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Daily Archives: February 4, 2017
Posted: February 4, 2017 at 1:58 am
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The word entheogen is a modern term derived from two Ancient Greek words, (entheos) and (genesthai). Entheos literally means “god (theos) within”, more freely translated “inspired”. The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means “to cause to be” or becoming. So an entheogen is “that which causes God (or godly inspiration) to be within a person”.
In its strictest sense the term refers to a psychoactive substance (most often some plant matter with hallucinogenic effects) that occasions enlightening spiritual or mystical experience, within the parameters of a cult, in the original non-pejorative sense of cultus. In a broader sense, the word “entheogen” refers to artificial as well as natural substances that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional shamanic inebriants, even if it is used in a secular context.
The word “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 literal meaning of the word is “that which causes God to be within an individual”. The translation “creating the divine within” is sometimes given, but it should be noted that entheogen implies neither that something is created (as opposed to just perceiving something that is already there) nor that that which is experienced is within the user (as opposed to having independent existence).
The term was coined as a replacement for the terms “hallucinogen” (popularized by Aldous Huxley’s experiences with mescaline, published as The Doors of Perception in 1953) and “psychedelic” (a Greek neologism for “soul-revealing”, coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, who was quite surprised when the well-known author, Aldous Huxley, volunteered to be a subject in experiments Osmond was running on mescaline). Ruck et al. argued that the term “hallucinogen” was inappropriate due to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term “psychedelic” was also seen as problematic, due 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.
The meanings of the term “entheogen” were formally defined by Ruck et al.:
Since 1979, when the term was proposed, its use has become widespread in certain circles. In particular, the word fills a vacuum for those users of entheogens who feel that the term “hallucinogen”, which remains common in medical, chemical and anthropological literature, denigrates their experience and the world view in which it is integrated. Use of the strict sense of the word has therefore arisen amongst religious entheogen users, and also amongst others who wish to practice spiritual or religious tolerance.
The use of the word “entheogen” in its broad sense as a synonym for “hallucinogenic drug” has attracted criticism on three grounds. On pragmatic grounds, the objection has been raised that the meaning of the strict sense of “entheogen”, which is of specific value in discussing traditional, historical and mythological uses of entheogens in religious settings, is likely to be diluted by widespread, casual use of the term in the broader sense. Secondly, some people object to the misuse of the root theos (god in ancient Greek) in the description of the use of hallucinogenic drugs in a non-religious context, and coupled with the climate of religious tolerance or pluralism that prevails in many present-day societies, the use of the root theos in a term describing non-religious drug use has also been criticised as a form of taboo deformation. Thirdly there are some substances that at least partially fulfil the definition of an entheogen that is given above, but are not hallucinogenic in the usual sense. One important example is the bread and wine of the Christian Eucharist.
Ideological objections to the broad use of the term often relate to the widespread existence of taboos surrounding psychoactive drugs, with both religious and secular justifications. The perception that the broad sense of the term “entheogen” is used as a euphemism by hallucinogenic drug-users bothers both critics and proponents of the secular use of hallucinogenic drugs. Critics frequently see the use of the term as an attempt to obscure what they perceive as illegitimate motivations and contexts of secular drug use. Some proponents also object to the term, arguing that the trend within their own subcultures and in the scientific literature towards the use of term “entheogen” as a synonym for “hallucinogen” devalues the positive uses of drugs in contexts that are secular but nevertheless, in their view, legitimate.
Beyond the use of the term itself, the validity of drug-induced, facilitated, or enhanced religious experience has been questioned. The claim that such experiences are less valid than religious experience without the use of any chemical catalysts faces the problem that the descriptions of religious experiences by those using entheogens are indistinguishable from many reports of religious experiences without drugs. In an attempt to empirically answer the question about whether drugs can actually facilitate religious experience, the Marsh Chapel Experiment was conducted by physician and theology doctoral candidate, Walter Pahnke, under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In the double-blind experiment, volunteer graduate school divinity students from the Boston area almost all claimed to have had profound religious experiences under the influence of psilocybin. (A brief video about the Marsh Chapel experiment can be viewed here.)
Naturally occurring entheogens such as Datura were, for the most part, discovered and used by older cultures, as part of their spiritual and religious life, as plants and agents which were respected, or in some cases revered. By contrast, artificial and modern entheogens, such as MDMA, never had a tradition of religious use.
Currently entheogens are used in three principal ways: as part of established traditions and religions, secularly for personal spiritual development, and secularly in a manner similar to recreational drugs. A lesser use of entheogens for medical and therapeutic use is rarely pursued due to legislative and cultural objections.
