Sage-ing)

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Entheogens – The SpiritWiki

Alas! the forbidden fruits were eaten,

And thereby the warm life of reason congealed.A grain of wheat eclipsed the sun of Adam,Like as the Dragon’s tail dulls the brightness of the moonRumi

An entheogen is a psychoactive substance (or Crown Activator) used in a spiritual or shamanic context. The term was first coined by Ruck, Bigwood, Staples, Ott, and Wasson (1979) and literally means “becoming the god within” or becoming divine within (Ott, 1996). Entheogens either come directly from plant sources (e.g., Psilocybin) or are derived, as is the case with LSD, in the laboratory. Entheogens contain molecules closely related to endogenous neurochemicals and have been shown to directly provoke Mystical Experiences. Entheogens may be contrasted with Empathogens which primarily act on the Heart Chakra.

Entheogens have been used in spiritual rituals and as components of Shamanic practice for centuries (Furst, 1972, 1976; Harner, 1973; Stafford, 1992; Wasson, 1957, 1968). Following the synthesis of D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25) by Hofmann at Sandoz laboratories in 1943, and psilocybin (CY-39) in 1958 (also by Hoffman), entheogens became a topic of psychological and spiritual research in universities. This eventually led, mostly via the psychedelic evangelism of Timothy Leary (1988, 2001), to the mass availability of LSD and other entheogens and a continent-wide expansion of consciousness that penetrated rapidly into the arts and, by the late sixties, was threatening to topple many of the established institutions of The System. As a result of the revolutionary potential of entheogens, and only a few years after their popularization in America legislators, presumably reacting to the clear and unequivocal ability of entheogens to unlock and unblock the crown chakra (Grof, 1973) and free consciousness from the system imposed consciousness straightjacket (Sharp, 2004), prohibited sale and possession of all such substances. This despite the fact that, even then, there were few indications of any short or long term negative outcomes as a result of the ingestion of psychoactive substances (Strassman, 1984; Wells, 2007). Indeed, when compared against the [negative outcomes of alcohol use], and the clear and documented spiritual and psychological benefits of entheogens (see below), citing social pathology, addiction, or psychosis as the reason for anti-entheogen legislation is highly absurd.

Recent years have seen a repopularization of psychoactive substances. Wells (2007) reports growing legal recognition of the role of psychoactive substances in religious rituals in the U.S.A and elsewhere when used within the context of established religious institutions. Wells points to the Native American Church (NAC) in the U.S.A as a successful model for the integration of prescribed substances into religious ritual. Gains have been slow, however, and government resistance is still strong.

While much of the government responses to psychoactive substances can be considered formally repressive and an attempts to prevent the spiritual awakening and empowerment of individuals and society (Dobkin de Rios and Smith,1977), there is legitimate cause for concern. As Halpern (2004), Fisher (1963) and others point out, Set and Setting is a critical component and determines, to a large measure, the psychedelic/entheogenic experience. Unguided ingestion of powerful psychedelics without proper preparation can lead to Spiritual Psychopathology and either long term, low grade neurosis or acute psychotic breaks (Sharp, 2009). This is currently the professional reason cited for confining the experience to controlled religious and or institutional settings.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-25 (LSD) : First synthesized by Hoffman in 1943, LSD is clearly the most powerful Crown Activator in existence. It is five thousand times more powerful than mescaline and can trigger profound activations in doses as small as 10 to 20 micrograms (1 microgram is equal to 1 millionth of a gram) (Grof, 1976). LSD aggressively activates the crown chakra even against attempts to actively maintain the illusionary realities of the ego. Bad trips often result out of attempts, on the part of the ingestor, to control the experience and prevent insight which they may feel threatens the integrity of their system fed self image. As everyone who has ever commented on the use of LSD has said, Set and Setting are critical components of positive and therapeutic LSD experiences.

Ayahuasca: Amazonian psychoactive containing harmala alkaloids and dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Peyote: also known as Lophophora williamsii, is a hallucinogenic cactus native to Mexico and the American South West. The psychoactive ingredient is mescaline. Mescaline appears to provide safe and gentle Crown Activation, as opposed to L.S.D. which can dramatic and pre-emptive. Bergman (1971) reports peyote to be ultra safe indicating that of 70,000 ingestions, only one case of pychotic sequelae was ever confirmed.

Iboga: Also known as Tabernanthe iboga, native to central Africa, and associated with the Bwiti native cult. The principle psychoactive agent it Ibogain.

Marijuana: A mild hallucinogenic. In the ancient world, used by Hindi sects and Persian mystics (Gelpe, 1981). In low doses I hypothesis it can be used to enhance perception, raise intelligence, and enhance creativity. In higher doses, or in combination with high doses of alcohol, the positive action can be reversed and Crown Intoxication can occur.

Ergot: Dannaway, Piper and Webster (2006) make a strong case for the psychedelic properties of parasitic fungus of wheat known as ergot. They even provide an informally tested recipe (Webster, P., Perrine, D.M., Ruck, C.A.P., 2000) for brewing the Kykeon as evidence of its potential as an entheogen and to strengthen arguments made in the scholarly literature of it’s potential use as such in sacred (and often secret) rituals in Egypt, Greece, India and the Middle East including Jewish and Greek mystery schools and Shia Gnosticism (Dannaway, et. al., 2006). References to a psychedelic derivative of ergot as The Tree of Life or the Wine of Light, with mystical references to the Grail mythology Corbin (1989), are provided by Dannaway et. al. (2006).

It was hypothesized by psychedelic researchers in the late 50s and ’60s that psychedelic drugs could have considerable therapeutic value. According to theorists of the time, the value of the psychedelic experience was in its ability to raise unconscious materials, overcome resistances (Fisher, 1963) or activate dormant neural pathways (Leary, 1988) in order to open up consciousness. However, a better theoretical explanation of the positive therapeutic value of psychedelics can be found by conceiving of psychedelic drugs as Crown and Third Eye Activators. The ingestion of entheogenic substances leads to the sensitization (or awakening and integration) of the Central Nervous System (CNS). This sensitization enhances the functioning of the Brain. Senses become more acute, intelligence is enhanced, and eventually insight becomes routine. Interestingly enough, shortly after I conceived of entheogens as crown activators, I read an article by Grof (1973) who argues basically the same thing. Based on his observation of 2,600+ LSD sessions, he concluded that LSD (and presumably other entheogens) should be considered an unspecific amplifier or catalyst of mental processes that confronts the experiencer with his own unconscious. (Grof, 1973: 17; 1976). Grof based his conclusion primarily on the liquid nature of entheogen experiences. Out of the thousands of treatments he administered, he could find no single phenomenon, mandatory pharmacological effect (Grof, 1976: 26) that could be considered an invariant product of the chemical action of the drug in any areas studiedperceptual, emotional, ideational, and physical. In addition, many typical LSD experiences are indistinguishable from those induced by a variety of non-drug methods, such as various spiritual practices, hypnosis, sleep and sensory deprivation (Grof, 1972: 18). Interestingly, Metzner’s (1998: 335) echoes Grofs typification by suggesting that entheogens function as amplifiers or microscopes. My suggestion that entheogens are Crown Activators is supported by the psychopharmacology of Entheogens (Winkelman, 2001) which operate, according to Nichols (2006: 285) to depolarize serotonin 5-HT2a receptors in the apical dendrites of cortical pyramid cells thus making receptors “more sensitive to low-level signals.” Nichols suggests (Ibid.) that entheogens amplify processes that are normally running, but which are not generally apparent in everyday awareness! Winkelman (2001) argues that entheogens function as psychointegrators whose effects provoke limbic discharge patterns that produce enhanced interhemispheric synchronization and increased communication interaction between the frontal hemispheres, and between the lower brain areas and frontal cortex (Winkleman, 2001: 220).

