Spiritual Mushrooms Used Historically in Religious Rituals
Disclaimer: We do not support the use of "magic mushrooms." Please do contact us with any inquires! This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only!
Since at least 5,000 B.C., people have used "spiritual mushrooms" in their religious rituals. The San Peoples of Tassili in southeast Algeria left behind cave paintings illustrating dancing, masked medicine men with mushrooms in their hands. It's believed the mushrooms were of the consciousness-altering variety.
Tassili is today part of the Saharan desert, mountainous and uninhabited. But in the days of the San Peoples, the environment was savannah-like and inhabited by cattle, lions and even crocodiles. There's archeological evidence of contact between the San Peoples of Tassili and other tribes across the Sahara, from Chad to Egypt, perhaps even Greece.
Because ancient Greeks, too, may have used mushrooms in their spiritual practices. The "Eleusinian Mysteries," continuous for an astounding two millennia, was the most important spiritual initiation ceremony in ancient Europe. Scholars believe it involved use of consciousness-altering mushrooms. With participants such as Plato and Aristotle, spiritual mushrooms may be an important part of the legacy of western civilization.
R. Gordon Wasson even claimed in a controversial book titled Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality that Fly agaric was the very substance referred to in ancient Vedic literature as the mysterious soma, a plant or mushroom extract used in ancient Hindu rituals and believed to bestow immortality of the soul and other divine qualities to the consumer.
(Note: Make no mistake, Fly agaric - Amanita muscaria - is poisonous and can also be confused with other deadly species. Consumption for any reason is completely discouraged.)
The debate raged on until the early 1930s, when amateur anthropologist Robert Weitlaner got invited to witness an original spiritual ceremony that included the use of consciousness-altering mushrooms.
Two decades later, R. Gordon Wasson and his wife Valentina Povlovna were the first white people to participate in a Velada (mushroom ceremony). This religious ceremony lead by shaman Don Aurelio was described by Wasson in a 1957 Life Magazine article, which became the spring-board for public awareness of mind-altering mushrooms.
Paul Stamets, Psychoactivity Conference, Amsterdam, 1999:
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