Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Religion, Altered States of Consciousness, and Social Change.
Bourguignon, Erika. (Editor). (1973).
Columbus, OH: Ohio University Press.
Contents: Preface, introduction,
8 chapters in 3 parts: 1. Cross-Cultural and Comparative Studies,
2. Field Studies, 3. Some Conclusions, epilogue, appendix: Codes
[of ritualized altered states of consciousness] Used Below, list
of 488 sample societ ies [by societal characteristics,
name, code, differentiation], notes on the contributors, index.
Contributors: Erika Bourguignon,
Greenbaum, Judith Danford Gussler,
P. Leonard, Esther Pressel.
Excerpt(s): In studying
institutionalized altered states of consciousness, for the most
part in traditional societies and in a sacred context, are we
dealing with a rare and exotic phenomenon of interest only to
specialists, a bit of anthropological esoterica? Or are we dealing
with a major aspect of human behavior that has significant impact
on the functioning of human societies? ... Table 1 ... shows that
of a sample of 488 societies, in all parts of the world, for which
we have analyzed the relevant ethnographic literature, 437, or
90% are reported to have one or more institutionalized, culturally
patterned forms of altered states of consciousness. ...
The incidence of altered states is seen to range
from a high of 97% of the societies of aboriginal North America
to a low of 80% in the Circum-Mediterranean region. The later
region includes North Africa, the Near East, and southern and
western Europe as well as overseas Europeans. (pages 9, 11)
Such upheavals appear to justify the fear of loss
of control, for in the upheavals not only does the individual
relinquish, as in altered states of consciousness generally, partial
or complete ego control over his actions but social control as
well is distorted. Thus, it is necessary to distinguish such wild-fire,
short-lived, trance upheavals not only from stable religious groups
that make use of institutionalized altered states within a ritual
framework but also from those movements-revitalization movements,
millennial movements, and so on-that reach a degree of organizational
structure and gain control over the religious and ecstatic experiences
of their members. (page 342)
However, the greatest attention has been attracted
by the so-called drug movement, by the attempt to link hallucinogenic
drugs (LSD, peyote, psilocybin, and so on) to religious, predominantly
Hindu-derived thought systems. The drugs, it was argued, particularly
by Leary and his associates, assisted in
the "expansion of consciousness," a concept that has
since been widely extended by Reich's
view of the emergence of a "Consciousness III" ... "consciousness
raising" sessions of women's libbers, encounter groups, and
Although deviant religious movements of various
sorts have frequently appeared on the American scene, as we have
said, they have had marginal impact or have transformed themselves,
becoming less deviant and moving into the mainstream. (page 344)
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