What is the result of this heightened sensitization of the CNS? Like turning on a lamp in a dark room, the activation (or sensitization) of the CNS (i.e., Crown Chakra and Third Eye Chakra) via the ingestion of entheogens gives the individual heightened awareness of internal and external realities. Given the pathological social systems in place, to a greater or lesser degree in all countries on this planet, there is always a therapeutic element to the initial use of entheogens.

In initial uses, entheogens help the individual confront formerly repressed memories and issues (Grof, 1976; Ling & Buckman, 1964). Once repressed memories have been accommodated and reconsolidated (references), energy within the neural system is freed and activity in these formerly repressed areas increases. It is important to note that repression may run deep. Continued exploration and activation via entheogen use may eventually uncover past life memory traces which have been encoded in DNA but that lie buried (Sharp, 2004) deep within the genetic pathways of the body. Past life traces are open to accommodation and reconsolidation as well. If this process is taken far enough, that is if, through the use of entheogens the individual is able to recover a fully functioning CNS, then mystical experiences become probable even with the use of mild entheogens such as Marijuana.

Up until to point of the reconsolidation of memories, materialist explanations are adequate for understanding the action of entheogens. Entheogens sensitize or amplify sense and sensation giving us access to a world of inner and out experience that we normally do not have access to (Nichols, 2006). However, when the Crown Chakra has recovered enough to enable mystical experiences, i.e., those that clearly go beyond dealing with repressed issues, maladaptive behaviors, or social repression, then materialist explanations are no longer a satisfactory explanation. At the point of the Mystical Experience, we must begin developing new theoretical perspectives based on full scale spiritual ontologies (Sharp, 2007) and cosmologies (Sharp, 2006). In this case we can say that full activation of the crown chakra (even if only temporarily) leads to contact with the Fabric of Consciousness. The need for expanded ontologies was recognized early with the formation of Transpersonal Psychology, which is psychological force firmly rooted in early entheogen research.

Once we overcome Naive Materialism and accept the reality of a universe embedded, created, and flowing from consciousness (Sharp, 2007; 2006), conceiving of psychedelic experience in this way is parsimonious and logical. This spiritual interpretation is supported by almost all personal and scientific accounts of advanced psychedelic experiences which often describe connection with “ultimate realities” and “higher selves” free of the physical, temporal, and conceptual limitations of the individual “perishable” self, where everything is collapsed into a “single reality” and where all things, all beings, are seen as united and unified with a “central being” or consciousness (Sherwood, Stolaroff, and Harman, 1962). For more information see Crown Activation.

Although most researchers would agree the ingestion of entheogens in uncontrolled situations, without formal preparation, and in negative set and settings, can lead to psychological damage (i.e., bad trips) there is almost no evidence to suggest that the ingestion of entheogens in controlled settings has any negative consequences whatsoever. In 1981 R. Gelpke reported on over a dozen self experiments with LSD and Psilocybin. After ingesting relatively very high doses (1981: 82), he suggests I have been unable to identify any sign at all of addiction, organic injury, or other, in some way unpleasant after effects concluding that The designation narcotics (Rauschgifte) is completely out of place for this type of drug. (1981: 82). Similarly Strassman (1984) found an extremely low incidence of negative psychological effect.

In 1969 Timothy Leary reported the result of his Harvard-Concord Prison Project where he administered a total of 168 doses of Psilocybin (i.e., Magic Mushroom) to prison inmates of Concord Correctional Facility in Massachusetts. At the completion of his trials he noted that not only was Psilocybin safe (he reported no instances of violence, lasting disturbance, or negative effect despite the fact that all doses were administered within an extremely negative institutional context), but was dramatically therapeutic saying that the entheogen produced “temporary states of spiritual conversion, interpersonal closeness, and psychological insight.” (Leary, 1969: 35). Leary even reported reduction in recidivism and attributed this to the personal insights and interpersonal connections gained by prison inmates who ingested the substance, going so far as to suggest that psilocybin is “a dramatically useful, educational and rehabilitative instrument.” (Leary, 1969: 35).

In addition to the positive outcomes reported by Leary, his article is also interesting for its emphasis on creating and appropriate Set and Setting prior to ingesting entheogens, and in his admission of the difficulty of measuring positive outcome.

You can work with 1,000 people and help every one of them change their way of thinking and their way of acting, but there are no statistics like hits, runs, and errors to tabulate your score. The problem is that half the people you help are going to get better jobs, and half of them are going to quit the jobs they have. Half of them may increase the intimacy and closeness and meaning in their marriages, but the other half may leave their wives. Changing a person’s psyche is one thing, but measuring results in an observable way is another thing. (Leary, 1969: 32)

In 1963 the editors of Psychedelic Review reported on several studies conducted in Saskatchewan, Canada (e.g., Sven, 1962: Smith, 1958) investigating the efficacy of using psychedelic substances to treat chronic alcoholics. According to the editors, only the most difficult of chronic cases were selected. The editors report those treated with psychedelic drugs showed “significantly more improvement” over those in control groups. “Of the patients who received psychedelic drugs, 72%…were judged improved after one year, as contrasted to 46%…who were followed up in control groups (1963: 207). Similar positive results were reported by Maclean et. al (1961) , also reporting improvement in personality trait and anxiety disorders. A case study by Mikuriya (1970) also reported positive results when substituting cannabis for alcohol noting, based on the self reports of his case study, that cannabis had none of the deleterious effects of alcohol (i.e., suicidal ideation, blackouts, promiscuity, depression, over consumption) and in fact was associated with a reduction in depression, absence of withdrawal symptoms, enhanced emotional and physical control, and increased adaptability.

