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Indian Sadhu with a Shillum hash pipe on the Shivaratri holiday ("Night of God Shiva ")

The adjective entheogen (from ancient Greek ἐν en "in, within", θεός theos "God" and -gen ) describes a spiritual experience that is perceived as an all-unity and is often described by users of psychotropic drugs . The designation of these as entheogens was introduced in 1970 at an informal committee by the American ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson (1898–1986), the American ethnobotanist Jonathan Ott and others, and it replaces derogatory terms for spiritually useful substances with hallucinogenic properties such as cannabis , psilocybin , LSD or dimethyltryptamine (DMT). According to this definition, entheogens are largely identical to psychedelics . Entheogens have a psychotomimetic effect (similar to psychosis) by influencing various neurotransmitter systems.

In a more general sense, entheogens are substances and preparations that are traditionally used for spiritual, mystical and religious purposes. Their use in this regard can make those under the influence feel as if they are connected to a deity or other beings or to grasp and see the whole universe ( religious vision ). This state can be compared to that of a shaman or medicine man who believes that he is able to communicate with the spirits through the action of an elixir .


The entheogens include, for example, the ayahuasca plant stock , various psychoactive mushrooms or the Aztec sage (gods / fortune telling sage). These are also used by indigenous cultures in South and Central America and the Caribbean .

In originating from Jamaica denomination of Rastafari is cannabis as intoxicants (ganja) in ritual used way.

In the Indian religion of Shaivism there is a long tradition of using hashish (charas) and cannabis: Indian ascetic "holy men" ( sadhus ) sometimes smoke their local shillum pipes every day , the traditional hemp preparation bhang is also used in religious rituals. Already in the Rigveda , the oldest part of the Vedic scriptures , Soma is mentioned, a juice of a plant mixed with (sour) milk as a ritual drink for victims as well as the intoxicating drink of the gods.

Other entheogens used in different areas are:

See also

  • Entactogens (psychoactive substances that increase the awareness of one's own emotions)
  • Empathogens (agents that create the feeling of forming a unit with other people)
  • Psycholytic psychotherapy (use of psychotropic substances to support therapy)
  • Psychonautics (exploring one's own psyche and the unconscious)
  • Neurotheology (neurophysiological interpretation of religious phenomena)
  • Trance (sleep-like or highly concentrated state of consciousness)
  • Out-of-body experience (experiencing the sensation of being outside of one's own body)


  • Gerhard Böck: Stimulants among hunters: drug use among hunters and gatherers. Self publication . Grin, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-656-09500-2 . (PhD thesis 1989 Philipps University Marburg; reading sample in the Google book search)
  • Veronica M. Davidov: Ecotourism and Cultural Production. An Anthropology of Indigenous Spaces in Ecuador. Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2013, ISBN 978-1-137-35537-9 , pp. 154–160: Entheogen Tourism and Shamanism in Ecuador (English; page views in the Google book search).
  • Robert Forte (Ed.): Entheogens and the Future of Religion. New edition. Park Street Press, Rochester 2012, ISBN 978-1-59477-797-4 (English; first published in 1997 by the Council on Spiritual Practices in San Francisco; excerpt from Google book search, without page numbers).
  • Peter T. Furst: Flesh of the Gods. The Ritual Use of Hallucinogens. Emphasis. Waveland, Prospect Heights 1990, ISBN 0-88133-477-4 (English; original 1972).
  • Jonathan Ott : Pharmacotheon. Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources And History. Natural Products, Kennewick 1993, ISBN 0-9614234-2-0 . (English)
  • Thomas B. Roberts (Ed.): Spiritual Growth with Entheogens. Psychoactive Sacramentals and Human Transformation. Park Street Press, Rochester 2012, ISBN 978-1-59477-709-7 (English conference proceedings; excerpt in the Google book search, without page numbers).
  • R. Gordon Wasson , Stella Kramrisch et al. a .: Persephone's Quest. Entheogens and the Origins of Religion (= Ethno-mycological Studies. Volume 10). New edition. Yale University Press, New Haven 1986, ISBN 0-300-05266-9 (English; excerpt from Google book search).

Web links

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