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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


The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: Essays for R. Gordon Wasson.

Riedlinger, Thomas J. (Editor). (1990).
Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press.


ISBN: 0-931146-17-8


Description: First edition, 283 pages. Festschrift.


Contents: Preface, foreword by Richard Evans Schultes, 25 unnumbered chapters, 3 appendices: A. Gordon Wasson's Account of his Childhood, B. Bibliography: R. Gordon Wasson and Valentina Pavlovna Wasson, C. The R. Gordon Wasson Ethnomycological Studies Series, index, contributors.


Contributors: Michael A. Britten, J. Christopher Coe, Robert C. Doniger, William A. Furst, Gaston Halifax, Albert Horowitz, Irmgard Weitlander Johnson, La Barre, Frank J. Lowy, Terence Naranjo, Jonathan Richardson, Thomas J. Riedlinger, Carl A. P. Ruck, Richard Evans Schultes, Alexander T. Stresser-Pean.


Excerpt(s): Returning to the subject of the sacred mushrooms, Gordon gladly recounted the high points of the first night he had taken them, more than 30 years past. I got the impression it gave him a genuine thrill of excitement to harken me back to the dark little hut in Huautla, though this was a tale he must have told often.

"Imagine the feeling!," he challenged me. "The darkness was total except for the glowing red embers." Now I was the one who sat wide-eyed, listening carefully, as Gordon recalled the amazing events of that evening.

When he finished, I asked how often since then he had taken the mushrooms.

"About 30 times," Gordon answered, "but not for many years now. Have you ever taken them?"

"Yes," I admitted. Then I told him of something peculiar I had experienced when doing so. Though I do not believe in conventional spiritual entities, the mushrooms had induced a strong feeling that some kind of spirit was present, an invisible, silent entity that stood at the opposite verge of my consciousness. I sensed it to be, not an angel or devil, but something connected in some way to earth and the physical realm; perhaps a tutelary spirit such as primitive societ ies believed to be dwelling in trees, rocks and rivers.

"Have you ever had a similar experience?," I wondered.

Gordon leaned forward again, intensely interested, "There's definitely something there," he told me. "I've written a chapter about it in my next book. It's precisely what I feel on the subject. I weighed every word."

By this, I later learned, he meant his theory that entheogens make people who ingest them aware of the "god generated within." This is not to say the substances themselves are gods, or even that the god within is nothing but a chemical effect. It may be that they awaken us, if only for several hours, to the presence of a real god within or near ourselves, a god that may be one with and also transcendent of our human flesh. Gordon's book, Persephone's Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion (1986) ... does not favor any one of these or other explanations. It seeks only to affirm that "sacred" psychoactive plants-the entheogens-have a certain spontaneous power to compel religious ideation. (Thomas J. Riedlinger, A Latecomer's View of R. Gordon Wasson, pages 215-216)



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