The use of entheogens in human cultures is generally ubiquitous throughout recorded history. The number of entheogen-using cultures is therefore very large. Some of the instances better known to Western scholarship are discussed here.
The best-known entheogen-using culture of Africa is the Bwitists, who used a preparation of the root bark of Iboga (Tabernanthe iboga). A famous entheogen of ancient Egypt is the blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea). There is evidence for the use of entheogenic mushrooms in Cte d’Ivoire (Samorini 1995). Numerous other examples of the use of plants in shamanic ritual in Africa are yet to be investigated by western science.
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 of Oklahoma. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_E._Schultes) Used traditionally by many cultures of what is now Mexico, its use spread to throughout North America in the 19th century, replacing the toxic entheogen Sophora secundiflora (mescal bean). Other well-known entheogens used by Mexican cultures include psilocybin mushrooms (known to the Aztecs under the Nahuatl name teonanacatl), the seeds of several morning glories (Nahuatl: tlitliltzin and ololiuhqui) and Salvia divinorum (Mazateco: Ska Pastora; Nahuatl: pipiltzintzintli).
Urarina shaman, 1988
Indigenous peoples of South America employ a wide variety of entheogens. Better-known examples include ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi plus admixtures) among indigenous peoples (such as the Urarina) of Peruvian Amazonia. Other well-known entheogens include: borrachero (Brugmansia spp); San Pedro Trichocereus spp); and various tryptamine-bearing snuffs, for example Epen (Virola spp), Vilca and Yopo (Anadananthera spp). The familiar tobacco plant, when used uncured in large doses in shamanic contexts, also serves as an entheogen in South America.
In addition to indigenous use of entheogens in the Americas, one should also note their important role in contemporary religions movements, such as Rastafarianism and the Church of the Universe.
The indigeneous peoples of Siberia (from whom the term shaman was appropriated) have used the fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) as an entheogen. The ancient inebriant Soma, mentioned often in the Vedas, may have been an entheogen. (In his 1967 book, Wasson argues that Soma was fly agaric. The active ingredient of Soma is now presumed to be ephedrine, an alkaloid with entheogenic properties derived from the soma plant, identified as Ephedra pachyclada.)
The use of entheogens in Europe was all but eliminated with the rise of post-Roman Christianity and especially during the great witch hunts of Early Modernity. European witches used various entheogens, including deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) and henbane (Hyoscyamus niger). These plants were used, among other things, for the manufacture of “flying ointments”. In Christian society, witches were commonly believed to fly through the air on broomsticks after coating them with the ointment and applying them to the skin. Consequently, any association with these plants could have proven extremely dangerous and lead to one’s execution as a practitioner of witchcraft. The imposition 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 possibly entheogenic substance known as kykeon. Similarly, there is evidence that nitrous oxide or ethylene may have been in part resposible for the visions of the equally long-lived Delphic oracle.
In the Christian era the Eucharist plays a symbolic role in religious tradition that has occasionally attracted the label of “entheogen” or “placebo entheogen”, even though it does not conform to the original definition involving the use of vision-inducing substances.
The entheogenic use of substances, particularly hashish, by ancient Sufis is well-documented. Its use by the “Hashshashin” to stupefy and recruit new initiates was widely reported during the Crusades. However, the drug used by the Hashshashin was likely wine, opium, henbane, or some combination of these, and, in any event, the use of this drug was for stupefaction rather than for entheogenic use. 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. John Marco Allegro has argued in his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that early Jewish and Christian sects and cults were based on the use of Amanita muscaria, though this hypothesis has not achieved widespread currency.
Indigenous Australians are generally supposed 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. Natives of Papua New Guinea are known to use several species of entheogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe spp, Boletus manicus). It has been suggested that the Mori of New Zealand used Mori Kava (Macropiper excelsum) as an entheogen (Bock 2000).
Although entheogens are taboo in Christian and Islamic societies, their ubiquity and prominence in the spiritual traditions of other cultures is unquestioned. The entheogen, “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.” (Ruck and Staples)
Most of the well-known modern examples, such as peyote, psilocybe and other psychoactive mushrooms and ololiuhqui, 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:
The Kykeon that preceded initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries is another entheogen, which was investigated (before the word was coined) by Carl Kereny, in Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Other entheogens in the Ancient Near East and the Aegean include the poppy, Datura, the unidentified “lotus” eaten by the Lotus-Eaters in the Odyssey and Narkissos.
According to Ruck, Eyan, and Staples, the familiar shamanic entheogen that the Indo-Europeans brought with them was knowledge of the wild Amanita mushroom. 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” (Ruck and Staples). Robert Graves, in his foreword to The Greek Myths, argues that the ambrosia of various pre-Hellenic tribes were amanita and possibly panaeolus mushrooms.
