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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


Mushrooms: Psychedelic Fungi.

Furst, Peter E. (1986).
London: Burke Publishing Co.


ISBN: 0-222-01451-2 hardbound
0-222-01452-0 paperback


Description: Hardcover, 115 pages, a volume in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs (25 volume set).


Contents: Introduction, 7 chapters, appendix: Molecular Structures of Psychoactive Compounds, some useful addresses, further reading, glossary, index.


Note: The author's name should read: Furst, Peter T.


Excerpt(s): The psychoactive mushrooms can be divided into two classes: those containing ibotenic acid and muscimol, and those containing psilocybin and its related alkaloids. The first class includes the fly agaric A. muscaria, and its close relative, A. pantherina. Only those mushrooms of the first class are known to have served as sacred inebriants in tribal cultures scattered across much of northern Siberia, in northern Scandinavia , and Finland, where the use of mushrooms are well-documented. There is reason to believe that the fly agaric was an integral part of ecstatic rituals in religions of pre-Christian Europe. (page 26)


Mushrooms have been very significant in the history of religion and psychotherapy. The same fly agaric to which the Sanskrit poets sang their praises in the Soma hymns of the Rig Veda in 1500 BC was the focus of a Bronze Age sun cult in Scandinavia. Indians in pre-Columbian Mexico carved stone idols of mushrooms 2500 years ago. The Codex Vienna-one of the few pre-Columbian pictorial manuscripts to survive the ravages of the Spanish conquest of Mexico-identifies the sacred mushrooms as female earth deities, and credits the gods themselves with establishing the ritual of their use. Spanish clerics, after converting the Indians to Christianity, tried, yet failed to uproot the mushrooms from their converts' religious life. Well into the 20th century, the Laplanders in northern Finland and the tribal peoples of Siberia-especially the shamans, who were specialists in sacred matters, creators of ecstacy, and repositories of ancient knowledge-continued to use these fungi to raise themselves into states of divine inspiration and inebriation. Today psychoactive fungi are still employed by Mexican Indian peoples in divinatory psychotherapy (therapy that focuses on mental and/or emotional problems). (page 29)



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