Hallucinogenic Substances in Ancient Religions


HallucinogenicSubstances in Ancient Religions

HallucinogenicSubstances in Ancient Religions and Cults

Hallucinogenicdrugs were used in ancient religions and cults because of theirpsychological effects on human beings. It was believed that whenworshipers consumed these substances, they would be brought closer tothe supernatural forces (James, 2013). It was, however noted thatsome hallucinogenic drugs had a different and unique effect on somepeople with specific conditions. To these people, the drugs wouldresult in a profound, transcendental and mystical experienceinvolving subjective or immediate experience of ultimate reality(James, 2013). It is possible that these hallucinogenic drugs had aprofound effect of stirring the deeply buried unconscious and hencebrought about non-rational reactions.

Theloftiest aim, however of using these hallucinogenic substances waswhat was described as a pure delight. This it was interpreted as thedirect experience with God, the spirit that takes charge of one’sdestiny, the ultimate reality or whatever objects that was worshipedby the worshiper (Rogers, 2011). In addition the use of thesesubstances was believed to have healing, purifying and divinationeffects in observing certain rituals in some cultures. It is observedthat the very religious impulse may have had its origin from theincredulity felt by primitives on ingesting and hence accidentalfindings on hallucinogenic properties (James, 2013).

Thefreedom to practice and choose any religion without government’sintrusion is a fundamental human right. In addition, it is a civilright that is protected by the Constitution of the United States(James, 2013). The first amendment in the constitution stipulatesclearly that the United States government cannot make any religiouslaws. However the law can step in if the religious practice causesharm or threat to other citizens (Rogers, 2011). Some ancienthallucinogenic substances are outlawed and if still used by somereligious practices the law will definitely step in.

Ifa new religion emerged today with the sacrament being ahallucinogenic substance, that religion would thus be termed as theuniversal obsession neurosis of the human kind (James, 2013). This isso true because such a religion will bring with it obsessionrestrictions just as the individual obsession neurosis restrictionperforms. The government would be allowing a religion of directdisavowal of reality and wishful illusions (Rogers, 2011). Such kindof properties of hallucinogenic properties can be compared to thecondition of amentia which is usually comprised of an individualbeing in a state of blissful hallucinating confusion.

Suchreligious practices and beliefs are deeply rooted in a world ofillusions and fantasy. This effect can therefore be blamed largelyfor the development, mental conditions such as neurosis or evenpsychosis (Rogers, 2011). The mental practitioners have over theyears regarded such practices in a negative perspective. Despite thechanging perspectives on the use of hallucinogenic substances, thelaw has played a bigger role by interfering with the belief thattheir use is acceptable.

Formany years extreme practices that involved the use of high levels ofhallucinogenic substances was considered to be an example ofpsychiatric mental illness (Rogers, 2011). This perception, howeverwas not based on research directly to the religious practices, butwas based on clinical experiences and personal opinions considered inmental patients practicing such religions. Therefore, it is veryimportant for the law to be enacted to regulate religious practicesand shun the use of hallucinogenic substances in an effort ofpreventing the development of mental illness. The government shouldbe keen on such practices.


James,W. (2013). Thevarieties of Religious Experiences.New York. Dover Publications, Inc.

Rogers,K. (2011). SubstanceUse and Abuse.New York. Britannica Educational Publishers.