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An entheogen is a psychoactive substance that induces alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior for the purposes of engendering spiritual development or otherwise in sacred contexts. Anthropological study has established that entheogens are used for religious, magical, shamanic, or spiritual purposes in many parts of the world. Entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including divination, meditation, yoga, sensory deprivation, asceticism, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, hymns like peyote songs, drumming, and ecstatic dance. The psychedelic experience is often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as those experienced in meditation, near-death experiences, and mystical experiences. Ego dissolution is often described as a key feature of the psychedelic experience.
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, ἔνθεος (éntheos) and γενέσθαι (genésthai). 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.
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.— Ruck et al, 1979, Journal of Psychedelic Drugs
Entheogens have been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.
R. Gordon Wasson and Giorgio Samorini have proposed several examples of the cultural use of entheogens that are found in the archaeological record. Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BCE, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.
Most of the well-known modern examples of entheogens, such as Ayahuasca, 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 Rigveda. Soma was ritually prepared and drunk by priests and initiates and elicited a paean in the Rigveda that embodies the nature of an entheogen:
Splendid by Law! declaring Law, truth speaking, truthful in thy works, Enouncing faith, King Soma!... O [Soma] Pavāmana (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 Kerényi, 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." 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 muscaria was regarded as divine food, according to Ruck and Staples, not something to be indulged in, sampled lightly, or profaned. It was seen as the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and as mediating between the two realms. It is said that Tantalus's crime was inviting commoners to share his ambrosia.
Uses and purpose
Entheogens have been used by individuals to pursue spiritual goals such as divination, ego death, egolessness, faith healing, psychedelic therapy and spiritual formation. Entheogens have been used in various ways, e.g., as part of established religious rituals, as aids for personal spiritual development ("plant teachers"), as recreational drugs, and for medical and therapeutic use.
There are also instances where people have been given entheogens without their knowledge or consent (e.g., tourists in ayahuasca), as well as attempts to use such drugs in other contexts, such as cursing. 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.
Types of entheogens
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. The entheogenic use of cannabis has been documented in regions such as China, Europe, and India, 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.
Entheogens used in the contemporary world include biota like peyote (Native American Church), extracts like ayahuasca (Santo Daime, União 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).
Judaism and Christianity
Polish anthropologist Sara Benetowa (also known as Sula Benet) argued that cannabis had been used in early Judaism, claiming in 1967 that the plant kneh bossem (Hebrew: קְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם) – mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus – was in fact cannabis. The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church confirmed it as a possible valid interpretation. 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. Kneh-bossem 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, 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".
According to The Living Torah, cannabis may have been one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts. The herb of interest is most commonly known as kaneh-bosm (Hebrew: קְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם). 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.
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', 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.
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. 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.
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-Theodosian 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, and the question of other groups such as elites or laity within orthodox Catholic practice.
The fifth of the Pancasila, the ethical code in the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions, states that adherents must: "abstain from fermented and distilled beverages that cause heedlessness." The Pali Canon, the scripture of Theravada Buddhism, depicts refraining from alcohol as essential to moral conduct because intoxication causes a loss of mindfulness. 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 not include light to moderate drinking, only drinking to the point of drunkenness. It also does not include other mind-altering drugs, but Buddhist tradition includes all intoxicants. The Pali 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 could be considered by some to be covered by this prohibition.
In the West, some[who?] modern Buddhist teachers have written on the usefulness of psychedelics. The Buddhist magazine Tricycle devoted their entire fall 1996 edition to this issue. Some teachers such as Jack Kornfield have suggested the possibility that psychedelics could complement Buddhist practice, bring healing and help people understand their connection with everything which could lead to compassion. Kornfield warns however that addiction can still be a hindrance. Other teachers such as Michelle McDonald-Smith expressed views which saw entheogens as not conducive to Buddhist practice ("I don't see them developing anything").
New religious movements
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".
Santo Daime is a syncretic religion founded in the 1930s in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Acre by Raimundo Irineu Serra, known as Mestre Irineu. Santo Daime incorporates elements of several religious or spiritual traditions including Folk Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritism, African animism and indigenous South American shamanism, including vegetalismo.
Ceremonies – trabalhos (Brazilian Portuguese for "works") – are typically several hours long and are undertaken sitting in silent "concentration", or sung collectively, dancing according to simple steps in geometrical formation. Ayahuasca, referred to as Daime within the practice, which contains several psychoactive compounds, is drunk as part of the ceremony. The drinking of Daime can induce a strong emetic effect which is embraced as both emotional and physical purging.
