Hi, I’ve been searching all over the internet for scholarly information on how psychoactive plants were used in early religions, and how they may have shaped the religions as a whole. So far, I haven’t had much luck in my search. Can you help me?
Great question! To be sure, it’s a bit out of my area of expertise, however I did a bit of digging and came up with some resources that should be helpful. Note though, that many academic publications often require subscriptions or membership, in order to view entire articles. However in any case, several of these also have a wealth of cited resources, so, if for some reason the article itself doesn’t hold all the answers, it should still be a great starting point to getting the information that you are looking for.
- Psychoactive Botanicals in Ritual, Religion and Shamanism by G.H. Shepard, of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil
- Psychointegrator Plants: Their Role in Human Culture, Consciousness and Health by Michael Winkleman, originally published in the Yearbook of Cross-Cultural Medicine and Psychotherapy 1995
- Psychoactive Substances In Different Cultures and Religious Practices by J. Radenkova, E. Saeva and V. Saev, of the Toxicology Clinic, Emergency Medicine Institute “N. I. P irogov” – Soﬁa University “La Sapienza” – Rome
- Archaeological Evidence for the Tradition of Psychoactive Plant Use in the Old World by M.D. Merlin, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822
- Bookwise – if you can get a copy of Plants and Society 3rd edition by Estelle Levetin and Karen McMahon, chapter 20 specifically covers psychoactive plants and drugs, along with their history of use. You can find a general outline of the chapter here.
Love these resources! Another one I’ve found helpful are folklore journals, folkloric study publications, and comparative religion journals (can be found in most university libraries in the cultural studies section).