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Flowering San Pedro, an entheogenic cactus that has been used for over 3,000 years[1]

An entheogen ("generating the divine within")[2] is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context[3] that may be synthesized or obtained from natural sources. The chemical induces altered states of consciousness. Jonathan Ott helped coin the term "entheogen".[4]

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established with anthropological and modern evidence. Examples of traditional entheogens include psychedelics like peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and iboga; atypical hallucinogens like salvia and Amanita muscaria; quasi-psychedelics like cannabis; and deliriants like datura.

With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic drugs with similar psychoactive properties, with many derived from these plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these respective organisms and chemically synthesized including mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, salvinorin A, ibogaine, ergine, and muscimol. Semi-synthetic (e.g., LSD used by the New American Church) and synthetic drugs (e.g., DPT used by the Temple of the True Inner Light and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed.[5]

More broadly, the term entheogen is used to refer to any psychoactive drug when used for its religious or spiritual effects, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure. This terminology is often chosen to contrast with the recreational use of the same drugs. Studies such as the Marsh Chapel Experiment have documented reports of spiritual experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive drugs in controlled trials.[6] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition; however, some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use.

See also


  1. http://www.mescaline.com/sanpedro/
  2. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/entheogen
  3. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-89132008000500010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
  4. The Road to Eleusis (2008) By R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, Carl A. P. Ruck, Huston Smith pg. 139
  5. http://evolver.civicactions.net/user/chen_cho_dorge/blog/2cb_chosen_over_traditional_entheogens_south_african_healers
  6. http://www.springerlink.com/content/v2175688r1w4862x/fulltext.pdf