Santo Daime churches promote a wholesome lifestyle in conformity with Irineu's motto of "harmony, love, truth and justice", as well as other key doctrinal values such as strength, humility, fraternity and purity of heart. The practice became a worldwide movement in the 1990s.
União do Vegetal
União do Vegetal (UDV) is a religious society founded on July 22, 1961 by José Gabriel da Costa, known as Mestre Gabriel. The translation of União do Vegetal is Union of the Plants referring to the sacrament of the UDV, Hoasca tea (also known as ayahuasca). This beverage is made by boiling two plants, Mariri (Banisteriopsis caapi) and Chacrona (Psychotria viridis), both of which are native to the Amazon rainforest.
In its sessions, UDV members drink Hoasca Tea for the effect of mental concentration. In Brazil, the use of Hoasca in religious rituals was regulated by the Brazilian Federal Government's National Drug Policy Council on January 25, 2010. The policy established legal norms for the religious institutions that responsibly use this tea. The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously affirmed the UDV's right to use Hoasca tea in its religious sessions in the United States, in a decision published on February 21, 2006.
The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga. 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. There is also evidence for the use of psilocybin mushrooms in Ivory Coast. 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).
Among the amaXhosa, the artificial drug 2C-B is used as entheogen by traditional healers or amagqirha over their traditional plants; they refer to the chemical as Ubulawu Nomathotholo, which roughly translates to "Medicine of the Singing Ancestors".
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 toxic mescal bean (Calia secundiflora). 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
It has been suggested that the ritual use of small amounts of Syrian rue[by whom?] is an artifact of its ancient use in higher doses as an entheogen (possibly in conjunction with DMT-containing acacia).
John Marco Allegro argued that early Jewish and Christian cultic practice was based on the use of Amanita muscaria, which was later forgotten by its adherents, but this view has been widely disputed.
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". 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. So went the tale of the "Old Man in the Mountain", assembled by Marco Polo and accepted by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774–1856), 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.
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 Māori of New Zealand aside from a variant species of kava, although some modern scholars have claimed that there may be evidence of psilocybin mushroom use. Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus).
Kava or kava kava (Piper Methysticum) has been cultivated for at least 3,000 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.
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 psychologist 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.
Beginning in 2006, experiments have been conducted at Johns Hopkins University, showing that under controlled conditions psilocybin causes mystical experiences in most participants and that they rank the personal and spiritual meaningfulness of the experiences very highly.
Except in Mexico, research with psychedelics is limited due to ongoing widespread drug prohibition. The amount of peer-reviewed research on psychedelics has accordingly been limited due to the difficulty of getting approval from institutional review boards. Furthermore, scientific studies on entheogens present some significant challenges to investigators, including philosophical questions relating to ontology, epistemology and objectivity.
A State on whose territory there are plants growing wild which contain psychotropic substances from among those in Schedule I and which are traditionally used by certain small, clearly determined groups in magical or religious rites, may, at the time of signature, ratification or accession, make reservations concerning these plants, in respect of the provisions of article 7, except for the provisions relating to international trade.
However, this exemption would apply only if the plant were ever explicitly added to the Schedules of the Psychotropic Convention. Currently the Convention applies only to chemicals. The Commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances notes, however, that the plants containing it are not subject to international control:
The cultivation of plants from which psychotropic substances are obtained is not controlled by the Vienna Convention .... Neither the crown (fruit, mescal button) of the Peyote cactus nor the roots of the plant Mimosa hostilis nor Psilocybe mushrooms themselves are included in Schedule 1, but only their respective principals, mescaline, DMT, and psilocin.
No plants (natural materials) containing DMT are at present controlled under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Consequently, preparations (e.g. decoctions) made of these plants, including ayahuasca are not under international control and, therefore, not subject to any of the articles of the 1971 Convention. -- International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), United Nations
Some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use.
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". 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).
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
- whether the person has a claim involving a sincere religious belief, and
- whether the government action is a substantial burden on the person's ability to act on that belief.
If these two elements are established, then the government must prove
- that it is acting in furtherance of a "compelling state interest," and
- that it has pursued that interest in the manner least restrictive, or least burdensome, to religion.
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 Espírita Beneficente União 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.