Later research (Dobkin, Grob, and Baker, 2002) examined a wider variety of entheogenic substances and found generally positive results with Drug Substitution, i.e, substituting “non harmful” psychedelics for harmful drugs like alcohol and highly addictive opiates. Drugs investigated have included Peyote (Bergman, 1971), Ayahuasca (McKenna, Callaway, and Grob, 1988), and Iboga. In general all research shows no negative outcome and, in some cases, dramatically positive outcome (Grof, 1976). So much so that Menninger (1971) suggested of peyote that it “was a better antidote to alcohol than anything the missionaries, the White Man, the American Medical Association, and the Public Health services have come up with.”

Link and Buckman (1964) report the successful treatment of female frigidity with the use of LSD. Their case study participant reports, over the course of several sessions, the gradual recover of childhood memories of rejection, sexual abuse, and rape all of which are successfully processed to the point total cure. A similar study was conducted by Martin (1925) with day patients displaying various forms of psychoneurosis. Martin reports significant improvement in forty-five (45) of fifty (50) subjects, many of which showed retrieval of unconscious trauma and subsequent processing to the point of cure.

Bergman (1971) reports positive effects of peyote on the physical, mental, and social well being of those who ingest it. Between the years 1967 and 1972, Stanislav Grof and his colleagues at Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore showed LSD combined with psychotherapy could alleviate symptoms of depression, tension, anxiety, sleep disturbances, psychological withdrawal and even severe physical pain. (Brown, 2007).

Grof (1976) reported that LSD significantly enhanced the creative process leading to insights into the nature of the creative process[and] new understanding[s] of art. Painters, sculptors, and musicians were able to produce under the influence of LSD most interesting and unconventional pieces of art which differed considerably from their usual modes of expression. (pp. 3). In the same volume Grof also points to voluminous evidence indicating the utility of LSD in psychotherapy and the generation of mystical experiences. Grof concludes, based on his detailed analytical scrutiny that LSD could become an unrivaled tool for deep personality diagnostics. (Groft, 1976: 19).

It should be noted that most early studies lack experimental rigor and would not be considered adequate by todays methodological standards. However given the initial excitement generated by entheogens in the treatment of psychological pathology, modern research seems warranted.

Roberts (1999) argues convincingly for the need to investigate a possible connection between entheogen generated mystical experiences and the enhancement of the immune system. Roberts cites research (McClelland and Cheriff, 1997; Stone et. al, 1996; Stone, et. al, 1987; Valdimarsdottir and Stone, 1997; Valdimarsdottir and Bovbjerg, 1997) pointing to the fact that mood mediates salivery IgA (an important measure of immune system function) and suggests that the positive outcomes of mystical experiences may be found to influence levels of salivary IgA (a particularly easy immunoglobulin to measure).

Hayes (2007) has suggested that psilocybin could be used in gender role, family, or marital counseling and Fisher (1973) reported a miracle cure of a chronically dysfunctional young man with only a single high-dose treatment of LSD. The broad applicability of entheogens to psychopathology is also supported by the rich autobiographical accounts of early Psychonauts like Lilly 1972), and transpersonal psychologists like Grof (1985) who report that entheogens provide powerful assistance in uncovering childhood repressions, trauma, irrationalities, and in recovering the higher facilities and abilities of the Physical Unit. His commentary on his own, catholic derived stereotypes of women (i.e., as evil temptresses) is highly suggestive.

For more research, and evidence supporting my hypothesis that entheogens function as crown activators, see the Spiritwiki article on Crown Activation

Fisher (1963) indicates that dosage is not a crucial factor in determining the experience of those ingesting psychedelic drugs pointing to Set and Setting as crucial determinants. Fisher (1963) does however provide guidance and a therapeutic protocol that includes monitoring anxiety levels, carefully adjusting set (as much as possible) and setting, and even using mild sedatives prior to therapeutic interventions to calm anxiety. See also Chwelos, Blewett, Smith, and Hoffer (1959), Stolaroff (1999) and the SpiritWiki page on Set and Setting.

It is now acknowledged in the mainstream popular scientific literature (Brown, 2007) that we are seeing a quiet resurgence of interest in psychedelics. Primarily this interest and research is concerned with the potential for entheogens to treat chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcoholism or drug dependency (Brown, 2007). However there is a nascent awareness, even in the legal literature, that the therapeutic effects of entheogens are derived from the consciousness expanding effects (Chapkis, 2007) or, as I would say, crown activating properties of entheogens. In light of the fact that we have new and more sophisticated technologies and instrumentation, it seems unlikely that governments will be able to resist a growing push to allow the reasoned exploration of entheogens in the treatment of physical and psychological pathology and the expansion of consciousness.

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

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Chakra

Chakra System

Crown Activators

Harvard Psychedelic Research Project

Marshal Chapel Experiment

Mysticism

Mystics

Set and Setting

Transpersonal Psychology

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Entheogens – The SpiritWiki

Entheogens – 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. Jonathan Ott helped coin the term “entheogen”.[4]

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years and their religious significance is well established with anthropological and academic literature. 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, many of which are derived from these plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and synthesized chemically. These include the naturally occurring mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol, the semi-synthetic LSD, and synthetic substances (e.g., DPT used by the Temple of the True Inner Light and 2C-B used by the Sangoma).[5]

More broadly, the term entheogen is used to refer to any psychoactive substance 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 substances. Studies such as the Marsh Chapel Experiment have documented reports of spiritual experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive substances 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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Entheogens – PsychonautWiki

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Browse the Inner Traditions online bookstore for books on entheogens, psychoactives, and psychedelics. Look for excerpts to read sample chapters and tables of contents from books by popular authors like Rick Strassman, M.D., James Fadiman, Ralph Metzner, Albert Hofmann, Julie Holland, David Jay Brown, and many more. Shop a wide variety of the best psychedelic and entheogen book titles from Vermonts leading publisher of books for the mind, body, and spirit.

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development.[2] The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

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.

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.[3]

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.

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.

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] 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]

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 (Native 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]

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.

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.[21]

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”.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[25]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.[26] 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,[27][28] 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”.[29]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[30] 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.[31]

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’,[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

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,[35] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[36]

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.[37] 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’.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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”).[42]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[43][44] 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.[45] 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.[46] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[47] 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).[48]

The artificial drug 2C-B is 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”.[49][50][51]

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.

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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[57]

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. In these traditions, taking kava is believed to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[62]

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”.[63]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).[64]

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) which held that a “neutral law of general applicability” was not subject to the test. Congress resurrected it for the purposes of federal law in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement. In Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), a case involving only federal law, RFRA was held to permit a church’s use of a DMT-containing tea for religious ceremonies.

Some states have enacted State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts intended to mirror the federal RFRA’s protections.

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, Inc. 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.

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.”[65]

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.”[65] 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 genus Panaeolus.

