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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


Psychology and Religion: An Introduction to Contemporary Views.

Spinks, G. Stephens. (1965).
Boston: Beacon Press.


ISBN: none

Description: hardcover, xvi + 221 pages.

Contents: preface, 12 chapters divided into 2 parts: Part 1. Psychological Theories and Religion, Part 2. Psychology and Religious Practices, Appendix 1. The Nature of the Soul, 2. Psychology, Theology and the Soul, 3. Assimilation and Conventionalization in Religion, 4. Ontogenesis and Phylogenesis and the Theory of Recapitulation, bibliography, index of names, index of subjects.

Note: First published in Great Britain by Methuen & Co. in 1963.

Excerpt(s): If drugs produce experiences which seem to be pseudo- transcendental in character then the experiences which follow the self-inflicted tortures of ascetics, Christian and non-Christian alike, are by the same token, open to the same objection. There is psychologically and chemically very little difference between taking a drug and submitting oneself to such masochistic mortifications as those endured over many years by the Blessed Suso, except that the former is pleasurable and the latter horrifyingly painful. The nervous system is always being affected chemically. When the Lenten fast is observed with strictness for forty days, the chemistry of the body is strongly affected. Many of the most vivid visions of the medieval mystics seem to have occurred during periods of prolonged fasting. When ascetic practices include such mortifications of the flesh as flagellation the effect of such beating is *the equivalent of fairly extensive surgery without anaesthetics'. As a result large quantities of histamine and adrenalin are released into the blood stream and when, as usually happens among ascetics, the self- inflicted wounds begin to fester, they release other toxins which further affect the action of the brain. (page 172)

The chemistry of the physical processes does not necessarily invalidate the quality of the result. It is the quality of the result that is to be judged and not the physical or psychological processes by which it is obtained. We may, therefore, adopt a suggestion made by Evelyn Underhill that what are often described as *mystical automations' are *the media by which the self receives spiritual stimulus'; so it may be argued that drug-induced or ascetically induced experiences can be the means by which the human personality is laid open to the suggestion of the unconscious through whose primordial imagery the deeper activities of the soul emerge as conscious recognition of the transcendental. (page 173)



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