Entheogens or Psychedelic Drugs: Plant-based Substances for Insight & Inspiration
Conscious Journeying with Entheogens
Entheogens, formerly known as psychedelic drugs, are about much more than just tripping out for kicks – they can be part of a conscious journey into other, more spiritual realms, and can bring you powerful knowledge of yourself. Entheogens are plants and fungi, or lab-made substances, with mind-altering (‘psychoactive’) properties. Like ‘magic mushrooms’, LSD, peyote and ayahuasca. Also known as ‘hallucinogenic’ or ‘psychedelic’ drugs, Entheogen means ‘god within’ or ‘spirit-facilitating’, and can kick-start some out of this world inspirational experiences. Entheogenic plants are often used in rituals or in a shamanistic context, but also by people wanting to chill out and have a ‘trip’ on their sofa or a nearby field. In this article we’ll have a look mainly at ‘magic mushrooms’ (or ‘shrooms’).
Cleansing the Doors of Perception with Entheogenic Plants
Aldous Huxley said in his influential book that taking entheogens ‘cleanses the doors of perception’, making the world appear to you as it’s never been seen before. Psilocybin mushrooms, or as you’ll probably know them, ‘Magic mushrooms’, produce ‘trippy’ effects like feeling sure that trees are talking to you (and maybe they are). Your sense of time and movement can speed up or slow down, and colors, sounds and objects look differently from how they usually do. Different kinds of ‘magic mushroom’ have varying levels of strength and toxicity, so be sure to do your research – especially if you’re picking your own! It depends whether you want to have a chilled out or quite intense life-changing experience: the amanita muscaria or ‘fly agaric’ mushroom produces stronger effects than the traditional ‘liberty cap’ mushroom.
Side effects? Yes. You can feel weird, sleepy, sick or faint – and some magic mushroom users have stomach pains or diarrhoea. But on the plus side there is research into psylocybin’s role in nature’s medicine cabinet: helping with anxiety,obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression and cluster headaches.
What you Need to Know about Magic Mushrooms & other Entheogens
Entheogenic plants include Peyote, San Pedro Cactus, Ayahuasca (reputed to cure addiction and depression), Morning Glory and Salvia Divinorum. Garden-variety cannabis is also an entheogen, with some breeds boasting more psychedelic properties than others. For more about the spiritual use of entheogens, check out ‘Entheogens and the Future of Religion‘. If you want to find entheogens for sale, remember the legal status of plant-based entheogens differs from country to country and state to state. You can eat mushrooms in their dried form (disgusting, but just about do-able if you have something tasty to drink or eat right after), brewed in tea (more palatable) or even on toast with honey.
Whatever entheogen or psychedelic plant/drug you choose to try, it’s worth having a careful think about the emotional ‘set’ you’re in, and the ‘setting’ where you choose to undertake your journey. So, it’s a good idea not to take mushrooms or strongly psychedelic cannabis in a crowded club where you may feel overwhelmed and paranoid. Your current thought-state, mood and expectations before you take an entheogen also has an effect on what kind of journey you have. Make sure you’re with people you trust and feel very comfortable with – and not someone you’re currently having an argument with. Being in a positive frame of mind with no looming stress is the optimum. Mushrooms are most conducive to an outdoor experience. Because unguided use of powerful psychedelic drugs without proper preparation can lead to mental health problems like psychosis, entheogens should always be approached with caution and respect.
The Science & Mystery Behind Entheogens
Entheogens produce mystical or inspirational experiences by working strongly on the Central Nervous System, making our senses more acute, and improving the function of the brain to bring us mind-blowing insights. Entheogens work to integrate the two hemispheres of the brain. They also have therapeutic benefits: entheogens bring up unconscious materials that we normally suppress, forcing us to confront them, and they also activate dormant neural pathways. This all has the effect of opening up our consciousness in a striking way. Once you’ve taken an entheogen, even if only once, it’s hard to see the world in quite the same way again. Some more spiritually-angled theorists suggest entheogens are powerful activators of particular energy centers (chakras) in the body: the Crown and Third Eye. The Crown Chakra is thought of as the portal of our contact with all-that-is, the larger Universal wisdom if you like, while the Third Chakra is the centre of our intuition and perception.
Entheogens Use from Pre-historical Man to Shamans & Hippies
Psychedelic mushrooms have been named as the cause of huge evolutionary leaps in consciousness, back in our pre-history. Entheogens have been used across many cultures and times, as we can see from anthropological and modern evidence. The Sadhus of India used Cannabis, the Mazatec of Mexico used Salvia Divinorum as a hallucinogen, and the ancient Egyptians used the sacred Blue Lotus. In modern times, organic chemistry has created many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties. LSD is famous for having been used on soldiers back in the 1940’s for mind control, and then became the popular counter-cultural drug of the 1960’s ‘hippie’ era. The word ‘Entheogen’ was invented by scholars wanting to replace the term ‘psychedelic’ with all its 1960’s connotations, with a term that referred to all the plants and substances revered in sacred rituals.
How will this help you to Switch On?
Entheogens are a powerful way to broaden your mind and perspective on life, blasting you into new insights, inspiration and spiritual experiences.