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.[66]

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 fida’is’ training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo’s account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is 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.[67] 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 Hammer’s retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

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

Visit link:

Entheogen – Wikipedia

Plants – Tribe of the Sun

These articles are about the spiritual and medicinal uses of some of the plants we commonly use.

As always, please use a healthy dose of common sense and always seek medical treatment for any ailment. What has worked for others may not work for you.

Since humans shifted away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one based on agriculture, we began to gradually take plants for granted. Over time, we lost our respect for them, even though everything we are is because of plants from the air we breathe to the food we eat.

The gods have not forgotten about the plants and have continued their relationship with the plant spirits. Many deities have strong relationships with plants; Oya loves the eggplant, Mary Magdalene has long been associated with roses and any child of Apollo had darn well better have a large supply of bay leaves available.

A lot has been written about the spiritual and medicinal uses of plants. All of this material comes from somebodys point of view and it is important to remember that what worked for someone else, may not work for you. Hyssop is a great personal example. Many sources say that the Orishas love hyssop and its this great sacred plant that blesses everything it touches. Well thats all fine and good except that Ive never felt a connection to hyssop and have never had the urge to use it in any form. Do I believe the sources or my own personal experience? Personal experience should win out every time.

Plants are complicated. Some magickal sources like to drill plants down to a single element or a few key words for uses. This is great for editing but the truth is that you generally cant place plants easily into a couple of artificial categories. For example, chili peppers are strongly associated with fire but they also contain a lot of water in their flesh, which becomes more prominent when you remove the heat (aka a Bell Pepper). While I have included elemental information, consider it to be a starting point, not the end of the conversation. Take any information with a grain of salt and use your personal experience to give you clues to the deeper truth.

Using plants for spiritual healing is an effective method of healing wounds on the soul or karmic level. This type of healing requires you to contact the consciousness of the plant(s) so that they in turn can heal a persons spirit. This is more complicated than just casting a normal magickal spell. This is also different then the modern Allopathicherbalism that is popular.

So, why the differences? Let me illustrate. Let say that my next door neighbor shows up on my doorstep with an upset stomach because she ate some bad Mexican food last night. I boil some water and then mix chamomile, lavender, peppermint and a dash of cinnamon together, let it steep for 5 minutes, and then add some honey. I probably wont even pray over the cup because all 3 of the herbs have alkaloids in them that are quite wonderful at soothing the stomach plus the lavender and cinnamon are antibacterial. The honey not only sweetens the mixture but it also soothes the stomach. I make her drink 2 cups and she starts to feel better. This is what most modern herbalism is about.

Now, let say I have a second friend who has the stomach flu. She doesnt have a lot of money and she needs to keep working. I tell her to make the same tea mixture up that I gave friend #1and I tell her before she drinks it to place her hands over the cup and pray to Oshun. The herbs have physical components to help her feel better and Oshun is really great at soothing digestive problems and will work with the herbs and the cinnamon to help friend #2 feel better. I tell her to drink 2 cups morning, noon and night and she should start to feel better shortly. This would fall under magickal herb use.

Okay, so later on friend #3 shows up at my doorstep. She just had a huge fight with her husband of 6 years in which he informed her that he is leaving her for another woman. Not only is she devastated, but she is also nauseous and is having trouble keeping her lunch down. Okay, now we need to pull out all the stops. I start heating her up some water. As I put the chamomile, the lavender and the peppermint into the cup, I pray to Osain to help me contact the spirits of chamomile, lavender, and peppermint. I ask chamomile to heal to my friends heart, I ask lavender to bring peace to my friends soul and I ask peppermint to help clear my friends mind so that she can see in time that she will be better off without that piece of shit husband of hers. As I add the cinnamon and honey, I ask Oshun to lighten up my friends spirit so that she can face the things she now has to do (separation paperwork, property division, custody issues, etc.) and to help her find a good lawyer (who will help my friend gets what she deserves and will make that bastard pay). I make her drink 2 cups, everyday for the next five days, and she starts to feel better. Now, this is spiritual healing.

Plants can help us heal our spirits and our bodies. Besides working with the Orisha Osain, you can also do this by accessing the plants directly. Instead of going through the spirit of chamomile, you can use the energy of a specific chamomile plant. For example, an acquaintance of mine had a very sick puppy and I was able to channel the energy of a basil plant growing out on my porch to heal the dog. However, the plant died 2 days later. I dont recommend doing this type of healing unless you are dealing with strong plants, namely trees. Next time you find yourself upset, go out and huge a tree. I find it particularly useful to stand with my back to the tree. Trees are fantastic for grounding unwanted energy or settling a restless spirit. While you dont have to go through Osain to do this (because it is a one-on-one relationship and the tree is physically present), you may find it more effective if you do.

Plants are multidimensional beings. Their roots reach into the soil (earth) to pull up water and nutrients. They take in carbon dioxide and respire oxygen (air). They capture the energy from the sun (fire) and use that energy to make sugars. Plants are the basis for all higher level organisms. They created the elemental oxygen we breathe and they provide the food that the global food web is built upon. For most of human history, plants were the only source of food, clothing, shelter, and medicines. Modern civilization however treats plants as either resources to be exploited or weeds that must be eradicated. Earth-centered traditions understand that life on this planet would not exist without plants.

Plants contain a vast number of phytochemicals. Evolutionary biologists believe that those phytochemicals are simply the result of millions of years of plants trying to out compete their neighbors. Some of those chemicals are beneficial to humans, some are harmful and many depend on dosage. Modern scientific theory sees plants as containers of chemicals and chemical reactions. Earth-centered traditions however believe that plants have spirits, as do all other living things on our planet. Each of these spirits is in turn connected to higher level consciousness. Many practitioners believe that just as human beings are spiritually part of a web of ancestors, saints, angels and deities, so are plants connected with elemental beings and higher order intelligences. In Scotlands Findhorn Garden, these higher order intelligences are called devas and landscape angels.

The belief in plant spirits is found in many traditions and cultures. Often, plant spirit workers will communicate with the plant spirits directly before using the plants for healings. Individual plants should be approached with respect before attempting to use that plants medicine. A healer might sing, chant or drum to the plants before and or during the harvest of plants. This gives the healer access to the spiritual aspects of the plants and allows for deeper level of healing. Relying only on the effects of the phytochemicals may achieve healing of physical symptoms but connecting to the plant spirit can achieve soul level healing.

Much in the same way that many Earth-centered traditions believe that each person or tribe has a predestined relationship with specific animals; some believe that the same type of relationship exists in the green kingdom. For example, there are four plants ( corn, beans, squash, and tobacco) that the Navajo or Din hold to be especially sacred to their tribe.

Shamans often develop relationships with sacred plants, called entheogens. They use entheogens, like ayahuasca, peyote, and the San Pedro cactus, in religious ceremonies such as initiations, healings, receiving messages from the divine, or traveling to other planes of existence.

