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Ever since the beginning of the 20th century, all the Governments in the world have successfully censored and tabooed the aspect of spirituality through the use of psychedelics. The label of “Drugs” given to these sacred entheogens has made a major prejudiced impact on human cultures all across the globe. Surprisingly, even in the prominent new-age spiritual movement that our planet has been witnessing over a last couple years, censors the use of these psychedelics – the reason being the impact of the label “drugs” on their mind. The fact that psychedelics are our mind’s doorway to the divine realities and our connection to God remains a forbidden aspect of these entheogens.
This article deals with the most controversial topics in the myriad world of spirituality, religion and mysticism. If we look back at the world history, we discover that the most ancient civilizations of human mankind have used certain sacred plants and drinks to alter their states of consciousness to enter into the divine realms that they perceived as the human connection to God. If we were to fully explore and understand the true nature of psychedelics, we would have to study these ancient civilizations and the role of psychotropic plants in the building blocks of spirituality, mythology and religion.
The use of certain mystical substances has been mentioned in almost all different faiths and religions. The descriptions of the Soma drink can be found in the Bhagvad Gita and the Rig Veda of the Hindu Mythology. It has been written in these Holy Scriptures that the Soma drink allowed people to enter in the divine realms. In the early Zoroastrian faith, the mention of the mysterious Huoma can be found. It has been written that Huoma was used by the Magi and played a major role in most of their sacred rituals. The Bible itself talks about the enigmatic manna or the food that fell from heaven.
Moving to the ancient Greek mythology, we know of the mystical liquid, “Kykeon” that it played a remarkable role in the Eleusian mysteries. It is also believed that the Greek Oracles of Delphi and the Roman Sybil of Cumae achieved their prophetic states of mind by inhaling mind altering volcanic hydrocarbon gases that emanated from the Earth’s core.
Ancient Egyptian culture mentions the use of Blue lotus of Nile, by the high priests. This can also be related to the “Lotus Eaters” in the classic Greek myth Odysseus. This relation can make perfect sense when the spiritual symbolizations is carefully studied. The myth of a visit to the land of lotus eaters is an indirect reference to some psychedelic substance derived out of lotus.
There is one relation worth noting. The “Soma” mentioned in the Bhagvad Gita, literally means – to press out and extract, in Sanskrit. It is quite reasonable to make out that something was pressed out and extracted from a peculiar variety of lotus plants which was then prepared as a drink and ingested. Ancient Sanskrit texts also describe the Lotus plant as “Soma”.
Even in the ancient civilization of Babylon, the myth of Gilgamesh can be found. The myth of Gilgamesh is the oldest recorded story known to mankind. In this mystical tale, the hero, Gilgamesh is asked to seek out the plant of immortality, which points out a reference to a psychedelic plant.
Mayans are believed to have used psychedelics for the purpose of looking into the future. The area Mayans lived in was the highest concentrated entheogenic plants area in the world ever known! Therefore, we cannot rule out the possibility, that they could have used other substances as well, but most of the knowledge of Mayan culture has long since been destroyed. Mayans are believed to have used these plants and have consumed 4-hydroxy-DMT, 4-phosphloroxy-DMT, 5-methoxy-DMT and Bufotenine according to the modern day bio-chemistry.
Aztecs have used a fair share of psychedelics for the purpose of invoking divine visions, engage in prophesies and also for medicine and healing. The plants used include ololiuqui (Rivea corymbosa), teonanácatl (Psilocybe spp.), sinicuichi (Heimia salicifolia), toloatzin (Datura spp.), peyotl (Lophophora williamsii) and many others like psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, salvia divinorum and even the present day LSA (tryptamine d-lysergic acid amide). The Aztec use of entheogens has been widely researched and written of by many eminent personalities like Albert Hofmann, R. Gordon Wasson and Richard Evans Schultes. Other hallucinogenic entheogens that the Aztecs often used to cure disease and heal include Datura, Ololiuqui, Tlitliltzin, sinicuichi and many more.
There is a long history of marijuana associated with Hinduism, since about 3000 B.C.E by some records. Marijuana is considered sacred in Hinduism as it is believed to be the gift of Lord Shiva. Marijuana is most commonly consumed in a drink called bhang, which is mixed in with spices, milk and sugar and drunk during Holi and Baisakhi, two of the main festivals of the Hindu religion. Many Shiavites (Lord Shiva devotees) smoke it in clay pipes called chillums, believing it to be a gift from Shiva to help humans reach a higher spiritual level. As mentioned earlier in this article, records of the mystical beverage Soma has also been mentioned in the Hindu holy texts – Sam Veda, Rig Veda and Atharva Veda)
Islam condemns the use of marijuana and the use of any intoxicants as haraam, or forbidden. Sufism, the mystical faith in Islam, however, has a different view. This religion believes in understanding the true nature of God through ecstatic states of mind. Sufism is believed to have many records of use of marijuana over the centuries. In fact, in one of the Persians folks, it is believed that the founder of Sufism, a monk called Haydar was the first Persian to discover the psychedelic use of marijuana.
The folk tale says that Haydar was once walking out in the midst of a depressed mood, he came across a marijuana plant and ate a few of its leaves. He then found himself in an improved state of mind that affected his mood dramatically after eating the marijuana leaves. When he returned back to his monastery, he recommended that his brothers should try it too!
Ancient Chinese Taoists were at initially very sceptical about the use of marijuana and psychedelics. Taoism regarded cannabis as “the liberator of sin” for some time. But they continued to condemn the hallucinations brought on through excessive use of marijuana. However, around the first century AD the followers of Taoism used marijuana seeds in their incense sticks that they used for meditation, believing that the milder effects of the cannabis gave them a heightened consciousness and a higher spiritual awareness. Several scholars believe that Taoism, the native spiritual tradition of China, was derived from Siberian Shamanism. Almost without exception, shamanistic practice and psychedelics go hand in hand with each other as these psychotropic substances act as catalysts in their spiritual rituals and practices.
Christianity like most of the religions condemns the use of psychedelics. However, some historians have researched that the oil derived from marijuana seeds was a primary ingredient in Jewish and Christian holy oils. Some of healing miracles of Jesus have been attributed to the marijuana in these oils. The healing uses of marijuana are widespread as it can relieve the effects of menstrual pains, skin ailments, glaucoma and even cancer. Besides marijuana, the Bible talks about manna, the food that fell from heaven and was called “enigmatic” – this points out at some psychedelic substance.
In addition to this, Rastafarians and some modern Gnostic Christians believe that the Tree of Life referred to in one Biblical passage (“the leaves of the Tree of Life [that] are for the healing of the nations”) refers to the marijuana plant.
Like in most religions, marijuana use is controversial in Buddhism. The Buddhist scholars are against intoxicants, but in many sects of Chinese Buddhism, marijuana has been used in initiation of mystical rituals since the 5th century BC. Some Tibetan Buddhist priests believe it to be the most holy plants, and there are many written records that suggest that the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Siddhartha, lived primarily on marijuana seeds and leaves in the years before his enlightenment. In our modern days, people do buy magic mushrooms online Canada. It seems that over the years, plants have always been one of the common food of people from the history up to this very moment.
From the above records and information, we can clearly see that the primitive people of the most ancient civilizations involved the use of psychedelic substances with a purpose to open their doors to the Divine. This view can also be supported by the role of psychedelics in several indigenous religious practices that are performed by some native tribes of the world even today. If we look back and study the role of psychedelics in ancient civilizations, it seems as if our ancestors had discovered the door into the divine realms and higher dimensions and that it was purposefully set up that way by the Cosmic Intelligence so that we may someday enter it. One thing can be said undoubtedly that certain plants found on our sacred Earth do act as gateways to the transcendental realities we are unaware of. The visions, the psychic experiences and the insights that our ancestors had is exactly what we have faith in as our religion today. By the 20th century, we, human beings had already started walking the path of destruction, fast enough with world wars and the invention of nuclear weapons. This is the last cycle – Kaliyuga- the reign of destruction . It is quite ironic how nuclear weapons in our present world are legal and marijuana is not!