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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

Gateway to Inner Space: A Festschrift in Honor of Albert Hofmann.

Ratsch, Christian. (Editor). (1989).
Bridport, Dorset: Prism Press.

ISBN: 1-85327-037-7

Description: Paperback first edition, x + 258 pages, translated by John Baker, published in Australia by Unity Press in 1990.

Contents: Introduction by Christian Ratsch, 12 chapters, bibliography, contributors to volume.

Contributors: Wolfgang Greer, Stanislav Leuner, Terence K. Metzner, Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Charles Naranjo, Tom Schlichting, Richard Baker, Bernd Warmbier.

Excerpt(s): For thousands of years, psychedelic drugs have been used during sacred rituals in almost every ancient culture throughout the world. Ethnopharmacological research has shown that the aim was to attain direct spiritual experience, during which the individual made contact with higher worlds in order to gain knowledge and wisdom for his further life. In Western industrialized societies, where spiritual experiences are no longer an immediate aspect of our culture, it is hard for us to understand the unity of this continuum of experience.

The break with our own mythos which occurred during the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution left us with only "half" a culture. Rationalism, the belief in science, materialism, and Christianity all offered hope, but none was able to compensate for the lost half, through which it had been possible for each person to find wholeness through the direct experience of his own divinity. In addition, the triumph of rationalist worker societies went hand in hand with the social prohibition of psychedelic drugs.

Instead, a marked preference emerged for such sedative and narcotic drugs as alcohol, tranquilizers, and barbiturates, which resulted in rendering large sections of society dependent or even addicted to the point of self-destruction. (page 133)

There are a variety of spiritual techniques which can lead to states similar to those attainable through drugs: Breathing techniques (hyperventilation, pranayama, rebirthing), meditation, abstention from sleep and food, ecstasy in dance, music, or tantric sex. Because specific psychedelica enable us to attain certain states with an ease which varies starkly from that of other often strenuous and sometimes medieval methods, the former are usually preferred. The danger lies in assuming a passive attitude to the consumption of drugs. The two paths are by no means mutually exclusive; they can complement one another and result in a new, more intense path where cosmic experiences attained using drugs provide the motivation to greater exertions along the path of the spirit. The anticipation of such an experience may yield new perspectives along a developmental path which would otherwise be threatened by forgetfulness and daily routine. (page 142)

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