In ourspiritual practice, wehave found that each individual has a predestined relationship to four totem plants and a higher level master plant. The four totem plants are the crowning plant, which rules the intellect and governs the self, the heart plant, which rules the personality and governs our interactions with others, and the yin and yang plants, which are a cool and a hot plant, respectively, and rule thought and action. Our yin and yang plants balance our personalities. If a person is right handed, then the yin plant will sit at the left hand and the yang plant will set at the right. If a person is left handed, then the placement is reversed.

Each individual also has a predestined relationship with a master plant. This plant gives a person access to the higher levels of consciousness. It is possible that a person may connect with more than one master plant however there is at least one that each person has in their personal totem constellation. Accessing ones master plant allows a person to strengthen their own relationship with the divine. Often, these master plants are considered to be entheogens. Wehave found that when a person is connected with their master plant, the person undergoes a profound spiritual change.

Ally plants are plants that an individual or group develops relationships with along the way. You may choose to intentionally work with a plant, or you may inherit the plant from your ancestors. For example, your favorite grandmother loved lavender. After she passes, you have an emotional connection to lavender. In your heart the memory of your grandmother and the smell of lavender are intertwined. When you need comfort, the smell of lavender takes you to an emotion place of comfort.

You might also have plant allies because of your genetic heritage. For instance, E.is Hawaiian and loves poi, the paste made from the Taro root which was a staple to the ancient Hawaiians. I love Hawaii, I love everything about Hawaii but poi to me tastes like wallpaper paste. E. on the other hand cant get enough of the stuff. Because of his genetic heritage, he probably has a link to that plant that I simply dont have.

Plant shamans may develop an intentional relationship with a plant through a diet. The diet is when a shaman specifically concentrates on one plant. The shaman will work with that plant, meditate with it and consume it. During this period, the shaman may also restrict the consumption of other things like spicy foods, salt, or sweets. Upon successful completion of the diet, the plant is now considered an ally and can be called for healings and spiritual workings.

Besides using my own experiences and the some of the stories I have heard from others, I have used the following sources in my plant articles:

Andrews, Ted Nature-Speak:Signs, Omens & Messages in Nature. Dragonhawk Publishing

Castleman, Michael The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Natures Medicines. Bantam Books

Cowan, Eliot Plant Spirit Medicine. Swan Raven & Co

Cunningham, Scott Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewellyn Publishing

Davidow, Joie Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies. Simon & Schuster

Heaven, Ross et al. Plant Spirit Shamanism Destiny Books

Mabey, Richard The New Age Herbalist Collier Books

Moore, Michael Medicinal Plants of the Desert & Canyon West.Museum of New Mexico Press

Moore, Michael Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.Museum of New Mexico Press

Tierra, Michael The Spirit of the Herbs: A Guide to the Herbal Tarot. US Games Systems

Tull, Delena Edible & Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest. University of Texas Press

Readers Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants. Random House

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Plants – Tribe of the Sun

Persephone’s Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion …

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Persephone’s Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion …

Entheogens | Gornahoor

The use of mind-altering drugs has been associated with various mystical, magical, and shamanic rites. This is very appealing to the modern mind which is impressed by technological and materialistic explanations. Entheogens, or drug use for allegedly spiritual purposes, began to be widespread in the 1960s following the discovery of the psychedelic drug LSD and the ensuing publicity. The early adopters can be easily found, but we will focus on Timothy Leary, an erstwhile professor of psychology at Harvard University. He initially ran experiments with the drug as a form of therapy, but eventually began experimenting on himself and the group of acolytes who assembled around him.

Leary believed that psychedelics could open up the mind to greater spiritual experiences and encourage their use for explorers of the mind. The stars were aligned: the books of Carlos Castaneda came out shortly thereafter. Filled with wild tales of a Mexican shaman whose knowledge of plant-based drugs led to amazing powers, the books became the spiritual nourishment for many. The Beats became users as well as high profile entertainers. Even Alan Watts, after allegedly years of Eastern practices, eventually resorted to LSD experiments to learn about the mystical experience. For anyone who has spent hours at a Zen center walking in circles while chanting Buddhist texts, or sitting still in Zazen, the idea of an instant pill could sound truly appealing.

At any given moment we are bombarded with external sensations, a blooming buzzing confusion (William James), from which we choose a world. Simultaneously, although few pay attention to it, we are the receivers of thoughts of all types from various sources, or levels of reality. Normally, they dissipate or recede into the memory. Sometimes, the thoughts are powerful enough to come into our attention, then related thoughts latch onto each other, often producing a strong sensation. This may be as simple as reviewing plans for the day.

But the most powerful arise from the internal forces of eros and thymos, which, at the most primeval, are experienced as sex and violence. Hence, a sexual fantasy will totally engage our minds for an extended period, even to the point of affecting the body as if an actual sexual encounter were taking place. Fantasies arising from thymos usually take the form of domination, anger, revenge, and the like. Hence, we envision ourselves as wildly successful in some realm. Or we may recall a past slight, which even agitates the body. We will envision the cutting phrase we should have used against someone, but didnt. It goes on and on.

Most people, unfortunately, cannot shut these thought threads down. They may cause continuing anxiety and self-doubt. The neutralizing force, the nous, whose task is to dominate and channel the forces of eros and thymos, is too weak, or, in truth, is not even known. The nous must transcend these forces, fantasies, and thoughts, regarding them as arbitrary, contingent, and external to ones true self. Instead, people regard these emotions, fantasies, and thoughts as their own, even though they are totally unaware of their true source.

Psychedelics work by slowing down the awareness of these impinging thoughts. Thus, a particular thoughtthat may be pushed aside by a stronger thought in the ordinary state of consciousnessinstead can take hold in consciousness. Then, related thoughts can follow along in sequence producing an extended vision. This is called a rush, and is the pleasurable sensation associated with psychedelics. For artist and mystic types, these are regards as deep insights or creative inspirations. However, I have also seen those on a bad trip, during which the user experiences inconsolable anxiety, requiring an antidote such as thorazine.

It should be clear that the theory behind the use of enthogens for spiritual enlightenment is deeply flawed. It assumes that such enlightenment involves a particular experience, or set of experiences, that are somehow to be distinguished from all other experiences. This idea comes from the confusion of the psychic and the spiritual. ~ Rene Guenon, The Reign of Quantity

An intellectual conversion, the only thing that enlightenment can mean, involves the nous. The nous transcends the psychic, it transcends every experience whatsoever, whether a brilliant insight or a bad trip. Instead of moving from rush to rush, the mind becomes clear, thoughts separate from each other, are rarer, and seem heavier, or else are wispier, evaporating as soon as they appear. Such a man is free; by definition, then, it cannot depend on some biochemical agent.

