Greek drama, Dionysian festivals and rituals, ancient Mystery religions, Orphism, Zoroaster, Mithraism, ancient Christian heretical sects, the role of entheogens in the evolution of human consciousness and religions, Mythology, secret sacraments in medieval and Renaissance art, ancient and medieval eschatology, fairy-tales and European folklore, secret societies and craft guilds, prehistoric rock art, Greek epigraphy, structural linguistics, Latin and Greek grammar, Mesoamerican shamanism.
Entheogens, Myth & Human Consciousness by Carl A. P. Ruck and Mark A. Hoffman makes the case for entheogens being at the foundation of the religions and myths of the Western world. Entheogens make sense of the ancient myths, especially the ancient Greek ones, and the myths provide a framework for understanding what occurs in experiences utilizing these substances.
While probably not of interest to people interested solely in the science or medicinal approaches to psychedelics, this book would definitely be of interest to anyone working in mythology, religion, or the history of entheogens.
Carl Ruck is best known for his work in mythology and religion on the sacred role of entheogens as used in religious or shamanistic rituals. His focus has been on the use of entheogens in classical western culture, as well as their historical influence on modern western religions. He currently teaches at Boston University. Mark Alwin Hoffman, with degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from San Diego State University and based in Taos, New Mexico, is editor of Entheos: The Journal of Psychedelic Spirituality. He has written on shamanism, ancient religions, early Christianity and the role of visionary sacraments in western mystery tradition. Jose Alfredo González Celdrán is a professor of ancient Greek based in Murcía, Spain, and is the author of Las Puertas de Moeris, an historical novel, and Homres, Dioses, y Hongos (Men, Gods, and Mushrooms) on the role of psychoactive mushrooms in myth and religion, as well as essays in collaboration with an archaeologist on entheogens.
Entheogens are psychoactive substances that induce 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, healings, asceticism, prayer, trance, rituals, chanting, imitation of sounds, 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.
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.
Shamans all over the world and in different cultures have traditionally used entheogens, especially psychedelics, for their religious experiences. In these communities the absorption of drugs leads to dreams (visions) through sensory distortion. The psychedelic experience is often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as those experienced in meditation, and mystical experiences. Ego dissolution is often described as a key feature of the psychedelic experience.
Indian history overfloweth with deep mythological and spiritual beliefs about this plant. Indian Vedas sang of Cannabis as one of the divine nectars, able to give humankind anything from good health and long life to visions of the gods. One preparation of it, Bhang, was so sacred that it was thought to deter evil, bring luck, and cleanse man of sin. Those treading upon the leaves of this holy plant would suffer harm or disaster, and sacred oaths were sealed over Hemp. Soma, the favorite herbal drink of Indra, god of the firmament, was believed to have come from Cannabis, and the Hindu god Shiva commanded that the word Bhangi must be chanted repeatedly during sowing, weeding, and harvesting of the holy plant. 2b1af7f3a8