Pagan Blog Project: E- Entheogens
We live in a world filled with a rather large variety of plants and animals. Learning about them and their lives is a fun and exciting thing to do. Working with the energy of plants and animals is something that witches do. Lately I have noticed a trend of people looking away and wanting to throw away some aspects of religious and spiritual traditions. The one aspect I see people ignoring more than others is the use of substances in spiritual and religious practices. This is something I personally want to preserve and keep around.
So today’s post is going to be on the use of Entheogens in spiritual and religious practices. As this is my personal blog I feel free to discuss this topic here. On my other blog (Seeker sight) I focus on topics and posts that can help beginners find their paths. I focus there for on subjects that are appropriate for people just starting out in their spiritual path. For me the practice and use of Entheogens even as a curious study and exploration is not something that a beginner needs to read or worry about So it gets posted here.
Using substances to experience Gods and spirits
As I mentioned the use of substances in ritual to achieve a trance state where one can engage with spirits and Gods effectively is a practice traditional among many different cultures. Different cultures have different substances that they use to engage in spirit flight or spirit activity. The various tribal shamans and witches who use these substances are instructed on their use by their masters and their teachers as well as by the plant spirits themselves.
Before I begin to describe an explain why some people may engage in the use of Entheogens let’s look at exactly what Entheogen as a term means and why the uses of these varied herbs is so successful. If the technique and uses didn’t work people would not continue the traditional practices. So they do work for a reason. Lets see what that reason is.
In his book Hedge Rider Eric De Vries defines Entheogens as:
Entheogen means bringing forth the God and is the name used for herbal substances that are used for spiritual and or magical purposes. The important thing to remember is that entheogens are rarely used for recreational purposes. Not because they have limited effect, but because they aren’t really fun
This definition right here says all that needs to be said. Entheogens bring forth the experiences of God and spirit. They are used ritually to create a trance where they can experience, interact with, and work with the force of God. Each herbal substance is going to be different and have different effects on the mind and the body. For this reason it is important to study the substances and their uses. It is also practical to actually be instructed by some one who engages in this practice. Some herbs can be very dangerous if not handled and processed properly.
At the end of the statement about not being used recreational De Vries makes a very good point. Entheogens are not used recreational. Its not that they don’t have an effect that people enjoy or can get use out of. That’s not the issue at all. The issue here is that the experiences are not “fun”. Its not something to do because you are bored. Entheogens are sacred and using them in recreational ways takes away the sacred.
In order to effectively work with the entheogen and the God force you need to work hard to establish a specific mind frame for the work. You need to train yourself to be sensitive to spirits, to calm your mind, and to be able to visualize the experiences with the Gods or spirits. Its difficult to train your mind.
The other thing is that there are some entheogens that take a lot of time and energy to prepare. One of the legendary entheogens associated with witches and witchcraft is the famous flying ointment. This was a salve that the witches spent a long time crafting and making. When the herbal mixture was applied to the body astral travel and spirit work could commence.
Sometimes these mixtures contained deadly herbs. Most of the flying ointment recipes we have found scraps of related to traditional witchcraft involve herbs like belladonna, wolfbane, nightshade, and yew to name a few. The actual recipes and proportions have long been lost. Crafting the flying ointments of the past traditional witches with those herbs is dangerous. This is why today softer and calmer herbs are used in modern flying ointments.
Today there are other more effective herbs that we know cause the same effect as the herbs mentioned above and are safer and better known. While I personally find the past recipes interesting and worth study, and I would watch some one make them, I personally have no interest in working with those. I have found other herbs give me just as powerful of a trance state while being safer. These are also herbs I have studied and done other work with.
My experience with entheogens comes in the form of herbal smokes. I have worked with catnip, mugwort, and Capillaris Herba
Artemisia capillaris also known as Yerba Lena Yesca. My smoke blend currently has a mixture of all of them for a balance. When I smoke this blend my awareness of my mental state increases. My sensitivity to smells and surroundings increases. I can through this also have more control over my awareness and more easily reach an out of body astral state for communication with spirits and deities.
Entheogens alone do not make the experience work though. I also use mental training as well as incenses, sound, lighting, and seated position to engage in trance work. The entheogens give me easier access to these mental states and often allow for more clarity of experience and extended experiences. I am relaxed which allows the trance states to come more naturally. This is also why they last longer.
Entheogens for me are one tool that I have in my bag for working with spirits. I have found it to be an effective tool. I do not smoke the mixture outside of doing some sort of spiritual work. The mixture was crafted and blessed for that sort of work and to use it on anything else to me is a waste of the mixture. It also takes away from the sacred ritual of the preparation, the working, and the blessing that comes with its use in spiritual work.
For years I was interested in the use of substances in spiritual practices. I was well aware of the use of peyote in a Native Church. I was also aware of the fact that shamans and spirit workers for centuries had engaged in this sort of spirit work. I was interested in the use and workings of substances in ritual. I was afraid of trying it, and it also felt taboo. All of the books and websites I had read on my spiritual path had all said that substances of any sort were not a part of witchcraft at all and anything saying such should walk away from that material.
There has been a trend in the modern new age and spiritual practices to discount any experiences had under the influences of any sort of substance. There have been arguments made that today we can leave those tools and practices behind us as we have other less damaging methods of gaining trance. They also claim we have a better understanding of the mind and mental processes today and through that we have learned how to get in and out of these trance states at will without the use of substances.
While all of what they say about mental processes and the ability to get in and out of trance at will without substance use today is true, it doesn’t mean that there is anything less spiritual about experiences under substances. They are sacred plants and it is a sacred tradition for many cultures. I see no reason to ignore this aspect of spirit world work traditions. I have simply chosen to work a combination of the ancient traditions and modern work for effective means of contacting spirits and doing spirit world work.
The use of all aspects of plant medicine and plant properties has always been a part of magical practices. I see no reason to change that now. To ignore traditions and valid ways of gaining knowledge and experience for me is to ignore an aspect of the practices and cultures I have studied that was sacred and important to them. If I am gaining spiritual guidance and inspiration or influences from these cultures and practices I need to be informed of all aspects of practices associated with the cultures.
So I stand outside of many people with this view on entheogens and substances. I know that and I accept that. For me I know that not everything I do and study will appeal to everyone. Not everyone will feel the same way about things as I do, and they don’t have to. So long as no one tries to stop me from using legal herbs in my entheogen work I have no problems with their objections to my use.
Posted on March 5, 2014, in Experimentation, Exploration, Hedge Witchcraft, Pagan Blog Project, Research, Ritual, Spiritual development, Traditional Wichcraft. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.