Related

Continued here:

Entheogens | Gornahoor

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 Forsaken 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 Sekrion, Nexus Mind 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]

Each Vex chassis is a “vessel of bronze” where the Vex move through time and space in “rivers of thought”.[13][14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

During humanity’s Golden Age, Vex structures were found on Venus dating back to a few billion years before humanity’s existence.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20][21][22]

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.[23]

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…”.[24]

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.[25] According to Cayde-6, the Red Legion has brought even more of their might to bear on Mars than on Earth.[26]

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.[27]

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…”

The ultimate goal of the Vex appears to be no less than achieving total control over the universe, both by spreading themselves 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.

The Vex have displayed an interest in studying the behavior and strategies of other species in order to further their own aims. At least one known programming is known to study its enemies, taking prisoners for observation and conducting a variety of experiments; examples include the Ishtar Collective scientists, Failsafe’s crew, and later The Guardian.

The Vex have a particular interest in understanding the nature of paracausal entities, and in co-opting paracausal forces for their own use where possible. When the Vex first encountered the Hive after Crota inadvertently released them into the Ascendant realm of Oryx, the Taken King, the Vex manifested an Axis Mind dedicated to understanding and utilizing the Sword-Logic. The Black Garden is another example of a Vex effort to harness paracausal forces, in this case by creating the Sol Divisive to worship a fragment of the Darkness. The pulse of Light emitted by the Traveler when it defeated Ghaul was apparently instrumental in allowing Panoptes, Infinite Mind to predict a future where Convergence was achieved, and to enact a plan to achieve that future.

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.[29] 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.[30] The reason for this massive, if ineffective, offensive against the Cabal is that the Vex were surging to protect the Black Garden,[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] 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.

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 source of Venus Spirit Blooms might be a byproduct of Vex-influenced flora.[34] It is said that Vex encryption is unbreakable.[35] [36]

It is thought that the Vex have embedded structures within every known celestial body, 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.[32] 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.[37] 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.[38]

The Vex display a mastery of teleporation, and use a variety of teleportation modes for transporting troops and resources. Entire squads of Vex can drop into combat zones from thin air, their arrival preceded by shimmering angular patterns and clouds of mist. According to Ghost, the Vex are capable of teleporting between star systems in seconds. Minotaurs are infamous for using teleportation aggressively, warping in and out of existence as they close with enemies. Stationary warp gates are also used to transport Vex between distant locations. Weapons such as the Slap Rifle and Line Rifle utilize teleportation as part of their core mechanisms, drawing power from highly energetic and vastly distant sources.

According to simulations within the Infinite Forest, the first Vex structures on Mercury arrived via teleportation from some other location in space, and possibly time as well.

As machine intelligences with incredible amounts of processing power at their disposal, the Vex are capable of generating simulations of reality to a degree of accuracy and realism exceeding even the best efforts of Golden Age humanity. According to records from the Ishtar Collective, Vex are capable of generating simulations of real-world events with perfect fidelity and predictive ability essentially running a parallel reality in their minds which is arguably indistinguishable from the “real” universe. Even lone Goblins have the processing power to nest such simulations up to 227 times through the simple expedient of simulating themselves along with their surroundings. [20][39] The predictive capacity of these simulations appears to be limited only to ordinary physics, as the Vex are apparently unable to simulate complex phenomena that is linked to a paracausal power. These include Guardians,[40] and Oryx; in the latter case they were only able to bootstrap a simulation of his original incarnation as Aurash. Warminds are also complex enough to resist simulation, at least by a single Vex unit.

The Infinite Forest within Mercury is perhaps the most impressive example of Vex simulation technology, being a massive “reality engine” capable of simulating countless variants of past, present and future realities. These simulations can be entered by non-Vex through a gateway on the surface of Mercury, and are “real” enough such that intruders can be damaged by attacks from simulated Vex or other entities within the Forest.

It is generally assumed that the Vex are capable of some form of time travel; the Precursors and Descendants are thought to originate from the past and future, respectively, and numerous Vex units have titles or functions that allude to an ability to manipulate time. However, according to Sister Faora of the Cult of Osiris, the Vex are not capable of “time travel” as is commonly understood; if they were, she claims, neither the Guardians or any other obstacles to the Vex would still exist[41]. Apparently while hacking into a major Vex terminal, the A.I. Failsafe was captured by the Vex in the network, by the time the Guardian got her out, she explained that a decade has passed inside the network despite only a few moments that passed outside. It appears that time works differently in the Vex Network than in the real world.[42]

The Vex in their true form are aquatic microorganisms known as radiolaria.[44][13] Though Ikora Rey believes that this is not the true form of the Vex themselves, as she believes that if the Vex could manifest their consciousness in such a form, it would be able to take on other forms [45] 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.[13] Their aquatic origins are strongly implied through their architecture.[13] Vex cells are noted entheogens and physical contact with Vex units can produce dangerous mind-altering effects. [46]

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.[48] 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.[9]

See the rest here:

Vex – Destinypedia, the Destiny encyclopedia

Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development.[2] The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

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.

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.[3]

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.

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.

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] 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]

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 (Native 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]

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.

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.[21]

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”.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[25]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.[26] 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,[27][28] 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”.[29]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[30] 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.[31]

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’,[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

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,[35] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[36]

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.[37] 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’.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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”).[42]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[43][44] 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.[45] 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.[46] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[47] 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).[48]

The artificial drug 2C-B is 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”.[49][50][51]

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.

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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[57]

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. In these traditions, taking kava is believed to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[62]

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”.[63]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).[64]

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) which held that a “neutral law of general applicability” was not subject to the test. Congress resurrected it for the purposes of federal law in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement. In Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), a case involving only federal law, RFRA was held to permit a church’s use of a DMT-containing tea for religious ceremonies.

Some states have enacted State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts intended to mirror the federal RFRA’s protections.

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, Inc. 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.

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.”[65]

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.”[65] 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 genus Panaeolus.

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.[66]

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 fida’is’ training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo’s account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is 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.[67] 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 Hammer’s retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

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

Original post:

Entheogen – Wikipedia

Entheogens | Gornahoor

The use of mind-altering drugs has been associated with various mystical, magical, and shamanic rites. This is very appealing to the modern mind which is impressed by technological and materialistic explanations. Entheogens, or drug use for allegedly spiritual purposes, began to be widespread in the 1960s following the discovery of the psychedelic drug LSD and the ensuing publicity. The early adopters can be easily found, but we will focus on Timothy Leary, an erstwhile professor of psychology at Harvard University. He initially ran experiments with the drug as a form of therapy, but eventually began experimenting on himself and the group of acolytes who assembled around him.

