Pagan Blog Project: Entheogen and Trance work

For this weeks prompt there were several things I came up with. It was a choice between ethics, eclectic, entheogen, energy, and education. There were several blogs posted about being eclectic, so I decided that I would focus on entheogens. I am still going to post an entry about being eclectic at some point, but for today I am going to focus on entheogens.

Most of the books I read when I started out on my path said that real witches did not use drugs or drinks in rituals. As a teen I had no problem with this as I was not legal drinking or smoking age. I also had no desire to “get high” or “get drunk” at this time in my life. However it made me wonder why people would say that witches had never used substances in ritual.

I was aware that some Native American tribal traditions partook of Peyote or other substances as part of their ritual. It was a sacred practice and done to contact the deities and achieve a deep trance. I was also quite aware that in ancient Greece the Oracle of Delphi induced trance by breathing the vapors of the cave (which were hallucinogenic) and I had also heard that often times the wine drank during Hellennic rituals was laced with another substance to once again help achieve a deeper trance.

It seemed to me that if there were historical uses of substances in various cultures, why would witches be exempt from this practice? What was so wrong with using a substance blessed and connected to your Gods to not only connect with the Gods but with spirits as well? When I asked these questions it was often answered that “the experiences would not be genuine” or that “they shouldn’t be taken seriously”. I asked what made a substance trance so different from one gained by use of drumming, incense, or other practices? The answer was that the experience comes from with in and not from the substance.

My thinking was then: Wait what? Are you serious? Even if a person is using an entheogen in their ritual it’s not to “get high”. It’s to contact with deity and spirit. The tool of choice is the entheogen instead of or in addition to other “traditional” trance. The experience with the deity still would come from with in as it would be from the desire to connect that the bond was formed.

Entheogens is something I am still exploring. I typically use a smoke or a drink. Most commonly I use catnip. It has a nice relaxing sensation that helps me reach a deeper trance. The smoke is always blessed before I partake and I often take a “hit” as I praise my Gods. I often look at the smoke remaining in the room after an exhale and see symbols and get messages from the Gods that way.

I haven’t tried to use an herbal tsine blend yet, but its something I probably will look into later on. I know that the use of substances in ritual is something of debate. I also know that the practice isn’t for every one. It helps me relax and focus to connect with deity, and in the end, isn’t that all that rituals are meant to do connect and celebrate deity?

About loona wynd

Call me Loona. I am a part time model and an amateur writer. My blogs serve as my primary method of publication at the moment. These blogs are also a way for me to build an audience and get my name known. I have been involved with my spiritual path for half my life now. I have spent that whole time seeking and exploring every path I could find. While I will always identify as a witch and a Pagan, I do believe there are lessons that every path can teach me. When I am not writing, or modeling I spend my time watching science fiction (I'm a big Doctor Who fan as well as Warehouse 13, Eureka, Babylon 5, and other shows). I also enjoy shows like Ink Master, Bar Rescue, Hotel Hell, Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. I also love Bones for the anthropological aspects. When not watching tv I spend time playing video games. I'm a retro gamer at heart. I would rather play a game on my NES than the newest game for my PC. I actually have more NES and SNES games than I do Wii, N64 or PS2. I do play Starcraft2, Everquest, Guild Wars, and random Facebook games. I also enjoy reading. My reading will often be in the spiritual or philosophical fields. This is what I enjoy to study. I also love to read science fiction. Anne McCaffery is actually my favorite sci-fi writer. Her Pern and Accorna series are my favorites. I currently hold an associates degree in Liberal Studies or Liberal Arts. My focus is on folklore, philosophy, classics of world lit, anthropology, and history. I do have a vast interest in Physics. I was actually happy with how much my physics teacher was able to connect modern physics with ancient and modern metaphysical philosophy.

Posted on March 3, 2012, in Pagan Blog Project, Religion, Ritual and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I understand the idea that group rituals are most effective when the group is all performing in the same state of mind – which, in general, is easiest if they are all sober. I also appreciate the power of entheogens and enjoy the new experiences that come from them. There is magic in seeking higher states through plant communion, but not everyone can do it without developing addiction patterns. Balance and moderation are the key, as with so many things.

    • If the books had been written for groups I could understand that. The books I referred to in my post were all based on solitary work. It was my recent reading of the book Hedge Rider which contained an entire chapter on the subject that had lead me to further experiment with entheogens in rituals. He gave a few recipes for “flying ointments” which are essentially traditional entheogens used in witchcraft for trance work.

      I do agree that balance and moderation are key. I have done rituals with both traditional elements and entheogens, just entheogens, and just traditional trance work. I have found that they are all effective. I just prefer to use the entheogens as one primary effect they have is that they quiet my mind so I can focus entirely on the ritual and trance at hand.

      I have not done a whole lot of deep trance work as of late. My CD player in the bedroom (which contains my altar and ritual supplies) no longer plays CD’s. I can’t find my MP3 player. I have some stuff transferred to my laptop/PC but I’m uncomfortable having my laptop on during rituals and trance as the electric energy given off by my laptop is much stronger than the energy of a CD or MP3 player.

      That’s why I take a hit from my ritual pipe when I praise my deities. Through that moment I am connected with them, and I can see messages from them in the exhaled smoke. I also offer a bit of the smoke to them as well in incense form. When I have drink in ritual (which is every time since I turned 21) I do the same thing, and it has the same effect. It puts me into a trance state where I am more relaxed and better able to commune with deity.

      I am never drunk and I am never “high”. The recreational highs are never the same as the experiences found through Entheogens. That’s why I have heard people say to remain from the use of marijuana in ritual (though it is sacred in Rastafarian practices). I will freely admit I have used this in ritual, but to be honest it was a completely different experience than when I used it recreational. I take this up to being the context and the way I use.

  2. Use of mind altering substances has always been a BIG part of magickal ritual and experience of the Otherworlds. I advise the teaching of the Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan Matos and his student Carlos Casteneda whose books are arguably the foundation of modern shamanism. These books teach a great amount about Why “spirit allies” are used by shaman.
    In witchcraft, the tradition is that witches would use various plants including fly agaric mushrooms, I believe also belladonna, there are quite a few renowned herbal intoxicants associated with traditional european and northern witchcraft. It is no shameful thing to experiment provided you are doing so for the right reasons. Sadly a lot of the knowledge base of how to use these substances successfully has been lost due to prejudice against mind expansion through mother nature’s gifts.

    • That’s why I have no issue with using them to help me deepen trance states. I believe that the famous flying ointments were essentially enthegoens as they were ointments applied to the body in order to gain “flight” (deep trance/astral projection).

  3. Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods
    Albert Hoffman / Richard Schultes, Plants of the Gods
    superb resources for literary education about human use of plant entheogens.

  4. This is something I haven’t personally experienced so I can’t really comment one way or another. I get a “high” from meditating, walking in the woods, focusing on the magical energies around me…I think I would prefer this to sort of “induced high” and elevation to reach the higher planes rather than that of using mind-altering drugs.

    • And that is fine. I just don’t think that the experiences gained in rituals while under the influence of a substance should be discounted. I do use other practices. I use breathing and I use count down meditation. I occasionally use drumming and strong thought. Occasionally I’ll simply “zone out” while I think about a specific topic and start to find myself some place else.

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