Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Age of Entheogens & The Angels' Dictionary
Ott, Jonathan (1995)
Natural Products Co.: Kennewick, WA.
Description: paperback, 160 pages.
Contents: The Age of Entheogens: Exordium, 4 chapters, notes, interlude, bibliography. The Angels' Dictionary: Exordium, The Angels' Dictionary, Toward a Vocabulary for Sacred Inebriants, Ecstatic States and Kindred Topics, index, acknowledgements.
... The resulting 'counter-cultural' movement of the 'Psychedelic Sixties' marked an unprecedented departure from business as usual, setting the stage for a modern Entheogenic Reformation, which promises to evoke more radical and far-reaching changes in western religion than did its predecessor. Indeed, Martin Luther's 95 theses of October 1517 packed far less punch than did Gordon Wasson's one thesis 440 years later - for Wasson had peeled away the ossified accretion of many, many layers of symbol and dogma which enshrouded the core Mystery in impenetrable obfuscation; had laid bare before the eyes of an astonished world, in all its dazzling quotidian humility, the holy sacrament itself, a sacrament which "carried its own conviction" and did not limp along encumbered by faith in an absurd Doctrine of Transubstantiation; a sacrament which obviated the necessity of faith itself, allowing every communicant to attest to "the miracle he has experienced." (age 11)
Shamanic ecstasy is the real 'Old Time Religion,' of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder ... is no religion at all.
We stand on the threshold of a new millennium which will determine whether our species continues to grow and prosper, or destroys itself in a cataclysmic biological and cultural holocaust unprecedented in the last 65 million years of life on this planet. We suffer a crisis of faith in the modern world, we frightened somnambulists stumbling in a lethean, penumbral dream-world of materialistic delusion, and we desperately need the healing balm of shamanic ecstasy to salve the lesions of materialism. The Entheogenic Reformation is our brightest hope for overcoming the evil and hypocritical, sixteen-hundred-year-old crusade to excise religious experience from human memory, to eliminate genuine religion from the face of the Earth. May the Entheogenic Reformation prevail over the Pharmacratic Inquisition, leading to the spiritual rebirth of humankind at Our Lady Gaea's breasts, from which may ever copiously flow the amrta, the ambrosia, the ayahuasca of eternal life! (page 14)
The Age of Entheogens
... With the passing years, the Wasson Theory has become so widely accepted by specialists as to be considered beyond serious dispute. Shamanism is the earliest manifestation of culture; the shaman the first professional and the precursor of the priest, physician, musician, and every artist alike. Visionary ecstasy is the primal heart and soul of shamanism and religious revelation, and the use of entheogenic plant sacraments is the most archaic, fundamental and pangaean (not to mention effective) technique for the induction of shamanic ecstasy. There could be no more appropriate designation for our millenary, preliterate past than the Age of Entheogens. (page 18)
... Pursuant to R. Gordon Wasson's wish for a vocabulary to describe divine inebriants, Carl A. P. Ruck, Danny Staples, Jeremy Bigwood and I, in collaboration with Wasson, proposed the neologism entheogen[ic] in 1979, as a term "appropriate for describing states of shamanic and ecstatic possession induced by ingestion of mind-altering drugs." Noting that shamanic inebriants did not provoke hallucinations or other psychiatric pathologies, we deemed hallucinogen[ic], psychotomimetic and its congeners to be pejorative, prejudcing "transcendent and beatific states of communion with deity" characteristic of traditional use of visionary drugs. We noted that, besides being pejorative outside of the counterculture, psychedelic was "so invested with connotations of the pop-culture of the 1960s that it is incongruous to speak of a shaman's taking a 'psychedelic' drug." Entheogen[ic] (literally 'becoming divine within') was derived from an obsolete Greek word describing religious communion with visionary drugs, prophetic seizures and erotic passion, and is cognate with the common word enthusiasm. Since the neologism is apposite to traditional contexts of use of shamanic inebriants, it has met with an enthusiastic reception by ethnographers and historians, and has appeared in print in all of the major European languages, plus Catalan. Entheogen[ic] has now become the primary term for shamanic inebriants in the Spanish-speaking world, and bids fair to become the predominant term for these drugs in the ethnographic and ethnopharmacognostical literature worldwide. (pages 66-67)
The reader will notice that 37 of 318 entries (12%) are neologisms, of which 18 or half are my own; with novel words by R. Gordon Wasson, Ernst Junger, Thomas Szasz and 11 other linguistic pioneers. Many of these new terms are scientific, and it is only natural that we should create neologisms in our gropings toward a vocabulary for that which is, by definition, beyond words. I make no pretense of comprehensive definitions (and include neither etymologies nor pronunciations) but focus exclusively on the senses of the words apposite to my subject. Some terms are included with an eye toward highlighting significant events in the history of visionary inebriants, and especially their repression. There are numerous cross-references to the definitions, leading the reader to related concepts and terms. Defined words, when used in any of the definitions, are capitalized for further convenience. Page citations to quotations generally refer to the first, original editions of the works in question. (page 68)
- Age of Entheogens nov. verb. - Bygone era in which shamanic ingestion of entheogenic plants was 'the highest vehicle for the expression of man's religious yearnings,' or that stage of cultural evolution in remote outposts of the contemporary world characterized by the survival and primacy of shamanism and use of entheogenic plant Sacraments. See: Entheogen, Pagan, Wasson Theory.
1980 Wasson The Wondrous Mushroom, 221. I have sometimes asked myself whether the unlettered ages, stretching back through aeons of time, were not those belonging peculiarly to the entheogens, the Age of entheogens. (page 70)
- Wasson Theory nov. verb. - The hypothesis, first elucidated by R. Gordon and Valentina P. Wasson in the 1950s, of the origins of religions and other aspects of human culture, in the primigenial ingestion of entheogenic plants by Shamans in pre- and proto-history. See: Age of Entheogens, Entheogen, Shaman.
1990 Ott The Sacred Mushroom Seeker, 189. Underlying the theory, which must henceforth be known as The Wasson Theory, is the greatest discovery ever made in the nascent field of ethnopharmacognosy. If, as I believe, The Wasson Theory is true, then the truth will eventually emerge, and Gordon and Valentina Wasson will take their rightful places in the company of the other giants of modern science. (page 145)
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2002 CSP