Many works of literature have described entheogen use; some of those are:
- The drug melange (spice) in Frank Herbert's Dune universe acts as both an entheogen (in large enough quantities) and an addictive geriatric medicine. Control of the supply of melange was crucial to the Empire, as it was necessary for, among other things, faster-than-light (folding space) navigation.
- Consumption of the imaginary mushroom anochi [enoki] as the entheogen underlying the creation of Christianity is the premise of Philip K. Dick's last novel, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, a theme that seems to be inspired by John Allegro's book.
- Aldous Huxley's final novel, Island (1962), depicted a fictional psychoactive mushroom – termed "moksha medicine" – used by the people of Pala in rites of passage, such as the transition to adulthood and at the end of life.
- Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire novel refers to the religion in the future as a result of entheogens, used freely by the population.
- In Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, Book 1 of The Dark Tower series, the main character receives guidance after taking mescaline.
- The Alastair Reynolds novel Absolution Gap features a moon under the control of a religious government that uses neurological viruses to induce religious faith.
- A critical examination of the ethical and societal implications and relevance of "entheogenic" experiences can be found in Daniel Waterman and Casey William Hardison's book Entheogens, Society & Law: Towards a Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy and Responsibility (Melrose, Oxford 2013). This book includes a controversial[according to whom?] analysis of the term entheogen arguing that Wasson et al. were mystifying the effects of the plants and traditions to which it refers.[page needed]
- List of Acacia species known to contain psychoactive alkaloids
- List of plants used for smoking
- List of psychoactive plants
- List of psychoactive plants, fungi, and animals
- List of substances used in rituals
- Psilocybin mushrooms
- Psychedelic therapy
- Psychoactive Amanita mushrooms
- Psychoactive cacti
- Psychology of religion
- Scholarly approaches to mysticism
- "CHAPTER 1 Alcohol and Other Drugs". The Public Health Bush Book: Facts & approaches to three key public health issues. ISBN 0-7245-3361-3. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015.
- Rätsch, Christian, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications pub. Park Street Press 2005
- Souza, Rafael Sampaio Octaviano de; Albuquerque, Ulysses Paulino de; Monteiro, Júlio Marcelino; Amorim, Elba Lúcia Cavalcanti de (October 2008). "Jurema-Preta (Mimosa tenuiflora [Willd.] Poir.): a review of its traditional use, phytochemistry and pharmacology". Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology. 51 (5): 937–947. doi:10.1590/S1516-89132008000500010.
- Rätsch, Christian, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications pub. Park Street Press 2005
- Millière, Raphaël; Carhart-Harris, Robin L.; Roseman, Leor; Trautwein, Fynn-Mathis; Berkovich-Ohana, Aviva (4 September 2018). "Psychedelics, Meditation, and Self-Consciousness". Frontiers in Psychology. 9: 1475. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01475. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 6137697. PMID 30245648.
- Timmermann, Christopher; Roseman, Leor; Williams, Luke; Erritzoe, David; Martial, Charlotte; Cassol, Héléna; Laureys, Steven; Nutt, David; Carhart-Harris, Robin (15 August 2018). "DMT Models the Near-Death Experience". Frontiers in Psychology. 9: 1424. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01424. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 6107838. PMID 30174629.
- Millière, Raphaël; Carhart-Harris, Robin L.; Roseman, Leor; Trautwein, Fynn-Mathis; Berkovich-Ohana, Aviva (4 September 2018). "Psychedelics, Meditation, and Self-Consciousness". Frontiers in Psychology. 9: 1475. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01475. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 6137697. PMID 30245648.
- Letheby, Chris; Gerrans, Philip (30 June 2017). "Self unbound: ego dissolution in psychedelic experience". Neuroscience of Consciousness. 2017 (1): nix016. doi:10.1093/nc/nix016. ISSN 2057-2107. PMC 6007152. PMID 30042848.
- Godlaski, Theodore M (2011). "The God within". Substance Use and Misuse. 46 (10): 1217–1222. doi:10.3109/10826084.2011.561722. PMID 21692597. S2CID 39317500.
- Carl A. P. Ruck; Jeremy Bigwood; Danny Staples; Jonathan Ott; R. Gordon Wasson (January–June 1979). "Entheogens". Journal of Psychedelic Drugs. 11 (1–2): 145–146. doi:10.1080/02791072.1979.10472098. PMID 522165. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012.
- "Mescaline : D M Turner". www.mescaline.com.
- Rudgley, Richard. "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances". mescaline.com. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
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