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.
Even in cultures where they are acceptable, improper use of an entheogen, by the unauthorized or uninitiated, has led to disgrace, exile, and even death. The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden can be understood as such a parable of an entheogen misused, for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge by its very nature is clearly part of what is denoted by “entheogen” a point made clearly by God:
Indeed the entheogen offers 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:
Consumption of the imaginary mushroom anochi as the entheogen underlying the creation of Christianity is the premise of Philip K. Dick’s last (science fiction) novel, “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer”.
Aldous Huxley’s final novel, Island (1962), depicted a fictional entheogenic 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.
In his book “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East”,  John M. Allegro argues etymologically that Christianity developed out of the use of a psychedelic mushroom, the true body of Christ, which was later forgotten by its adherents.
de:Entheogen es:Entegeno fr:enthogne no:Enteogen
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Posted: at 1:58 am
A selection of the best articles on entheogens:
In the Beginning: The Birth of a Psychedelic Culture By John Perry BarlowThe introduction of LSD may have been the most important event in the cultural history of America since the 1860s. Before acid hit, even rebels such as Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitmanbelieved in God-given authority. But after one had rewired one’s self with LSD, authoritybecame hilarious, and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
Voyaging to DMT Space with Dr. Rick Strassman, M.D. By Martin W. BallDr. Rick Strassman, pioneering psychedelic researcher, discusses his new book,Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies as well as Zen Buddhism, psychedelics and spirituality, Old Testament prophecy and more in this fascinating interview.
LSD as a Spiritual Aid By Albert HofmannThere is common consent that the evolution of mankind is paralleled by the increase and expansion of consciousness. From the described process of how consciousness originates and develops, it becomes evident that its growth depends on its faculty of perception. Therefore every means of improving this faculty should be used.
Positive Possibilities for Psychedelics: A Time of Tentative Celebration By James FadimanFor those of us involved with psychedelics, this is a time of unexpected changes, a time of tentative celebration. After decades of winter, the ice is thinning. The warming trends toward legalization; increased religious, medical, and psychotherapeutic use; scientific exploration; and cultural acceptance are encouraging.
2012 and the Psychedelic Shamans By Thomas RazzetoIn my opinion, world conditions are not the point of the 2012 message. The message is more profound. It is about the fundamental principle of reality, as revealed by the psychedelic experiences of the shamans.
Heart of the Great Spirit: The Peyote Cactus By Stephen GrayI’ve been hesitant to share details regarding the NAC. It was only the approval of Native spiritual elder Kanucas that gave me the feeling it was appropriate to share this information with a wider audience. This church is a refuge of sanity in a disturbed world. It’s a sacred treasure to be protected and nurtured with the utmost respect and sensitivity.
Mushroom Gnosis: Simon Powell’s Psilocybin Solution By Diana Reed SlatteryPracticing xenolinguist Diana Slattery writes about Simon Powells new book,”The Psilocybin Solution, The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning,” that concerns the ability of the psilocybin experience to deliver high-speed downloads; information transmission as communication with the Other; and especially, information delivered as a visual language of intense concentration.
Consciousness and Asian Traditions: An Evolutionary Perspective By Roger WalshThe original shamans and their external technologies induce a sense of freedom from embodiment. The early yogis carry that freedom into the disentanglement of consciousness from phenomena and the world. The Vedantic tradition recognizes that the self and the divine are actually one, and the non-dual traditions recognize that all is divine.
The Universal Heart By Daniel MolerThe shaman is the pure embodiment of Love. He spent every waking moment giving of himself and healing our spirits, as the true embodiment of self-sacrifice. I understand now why the Peruvian shamans had no issue with adopting the Christ story into the Pachakti Mesa tradition.
What Can Entheogens Teach Us? By James OrocThe more a compound disrupts the Ego, the physically safer (less toxic) that compound will be, while the more a ‘drug’ reinforces and inflates the sense of Ego, the more physically harmful (toxic) that compound will be.
The First Supper: Entheogens and the Origin of Religion By Ruck Hoffman Gonzalez CeldranIt has been speculated that the rapid increase in hominid brain size 1.5 million years ago occurred when our ancestors began to consume consciousness-altering foods. Perhaps our species became truly human when we began eating sacred foods ritualistically in groups, in what can be seen as First Suppers.
On the Edge of Life and Death: The Nios Santos Way By Sarah MaidenWhen I first encountered the mushrooms, I had been taking antidepressants for years. The mushrooms told me I was an addict and that the pills were toxic to me. After being hospitalized due to my reaction to Paxil at age 19, I decided the mushrooms were right. Eventually, I met a Mazatec grandmother who holds a Nios Santos lineage of curandisimo.
