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Top Image: Fantasy shaman leading a holy ayahuasca ceremony (Caphira Lescante/Adobe Stock)

Psychedelic-Induced Mystical Experiences Throughout History


Since time immemorial, psychedelic mind-altering experiences have been common among humankind’s shamanic journeys. All is one. That is one of the feelings contemporary users of mind-altering plants describe. Actor Nick Kroll reported that it was “ good to be one with the eart h,” and Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, explained that she could see the “web” that connects all things; there was no doubt that everything is one.  Anthropologist David Watts explained, “ The universal core of the mystical experience is the vision of unity.  The vision of unity may be unification with nature or the universal self.  The central characteristic of unity is the lack of conceptual or perceptual differentiation of objects .”  All users report such a sensation.  Musician Sting related that in his experience with psychedelics, he not only had a profound sense of connection with everything around him, but it also left him egoless.  Others have reported the same thing: the sensation that the body is nothing more than a shell. 

Spiritual leaders have expounded upon these connected truths for centuries.  All is one.  The body is nothing more than a shell.  To explain the latter, some use the cicada as a metaphor, and a famous Japanese author wrote a 17th-century piece entitled “ The Greatest Joys of the Cicada and its Cast-Off Shell ,” in which a cicada has a conversation with its shell.  Obviously, the shell is a metaphor for the body, and the cicada is the real creature: perhaps the real “soul.”  Spiritual guru Deepak Choprah, psychologist Timothy Leary, author Mike Pollan, chef Anthony Bourdain, and countless others have related that they had a profound sense of the existence of the soul after experimenting with mind-altering plants.  These truths are spiritual.  The use of such substances to attain such spiritual or religious insight is ancient.

Shamanic inner world (Pamela Ranya /Adobe Stock)

Shamanic inner world ( Pamela Ranya  /Adobe Stock )

Evidence of Pre-Historic Psychedelic Plant Users

The earliest known evidence of medicinal plants used to affect the consciousness is in the Tassili-n-Ajjer area of the Sahara desert, where a 7,000 to 9,000 year-old mural is found in a cave depicting a man, someone who would now likely be recognized as a shaman, with an unusual mask over his face and numerous mushrooms adorning his body.  These fungi have been identified as psilocybe mairei .  More ancient evidence is found in a Spanish cave near Villar de Humo where a 6,000-year-old mural depicts what has been positively identified as the psychedelic mushroom psilocybe hispanica


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DR. KEN JEREMIAH has written several books about religions, mummification, and spirituality, including Living Buddhas, Christian Mummification, Eternal Remains. Making Millions: A 500-Year-Old Kabbalist's Guide to Conquering Chance, and Zen Art, Zen Writing  Daily Meditations for Improving your Craft and Finding Joy in Life and Creatures Real and Imaginary in Chinese and Japanese Art: An Identification Guide and  Remnants from a Distant Past

Top Image : Fantasy shaman leading a holy ayahuasca ceremony ( Caphira Lescante /Adobe Stock )

By: Ken Jeremiah

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Dr Ken Jeremiah

DR. KEN JEREMIAH has written several books about religions, mummification, and spirituality, including Living Buddhas, Christian Mummification, and Eternal Remains.  Other books cover the martial arts, golf, and unusual historical phenomena, such as Remnants of a Distant Past, If the... Read More

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