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MAGIC MUSHROOMS - Sacred or fun

3. Sacred or fun

Did people ten thousands years ago pick mushrooms only for certain ceremonies or were they a kind of candy? Human history is not very clear on this subject. There are nevertheless enough indications that many religions used one form or another of psychedelic trance; like wine at the Dionysian mysteries, tobacco at the ceremonies of the Native Americans, the mysterious Soma of ancient India and possibly psychoactive fungi in wheat (ergot, from which later LSD got extracted) at the Greek Elysian mysteries.
The use of `drugs', special herbs or potions to attain a religious peak-experience seems to have been widely spread. Thus the Hindu philosopher Patanjali mentions in the Yoga-sutra that magical plants are useful for the development of siddhis (special powers) like flying, and maybe the name `fly agaric' has something to do with the `flying' of witches.
R. Gordon Wasson stated that religions are the result of psychedelic mystical experiences under the influence of mushrooms and psychedelic writer and researcher Terence McKenna assumes that our consciousness started developing with apes eating hallucinogenic mushroom in the African savanna.

Nowadays magic mushrooms are used in rituals in Meso-america, for instance at the classical Maya ceremonial center Palenque and along the border between Chiapas in Mexico and Guatemala. However, it is not clear how many of these rituals really descend from ancient practices and how much was created later.
Although a lot is known and proof does exist about the use of psychoactive mushrooms in South-America in the past, it is momentarily not known if these ceremonies are still happening. Several Indian tribes in the Amazon jungle use natural psychoactive plants and brews containing D.M.T. (Dimetyltryptamine). Ayahuasca is worth mentioning, which is used in a kind of mixed religion of Catholicism and Indian jungle rituals during the services of the Brazilian Sante Daime church and the UDV.

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