This may seem a peculiar, nonsensical and sacrilegious problem for people of faith. Nevertheless, in an earlier article called The Religious Brain, I found out that human faith is genetically hardwired into a particular part of the brain, is pleasurable, vital to man’s development and existence, and never will go anywhere. Spirituality can be described as a feeling of being linked to something greater than oneself. Individuals who have particularly high degrees of faith have been the originators of a number of different faiths across history. Whence comes this higher level of spirituality? If you would like to learn more about this, please check out Psilocybin in Canada .
A number of psychedelics-LSD, DMT (dimethyl-tryptamine), psilocybin, mescaline, and muscimol, give rise to strong spiritual emotions. The last three of these are present at worldwide traditional plants. These include various plants as fungi, cactus, and others. The compounds have been referred to as etheogens because of their property of improving spirituality, meaning, “God created inside.” The study of the role of mushrooms and other plants in religion is called ethnomycology.
A few details of the role of plant-based etheogens in different religions and ceremonial rituals are below. The founder of Ethnomycology is Gordon Wasson. In 1955 he and a photographer traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico where he met Maria Sabina, a traditional mystic who used psilocybin in her veladas or healing sessions from wild mushrooms. The mushrooms used were called teonanacatl meaning “God’s food” or “sacred mushroom.” The Life magazine published Wasson’s report in 1957. It set off a flood of hippies trekking to Mexico in search of a mushroom high that led unwittingly to the psychedelic movement. The source for the sacramental use of these fungi dates back to the Americas in Pre-Columbian times. Cave paintings of Africa in other parts of the world suggest the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, dating from 9,000 to 6,000 BCE or earlier.
Local plants in Brazil produce DMT and other compounds that are processed into a drink named ayahuasca (EYE-a-was-ca). Three different Church organizations are allowed to use ayahuasca as their sacraments lawfully.
Peyote is another herb which is a tiny circular cactus located in North America. The active component is mescaline, causing sensory alternations and stimulation when swallowed. The use among the Aztecs dates back 400 years. In the last century, peyote was used in sacramental rituals by over 50 separate Indian tribes. A church organization called the North American Church mixed Indigenous rites, Peyote practices and doctrine with Christianity.
While the above-mentioned psychedelics played a role mainly in the traditions of the North and South American native Indians, Amanita muscaria, a mushroom with a beautiful red cap, may have played a role in both Eastern and Western religions. One of the most famous books by Gordon Wasson was called Soma, the Devine Mushroom of Immortality. In this fungus is muscimol the psychedelic. Wasson stated that from the early days of civilization, Amanita muscaria had acted as a divine lubricant. As Aryans moved into the Indus Valley 3,500 years ago they introduced the roots of Hinduism, the Vedas, a compilation of divine texts, and mystical religious ceremonies centered on Soma’s worship, a hallucinogenic mix. Since decades the plants used to produce Soma have remained a mystery. Wasson studied the Veda verses dated from 4,000 BCE, during the period Soma was used. Based on an analysis of 1,000 holy hymns he claimed that Amanita muscaria was the herb used. A professor of ancient Biblical texts and cultures, John Allegro wrote a book called The Holy Mushroom and the Cross. He indicated that the mystical roots of Judaism and Christianity have played a role in Amanita muscaria.
Religions and sacred rituals are established and developed by a select number of deeply spiritual persons. Ethnomycology studies indicate that many of these individuals ‘ deep spirituality was focused on the consumption of a wide variety of etheogens obtained from fungi, cacti and other plants.