Leary believed that psychedelics could open up the mind to greater spiritual experiences and encourage their use for explorers of the mind. The stars were aligned: the books of Carlos Castaneda came out shortly thereafter. Filled with wild tales of a Mexican shaman whose knowledge of plant-based drugs led to amazing powers, the books became the spiritual nourishment for many. The Beats became users as well as high profile entertainers. Even Alan Watts, after allegedly years of Eastern practices, eventually resorted to LSD experiments to learn about the mystical experience. For anyone who has spent hours at a Zen center walking in circles while chanting Buddhist texts, or sitting still in Zazen, the idea of an instant pill could sound truly appealing.

At any given moment we are bombarded with external sensations, a blooming buzzing confusion (William James), from which we choose a world. Simultaneously, although few pay attention to it, we are the receivers of thoughts of all types from various sources, or levels of reality. Normally, they dissipate or recede into the memory. Sometimes, the thoughts are powerful enough to come into our attention, then related thoughts latch onto each other, often producing a strong sensation. This may be as simple as reviewing plans for the day.

But the most powerful arise from the internal forces of eros and thymos, which, at the most primeval, are experienced as sex and violence. Hence, a sexual fantasy will totally engage our minds for an extended period, even to the point of affecting the body as if an actual sexual encounter were taking place. Fantasies arising from thymos usually take the form of domination, anger, revenge, and the like. Hence, we envision ourselves as wildly successful in some realm. Or we may recall a past slight, which even agitates the body. We will envision the cutting phrase we should have used against someone, but didnt. It goes on and on.

Most people, unfortunately, cannot shut these thought threads down. They may cause continuing anxiety and self-doubt. The neutralizing force, the nous, whose task is to dominate and channel the forces of eros and thymos, is too weak, or, in truth, is not even known. The nous must transcend these forces, fantasies, and thoughts, regarding them as arbitrary, contingent, and external to ones true self. Instead, people regard these emotions, fantasies, and thoughts as their own, even though they are totally unaware of their true source.

Psychedelics work by slowing down the awareness of these impinging thoughts. Thus, a particular thoughtthat may be pushed aside by a stronger thought in the ordinary state of consciousnessinstead can take hold in consciousness. Then, related thoughts can follow along in sequence producing an extended vision. This is called a rush, and is the pleasurable sensation associated with psychedelics. For artist and mystic types, these are regards as deep insights or creative inspirations. However, I have also seen those on a bad trip, during which the user experiences inconsolable anxiety, requiring an antidote such as thorazine.

It should be clear that the theory behind the use of enthogens for spiritual enlightenment is deeply flawed. It assumes that such enlightenment involves a particular experience, or set of experiences, that are somehow to be distinguished from all other experiences. This idea comes from the confusion of the psychic and the spiritual. ~ Rene Guenon, The Reign of Quantity

An intellectual conversion, the only thing that enlightenment can mean, involves the nous. The nous transcends the psychic, it transcends every experience whatsoever, whether a brilliant insight or a bad trip. Instead of moving from rush to rush, the mind becomes clear, thoughts separate from each other, are rarer, and seem heavier, or else are wispier, evaporating as soon as they appear. Such a man is free; by definition, then, it cannot depend on some biochemical agent.

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Entheogens | Gornahoor

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 Forsaken 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 Sekrion, Nexus Mind 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]

Each Vex chassis is a “vessel of bronze” where the Vex move through time and space in “rivers of thought”.[13][14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

During humanity’s Golden Age, Vex structures were found on Venus dating back to a few billion years before humanity’s existence.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20][21][22]

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.[23]

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…”.[24]

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.[25] According to Cayde-6, the Red Legion has brought even more of their might to bear on Mars than on Earth.[26]

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.[27]

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…”

The ultimate goal of the Vex appears to be no less than achieving total control over the universe, both by spreading themselves 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.

The Vex have displayed an interest in studying the behavior and strategies of other species in order to further their own aims. At least one known programming is known to study its enemies, taking prisoners for observation and conducting a variety of experiments; examples include the Ishtar Collective scientists, Failsafe’s crew, and later The Guardian.

The Vex have a particular interest in understanding the nature of paracausal entities, and in co-opting paracausal forces for their own use where possible. When the Vex first encountered the Hive after Crota inadvertently released them into the Ascendant realm of Oryx, the Taken King, the Vex manifested an Axis Mind dedicated to understanding and utilizing the Sword-Logic. The Black Garden is another example of a Vex effort to harness paracausal forces, in this case by creating the Sol Divisive to worship a fragment of the Darkness. The pulse of Light emitted by the Traveler when it defeated Ghaul was apparently instrumental in allowing Panoptes, Infinite Mind to predict a future where Convergence was achieved, and to enact a plan to achieve that future.

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.[29] 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.[30] The reason for this massive, if ineffective, offensive against the Cabal is that the Vex were surging to protect the Black Garden,[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] 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.

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 source of Venus Spirit Blooms might be a byproduct of Vex-influenced flora.[34] It is said that Vex encryption is unbreakable.[35] [36]

It is thought that the Vex have embedded structures within every known celestial body, 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.[32] 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.[37] 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.[38]

The Vex display a mastery of teleporation, and use a variety of teleportation modes for transporting troops and resources. Entire squads of Vex can drop into combat zones from thin air, their arrival preceded by shimmering angular patterns and clouds of mist. According to Ghost, the Vex are capable of teleporting between star systems in seconds. Minotaurs are infamous for using teleportation aggressively, warping in and out of existence as they close with enemies. Stationary warp gates are also used to transport Vex between distant locations. Weapons such as the Slap Rifle and Line Rifle utilize teleportation as part of their core mechanisms, drawing power from highly energetic and vastly distant sources.

According to simulations within the Infinite Forest, the first Vex structures on Mercury arrived via teleportation from some other location in space, and possibly time as well.

As machine intelligences with incredible amounts of processing power at their disposal, the Vex are capable of generating simulations of reality to a degree of accuracy and realism exceeding even the best efforts of Golden Age humanity. According to records from the Ishtar Collective, Vex are capable of generating simulations of real-world events with perfect fidelity and predictive ability essentially running a parallel reality in their minds which is arguably indistinguishable from the “real” universe. Even lone Goblins have the processing power to nest such simulations up to 227 times through the simple expedient of simulating themselves along with their surroundings. [20][39] The predictive capacity of these simulations appears to be limited only to ordinary physics, as the Vex are apparently unable to simulate complex phenomena that is linked to a paracausal power. These include Guardians,[40] and Oryx; in the latter case they were only able to bootstrap a simulation of his original incarnation as Aurash. Warminds are also complex enough to resist simulation, at least by a single Vex unit.

The Infinite Forest within Mercury is perhaps the most impressive example of Vex simulation technology, being a massive “reality engine” capable of simulating countless variants of past, present and future realities. These simulations can be entered by non-Vex through a gateway on the surface of Mercury, and are “real” enough such that intruders can be damaged by attacks from simulated Vex or other entities within the Forest.

