Entheogens. Combining the ancient Greek adjective entheos (“inspired, animated with deity”) and the verbal root in genesis (“becoming”), it signifies “something that causes the divine to reside within one.” Prior to the recent revival of interest in psychoactive plants and compounds, the need for a new word for these botanical mediators led psychiatrist Humphry Osmond to coin the term psychedelic, “to fathom Hell or soar angelic,” as he described it in a letter.
Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established in anthropological and modern evidences. Examples of traditional entheogens include: peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, uncured tobacco, cannabis, ayahuasca, Salvia divinorum, Tabernanthe iboga, Ipomoea tricolor, and Amanita muscaria.
With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic substances with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from these plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol, respectively.Semi-synthetic (e.g. LSD is usually derived from ergotamine) and synthetic substances (e.g. DPT used by the Temple of the True Inner Light and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed. Entheogens may be compounded through the work of a shaman or apothecary in a tea, admixture, or potion like ayahuasca or bhang.
An entheogen is any substance that, when ingested, catalyzes or generates an altered state of consciousness that is deemed to have spiritual significance. Symbolic surrogates, lacking the appropriate chemistry of psychoactive plants and compounds, may induce a similar experience through cultural indoctrination and suggestion or personal subjectivity, and could also be termed entheogens. Like shamanism itself, entheogenic spirituality is dependent upon and defined by the states of consciousness experienced.
In myth, transformations of consciousness are an integral element in the basic story of the hero or heroine who encounters pathways of communication between the human and an otherwise invisible realm, and such experiences are viewed as part of the ongoing renewal of the community’s spiritual well-being.
Hence they are at the heart of such dependable and repeatable ceremonies as initiation rituals and other religious Mysteries. When entheogens are taken in the context of a society’s sacred shamanic ceremonies, the culture’s mythopoetic traditions are often relived and reinfused with profound immediacy and power, heightening their spiritual sense of connection.
The word was applied to narcotics and opiates toward the end of the nineteenth century. This has given “drug” an unfortunate pejorative connotation that dominant religious groups often use to describe substances used by other spiritual communities. Similarly pejorative is the reference to entheogenic experience as “hallucinatory,” which once meant “dreamlike wandering,” but it has come to imply delusion and disconnection from reality rather than a heightened access to it.
Fossils show that approximately 1.5 million years ago, a sudden and scientifically baffling development in the proto-human neocortex emerged. It has been speculated that the explosion in brain size, the prerequisite for the evolution of modern humans, occurred when our hominid ancestors began to intentionally and regularly consume consciousness-altering foods. Such an important adaptive aid would have been well suited to our “trickster” disposition for creative thinking. Thus, in keeping with the myths of old, we suggest that perhaps our species did indeed first become truly human when we first ate of those sacred Eucharistic foods-initially by individuals, and then ritualistically in groups, in what can be seen as First Suppers.
Amber Lyon – Criminalzation of MEDICINE
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Recent Scientific Studies regarding “magic mushrooms”
A single high dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” was enough to bring about a measurable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60 percent of the 51 participants in a new study, according to the Johns Hopkins researchers who conducted it.
Nearly all of the participants in the new study considered themselves spiritually active (participating regularly in religious services, prayer or meditation). More than half had postgraduate degrees. The sessions with the otherwise illegal hallucinogen were closely monitored and volunteers were considered to be psychologically healthypsilocybin may have therapeutic uses. He is currently studying whether the hallucinogen has a use in helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis, and whether it can help longtime cigarette smokers overcome their addiction.
Along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this study was funded by the Council on Spiritual Practices, Heffter Research Institute and the Betsy Gordon Foundation.
Other Hopkins authors of the research include Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D, and Katherine A. MacLean, Ph.D.
Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in “magic” mushrooms, might be a key tool in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, suggest the results of a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
The study by The University of South Florida has found that low doses of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms repairs brain damage caused by extreme trauma, offering renewed hope to millions of sufferers of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
June 16, 2011 — Psilocybin, a powerful psychoactive substance derived from magic mushrooms, can safely be used in a controlled setting to help people have positive and often life-altering experiences, a new study shows.
The study is part of a renaissance of research into the benefits of hallucinogenic drugs that were first popularized, and villainized, in the counterculture movements of 1960s.
Ongoing clinical trials are testing agents like LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline to treat alcoholism and other addictions and to ease anxiety and depression in people who are dying of cancer.
Though early results from small studies have been promising, little is known about how best use these powerful mind-bending medications.
The new study, from researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, tested different dosing regimens of psilocybin in 18 healthy adult volunteers.
“Previously, we looked at a single high dose of and showed that it occasioned these mystical-type experiences that had profoundly meaningful and spiritually significant effects,” says study researcher Roland Griffiths, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neuroscience at Hopkins.
