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