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Entheogens - Encyclopedia

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Examples of entheogens

The word entheogen generally refers to the "classic psychedelics": mescaline, LSD, LSA, DMT, psilocybin and psilocin. Examples of entheogenic plants are ayahuasca, magic mushrooms and peyote.


The word entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology, including Carl Ruck, Richard Evans Schultes, Jonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson. Up until that time psychoactive substances like LSD, DMT, mescaline and psilocybin had been referred to as hallucinogens or psychedelics. But because of the "swinging sixties" the word psychedelic, which originally meant "that which makes the mind manifest (visible)", had become associated with tie-dye clothing, rock music and wild parties. The word hallucinogen was also not ideal, because these substances do much more than merely producing hallucinations (which are quite distinct from those caused by delirium and insanity). So the scholars felt a different word was required, one that was more relevant to the shamanic and sacred usage of these substances. And so they came up with entheogen, which literally means "that which generates God within", or more generally, "that which reveals the divine".

The word was adopted by many authors and soon became a widely accepted term. Many continued to use 'hallucinogen' and 'psychedelic' however. Often authors and scholars will use all three words in a single book or lecture.


There isn't anyone who claims that these substances somehow summon the God of the Bible or similar scriptures, to "appear" within. On Wikipedia, it's stated: "The adjective entheos translates to English as 'full of the god, inspired, possessed,' and is the root of the English word 'enthusiasm'. The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists." Psychologist and consciousness researcher Stanislav Grof gives many examples of transpersonal experiences induced by entheogens, which have a "numinous" or sacred, divine quality. It is this overwhelming sense of being connected with everything and everyone in the universe that is often referred to as a mystical experience. It is these kinds of inspiring experiences that the word entheogen refers to.

There are also those who feel the word may have a more literal meaning, if we accept the notion that each one of us is God, or in the process of becoming God, moving from absolute potential to absolute actualization (the Hegelian dialectic). Entheogens, if used properly, help one realize the divine nature of one's soul, not as a servant of God, but as God him/her/itself, undergoing the process of evolution (as a species) and reincarnation (individually) to achieve ever higher states of self-awareness, ending in the Omega Point of gnosis. This Pythagorean view may well have been the philosophical basis of the Greek festivals known as the Mysteries of Eleusis, a sacred rite where Kykeon was served, a beverage that many scholars believe contained a potent entheogen, like mushrooms or a preparation made from the ergot fungus.

Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within

This is a feature-length documentary, released in 2006, which invites the viewer to rediscover an enchanted cosmos in the modern world by awakening to the divine within. The film examines the re-emergence of archaic techniques of ecstasy in the modern world by weaving a synthesis of ecological and evolutionary awareness,electronic dance culture, and the current pharmacological re-evaluation of entheogenic compounds. Within a narrative framework that imagines consciousness itself to be evolving, Entheogen documents the emergence of techno-shamanism in the post-modern world that frames the following questions: How can a renewal of ancient initiatory rites of passage alleviate our ecological crisis? What do trance dancing and festivals celebrating unbridled artistic expression speak to in our collective psyche? How do we re-invent ourselves in a disenchanted world from which God has long ago withdrawn? Entheogen invites the viewer to consider that the answers to these questions lie within the consciousness of each and every human being, and are accessible if only we give ourselves permission to awaken to the divine within.

Stan Grof, Marilyn Schlitz, Ralph Metzner, Alex Grey, Terrence McKenna, John Markoff, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Kat Harrison among others, postulate how the disenchantment of the modern world may be remedied by summoning the courage to take the next leap in the evolution of planetary consciousness.

For more information, see: http://www.entheogen.tv/

The film can be watched here:

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