Plants Of The Gods


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How entheogens shaped the spiritual evolution of mankind

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Plants Of The Gods

  1. 1. A simple formula for determining the effect of a drug on a human •A+B+C=X • A = the drug (quality and quantity) • B = the set (psychological state of human) • C = the setting (the environment) • X = the actual experience “Transcendence of mere clarity and order is necessary for dealing with the One recent study of 488 societies indicates that unforeseen, for progress, for 90% have institutionalized an altered state of excitement. consciousness within a religious framework. Life degenerates when enclosed within the shackles of mere conformation. A power of incorporating vague and disorderly elements of experience is essential for the advance into novelty.” novelty.” (Alfred North Whitehead, 1938). A large percentage of these altered states Traditionally the use of the great majority of psychoactive drug plants has been tightly tied to are produced through the consumption of both ritual and religious activity; motivations for psychoactive drug plant substances. ingestion have indeed been predominantly dictated by spiritual and/or medicinal requirement. 1
  2. 2. On the other hand, contemporary use in various societies of the Pacific, as in many other parts of the Plants of the Gods: an world (especially in those areas affected by Western Civilization), is often inspired by a personal desire to Overview experience euphoria, and frequently is impelled by peer group pressure. Plants of the Gods: an Introduction A. Global Phenomena? B. Deep Time Depth – Paleolithic? C. Roots of Religion? “The Doors of Perception” ? Could it be cultural programming? Left to Right: Schultes, Wasson, Hofmann, & La Barre at conference on “entheogens.” Why are there many more known hallucinogens from the New World that the Old World? 2
  3. 3. Archaeological Evidence for a Archaeology Pan-global Tradition of A. Evidence 1) Artifact Representations Psychoactive Use a. Identification b. Interpretation 2) Paleobotanical Remains a. Macrofossils b. Microfossils B. Dating Methods: Historical and Radio Carbon Analysis Examples from the Old World A. Mediterranean Region Examples from the Old World A. Mediterranean Region Papaver somniferum Papaver somniferum Paraphernalia, e.g., inhaling pipe Paleobotanical Evidence Artifacts in shape of opium poppy capsules Macrofossils of the Opium Poppy Mediterranean Region Near East (Northern Iraq) Neanderthal burial Papaver somniferum Shanidar Cave 60,000 B.C. - Paleobotanical Evidence Ephedra sp. Microfossils of the Opium Poppy Ephedra viridis Opium Poppy Pollen grains Ephedra trifurca 3
  4. 4. Near East & North Africa PHARMACY IN ANCIENT CHINA Chinese Pharmacy, according P. somniferum, Nymphaea caerulea, somniferum, caerulea, to legend, stems from Shen Nung (about Mandragora officinarum 2000 B.C.), emperor who sought out and investigated the medicinal value of several artifacts, frescoes 3,500 year old hundred herbs. Egyptian statue He reputed to have tested many of them on himself, and to have written the first Pen Tsao, or native herbal, recording 365 drugs. Still worshiped by native Chinese drug guilds as their patron god, Shen Nung conceivably examined many herbs, barks, and roots brought in from the fields, swamps, and woods that are still recognized in Pharmacy today. Medicinal plants include podophyllum, Shen Nung (about 2000 B.C.) Small juglets in shape of Opium rhubarb, ginseng, stramonium, cinnamon Poppy capsules (?) imported from bark, and, in the boy's hand, ma huang, or Cyprus to Egypt in the 2nd Ephedra. Millenium B.C. Assyrian Fresco, 600 B.C. Some other psychoactive plants or Entheogens East Africa & Arabia -- Catha edulis “Khat” Khat” (“Plants of the Gods” that “generate the diety Gods” within”) from other regions of the world within” Tabernanthe Iboga, West Africa Central and East Asia The New World 1) Cannabis spp. - 10,000 B.C. Taiwan spp. North America 2) artifacts, paleobotanical evidence Nicotiana rustica artifacts 4
  5. 5. Central America South America Sophora secundiflora, Psilocybe, Nicotiana secundiflora, Psilocybe, Erythroxylum coca, Nicotiana spp. spp. Artifacts, macrofossils (leaves) South America Trichocereus pachanoi South America Nicotiana hybrids Artifacts Somewhat similar to the Peyote cactus Lophophora spp., the “San Pedro cactus” has several mind- cactus” altering alkaloids, including mescaline. South America Tree Daturas South America Virola spp. spp. Brugmansia spp. (Formerly Datura spp.) 5
  6. 6. Amazonian Colombia Dr. Richard Evans Schultes at age 70, two weeks before retiring from Harvard University, where he earned his B.S., M.S. & Ph.D, taught for decades and was Director of the Botanical Museum. Plants for the Gods 6