Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy.
Eliade, Mircea. (1964).
New York: Pantheon.
and enlarged for the present edition. Originally published in
1951 as Le Chamanisme
et les Techniques Archaiques de l'Extase, Paris: Librairie
Payot, translated by Willard R. Trask,
Bollingen Series Number 76.
Contents: Foreword, note
on orthography, 14 chapters, epilogue, list of works cited, index.
Excerpt(s): The importance
of the intoxication sought from hemp is further confirmed by the
extremely wide dissemination of the Iranian term through Central
Asia. In a number of Ugrian languages the Iranian word for hemp,
bangha, has come to designate both the preeminently shamanic
mushroom Agaricus muscarius (which is used as a means of intoxication
before or during the seance) and intoxication ... The hy mns
to the divinities refer to ecstasy induced by intoxication by
mushrooms. These facts prove that the magico-religious value of
intoxication for achieving ecstasy is of Iranian origin. But what
does this prove concerning the original shamanic experience? Narcotics
are only a vulgar substitute for "pure" trance. We have
already had occasion to note this fact among several Siberian
peoples; the use of intoxicants (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) is a
recent innovation and points to a decadence in shamanic technique.
Narcotic intoxication is called on to provide an imitation of
a state that the shaman is no longer capable of attaining otherwise.
Decadence or (must we add?) vulgarization of a mystical technique-in
ancient and modern India, and indeed all through the East, we
constantly find this strange mixture of "difficult ways"
and "easy ways" of realizing mystical ecstasy or some
other decisive experience. (pages 400-401)
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