Energy, Ego, and Entheogens: The Reality of Human Liberation from Illusion By Martin W. BallRecently, I published an article criticizing Terence McKenna’s lectures on DMT. The article generated a great deal of backlash and some serious questions. Now I’d like to follow up on the issue of human liberation from self-generated illusions.
Meditation and “Drugs” By Jay MichaelsonIt’s a not-so-dirty little secret that most of today’s leading meditation teachers were interested in drugs. By “drugs,” of course, I don’t mean alcohol or Oxycontin, but rather that subset of chemicals which our society has deemed unfit for human consumption, including cannabis, psilocybin, MDMA, and others.
Salva Divinorum: Intensification By J.D. ArthurSalvia allows one, even instructs one, to gradually, and without fear, abandon the framework of reason that’s based on a cumbersome conceptual reference. It can lead to a unique state that one might characterize as “thoughtless awareness.” This state, although on the surface seemingly paradoxical, is actually strangely and reassuringly familiar.
When Prayer Meets Medicine By Stephen GrayWhen the peyote takes effect and the energy really gets rolling, the songs begin to sing the singers, the drum is a living spirit, and the fire has things to show us. It’s a radically different way to pray. If we can find skillful ways to combine the visionary, teaching, healing medicines with our intentions, with our prayers, a whole new landscape of possibility opens up.
Adventures with Mazatec Mint: Exploring the Mind-Bending World of Salvia Divinorum By David Jay BrownAnumber of researchers think that salvinorin A, the potent dissociative psychedelic compound found in this perennial herb from Oaxaca, may have applications as an antidepressant, an analgesic, and as a therapeutic tool for treating drug addictions, some types of stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Divine Voyeurs: Salvia on YouTube By Rak RazamSalvia divinorum, also known as “Diviner’s Sage,” has been called “the most powerful hallucinogenic known to mankind” by enthusiasts on the net. So how does it feel to be on salvia with a camera phone in your face? In the post-Jackass, reality-TV generation nothing is sacred.
Entheogenic Spirituality as a Human Right By Martin W. BallU.S. law sees “freedom of religion” as referring primarily to the freedom to believe and secondarily to the freedom to practice. However, something sorely missing from our legal protections is any recognition of the significance of direct spiritual experience itself, including with sacred plants.
Emerging from the Dark Age: The Revival of Psychedelic Medicine By Charles ShawAfter a forty-year moratorium on research driven by propaganda and political repression, treating some of lifes most challenging illnesses with psychedelic compounds has made a miraculous comeback. A deeply personal story about some of these miracles.
Drugs and Dharma in the 21st Century Allan BadinerTwo great directions in human thought and activity have recently been coming into sharper focus.Interest in Buddhism has not been greater since it was first introduced to China where it proceeded to grow steadily for 500 years, and the serious and thoughtful use of psychedelics is making a resurgence, perhaps more profoundly than in the Sixties.
DMT, Creativity and a Philosophy of Psychedelics By Terra CelesteIn this interview, Mitch Schultz, director of DMT: The Spirit Molecule, describes how a DMT experience inspired him to create a series of documentary films exploring quantum awareness, humanity’s relationship to the life force of Earth, and the role of music, open source ideas, and the cyber-realm in generating new, non-destructive meta-mythiologies.
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Props to Jesse Nichols(@HappyNinjaUX) for reminding parents that childfree adults indeed childfree couples dont hate children. Not necessarily. Not in his case, at least, nor in my case. Kids have been (and will continue to be) an important part of my life. As a teacher, coach, advisor, uncle, friend, and unabashed man-child, children 
At 29, female and happily married, there is one question I despise more than all others. Its the dreaded, When are you going to have kids? People always throw it in there casually, too. Usually between such innocuous questions as, Hows your mother? or, Wheres the bathroom? Just as Im getting comfortable in a conversation, 
How tinted do your grievance glasses have to be to see a bias TOWARDS parents in todays economy? Im sorry, employers value parents? Trying to work and raisechildren at the same time in this country is exhausting and expensive No wonder parents are miserableBut most of the issues articulated in thisFortunepiece are work-life balance issues, 
Since the 1970s, being childfree not wanting children has slowly become more recognized as a legitimate choice[but]we still have a ways to go when it comes to society accepting those with no children without judgment or stigma. This lack of acceptance has played out in the workplace. (Source: The Brutal Truth About Being 
Childfree articles in the press usually get a lot of below-the-line debate. Lilit Marcus, writing for The Guardian about some of the factors behind her decision to remain childfree, definitely stirred the pot last week. Some didnt bother disguising their vitriol, but Ive discovered that theres a new passive-aggressive approach on the block. This approach 
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