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Entheogens, Reflections on 'Psychoactive Sacramentals'

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The delightful anthology compiled by Roberts on Psychoactive Sacramentals (henceforth, PS) presents two dozen essays on the use of psychoactive substances as sacraments. The contributions in PS are varied. Their authors include scientists engaged in the study of psychoactive substances and of altered states of consciousness, theologians and students of religion, clergymen and practitioners of Asian meditative practices, psychologists and other mental health professionals, educators, and policy makers. Some of the authors (Hoffman, Grof, Smith, Stolaroff and Tart) are first of the line veterans who were personally involved in the making of the psychedelic movement about half a century ago. The contributions themselves include reflections on the very notion of entheogen, personal accounts of the use of psychoactive substances, firsthand accounts of important moments in the modern history of entheogenic research (notably, the remarkable testimony of Hoffman, the inventor of LSD, and the three essays concerning the famous Good Friday experiment by Pahnke), discussions of the use of entheogens in different cultures, ancient and contemporary, reflections about the use and abuse of psychoactive substances in western society, discussion of their potential application in psychotherapy, examination of the religious and spiritual import of entheogens, practical recommendations, a juridical analysis and even a poem. Special praise is due to the series of questions for further study and reflection listed in the last item in the collection, that of the editor himself; not only are these thought provoking, they also offer a most instructive and insightful systematic typology for topics of research and reflection in the field at hand. All told, PS presents a valuable source of information, analysis, opinion and wise guidance for all - scientists, religious mentors, clinicians, policy makers and lay persons - interested in psychoactive substances. In fact, I wish persons who regard these substances as evil and menacing drugs would have a look at this book as well; perhaps (hopefully) it would make them see things in a different perspective.<\P>

The delightful anthology compiled by Roberts on Psychoactive Sacramentals (henceforth, PS) presents two dozen essays on the use of psychoactive substances as sacraments. The contributions in PS are varied. Their authors include scientists engaged in the study of psychoactive substances and of altered states of consciousness, theologians and students of religion, clergymen and practitioners of Asian meditative practices, psychologists and other mental health professionals, educators, and policy makers. Some of the authors (Hoffman, Grof, Smith, Stolaroff and Tart) are first of the line veterans who were personally involved in the making of the psychedelic movement about half a century ago. The contributions themselves include reflections on the very notion of entheogen, personal accounts of the use of psychoactive substances, firsthand accounts of important moments in the modern history of entheogenic research (notably, the remarkable testimony of Hoffman, the inventor of LSD, and the three essays concerning the famous Good Friday experiment by Pahnke), discussions of the use of entheogens in different cultures, ancient and contemporary, reflections about the use and abuse of psychoactive substances in western society, discussion of their potential application in psychotherapy, examination of >the religious and spiritual import of entheogens, practical recommendations, a juridical >> analysis and even a poem. Special praise is due to the series of questions for further study > and reflection listed in the last item in the collection, that of the editor himself; not only are these thought provoking, they also offer a most instructive and insightful systematic typology for topics of research and reflection in the field at hand. All told, PS presents a valuable source of information, analysis, opinion and wise guidance for all - scientists, religious mentors, clinicians, policy makers and lay persons - interested in psychoactive substances. In fact, I wish persons who regard these substances as evil and menacing drugs would have a look at this book as well; perhaps (hopefully) it would make them see things in a different perspective. >
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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