DOI: 10.14704/nq.2014.12.2.753

The Consumption of Psychoactive Plants in Ancient Global and Anatolian Cultures During Religious Rituals: The Roots of the Eruption of Mythological Figures and Common Symbols in Religions and Myths

H. Umit Sayin


Psychoactive plants which contain hallucinogenic molecules that induce a form of altered states of consciousness (H-ASC) have been widely used during the religious rituals of many cultures throughout the centuries, while the consumption of these plants for spiritual and religious purposes is as old as human history. Some of those cultures were shaman and pagan subcultures; African native religions; Bwiti Cult; South American native religions; Amazon Cultures; Central American Cultures; Mexican subcultures; Aztec, Maya and Inca; Wiccan and witch subcultures; Satanists; American Indians; Greek and Hellenistic cultures; Sufis; Hassan Sabbah’s Hashissins; Hindu, Indian and Tibetan cultures; some of the Nordic subcultures etc. Some of the psychoactive ingredients of the plants that were used during these religious rituals were; narcotic analgesics (opium), THC (cannabis), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline (peyote), ibogaine (Tabernanthe iboga), DMT (Ayahuasca and phalaris species), Peganum harmala, bufotenin, muscimol (Amanita muscaria), thujone (absinthe, Arthemisia absinthium), ephedra, mandragora, star lotus, Salvia divinorum etc. The main purposes of the practice of these plants were: spiritual healing; to contact with spirits; to contact with the souls of ancestors; to reach enlightenment (Nirvana or Satori); to become a master shaman, pagan or witch; to reach so-called-other realities, etc. Such “psychedelic-philosophical plant rituals” changed participating persons’ psychology, philosophy and personality to a great degree. In these two successive articles, the consumption of psychedelic plants during religious rituals is reviewed and it is hypothesized that the images, Figures, illusions and hallucinations experienced during these “plant trips” had a great impact on the formation and creation of many Figures, characters, creatures, archetype images that exist not only in the mythology, but also in many religions, as well, such as angels, demons, Satan, mythological creatures, gods, goddesses etc. In the Middle East and Anatolia, within many hermetic and pagan religions, Greek and Hellenic cultures psychoactive plant use was a serious part of the religious rituals, such as Dionysian rituals or Witch’s’ Sabbaths. Although the impact of the “psychedelic experience and imagination” was enormous to the configuration of many religious and mythological characters, and archetypes, this fact has been underestimated and even unnoticed by many historians and anthropologists, because of the quasi-ethical trends of “anti-drug-brain-washed Western Societies”.


psychoactive plant; entoptic; phosphen; myth; religious ritual; opium; cannabis; ayahuasca; phalaris; magic mushroom; psilocybin; peyote; mescaline; ibogaine; thujone; Arthemisia absinthium; Salvia divinorum; Dionysian ritual; wicca; Perganum

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The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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