After trying psilocybin just one time, many of the volunteers in that 2006 study reported having profound spiritual and mystical experiences that made them more open and honest, less judgmental, and closer to family and friends, and some rated it as the most personally meaningful experience of their lives.
But about one-third of those volunteers also experienced transient periods of overwhelming fear and anxiety. They felt afraid that they were trapped, for example, or that they were going to go insane. Most of the time, those feelings passed during the session, but in a few cases, they went on for hours.
“That’s known to be one of the risks of recreational use of these compounds: People can have panic reactions, fearful reactions, and the danger is that they’re going to engage in dangerous behaviors that then put themselves or others at risk,” Griffiths says.
In the new study, Griffiths and his team found that when the dose of psilocybin was reduced slightly, most people still had the transformative mystical experience, with far less fear and anxiety.
“The optimal dose appears to be lower than what we were using,” he says. “You can back the dose down and pretty dramatically, like fivefold, decrease the rates of these fearful anxiety responses while only marginally decreasing the mystical-type experiences.”
Nearly 75% of the study volunteers reported having positive, highly beneficial experiences on the two highest psilocybin doses used in the study. Almost half rated taking the drug in a supportive, therapeutic setting as the single most meaningful experience of their lives.
The study is published in Neuropsychopharmacology.
- JOHNS HOPKINS STUDY (PDF) PROBES “SACRED MUSHROOM” CHEMICAL
Scientists seek dosage “sweet spot,” find positive effects lasting over a year
Early humanity has left compelling testimonies of its entheogenic traditions in the archaeological record. In the Shanidar cave in Iraq, there is evidence that approximately 60,000 years ago Neanderthal culture had specialized knowledge of medicinal plants and incorporated them in the burial of an apparent shaman leader. Today shamanism is recognized as the primal and universal belief system reaching back to deepest antiquity, a practice that survives intact in many cultures around the worldIts influence on the historical emergence of Western civilization, however, has been all but ignored.
Historians of Europe’s debt to the Greco-Roman tradition have been largely blind to it in their own backyard, apart from admitting, for instance, that the Druids may have been shamans and that shamanism was the likely archaic, animistic religion of Paleolithic “Old Europe.” Even less of a shamanic provenance is ascribed to the Classical tradition, that great fountainhead of Western civilization.
Plato explicitly claims that his dialogues are just the preparation for a vision of the Ideal or archetype of reality that only comes after an extended regime of spiritual practices, for which he employed the famous metaphor of the Cave and a Mystery initiation. Plato, like Aristotle after him, was initiated into the venerable entheogenic.
Thus entheogenic shamanism is also at the heart of what we have come to call Greek philosophy. Sophists and philosophers were probably all shaman priests, at least in the common mind; a sophist, after all, is nothing other than a sabio or sabia. It was from such a “wise-woman,” the famous Diotima, who was also adept at banishing plagues, that Socrates learned the metaphysical nature of love that he expounds in the Symposium.
By the Hellenistic period, similar and derivative entheogenic rituals were well established among spiritual communities like the Therapeutai, a mystical Jewish group with such pronounced similarities to Christianity that they were once thought to be the earliest documented monastic community of the sect. From the shores of the Dead Sea, the Essene brotherhood is another group that influenced early Christian practice, being exposed to the trade routes with the Orient that facilitated the mingling of ideas between the great civilizations of Eurasia.
The Persian Magi were visitors to many ancient cities, performing their shamanic rites from the Athenian marketplace to ancient Judea and beyond. Moreover, port cities like the Peiraieus of Athens and Roman Ostia had multiethnic populaces with sanctuaries of their foreign rites.
Thus, as we can see even from this cursory treatment, many of the most significant developments of Western culture were inspired by a central spiritual, ecstatic impetus that most often, if not always, included access to altered states through the use of entheogens. As Plato eloquently documented, “Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided madness is given us by way of divine gift.”
Freedom of Religion, These natural chemicals remain illegal in the U.S., An attack on the foundation of religions. Finally the world is realizing they’re medicine and have spirutal significance and should be treated as such.
Origins of religion?
Adam & Eve
Entheogen (“generating the divine within”) is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Entheogens can supplement many diverse practices for transcendence, and revelation, including meditation, psychonautics, psychedelic and visionary art, psychedelic therapy, and magic.
- K. A. MacLean, M. W. Johnson, R. R. Griffiths. Mystical Experiences Occasioned by the Hallucinogen Psilocybin Lead to Increases in the Personality Domain of Openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0269881111420188
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. “Single dose of ‘magic mushrooms’ hallucinogen may create lasting personality change, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2011. .
http://www.reset.me/ , an independent journalism site covering psychedelics and natural medicines.
Sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entheogen , https://realitysandwich.com/113388/first_supper_entheogens_origin_religion/
Religious Medicines Criminalized