A psychoactive substance, usually one derived from plants or fungi but also from the secretions of animals such as toads, that is ingested by a shaman or another participant in a ritual in order to produce visions or gain mystical insight.
We are suffering under misinformation about traditional entheogenic plants. These are traditional healing plants, respectfully used for religious and healing purposes for millennia, around the world. Although currently illegal outside of limited clinical and religious contexts, these plants aren't addicting, socially destabilizing drugs.
"Entheogenic plants" are different from, for example, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, tobacco. Contrary to political messaging, the science shows that these plants are not addictive - if fact, they help alleviate addiction, depression, and, when used with respect and care, can be deeply healing to individuals and communities. Here are a few facts about these plants, with their scientific references listed at the bottom of the page.
Entheogenic plants and fungi have co-evolved with humans for millennia, first used, possibly, to enhance hunting ability through heightened sensory awareness allowing greater success during hunting and gathering. From there, the plants and fungi began their co-evolution with humans, creating a unique synergistic relationship between these entheogens and human communities via shamanic integration.
Eventually, the sensory and consciousness benefits, including the social cohesion and expansion of consciousness, were brought into the villages and communities. From there, the relationship between the entheogens and humans grew and are thought to be the genesis of the mystical experiences that led to growth of religion, and to expanded capacity of humans to contextualize themselves within the greater cosmos and understand their surroundings as a fully integrated ecosystem and to create a workable narrative of their own existence within this ecosystem.
These plants and fungi have been revered throughout the world, but have become limited to humanity by millennia of colonization, authoritarianism, industrialization, and the disenfranchisement of humans from their ecological roots.
In addition, countless indigenous groups throughout the world, including Native Americans, the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec used peyote and psilocybe mushrooms. Mushrooms stones and art date back to 3000 BC in the Americas and as far back as 11,000 BC in northern Africa. The Aztecs would drink chocolate and eat mushrooms called "Teonanácatl" in Nahuatl (literally "god mushroom"—compound of the words teo(tl) (god) and nanácatl (mushroom)) with honey. The act of ingesting the mushroom sacrament is known as monanacahuia (to mushroom oneself). Entheogenic plants and fungi are known to increase an individual’s respect for the earth and the ecosystem and to heighten human awareness of their own condition within society, a fact that may have led to these plants and fungi being place on the Federal Schedule 1 list of banned substances.
A top Nixon aide, John Ehrlichman, admitted: “You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Wall Street investors are already investing in psilocybin companies which are developing synthetic versions of nature that will cost $7,000- $10,000 a gram and potentially reduce access for our community, rather than increase access.
Individual and community empowerment comes from being able to know where our entheogens come from, from our garden, or from our community. We should not have to rely upon synthetically made substances from the pharmaceutical industry that distances us from our relationship to Earth.