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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 Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica.

Wasson, R. Gordon. (1980).
McGraw-Hill: New York.

ISBN: 0-07-068442-1 deluxe
0-07-068551-3 trade edition
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.

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)

This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP

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