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Shamanism and Entheogens

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book review [Aug. 9th, 2006|04:54 pm]
Shamanism and Entheogens


Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion

Edited by Thomas B. Roberts
(San Francisco: Council on Spiritual Practices, 2001)
272 pp.

Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion is a book edited by Thomas Roberts that includes articles by such well-known figures in the field as Huston Smith, Charles Tart, Stanislav Grof, and our own Dan Merkur. The use of entheogens, drugs that purportedly generate spiritual experiences in users, has been around for a great while, but only relatively recently has come in for organized scholarly scrutiny and research. This book, ably edited by Thomas Roberts, who also provides an overview of the field, is an important contribution to understanding what researchers are up to, as well as what dilemmas they face. Personally, I'm more inclined to traditional forms of practice, ones that do not involve laboratory work and pills, but it is quite striking to see such luminaries as Huston Smith, Tart, Grof, Merkur, and the others gathered together here making these arguments nonetheless.

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(no subject) [Feb. 22nd, 2006|02:07 pm]
Shamanism and Entheogens

[music |shpongle]

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The Pharmacratic Inquisition [Jul. 6th, 2005|01:06 am]
Shamanism and Entheogens
I just finished watching this video The Pharmacratic Inquisition made by Jan Irvin and Andrew Rutajit, authors of the book, The Aquarius Initiation: Astrotheology & Shamanism - Revealing the Law of Duality in Christianity and Other Religions, and I have to say that it was well worth the three and half hours. The movie consists of two fellows standing beside a projection screen talking while they present visual aides. It covers a lot of topics, from the controversial origins of Christianity, to the idea that psychoactive substances were the basis of modern religions, and other diverse topics relating to the history of beliefs. Some of the authors cited are: Acharya S., R. Gordon Wasson, Terrence McKenna, James Arthur, John Allegro, among many others. It may be rehashed info for the more well versed, but they put it together smoothly and creatively all in one package, and the best part it's open source and free.

Get the Video HERE.

Below are some thumbnails from the film.
PicsCollapse )
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(no subject) [Jun. 24th, 2005|01:26 pm]
Shamanism and Entheogens

i just found this community and i'm hoping someone here can give me some advice about san pedro. has anyone here ever taken san pedro? does anyone know much about it?

my brother gifted me some 2 winters ago. the time to do them never came and i never was able to find out very much about san pedro. at least not the shamanistic side of it.
since a good chunk of my ancestors are in peru and that is where this plant comes from i want to really make sure that i am honoring and respecting the plant when the time comes to finally take it.
if anyone here can point me in the right direction it would be most appreciated.
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common elements of entheogenic shamanism [May. 31st, 2005|02:49 pm]
Shamanism and Entheogens

I read an essay by Ralph Metzner recently regarding the common elements that can be found in the varieties of entheogenic experience among shamans. Metzner, of course, worked with Leary and Alpert (Ram Dass) back in their Harvard days. This essay can be found in Metzner's Green Psychology, page 161-163).
Anyway, here are the seven common elements:
1) the importance of set and setting (i.e., intention and context) in determining the nature of the experience.
2) the experience can be healing on physical, psychic, and spiritual levels.
3) the experience can provide access to hidden or new knowledge (e.g., diagnosis, divination, intuition, etc.).
4) there is a feeling and perception of access to one or more non-physical realms or worlds -- to non-ordinary reality.
5) the experience may involve the perception of nonmaterial, normally invisible spirit beings or entities.
6) an essential ingredient to productive hallucinogenic/entheogenic experiences is the act of listening to music or singing, or singing oneself.
7) finally, the traditional shamanic ceremonies are almost always performed in the dark or in low light.

I found this to be a very helpful way to summarize the shamanic experience of entheogens. Of course, a better way to understand the use of entheogens by shamans is to learn about the specific rituals performed by any shaman using an entheogen. Luckily, and also ironically, if you are in the Americas, you are very close to many cultures that perform such rituals.
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Hello all... four of us! [May. 4th, 2005|08:23 pm]
Shamanism and Entheogens

[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

I found this article, taken from a lecture by Nicholas Saunders, wildly interesting. He questions the spiritual effects of drugs such as LSD and primarily the entheogenic psilocybin mushrooms, looking at them both scientifically and experientially. He even raises the question of the spiritual authenticity of Ecstasy and dance culture.

I particularly enjoyed his handling of spiritual teachers denouncing (usually entheogenic) drug use, saying, "Nearly every religious leader will tell you that drugs cannot induce a true spiritual experience... They will usually say its an illusion, or not at the same level as the real thing. The more liberal ones may say, OK its the same, but it doesn't have the same value as an experience gained the hard way." And that brings me back to all the times I've read similar statements in books and on websites, usually those featuring, in my experience, a Neo-Pagan flavor.

What's interesting is that these practices are discouraged, when it has been suggested that entheogens could have been the basis for religion; even in modern paganism, which outwardly denies hierarchal formation, it's said that dance and drumming and good meditation can lead to stronger altered states than those attained through drugs and that drug use leaves the practitioner uncontrollable and disadvantaged. Just as Saunders points out, I too can state that this is not so. One could ask - is it our own fear of the Absolute that creates anti-entheogenic bias? Or, as I fear it may be, is it that most if not all religions are based on some sort of hierarchy and the education/brainwashing of the follower, rather than the more natural experience of learning through the Soul? Is shamanism an antithesis to religion?

Which also makes me ponder - is humanity's original spiritual state shamanic in nature? To learn from deep within the self and the earth and extending one's power to help the tribe or community, whilst seeking the aide of nature (entheogens) for the conferrence of external knowledge... I see that as a more authentic human spirituality. It also spells out exactly why entheogens are seen as dangerous and are usually illegal - they could make the hierarchy crumble, from the most powerful politician to the most pampered spiritual "teacher." Eh?
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