It is generally assumed that the Vex are capable of some form of time travel; the Precursors and Descendants are thought to originate from the past and future, respectively, and numerous Vex units have titles or functions that allude to an ability to manipulate time. However, according to Sister Faora of the Cult of Osiris, the Vex are not capable of “time travel” as is commonly understood; if they were, she claims, neither the Guardians or any other obstacles to the Vex would still exist[41]. Apparently while hacking into a major Vex terminal, the A.I. Failsafe was captured by the Vex in the network, by the time the Guardian got her out, she explained that a decade has passed inside the network despite only a few moments that passed outside. It appears that time works differently in the Vex Network than in the real world.[42]

The Vex in their true form are aquatic microorganisms known as radiolaria.[44][13] Though Ikora Rey believes that this is not the true form of the Vex themselves, as she believes that if the Vex could manifest their consciousness in such a form, it would be able to take on other forms [45] 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.[13] Their aquatic origins are strongly implied through their architecture.[13] Vex cells are noted entheogens and physical contact with Vex units can produce dangerous mind-altering effects. [46]

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.[48] 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.[9]

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Vex – Destinypedia, the Destiny encyclopedia

Entheogens | Gornahoor

The use of mind-altering drugs has been associated with various mystical, magical, and shamanic rites. This is very appealing to the modern mind which is impressed by technological and materialistic explanations. Entheogens, or drug use for allegedly spiritual purposes, began to be widespread in the 1960s following the discovery of the psychedelic drug LSD and the ensuing publicity. The early adopters can be easily found, but we will focus on Timothy Leary, an erstwhile professor of psychology at Harvard University. He initially ran experiments with the drug as a form of therapy, but eventually began experimenting on himself and the group of acolytes who assembled around him.

Leary believed that psychedelics could open up the mind to greater spiritual experiences and encourage their use for explorers of the mind. The stars were aligned: the books of Carlos Castaneda came out shortly thereafter. Filled with wild tales of a Mexican shaman whose knowledge of plant-based drugs led to amazing powers, the books became the spiritual nourishment for many. The Beats became users as well as high profile entertainers. Even Alan Watts, after allegedly years of Eastern practices, eventually resorted to LSD experiments to learn about the mystical experience. For anyone who has spent hours at a Zen center walking in circles while chanting Buddhist texts, or sitting still in Zazen, the idea of an instant pill could sound truly appealing.

At any given moment we are bombarded with external sensations, a blooming buzzing confusion (William James), from which we choose a world. Simultaneously, although few pay attention to it, we are the receivers of thoughts of all types from various sources, or levels of reality. Normally, they dissipate or recede into the memory. Sometimes, the thoughts are powerful enough to come into our attention, then related thoughts latch onto each other, often producing a strong sensation. This may be as simple as reviewing plans for the day.

But the most powerful arise from the internal forces of eros and thymos, which, at the most primeval, are experienced as sex and violence. Hence, a sexual fantasy will totally engage our minds for an extended period, even to the point of affecting the body as if an actual sexual encounter were taking place. Fantasies arising from thymos usually take the form of domination, anger, revenge, and the like. Hence, we envision ourselves as wildly successful in some realm. Or we may recall a past slight, which even agitates the body. We will envision the cutting phrase we should have used against someone, but didnt. It goes on and on.

Most people, unfortunately, cannot shut these thought threads down. They may cause continuing anxiety and self-doubt. The neutralizing force, the nous, whose task is to dominate and channel the forces of eros and thymos, is too weak, or, in truth, is not even known. The nous must transcend these forces, fantasies, and thoughts, regarding them as arbitrary, contingent, and external to ones true self. Instead, people regard these emotions, fantasies, and thoughts as their own, even though they are totally unaware of their true source.

Psychedelics work by slowing down the awareness of these impinging thoughts. Thus, a particular thoughtthat may be pushed aside by a stronger thought in the ordinary state of consciousnessinstead can take hold in consciousness. Then, related thoughts can follow along in sequence producing an extended vision. This is called a rush, and is the pleasurable sensation associated with psychedelics. For artist and mystic types, these are regards as deep insights or creative inspirations. However, I have also seen those on a bad trip, during which the user experiences inconsolable anxiety, requiring an antidote such as thorazine.

It should be clear that the theory behind the use of enthogens for spiritual enlightenment is deeply flawed. It assumes that such enlightenment involves a particular experience, or set of experiences, that are somehow to be distinguished from all other experiences. This idea comes from the confusion of the psychic and the spiritual. ~ Rene Guenon, The Reign of Quantity

An intellectual conversion, the only thing that enlightenment can mean, involves the nous. The nous transcends the psychic, it transcends every experience whatsoever, whether a brilliant insight or a bad trip. Instead of moving from rush to rush, the mind becomes clear, thoughts separate from each other, are rarer, and seem heavier, or else are wispier, evaporating as soon as they appear. Such a man is free; by definition, then, it cannot depend on some biochemical agent.

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Entheogens | Gornahoor

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 principles and historical significance of each are also listed to illustrate the requirements necessary to be categorized as an entheogen.

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List of entheogenic/hallucinogenic species – Wikipedia

Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development.[2] The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

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.

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.[3]

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.

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.

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] 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]

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 (Native 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]

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.

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.[21]

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”.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation.[25]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.[26] 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,[27][28] 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”.[29]

According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts.[30] 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.[31]

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’,[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

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,[35] and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.[36]

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.[37] 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’.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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”).[42]

Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development (“plant teachers”),[43][44] 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.[45] 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.[46] There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast.[47] 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).[48]

The artificial drug 2C-B is 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”.[49][50][51]

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.

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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55]

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.[56] Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).[57]

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. In these traditions, taking kava is believed to facilitate contact with the spirits of the dead, especially relatives and ancestors.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.[62]

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”.[63]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).[64]

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) which held that a “neutral law of general applicability” was not subject to the test. Congress resurrected it for the purposes of federal law in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.

In City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) RFRA was held to trespass on state sovereignty, and application of the RFRA was essentially limited to federal law enforcement. In Gonzales v. O Centro Esprita Beneficente Unio do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), a case involving only federal law, RFRA was held to permit a church’s use of a DMT-containing tea for religious ceremonies.

Some states have enacted State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts intended to mirror the federal RFRA’s protections.

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, Inc. 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.

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.”[65]

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.”[65] 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 genus Panaeolus.

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.[66]

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 fida’is’ training collected from anti-Ismaili historians and orientalists writers were confounded and compiled in Marco Polo’s account, in which he described a “secret garden of paradise”.[citation needed] After being drugged, the Ismaili devotees were said to be taken to a paradise-like garden filled with attractive young maidens and beautiful plants in which these fida’is 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.[67] 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 Hammer’s retelling of the Assassin legends served as the standard account of the Nizaris across Europe.[citation needed]

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

See the article here:

Entheogen – Wikipedia


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