entheogen
(en.THEE.oh.jun; TH as in thin) n. A drug or other substance that engenders a deeply spiritual experience.
entheogenic adj.

Example Citations:
Ken Tupper, a master's student in education at Simon Fraser University who wrote his thesis on the educational properties of psychedelic or "entheogenic" plants and chemicals, is philosophical about the secular use of what was once strictly a sacred plant. He feels strongly that the plant should remain legal: "Basically, we've seen the results of prohibition. It tends to exacerbate the problem, rather than solve it. If we look at the broader cultural context of drug use, the only thing that really regulates [it] is social mores... teaching people responsible use and respect for what they're using.

"Telling them not to do it — it's like the classic example of the forbidden fruit."

As for why academics call psychedelics "entheogens," Tupper says, "The term 'psychedelic' connotes the art, music and cultural milieu of the '60s. It doesn't capture the traditional uses of shamanic plants such as the ayuashca, peyote, or Salvia divinorum. Entheogen is derived from Greek. Literally, it translates to 'giving birth to the divine within.'"
—Jennifer Moss, "Salvia slips into our consciousness," Vancouver Sun, September 20, 2003

Boire argued that much of the motivation for the war on drugs is an attack on "entheogenic" drugs (roughly, God evoking) that provoke "transcendent and beatific states of communication with the deity."

With this point, Boire lends his argument to a growing movement of Americans devoted to the use of entheogens. One branch of this movement calls itself "neo-shamanistic" and seeks out shamanic inebriants that have been used for centuries. They cite examples like peyote cactus and psilocybin mushrooms among Native Americans, ibogaine among indigenous Africans, soma in India and ayahuasca in the Amazonian rain forest.

Others are just spiritual seekers who argue that criminal sanctions on the use of these psychoactive sacraments restrict their religious freedom. Some make the argument that the state takes its cue from organized religions, which historically have demonized entheogens because they lessen the need for a clergy to connect God to humanity.
—Salim Muwakkil, "A new opposition front in the drug war," Chicago Tribune, January 20, 2003

Earliest Citation:
The ceremonial use of psychoactive plants played a major role in the religious life of a great many Mesoamerican societies at the time of contact. The Spanish succeeded in eradicating the practice virtually everywhere they encountered it. Despite this persecution, the ritual use of entheogens did survive in the covert healing ceremonies of village shamans in a few locations in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico.
—Bret Blosser, "The return of the peyoteros," Whole Earth Review, June 22, 1992

Related Words:

Categories: