For thousands of years, people in many cultures have used hallucinogens in an attempt to gain spiritual insights to help them deal with the uncertainties that are part of their daily lives. They try to communicate with their deities to gain understanding and control over unpredictable events like birth, death, and illness. People in these cultures induce hallucinations by eating plants such as peyote and several species of mushrooms that naturally produce hallucinogenic chemicals. Botanists and ethnologists who have studied this use of hallucinogens refer to psychoactive plants used in religious rituals as entheogens, from the Greek word meaning “divinely inspired.” Ancient Use Archaeologists believe that hallucinogens were also used in a number of ancient societies to help leaders make important decisions relating to issues such as war, hunting, migrating to a new home, and selecting tribal and spiritual leaders. All of these situations were important enough to require consultation with a deity, who was believed to communicate with earthly beings while they were in a trance. Why entheogens were used in religious rituals in the first place is uncertain. But scholars studying these ancient cultures have a plausible Read more […]
The archaeological evidence of such use dates back between seven and nine thousand years and is found in most regions of the world. For example, a cache of dried peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus, was found in a cave in Texas and has been carbon-dated to approximately 5000 B.C. Archaeologists have also located dozens of cave paintings and stone sculptures in Africa, Asia, and South America depicting hallucinogenic mushrooms and other plants. According to ethnologist Giorgio Samorini, The idea that the use of hallucinogens should be a source of inspiration for some forms of prehistoric rock art is not a new one…. Rock paintings [exist] in the Sahara Desert, the works of pre-neolithic Early Gatherers, in which mushrooms [sic] effigies are represented repeatedly. The polychromatic scenes of harvest, adoration and the offering of mushrooms, and large masked “gods” covered with mushrooms, not to mention other significant details, lead us to suppose we are dealing with an ancient hallucinogenic mushroom cult… and that their use always takes place within contexts and rituals of a religious nature. The earliest written records of the use of hallucinogenic drugs date back three thousand years. Writings from ancient civilizations Read more […]
The most commonly reported ritual use of entheogens among indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere is for healing the sick. Among such cultures, the world of medicine and the spirit world are inseparable. Anthropologist Henry Munn writes that, among the tribal peoples of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the mushrooms are not simply botanical hallucinogens; they “were known to the American Indians as medicines… Among the Mazatecs [an Oaxacan tribe], many, one time or another during their lives, have eaten the mushrooms, either to cure themselves of an ailment or to resolve a problem.” Each Oaxacan tribe has at least one shaman, similar to a medicine man, who specializes in the use of hallucinogens for the purpose of healing others. A shaman is recognized by the tribe as an expert in these matters; he functions as a spiritual guide and spokesman for the ill person. Shamans have long known that hallucinogens cannot cure ailments such as broken bones, but they believe that hallucinogens can cure many other medical problems, including those with no apparent physical cause. The healing session takes the form of a meeting in which both the shaman and his patient eat the entheogen. After an hour or so, when the hallucinations Read more […]
Regardless of the setting or purpose of the ceremony, the effects of mescaline and psilocybin are very similar. About half an hour after ingesting the buttons or mushrooms, the first effects are felt. There are often strong physical effects, including difficulty breathing, accelerated heart rate, muscle tension (especially in the face and neck muscles), and often nausea and vomiting due to the unpleasant taste of the raw substances. Many users blend the entheogens with fruit juice or some type of food to mask the bitterness. As the psychoactive ingredients take effect, there is a feeling of intoxication and shifting consciousness with minor perceptual changes. Users describe a sense of confidence and feelings of inner tranquillity. As their heart rates accelerate, they experience a heightened awareness of their surroundings and their senses become more acute. Stories of sensory acuity include experiencing more intense colors, sighting apparent halos around objects, and visualizing geometric patterns. Music, which is considered by users an important part of the experience, is described as being more intense than usual and induces in the listeners a soothing trancelike state. Spatial relationships and time can also Read more […]
LSD’s major effects, Hofmann and subsequent researchers found, are both emotional and sensory. Initially, there is a slight feeling of anxiety as the user begins to recognize that things are changing from the usual to the unusual. As the effects intensify, emotions may shift rapidly, going from concern, to fear, to euphoria, to meditation, and possibly back again. Sometimes when emotional transitions occur too quickly, the user may seem to experience several different emotions simultaneously. LSD is best known for its ability to dramatically alter perceptions. Tastes, colors, smells, sounds, and other sensations seem greatly intensified. In some cases, sensory perceptions may blend in a phenomenon known as synesthesia, in which a person seems to hear or feel colors and sees sounds. As with other hallucinogens, the perception of time can also be altered. Some people feel that the hours fly by like minutes, while others feel minutes drag by like hours. Most users report that they do not find these simple perceptual alterations alarming, but as the LSD trip progresses, the benign altering of the senses often escalates to hallucinations. Cartoon characters painted in whimsical colors may float over imaginary forests Read more […]
Mescaline: Composition, Therapeutic use, Usage trends. Treatment and rehabilitation. Mescaline effects. Reactions with other drugs.