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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Flesh of the Gods: The Ritual Use of Hallucinogens.

Furst, Peter T. (1972).
New York: Praeger.

ISBN: None

Contents: Introduction, 10 chapters, bibliography, index, contributors.

Contributors: Emboden, William A.William A. Emboden, Peter T. Furst, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, Richard Evans Schultes, R. Gordon Wasson, Johannes Wilbert.

Excerpt(s): ... hallucinogens have been part and parcel of man's cultural baggage for thousands of years; moreover, as the other contributors to this volume document, hallucinogenic or psychoactive plants have been of great significance in the ideology and religious practices of a wide variety of peoples the world over, and in some traditional cultures continue to play such a role today. The native peoples of the New World, especially those of Middle and South America, alone utilized nearly a hundred different botanical species for their psychoactive properties, not counting scores of plants used for the brewing of alcoholic beverages to induce ritual intoxication. Anthropologist Weston La Barre ... attributes this phenomenon to a kind of cultural programming for personal ecstatic experiences reaching back to the American Indians' ideological roots in the shamanistic religion of the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic hunting and gathering cultures of northeastern Asia. If La Barre is right-and the cumulative evidence tends to support him-this would take the practice and, more important, its philosophical underpinnings back at least fifteen or twenty thousand years ... (page viii)

In any event, the linguistic, archeological, historical, and ethnographic evidence tends to support the view of some ethnobotanists and anthropologists, this writer included, that the widespread contemporary use of botanical hallucinogens, fermented beverages, and tobacco in New World shamanism does in fact have its remote origins in Old World Paleolithic and Mesolithic shamanism, and that the Paleo-Indian immigrants into North America came culturally predisposed toward consciousness exploration of their new environment for psychotropic plants. This view is supported by the fact that virtually all hallucinogenic plants are extremely bitter and unpleasant to the taste, if not actually nauseating, and that many species require complex pharmacological preparation in order to be effective, thus reducing the likelihood of chance discovery in the course of the everyday food quest. (page ix)

The work of Grof at the Psychiatric Research Center in Prague from 1960 to 1967 involved some fifty patients who underwent a total of 2500 individual sessions in a project designed to study the possibility of the use of LSD for personality diagnosis and therapy of psychogenic disorders. In the course of these sessions patients reported religious experiences and phenomena that, according to Grof, resemble the basic tenets initially of the Judeo-Christian, and then increasingly of the Oriental religions (e.g., bloody sacrifices, suffering and agony leading to death, rebirth and some great good for mankind, cosmic union, eternal circulation of life, etc.) as well as some familiar elements from American Indian religions, particularly those of sacrifice for the ultimate good of man or the gods. (page xii)

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