Monday, September 12, 2011

Drugs Used in Religion-The 'Old World'

     Entheogen: A psychoactive substance used in a religious or spiritual context (ie drugs). Drug use was probably a significant component in the 'prehistoric' cults, among 'mystics' and is still in use in many areas of the world, found in a variety of religious traditions.
Cave Painting - Lascaux, France

     'Shamanism', a 'pagan' belief system centers around the mystical leader (the shaman) who visits the 'other world(s)', often via drug-induced states. One of the earliest signs to suggest drug usage is seen in the figure of a man in a trance-like state in a 25,000 year old cave painting in Lascaux, France.

     In early Hindu literature, a drug called 'soma' was used to create mind-altered experiences. There is evidence that the Pharaonic rite of passage of the Horus (new king) involved a drug-induced 'voyage' to the 'otherworld' under the (narcotic)  influence of a combination of mandrake root and the buds of the blue water lily, the ceremony directed by the high priest. Palm wine was also used as the medium in which was dissolved water lily with incised yellow poppy capsules that dripped their opium nectar into the mix.
The Passion of Christ at Golgotha

     In ancient Greece, the priestess at the 'Oracle of Delphi' provided 'insights and revelations' probably after breathing in naturally-occurring gases that emanated from the ground.In the middle east, the Hebrews were known to use wine combined with opium and there is even thought that this mixture may have been offered to Jesus as he carried his cross to his own execution (Matthew 27:45).

Oracle of Delphi

     Some even suggest that Jesus' survival on the cross may have been due to the sip of the sponge ('vinegar') sedation (opium/'gall'?) given to him on the end of a spear/stick, resulting in sedation that mimicked death.

     The Eleusian Mystery Cults (Greek) celebrated Demeter and Persephone and climaxed their ceremonies with the drinking of a sacred potion (barley wine likely tainted with the fungus 'ergot')  resulting in 'dazzling visions of eternity'. The Romans were known to use alcohol (wine) as well as narcotics.
Triptolemus Receiving Sheaves of Wheat and
 Blessings from Demeter and Persephone

     *Drugs used in religion: subject of research for the novel  The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle.

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