Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica.
Wasson, R. Gordon. (1980).
McGraw-Hill: New York.
Description: Deluxe first
edition in slipcase, xxvi + 250 + i (colophon) pages. Cover design:
falling drops of entheogenic fluid accompanied
by `disembodied eyes', after a Teotihuanan
mural. Photographs by Allen B. Richardson.
- ISBN: 0-07-068442-1 deluxe
- 0-07-068551-3 trade edition
Contents: Prelude, 11
chapters divided into 2 parts: 1. The Present, 2. The Past, consulted
texts, index. Photographs by Allen B. Richardson.
Excerpt(s): I have often
taken the sacred mushrooms, but never for a `kick' or for `recreation'.
Knowing as I did from the outset the lofty regard in which they
are held by those who believe in them, I would not, could not,
so profane them. Following my article in Life a mob of
thrill-mongers seeking the `magic mushroom' descended on Huautla
de Jimenez-hippies, self-styled psychiatrists, oddballs, even
tour leaders with their docile flocks, many accompanied by their
molls-upsetting and abusing the quiet tenor of life in what had
been, superficially at least, an idyllic Indian village. Countless
thousands elsewhere have taken the mushrooms (or synthetic pills
containing their active agent) and the chatter of some of them
fills the nether reaches of one segment of our `free press'. I
deplore this activity of the riffraff of our population but what
else could we have done? Had we refrained from presenting to the
world the facts as we knew them to be, a novel and I think a major
chapter in Early Man's cultural history, not only in Mexico, would
have perhaps vanished unnoticed. (In this book, I define `Early
Man' as humankind before there was reading and writing.) We knew
and weighed the objections; had not our shaman Maria Sabina said
that to give our photographs of her performance `would be a betrayal'?
My wife and I were solely responsible for the present
development of what we were the first to call ethnomycology. Wherever
we studied the story of Early Man, we have discovered hallucinogenic
mushrooms in use, hedged about with awesome beliefs and trappings
of the Holy. Of course there are many other entheogens, but I
think the part these have played in Early Man's history has been
for each geographically circumscribed. The use of mushrooms, if
I am right, spread over most of Eurasia and the Americas, and
as Stone Age Man has emerged into the light of photo-history these
strange fungi may well have been the primary secret of his sacred
Mysteries. (prelude, page xvi)
In his trance the shaman goes on a far journey-the
place of the deepest ancestors, or the nether world, or there
where the gods dwell-and this wonderland is, I submit, precisely
where the entheogens take us. They are the gateway to ecstasy.
Ecstasy in itself is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. The bliss
or panic into which it plunges you is incidental to ecstasy. When
you are in a state of ecstasy, your very soul seems scooped out
from your body and away it goes. ... You are at last face to face
with Ultimate Truth; this is the overwhelming impression (or illusion)
that grips you. You may visit Hell, or the Elysian fields of Asphodel,
or the Gobi desert, or arctic wastes. You know awe, and bliss,
and fear, even terror. Everyone experiences ecstasy in his own
way and never twice in the same way. Ecstasy is the very essence
of shamanism. (page 225)
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP