Bread of Heaven or Wines of Light: Entheogenic Legacies and Esoteric Cosmologies

This is an article in two parts. The first part discusses current research in psychoactive preparations of ergot in various religious systems with a particular emphasis on Persian, Greek, Jewish and Islamic sources. Certain poems, hadith, and scriptural writings suggest an entheogenic heritage to various ancient sects that exerted and received philosophical and ritual influences over large distances and over time. Particularly, some esoteric Shia and Sufi writings are highly suggestive of a “celestial botany” that employed psychoactive plants for initiatory and ritual purposes. The second part will address current research methods that render ergot alkaloids nontoxic and entheogenic, a most crucial part of the discussion in the absence of a modem bioassay. This is essential, as without a chemical reality to support that such a preparation of entheogenic ergot is possible, all ergot theories concerning mystery traditions would remain largely speculative.

The Mythology and Chemistry of the Eleusinian Mysteries

A case pending before the United States Supreme Court presented by an appeal by the New Mexico chapter of the Uniao do Vegetal (UDV) Christian church cites the Eleusinian Mystery as precedent for a psychoactive Eucharist within a well-ordered religious ceremony. For approximately two millennia, beginning about 1500 BCE and ending with the conversion of the Greco-Roman world to Christianity, people gathered at the village of Eleusis outside ancient Athens to experience something that would change them and their expectations about the meaning of life and death forever.

Ololiuqui: The Ancient Aztec Narcotic

The Hallucinogens attempts to provide a detailed description of the hallucinogens in a single volume. Hallucinogens are chemicals which in nontoxic doses produce changes in perception, in thought, and in mood, but which seldom produce mental confusion, memory loss, or disorientation for person, place, and time. These latter changes are characteristic of organic brain reactions following intoxications with alcohol, anesthetics, and other toxic drugs. The book covers the following hallucinogens: plant ß-phenethylamines, d-lysergic acid diethylamide, ololiuqui, indole hallucinogens derived from tryptophan, and taraxein. The discussions include their chemistry, biochemistry, and neurophysiological effects. The final chapter deals with animal studies with hallucinogenic drugs. This work has been written for chemists, biochemists, psychologists, sociologists, and research physicians. While it cannot satisfy each group fully, it is sufficiently comprehensive and well documented so that each group can use it as a springboard for future enquiry into these fascinating chemicals.