Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers.
Schultes, Richard Evans, and Hofmann, Albert. (1992).
Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Arts paperback, 192 pages. Published by McGraw-Hill in 1979.
Contents: Preface, introduction,
24 unnumbered chapters, epilogue, further readings, picture credits,
Excerpt(s): A few plants,
however, had inexplicable effects that transported the human mind
to realms of ethereal wonder. These plants are the hallucinogens.
In the early stages of development, human beings needed to explain
all natural phenomena. How could they understand the startling
effects of these few psychoactive plants that put them into communication
with the spirit world? These plants were the residences of divinities
or other spiritual forces. Some were even considered gods. The
intimate relationship between the human and plant world is easily
discerned, but the production of substances profoundly affecting
the mind and spirit is often not so easily recognized. These are
the plants that make up the substance of Plants of the Gods,
focusing attention on the origin of their use and the effect that
they have had on man's development. Plants that alter the normal
functions of the mind and body have always been considered by
peoples in nonindustrial societies as sacred, and
the hallucinogens have been "plants of the gods" par
excellence. (Preface, page 7)
Primitive man, trying all sorts of plant materials
as food, must have known the ecstatic hallucinatory effects of
Hemp, an intoxication introducing him to an other-worldly plane
leading to religious beliefs. Thus the plant early was viewed
as a special gift of the gods, a sacred medium for communion with
the spirit world. ... In Thebes, Hemp was made into a drink said
to have opium-like properties. ... And knowledge of the intoxicating
effects of Hemp goes far back in Indian history, as indicated
by the deep mythological and spiritual beliefs about the plant.
One preparation Bhang, was so sacred that it was thought to deter
evil, bring luck, and cleanse man of sin. Those treading upon
the leaves of this holy plant would suffer harm or disaster, and
sacred oaths were sealed over Hemp. The favorite drink of Indra,
god of the firmament, was made of Cannabis, and the Hindu
god Shiva commanded that the word Bhangi must be chanted repeatedly
during sowing, weeding, and harvesting of the holy plant. ...
While there is no direct mention of Hemp in the Bible, several
obscure passages may refer tangentially to the effects of Cannabis
resin or Hashish.
It is perhaps in the Himalayas of India and the
Tibetan plateau that Cannabis preparations assumed their
greatest hallucinogenic importance in religious contexts. ...
The Tibetans considered Cannabis sacred. A Mahayana Buddhist
tradition maintains that during the six steps of asceticism leading
to his enlightenment, Buddha lived on one Hemp seed a day. He
is often depicted with "Soma leaves" in his begging
bowl and the mysterious god- narcotic Soma has
occasionally been identified with Hemp. In Tantric Buddhism of
the Himalayas of Tibet, Cannabis plays a very significant
role in the meditative ritual used to facilitate deep meditation
and heighten awareness ...
Hemp has spread to many areas of the New World,
but with few exceptions the plant has not penetrated significantly
into many native American religious beliefs and ceremonies. There
are, however, exceptions such as its use under the name Rosa Maria,
by the Tepeccano Indians of northwest Mexico, who occasionally
employ Hemp when Peyote is not available. It has recently been
learned that Indians in the Mexican states of Veracruz,
Puebla practice a communal
curing ceremony with a plant called Santa Rosa, identified as
Cannabis sativa, which is considered both a plant and a
sacred intercessor with the Virgin. (pages 98-101)
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